Maclive.net Adds RSS

In another step forward, Maclive has finally added an RSS feed to Maclive.  Just like the blogging software, the RSS feed is generated using a ColdFusion application designed in-house.

The RSS feed currently contains the 5 most recent blog posts from our site.  You can access the feed at its permanent home, here.  Please feel free to add it your Safari or Firefox RSS feeds.  And, if you are a user of Google’s Personalized Home Page or my.yahoo.com, look for an upcoming post explaining how you can easily add any RSS feed to the service.


Steve

Apple Updates iBook & Mac Mini

Apple announced updates to its iBook and Mac Mini lines this morning.  The memory has been increased in the Mini, but the processor speeds remain the same.

As for the iBook, Apple did not release a wide screen version as previously rumored.  The iBooks also ship with more RAM as well as larger hard drives.  The entry level iBook has a faster processor, making it just as fast as its larger brother.

All in all, these are meager changes, though the memory increase has been a long time coming.  Though, to be fair, getting more computer for your money is always a good thing.  It’s just not the “new and exciting products” still in the pipeline that Apple promised when Jobs announced the transition to Intel based processors.

Checkout these links for more info on Apple’s latest revisions:
The Maccentral story on the iBooks
The Maccentral story on the Mac Mini
Apple’s latest info on the iBook
Apple’s latest info on the Mini


Steve

Podcasting with Video

One of the great things about Apple technology is that you don’t normally need to read about something in order to learn how to use it.  Apple software just seems to work the way you would expect.

For example, I have read that it is now possible to store QuickTime and PDF files inside of iPhoto.  And now, with the release of iTunes 4.9, I had an idea.  I went to the Podcast playlist section of iTunes and looked at the list of Podcasts that I currently subscribe to.  I then went to a web site that offers a video version of a Podcast, Command-N.  Since they place their video feeds in an RSS feed,  I loaded the RSS link from the bottom of the page and drug the link into the Podcast list of iTunes.

iTunes instantly created a new subscription based on the RSS feed and started downloading the latest episode (based on my iTunes prefs that are set to only keep the latest release of each Podcast).  Once the cast was finished downloading, I was able to play it in the album art window of iTunes.  When I click on the small window, a larger window opened and showed the video at a higher resolution.

This is a very cool concept.  iTunes worked exactly how I had hoped.  Not only does it have the ability to handle subscriptions to my audio Podcasts, but it will do video as well.

Since I have not seen this feature discussed yet, I can only hope that it will become common knowledge in the near future.  I look forward to seeing other cool Videocasts (or Video Blogs) such as Systm released in this format.  Apple is poised to do for Videocasts what it has already done for Podcasting.  It puts the content right there when I want it.  Now we just need a version of the iPod the supports video!


Steve

iTunes 4.9, Now With PodCast Support

As previously speculated, Apple released iTunes 4.9 yesterday morning.  Its main new feature was its support for PodCasts.

As most of the PodCast content providers had hoped, this new support in iTunes has done great things for the still fledgling technology.  Apple has done a great job of building a PodCast directory that is second to none.

The powerful new features built into iTunes make it easy to stay up to date with the latest releases of our favorite shows.  Once you subscribe to a PodCast, just set the preferences to suit your needs.  If you would like iTunes to check daily for a new PodCast, it is not a problem.  If you would like to save space in your hard drive and on your iPod, this is also an easy matter.  Just set iTunes to retain a set number of shows.  In my case, I only want to retain the most recent copy of a given cast.  Now, when a new episode is released, iTunes will automatically dump the last episode and download the new one.

While most computer users are still unfamiliar with PodCast technology, it seems certain to be a household word in coming weeks.  Industry specialists are already citing massive increases in PodCast traffic.

Check out these links for more information:
iTunes 4.9 First Look: Apple takes on Podcasting
Apple earns cheers from analysts, podcasters
ABC News Podcasts Steve Jobs Interview


Steve

The Best Marketing Concepts

I have always believed that the best marketing concepts involve humor.  Commercials that use humor to sell their product seem to be much more widely distributed.  These types of commercials tend to reach far beyond their original target markets.  This is largely due to the internet.  People tend to pass these videos around like wildfire.

A great example of this is the Trunk Monkey series of commercials used by Suburban Auto Group.  The commercials promote a local car dealership, but they have been more widely viewed online than they ever where in their small local targeted area.

Another great example of this type of promotion is the recent short film released from Covad.  The film uses suspense, and in turn humor, to publicize its products in the Voice Over IP market.  The promotion is interesting and intended to get peoples attention.  And, this type of promotion should have a more lasting effect as the link to the site is passed around over time.

These types of promotions are perfect for the internet.  People enjoy them and they tell their friends.  In time, the promotion only stands to gather a wider customer base because it will last longer than the marketing campaign that created it.

Check out both of these sites.  They are both a lot of fun.


Steve

Run Windows Natively on a Mac?

There has been a great deal of discussion regarding what Apple’s move to Intel based processors will mean to the future of the platform.  In my mind, I think the answer is simple.  It is a question of evolution.  Apple knows that the future of the RISC chip is not what it needs to be.  Apple is also IBM’s main motivation for developing the chip in its current incarnation.  Conversely, there are countless applications for Intel based chips out there that reach beyond the computer industry.  That means that there are more reasons to develop the technology and this motivates constant development.

There is also a great deal of discussion regarding the Mac’s ability to “Dual Boot.”  In theory, a Mac could have two hard drives installed in it.  Mac OS X would be installed on one, and Windows XP could be installed on the other.  Every time the system is booted, the user would select which operating system they would like to boot into.

Dual booting has its advantages, but no one has touched on the possibility that rebooting might not be necessary.  Consider Virtual PC, a long standing staple of the Mac community.  It allows Mac users to run the entire Windows operating system inside of a window on the Mac.

Virtual PC is a great application, but it has always been plagued by a simple and inevitable disadvantage.  In order to run Windows on a Mac, the Mac must emulate a PC processor.  And, given the vast differences in the platforms architectural designs, a massive performance hit is taken. So much so that Virtual PC is considered unusable to many Mac users.

But with Apple’s transition to Intel based processors, emulation is no longer an issue.  Virtual PC will have access to the processor directly, and as a result, there should be little or no performance hit.  Mac users will finally be able to run Windows applications on their Mac at speeds that will rival Wintel based computer systems.

In theory, this could eliminate the needs for anyone to dual boot their system and give the average Mac user the best of both worlds.

There is, of course, a possible down side.  Several years ago, Microsoft acquired Virtual PC from Connectix.  Since that time, new versions have been released and the product is still very well supported.  It is simply a question of whether or not Microsoft will take advantage of the change in processor technology and take Virtual PC to the next level.  For now, we have to wait and see!

Along a similar line of thinking, Kelly McNeill has published an interesting article that expands on this thought and theorizes that OS X 10.5 (a.k.a. Leopard) might have native support built in for all Windows applications.  For now, the idea sounds a little far fetched, but it would be the perfect way to steal the thunder from Microsoft’s impending Longhorn release.  Read Kelly’s article here.


Steve

iTunes 4.9 Coming Soon

iTunes 4.9 is coming soon.  If the latest rumors posted on AppleInsider.com are accurate, Apple is almost ready to release the first version of iTunes to support PodCasting.  As mentioned previously in this blog, PodCasting has gain increased momentum in recent months, and with Apple joining the charge, the cult following only stands to become a new standard.

I have played with several PodCast aggregating clients, and while a couple of them are supposed to be very popular, I have been unimpressed.  It will likely be Apple that brings the technology to the forefront and makes its something that everyone can enjoy.

Checkout the latest story at AppleInsider.com for more info.


Steve

UPDATE:
If you tune into This Week in Tech (TWiT), you may have heard Leo mention a big product rollout that he was invited to take part in next week.  He is vague, but he makes it very clear that he is referring to the iTunes update, specifically the new PodCast feature.

TWiT, for those who are unaware, is a new PodCast show that is comprised of former members of TechTV’s “The Screensavers.”  Following the switch to G4 network, the loss of much of the networks talent, and then the subsequent collapse of The Screensavers, the shows talent has moved the efforts into the online community where they appear to be prospering.  Check out the show.  It stands to be a staple of the new iTunes PodCast area.


Steve

Podcasting Becoming Mainstream?

Podcasting: the method of publishing a radio like program via the internet.  Essentially, it is a radio program recorded to MP3 format and distributed via the web and RSS to listeners around the world.  The listener simply downloads the Podcast and plays it at their leisure.  Some people refer to it as Tivo for radio, but that is really only because no one really understands that it is its own entity entirely.

Admittedly, I am new to Podcasting.  But so far, I am enjoying the format.  It takes its name from Apple’s iPod.  The original theory was the people would download a Podcast and shoot it directly into their iPod.  From there, they could listen to it at their leisure.  But that format has already evolved into something more far reaching.  For example, a growing number of listeners simply play the Podcasts on their computer using MP3 players like iTunes.  Others use home media options like Elgoto’s eyeHome Apple’s AirTunes (via the Airport Express) to move the Podcasts to their home stereos.

But what good is a Podcast if there is no interesting content?  Much to my surprise, the web is rich with content even now.  Sites like Feedburner already track Pocasts and make it easier for listeners to tune into their favorite shows.  This story from PlaylistMac.com does a great job of further describing the Podcast movement in detail.

It is worth mentioning that Apple’s iTunes  will support Podcasting in its upcoming release.  That may be just what it takes for Podcasting to become the next big thing.  Given the user base of iTunes and the popularity of the iPod, Apple’s upgrade should make it easier than ever before subscribe to Podcast feeds.


Steve

Use Gmail to Store Files!

Shortly after Gmail went beta, enterprising programmers started developing alternative ways to take advantage of the massive amount of drive space that google offers users.

There are several tools out that allow users to turn that Gmail account into conventional hard drive space for remote storage.  Up until now, every one that I have seen only worked for Windows users.

Today I found one at http://www.gmailharddrive.com.  Simply login to that site using your gmail address and password and you can upload and download files with ease.  And, best of all, it works with my Mac!

I have not tested in Safari, but I know that the service works well in Firefox on OS X 10.4.1.


Steve

UPDATE: 6/27/05
It looks like Google did not appreciate the name the site was using, so they took action.  The site has been renamed www.xmailharddrive.com as a result.

It looks like the site is still off line as of 6/27/05, but should be back online very soon.


Steve

iPhantom: Secure & Anonymous Internet Access

Here’s an interesting new security product designed with the average end-user in mind.  It’s called iPhantom, and if it lives up to its claims, it may be the single best way to keep a Windows based machine secure online.

The box is very small.  Simply plug it in between the computer and the cable modem / DSL Modem, and activate the device online.  Then the device acts as a unique type of proxy sending all internet traffic from your computer to iPhantom servers and then out to its intended destination.  Then, the return traffic passes back to your computer via the iPhantom proxy servers.

According to the literature I have read, this has many advantages.  First of all, all traffic between the iPhantom device and the iPhantom proxy servers is highly encrypted.  It also masks all of your traffic leaving the IP address of the iPhantom proxy server in the log files of any place you visit.  Your actual IP address is never recorded as it has been masked.

iPhantom also takes advantage of its ability to filter all of your traffic in order to provide active anti-virus and spyware protection.  Malicious files are filtered from your requests in real time.  And, best of all, this is all done in the iPhantom hardware which means that there is no software to install that might slow down your machine.  It also makes the device truly platform independent.

All of this happens seamlessly to the end user.  He, or she, sees the internet the same way they always have.  They are now just safer, and anonymous.

The device is currently prices at $69.95.  Keep in mind you will also need to pay a monthly subscription fee of $14.95.  This keeps you up to date with all of the latest virus definitions and such.

If you run a Windows machine and you are tired of dealing with viruses and spyware, just buy a Macintosh.  If a Mac is not in your budget, then this might just be the next best thing!  :-)

But, in all seriousness, regardless of your computer platform, the iPhantom offers a great deal of protection to all uses.  The $14.95 monthly charge seems a bit pricy to me, but it should be well worth the expense.

Read all about the iPhantom here.


Steve

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