Mac Observer: Nearly everyone on board with Blu-ray

Just last evening I was asked about high definition DVD's. "Wait for the format war to die down," I advised. Today comes a report that Blu-ray high definition DVD format is inching closer to being the eventual format. The report says that 90 percent of the consumer electronics segment is supporting Blu-ray, including the major film studios. However, the major holdout is a little computer software company called Microsoft.

Calendar and contact sharing on OS X

For about a year the combination of .Mac and Apple's iCal and Address Book applications worked passably for sharing home and club calendars. However, with my disappointing satellite connection to the internet, the number of connections is limited. This means that more often than not, .Mac synchronization fails. With dogged attention to the matter it seems to sync properly once a month or so.

This leads me back to the other gripes I have about iCal for this use anyway. What we need and the same goes for many small business people and professional couples, is a good way of tracking contacts, calendars and notes. It must be a hers, mine and ours type of arrangement. What I mean by this is I need to have easy access when buying concert tickets to see both of our schedules. My work appointments need to show up but not to everybody else, though if they want to look at them they can.

So far I've looked at several possibilities without much satisfaction. These include:

  • Now-Up-To-Date and Contact
  • DayLite
  • Group Organizer
  • Apple's iCal and Address Book with .Mac

A few more requirements factor in as well. The following traits for the solution are desired:

  • Easily share and add calendar and contacts for each other
  • Sync with 2 Powerbooks, 2iMacs and 1 Desktop G5
  • Sync with Palm and ideally iPods as well
  • Work both on-line and offline

Of course none of the solutions seems to do it all. The matrix below attempts to score each one and then provide some comments on the strengths and weaknesses of each.

iPod blues

I've been working on a friend's iPod recently. The otherwise healthy iPod has started freezing every time you move songs to it. Choose a batch of 20 songs and 5 or 6 will transfer fine and seven will die. The real problem is that it is not just the iPod that freezes but the whole computer. The machine (running Mac OS X 10.4) will stop completely. A few processes are "stuck" but even attempting to shut-d. own or restart the computer don't work. The only solution is to power down the computer and restart it. After a restart the whole scenario plays out again.

After several tries with other iPods and the computer it seemed to be a problem with the specific iPod. A trip to Apple Care and back and they report the iPod is just fine. Upon transferring the next set of songs the familiar freeze was back. The iMac locked up completely. Had Apple Care missed something? Why did this computer that works with other iPods not work with this iPod.

Eventually I decided to reload the iTunes library to make sure there wasn't a problem with the library itself. After taking all the files out and re-importing them there was no difference. Could it be the cable? The cable had been used for a couple of years and had never really been taken anywhere or used in any other way. However, it occurred to me at that point that the "other iPods" that were working fine were all USB models. Plugging the ill-functioning iPod into the USB cable it performs flawlessly. Somewhere along the line one of two things has happened. Either there is a problem with the firewire cable, which I'm still skeptical about, or there is a problem with the OS on the iMac and how it recovers from firewire errors.

Daylight Savings Time

Dave Winer suggests on his weblog that clocks on Macintosh computers don't automatically adjust to Daylight Savings Time. This is incorrect if you have the time set to automatically sync at least. Not only does it know when to end daylight savings time but it knows that for the time being Indianapolis is on Eastern Standard Time, at least until next spring when Indiana begins observing Daylight Savings Time in April. All of this comes just in time for the new federal law which will change the dates for Daylight Savings Time in 2007.

Reality distortion?

Over at Slate Jack Shafer criticizes media that "salute every shiny gadget " Apple produces. In the complaint he goes on to say "At least the techie readers of Engadget, free of the Apple mind-meld, recognize the V-iPod[sic] as a deliberately crippled by copy protection, low-res, underpowered video appliance that is merely Apple's first try in the emerging market of video players."

Funny. It has been at least a few months since the same things were said about an Apple release. Remember all the claims of "ho-hum", "tired", "been there" quotes that the "knowledgeable" people had to say about the iPod Shuffle. All the while the horribly incorrect mainstream media reported what consumers said. At the end of the day, or in this case the fiscal year, it turns out to be Apple that is laughing all the way to the bank as long as they can keep the diminutive blockbusters on the shelf.

It's funny that the "knowledgeable" folks who will be rushing out in a year to buy the product that average consumers have found to be fantastic.


Subscribe to Computing