Technologizer posts about Apple Macintosh

Pauli Olavi Ojala does a good job of making the case against upcoming Apple rules–similar to those already in place for iOS–which will greatly restrict the capabilities of OS X programs that are sold through the Mac App Store:

Need to access hardware using something else than USB, for example Thunderbolt, FireWire or Bluetooth? Tough luck. (Just because these interfaces are on your Mac doesn’t mean Apple wants anyone to use them via 3rd party software.)

Need to communicate with processes that your app didn’t directly start, or perhaps take screenshots? Not going to happen.

Maybe you’d like to read and write files in a known location on a network disk? Not possible, unless you pop up the Open/Save dialog for every file.

There are two reasons not to get too worked up over the new regulations. One is that software developers don’t have to use the App Store–and software distributed through other channels doesn’t have to hew to the new policies. The other is that the sandboxing that Apple is enforcing has real benefits. (The company may say that Macs “just work,” but its sandboxed OS-based products are far more reliable than a Mac or any other old-school PC.)

If Apple ever starts to make it difficult to avoid the Mac App Store, I’ll get alarmed. (I’m already worried about Microsoft’s apparent plans to permit distribution of new-style Windows 8 software only through its app store.) But as long as the App Store is avoidable, I think we’re okay. Think of buying non-App Store apps for your Mac as being like jailbreaking your computer–except you don’t actually have to jailbreak anything.

Posted by Harry at 9:48 am


A Strange Sort of Prison, a Strange Sort of Freedom

By  |  Posted at 5:19 pm on Sunday, October 9, 2011


Free software advocate and GNU creator Richard Stallman has blogged that he’s glad Steve Jobs is gone. That’s, um, gauche. But it’s not why I bring up his post. He also calls Jobs “the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom.”

Apple products? Jails. Cool ones. Apple fans? Jailbirds. Foolish ones. Got that?

Eric S. Raymond, also a free software advocate, has also written about Jobs’ passing. He’s more dignified about it, but the gist is similar. He says:

What’s really troubling is that Jobs made the walled garden seem cool. He created a huge following that is not merely resigned to having their choices limited, but willing to praise the prison bars because they have pretty window treatments.

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As major operating-system upgrades go, I’ve found Apple’s OS X 10.7 to be smoother sailing than most. But Apple has released 10.7.1, an update with the sort of minor fixes that usually show up in the first update to an upgrade. The Loop’s Peter Cohen has some details.

Posted by Harry at 10:46 pm

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Iomega’s New Hard Drive is for iPad-Owning Mac Users

By  |  Posted at 6:00 am on Tuesday, August 2, 2011


How can hard-drive companies jump on the iPad bandwagon? Seagate and Hitachi have created wireless drives designed to work with Apple’s tablet. Iomega is taking another approach. Its Mac Companion Hard Drive is a standard USB hard disk–and a desktop model at that–designed to charge an iPad.

As seen above, the Companion features an Apple-esque design and is sized to fit on the stand of an iMac or Apple monitor. It can connect to a Mac via FireWire 400/800 or USB 2.0, and has both a two-port USB 2.0 hub and the high-powered charging port required by the iPad.  (The USB 2.0 is a tipoff that Iomega really intends this drive for Mac users–otherwise, the company has been aggressively moving to USB 3.0, a technology which no Mac yet supports.)

The Companion is available in 1TB ($195) and 2TB ($295) versions, carries a three-year warranty, and will be available only at the Apple Store at first.

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Apple says that a million copies of OS X 10.7 Lion were downloaded on its first day in the Mac App Store. I asked my Twitter pals who’d downloaded and installed it how the process went, and heard mostly positive reports. (And a couple of horror stories–I don’t think there was ever a new operating system that installed successfully on 100% of computers.)

Posted by Harry at 1:51 pm

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For some folks–developers, especially–this is great news: Apple says you can run virtualized copies of OS X 10.7 Lion, as long as you’re doing it on a Mac with a paid-for copy of the operating system.

Posted by Harry at 5:04 pm


My Technologizer column this week is a look at the recent Mac Defender trojan attacks, and how Mac users should respond to the first really meaningful security issue in OS X history.

Posted by Harry at 11:05 am

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Coming on Monday: WWDC 2011 Live Blog Coverage

By  |  Posted at 6:29 pm on Thursday, June 2, 2011

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On Monday June 6th at 10am PT, I’ll be at San Francisco’s Moscone West for Steve Jobs’ WWDC keynote. It sounds packed, packed, packed–we’ll get our last big look at OS X 10.7 Lion before it ships, and our first big looks at the next version of iOS, and the long-rumored service now known as iCloud. And rumor has it that there are occasionally surprise announcements at these events. (I’m told Jobs likes to keep them until the end.)

I’ll blog the keynote news as it happens, with color commentary from special guest Doug Aamoth of Techland. Tens of thousands of folks attended our last Apple live coverage (the iPad 2 announcement), but we’ll save room for you. Join us at–and go there now to sign up for an e-mail reminder if you like.

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Apple Moving Macs to ARM? If History is Any Guide, That’s…Entirely Plausible

By  |  Posted at 3:30 pm on Friday, May 6, 2011


A Web site with the wonderful name SemiAccurate is reporting that it’s a “done deal” that Apple will dump Intel chips for ones based on the ARM architecture used in most smartphones and tablets, including the iPhone and iPad–and it’ll do it “as soon as possible.” I tend to be skeptical about rumors of great big news that come from not-so-well-known sites. But I’m nowhere near as skeptical as VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar:

Seems to me that there are several factors that make a Mac move to ARM plausible, or least very far from unthinkable…

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Apple has released (through the Mac App Store) a beta version of OS X 10.7 Lion to paid members of its Mac developer program–tangible evidence that the upgrade is on schedule for summer release. The OS upgrade focuses on features inspired by the iPad, such as a full-screen mode, more use of gestures, a Launchpad that looks like the iPad’s home screen, and Mission Control, which melds together the existing Exposé, Spaces, and Dashboard features. It also lets apps incorporate auto-save modes, has a new version of the Mail app, adds a no-configuration-required file-sharing feature called AirDrop, and more.

Posted by Harry at 7:51 am

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So How Was Macworld This Year?

By  |  Posted at 9:13 am on Monday, January 31, 2011

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I had fun speaking at Macworld about the future of the mobile market last Wednesday. (Below, for no particular reason other than that I like it, is an image from my presentation–making the point that Android is less like Windows and more like Linux–actually, it is Linux under the skin.) I had even more fun listening to the guy who spoke after me–Bill Atkinson, who was one of the principal creators of the Mac in the early 1980s and who’s now (among other things) an iPhone developer. And I enjoyed walking the show floor Thursday morning.

When Apple announced in December of 2008 that it was puling out of Macworld, there were plenty of folks who predicted that the show would be dead within a year or two. And it did go through a great downsizing in 2010–but it may have found a new, more modest equilibrium. The show had 270 exhibitors this year and conference organizer IDG says it went into the event expecting 25,000 attendees; last year’s edition had “over” 250 exhibitors and “more than” 20,000 attendees. (The 2009 show, the last that Apple was present for, had 400 exhibitors and more than 28,000 attendees.)

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Pixelmator’s Million-Dollar Mac App Store Results

By  |  Posted at 10:01 am on Tuesday, January 25, 2011


How well can a small software company do on Apple’s new Mac App Store? Very well indeed, if the results reported by the developers of Pixelmator, an image editor, are any indication.

They say that the app grossed a million dollars in sales in the App Store’s first twenty days. The program sells for $29.99 (a limited-time discount from the normal price of $59), so that’s more than 33,000 copies. The Pixelmator folks will net $700,000; Apple will keep $300,000 as its cut.

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Confessions of an Operating-System Agnostic

By  |  Posted at 9:40 am on Friday, December 17, 2010


[NOTE: Here's a story from our most recent Technologizer's T-Week newsletter--go here to sign up to receive it each Friday. You'll get original stuff that won't show up on the site until later, if at all.]

Whenever I write about the pros and cons of Windows PCs and Macs–as I did recently for–I make at least brief mention of the fact that I’m a happy user of both. But I’m not sure if I’ve ever outlined just why I buy and use both flavors of computer rather than settling on one or the other. Here are some quick thoughts on that subject.

First, a review of my life as a user of operating systems might be in order. For most of it, I was a single-OS user–sometimes ardently so…

1978-1982: I was a Radio Shack TRS-80 snob (thinking back, that sounds like an oxymoron, but trust me–I was one).

1982-1984 or thereabouts: I had and liked an Atari 400, but I don’t recall being passionate about it. I also backslid and did a fair percentage of my college work on…typewriters.

1984-1986: I went through an odd period during which I temporarily lost interest in computers, except for word processing.

1987-1991: I dabbled on a borrowed Mac, but I also bought a Commodore Amiga and became a–I try to avoid this word, but it’s the only one that fits–fanboy.

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Apple’s Mac Store is a Go. And the Mac is a PC

By  |  Posted at 11:48 am on Thursday, December 16, 2010


Apple has announced that its Mac App Store will open for business on January 6th. It’s a close counterpart to the iPhone App Store–easy app discovery, downloads, installs, and uninstalls, and a deal that gives developers 70 percent of the profits. But the dynamics of the business may be quite different given that the Mac Store will be an additional way to acquire apps rather than the only official one. I’m reserving judgement on how big a deal it’ll be. (Actually, I’m not even sure how much I’ll use it, let alone the rest of the world.)

Apple’s announcement about the launch included the following Steve Jobs quote:

The App Store revolutionized mobile apps,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We hope to do the same for PC apps with the Mac App Store by making finding and buying PC apps easy and fun. We can’t wait to get started on January 6.

This isn’t the first time that Jobs has referred to Macs as PCs. And it doesn’t pay to read too much into canned quotes in press releases. But it’s been my stubborn habit to call Windows-based computers “Windows PCs” for years, based on the principle that Macs are also personal computers. It’s nice to see Apple–a company that has been known to bash PCs–using the same logic. To me, it’s linguistically and technologically appropriate. And who knows–Windows users might be a tiny bit more likely to consider buying an Apple computer if they look at them as an excellent PC rather than a fundamentally different, foreign device.

(I was tempted to end this post by wondering whether Jobs’ reference to PCs was a hint that the company might release an App Store for Windows PCs. But nah, it’s not going to happen…)


My new Technologizer column is up–it’s a quick look at the pros and cons of Macs and PCs as of late 2010. As always, I’m agnostic rather than partisan.

I talk a little bit in the piece about pricing issues, but they deserve a story of their own–the pricing comparisons I’ve done in the past are all woefully out of date.  (I’ve often found that Mac pricing is reasonable compared to truly comparable PCs, but it seems high at the moment–it’s been a while since Apple has done its periodic CPU/RAM/disk bumps on most models. Time to do the math again.)

Posted by Harry at 9:40 am