50 Random Observations on “Tiger”

Posted by Mark

Warning: For mac geeks only. A guy who got Tiger has posted 50 observations about whats new. Tivo-Guy got and installed Tiger yesterday and hopefully I will get it off him today. Can’t wait. [Link]


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Upgrade Your Aging Mac

Posted by Mark

I have a G4 733mhz PowerMac at home and its really starting to show its age. I have been wanting to get a G4 1.4GHz upgrade chip for a while now so today I was checking amazon and to my surprise they now have a 1.7Ghz upgrade chip! But the problem is I don’t know if I should pay $500 and upgrade my mac or pay more and just get a new one.

I don’t like the current PowerMac G5’s. I have a Dual 2GHz G5 here at work and I just think it lacks personality. Nat and my Brother both have 12inch PowerBooks and I don’t like those also. They seem very fragile and look very normal. My favorite Macs at the moment are the iMacs and the iBooks. I used to have an iBook before but it died. I think they are a really good steal. For $999 you get a gorgeous 12inch iBook with a CD-Writer, Wifi, Bluetooth, and a 1.2Ghz chip. I also like the 20inch iMac’s because they are so fucking huge yet so small at the same time.

So I guess if I had a lot of money I would turn my current mac into a server and I would get a 20inch iMac and a 12inch iBook.

If anyone is interested in checking out the 1.7Ghz upgrade for the mac here is the amazon link.


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What do you carry with you?

Posted by Mark

I was having a discusion with K about the stuff we carry around with us all the time. He was telling me how if the PSP came with a 60GB drive we could drop the iPod. I went ahead and mentioned if the PSP also had PDA abilities I could drop my PDA. Basically it turns out we both carry a lot of gadgets with us. He carries the following with him: laptop / pda / phone / psp / ipod.

I carry the following with me always: camera / phone / psp / ipod / moleskine / 3 types of pens / swissarmy knife / keys / wallet / hand sanitizer / fresh mouth spray

What do you carry with you?


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Adobe, Freehand and Previous Acquisitions

Posted by Mark

Yesterday Adobe announced a merger with Macromedia. The largest issue I saw with the merger was that Freehand would be killed off. That didn’t matter to me since I prefer Adobe Illustrator but I know there are many designers who prefer Freehand. So I decided to do some research and this is what I found out.

It turns out that this is not the first time Adobe buys a company that owns competing products. Back in 1994, Adobe purchased the company Aldus which back then was releasing Freehand which it marketed under license from Altsys Corporation. Adobe also picked up Aldus’s PhotoStyler which was a competing product for Photoshop and Hitchcock which competed against Adobe Premier.

After the merger, Adobe killed both PhotoStyler and Hitchcock in-favor of its own stronger products Photoshop and Premier. Freehand was the biggest issue back then though. The merger between Aldus and Adobe came close to collapsing many times because Altsys Corporation who had licensed out FreeHand to Aldus claimed that it would be unfairly hampered by Adobe’s competing product Illustrator. To resolve this issue once the merger took place FreeHand was sold off to Macromedia. Now after yesterdays Adobe and Macromedia merger, Freehand is back with Adobe.

The biggest gain of the Adobe and Aldus merger was the software Pagemaker. Pagemaker was released in 1985 and is generally credited with creating the desktop publishing field.

The issue with Adobe’s GoLive webdesign software conflicting with the newly acquired Macromedia Dreamweaver software was also dealt with before. In 1999, Adobe acquired GoLives CyberStudio software and renamed it to Adobe GoLive. With that acquisition, Adobe killed its own webdesign software PageMill due to the superiority GoLive had.

In conclusion, although the merger between Adobe and Macromedia is a big thing, its also not the first time something like this has happened. Out of the previous mergers Adobe was able to improve its suite and benefit us all. But, monopolies never are a good thing either and if Adobe decides to slack off then we will all be in trouble. Many people are now expecting Adobe to purchase its major desktop publishing competitor Quark. But I believe that might not happen since all Adobe would gain is to kill off a competitor its already slowly but surely beating. So we will now have to wait and see what Adobe will do next.

Resources:
Aldus and Altys settle dispute over FreeHand
The Aldus Adobe Merger
Adobe kills Aldus PhotoStyler, Hitchcock
Aldus on Wiki
Adobe acquires Aldus
About Adobe, Premiere, and All That


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Control your home with a PSP

Posted by Mark

psp

Someone managed to create software for the PSP that allows him to have full control (Play, Stop, Pause, Menu) of his DVD player, TIVO, and High Def TV, all wirelessly from his PSP. [Link]


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Adobe & Macromedia

Posted by Mark

Like Nibaq just posted, Adobe just acquired Macromedia. What does this mean to us? Well first lets see what major software both companies have.

Adobe
Acrobat, Photoshop, Elements, Illustrator, InDesign, GoLive, Premier, After Effects

Macromedia
Flash, Dreamweaver, FreeHand, Director, Fireworks

The biggest and most controversial problem is Illustrator and Freehand. Both softwares are currently being used although in the past few years FreeHand has lost a considerable share of the market, they still have a cult following. But, between Illustrator and Freehand, there is no question, Freehand will die. Its been dying slowly anyway but I am sure the fans will cry murder. Fireworks which conflicts with Photoshop and Elements will also die out, Photoshop has a much larger market share and a much stronger brand. GoLive and Dreamweaver, GoLive is out for sure. Adobe has been trying to play catchup with Dreamweaver for a very long time and this way they can just trash GoLive and pickup the much more popular Dreamweaver. Director will be a very nice addition to the Adobe Suite and I hope they manage to integrate it nicely with the other Adobe software, which I am sure they will. Finally owning both Flash and Acrobat I think is a very strong package, PDF is used a lot in the print world while Flash is used alot in the digital one. Owning both means that they will have a very strong position in both medias. All they need now is to buyout Quark and we will have another Microsoft-like company to deal with.


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The PSP Review

Posted by Mark

Its been a week now since I got my Sony PSP so, here is a review of my impressions.

The Screen
When we first got the PSP, both me and nat were completely surprised at how cool the screen was. It was stunning, nothing like anything we had seen before. Now, a week later, the screen still does look as good but of-course the shock and awe period is over. The colors and the contrast are really perfect. When one of us is playing the other one can still see the screen. The viewing angle didn’t seem to matter much, wherever the other person sits next to you, they will be able to see the screen. The 2 dead pixels are totally invisible. They are still there but they are so small you can’t see them, only when the screen is completely black you might be able to spot them, depending on how good your eyesight is. The screen is huge, and I am sure some people will manage to break it, and that makes me wonder, how much will a replacement screen cost and can it be replaced?

The Controls
The buttons are all laid out like the PS2 controller. The analog controller isn’t what I thought it would be. I was expecting it to be larger and more like the analog controllers on the ps2 and xbox joy-pads, but the one on the psp is smaller and slides in different directions and doesn’t tilt. Its awkward to use but maybe I could get used to it. Until I do though I am have been using the regular directional pad for 95% of the time. One major problem I have is the Power/Sleep button. Its located to the right of the device and sometimes when I get excited and press the R button on top hard, the whole device moves in my hand and that results in me accidently activating the power switch and putting my PSP to sleep. It hasn’t happened a lot but enough for me to mention it as a problem. Luckily they must have thought about this and there is a HOLD button which stops the PSP from accidently getting turned on or off. The start and select buttons are located under the screen next to the mute and brightness buttons. When the room is dark its hard to find the start button and you cant really feel your way to it since it isn’t extruding from the PSP that much. It would have been a lot cooler if the buttons under the screen had backlighting but then I guess it would be annoying when playing games.

The Handling
How does it feel holding the PSP? It’s not perfect but definitely feels better then holding the GameBoy SP. The gameboy SP was squarish and tiny, it never felt comfortable in my hands. The PSP on the other hand is much wider and so allows me to stretch my fingers completely underneath it. I would have preferred it if the PSP had more rounded edges but I am sure it would have made it look a lot uglier.

The Battery Life
When I first got the PSP I was expecting that I would face battery problems but I haven’t yet. The PSP is like a PDA or a phone, you use it through out the day at different intervals, then at night before you sleep you put it on charge. You can save battery life by dimming the screen a bit, it has 3 brightness settings, low, med and high. When the room is dark I have it on low since the high brightness is blinding, this also helps extend the battery life. You can actually keep it on the low setting all the time since really its not low at all and is very usable. Anyway basically I did not have any battery problems. Incase you will be traveling on a long flight, my advice is get an extra battery for $40. Its as easy as replacing the battery on your walkman.

Load Times
I was concerned with load time. I thought the load times would be a real pain. Well they are not. Since most of us own PS2s or Xbox’s then we are used to load times. But the PSP has one advantage over the PS2 and Xbox, sleep mode. With sleep mode you never have to load a game from start which is when most of the loading time goes. Instead, when you want to stop playing, you just hit the power switch and it puts the PSP to sleep. When you want to play again you hit the power switch again and it instantly comes on and you are back to where you left off. You can go to sleep at any point in the game, even in a middle of a race if you want. Its very practical. Load times from menu to game takes around 10 seconds, depending on the game but you don’t really notice it since we are already used to it from our xboxs and ps2s.

Connectivity
You can mount the PSP as an external hard-drive on your PSP by connecting it via USB. Thats if you have a memory-stick installed. Once you connect the PSP to your computer you can do many things. Mainly though you can copy movies, pictures and music onto the PSP. I got a software for my mac called iPSP, this software allows me to sync my PSP with iPhoto, iTunes and even converts any movie I have on my Mac so that it becomes viewable on the PSP. The biggest advantage of this USB connectivity is that you are now able to backup your game-saves AND most importantly, download other peoples saves from the web onto your PSP. Say for example you don’t have the time, skill or patience to open up all the cars in Need For Speed (cough cough like me cough cough) you can just download a 100% Complete save from the web and then copy it onto your PSP and just like that you now have all the cars and money you could ever dream of. Its all very easy. If you have wifi at home you can connect your PSP to the web to play multiplayer games or to download updates. It was very easy to connect the PSP to the local network and once I did it I was able to click the Download Content button in the game WipeOut Pure and the PSP opened up a web browser and took me to the WipeOut site. They didn’t have any content for me to download but when they will I would be able to get it. Once you are connected to the web there is a button in the main menu which checks and sees if your PSP has the latest software installed, if not, then it would download it for you and install it. In the near future you will be able to play games online against other people but at the moment no online multiplayer games exist.

tony hawk face mapping

The Games
I have WipeOut Fury, Tony Hawk and Need For Speed.

Tony Hawk – With Tony Hawk I was able to map my face onto a skater! I always wanted to do that. Basically what you do is you take your picture (I used my passport photo), and you save it as a 128×128 pixel jpg and you copy it onto your psp. Then in the game there is an option to download face, you click it, find your picture and press ok. Thats it, then you make minor adjustmants like skin tone and stuff and you are done. In the picture above I was trying to get my nose the right proportion. The game in general is basically exactly like the console versions. If you want a full review check out IGN.

WipeOut Pure – Wipeout is a showoff the system graphics game. Everytime I am showing off the PSP to someone I load Wipeout. Its fast, its 3D and its futuristic.

Need For Speed – This is currently the most game I play. Its extremely fast, and the graphics are also cool. Its my pick up and play anywhere game.

Conclusion
The PSP is definitely the coolest portable game system out there. The only competition is the Nintendo DS which pales in comparison. The PSP is not cheap but its not meant for kids either. The PSP is also not just a game system, its a portable entertainment center. Its a movie player, music player, picture viewer, videogame system and maybe in the future an internet browser. The system has a lot of potential and I am person waiting for MAME to be ported to the PSP, that would kick ass. Final score 4.5 out of 5.


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What I got from Al-Ghanim

Posted by Mark

I passed by Al-Ghanim Electronics yesterday because I needed to buy a fridge. While there I also picked up laserprinter and scanner. Last time I bought a laserprinter was in 1996, it was an HP 5L I believe. It was a pretty decent laserprinter but later on in its life I was getting a lot of paper jams. I actually don’t think I ever changed the toner for it either. Thats what I love about laserprinters, you buy them and you forget about them. No need to keep buying expensive ink and if you don’t use it for a month or two, nothing clogs up. So yesterday while checking out the printers, I had my eye on two. One was a HP LaserJet 1012 and the other the LaserJet 1160. The first model was around KD69 while the second one KD120. I was gonna go ahead and buy the cheap one but the thing looked really flimsy and problematic. Plus, since I buy a laserprinter once a decade I figured why not pay a bit more and get something that looks like it will last a lot longer. So I went with the LaserJet 1160. While checking out the printers I remembered nat wanted a scanner. So I turned around and found the scanners section. The choices there were a lot easier. Most of the scanners were unknown brands while the most expensive scanner they had was an HP for KD40. So since I had just paid 120 for a printer, 40 sounded very cheap and I got that. Its the HP Scanjet 3970 scanner.

When I was done paying they got me the boxes for my goodies and to my surprise the printers boxed looked like it was open. I went downstairs and noticed the printer I had chosen was not on display anymore! The fuckers tried to give me the printer on display without telling me. So I complained, they apologized and blamed it on the salesman. They then told me I had to go to the Hawalli branch and pick my printer up from there.

Once home I opened all the boxes (new stuff always smell so nice) and set everything up. Everything works perfectly and looks good. Bit my bit my design studio at home is starting to look and feel like a… design studio.


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Porn, Dubai and Bluetooth

Posted by Mark

Just read an article on The Register about how the latest Bluetooth scare is that if you go to the United Arab Emirates, someone might hack your phone, implant porn on it, and you’d end up in jail. There are many people out there with bluetooth phones who could easily fall victim to this. I know this because I have witnessed 2 fellow employees at work, both with new phones and both the first time owning a bluetooth phone. Someone in the office had a nokia phone infected with a virus and it sent it to the 2 new phones, the employees thought someone was trying to chat with them and accepted to install the virus. These were young men in their 20s so imagine the problems older less technology understanding people would face. It would really suck to get thrown in jail for mobile porn.


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The PSP Experience

Posted by Mark

psp

After I left the office yesterday I went home and picked up Nat. I told her we are going to Aramex to pick up the PSP. She was like didn’t they say 8AM tomorrow? I was like whatever, they get the packages tonight, we camp at Aramex till they get them. I was like worse case we have a bunch of magazines that arrived at Aramex last week, we pick those up and read them while we wait. So we get to Aramex at 7PM and right as I am about to open the door of the car, Aramex call me. They tell me my package arrived and I can pick it up. I was like thanks, I am right outside! We pick up the PSP, park on the side of the road and we start tearing up the boxes. Luckily our PSP came with a starter kit which included a car power adapter.

We switch on the PSP, and first thing I start looking for are dead pixels (dots on the screen which don’t change color). There was a speckle of dust on the screen I tried to remove with my finger when I realized that the tiny speckle was a dead pixel. I was like this is it? For some reason I expected it to be bigger, but because the PSP screens pixels are very fine, a dead pixel is barely noticeable even when the whole screen is black. I ended up finding 2 dead pixels, one on the first row and one in the middle right of the screen. Both not noticeable even when looking for them.

We got the Spider Man 2 movie with the PSP so that was the first thing we played. I was totally blown away, the image was extremely clear, sharp and the colors very accurate. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I am no stranger to technology but the screen was like nothing I had seen before. I then put the game WipeOut Pure and let Nataly play till we got home. Once home we were able to try out the other games and get a better feel of the PSP.

My only disappointment is in the sound department. The built in PSP speakers are not good enough. I don’t know what I was expecting but I know I wasnt expecting speakers you would find on a gameboy. With the earphones on though you get totally immersed in the game.

The good things about the PSP? The screen definetly is the coolest thing, when lying in bed at night watching SpiderMan 2, for a brief moment with all the lights off you would think you lived in the future. Its like having a plasma screen that fit into your hand. The load times of the games were unnoticeable. On paper 10 seconds feels a lot but in reality its hardly noticeable, except for the game Tony Hawk were load times were longer then 10 seconds. The battery life was high, I spent 2 hours atleast playing with the PSP and then put the system on standby and today morning I checked and it was still at 90% charge. Also incase you have a spare battery swapping them is very easy.

In conclusion, as I mentioned on Miskan, there is no PSP vs DS war. The war is over. There really wasn’t a war to begin with. While the Nintendo DS is catering for under 18s the PSP is catering for people aged over 18. They are two different machines for two different groups. I will probably definitely get a DS but like my gamecube it will probably gather dust in the cupboard. Click here for a picture of my PSP with my PDA and phone.


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