Thank You, Bo Hume of American Airlines



This article was supposed to be about my first real road trip with the iPad, and how it fared being unplugged and disconnected for a three-day journey. Instead that report goes on the back burner while I tell you another story.

Since 9/11 the airline industry has taken a lot of flack for things outside their control: long security lines, additional passenger screening, and any number of other complaints. In fact you usually only ever hear about an airline when something goes either absurdly or disastrously wrong.

Today was another day of travel for me, upgraded to first class, I enjoyed my lunch and marveled at how enjoyable a traveling companion my iPad is, though I was a bit frustrated by a few games that required network connections to work (the AppStore needs to force apps to note that if it’s the case).

Everything went smoothly, no complaints. Got home, unpacked, changed into beer drinkin’ clothes, and got a phone call from some guy named Bo Hume. Figuring it to be a telemarketer or something, I answered gruffly, “Yes.”

“Is this Leigh McMullen.” Bo asked. Sure sign of someone who doesn’t know me, calling to sell me something, I nearly hung up on him

“Yes.” I said flatly.

“Sir, this is Bo Hume from American Airlines, are you still in the airport?”

I answered that I wasn’t, now a little curious, I travel a lot (executive platinum), maybe they wanted to give me a voucher or something for making me sit in the middle seat in the back of the bus on my way out.

“Well, Sir, the reason I ask is that I found a notebook, or pad or something I think belongs to you.”

My iPad. I hadn’t even realized I’d lost it.

Now stop. How the hell often does it happen that someone calls you to report that you lost something you hadn’t even realized was gone.

We make arrangements to meet, I rush back to the airport, Bo meets me outside, he’s exactly the kind of fella you’d want to have a beer with, even wearing a Dallas Cowboys hat, how could you not like the guy?

He gives me back my iPad, I say to him, “Bo, I really appreciate you getting this back to me, would you accept a small reward for your trouble.”

He smiles back, “No trouble, Sir, just thank you for flying American.”

No, Bo, thank you. Hopefully someone at American will see this, find some creative way to thank you and your whole team. You men and women keep the airplanes I rely on in the air and you do it 30,000 times a day, flawlessly.

Seriously, Thank you.

Hands On: 17″ i7 MacBook Pro



After one of the longest waits in the Intel era, the MacBook Pros were updated Tuesday complete with a migration to the new Intel i5 and i7 architecture. In addition to the CPU update these new top-end notebooks feature better battery life, and the ability to switch from integrated to high performance graphics on the fly. We here at the Cult managed to get our hands on one of the top-dog 17 inch i7 models on Wednesday have have been putting it though it’s paces.

Follow us after the jump for out first impressions and a detailed rundown of the King of the Hill’s real world performance.

i7 Mac Pros Coming?



‘Conventional Wisdom’ (and the rumor mill) suggest that Apple will remain on the Xenon platform for it’s Mac Pro line. Yet, while browsing Geekbench results, I came across this result indicating an i7 powered Mac Pro 4,1, published less than a Half Hour Ago on Geekbench (which also if we remember broke the existence of i7 powered Mac Book Pro’s a couple of months back).

It’s not too far fetched that Apple might use i7’s in its entry-level Mac Pro. While previously the single and dual processor versions of Apples top box were effectively the same, with the only difference being the number of processors installed, the current version changed that. The current Mac Pro’s have already segmented the line with the entry level being powered by Intel Xeon X3540 processors (which can not be deployed in a dual processor configuration), and the top model being powered by the Intel Xeon X5570.

This split is important because for the first time it require Mac Pro’s to have different motherboards, EFI, etc depending on the variant of the pro machine. Since they’ve already segmented the line based upon architecture, it’s all the more reasonable that they might use the i7 in the low-end Mac Pro.

The only argument against this is performance. As bench-marked, the alleged i7 pro-box scores lower than the current entry model. Turning lemons into lemon-aid however, perhaps this is the mid-level (ie between the Mini and the Mac Pro) tower many of us have been waiting for forever.

MacBook Pros UPDATED!!! — Finally



As we reported eariler the Apple Store was closed this morning when I went for my ‘O-Dark-Thirty’ run, and as anticipated, we’ve got new i5 and i7 Macbook Pros to enjoy. I will be picking one up today if possible and will give a full rundown later in the week for an in-depth hands on.

Pricing looks great too, with $200 off the 17″ model. The 17″ configured as I’d buy it with an i7, is just $200 more (or in other words back to the original pricing).

No updates today for Macbook Air, or Macbook Pro… Which is good ’cause I don’t think I could justify to even my generious and understanding wife, upgrading two three thousand dollar machines at once!

Beautiful. Thanks Steve.

Check back here this weekend for a deep-dive hands on.

How iPad Changed My Life



Update: This article is not intended for the Irony challenged.

So I’m a hypocrite. After swearing that there was no way I’d ever own a tablet with a phone operating system, I broke down and got one. At this price point, I don’t see how I couldn’t. The wife couldn’t be happier, one needs just look at my bathroom above to see why. Gone are the endless stacks of magazines and books. Gone, is the image of her husband stuck behind his desk, nose in the computer (now, I’m on the couch, nose in the iPad, but at least being in the same room gives the impression of being engaged with the family).

Follow me after the jump for my impressions after week one.

New Macbooks expected Tuesday



Apparently MicroCenter has got new part numbers in their system for Macbooks, the pricing and models seem to line up nicely to the Macbook Pro lineup. Will this Tuesday be upgrade day? Steve only knows, but my fingers are crossed.

via Macdailynews

Apple Updates Pro Apps, but Where are the Pro Machines?



With the update of many of Apple’s pro apps including Final Cut, and Aperture, the hardware they’re designed to run on is starting to feel a little stale.  Certainly the top of the line Mac Pros, still dominate Geekbench scores for the first thousand pages or so,  but for the first time in the Intel era, the MacBook Pro is no longer the dominant laptop.  So too, is the fate of the entry model Mac Pro, which is finding itself out-classes by average gaming rigs on the PC side.

These updates are Waaaaay past due, I know I’ve got both a Mac Pro and  a 17” Macbook Pro in need of an update, but for those of you not staying up every Monday night in the hopes of a Christmas-like Tuesday morning, here’s the skinny:

  • Mac Pro: last updated 03 March 2009, 388 days ago. Average release cycle: 236 days.
  • Macbook Pro: last updated 08 June 2009, 291 days ago. Average release cycle: 200 days.

Certainly Apple dominates profitability in the computer market, but they do that by staying far, far ahead of the curve in technology, innovation and design.   But that competitive advantage is only sustainable as long as you drive as hard as Apple has historically to stay out front. That’s not happening here with this generation of machines.  This has been the longest wait for Pro Laptops in the Intel era, and so far the second longest wait for a pro tower.

Of course, Steve has words of comfort for the faithful, “Not to Worry” he wrote in response to a like-minded cultist’s query last week.

I’m not worried, Steve. I’d like to say I’m running out of patience, but what choice do I have, really?

…and so the wait continues, see ya on Tuesday…

In Depth: 30 Days with the Nexus One


Google's Nexus One smartphone. CC-licensed picture by ekai.
Google's Nexus One smartphone. CC-licensed picture by ekai.

It’s been a month since my review of Google’s “SuperPhone”, the Nexus One. Since that time, we’ve surfed, updated facebook, navigated, called, played endless hands of cribbage and even tried to freeze it to death on a trip to Dayton Ohio. Follow me after the jump to find out does the “SuperPhone” stand the test of time, or is it a phonebooth’d Clark Kent.

My Tablet Won’t be Running any Silly Phone OS



We’ve been talking about an Apple tablet for years now, and of course, that chatter has boiled over into a frenzy that almost guarantees that Steve will walk on stage with something tablet-ish on the 27th, if for no other reason than the fear of a near-nuclear backlash.

While we’re confident that this will be the greatest innovation in tablets since Moses brought a couple down from Mt. Sinai, that’s all we know. The Apple-Reality-Distortion-Echo-Chamber has progressed from being all a twitter with conflicting expectations to achieving some kind of pig-headed consensus that frankly has got to be totally wrong. Principal among these group-think features is the absurd notion that the Moses Tablet v2.0 will run an OS from a freekin’ Phone.

Follow us after the jump where we taunt the conventional wisdom, until they go home crying to momma.

Google Nexus One: Hands On



I’m not going to use the word “iPhone killer” to describe the Nexus One, such phrasing is trite at best. Not to mention that the only thing that’s going to kill the iPhone will be Apple, and then, only when iPhone 4 or whatever comes out.

That said, of the current crop of pretenders the Nexus One seems to be something special. Follow us after the jump for our first impressions after 48 hours.

All I wanted for Christmas was a Little Nook



This was supposed to be my Nook review. I ordered two way back in early November. I was supposed to be telling you all about the Nook’s awesome-touchiness, fast page turning, loaning books to friends and even giving a short primer on how you can check out books from your local library and read them on your Nook, something Amazon’s Kindle could never do with its proprietary formats.

But I’m not, because it ain’t here.

It isn’t here, despite being assured it would arrive by Dec 12th, then reassured it would get here by the 18th–and then further assured when it didn’t ship Monday, that was gonna ship it super-expedited-over-night-air to make it on time.

It isn’t here and it isn’t gonna be on Friday.

Of course they did ship yesterday, if you call strapping it to the back of a turtle and pointing him in the direction of my house shipping it.

I am assured by BN customer service it will get here Monday, just one business day after their revised, revised again, and yes we really mean it this time, promised date –unfortunately that will be one day too long; since me and my little ones will be heading off to Grandmas house Sunday.

Barnes & Noble, you totally Grinched my Christmas, and I wrote this just for you:

(sung to Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie”)

It came into this world as a prospect
Look into its screen
You can see the covers of your books
Loan ‘em to your friends
Read ‘em in the store
Every page you turn makes you want it even more

But Hey I think about the day
Barnes & Noble ran away with my pay
When it came delivery day
Now it’s stuck in transit in that truck
And I’m just a sucker with a lump of coal

Hey, like a chump… Hey, like a chump… Hey, like a chump

I did it all for the Nookie
The Nookie
So you can take that bookie
And stick it up your, yeah!!
Stick it up your, yeah!!
Stick it up your, yeah!!

Why did it take so long?
Why did I wait so long, huh?
To ship it out? but you didn’t
And I’m not the only one underneath the sun who didn’t get it

How To: Moving from Aperture to Lightroom



Our recent preview of Lightroom 3 – Beta has generated a lot of buzz about the future of digital processing. One of the questions that keeps coming up is: how do I migrate from Aperture to Lightroom?

Well, it’s not has hard as you think, as long as you’re willing to invest a bit of time up-front to do it right.
Follow us after the jump, and we’ll have you loving Lightroom in the amount of time it takes to get a pizza delivered.

First Look: Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta Rocks, With One Big Exception



Even though I own both Adobe’s Lightroom and Apple’s Aperture, I use Lightroom because of the advanced development module, the ability to paint on different exposures, and non-destructive editing. I had very high hopes for Lightroom 3, which Adobe just released in beta, and am pleased to say that with one pretty significant exception, I’m very pleased.

Tutorial Videos and more comments after the jump

CoM Must-Have: Strobist Lighting Seminar


Image: David Hobby,

I am a “Fashionable Photographer”, meaning I own a ridiculously expensive camera, that I barely know how to use, and possess a virtually limitless budget for gear which are little more than fashion accessories to my lifestyle.

Yet despite this I am not the sort of dude that is likely to lay down one hundred and forty bucks on a set of DVD that I could just watch for free on account of a friend loaning them to me.

And yet I did, and I’ll tell you why, after the jump.

Does Snow Leopard Actually Downgrade Performance?



Snow Leopard is being widely touted as a performance increase, but the OS upgrade resulted in a 10-15% performance DECREASE on both my Mac Pro as well as my MacBook Pro — at least, according to the Xbench benchmarking tool.

Now of course, that could just be things that Xbench measures, perhaps it doesn’t account or provide sufficient weight for multi-threading, and multi-tasking. But we would like to get to the bottom of this, and are asking for your help.

If you followed our handy dandy upgrade guide you ought so still have a functioning Leopard install to boot from. If so, please follow this testing protocol:

  1. Power down your machine until cool.
  2. Boot Leopard, and kill all running applications
  3. Run XBench All tests except the drive test**
  4. Upload results using the name: CoM – YOUR NAME – PRE (Uploading XBench results is part of the process. Once you’re done, it asks if you want to upload your results and what name to give it)

Use the same protocol with your Snow Leopard install, but name the result CoM – YOURNAME – POST.

Thanks in advance I’ll be releasing results in the next few days.

** Why no drive test? XBench places too much emphasis on hard drive performance, and in an era where all hard drives perform basically the same, it skews all performance tests to the center. Running the test without drives provides a better picture of the actual performance delta.

Microsoft’s Folly: The Blue Store of Death


"Zombies in a Mall" by Steve Rhodes

I tried to write this article seriously. After all I’m an executive management consultant and an analyst; this is what I do for a living.

Even Leander chimed in, “Leigh, you’re becoming a parody of yourself, a crank only hauled out to rant about stuff and then tucked back in the closet.”

I want you all to know I tried, I really did. But this notion of Microsoft opening up stores is so Dog-Damned Stupid, it makes my fricken head want to explode.

Follow me after the jump to find out why.

It Happened on the Way to DFW…



My real life, I’m a Mac moment.

So I’m siting on an airplane trying to leave DC yesterday, after three hours on the tarmac, and the flight attendants bringing us “Apple Juice” (really just Jack Daniels), even the most stone-faced folks with their noses in books will get chatty. He tells me where he works, they’re a client, I tell him where I work, and so on.

After take off, he sees me trying to watch Lonesome Dove on my ipod and mentions he has a splitter and did I want to watch a movie on his computer. Sure I say.

Well that’s when the fun starts, his computer takes like 10 minutes to boot, Windows had a hard-crash he says. then when the movie starts, it’s all stuttery and such,we try to watch for like 10 minutes, and finally I mention, hey, you wanna try mine? He says, sure, may as well…

I pull out the 17inch Macbook Pro, like it was the gold artifact in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, his eyes go wide, I open the lid, it’s on instantly, I’ve got like half a dozen spreadsheets and documents open, it doesn’t matter, I pop the movie in, it starts right up, as a final floursih I produce my remote control, and set it next to him, “You Drive,” I said.

The punchline: My new friend, is a senior executive at Dell.

The Movie, Lakeview Terrace, not so awesome.

My I’m a Mac Moment, Priceless.

Sound off and share your “I’m a Mac Moments” in the comments, I’ll pull them together into a best of post later in the week!

CoM’s Totally Unbiased Review of Windows 7: Debasing Myself So You Don’t Have To



The first question that should leap to mind is: “Why on earth is CoM reviewing Windows?” Frankly, for many professionals, we have no choice. Many of us have to use Windows software in the course of our jobs, or at a minimum use web applications that require that bane to open standards developers everywhere: Internet Explorer.

There’s no easy way to do this, so lets just rip off the band-aid and see if there’s a scab underneath.

Microsoft: Not Cool at Any Price



Number Seven Hundred and Thirty Six on the list of things that really torque me off are people who intentionally and knowingly mislead folks for fun and profit. And to this list of Mortgage Brokers, Right Wing Talk Radio Hosts, and Tobacco Lobbyists, we can now add Roger L. Kay president of Endpoint Technology Associates (aside — people who are ‘president’ of companies employing 50 or less people, are number 977 on the list of things that annoy the crap out of me.)

El Presidente Roger authored a white paper at the behest of Microsoft titled: “What Price Cool” which serves to illuminate us all as to how we all have been paying some imaginary “Hidden Apple Tax” all these years.

Of course, a younger man might shrug this drivel off, yet as I grow older I find my patience for such things eroding. While I’m not quite at the yelling at kids to get off my lawn stage, I am quite crotchety enough to spend my Saturday night debunking this garbage.

Follow me after the jump where we reveal the obviousness with which Le President Kay sold his credibility.

‘Game Over’, AppleTV (Watch Your Back HBO)



AppleTV is dead, it just hasn’t stopped moving yet.  With fewer than 2 million units sold, it hasn’t achieved the commercial success of its rivals, and continues as a failed effort on the part of Apple to extend the digital hub into the living room.

The final nail in AppleTV’s coffin comes yesterday as Netflix announces a digital only subscription option, but the fatal shot was fired back in November.  Follow me after the jump, as we discuss how Netflix strategy not only killed AppleTV but also threatens more than just longtime rival Blockbuster, and what (if anything) Apple can do about it.