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Fake Steve Jobs Is Back

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Dan Lyons at a San Francisco book signing in 2007 with tech podcaster Veronica Belmont and Bike Helmet Girl, a recurrent character in the Secret Diary.

Steve Jobs may not be back to work yet, but Fake Steve is.

Fake Steve Jobs (aka Newsweek columnist Dan Lyons) has started blogging again.

Over the weekend, Fake Steve made a series of off-color jokes about Steve Jobs’ recent liver transplant. The posts are classic Fake Steve  — sick, tasteless and LOL funny.

Unfortunately, it may not last.

Safari 4 Tops 11M Downloads, 6M On Windows.

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Safari 4 has several unique features, like full history search with Cover Flow images of sites visited. Image: Apple.

Safari 4 has been downloaded 11 million times is the first three days of release, Apple said in a press release on Friday — and 6 million of those were on Windows. There’s more Windows users running Apple’s  browser than Mac users.

Eleven million downloads in three days is quite impressive, but not a record. In June last year, Mozilla set a Guinness World Record with 8 million downloads of Firefox 3 in one day — the most downloaded software in 24 hours.

Apple claims Safari 4 is the fastest, most innovative browser available (It executes JavaScript nearly 8x faster than IE 8 and loads HTML web pages more than 3x faster than IE 8, Apple claims).

The browser will get better with the release of Snow Leopard in September. Says Apple:

“In Mac OS X Snow Leopard, available later this year, Safari runs as a 64-bit application, boosting the performance of the Nitro JavaScript engine by up to 50 percent. Snow Leopard makes Safari more resistant to crashes by running plug-ins in a separate process, so even if a plug-in crashes, Safari continues to run and the user simply has to reload the affected page. Safari running on Snow Leopard also delivers HTTP streaming, making it easy to deliver high-quality audio and video in industry standard formats from any web server without the need for browser plug-ins.”

Safari 4 was officially launched on Monday at WWDC, but had been widely available for months as a beta.

Apple Confirms: Steve Jobs Back To Work In Weeks

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CC-licensed picture by Marc Amos

It’s official — Steve Jobs will be back to work as planned at the end of June.

Speaking at WWDC, Apple’s top marketing executive, Phil Schiller, reiterated the company’s line that Jobs will be returning to Apple at the end of this month after six month’s medical leave.

“That’s still our statement,” said Schiller, who is Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.

As one of Apple’s top executives, Schiller’s word is as good as gospel.

It’s not the first time the company has said Jobs will returning to work in June. At Apple’s annual shareholders’ meeting in late February, the company said he planned to return to work this month.

Meanwhile, Jobs has been deeply involved in the company even while on leave.

“These products have been in development for a while, so of course Steve has been very involved in them all along,” said Schiller. “You could say that Steve has stayed on top of some of the key strategic things at Apple throughout [his leave].”

Jobs unexpectedly took medical leave in January, saying his declining health was “more complex” that previously believed. He said at the time he would be returning in June, but his rapid weight loss in 2008 and various conflicting statements about his health has led many to be pessimistic about his prospects of returning to work.

Link: Daily Telegraph.

New iPhone Specs Support Claims of Faster Performance

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T-Mobile.nl has posted specs for the iPhone 3GS that indicate Apple’s new 16GB and 32GB mobile devices will sport 600 MHz processors and carry 256MB of RAM when they hit the market later this month.

Current iPhones operate with a 412 MHz chip and have but 128 MB of RAM, so it would appear the new models will be equipped to fulfill the promises of a much faster, snappier UI that Apple made in introducing the phones Monday at WWDC in San Francisco.

The company has given developers at WWDC few details about the guts of the new models, but they are believed to run a new PowerVR SGX graphics processing unit which provides support for OpenGL ES 2.0., which is good news for users, though it could cause headaches for developers who want their apps to be backward compatible with original iPhones and 3G models introduced in 2008.

Stay tuned for the inevitable iFixit teardown shortly after the phones are released to find out what’s really underneath that oil-resistant glass.

Latest Snow Leopard and iPhone 3.0 OS (With Tethering) On Bittorrent

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The latest developer build of Snow Leopard and the iPhone 3.0 OS software (which aqllows tethering) are available on the Bittorrent file-sharing network.

Programmers at WWDC got the latest version of Snow Leopard on a DVD, but now the same build (10a380) is available on Bittorrent. The build is 5.84GB and will require a dual layer DVD burner to install. Apple said on Monday the developer build of Snow Leopard is “near complete,” but will likely see extensive changes between now and September, when it will be officially released.

Likewise, the final version of the iPhone 3.0 OS — which will be available officially next week on June 17 — can be downloaded from the file-sharing networks. And for some inexplicable reason, the software supports tethering.

The 3.0 software can be easily installed via iTunes onto an iPhone or iPod touch. However, users have to download the correct version of the software for their device. That is, the firmware for the original iPhone will not work on the iPhone 3G. The 9to5 website says the software may make it harder to unlock the phone’s SIM. In the comments, the site’s readers report no major problems installing or running the software.

“It works fine,” said one commenter. “You can upgrade your current 2.0 firmware in iTunes and not lose any data – all my apps still work perfectly and the phone has been running fine all day (installed last night), snappier than before even. seem to be losing the cool ‘fade’ action you get when quitting an app a lot of the time though.”

Previous developer builds of the 3.0 software have been available on Bittorrent for some time, but installing it required registering the device’s ID through a developer’s account. The latest OS build however does not require device registration, and is said to the same software that will be officially available next week.

To enable tethering, go to Settings > General > Network > Set Up Internet Tethering

NOTE: Only a desperate freak installs dodgy software off the internet onto their cell phone just a week before getting it officially, and for free. Proceed at your own risk.

Twitter On Fire With Anti-AT&T Complaints

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Twitpic by John Atilano

One day after Apple’s triumphant WWDC, angry iPhone users are burning up Twitter with invective aimed at AT&T.

Twitter users are complaining in their thousands about the ways AT&T has dropped the ball: no iPhone 3G S subsidy for current iPhone customers; and no support for important new features like MMS and tethering when the new iPhone launches on June 19.

The #attfail hashtag is attracting many of the complaints about missing features and upgrades, as is the #iphone3gs hashtag, and AT&T’s official corporate account. Hundreds of complaints are being sent directly to the account, and there appears to be no messages at all defending the company.

Meanwile, a pair of Twitter petitions, or “twititions,” are hoping to pressure AT&T and 02, the UK iPhone carrier, to offer “reasonable upgrade prices” for current iPhone 3G customers.

The O2 twitition has attracted about 2,500 signatures by Tuesday afternoon (PST), and the AT&T twitition about 1,500. The AT&T twitition was started later in the day, but both are spreading fast through retweets.

What It Would Really Take For Apple To Crack the Enterprise Market

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Outside of the iPhone brouhaha, much of the buzz at WWDC today has been about whether the system-level support for Microsoft Exchange e-mail and calendaring in OS X Snow Leopard and various encryption options for Mac and iPhone would finally allow Apple to make serious in-roads in corporate America. Well, at least if corporate IT guys will give them a chance, that is.

In spite of Lonnie’s optimism, I think Apple is just as far today from mainstream adoption in big business as it was yesterday and pretty much every day of its entire history. As I’ve written before, the Steves founded Apple in large part because they thought that the IBMs and HPs of the world were holding back the potential of computers to transform our society.

Consequently, the organization’s entire self-image and frame of reference over time has been that big business is all too willing to adopt mediocre technologies based solely on a reputation for reliability. Macs have long provided superior tools for creative endeavors like graphic design and video editing, which is why Macs have a huge niche in corporate marketing departments, but the same can’t be said for other business pursuits.

Apple has a huge opportunity right now to make serious in-roads in the enterprise market while corporations resist upgrading to Windows Vista and don’t yet know whether or not they can trust Windows 7. But Apple won’t make big gains unless they take more drastic measures, three of which I outline below. Bear in mind, I’m not saying this is what Apple should do, just that this is what it would take to succeed in business.

Start making cheap computers with standardized parts.From the early 1990s until the sale to Lenovo, IBM’s ThinkPad line of notebooks defined the look, feel and attitude of computers for business. They were black, rugged, and nearly identical in industrial design. A machine from 1999 looked pretty much the same as one from 2003. Corporate IT managers loved ThinkPads because people generally couldn’t tell if their co-workers had a newer or better machine than theirs — the exterior was always a constant. All that, and frequently replaced parts like batteries and power supplies were common across the decade. If it worked on one, it worked on another.

Recent years have seen the trend that IBM began extrapolated upon in the corporate market. These days, it’s not just that corporations prefer to buy identical machines for employees at all levels — they’ve also chopped their budgets for PCs dramatically while increasing spending on servers and data centers. And that means that low-cost strategy players like Dell and HP are winning with large-screen machines for less than $500 (or significantly less at large volumes). If Apple wants to even think about competing, it would need to get cheap quickly and make compromises that the company has diligently avoided over the years. And do you really think business wants a line-up of laptops without replaceable batteries? Not in this galaxy.

Why Apple Stuck With the Same iPhone Hardware Design

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Apple’s shocking new iPhone 3G S design.

No matter how great an Apple Keynote goes, there are always disappointments. Changes not made, rumors left unrealized. For this year’s WWDC, Apple actually managed to avoid most of these (other than anything that has to do with the strength of AT&T’s network or upgrade pricing for existing customers). We got a more powerful iPhone, meaningful upgrades to the unibody MacBook Pro line, and release announcements for both iPhone OS 3.0 and OS X Snow Leopard. Other than a few pipe dreams (Steve Jobs riding in on a white tiger, cold fusion-powered tabler), Apple did a great job by hitting a whole bunch of base hits. No home runs, but no strike-outs, either.

Except for one thing: the all-new iPhone 3G S looks exactly like a previous-generation iPhone, to the point that there is no way at all to tell the new 16 GB model from the model it replaces — even in the fine print on the back. This was a shock to many folks, myself included, who were expecting Apple to change things up with a new black frame to replace the familiar chrome and a rubberized matte case to provide a more durable experience.

Why? What could Apple possibly gain from letting its industrial design team copy and paste? Don’t they want us all lost in lust?

Of course they do — which is why Apple has been putting design resources into product lines that are either brand new or waning. The iPhone sells itself today. A specification bump alone is enough to set off an Internet frenzy about AT&T’s unjust policies (check Twitter if you don’t believe me), and there will be longer lines outside Apple Stores on June 19 to get what is ultimately an incremental upgrade to the iPhone than there were this weekend to launch the much-hyped Palm Pre. That’s with the case staying exactly the same — what could Apple possibly gain by throwing a ton of work into a redesign that can’t even alter the screen or home button?

Look at the current line of unibody laptops. A year ago, Apple’s notebook line-up was a complete shambles. MacBook Pros still looked like late-generation PowerBooks. The black and white MacBooks were under-powered and over-heavy. And Apple offered nothing to someone who wanted a small form factor and significant power. Apple Design first launched the MacBook Air in January and then rolled out its signature design elements into every single product in the family. That kind of design focus has made the unibody MacBook Pros some of the best computers Apple has ever made, in addition to being the best-selling in company history. The design team’s abilities transformed Apple’s line-up from long in the tooth to desirable in a few months.

So what’s Apple got the industrial team cooking up now? I can’t say with certainty, but people better-connected than me claim that the long-requested iTablet is real and on its way — exactly the kind of new to the world product that demands serious design attention from Jonathan Ive and team. The scenarios of use are different. A bigger exposed screen raises serious questions about protection. And, quite honestly, I don’t know if anyone outside of Silicon Valley will quite know what to make of it unless Apple designs it perfectly and makes it very clear how to use it and why you would want to. It needs attention to thrive.

Eleven days from now, when I pull my iPhone 3G S out of its box, I will be a little sorry that its back is glossy and fingerprint-laden. But I’ll be happier to know that Apple’s design team is working on something new, interesting and complex — exactly the kind of problem they’re brilliant at solving.

Apple and AT&T Royally Screw Loyal iPhone 3G Customers

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Stood in line last year to buy an iPhone 3G, and count yourself a loyal Apple customer? Well, we’re all idiots, because Apple and AT&T just fucked us royally.

The iPhone 3G S is not going to be subsidized for current iPhone 3G customers. If you bought an iPhone 3G last year, the new iPhone is going to cost you $499 for the entry-level 8GB model, $599 for the 16GB version, and $699  for the 32GB.

Don’t believe me? Here it is in black and white on Apple’s website, literally buried in the fine print:

“For non-qualified customers, including existing AT&T customers who want to upgrade from another phone or replace an iPhone 3G, the price with a new two-year agreement is $499 (8GB), $599 (16GB), or $699 (32GB).”

Whether this applies to iPhone 3G customers after July 11, 2009 — the one year anniversary of the iPhone 3G launch — is unclear. Last year when the iPhone 3G went on sale, Apple and AT&T offered subsidized pricing to owners of the original iPhone (and had owned it for a year).

The prices advertised during today’s WWDC keynote — $199 (16GB) and $299 (32GB) — applies to “new and qualifying customers,” which apparently doesn’t include current iPhone 3G customers. I’ve put in a call to AT&T for an explanation.

UPDATE: AppleInsider suggests that AT&T will offer subsidized pricing for iPhone 3G customer after a year of ownership — I think. It is not 100% clear to me that this is what AT&T is saying.

UPDATE 2: I just checked Apple’s online eligibility tool, and it says I must currently pay the full retail price, but on July 30, I “may qualify for a standard iPhone upgrade.” What this means is also unclear. Is it the full $200 subsidy? I bought my iPhone 3G in late July, a couple of weeks after its debut. See the screenshot below.

UPDATE 3: iPhone 3G customers are eligible for the full upgrade price after about 18 months, reports Ars Technica, which spoke to an AT&T spokesman. Depends on the account. For those of us who bought the iPhone 3G in July, we likely won’t qualify for the full discount until December. Arse. It’s actually cheaper to cancel your current plan, pay the ~$175 penalty, and sign up as a brand new customer. That’s not how to treat early adopters. Where’s the nearest Sprint store?

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Opinion: Apple Has The Finest Lineup of Products Ever

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With or without Steve Jobs, Apple has the best lineup of hardware and software it has ever offered.

All in all, the WWDC keynote showed that Apple is paying attention to all the right things. It’s got a great line-up of affordable hardware that’s fast, feature-packed and environmentally friendly. The software loaded on top is designed for user-freindliness and ease of use. And Apple is no longer alone: it has thousands of partners in software and hardware who will push Apple’s platforms in new directions.

And while Apple is making a stealth enterprise play by supporting Micorosft Exchange, it’s not devoting features or resources to taking on Microsoft head on. Instead, Apple is concentrating on its core market: home users. And it’s got a killer lineup for consumers, especially in software.

* The new iPhone 3GS is a killer device. The speed bump, better camera and digital compass (which will enable a raft of amazing location-based services) will tempt iPhone users to upgrade in droves. The iPhone is becoming finally a true mobile computer, and no one has anything that comes close.

* The $99 iPhone is the Palm Pre killer. Who now will pay $199 for an iPhone-imitator on Sprint, when the original costs less than half the price?

* The new MacBook Pro laptops running Snow Leopard are the best laptops on the market, bar none. Even if other laptops have good hardware, Microsoft’s Vista is their Achilles heel. With a great built-in battery, memory-card slots and the return of firewire, MacBooks will sell like hotcakes. Netbooks be damned. The real computing market — and most of the money — is in laptops, and Apple’s got the best available.

* Snow Leopard looks like a great upgrade, despite the lack of whizbang new features. Instead, it will offer upgrades in all the right areas: Web browsing, better multimedia, easy of use and speed. Snow Leopard has tons of little touches that will add up to an extremely polished, consumer-oriented operating system that focuses on the things consumers do — browse the Web, watch videos, and communicate with friends. That’s why things that seem small and minor — like today’s WWDC demonstration of easy video editing and uploading in QuickTime — really counts. Apple is focused, as usual, on improving the user experience. And unlike Vista, Snow Leopard delivers.

* Green. The new MacBooks are rated EPEAT Gold — the highest standard of energy efficiency, green production and recyclability.The importance of being green can’t be understated. There’s a huge shift in consumer attitudes, especially among Apple’s educated, upscale demographic, who are demanding environmentally-friendly products. Being green is a huge selling point, and Apple now offers some of the greenest hardware.