Beautiful Alternative Browser Shiira 2.0 Ships

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If you’re not too busy detailing ways to make Firefox better, you might want to contemplate a more radical shift. Shiira, the Webkit-based alt-browser put together by a team in Japan, has just made it to version 2.0, and it’s beautiful. I haven’t gotten to use it yet, so I can’t report on its performance, but the interface might just be the best on OS X. Yes, even nicer than OmniWeb. It’s free and open-source. Remember: Together, Everyone Achieves More. Go Joe!
Shiira Project

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High-Res Shots of Apple Gear at NAB

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I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t let you do that. AppleInsider has reams of photos taken at the National Association of Broadcasters conference last week in Las Vegas. Apple was out in full force: 3/4 Petabytes of storage space, 3 miles of fiber optic cable, 4 M2 Gb networks, 90 Xserves and 40 Xserve RAIDs.

Sadly, that config is not available for purchase from the Apple Store at this time. Check it out.

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Apple Engineer’s Bittersweet Departure Sums Up What Makes Us Great

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Apple’s insistence on secrecy has many unintended consequences: Mac fans are hard to please, rumor sites do their best to steal information about unannounced products, and, most interestingly, it gets easy to forget that Apple is a company made up of real people with feelings and lives. That’s why this spectacular farewell to Cupertino written by Buzz Andersen, formerly the author of shareware app Podworks and for four years an Apple software engineer, hits me square in the left ventricle. There is love and life in Cupertino, folks:

Like the Macintosh team of old, I started out at Apple as a young engineer willing to subordinate my life (for a time) to something I was passionate about. When I left my first position at Apple (in OS X Integration) for a real engineering job in Pro Apps, I was eager to make the features I was assigned the best they could be, even if it meant putting in difficult hours to get them done on schedule. So I put in the hours. I worked evenings and weekends. I worked while I was ill. Even when I ended up laid up at home in the throes of what turned out to be mononucleosis (a condition, for those who haven’t had the pleasure, that lends itself more to constant unconsciousness than constant concentration), I sat in bed fixing bugs. And little by little, I burnt myself out.

<sniff>No, no, go on, Buzz. I’m not crying. It’s just something in my eye, that’s all.</sniff> That just killed me. Maybe I’ll see you on the other side, man. When the fighting’s through.
Apple: A Romance – Buzz Andersen
Via Digg.

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What Do You Think Sucks About Firefox on Mac?

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Firefox makes me crazy. So much about it is great: Cross-platform functionality, a dedicated community of developers, a massively extensible plug-in system, it’s nice. But it’s also slow, buggy and burdened with a non-standard Mac OS X interface.

Friday, Developer Colin Barrett put out a call to know what Mac users would fix on Firefox if they had the chance. The conversation’s been good, but make sure to make your voice heard! I’ll add my own pet peeve: Drop the XUL garbage and build a real Mac interface. Oh, and learn how to constrain functionality so that you don’t get memory leaks every few hours. Oops, hang on. Am I just describing Camino?
Firefox on the Mac
Image via Kstruct
Via Digg.

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Apple Milan Shows Exquisite Taste

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A giant, five-story Apple retailer just opened opposite the biggest, swankiest plaza in Milan and look what they have displayed in the window — my crummy books!

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The Apple stores here in the states won’t carry the books because they only sell “how-to” titles. We were told the decision went “right to the top.” We suspect you-know-who doesn’t like the jokey “Cult of…” titles. Clearly not a problem across the pond.

Gary Allen at IFOAppleStore reports:

The grand opening of the five-story Mondadori Multicenter in central Milan (Italy) was important enough for Apple’s CEO of Italy operations to attend, perhaps because the store includes a large Apple sales area. Enzo Biagini viewed the 1,200 square-foot space on the second level that includes displays of laptops, iMacs, MacPros and Cinema displays, as detailed in a story and photos on the setteB.IT Web site. The interior design includes white-painted walls and wood display furniture similar to U.S. Apple stores.

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Check out the Genius Bar — now serving coffee and fine food!
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(Ignore the HP kit in the pic below. Apparently the store sells all kinds of junk.)

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Pictures by SetteB.it.

Why Some Want Apple to Stay Away From Their Favorite Software

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Sometimes, users of high-end, professional software despair when Apple buys the company that makes it. Stu Maschwitz, one of the founders of <a href=”https://www.theorphanage.com/”>The Orphanage</a>, a San Francisco FX studio responsible for Sin City, The Host, and a bunch of others, explains:

When you buy expensive software from small companies, you effectively become best friends with the development team. You know them by first names and you send them holiday cards. You have a folder full of emails from and to them. Apple, however, mistakenly applies the same strategy of black-box secrecy that works so well for iPods and iPhones to its Pro Apps division as well, cutting off developers from users and vise versa. I have struggled with this enough that my company, The Orphanage, no longer has any special relationship with Apple. It’s just too much of a one-way street. I can’t buy my bread-and-butter tools from someone who can’t conduct an open conversation with me (under NDA of course) about the future of the product.

Maschwitz’s post is about the new Color tool in Final Cut Pro, and though he has misgivings about what used to be a separate app from a small, friendly company going behind the Apple firewall, all in all he’s delighted with the outcome.

My Kids Hate Macs

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I hate to admit this, but my kids hate Macs.
Despite forcing them to dress as iPods at Macworld* the little chickens aren’t in love with beautiful Apple hardware.
Even though the house is filled with wonderful Macs, the kids prefer an old ThinkPad we have kicking around for playing Club Penguin and other online games .
Why, I hear you ask?
“It is much faster,” says son number one, Milo, seen here giving his Mac user salute.
They couldn’t give a hoot about the elegant interface or the better quality of QuickTime video. All they care about is the responsiveness of the Flash games they’re addicted to.
Worse thing is they have a point. As my esteemed colleague Paul Boutin pointed out many years ago, Windows machines are much faster on the Web than Macs.
*Actually my wife’s idea. I was mortified.

Mursi Tribeswoman with iPod and AK-47

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I found this striking picture of a Mursi tribeswoman at iLounge’s “iPods Around the World” gallery, but there’s very little information about it.
The caption simply says: Female member of Mursi tribe in Southern Ethiopia. Unfortunately, there’s no other information, but a quick Google search reveals:

We’d been hearing for days about the Mursi tribe–the one where women split their lower lip and insert a round metal plate. As we were repeatedly told, the Mursi are neither fun nor friendly. And while they’ve kept their distance from the outside world–largely in part because their territory is a vast expanse of remote national park–they nevertheless have turned their small contact with foreigners into an art form of extortion. Pictures equal money. No exceptions. (from Gabriel Openshaw).

Safari Zero-Day Exploit — Links Worth Checking

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Hacking stories bore me to tears, but the cleverly named “pwn-2-own” hacking competition (Hack a honeypot MacBook, get it as the prize) is getting such attention, it’s worth pointing to some of the better reporting on the subject:
Dan Goodin at The Register:

A New York-based security researcher spent less than 12 hours to identify and exploit a zero-day vulnerability in Apple’s Safari browser that allowed him to remotely gain full user rights to the hacked machine. The feat came during the second and final day of the CanSecWest “pwn-2-own” contest in which participants are able to walk away with a fully-patched MacBook Pro if they are first able to hack it.

Dai Zovi, who is not attending the conference, was recruited on Thursday night by Shane Macaulay, a friend and conference attendee. The ease Dai Zovi found in pwning the machine was all the more remarkable, given an update Apple pushed out yesterday patching 25 Mac security holes. Macaulay described Dai Zovi’s vulnerability as a client-side javascript error that executed arbitrary code when Safari visited a booby-trapped website.

Thomas Ptacek at Matasano:

Turn off Java; to be safe, until Dino lets us say more, turn off everything else too. Or live dangerously like me.

Charles Jade at Ars Technica:

… huge numbers of pundits and anonymous nerds on the Internet will decry Apple’s lack of security and how unfair it is that Microsoft, which expands so much effort on security, is perceived as having a less secure OS. Meanwhile, Mac users will rationalize the situation, including me.

Steve Jobs To Skate in Options Probe, Says SJ Merc

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Silicon Valley’s hometown paper, the San Jose Mercury News, says Steve Jobs is unlikely to face criminal or civil charges in Apple’s options backdating scandal.

A close review of the events that led to the controversial grant reveals that the backdating emerged from a good-faith, although clumsy, attempt by Apple’s board of directors to reward its star chief executive for resurrecting a moribund company.

The Merc’s story details a series of stock grants given to Jobs by Apple’s board between 1999 and 2003. The grants were often generous (and one was a record breaker) but because of fluctuations in Apple’s stock price, Jobs’ grants were often underwater. Several times, Jobs gave the underwater grants back, and the board gave him new ones.

However, according to the Merc, Jobs sometimes spent weeks negotiating the price of these new options, which affected their value. Jobs held out for the lowest price, and sometimes the board backdated the options to keep their price low.

The upshot is that neither Jobs nor the board were very good at picking the right number of options at the right price. If Jobs had simply kept all his grants, instead of constantly swapping them for new ones, they would be worth considerably more:

… Last year, Jobs handed back to Apple 4.6 million of his restricted shares – worth $295 million – to pay the taxes on them. His remaining restricted shares are now worth about $494 million.

But given the rise in Apple’s stock over the past four years, even that turned out to be a bad deal for the iconic CEO. Had he held on to all of his options, they would be worth about $4 billion right now, even if the 2001 grant had been given the December date.

MacBook Babushka

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Check out this bizarre video of a elderly woman in Moscow surfing the net on a brand new MacBook. It appears that the guys who shot the video were so surprised to see her, they tried to sneak a peek at her screen — but she shooed them off. Anyone speak Russian?


UPDATE: Olegs Straume writes:

Realy nice video

The guy wasn’t so nice to her – at first The guy in a black jacket says her “don’t worry i’ll just take a picture” than the man who is filming this scene says to his friend – “I think shee is watching some Porno” – “i’ll go and check” – when he got closer to her she answered “What? – Is it Interesting” ( Russians say that – when they are not so happy) – so the guy anwsered laughing “Sorry” on the way back he says “She was surfing”¦ (some kind of) “WISE SURFACE” (or something like that i didn’t hear well – thats it

Sorry about my bad English literacy

News Burrito

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Reuters | Apple seen having upper hand in music negotiations:

NEW YORK, April 20 (Reuters) – When Apple sits for contract negotiations with the major record companies over the next month, it will probably seek further concessions from them on selling music without copy-protection software.

AppleInsider | Target stores to pick up Apple TV:

Big-box retailer Target is poised to become just the second third-party retailer to market Apple Inc.’s new Apple TV device at its brick-and-mortar retail stores, AppleInsider has learned.

Fortune | Inside China’s PC frenzy:

While MP3 players are everywhere, and imitations of an Apple iPod Nano go for about $50 (a two gigabyte model with a larger screen than Apple (Charts, Fortune 500) offers), if you want the genuine article you’ll get fleeced. For an 80 gigabyte black iPod like one Amazon sells for $330, one salesman quotes me a price of about $700. As for PCs, Apple’s presence here is minimal.

McDonald’s Will Include American Idol iPods in Happy Meals

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Signs you’ve ready made it, No. 2,789,879 of a 3 million-part series: McDonald’s teams up with “American Idol” and makes a toy based on you. Yes, iPod, you’re on top. Starting tomorrow, little kids across the land (and probably a few Mac geeks) will dig into Happy Meals filled with “American Idol” toys, including a fake mp3 player that looks, shockingly, exactly like an iPod with the Idol logo on it.

It can’t be loaded with music, but it seems to have at least contain a tiny amount of music. Anyway, it beats a Dell Digital Jukebox.

Via BuzzSugar.

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Apple Fastest Growing PC Company

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MacNN:

Gartner pegs Apple’s current U.S. market share at 5 percent — a whopping 30 percent increase of the 4 percent figure estimated for the first quarter of 2006. According to the research firm, this makes Apple’s market share the fastest growing among PC vendors in the U.S, with Toshiba following closely at 26.8 percent growth. Dell, meanwhile, saw a 15.5 percent decrease in market share, though it retained its spot as top PC vendor in the U.S.

BBC Announces Mac Compatibility for Digital Archive

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You might recall that we raised something of a ruckus in these parts about the BBC’s plans to open up its full archive online — and not let Macs in on the game. There was a petition and hand-wringing, and, yes, even overt weeping. But it paid off. Yesterday, the BBC announced its iPlayer will be re-engineered to work with Macs. This was all reported by…the BBC.

The BBC’s plans for the iPlayer were put on hold earlier this year after its regulators, the BBC Trust, asked the corporation to look at whether the iPlayer should be platform agnostic.

Mr Highfield said Apple’s “proprietary and closed framework for digital rights management gives us headaches,” but, “it is one of our top priorities to re-engineer our proposed BBC iPlayer service to work on Macs”.

Unfortunately, you still need to live in the UK to use the service. And the Windows version will still be first. But you win some, you lose some.
(Image comes from the BBC’s glorious “Look Around You” series. This was from the Your Vision of 2000 segment. This gem is the iTrak: “I believe that in the year 2000 people will want to carry their music collection everywhere they go, and the i-Trak is the answer. An 8 Track cassette player that runs off a large square blue 9V torch battery (enough for 30 minutes of continuous playback) with leather carry strap, making this unit truly portable.” Bless.)
BBC NEWS | Technology | BBC to open up archive for trial
Via TUAW

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Interview With Will Friedland, Owner of Largest iTunes Library

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I have a pretty big music collection — I can’t come close to fitting even all of my favorite tracks onto my creaky 15GB iPod — but I have nothing on New York Sun staffer Will Friedland, who allegedly has the largest iTunes library in the world: 172,150 tracks, taking up 849 gigs and 809.2 days of music. Glenn Wolsey has a fun interview with Will. Obsession is a beautiful thing, sometimes.
Glenn Wolsey : Blog Archive : Interview: Will Friedwald, Owner Of The Worlds Largest iTunes Collection:

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What The? DLO Creates iPod Case That’s Different!

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It takes a lot to surprise me in the iPod accessory market these days. The new DLO Jam Jacket managed it. Amid a sea of seriously generic cases, the company came up with a good way to manage the headphone cord of standard iPod headsets. And it’s not ugly! That alone puts it ahead of 70 percent of iPod cases.
On the downside it, appears to only work with 30GB models, not the full 80. But it’s only $20, so it would be hard to go wrong at the price, anyway.
DLO | Jam Jacket with Cord Management
Via iLounge

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Blogger Hysteria: Virginia Tech Killer a Mac User?

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Yep, you knew it was going to happen. News about Monday’s Virginia Tech shooting has officially leaked into every other domain. How do I know? Well, the blogger at Habla Mierda has begun speculation that killer Cho Seung-Hui… might be a Mac user:

I was reading the article and found this line pretty interesting.

Among the materials are 23 QuickTime video files showing Cho talking directly to the camera, Capus said. He does not name anyone specifically, but he talks at length about religion and his hatred of the wealthy.

Quicktime Video? Talking directly to camera?

Let’s check Apple’s site real quick.

<snip>
<sigh>
I don’t even know what to make of this. The guy over at Mierda is pretty juvenile about all this — he wouldn’t throw ethnic terms around casually otherwise — but I don’t think he’s suggesting Mac use as playing a role in Cho’s attack. Give it a rest, everyone. Sometimes, people just do horrible things, and we can’t blame an external forces. A few dozen people are dead right now not because of gun control (or lack of it), video games, terrorism, video games, illegal immigration, conservatism or liberalism. They lost their lives because one very mentally ill individual chose to do something incredibly destructive.
Habla Mierda. VT Killer probably a Mac User

Via Digg.

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Apple Fined $43,200 For Air Quality Violation

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Activists have been working for a few years now to try to convince Mac fans that we should be extremely upset about Apple’s environmental record. Most people, however, haven’t been that bothered. The cause actually has real proof now, however, as Apple has been ordered to pay a $43,200 fine to the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District for a violation a year ago, reported the Sacramento Business Journal.
The fine is a pittance, obviously, and I don’t think this is the kind of issue Greenpeace had in mind when they set up Green My Apple (the source of our delightful image)…

The violation occurred over several days as Apple operated its emergency standby generator for a purpose other than maintenance or emergency power. Apple was notified that it violated its permit requirements April 21, 2006.

I imagine they want Apple to stop using toxic metals in its products or something, right? Yeah, this doesn’t even make a dent.

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Apple Loses Banner at NAB

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Apple is better at presenting its product launches than anyone else. Which is why it’s so funny when things go slightly wrong. Eastern Illinois University student Laura K Fennema uploaded this quick snapshot from the National Association of Broadcasters conference, where Apple’s Final Cut Studio 2 banner began to melt and come off in strips.

Hilarious. And, wouldn’t you know it, Apple’s video rivals Avid are the ones who helped get the clip posted. I doubt it will do anything about the charge of Final Cut Server, though…

Via Digg.

Mac OS X Skin For Google Reader

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The worst thing about using a PC at work is that I don’t get to enjoy Vienna, my favorite RSS reader, to keep up with all of my feeds. I miss the interface and I miss the note-perfect feel of a great Mac application. Well, Hicks Design has an answer: gReader, a beautiful skin for Google Reader, the search giant’s RSS tool. It takes Google’s highly adequate, inoffensive cross-platform interface and swaps it out for the latest version of Aqua, right down to the transparent overlays.
And, hell, I’m actually looking forward to going to work tomorrow!
Via Digg.

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