Macworld ’08 Announcements

I think the MacBook Air is a beautiful piece of industrial design. Beautiful. I probably wouldn’t buy one, but I really admire it. I bet Yingwen would like it though. It is a sexy machine that is more about portability and fashion than functionality.

I know I am a power user at heart, and I’m always going to have my eye on the higher end systems that have long-term expansion capability, but I have to say that Apple did a good job on the specs given the space limitations. For one, the soldered RAM is set to 2 GB, so thanks for maxing it out. And 3 pounds for a full-size keyboard and screen is right there about the single most important reason I’d actually consider blowing upwards of two grand after tax and add-ons on such a machine. If I were still a hard-core BART commuter, this would make it a no-brainer.

Apple TV now looks cool now that it no longer requires a computer to connect to online services and they dropped the price, but the 24 hour limitation for rental downloads is too short. Yeah I know on-demand rentals from cable and satellite are about the same duration, and the iTunes downloads are a lot cheaper overall, but the current on-demand rental durations are too short anyway. Well, maybe it’s no big deal – I suppose the difference between paying $3.99 for a 24 hour rental and $12.99 for the full rights are pretty minimal in the long run. Ultimately I think the Apple TV features are pretty cool – especially with Flickr and Youtube connectivity. I was still hoping for an Apple TV that was actually a TV, and maybe with a built-in DVD player too. Less boxes and wires and stuff hanging off the back – something I could just stick on the wall. The only remaining complaint I have is that they still to this day have not implemented subtitles. Seems like a major failure on the part of accessibility here.

The iPhone updates were welcome. I think the most significant of these is the Maps app, where it now tries to triangulate your location. It actually works! Not perfectly accurate, but it seems to find me within the range of the circle that it renders. So much easier to now use “current location” as the starting point for generating driving directions.

I don’t get why they would charge $20 to iPod Touch users to get the software upgrade that gives them the same basic app suite as iPhone. Boo. Just give it to them already. Come on.

Time Capsule seems like a great idea, and certainly makes a lot of sense when used in conjunction with MacBook Air as a backup solution. This is a nice and convenient luxury item: If I had $500 bucks to burn, sure I’d go for a 1TB box. Otherwise I’d probably look for a decent tethered backup drive. UPDATE: Now that I look around and price these things, it isn’t that much more expensive than a standard off-the-shelf enclosed 1TB drive, and if you factor in the convenience of ubiquitous wireless backups, it is an attractive offer.

All in all it was a nice suite of announcements. Couple all that with last week’s Mac Pro/XServe items, and it is actually quite a lot of cool gadgetry. Apple TV seems the most significant to me at this point, and I hope they eventually make me my Apple HDTV already.

Probably Woefully Inaccurate Candidate Analysis!

Here are my results from the 2008 President Selector at SelectSmart. My top two candidate picks rose to the top – Obama and Kucinich. I’m disappointed Kucinich didn’t even win, place, or show in Iowa, and it looks like he won’t be impacting New Hampshire as well. Interestingly, Clinton, Gore, and Edwards fared much lower on my radar – I thought they would have been right up there and especially I thought that Edwards would have been closer to my top rankings:

1. Theoretical Ideal Candidate (100 %)
2. Barack Obama (79 %)
3. Dennis Kucinich (78 %)
4. Alan Augustson (campaign suspended) (77 %)
5. Joseph Biden (withdrawn) (71 %)
6. Wesley Clark (not running, endorsed Clinton) (70 %)
7. Hillary Clinton (70 %)
8. Al Gore (not announced) (70 %)
9. Christopher Dodd (withdrawn) (70 %)
10. John Edwards (67 %)
11. Michael Bloomberg (says he will not run) (59 %)
12. Mike Gravel (58 %)
13. Bill Richardson (57 %)
14. Ron Paul (45 %)
15. Elaine Brown (42 %)
16. Kent McManigal (campaign suspended) (41 %)
17. Rudolph Giuliani (31 %)
18. Mike Huckabee (25 %)
19. John McCain (24 %)
20. Tommy Thompson (withdrawn, endorsed Giuliani) (24 %)
21. Alan Keyes (22 %)
22. Mitt Romney (21 %)
23. Chuck Hagel (not running) (19 %)
24. Fred Thompson (14 %)
25. Sam Brownback (withdrawn, endorsed McCain) (13 %)
26. Newt Gingrich (says he will not run) (12 %)
27. Jim Gilmore (withdrawn) (12 %)
28. Tom Tancredo (withdrawn, endorsed Romney) (11 %)
29. Duncan Hunter (10 %)
30. Stephen Colbert (campaign halted) (2 %)

Predictably, Giuliani, McCain, Huckabee, and the rest of the weenies were way down the list. And look they included Stephen Colbert! I would vote for Colbert in a heartbeat if he would just choose Papa Bear as his running mate!