App Review – Xslimmer

30 04 2008

Continuing a series of reviews on how to save space, today we are looking at another valuable piece of software for Mac OS X. Today’s review is about Xslimmer from LateNiteSoft.

Xslimmer Main User Interface
The Xslimmer Main Interface

When Steve Jobs announced the transition to Intel Processors at WWDC in 2005, the Universal Binary was born. Applications that were Universal Binary were natively compatible with both Intel and PowerPC architectures, and any application that wasn’t Universal Binary could be translated on the fly using Rosetta (like Classic; for Mac OS 9) on the new Intel architecture. So depending on the complexity of the application, by being a Universal Binary, the file size is increased; hence the nickname of ‘Fat Binaries’- a term left over from Apple’s transition from 68K to PowerPC.

Xslimmer is an application that scans through the code of your Universal Binary applications and determines, based on your computers architecture (be it Intel or PowerPC), what is unnecessary, and removing it. The unnecessary code Xslimmer removes would otherwise do nothing but take up space on your computer! By going through all your applications and removing the Universal Binary code, you will start seeing a significant amount of space coming back. For example:

Xslimmer Slim List Logic Pro GarageBand
Logic Pro 8: 335MB
Slimmed to: 95MB
Garage Band 3: 179MB
Slimmed to: 60MB

However, Xslimmer does more than just removing the unnecessary binary code- it can also remove unnecessary languages. Applications like Adium can have up to 20 differnt languages bundled within. This takes your applications on a strict diet- and for someone who has upwards of 300 applications, the difference can be very noticeable- especially if space is tight.

Xslimmer makes the process amazingly simple. When you launch it, you simply drag the application (or applications) you would like to slim down and it begins to analyze the amount of space it can save. When you are ready to slim your list of applications, simply press the “Slim!” button in the lower right hand corner; and wait while Xslimmer does the work for you.

Xslimmer can, however disrupt some applications and make them potentially unusable. However, the Xslimmer developers have created and maintain a blacklist of known applications that are effected by slimming. If you end up slimming an application that isn’t on the blacklist, you can simply report the application and reinstall it, which is why you should always back up your computer before slimming your applications (and is generally a good practice)! Or you can use Xslimmers built in backup system that will let you restore an application that you suspect has been damaged by Xslimmer.

i i i i (4/5)
Xslimmer is a very powerful application that will help you save space. Its simplistic design makes it easy to use and a must have for anyone wanting to free up every last megabyte on their hard drive. Xslimmer has recieved 4/5 i’s from; and is worth the $12.95.

Thank you to the Xslimmer team for letting staff try out Xslimmer for free!

Life Fitness Exercise Machines and iPod Integration

29 04 2008

When I was traveling in Atlanta, at the Marriott-Atlanta Marquis, the fitness room was equipped with new Life Fitness machines that had iPod integration built into each machine. More details follow below.

Life Fitness iPod Interface
The Life Fitness iPod Connection Area

Although it has been known that Life Fitness was including iPod support for over a year now in it’s new machines, this is a small overview of the interface.

Basically, when you walk up to one of these machines, you will see this:

Life Fitness iPod Interface Splash Screen
The Life Fitness Interface Splash Screen

To use and charge your iPod, you simply plug in the iPod to the Dock Connector, place it in the storage bin and direct your attention to the screen. The iPod automatically goes into Disk Mode and is ready to use with the machine. If you want to listen to music, you plug your headphones into the jack on the machine.

Once connected, you are presented with a number of different options from TV to your workout and related settings. However, in the bottom right hand corner, there is a button that says “Media Center”. By pressing that (using the touch screen) you are directed to a screen that looks like the one below:

Life Fitness Main iPod Interface
Main iPod User Interface on the Machine

This interface is almost identical to the iPod UI- and you can use the dedicated buttons on the side or touch the titles, which was a nice, (almost) iPod Touch like experience. You can watch both videos and listen to music while working out, however I was unable to test the video feature because my iPod is full (quite literally) of only Music; seeing as I have a collection of Music that is over 60GB and only a 30GB iPod (5th Generation).

While the interface was very good, however it was slightly disappointing that you can’t shuffle playlists. It seems to default to how the playlist was originally laid out in iTunes, so for me, by Artist. The integration into the existing Life Fitness interface was a little disappointing as well, as it seemed a little clunky and not very intuitive. But what can you expect for a product not from Infinite Loop?

Life Fitness iPod Inerface Now Playing
The interface with a song playing.

The Weekly Report (4/28)

28 04 2008

This week, it is all back to normal for me. As my robotics season is now over, I have no more trips, and will be spending a considerable ammount of time on the site. Because Sidney recently got a job at a computer consulting company in New York, he is tied up at work and we have been unable to do any podcasts recently. Hopefully that will change soon as he becomes more accustomed to his new schedule. As for Apple, the iPhone rumors continue to grow and we will hopefully get more insight to how WWDC 2008 will look. Have a great week.

Apple Q2 Financial Results Conference Call

23 04 2008

Calling All Developers

I can’t write an article today, but I recommend you listen to the Apple Q2 Conference Call at 5PM EST (2PM PST). Anyone can do so by going here, and using QuickTime 6 or 7 listening. Also, take a look at the homepage today, there is an interesting graphic about WWDC 2008. Thats about it for today, have a good day!

Windows to Mac: Prologue

22 04 2008

To understand my switch to the Mac requires a little background.

I’ve been a dedicated Windows user since the DOS age. Onto Windows 95, to 98, to XP, I’ve never truly experienced another operating system. But over the years I’ve grown very tiresome of fixing the problems on Windows. Everyday seems like a new issue appears just to piss me off. Well I’m finally sick of it.

Needs more LEDs
Needs more LEDs!

So what finally sent me over the edge was this year when I was (once again) trying to fix a memory issue my computer has been experiencing since its last reincarnation. My current rig actually started from the bones of a ’95. I inherited the computer from my brother at 11 years old in the winter of 2001-2002, as my brother got a overpriced Alienware (which he had to send back about 6 times over the course of its first year). Upon receiving the aged machine, I decided that I would build a custom computer with the help of my neighbor. New case, new motherboard, 1.4 gHz AMD Athlon processor, and a salvaged graphics card. It started out rocky, I had a 6 gb harddrive, half of which was reserved to run windows, the other half I had to conserve and manage. This was soon met with my graphics card already being outdated, as well as the release of XP and other problems.

2002 – new graphics card; new harddrive; XP
2004 – fried my motherboard (dust); new board, new graphics card, new cpu;
2005 – fried my motherboard (electrical short); new harddrive
2006 – new graphics card

Currently, I’m running a GeForce 6600, 2.8 AMD Athlon XP, a gig of ram.

This computer has run into numerous issues, I can’t even recall all the software problems I ran into that either caused me to need a hardware upgrade, or a reinstall of windows. And this latest iteration has a major ram problem which, after trying many different paths, seems to be a motherboard issue. It is not due to incompatibility, it’s due to the motherboard being lower quality than what I expected.

So after 7 years of reboots and reconfiguration, I think it is time to retire my machine, and aim for something that I don’t think I’ll have to spend the next couple years fighting to get into working shape. In (hopefully) less than two month’s I’ll be ordering a brand new, shiny MacBook Pro! I will detail my switch over the coming weeks in more detail and certainly keep you all posted about my new MacBook Pro.

The Weekly Report (4/21)

21 04 2008

Last week I was away in Atlanta, at the 2008 FIRST Championship. This week I am on Spring Break, and may not have the time to write articles everyday. Never-the-less, the site will have content on it throughout the week. Next week, it is back to normal for me; and with my robotics season drawing to a close, things should be smooth from then on. As for Apple news, we continue to hear about the 3G iPhone- and this should remain a focus of Apple related rumors and news in the coming weeks. Have a great day!! The Future of Radio

20 04 2008

Tim Westergren

I had the pleasure of seeing a lecture at Columbia University by Tim Westergren, the founder of and current Chief Strategy Officer. started in January of 2000 as The Music Genome Project, in an effort to characterize all music by attributing hundreds of musical ‘genes’ to songs. These include things like type of vocalist, guitar sound, rhythm structures, etc. A typical rock song has around 150 ‘genes’, while jazz songs mainly have upwards of 350 tags associated with them. was created to use this system and an additional algorithm to provide its users with a personal radio station.

Basically, a radio station is created when a user searches for a certain song or artist, and Pandora cues up a playlist that is made up of songs that match the musical ‘genes’ of the original query. Then, every time a song comes up, a user has options to give it a thumbs up or thumbs down to tell the algorithm whether he/she wants to listen to the song or songs like it. This type of recommendation system has done the company well, with over 7 million users and over $22 million in venture capital and debt financing. Also according to, Pandora has increased the total number of people visiting their website by 126.2%. The lecture was primarily about the business tactics of the company, and how they struggled and fought to finally make it profitable(for two years most employees didn’t even work for a salary). It solidified my ideas that traditional radio and satellite are both dead. My reasoning after the jump!

Read more…

How I Met Woz!

17 04 2008

Because I am very busy over the next few days, and won’t have time to write a formal article this is the replacement.

Meeting Steve Woz
Me and Steve Wozniak in the Airport.

Yesterday, I finally got to meet Woz (Steve Wozniak)! Having just arrived in Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport with my robotics Team 555, while waiting for our luggage to come up, I noticed Woz walk up and look at the TV that displayed the Baggage Claim listings. I quickly introduced myself and I asked if I could get a business card and a picture. He gladly gave me a business card and took a picture with me.

This wasn’t the first time I ran into Woz, however! Last year in Atlanta, at the FIRST Championship, where Woz regularly judges, I saw him riding a Segway and asked him for his business card- but he was all out. It is great to finally get the famed, laser engraved, business card and a picture! Thanks Woz!!

Why Hardware and Software is the Perfect Couple

16 04 2008

Yesterday, I wrote about the Psystar Open Computer, which ships with a Hackintosh version of OS X Leopard. Today, I am writing from the opposite perspective; why Apple offers a superior package.

Hardware and Software
A great combination.

Traditionally, the technology industry is divided into two sectors- hardware and software. There are hardware companies like Intel, AMD or Nvidia; and software companies like Microsoft, Adobe or Oracle. Very rarely do the hardware and software companies work closely together- and a company that produces both hardware and software bundled together is extremely rare. Apple happens to be one of the few remaining examples, and a unique one at that.

Over the past years, Apple has seen an increase in demand for its Macintosh line of computers, following the success of it’s iPod music player. What makes Apple unique is the combination of hardware and software into a tightly controlled package. This ensures complete compatibility and reliability of both the hardware and software. Everything is controlled by one company, which is also a bonus for customer support.

If you look at the current state of Microsoft; you see Vista and its failure as the successor to Windows XP. You see users petitioning Microsoft to keep the 6 year old operating system alive. Much like Windows ME failure, Vista has proven a nightmare for those purchasing new PC’s and the faithful who have upgraded. While the exact failure of Vista can vary by who you ask; some of the less subjective issues are the compatibility problems with existing hardware and the high system requirements. If Microsoft controlled the hardware, two major issues with Vista could be solved. Apple’s strategy of keeping the hardware and software tightly allows for a smooth computing environment.

Apple’s coupling of software and hardware is a far superior model- and it has finally come time to prove it to the world. Over the past years, Apple has been gaining market share with its iPod, Mac and iPhone. Through the iPod and now thanks to Vista, more and more people are discovering the benefits of controlling the hardware and software together on the Mac; and the consumers aren’t lying. While the Hackintosh may be a cheap alternative for some, the Mac is here to stay.

The Psystar $399 Mac Clone

15 04 2008

The Internet was abuzz with being able to get a Mac for $399 yesterday.

The Psystar Open Computer
A picture of the Open Computer, black case

“Why spend $1999 to get the least expensive Apple computer with a decent video card when you can pay less than a fourth of that for an equivalent sleek and small form-factor desktop with the same hardware.”

Yesterday, an otherwise unknown company named Psystar introduced two computers dubbed the “Open Computer” and the “OpenPro”. The more interesting of the two, the Open Computer, starts at $399 for the following configuration:

2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 Processor
2GB of DDR2 667 memory
Integrated Intel GMA 950 Graphics
20x DVD+/-R SATA drive that is Lightscribe-capable
4 rear USB Ports

Now, if you were to compare this to Apple’s cheapest desktop offering; the Mac Mini- while it is impossible to build a spec for spec comparison through Apple, the Mini is more than twice the price at its closest configuration.

You may be wondering how this is possible, or how Apple could allow something like this to happen. Essentially, the Open Computer is a ‘Hackintosh’ or, a non-Apple branded computer running OS X on x86 architecture processors. The Hackintosh community began to form right after Steve Jobs announced the switch from IBM PowerPC processors to Intel processors. By using components known to be compatible with OS X and running a EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) emulator, you can run the Mac OS X operating system on non Apple hardware. The EFI simulates Open Firmware, basically the BIOS of Macs, and allows for the installation of OS X with little or no modifications to the stock installation DVD. This technique was not pioneered Psystar, as it has been used and was introduced by the OSx86 team.

Don’t think that Apple is going to sit idly while Psystar sells machines with OS X pre-installed. OS X’s EULA (End User License Agreement) strictly states that OS X can not be run on any non-branded Apple hardware.

“You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so.”

This means that while Apple has little leverage over the OSx86 team because they don’t outright sell anything pre-hacked, with Psystar, it is almost inevitable that the Apple legal team will be knocking at their door. Psystar however, for the meantime is offering both computers for sale today at the companies website.

While Psystar might go as quickly as it has come, it is interesting to see such a fierce and outright rebellion upon Apple and its EULA. This may not be the last startup company to preload OS X on its computers, and if one succeeds in doing so, Apple soon might have to readjust its business plan- and fast. Speaking to InformationWeek, a representative from Psystar said:

“What if Honda said that, after you buy their car, you could only drive it on the roads they said you could?”