A look at the Latest iMac

14 05 2008

Geoffrey is a new writer to theiLife.com and will be occasionally posting about various Apple related news. Today he is writing about the recent iMac Speed Bump.

20\" and 24\" iMac

The iMac has been herald the most innovative computer of its time. It was the first truly successful computer to integrate both the monitor and the actual CPU in one unit. While the original iMac was big, bulky, and came in a wide variety of translucent colors, it has been refined over the years. The iMac is by no means an antiquated computer. Over the years, it has grown to become stronger, thinner, faster and sexier. Last month, Apple has continued this trend with the latest refinement.

While some might call the recent iMac upgrade just a speed bump, its really perfection to the already perfect desktop. The new iMac comes with either a 20” screen or a 24” screen, the standard two options since 2007. The 20” model comes with a 250 GB Serial ATA 7200-rpm hard drive that is upgradeable to either a 500 GB hard drive or a 750 GB hard drive. This model also comes with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor that can be upgraded to a 2.66 GHz.

The 24” model is all the new rave in Apples line of computers. The 24” model comes standard with a 2.8 GHz processor and a 320 GB hard drive. But the new 24” iMac can be upgraded to have a 500 GB hard drive, 750 GB hard drive, or even a 1 TB hard drive! It can even have its processor upgraded to 3.06 GHz!

So what does all this mean? This means Apple has once again upgraded the computer of our generation, the computer that set the standards for other manufactures, the computer that more people associate with Apple then any other computer in Apple’s line. Once again Apple has stepped up the standard for all computers to come and the reviews (Macworld/PCMag) agree.

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 theiLife.com; and is worth the $12.95.

Thank you to the Xslimmer team for letting theiLife.com 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.

Pandora.com: 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 Pandora.com and current Chief Strategy Officer. Pandora.com 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. Pandora.com 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 Compete.com, 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…

App Review – WhatSize

19 03 2008

Starting a series of reviews, we will be looking at valuable pieces of software. Today’s review is about WhatSize.

I am often asked by people looking to clear out space on their Mac for the best strategies and techniques to free up those precious bytes. The answer I always give is to download WhatSize. WhatSize is a great utility for mapping out the depths of your hard drive and quickly finding large files. Often when tight on space, you want to files that are taking up the most room and decide what to do with them- in a timely manner. Without WhatSize, it can be a taunting task of cleaning up a cluttered harddrive through just the Finder and the Get Info pane. This is why WhatSize can prove valuable to make it easy to find these large files.

The main UI for WhatSize

When you run WhatSize, you see a tree of drives and folders in your home folder. Simply select one of these drives or folders, and it will start mapping out the selected destination. Once WhatSize is done, you can explore the contents of the selected destination. WhatSize will color code the files by size- those that are over one gigabyte, red, greater than one megabyte, blue and files that are greater than one byte green. You can then easily send items to the trash or open them in a Finder window all within the WhatSize browser. Earning 4/5 i’s for our first Application review, you can download a copy and try it out on your own. More about the developer, id-design inc here.

WhatSize List
Sorting files by size, color coated.

i i i i (4/5)
WhatSize offers a nice user interface for finding large files, and at $12.99 is worth your money.