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Talkin' Smack: The Macworld Letdown

Or, why bad things happen to good Mac users By Dave Nagel
Following last Wednesday's announcements, I'm not sure what I can say that hasn't already been said a million times in forums all over the Internet—usually punctuated by a couple of asterisks between an f and a k. The blame can't be placed entirely on Apple though. After all, they're at the mercy of Motorola, which, at present, is far more concerned about its ever-declining cell phone market share than chip development for the Mac. Or maybe they're still too busy firing employees caught smoking in the parking lot to worry about such trivial matters as megaHertz.

At any rate, for creative professionals Apple's Macworld performance was a big zero, except in a few of ways, which I'll get to after I'm finished ranting.

The rant
The No. 1 concern of Mac professionals right now is speed. While the jump to 867 MHz is certainly nicer than 733 MHz, it did fall far below the hopes of those who've been waiting for the PowerPC to bridge the megaHertz gap and at least squeak its way up to the 1 GHz mark.

I know, I know: "Clock speed isn't everything; it's chip design that counts." I'm aware of that. Nevertheless, at a certain point, clock speed does start to edge out chip design. And, at the present time, with Intel up at 1.7 GHz and AMD at 1.4 GHz, there is simply no contest, despite the phony Photoshop exhibition Steve Jobs puts on every year when he has no good news to report. Look, I hate peecees as much as the next Mac psychofanatic, but I've seen the Athlon in action, and it is simply much faster than the current PowerPC. It's just ridiculous for such a blatant lie to be perpetrated on the Mac users.

Oh, and speaking of lies, remember how Steve Jobs said the 867 MHz Mac was "available today," as in last Wednesday? That's not what the Apple Store says. It says that if you order one now, you get the privilege of waiting four weeks for shipment.


So what else didn't Apple deliver this time around? Well, we still have no word on Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro for Mac OS X. Guess Apple can't be too sore at Adobe, seeing as they can't write their own professional applications for their own OS. Does anybody else find it ironic that Windows Media Player for OS X will come out before Final Cut Pro?

Honestly, what's the holdup? Apple went around telling everybody how easy it would be to make their apps work with OS X, but they themselves can't seem to do it. Apple's not short on cash, yet we've seen much smaller developers (and some large ones) delivering their OS X applications with apparently no problem—Macromedia, Emagic, Toon Boom, Maxon, NewTek and, yes, even Microsoft. And these are not light-weight applications (well, except for Microsoft's). In fact, NewTek even had their OS X version of LightWave 6.5 out before there was a driver that could read their dongle.

I'll tell you what the trouble is: device compatibility and control. You can't get OS X to recognize your DV camera, so why bother releasing Final Cut Pro? Even in the latest build, which Jobs announced Wednesday as well, there seems to be trouble even recognizing a simple USB-based digital still camera. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Six monkeys typing on six TRS-80s in WordStar for a week could write a TWAIN driver. And that includes the time it would take them to learn WordStar and the DOS menu system.

And so, in the parlance of our medium, Apple did indeed f**k up pretty bad.

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