Saturday, January 18, 2003

I'd take "the hounds" over the installer any day.

Well, I've installed and played The Sims: Unleashed, and while I've only scratched the surface of this massive new expansion pack, I have gone through the torture of its two-disk installer.

Installing Unleashed is a major pain in the etc. The game is so large, it requires two CDs, which fumble through the installation. The first CD is simple enough, but when it asks for the second, I ran into problems.
The installer on the second CD started up, but suddenly gave me an error (which I've paraphrased): "You cannot install Unleashed from the second CD, please insert the first CD." The installer quit, and proceeded to tell me that the installation had failed (how observant of it). I told it to reinstall the application, and it proceeded to work through the second CD's installer as if nothing had ever gone wrong.
It wasn't more than a minor problem, and it corrected itself rather quickly, but it was a problem none the less.

With that bad news out of the way, here's the good news.
Since Hot Date came out, I always check the files recently installed by the latest Sims expansion pack for mp3s. Hot Date has some great jazz, Vacation has some fun island tunes (although the yodeling can get annoying), and Unleashed blew me away.
With 14 new songs, filling one hour of listening time (55.4 MB in my iTunes library), that vary from some surprisingly fantastic piano to a multitude of original music. Who cares about the game? $30 is worth the soundtrack (disclaimer: I have very, very strange tastes in music, but I still think that there's something for everyone in this soundtrack).

What about the game?
I haven't had enough time with the game to evaluate it, but it is promising. The "Old Town" area, which resembles the "Downtown" area (minus the $50 cab ride), performs better than "Vacation Island's" resorts do, although the game definitely made my iMac work.
The new items, walls, and floors are fun, and the way the game treats cats and dogs like semi-characters, instead of items, makes the relationship between pet and master more rewarding.

Anyway, I'll have more insights on Unleashed as I play it, but I like what I see so far.

Unleash the hounds!

I'm back from my short little vacation, and still catching up on various rumors.

Of interest:
Spymac is back up and running, after a week of upgrading.
Mac Rumors has several new posts, from the iMac to Mac OS 10.2.4.
And lastly, I bought The Sims: Unleashed today, and plan on "researching" it for a review, that should be up on Monday.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

MacUnderground taking a break

I'll be on vacation for the next couple of days, so there will be no new posts to MacUnderground. I'm back on Saturday, and things should be back to normal by Sunday. Until then, check out any of the sites in my links column.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Speaking of iMacs...

Just a few hours ago, I was speculating on the upcoming iMac updates, and now LoopRumors is, too.
LoopRumors has posted specs for three new machines, but predicts a fourth to join them. They claim to have received these specs, although they don't elaborate on how.

Here are some highlights from the report:
- 800 and 867 MHz and 1 GHz G4s
- 40, 80, and 120 GB hard drives
- Firewire 800
- AirPort Extreme, only on the high end machine

Some of these features seems kinda fishy...
- First, a 120 GB hard drive in a consumer machine? Apple can't charge fortune for the iMac, and a hard drive that size would definitely drive up the cost.
- Firewire 800 is also unlikely. I said in my iMac speculation (posted earlier today) that with Firewire 800 not even on the 12" AlBook, there's very little chance Apple will put it in the iMac any time soon. USB 2.0 is a better bet.
- AirPort Extreme in only the most expensive machine?! This is Apple's new wireless standard! It isn't standard if only the $2000 iMac ships with it! We'll see AirPort Extreme in all of the iMacs, or none of the iMacs (I've got my money on "all").

New machines are a sure-thing, however. The 15" iMac has a 2 to 3 week shipping time at the Apple's online store (although the 17" model is still at 1 to 2 days).

LoopRumors is a newer site, but scored poorly with their MWSF03 predictions.

Apple posts Q1 loss...

Apple has announced a loss of 2 cents per share, with a revenue of $1.43 billion.
The good news?
Apple has increased its hoard of cash (as CNBC so gleefully called it) from $4.3 billion to $4.4 billion.

Apple's Q1 Report

Apple will be announcing its first quarter profit after the market closes today.
Analysts (yes, the same ones who tell investors across the country to sell their own, and other people's, shares in Apple) are predicting a marginal profit of about 3 cents per share.

Predicting the near future...

Well, now that all the fun of MWSF03 is over, we can focus on what's ahead for Apple.
Steve Jobs himself said that 2003 would be a big year for Apple, and that there were some surprises on their way, straight from Cupertino.
The real question is "what?" and I'm going to try to shed some light on what we might just be seeing this year from our favorite computer company. First up, the iMac.

The new iMac is just over a year old, and the 17" iMac will be six months old on Friday, here's what I expect in the next revision of the computer that revolutionized the letter "i"
- Faster processor speeds
This is very important. The next revision of the iMac should have G4s up to 1 GHz.
- More Widescreen, not widerscreen
Despite rumors of a 19" screen iMac, I think we'll see 17" LCDs on more of the models.
- Lower prices, or at least not higher ones
This might be hard to pull off with the inclusion of the 17" LCD, but at the very least, prices will stay the same.
- AirPort Extreme ready
This almost goes without saying. Apple has adopted this loveable new standard in wireless, and since the cards aren't compatable with older slots, we'll be seeing this small, but necessary upgrade in all models.
- What about Firewire 800 and USB 2.0?
Apple hasn't accepted USB 2.0, but I wouldn't be surprised if new iMacs featured the ports. Firewire 800 isn't even in the 12" AlBook, so I don't think we'll see it in the iMac anytime soon.

When, Chris? When?
Soon. Very soon. It has been reported that we could see these as early as next week, but a more reasonable timetable would be "sometime in January."

Rumors to watch...

Just a quick morning post, but there are some new rumors worth following at Mac Rumors.

Specifically, we're looking at four stories:
"iMac Updates by Next Week?"
"Office 11 in the Works"
"15.4 inch PowerBooks?" (Current models are 15.2")
"Apple, Gobe and Future Office Software?"

More to come later today.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

A quote to dwell on...

"Pretty much, Apple and Dell are the only ones in this industry making money. They make it by being Wal-Mart. We make it by innovation."
-Steve Jobs

A last minute decision...

Think Secret and Mac Rumors are both reporting that Apple's iPhoto and iMovie updates were not originally supposed to be released as free downloads.

The two reliable rumor sites say that the resolution to make iMovie 3 and iPhoto 2 available as free downloads, as well as in the $50 iLife package, was made by Steve Jobs within days of the keynote. Apparently, the decision was made after pre-expo reports of pay-for iMovie, iPhoto, and iDVD upgrades caused many Mac-faithful to make their opinions against such a move heard.

Monday, January 13, 2003

To the winner...

Well, the big winners in the race for supreme rumor accuracy at this year's MWSF are Mac Rumors and Think Secret, and while I announced their respective victories yesterday, I didn't mention their prizes.

Both Mac Rumors (winner of the "Best Rumormonger of the MWSF03 Keynote" honor) and Think Secret (winner of the "Rumormonger Runner-Up of the MWSF03 Keynote" honor) have already received their prize, each now has a link under the "recommended" section of my links column.
It isn't much of a prize, but it's something.

Congratulations, again to the winners!

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Winners and Losers at MWSF03...

Well, that's all she wrote for MacUnderground's MacWorld Keynote Predictions Accuracy Reports. I know I said I would do an AR for MacSlash, but I think it's time to wrap up all this keynote hubbub. I did look at what MacSlash predicted, and it wouldn't have made a difference in the awards. Speaking of awards...

Now it's time to have a look at the final scores, and award MacUnderground's three honors.

Scores (from a base 50), ranked best to worst:
Mac Rumors, 145
Think Secret, 100
MacUnderground, 85 (however, I can't receive any honors)
LoopRumors, 5
MacOSRumors, -145 (ouch!)

What do they mean?
The top three (including myself, here) predicted enough correctly to gain points. While the bottom two (particularly MOSR), had generally incorrect predictions.

The Awards!
Here they are, without further interuption:
"Best Rumormonger of the MWSF03 Keynote" - Mac Rumors!
"Rumormonger Runner-Up of the MWSF03 Keynote" - Think Secret!
And the hilarious "Bad Publicity is Good Publicity Award for the Absolutely Worst Predictions of the MWSF03 Keynote" - MacOSRumors!

Congratulations to all three winners!

Accuracy Report: Mac Rumors

Original Predictions from Mac Rumors:
- iMovie 3
- iDVD 3
- iPhoto 2
- Pay-for iApp bundle
- 802.11g
- Powerbooks, 12" and 17"
Mac Rumors also predicted a new iApp, but didn't predict what it would be.

Accuracy...
While some of Mac Rumors predicting was really reporting, they were at the general benchmark of accuracy for this expo, but they pulled ahead they night before the keynote, when they first reported new Powerbooks.

Score...
Base Score: 50
Correct Software Predictions:
- iPhoto 2, iMovie 3, iDVD 3, +20
- iLife, +10
Incorrect Software Predictions:
- iPhoto 2, iMovie 3 not available for free (they are), -5
Missed Software:
- Safari, -15
- Keynote, -10
- Final Cut Express, -10
Correct Hardware Predictions:
- AirPort Extreme, +30
- Powerbook 12" and 17", +30
Incorrect Hardware Predictions:
None
Missed Hardware:
None
Additional Points, + or -:
- "Year of the Laptop" Gold Honor, for predicting new Powerbooks, +25
- Special bonus for being the first, and only major site to report on new Powerbooks at the keynote, +20

Final Score: 145, from a base 50.

Nice, but what does it mean?
It means that Mac Rumors did pretty well, although they wouldn't be on top if they hadn't correctly predicted the new Powerbooks, which won them extra points.

Next up: Winners and Losers