Thursday, July 27, 2006

One WWDC followup

Just one minor addition - this is Things I Want To See At WWDC but probably won't.

- Xserve in a more SOHO-friendly form factor: 20%. Unfortunately, Apple seems to see Xserve as a "enterprise-only" product. If they could produce a tabletop version that's big enough to have these (or equivalent) specs:

• Single Core 2 Duo processor (no Xeon needed)
• Built-in SATA RAID support (for striping or mirroring)
• 2 hot-swappable drives, using the ADM form factor from the bigger Xserve (it holds 3 drives)
• Built-in video
• 1 expansion slot - PCI Express
• 2 USB ports, 1 FW400, and 1 FW 800 port

Apple can price it a little below the Xserve price point (but not too far below) and sell them like hotcakes to small businesses. Right now the options are G5 tower or Xserve - a G5 tower has plenty of muscle and doesn't require a rack, but no RAID or hotplug drives. PowerPC Mac minis used to make good low-end servers (if you didn't mind software RAID with the Firewire drives), but they're gone now. Plenty of 5-10 person companies could use a Apple server but have no need for all the infrastructure that goes with an Xserve, and lack the space for a rack system. Think about it, Steve...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Rubbing the genie's lamp

A week an a half from now is one of the favorite things an Apple watcher can experience - a Stevenote (tm). This Stevenote will be to kick off Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), and Apple has some neat things on the agenda. With the demise of MacWorld Boston (RIP), WWDC now represents one of only two in-country regularly scheduled Stevenotes - the other one, of course, is at MacWorld San Francisco in January. At last years' WWDC, Jobs announced the migration to Intel chips. At last January's Macworld, he announced the first two shipping Intel-based Mac systems (the iMac and MacBook Pro). WWDC will mark about 7 full months since Intel initial shipments, and there's still some pieces of the puzzle left to fill. Here's my prognostication about what is likely to be announced at WWDC, and the odds I'd attach to each of them.

By the way, clients of mine pay for more nuanced versions of this. Enjoy the freebie!

- A Mac Pro (or similarly named PowerMac G5 replacement): 99.5%. The only thing that can derail this announcement is a last-minute manufacturing problem. Look for the Mac Pro to be equipped with 1 or 2 dual-core Xeon processors (preserving the 64-bit goodness of the G5), but otherwise to be close in specifications to the current G5 towers. A new enclosure is likely - Apple always changes the tower design with new processor families.

- New Intel Xeon-based Xserve: 80%. It may be skipped if they don't want to steal any thunder from the desktop announcement. No idea on specs, other than that it'll stay at 1u height. I hope to see onboard video and built-in hardware RAID, thus saving both PCI-X slots for expansion (it may move to PCI Express at the same time). If Apple skips this, look for a low-key announcement a few weeks later.

- iTunes movie download service: 30%. Apple doesn't usually announce this kind of stuff at WWDC - they usually either hold separate press events or do it at MacWorld.

- Speedbumps for existing Intel Macs: 60%. They may do that for a model or two, but for the most part they'll be done in passing, like they normally are in the Windows world. Expect a clock increase on the MacBook Pro by September, and maybe a move to the new Core 2 Duo (pin-compatible with the original Core Duo) for iMac before fall, as well.

- Death of the G5: 100%. Even if Apple doesn't dump them on announcement day, they will drive the final stake in the G5's heart that day. Expect Power Mac G5s to be available for a couple more months, and Xserve G5s to be available for about the same time - maybe a little less.

- Adobe coming out on stage to suck up: 75%. I think they'll be out there to demo CS3, and to say that it's ahead of schedule (even if they have to lie and/or eat crow to do so). Adobe pissed off Apple when they weren't at least partway done at the Intel Mac launch. They're going to have to pay tribute, or Apple may...

- Apple adds to their Pro software line with Photoshop killer: 40%. If Jobs isn't happy with Adobe he may pull this out of the skunkworks and fire a major shot across Adobe's bow.

I have other guesses as well - but that's the batch I'm sharing pre-WWDC.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Still alive...

Just because I haven't posted in two weeks-plus doesn't mean I've died. Really. After vacation I had a few days of solo childcare (followed by several more days of recovery and a trip to Storyland last weekend), and a huge amount of work.

David loved the roller coaster.

More eventually.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Midweek thoughts

I've got a little downtime today due to cloudiness - so I'm catching up while the sisters hang out with their folks downstairs and the kids are all watching Nickelodeon together (my brother-in-law left this morning to head home for a golf tournament):

- We managed to mangle a batch o' lobsters last night for supper. Though this house is enormous, the kitchen is woefully equipped and the stovetop puts out about 5 BTUs, so it was a bit of a scramble. The lobsters didn't enjoy their fate, by the way.

- I thought the fireworks here might be cancelled (we had a huge thunderstorm coming through right around dusk), but we had just enough clearing to get them in before a second, smaller wave came through. We didn't go all the way into town, though - everyone else stayed on the front steps of the house while David and I went across the street to the beach for a better view.

- The lightning show may have been more spectacular, though. Lots of cloud-to-cloud strikes.

- Monday night we all went up to Wildwood and did rides on the pier. David had a major-league meltdown when we got on the bumper cars and he couldn't drive the one he was in with Jane (he couldn't reach the pedal). His cousin Caitlin was OK with just riding along, but not our little control freak.

- So after Sherry plucked him out of the bumper car we let him go on the kiddy bumper car next door. He wound up spinning in circles and banging the wall a bunch.

- Yesterday at mid-day we went to the zoo. Always a great trip. He got to see a real-life brown bear, and decided that he'd stick with his stuffed one.

- With my brother-in-law gone, I now have the responsibility of making the morning trip to Wawa to get the Atlantic City paper (I get the Philly paper, too, so I can get a less parochial view of the world). The bright side of that is that it's really close by, and I get a few minutes of solitude and good coffee in the deal.

- The kids are doing a matinee of Cars this afternoon.

- Here's the view out my window:

Complete with a moiré from the screen door. But I was too lazy to open it, or to take the shot with anything other than my built-in iSight.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Notes from Beachside...

We arrived here in Cape May around 4:30. Just to give you an idea, we hit our first traffic of the day at the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York at 10:15 - we got on the highway initially at 7. So the first half of the trip took 3 hours and 15 minutes. The second half took 6 hours and 15 minutes. I hate this drive.

The nice part is that once we get here, it's fun. Last night we didn't do much - Jane and I made a run to the grocery store in the evening (leaving David at the house), but we were all too pooped to do much else. Today has been different. We were all up at a decent hour - instead of going to the beach, though, we went into town and picked her folks up after church, then we all did lunch and headed to the Coast Guard PX to buy an extra set of sheets and some toys. I've been sitting around with a book and planning a hot tub run soon.

Tonight is yet another grand family picture (Jane's folks like to do these every couple of years), and tomorrow we'll get into the serious recreation part of the trip.

Watched the end of second Daytona last night before bed. Interesting race, though it's nowhere near as much fun to watch in regular NTSC TV. I'd say Tony Stewart is healed from his broken shoulder now, Boris Said is for real, and Jeff Gordon got screwed badly. The lack of a Big One early in the race (which usually happens in a plate race) meant that the wreck that finally did happen knocked Gordon down to 40th.

The good news is that Jimmy Johnson got knocked way back due to a wreck as well, which I like for two reasons. One is because I'm not a fan of his at all, and two is because it now starts to bunch up the standings more. It'd be nice to see more than 10 drivers in the Chase.

More reports from the beach as the week goes on...