Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Consumer

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  • Geoff Lealand,

    Good arguments, Tom. To other spurious, and often facile comparisons (Mac vs PC; Holden vs Ford) could we add: Auckland vs Wellington?

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    OTOH, I don't own an ipod or anything like it, and I would like to know which would be the best one to have, really. An mpeg player would be best since most of my extensive music collection is on my PC drive, specifically on my WMP. Help, please?

    What format is the music on your PC in? If they're Windows Media files, they won't play on your iPod; MP3s will. (WM files can be converted, of course.)

    If you're loving your MacBook, then you should absolutely just get an iPod. No other player will come with software that works as easily and seamlessly as iTunes does. Fiona just connects hers for a couple of minutes every morning to get new daily podcasts for the bus journeys.

    I don't think you need an iPod touch, unless you also want to pay a premium to browse the internet via wi-fi. Just go for an iPod Nano; a 4GB one is $219. If you just want something that has some songs on it, a screen-less 1GB iPod Shuffle is $79.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Apple products are triumphs of design and marketing. Lordy me, we’ve all stood in the appliance store for ages with our eyes flicking between the economical, boxy, four slice white toaster mass produced in China (function) and the shiny, curvy, chrome two slice one with cool knobs from Italy (form) that has half the functionality for four times the price.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    But what if you need, say, 40+ Gb, and won't touch a "Classic" because of it's serious flaws? Are there any other reasonable options?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    No other player will come with software that works as easily and seamlessly as iTunes does.

    A pox on iTunes. A pox I say! ;)

    Jackie, you should probably just get an iPod Nano, like Russell says. They're cute. Ignore we ornery doubting Thomases. (And my newish iPod Classic is pretty cool, I must admit. So. Much. Space! And Winamp Pro runs it just fine...)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    But what if you need, say, 40+ Gb, and won't touch a "Classic" because of it's serious flaws? Are there any other reasonable options?

    I have an 80GB Classic and have never had a problem with it. I think the early problems with the 6th gen iPods (mostly with the 160GB) were sorted out with software updates. At $328 for a thin, palm-sized hard drive with a large-ish colour screen that plays and syncs music and video (including video out to TV) it really seems pretty good.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    A pox on iTunes. A pox I say! ;)

    Well, if it helps, I still think the iTunes Music Store is sucky.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    This is useful.

    It's translated from Italian, but the chart speaks for itself. It shows the total two-year cost of an 8GB iPhone on the lowest plan in all the launch markets.

    Lowest-plan data caps range from - cough - 5MB with Telstra in Australia to unlimited in a couple of places.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I don't own an ipod or anything like it, and I would like to know which would be the best one to have, really. An mpeg player would be best since most of my extensive music collection is on my PC drive, specifically on my WMP. Help, please?

    I have a Toshiba Gigabeat. Mine is an s30 (30 gig) had it for a while now, syncs perfectly with WMP and plays .wma lossless and h264/mpeg4 video and has a built in radio. I can't seem to find those anymore but the Dick Smith 20 gig offering looks worthwhile at $199.00.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    I have an 80GB Classic and have never had a problem with it. I think the early problems with the 6th gen iPods (mostly with the 160GB) were sorted out with software updates. At $328 for a thin, palm-sized hard drive with a large-ish colour screen that plays and syncs music and video (including video out to TV) it really seems pretty good.

    That's promising, if those problems have been dealt with. Specifically, I was talking mainly about the sound problems related to the supposedly inferior D/A converter in the Classic (does this not apply to the 80 Gb?), but also a number of other problems. If many of these faults still hold, I'm not sure I want one; in fact I'm seriously considering trying to find a second-hand 5.5.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Apple is based on an open source unix system. No system is ever secure, but Apple's base system is out in the open

    The core is, kinda. Darwin is based on FreeBSD, but it's not actually FreeBSD. It's Darwin. The base of developers is quite a bit smaller.
    And the GUI, Aqua, is absolutely closed. GUIs are a good source of security holes, so whatever benefit may be gained by having an OSS base is totally negated by a proprietary GUI layer over the top.

    Plus they've taken FreeBSD's modular architecture and turned it monolithic, which is why updates to QuickTime require a reboot (see earlier comment about taking the worst bits of Windows). That's an even better way to introduce security holes.

    As a rough indicator, last year and this FreeBSD has been subject to a total of 15 security announcements. OS X is up to 33 for the same period. They've clearly deviated pretty far from the underlying system.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    An mpeg player would be best since most of my extensive music collection is on my PC drive, specifically on my WMP. Help, please?

    If it's protected WMA files, forget about an iPod. If they're standard WMA files and you can convert them to MP3s then an iPod can play them, but iPods can't do WMA. Any other MP3 player can, however.
    One other thing to be aware of is that battery life is shortened by playing protected WMA files. The encoding requires more decoding, and that uses more power. Yet another reason to hate Digital Restrictions Management.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    The core is, kinda. Darwin is based on FreeBSD, but it's not actually FreeBSD. It's Darwin. The base of developers is quite a bit smaller.

    Apple haven't exactly been updating Darwin, either, and have done some nasty stuff with various technologies they have bought in from the open source world.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    but Safari on the iPhone is way ahead of any other mobile web browser I've seen.

    Nokia N8x0.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Thanks for your help, all. It's something I've thought long and hard about, and I will continue to do so - at least now, I'm a little better informed. Cheers!

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    80% would not give up their car until someone prised their cold, dead fingers from the steering wheel

    At $10 a litre I guess they'll be cold and dead, having starved to death. Because few will be able to afford $500 tanks of petrol as well as food.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    while 20% of people would willingly take to public transport, 80% would not give up their car until someone prised their cold, dead fingers from the steering wheel.

    I'll quite happily take public transport. I do, in fact, though at the moment it's because I'm recovering from a dislocated shoulder so cycling is off the cards. Last weekend I took the bus to Hamilton and back for a family 'do' - $24 return is hard to argue with!
    But, that said, I would feel quite naked without a car. I can go a week without using it, or more, but public transport in Auckland simply isn't a total replacement for a car. I don't necessarily have 20 minutes to wait for a bus (and my selection is much, much better than the average for Auckland, because I live next to GSR) if I've just decided to go and meet friends in town. Spontaneity dies without a car, because everything must be planned around the vagaries of bus/train timetables.

    There's also the small matter of shopping. It's pretty much a physical impossibility to go shopping for five adults by public transport. Nine litres of milk, 1kg of cheese, half-a-dozen tins, etc. I'm not built like Arnie!

    I do wonder, too, how many of the respondents live in places where a car is the only option. If you live 20 minutes' brisk walk from the nearest bus stop, you're not going to be too keen on public transport in the middle of winter. Take it to 30, and the appeal wanes further. But those are small distances indeed when compared to people who live 20 minutes' drive from the nearest bus stop. If you have to drive that far, you may as well drive the rest of the way.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Its primary purpose is making and receiving calls, and sending and receiving short messages. On any other phone, that'd include MMS.

    What is MMS and why is so important?

    Or perhaps I could rephrase that question Matthew-Poole-style:

    Could someone tell me what MMS is? I have heard of it but I do not know what it is! I believe it is important technology for cellphones, but I am not sure exactly what it is!

    ;)

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    What is MMS and why is so important?

    AKA pxt. Multimedia Messaging System. Even phones that can't send them can receive them, with the exception of the iPhone. I don't think there's been a GSM phone made with a colour screen in the last five years that doesn't do MMS, except the iPhone.

    And mock all you like, but not everyone speaks in a monotone. I try and impart the same inflections in type as I would in a conversation. Some people use italics, some use quotes, I use bold.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Robyn, I saw your wink, even if he didn't.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • mjl,

    As a rough indicator, last year and this FreeBSD has been subject to a total of 15 security announcements. OS X is up to 33 for the same period. They've clearly deviated pretty far from the underlying system.

    How many of those for OSX were for applications like quicktime and safari?

    Since Jul 2008 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Robyn, I saw your wink, even if he didn't.

    Thanks, Jackie! I'm glad you noticed!

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    And mock all you like, but not everyone speaks in a monotone.

    Oh dear. I wasn't mocking, I swear! It's just that you have such a distinct way of writing, especially compared to must other PA System regulars - you write lots and you use bold to highlight select words, with the end results being multiple paragraphs with select words jumping out like some sort of secret Da Vinci Code-style message.

    P.S. Thanks for the explanation of MMS. How strange that iPhones don't have it!

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    How many of those for OSX were for applications like quicktime and safari?

    A quick count showed three that weren't listed as affecting "Mac OS X". One for Apple Mail, one for iChat, one for iCal.

    And that's not exactly a good measure since FreeBSD releases for vulnerabilities in bind, for example, which is part of the base install but frequently not in use and is totally third-party software. Plus, you can't disconnect QuickTime from OS X because it's integrated into Aqua so tightly. It's like trying to disconnect IE from Windows, only harder. They're one and the same, which is why QuickTime updates require reboots.

    I use Secunia as my source. Interestingly Secunia has zero releases for FreeBSD 7, which went -STABLE at the end of February. It's been affected by all the same bugs as 6, though, so the counts are the same for both.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    It's just that you have such a distinct way of writing, especially compared to must other PA System regulars

    That could be because I'm very rapidly approaching the point where I'll have been using the 'net for half my life. 1/3 was passed two or three years ago, and 1/2 is under four away. So I've been expressing myself in type for relatively a very long time. Tends to result in certain idiosyncrasies.

    On the MMS thing, it is very strange. They got stick for it with version 1, and they've done it again. The iJobs doesn't like system inter-operability, based on Apple's past MO, so I guess they decided that SMS and calls was sufficient functionality for a phone before they were getting too deeply into those nasty IEEE/IETF standards.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

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