Author: Joe Wilcox

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United Against a Common Enemy

Mac users are singing a happy tune today, following news that HP would redistribute iTunes and the iPod music player. Or are they?

The deal makes plenty of sense for Apple. As one of the top two PC manufacturers, HP would help proliferate Apple’s Fairplay digital rights management (DRM)-wrapped Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) music files, further adoption of the iTunes music player and presumably lead to more sales of iPod. 

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What About the Windows Majority?

Apple released new digital media products and a smaller iPod portable music player during Macworld today. Entries over at my Jupiter Research analyst weblog give my early reaction [Editor: Links are no longer available].

Recently, I’ve been working exclusively in Windows, as I anchor Jupiter’s Microsoft Monitor service and using Microsoft software makes the job easier. I must admit that GarageBand looks like a slick product; it might even be the big announcement from Macworld. 

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My 10-Year PC Anniversary

Ten years ago this month, I bought my first home PC from a friend who built them for a living. Months earlier, I had read a story in what was then called Washington Journalism Review about the coming age of digital journalism. Few people had heard of the World Wide Web when the article published, but San Jose Mercury News and other publications had started appearing on America Online and CompuServe.

That first computer was a whooper for its day: 486 processor, 8MB of RAM, 120GB hard drive, and Windows 3.11. The builder included WordPerfect 6, which was so buggy, I picked up the competitive Word 6 upgrade from my local Staples. My current cell phone, which also runs a version of Windows, has more power, storage, and memory than that first PC. 

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Microsoft’s Culture of Paranoia

Microsoft has an image problem. Just ask anyone doing business with the company. Software developers, hardware manufacturers, and even some customers will secretly share they’re scared to death of Microsoft. Many reasons account for this fear. Some partners worry Microsoft will one day turn on them and gobble up their market. Others don’t want to rock the boat for fear of missing out on the coveted Windows logo for their products.

Some customers fear Microsoft’s bringing in Washington-based Business Software Alliance to do a software audit. Each piece of non-licensed software can cost a company $150,000. Even if every bit and byte is legal, the burden of proof is on the accused. Did you keep every receipt? 

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One Bad Apple

Apple is expected to launch a new online music service on April 28, 2003, that will work with a new version of the company’s iTunes digital music software. Rumors are buzzing loader than a ruptured hornet’s nest about the service. Most people believe Apple will make the new service available for Macs only. But I can’t imagine Apple CEO Steve Jobs is that dumb. If he’s smart, he’ll release an iTunes version for Windows and make a bold move into the digital media market.

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So Would it be Stealing?

My daughter has really gotten into this old “My Little Pony” Hasbro CD-ROM game she’s been playing at a friend’s house. I vaguely remember seeing it on store shelves years ago, but just figured it wasn’t my daughter’s speed. After all, she favors things like Sonic the Hedgehog or The Sims. But apparently, she really likes this My Little Pony game. I would buy it if I could find it. Hasbro doesn’t sell the game online, and no stores anywhere in my area carry it. Sure, there are some cheap copies still available on eBay. Assuming they’re legit.

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The Great Mac-PC Debate

It’s funny how far the protagonists championing either PCs or Macs will go to push their cause. I moseyed into my local CompUSA on Jan. 19, 2003, where I found two ViewSonic representatives showing off Microsoft Windows Powered Smart Displays in the store’s Mac section. As I approached, one of the salesmen lithely snatched two shoppers eyeing an Apple iBook and pitched them on a Smart Display.

I returned later when the salesmen was alone and piped, “Say, you’re going to scare all the Mac customers away.” “That’s the idea,” he shot back. I must have made some kind of brilliant observation, because he gave my daughter a set of promo street style headphones for my troubles. So, now she can wear a Windows logo while plugged into an Apple iPod. 

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HP No Restore-Disc Blues

Nothing irritates a busy reporter more than blowing off a whole day because of a computer catastrophe. (Can you guess where this is going?) Worse, this situation rekindled a longstanding gripe with Hewlett-Packard.

First, the crisis. The hard drive on the HP Windows Media Center 883n I had been testing suffered some kind of partial failure on Oct. 19, 2002, forcing a mad scramble to recover what data I could from the crippled disk. I first fired up the 883n on Oct. 10—so that’s only nine days of use—with the intention of writing a review as early as Oct. 20. But given the drive failure, I had to start from scratch, since some peculiarities I noticed with the system apparently derived from the lame disk.