I have to admit that the new $99 AppleTV caught my attention when it was announced a few days ago. Small, cheap, works with iTunes, Netflix built in, and all for $99. Sounds pretty cool, right? I don’t think so anymore.

See, in my home everything is wireless and there are only laptops and soon a NAS. I want to have access to all of our files and media assets in one spot and be able to access those files on multiple devices. Most decent NAS solutions provide the storage and retrieval functionalities I need. What’s missing is the devices to play it back on. Clearly, I can play back stuff on my Mac and PC laptops and other devices. Getting media on my TV is another story.

The new AppleTV  has no internal storage and only streams media files from another source. In order to do this, a Mac or PC has to be running with iTunes open in order to stream the media files. This is rather inefficient since one of my laptops would have to be running while I’m watching TV. Now one could use a NAS to stream media files. Most NAS devices can stream audio via some type of iTunes friendly media server. Video likely won’t work on such NAS devices since some content would be DRM’d with FairPlay.  Since Apple does not support DLNA and has gone the proprietary route, there isn’t really a good way to stream video from a centralized source other than a desktop running iTunes.

Apple appears to be hanging on to the “digital hub” mentality whereby the Mac is still the center of “your digital life.” Actually, my  so called “digital life” resides in the data itself and not so much the mechanisms that I use to access it. At $99, the Apple TV isn’t a bargain once you start to realize the extras you’ll need in order to make it participate in a complete solution. For me, this complete solution doesn’t appear to exist yet. The closest thing that comes to it doesn’t bear an an Apple logo but rather a Windows one.

This weekend I decided to give Leopard a shot and so far, so good. However, if you’re an Eclipse fan you will be disappointed. I should also add folks who use ANY Eclipse-based product including Flex Builder 3 Beta 2 and apparently Zend Neon as well, according to the commenter’s over at The Job of Flex blog. The long of the short is that anytime you try and use the Open Resource dialog and make your selection an hit “Ok”, Eclipse will crash.

Since Eclipse uses it’s own SWT, it’s hard to say if this is an Apple issue or an Eclipse issue. Seeing as how, Swing applications seem to be much more stable and perform better, I’m thinking this is an Eclipse bug. Even though Mac OS X is still a minority platform for the Eclipse group, it’s issues like this back up my prior assertion regarding SWT vs. Swing. But with all of that said, I have filed 2 bugs: one for the Eclipse IDE here and another for Flex Builder here. If you’re having the same issues I am experiencing, please vote for these bugs. In the meantime, I’m giving the latest Netbeans RC 2 a good hard look. So far, I’m very impressed with how it runs under Leopard.

By all appearances, the initial release of Mac OS X Leopard will not include Java 6. Java 5 will still be there and include all of the 64-bit goodness that we’ve been reading about. Considering that Java 6 is not listed as one of the 300+ new features it’s a good indicator that it won’t be there. I’ve also received a few good comments which strongly indicate that Java 5 is the JVM that ships with Leopard. There maybe a separate Java 6 download later in life, but Apple being who they are don’t have much to offer on the subject. * sigh *. Looks like I’ll be saving my $129 for a while along with the rest of the folks who do Java development on a Mac.

Even though Java is not listed as one of the 300+ new features, Java is listed as one of the “Key Technologies” listed under the tech specs for Leopard. Additionally, the development tools section also states that Leopard will include:

“Complete Java JDK, including javac, javadoc, ANT, and Maen tools “

Whatever “Maen” is :) Technically speaking, Java isn’t “new” even though Java 6 is a very big improvement over previous releases. I guess saying that they now have Ruby on Rails in every copy will sell more copies than saying that after 13 months, we finally have Java 6. Since Apple apparently removed the year-old developer preview of Java 6, I’m gonna go with Java 6 is finally going to appear in Mac OS X.

But seriously Apple, you need to do a better job at communicating with the development community on topics like this. We love your OS. We love your hardware. We hate the fact that the Java community was left in the dark as to what the state of Java was going to be in OS X Leopard. The Ruby folks seemed to have an awful lot of details around what was going to be included in 10.5. Whatever. I’ll still get my copy on the 27th at 10am.

So Apple has put out a page highlighting the 300+ new features Leopard will have. As I scan through this page, one word I’m particularly keen on is only mentioned once. That word is Java. It is only mentioned in DTrace section where it talks about how DTrace can monitor Java code. So we know Java is there, we also know it’s been tweaked for DTrace. We also know that Java on Leopard will be 64-bit. And we also know that Apple has been working on a Java 6 implementation for some time now.

So why isn’t Java a feature that’s listed? Honestly, this is primary reason for me to be purchasing Leopard in the first place. This is a pretty significant feature for me and many other folks who went out and got a MacBook Pro to do Java development on. These games that Apple is playing with the Java camp is certainly getting old!

A lot of people have been giving a lot of oooh’s and aaah’s to Microsofts still beta/alpha Silverlight’s HD video features. While HD video in Silverlight is cool and all, it was only a matter of time before Adobe offered up their HD offering. According to News.com, an upcoming Flash player update code named “Moviestar” will bring high-definition video along with H.264 compression as well as HE-AAC version 2 audio.

The new Flash player will offer hardware-accelerated, full-screen video playback. Additionally, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for Adobe to take advantage of the hardware-based H.264 decoder in the iPhone. If that’s the case, then one could argue that this is the Flash update that Apple will include in the next iPhone update.

This update is important to Adobe in their effort against Silverlight. Unlike Silverlight which only supports Windows Media specific codecs, Adobe have chosen an industry standard approach. And to date, Adobe’s cross-platform track record has been extremely good when compared to MS. Granted, Linux support still needs a little more work, but Flash 9 has been leaps and bounds better than before. So now with HD video and industry standard compression, what makes Silverlight anymore compelling than Flash?

If you’ve been disappointed to learn that Adobe does not offer an installer for Live Cycle Data Services ES, you may be happy to learn that the AIX installer runs just peachy under Mac OS X. The AIX installer is an executable JAR file that runs an InstallAnywhere installer. Simply double-click the JAR and go. However, you will need to have a servlet container handy such as Tomcat or JBoss.

There’s no question that Parallels Desktop is the current tool to beat when it come to running Windows applications under Mac OS X. There are a number of great features that Parallels offers like being able to create a VM image from a real PC and import VMWare images. These are a few things that VMWare Fusion doesn’t yet offer, but does it matter?

So one has to wonder, why choose VMWare Fusion at all? For one, Walt Mossbergs review sums up the difference between the two products nicely and I can agree with his findings. I have had Parallels pretty much paralyze my machine while resuming a saved state. It would do this for about 2 minutes before Mac OS X became usable again. Parallels can be a major CPU hog in many cases, but VMWare on the other hand, feels much lighter on it’s feet.

One thing I find amusing though is that everyone is focusing only on the “running Windows” aspect of virtualization. If you take Windows out of the equation, Parallels Desktop kinda sucks. Sure, I was able to run OpenSUSE 10.2 under Parallels, but there is no desktop integration at all. Under a non-windows OS, you still have to ctrl-enter to return cursor control to Mac OS X. VMWare on the other hand has it’s VMWare tools supported by several Linux distributions as well as Solaris 10. Additionally, VMWare will dynamically adjust the screen resolution of the target OS when the VMWare window is resized. It does this flawlessly under Ubuntu. I am currently writing this post in Ubuntu 7.04 in VMWare and I can seamlessly bring my cursor into both OS’s. Under Parallels, Linux integration isn’t this smooth (And BTW, Ubuntu is a very slick distribution!).

So the long of the short is, if you’re looking for running more than Windows, you should give VMWare a look.

A lot of folks get pretty excited when they get a new Apple product and share their unpacking experience online. Just the other week, I was able to snag a refurbished 15″ 2.16GHz MacBook Pro at the Apple Store Special Deals section for $1499. I was curious to see how much of a departure the refurb unboxing ritual would be as a opposed to a new one. The machine is great, but the unpacking experience is a completely opposite of getting a one. Here are a few photos of my refurb unpacking experience:






If you look close at the power supply, you’ll see that it’s packed in a plastic sandwich bag. I’m not kidding. But for the $500 savings, I can deal without the fancy packaging.