JRoberts

Apple

117 posts in this topic

Taking a step back from my previous posts - and I've already said all that I intend to say about Mac vs. PC for now - I wanted to focus on, as this forum is named, The Good - the good about computers generally.

Arguments about superiority of this or that modern computer (and management of particular companies) aside, it remains that all personal computers currently being sold are truly wonderful devices - that is true whether you're talking PCs or Macs. I started programming around 1978 with the TI-58 calculator and then the TRS-80 computer, one of the first PCs, that used a Z80 microprocessor running at, as I recall, 1.77 Megahertz. That's Megahertz, not Gigahertz. It had all of 16 Kilobytes of RAM and a cassette recorder to load and store data. That's 16,384 bytes of RAM, not 16 million bytes or 16 billion bytes.

Now in 2005, I have multiple computers - a main system with a 3.2 Gigahertz Pentium processor, 2 gigabytes of RAM, and a RAID storage system of about 1 terabyte. So the clock speed is over 1 million times that of the TRS-80 - I have over 100,000 times the amount of RAM - and the storage system is absurdly more capable. (Some years after my first TRS-80, I bought my first hard drive - a Shugart external drive that held a whopping 5 megabytes and cost $2000.)

In addition to that, I have a number of other PCs for other purposes, and even a G4 tower Mac that I tinker with on occasion - I do like OS X.

So, my main system is conservatively a trillion times more capable than the TRS-80 from 1978/9, and the others are also fantastically more capable, including of course the Mac.

So in the end, whether you use a PC or a Mac, computers today are beautiful machines that have grown in 25 years to capabilities that were hardly dreamed of in 1980. We are fortunate that they exist and that so much progress has been made, and with the internet, who knows what kind of incredible things will be possible in another 25 years. I hope I'm there to see it.

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So the clock speed is over 1 million times that of the TRS-80 ...

Argh. That should be over 1 *thousand* times, not 1 million. Naturally I noticed the mistake after posting. When you factor in the much more powerful P4 instructions, especially for floating point, the relative power probably is at least 1 million times greater, though - just not the clock speed.

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It is totally disingenuous to say that casting Apple in the role of Ferrari, and then comparing Ferrari to Ford, did not imply the obvious performance superiority and (deserved) elitism of the Ferrari vs. the Ford. Give me a break!
Given that the explicit context was one in which I declared I had no interest in a Windows/Apple 'who is better' debate, and given that I had explicitly stated I considered each of them simply tools, one good at some things, one good at others, and both good at similar things - rather than arguing one OS is 'better' (faster, more powerful, etc) than another, it is a statement of fact that my sole intent was the comparison of two well-known companies which compete in the same industry by building relatively similar products, but which have obvious different approaches and goals, that neither is "stupid", nor is one less "successful" than the other. As such, the out of context claim of disingenuousness, and the undeserved and inappropriate expression of exasperation, are not at all appreciated.

What would have been nice is - instead of continuing to try to steer the discussion out of its explicitly identified context and towards the pointless "Mac vs. PC" debate - a response to the argument that a company is not "dumb" (or any of the other derogatory terms you have used to describe Apple and Steve Jobs) if it follows its own goals etc rather than those of Bill Gates.

As you point out in your last post, the purpose of this thread is "The Good". Calling a man and/or a company "stupid" "dumb" "senseless" "arbitrary" and the host of other terms of derision you spat out, simply because he has different goals etc than another business that qualifies as "the Good" is an injustice to that man and/or company - one deserving retraction, if not apology. Such injustice certainly has no place in a thread devoted to "The Good".

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Such injustice certainly has no place in a thread devoted to "The Good".

I agree with this, and as moderator I am tempted to go back and delete the entire interchange that contains this negative focus. Unfortunately, in doing so, I would also be removing a lot of positives at the same time. I may yet do so, but for now let's all re-focus our effort on underscoring the positive theme of this thread, which is, after all, in a forum dedicate to "THE GOOD - in praise of ...."

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Without wanting to get into a PC/MAC debate myself, I do have to say that JRoberts has an interesting point about an integration between the software or a hardware. Putting aside the rather ridiculous protection against installing MacOS X on PCs, there is a genuine argument to be made on the technical side about an increased effectiveness of an OS designed for a very specific hardware, and moreover to have that hardware designed very specifically for it. If you have control over both software and hardware, a good argument could be made that increased efficiency, speed, and reliability should follow....

With today's computer architectures, I don't think there really is any significant advantage to writing an operating system so that it is tailored to a specific kind of hardware. (I know next to nothing about Apple's computers today, so my comments are of a more general nature.) In fact, I'd say that if a company is writing a general purpose operating system (meaning an operating system that will be useful for a very diverse group of computer applications) they would be better off writing it so that it would be easy to target it to different hardware.

Today, computer hardware changes rapidly. In ten years, there may well be completely different computer architectures. If so, a company like Microsoft (or presumably Apple) would like to take advantage of newer, more advanced hardware. They can do this more easily if it isn't a lot of work to re-write their OS. The alternative, in the extreme, would be that they'd have to toss out their entire OS, because it was completely hardware-dependent, and start from scratch.

In the past, this wasn't always the case. In fact, there are cases of successful pairs of (operating system + hardware architecture) that were developed in parallel in the same company. The one I'm familiar with is the VMS operating system, which ran on VAX computers. In this case, the hardware designers actually put instructions in the machines because the OS designers requested them. Another example would undoubtedly be IBM's System/360 and /370 computers and the operating systems they designed for them.

Why not do this today? In part it's because today's computer architectures already have quite advanced support for operating systems (things like virtual memory, advanced I/O architectures, memory protection, and the ability to operate at different levels of privilege), so that if one were to write a new oprating system, it would be reasonable to expect it to be able to run on different architectures.

But the main reason is I think that most computer makers today do not design their own processors. Apple, for instance, uses processors built by Intel, Motorola, IBM, or whoever. This means that if they want to stay competitive, they have to be ready to change so that they can run on a different kind of processor. Microsoft is probably even more in this position. They need to have the flexibility to re-target their OS to new hardware, without having to re-write the whole thing.

I think what it comes down to is that computers and their software have grown so complex that there's a bigger division of labor than their was in the past. This is one of the things driving the huge improvement in value we're offered today versus several decades ago. Today it makes sense to have a company like Intel which dedicates itself to (among other things!) building processors that are just the fastest they can make. And a company like Microsoft that is just dedicated to making software that meets the needs of a broad class of users.

This is different from the days of several decades ago, in which there were many integrated computer makers: companies that designed their own processors, (maybe even built some of their own semiconductor chips), built their own machines, and wrote all of their own systems software, and probably a good deal of the applications software too.

The changes the computer industry has gone through are fascinating, at times frustrating, but in the end, it's resulted in the creation of incredible value that the pioneers in the industry would be proud to see today.

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Wow, I didn't realize this thread was still alive. Excellent discussion, although heated at times.

Since I want to be an entrepreneur when I'm older, I always fall in the trap of evaluating computer companies by their revenue model (and profit margins). I obsessively think about business strategy and revenue streams for my own future companies, so this is hard for me to avoid.

I will avoid it, though, because it isn't important. What's important is that the product makes me happy. Not just happy, but giddy. It needs to make me go "Wow!"

Google did, when it introduced Gmail in all its gigabyte glory. Apple did, and does, consistently.

So yes, a computer science major, who should be laboriously evaluating the specs and price of the competition, admits today that he just wants to be wowed! :lol:

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Jay,

Interesting post.

With today's computer architectures, I don't think there really is any significant advantage to writing an operating system so that it is tailored to a specific kind of hardware.
I think that still holds true today. Games are being written for certain video cards, to take advantage of that hardware's niceties to squeeze out the maximum amount of efficiency out of it.
In the past, this wasn't always the case. In fact, there are cases of successful pairs of (operating system + hardware architecture) that were developed in parallel in the same company. [...]

Why not do this today? In part it's because today's computer architectures already have quite advanced support for operating systems (things like virtual memory, advanced I/O architectures, memory protection, and the ability to operate at different levels of privilege)

I hope you realize that all of those things you listed are software, and not hardware, dependant. Computer architectures may have good support for certain operating systems that can be expected to run on them. But that doesn't preclude an OS from taking advantage of whatever is given to it, to the maximum effect. Windows squeezes every amount of power possible out of an Intel chip and instruction set, because MS knows they will never have to port to a PowerPC chip. They don't compromise the efficiency of their program on the off-chance that they will have to move to another chip for some reason. That's why they have trade partnerships, and incidentally why someone like AMD makes Intel-compatible chipsets, because they want a piece of the Windows market, and aren't crazy enough to go and do their own thing by themselves.
But the main reason is I think that most computer makers today do not design their own processors.
That's true, but there's a reason why there are trade partnerships, as I said earlier, and industry standards. Microsoft and IBM may have let Intel design the chips for them (out of division of labor considerations), but when competition swirled around Intel, it didn't create any new kinds of architecture, but reenforced what Intel has already created. So modern software companies don't have to tear their hair out over concerns about what computers will run their software. They have a pretty good general standard of "PC", which has a set of certain automatic associations with it: an Intel instruction set, a single CPU, etc. A recent proliferation of multi-core CPUs may be working to change that paradigm in the future, but for now the single-CPU paradigm remains a paradigm nonetheless. So the point is, if Microsoft can squeeze out every possible inch of performance from the hardware it can expect to be run on, so can Apple, except they have a much better knowledge of what their hardware is, and what support it can provide to the operating system. This produces a higher cost, and less compatibility (at least for now), but it should also, 'in theory', produce higher performance. I just don't think Apple is taking enough advantage of that hardware to be SO much of a better system to overtake Windows, which, with all of the hardware burdens it has to overcome, still remains a great OS.

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...

I hope you realize that all of those things you listed are software, and not hardware, dependant. Computer architectures may have good support for certain operating systems that can be expected to run on them....

Just to clarify what I meant:

When I said "things like virtual memory, advanced I/O architectures, memory protection, and the ability to operate at different levels of privilege", I was referring to hardware features of modern processors. For instance, a typical modern processor architecture has special hardware registers that support memory management. Without these resources, the software (OS) would not be able to implement something like virtual memory efficiently, if at all. The reason I brought the issue up was just to say that 1) these hardware resources are not particularly OS specific and 2) any decent advanced modern processor architecture would have them. Both of these factors make it more reasonable for an OS to be designed with the idea that it could run on more than one architecture.

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Wow. [Rewriting the OS] is quite a task.

I once looked into a system that ran Linux and Windows simultaneously. Such a feature would seem to be a natural for an Intel system running the Apple OS and Windows.

For what it's worth: I just talked about this issue with a friend of mine who worked for a long time as an engineer, first at Apple then at Intel.

She said that because OS X is already built on a UNIX-based foundation (FreeBSD), it is almost trivial to compile the OS to run on Intel hardware. She said that at a recent Mac conference, the Apple reps claimed that they merely needed to set a certain bit before they compile the code.

It's hearsay coming from me, but it would make sense that Apple had already compiled and tested OS X on Intel hardware before they would dump IBM (the PowerPC). To do otherwise would not seem like one of Steve Jobs's more prudent moves.

I asked my friend whether anyone expected Mac OS to run on any old PC. She said that it has already been done illegally, much to Apple's frustration. Apparently, all Macs contain a chip called a Trusted Platform Module, and although the OS isn't supposed to run without it, hackers have found a way to bypass it. I infer from this fact that Apple does not as yet intend to become just an OS maker; they intend to maintain the marriage between their special hardware and their software.

I, too, love what Apple is doing. Their products show, not just form following function, but simplicity and aesthetic beauty actually being treated as functional values.

My friend said the Apple employees with whom she worked showed as much passion for their work as you might expect them to. She said that some engineers' devotion seemed almost religious. I took that as a fine compliment to them, given their success in the market and their ability to evoke the same passion in their customers.

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I, too, love what Apple is doing. Their products show, not just form following function, but simplicity and aesthetic beauty actually being treated as functional values.

I'm almost due for a new computer and I would definitely consider an Apple on an Intel if they maintained the same sort of aethetics as in the picture of the G5 that JRoberts linked to. I would most likely stick with Windows but I'd be willing to pay a premium for the smart design and good looks.

However, I do have some concerns if they stick with that beautiful built-into-the monitor look. I wonder how much that sort of monitor-box can handle and how will it all look? Once I add a second monitor, a printer, a scanner, etc., the look will not be quite so sleek and integrated anymore. I suppose the new Intel-based Apple system will have all kinds of expandability if it is to compete with the PC boxes.

Also, I wonder about the quality of the monitor. I bought a high-quality large-screen LCD monitor and returned it because the text was nowhere as clear as the high-quality large-screen CRT monitor that I have now. Unless the text quality of the monitor improves substantially over the ones I have tried, I will have to stick with a regular PC box instead of an Intel-based Apple.

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I owned an Apple in the early 90s, went to a Dell for the last 7 years, and earlier this year bought a PowerBook. Why switch?

Compare Windows to OS X.

The big four:

COMPATIBILITY. I've given up after hours of trying to run some software on Windows, because some file was in the wrong place, the dll was wrong, etc. And I can't even delete some of that software! OS X just takes care of all of this. I don't have to be a computer expert to use it.

WEB SECURITY. Microsoft has for years put out a stream of upgrades and patches to fix holes. Apple doesn't need to. OS X builds on the inherently more secure foundation of Unix.

RELIABILITY. No more blue screens of death.

EASE OF USE. I take it out of the box and run. I don't have to plug-and-pray, or spend hours configuring little details in order to get basic functionality.

Others:

- It looks cool. At night my keyboard even lights up!

- Build quality and customer service (consistently at or near #1 by Consumer Reports).

- Most software I use is available for both operating systems. But with a Mac I can use a Windows emulator and run even more software (though, granted, it is slower than native OS X).

- Seamless iTunes/PowerBook/iPod music management. One vendor for all, and the vendor does an excellent job on compatibility. (Compare that to 4 different companies for the PC, OS, music software, and MP3 player.)

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However, I do have some concerns if they stick with that beautiful built-into-the monitor look. I wonder how much that sort of monitor-box can handle and how will it all look? Once I add a second monitor, a printer, a scanner, etc., the look will not be quite so sleek and integrated anymore. I suppose the new Intel-based Apple system will have all kinds of expandability if it is to compete with the PC boxes.
I am assuming by "how much [it] can handle" you mean how many extras you can plug into it, what room there is for expansion, etc? If so, they handle pretty much what a normal PC will handle, standard (though expandability compared to a box will be limited of course - much the same way it is with a laptop). And you will have many more cords dangling around the back, which will of course impact on the cleanliness of the look.
Also, I wonder about the quality of the monitor. I bought a high-quality large-screen LCD monitor and returned it because the text was nowhere as clear as the high-quality large-screen CRT monitor that I have now.
I don't know how much of a "premium" you are willing to pay (and whenever you go Apple, you are indeed paying a premium), but one of the items on my dream list is one of Apple's Cinema Display monitors (seen here). These monitors are simply drop dead gorgeous - and with the 23 or 30(!) inches you wouldnt need a second monitor.

In LA there are 3-5 Apple stores which should be convenient to you at one point or another when driving around Stephen. You should drop in one some time and check out their stock, just to see if all this stuff both appeals to you and would fit your quality (ie monitor specs etc) needs.

And - its just fun to browse as well. :lol:

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Apple's 30" 2560x1600 resolution monitor is indeed beautiful, but very pricey at $3000.

An alternative configuration, that I've used for over a year, is to have 2 x 21" flat panel monitors. Each one has 1600x1200 maximum resolution. One is vertically oriented, one is horizontally oriented, permitting me to choose which one is best for a given application. This dramatically increases workspace and I can easily drag across the screens since it's a unified desktop. I'm using Windows XP but I gather that Macs with a suitable video card can also do this.

The virtue of two monitors is overall greater visual screen space than one large monitor at a much lower price. I have two Samsung SyncMaster 213T monitors that are now well under $1000 each, so two of them would be over $1000 cheaper than a single Apple 30" monitor.

On the other hand, the dots-per-inch resolution of the 30" monitor is probably higher than the typical 21" monitor, so if maximum clarity is essential, it would win the comparison. With DVI connections though, the 21" looks fine to me. With two monitors it's important to make sure that the video card has 2 DVI connectors, not one DVI and one analog.

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I owned an Apple in the early 90s, went to a Dell for the last 7 years, and earlier this year bought a PowerBook.  Why switch?

Compare Windows to OS X.

The big four:

COMPATIBILITY. I've given up after hours of trying to run some software on Windows, because some file was in the wrong place, the dll was wrong, etc.  And I can't even delete some of that software!  OS X just takes care of all of this.  I don't have to be a computer expert to use it.

WEB SECURITY. Microsoft has for years put out a stream of upgrades and patches to fix holes.  Apple doesn't need to.  OS X builds on the inherently more secure foundation of Unix.

RELIABILITY.  No more blue screens of death.

EASE OF USE.  I take it out of the box and run.  I don't have to plug-and-pray, or spend hours configuring little details in order to get basic functionality.

All of your comparisons are based on an older Windows OS. I switched from Linux to Windows two years ago, using Media Center XP. I haven't had a single hardware or software compatibility problem; I've never had any security problems, not even a pop-up, and have not updated the system since the day I got it; the system stays up for as long as I want it, months at a time; and even I was able to use the system with a minimal amount of effort.

I say this because I want to fair to the current status of Windows. I was a hard sell to switch from Linux, but I stand in awe of the beauty of operation of the Windows system I use now.

With that said, I will certainly consider the Intel-based Apple when it becomes available, based on the sheer beauty that I saw in the G5.

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If so, they handle pretty much what a normal PC will handle ...

I have 560 GB of disk, and want more in a new system. Could I add a large disk internally, or would I have to get an external disk?

I don't know how much of a "premium" you are willing to pay (and whenever you go Apple, you are indeed paying a premium), but one of the items on my dream list is one of Apple's Cinema Display monitors (seen here).  These monitors are simply drop dead gorgeous - and with the 23 or 30(!) inches you wouldnt need a second monitor.

I use a second monitor to display TV from the internal tuner, and also to shunt over windows when my main display exceeds 5 or 6. But on my main display I have four logical windows set up, so it is not unusual to have 20-30 windows going at a time. And that's with a 22" main monitor. Does the Apple have the ability to have logical windows, like in Linux and in my Windows system?

The displays in that link are really beautiful, but the 23" has the same resolution, 1920x1200, as the LCD I returned. Pictures were lovely, but the text was just not crisp enough. My 22" CRT is 2056x1520, short of the 30" 2560x1600, so the 30" might have the crispness and clarity of text that I want. But, I still would want a second monitor, so that is fairly expensive setup just for display.

Incidentally, I am not clear on this. Does this 23" or 30" monitor replace the one on the G5? Does it contain all the hardware (disk, etc.) as in the display for the G5?

I am going to take your advice: I see that there is an Apple Store twenty minutes away from me. I will stop by and check this stuff out firsthand. Thanks for the suggestion.

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An alternative configuration, that I've used for over a year, is to have 2 x 21" flat panel monitors. Each one has 1600x1200 maximum resolution. One is vertically oriented, one is horizontally oriented, permitting me to choose which one is best for a given application.

That is a clever setup. But for me the 1600 x 1200 is no way near what I need for an LCD (I rejected the 1920 x 1200). Can you turn a CRT sideways? :lol:

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Can you turn a CRT sideways?  :lol:

You mean, rotate it 90 degrees? There used to be a company that made a CRT monitor that did that, a long time ago, but I haven't seen any in a long time, especially since flat panel monitors now dominate. I suppose some kind of custom mechanical solution could do it, but those vacuum tubes are pretty heavy.

Out of curiosity, what brand was the LCD that you took back?

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I have 560 GB of disk, and want more in a new system. Could I add a large disk internally, or would I have to get an external disk?

I strongly suspect you would have to get an external drive in addition to the internal one.

Also, given that you use a monitor to view television, I can understand the need for two of them. As to "logical windows" I am not familiar with what that means exactly so cant tell you if OS X has that capability.

Incidentally, I am not clear on this. Does this 23" or 30" monitor replace the one on the G5? Does it contain all the hardware (disk, etc.) as in the display for the G5?
No. These are stand alone monitors. Given that you can't use anything but the 30 inch - and that the 30 inch requires a specific graphics card not installed in the all-in-one G5 - that pretty much rules out those monitors. Oh well. :lol:

Since you had made the comment that you might be interested in an intel Apple, I was merely suggestion possible components, rather than an all in one system.

Personally I am not a fan of the all-in-one system, for a reason I hinted at previously. The ability to upgrade or expand is relatively limited - for the same reasons such alterations are limited on a laptop.

Good luck and have fun at the Apple Store. :P

--

Oh - as to your crt question to OliverComputing, I know you were kidding, but there actually were a few such monitors made which could rotate from horizontal, though I think most have gone lcd by now.

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You mean, rotate it 90 degrees?

I was just joking.

Out of curiosity, what brand was the LCD that you took back?

I thought it was either a Viewsonic or a Samsung, but I just checked bestbuy.com (I bought it at Best Buy) and I do not see either one in the 20" or 21" size with 1920 x 1200 resolution. But, this was almost a year ago, so maybe it is no longer made.

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As to "logical windows" I am not familiar with what that means exactly so cant tell you if OS X has that capability.

In Linux, and with the software I use for my Windows system, you can set up a variable number of screens held in memory. If you only have a single monitor you can only, of course, display one physical screen at a time, but by clicking on one the other "logical" (or "virtual") screens the software switches the physical display over to that one. It's a really nice feature because you can keep separate a series of applications combined together in one logical screen and not clutter up the physical display with what you do not need to see at that moment. I used to have nine separate screens on my Linux systems, but now I have just four on Windows.

Good luck and have fun at the Apple Store.  :lol:

Thanks. I'm actually really looking forward to seeing all this beautiful equipment that so many here are raving about.

Oh - as to your crt question to OliverComputing, I know you were kidding, but there actually were a few such monitors made which could rotate from horizontal, though I think most have gone lcd by now.

That's pretty wild. It's relatively easy for LCDs, but I would imagine the different horizontal and vertical scan rates might present a problem for CRTs. Do you recall who made those CRTs, and about when they were made?

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Wow...I'm not that much of a technical person!

So I'll update you all in a non-technical fashion :lol:. With the release of iPod Video, Apple has updated iTunes to 6.0. It comes with music videos, Pixar shorts (including For the Birds, Boundin', and Luxo Jr.), and TV Shows (So far: That's so Raven, Lost, Desperate Housewives, The Suite Life, and Night Stalker). This is, of course, just a "tease" for what's to come. At $1.99 per episode, it really is not a bad deal. Especially for a person like me, who never watches TV, I know have the chance to watch shows that others praise (such as Lost). :P.

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Stephen,

Did you ever get to the Apple Store? I ask because, if not, you might wish to attend the October 29th opening day events at the new Apple Store in Thousand Oaks.

More info here: http://tinyurl.com/buvxp

Included in the event is a sweepstakes which tuaw.com indicates "will award one winner with an iMac, an iPod nano, a Canon digital camera and camcorder and Epson inkjet printer."

Might be worth it - even just for the free t-shirt to the first 1100 visitors. :wacko:

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Stephen,

Did you ever get to the Apple Store?  I ask because, if not, you might wish to attend the October 29th opening day events at the new Apple Store in Thousand Oaks.

More info here: http://tinyurl.com/buvxp

Thank you, Brian. It seems you are more aware of some of the goings-on in my area than am I. :wacko:

I have not yet gotten to the Apple store, so this new one is certainly the one of choice. Perhaps this weekend.

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Thank you, Brian. It seems you are more aware of some of the goings-on in my area than am I.  :lol:

It is called being homesick. :wacko:

However, it looks like it wont have to last much longer. I should be able to move back in Dec or Jan. So now all I have to do is find a place to stay. :blink:

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Thank you, Brian. It seems you are more aware of some of the goings-on in my area than am I.  :lol:

It is called being homesick. :wacko:

However, it looks like it wont have to last much longer. I should be able to move back in Dec or Jan.

Well, that's good news. Did you already get your visa approved? (Since you left we have gotten a bit more strict on just who we let into Southern California. ;) )

So now all I have to do is find a place to stay.  :blink:

On Saturday I am going to the grand opening of that Apple store you located, and I can check to see if they have space available. That way you would not ever have to worry about being connected! :)

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