Features

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10 Things We Miss From OS 9

 For millions of post-iPod Mac users, OS X is the alpha and omega of the Apple desktop. Unlike Microsoft --- which has basically kept the same arrangement and appearance for its task bar and icons despite updating the overall feel of Windows over the last decade or so --- Apple took its OS in a completely new direction back in 2001 and has never looked back, integrating a new processor architecture and building a revolutionary mobile platform around its sleek engine and slick curves.

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Canadian Rebate Ideas

 Things are looking up for Canadian Apple users. Not only did the Great White North finally get official confirmation from Rogers that the company will soon carry the iPhone, but Apple Canada is offering a $45 credit to owners of older iPods who’ve run into battery problems. Anyone with a first, second or third generation iPod purchased before June 24, 2004 is eligible for the rebate, thanks to two different lawsuits filed in Montreal and Toronto claiming Apple had misrepresented the iPod’s battery life. But what will Canadians do with this newfound wealth? Apple hopes they’ll put it towards a new iPod, but here’s a few alternatives for making the most of this unexpected windfall.

Get the highest possible dynamic range out of your image. Ever wonder why even the best photographs can’t compare to the real thing? The human eye has the remarkable ability to adjust light sensitivity on the fly. Cameras, however, can only record a scene using a single exposure. In a scene with high contrast (that is, lots of dark and bright areas), both highlight and shadow details are going to get lost. So suppose you could take several pictures at varying exposures and blend the exposures together? That could make for a very impressive image.

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The Upcoming 4G Battle

 iPhone users should have more than Steve Jobs' keynote address on June 9 to speculate about. It may be too soon to tell, but it looks as if wireless technology may be gearing for a standards war akin to the throw-down between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. There's an urgent need for fast, widespread Internet access -- gods know we need our YouTube videos as fast as we can get them. Currently, the iPhone has a data transfer speed of a mere 60 KB/s to 170 KB/s on its EDGE network and a slightly more respectable 150 KB/s to 6000 KB/s through Wi-Fi. The fourth generation (4G) of wireless tech is expected to serve up data at a scorching 100 Mbit/s to 1 Gbit/s.

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 With all the hoopla surrounding the Apple TV, many Mac owners are unaware that an easy device for streaming iTunes media may already be sitting in their entertainment system. All three of the latest game consoles—PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii—are capable of streaming media from your Mac to your television over your existing network. 

 There are secrets. Secrets you are not supposed to know about. Suppressed 200mpg automobile engines. Faster-than-light-speed travel technology we scavenged at Roswell. The location of Walt Disney’s cryogenically frozen body. The truth about the Masons. But none of these inspires as much discussion and theorizing as the one to which we turn our attention here: Apple’s next big product.  We unlocked the vault and scoured the USPTO’s database for a hint at what Steve’s next “one more thing” keynote reveal might be. Overall, we sifted through nearly 2,000 Apple patents, spanning 30 years of innovation. The paper cuts and bloodshot eyes paid off through a collection of the coolest, wildest, and weirdest inventions that Apple has ever come up with. Join us as we reveal the most tantalizing and, frankly, mind-boggling patents from the inner sanctum of Apple’s R&D lab, three of which we’ve taken from crude line drawing into the world of 3D mock-up, with our own photo-realistic designs.

QuickTake, Take 2

  Photographers dig Macs, so why doesn’t Apple sell a camera of its own? Well, it did. But you had to be fast if you wanted a QuickTake. Apple sold its own digital-camera brand between 1994 and 1997, axing it as part of the product genocide that occurred when Steve Jobs returned to the company’s helm. While they lasted, those digital cameras recorded a handful of pictures at a then-impressive 640x480 pixels. But with fans always ready to buy “one more thing,” is it time for Apple to redefine the camera experience? The company didn’t offer any comment to our inquiry, so we asked Apple industry veterans.

Solving the Leopard Puzzle

 The grumbling about Leopard started before its arrival. After all, it was, ahem, late. Apple had originally wanted to release it at 2007’s Worldwide Developers Conference in early June, but had to borrow some personnel from the Mac OS X team to help get the iPhone finished for its big coming-out party on June 29. Then when the cat was finally out of the bag on October 26, early reports of install problems, performance hits, bugs, and even the dreaded blue screens of death put a damper on all the great things about Leopard. We dig a lot about Leopard, but plenty of little touches (it’s always the little things, isn’t it?) in the interface have always seemed odd. While minor issues with the aesthetics and functionality of Leopard’s interface hardly represent major problems, they can still be incredibly frustrating.  And we here at Mac|Life were annoyed right along with you. But as the Beatles used to sing, it’s getting better all the time. The Mac OS is now up to version 10.5.2, and a lot of the little annoyances have been cured, either by Apple in its software updates, or by third-party apps, Terminal hacks, and other workarounds. One by one, all the pieces to customize Leopard to your exact liking are falling into place.

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School of Rock

 Still have dreams of being the next Jimi Hendrix or Elton John? But your guitar or piano/keyboard is now gathering dust in the corner because you don’t have the time or the money to spend taking lessons, right? Well, dust it off, because online lessons may be the answer to your dilemma.  Online lessons are much cheaper than in-person lessons, which typically cost $50 or more an hour; you can take a lesson at home whenever you want, or even on the go with a laptop and portable instrument; and with streaming video you can see exactly how your instructor plays the melodies and chords. Also, unlike package deals that send you DVDs and books, online material is not static—new lessons are continually added, and in some cases you can select from a variety of instructors. Online lesson forums also allow you to get feedback from your teachers and have them or other students answer your questions, listen to your music, and more.

Readers Reinvent Apple

 Analyzing patents is one thing. Coming up with entirely new product ideas is something else entirely. Back in January, as part of our “What Comes Next?” feature, we asked for your three-dimensional “fauxtotype” designs of Apple’s “Next Big Thing,” whatever that may be. Over 50 would-be 3D designers sent us their creations, ranging from the obvious (iPod alarm clocks galore) to the unexpected (Apple-branded prefab buildings) to the curiously oblique (an Apple-created photo ID card). After much debate, voting, and gnashing of teeth, we whittled down the selections to our five favorites, which we present to you here for the first time ever. Wondering what you might soon be wearing on your ring finger…or riding in when you take to the friendly skies?