Features

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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?

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 Ever since 1914, when president Woodrow Wilson declared that the second Sunday in May would be a U.S. national holiday in honor of mothers, people have gone nuts trying to pick the perfect present for the moms in their lives. But fret no longer -- whether your mother is a hardcore techie, somewhat tech-savvy, or totally uninterested in the world of bits and bytes -- we’ve found a great gift for her.

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 In the May issue of Mac|Life, we interviewed Leander Kahney, managing editor of Wired News, contributer to the Cult of Mac blog, and author of the new book Inside Steve’s Brain (Portfolio, $23.95). The book, in bookstores now, is part management theory text, part history of Apple and technology, and part Steve Jobs biography—a lively, enthralling look into the people and processes behind the success of Apple, and a glimpse into the motivations and passions of the man who guides and controls the company like no other CEO in business today. We spoke with Kahney to peek inside his brain and find out what it was like to write about the biggest personality in the computer industry. Here’s the full transcript.

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 After dangling one of the world’s coolest gadgets in front of attendees at the 2007 San Francisco Mac Expo for the better part of two hours, Steve Jobs broke thousands of hearts by setting iPhone’s release date a few seasons down the road: “We’re announcing it today because with products like this we gotta go and get FCC approval, which takes a few months. We thought it would be better if we introduced this rather than ask the FCC to introduce it for us.”

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3G iPhone -- Why It Matters

 Like every shiny new piece of Apple hardware, it seems like from the very moment the first people in line got their paws on an iPhone, speculation began over when Apple would be releasing the second generation. Why? Well, for one, it provided a convenient out for anyone who didn’t want to drop $600 on a new phone (Yeah, yeah, that’s it—I’m waiting around for a better iPhone). But the truth is, the iPhone was released with features that many users felt could stand a little improvement. Where were the third-party apps? No Java? And isn’t this EDGE network a tad slow?

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Top 10 Apple Flops

   For a niche company that’s endured a pretty steady stream of criticism for more than three decades, Apple's track record is surprisingly strong. Even before the iPod transformed from an overpriced toy into the must-have gadget of the decade, Apple turned as many heads with its misses as its hits, crafting well conceived and constructed products that were sometimes overpriced, often overhyped and usually just plain ahead of their time. But, of course, nobody’s perfect: Missteps from our favorite company.

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The Canadian iPhone Waiting Game

 Canadians have been waiting for the iPhone to arrive since it was announced at Macworld 2007. Some Canadians refuse to wait for homegrown carriers to adopt the revolutionary device. Hell-bent on owning an iPhone by any means necessary, they've hacked, bartered and unlocked their way into possession and control of the coolest phone...well, ever. 

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The Top 10 Apple Movie Moments

  While it’s a pretty safe bet that Macs are starring behind the scenes of Hollywood’s greatest creations, Apple’s presence is strong on the other side of the camera, too, as PowerBooks, iPods, Cinema Displays and iPhones appear alongside Academy Award winners, sultry starlets and B-movie hacks. Over the years, Apple’s chic style has caught the eye of more than a few set designers, directors and writers, making for some memorable moments. Lights, Camera, Mac-tion! 

Free Your DRM Shackled Music

 With a little bit of work, you can create DRM-free versions of your iTunes music. Digital rights management (DRM) prevents a music file from being played by an unauthorized user or player. The recording industry thinks DRM is necessary to stop piracy, but as Steve Jobs put it in his February 6, 2007, public letter titled Thoughts on Music, “DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy.” DRM’s restrictions effectively do nothing but annoy the people who bought the music. Since Jobs’s letter, the iTunes Store has gone on to offer DRM-free songs, but the iTunes Store’s DRM-free library, called iTunes Plus, is limited (although always growing). If you already have a DRM’d iTunes song, you can pay 30 cents per song to convert to a DRM-free version—if one is available. Or you can create your own.