High-speed Internet, iPod Photo, U2 iPod, and more

Posted by Pierre Igot in: iTunes, Macintosh, Music, Technology
October 28th, 2004 • 2:13 am

I am on vacation in Ottawa this week and am fortunate enough to be staying in a house with high-speed Internet. This is my first time being able to use high-speed on a on-going basis for a week. And of course, for someone like me, who’s been stuck at 28 kbps for the past decade, the experience is rather mindblowing.

I couldn’t help but notice, however, that things are not as rosy as they could be. While I can download large files at a rate of up to 400 KB/s, which is, in fact, one hundred times faster than what I can achieve at home (!), on the other hand, Mac OS X’s Mail appears to be unable to check my various e-mail accounts very quickly. I have a dozen e-mail accounts on various servers around the world, but even then, I would have expected Mail to perform faster. Keeping an eye on MenuMeters, I see that the data transfer rate never exceeds 10 KB/s, even while downloading e-mail messages with large attachments. It’s rather disappointing. Is it an intrinsic limitation of communication with mail servers, or is it a flaw in Mail? I wonder.

On the other hand, what was really fun was being able to watch Apple’s recent Special Event for the launch of the new iPods. This is the kind of event that I could only read about on-line. This time, I was able to actually watch the video feed in high quality.

The new iPod Photo is obviously very exciting. Once again, Steve Jobs and his team seem to have been able to identify what people really need (as opposed to what engineers think people might want) and deliver a superb solution. In fact, I’m so excited about this that I am going to buy one :-). This will be my first ever iPod, and, while it still doesn’t do everything I’d like it to do, it’s getting close. In my case, it will serve as: 1) a music player; 2) a portable backup device; 3) a portable photo library; 4) an external hard drive for all the trouble-shooting tools that I need to have with me when I go to people’s places to fix their computers. I have a portable FireWire drive now, but it’s the old original hard drive from my PowerBook in a FireWire enclosure, and with only 10 GB available, it’s cramped. 60 GB will feel very roomy indeed, even with lots of music and pictures on the device.

The U2 thing is exciting as well. I am not a huge U2 fan, but I do like some of their stuff a lot. I am also not sure about the “digital box set” concept. Is it going to break with the iTunes Music Store’s by-track purchasing model? Will all the “bonus” tracks sold as part of the digital box set be available as individual tracks for those who already own U2’s regular album releases? I certainly don’t want Apple to start “boxing in” their customers through “packaging”. The on-line buying experience is supposed to be liberating. We’ll see how this goes.

Last, but not least, the iTunes Music Store is finally coming to Canada… It’ll be interesting to see what’s available and at what price.

One more thing: My 3-year-old PowerBook G4 is definitely starting to show its age… I just bought a new PowerBook for the lady of the house here, and the difference is rather striking. The brightness level of the screen is astounding compared to mine. And of course it’s much, much faster. (Right now, I am installing the latest QuickTime update… The “Optimizing System Performance” stage is taking forever! I think it’s going to be over an hour in total! Gasp!) The new laptop also gets warmer, though. Still, I can see that this cranky old TiBook is going to need to be replaced one of these days…

3 Responses to “High-speed Internet, iPod Photo, U2 iPod, and more”

  1. Steel Buildings Diary says:

    I’m very excited about the photo iPod. That idea seems so logical. I’m still trying to think up a good line to have engraved on the back of my iPod.

  2. ssp says:

    FYI: Even from our relatively slow internet connection at home I regularly get transfer rates above 100KB/s when sending or receiving e-mail. Perhaps the slow speed you see is due to the servers’ connections or to you checking mail in so many accounts at once that Mail is slowed down by that activity?

    Anyway, enjoy the fast connection while it lasts :)

    Re Powerbook screens: It’s amazing how the quality improved over the past years. My G4/400’s screen looked so bright when compared to my dad’s Pismo. But when a friend got a newer (DVI) TiBook, my screen looked very pale in comparison…

  3. Pierre Igot says:

    Steel: I am buying my iPod through Apple Canada Education. I don’t think they offer customized engraving :-).

    SSP: Yes, it must be the fact that Mail is trying to check many accounts at once. Of course, if Mail gave me the option to choose a different checking period for each account, I could prevent this (to some extent). Oh well.

    Re PB screens: I also wonder whether there is some kind of degradation over time.. Hard to tell, of course, but it definitely looks that way when put next to a new machine. Still, the main problem with the old TiBook is speed, really :-).

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