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  • Newsletter Issue #402

    August 12th, 2007

    THIS WEEK’S TECH NIGHT OWL RADIO UPDATE

    On this week’s all-star episode The Tech Night Owl LIVE, the Night Owl explored Apple’s new product announcements, which included an aluminum-clad iMac, upgraded consumer applications and a few new things that didn’t even get a press release. We got all the particulars from Macworld’s Peter Cohen.

    In addition, cutting-edge commentator Daniel Eran, of Roughly Drafted Magazine, came onboard to expose all the fakery surrounding attempts to create stories that cast a negative light on Apple Inc. But in this case, it’s even worse, because some of the columnists who have written those phony articles have caused Apple’s stock to take a nosedive, causing stockholders to lose billions of dollars.

    This week on The Paracast, we make another effort to set the record straight on the Roswell UFO crash with Dennis Balthaser, the “Truth Seeker at Roswell.” Dennis explains why he has reservations about the authenticity of the recently-released “death bed confession” from Roswell figure Walter Haut.

    In addition, direct from Brazil, veteran UFO investigator A.J. Gevaerd, editor of the Brazilian UFO Magazine, recounts a number of incredible cases from the Amazon.

    Coming August 19: James Fox, a producer of the UFO documentary, “Out of the Blue.”

    Let me pose this question: would the authors of a UFO book fake or induce an alleged death bed confession from a key figure in the Roswell UFO crash? That’s not an accusation we’re prepared to make, but we do wonder about the confusion regarding the affidavit attributed to the late Walter Haut, the press officer at Roswell. In that document, Haut claims to have seen the bodies of alien entities after the crash. Yet his daughter, speaking on a recent episode of Larry King’s TV show, said he saw no such thing.

    So just what’s going on here? I honestly don’t know, and, in fact, I had hoped we could set aside the Roswell case for now unless some compelling new evidence is discovered. But, no, that’s clearly not to be. So David and I called upon Roswell investigator Dennis Balthaser to help us figure out what’s going on.

    It’s hard enough to put together the pieces of a 60-year-old UFO case. What makes it all the more difficult is the fact that so many of the people researching the case have their own agendas, or just can’t get along with other researchers. Some have assembled their own personal stashes of evidence, and aren’t inclined to share what they have with others.

    Alas, that situation is true throughout the UFO field. We don’t need to worry about government secrecy to keep UFO evidence from being taken seriously. All you have to do is listen to the back and forth arguments among the various factions of UFO researchers to just want to give up the whole thing in disgust.

    On the other hand, so long as sightings continue, we will persevere. And hope that people will learn to just get along, so we can finally figure out what’s really going on.

    I GO TO VISIT THE APPLE STORE

    So a client, a semi-retired jazz concert producer, called me the other day and asked me to set up a wireless router for him. I thought for a moment about the $60 variety available at many consumer electronics outlets, but then decided that this wasn’t such a good idea.

    You see, this particular client wants something that’ll last a few years. He doesn’t want to have to replace the router frequently, which is sometimes the case with less costly products, alas. Besides, phone support for many of those companies can be dreadful, because it has been sent overseas and is handled by people with meager language capabilities.

    I won’t mention the names of those companies. Instead, I decided to spend an extra $120 or so of my client’s money — with his full knowledge and consent — and chose the Apple AirPort Extreme base station instead.

    That afternoon, I drove down to the Apple Store at the Biltmore, an upscale shopping center a short drive from the center of Phoenix, prepared for a quick shopping tour and a fast return home to set the device up before visiting the client’s home office the following morning.

    Understand that before I made that trip, I telephoned the store to see if they had the revised version of the AirPort Extreme in stock, the model that supports gigabit Ethernet. Indeed, they confirmed they had several units in stock and were reasonably sure they could accommodate me within a few hours, since most customers were more interested in products with a lot more bling, such as the new, brushed aluminum-clad iMac and, of course, the iPhone.

    When I entered the store, I found it quite crowded, with visitors congregated in bunches through most every department, and not just the Genius Bar. I cornered a sales representative who seemed to be looking for someone to help and asked her how I would know which, among the AirPort base stations on display, was the updated model.

    To my surprise, she pleaded ignorance of its existence, and when I told her that I confirmed that they had some in stock on the phone, she responded that, “They lied to you!”

    For a brief second, I thought I had mistakenly entered the nightmarish environment of a normal consumer electronics outlet, but I quick glance confirmed I was indeed at the Apple Store and not at, say, a Circuit City. Holding my temper, I gently suggested that she check the stock room to see if one of the revised units was stored back there, assuming all those on display were of the older variety.

    About five minutes later, she emerged with one of the gigabit editions in hand, and I closely examined the box. The part number was evidently unchanged, and only the words “gigabit” in a couple of places confirmed that I had the new model on hand.

    All right, maybe this particular sales person was a student there for the summer to earn a little extra money to sustain her when she returned to college, so I didn’t make a fuss. Maybe Apple wanted to get rid of the extra base stations they had in stock before putting the new models on display. Since is the first even mildly unsavory experience I’ve had at an Apple Store, I’ll chalk it up to a unique experience, particularly since the girl seemed cheerful enough that she found what I wanted to buy.

    After arriving at the office, I made a few more discoveries not yet well documented. While the latest AirPort Extreme firmware up to now bore version 7.1.1, this one, at the accompanying AirPort Utility, were at 7.2. There are also some minor changes in the configuration panels, but nothing that would confound anyone. For most of you, just going through the default configuration ought to be sufficient for full operation at peak efficiency.

    Once again, I am pleased that Apple stands virtually alone among makers of Internet routers in providing a user interface that makes choosing secure passwords the default, not an option carelessly buried among some arcane-designed Web-based interface screens.

    As to my Apple Store encounter, let’s face it, it’s a retail store. Apple wants to sell as much product as it can, and they don’t want to have to deal with overstocks of discontinued models if they can move them without much fuss. Besides, I rather suspect that many of you buying a new AirPort Extreme wouldn’t benefit so much from gigabit Ethernet; that is, unless the other computers on your network require a wired connection.

    As far as using the 802.11n draft standard for your wireless hookups is concerned, take it from me: there will be no difference whatever; period.

    THE TECH NIGHT OWL: LOGITECH’S CORDLESS DESKTOP WAVE REVIEWED

    Night Owl Rating: ★★★★★
    Pros: Superb keyboard comfort, slick ambidextrous mouse.
    Cons: Too many Windows Vista keytops.

    I’m sure it’s just me, but I find I can’t stick with a keyboard for very long before I am overwhelmed by its flaws, minor though they might be. So I start looking for something else, usually a silent craving that only surfaces when a possible goal for my quest is found.

    So when Logitech announced it’s Wave keyboard technology, I was intrigued. It’s not that I was necessarily dissatisfied with the Microsoft Comfort keyboard I was using, but it was a tad noisy, and some of the labels on the keys had faded. Not that I notice such things all that much, since I’m a long time touch typist, but the obsessive-compulsive component of my personality did catch the excessive wear and tear.

    Besides, the mouse that had accompanied the keyboard as part of Microsoft’s Wireless Laser Desktop for Mac had its own serious flaw. Every few days it would just stop working. The solution was simply to open the tiny battery compartment on the unit, pull out the batteries for a few seconds, and it would resume operation. I had tried three of the them with the same result, and Microsoft’s technical support people, after going through a few stages of keyboard and transmitter/receiver resets, admitted they were stumped.

    That seemed rather strange, since the problem transferred itself from one computer to another and over several revisions of Microsoft’s Mac mouse drivers, and I can’t imagine that I was the only person impacted by this obvious product defect. Oh well, that’s Microsoft for you.

    In any case, I was ready for a change, and that change arrived in Logitech’s Cordless Desktop Wave, which retails for $89.95 and should be arriving in stores along about now.

    The Wave’s title refers to the fact that the keys don’t lie flat, but actually slop upward at the middle and ends, in wave fashion. Typical of “comfort” and ergonomic keyboards, they also take a slightly curved aspect. There’s also a substantial and comfortable arm rest. All told, this design is supposed to ensure greater comfort for wrists and fingers and Logitech even claims to have some research to demonstrate that this is true.

    Surprisingly, I found that getting accustomed to the new layout was incredibly easy; so easy in fact that I barely noticed the change, other than that I continue to type speedily and with a reasonable level of accuracy. Or, at least, as accurate as I am capable of typing after all these years.

    The mouse has the typical sloping design of a Logitech product, and, in fact, most mice other than Apple’s. In this case, it curves in the same fashion at both sides, which makes it ambidextrous, so southpaws won’t complain.

    My sole quibble, such as it is, is the Wave keyboard’s Windows orientation, which includes a prominent Windows logo on the Windows key, which we Mac users refer to as Option. In addition, far too many of the programmable keyboard shortcuts were originally designed to conform to Windows Vista, and are accessible via the Fn key to the right of the spacebar.

    Fortunately, Logitech’s handy Control Center software correctly maps the extra keystrokes to the proper Mac functions, and you can change them in a fairly extensive fashion.

    You might also find that the deep black color scheme doesn’t really mate so well with your Mac’s design motif.

    Other than these considerations, however, I have to tell you that Logitech’s Cordless Desktop Wave is a first-rate product, and one I highly recommend. My only real hope is that they’ll provide a version that’s just a tad more oriented to the growing coterie of Mac users. This should involve nothing more than substituting a few keyboard decals to designs that are less offensive to people who dislike Microsoft, but it’s definitely a minor shortcoming in the scheme of things.

    THE FINAL WORD

    The Tech Night Owl Newsletter is a weekly information service of Making The Impossible, Inc.

    Publisher/Editor: Gene Steinberg
    Managing Editor: Grayson Steinberg
    Marketing and Public Relations: Barbara Kaplan
    Worldwide Licensing and Marketing: Sharon Jarvis



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    2 Responses to “Newsletter Issue #402”

    1. […] Story continued in this week’s Tech Night Owl Newsletter. […]

    2. bud says:

      Your Apple Store/ Gigabit Airport story reminds me of when I bought this Powerbook, the weekend Tiger was released. I told the store the powerbook I wanted, but I wanted it loaded with Tiger. I am sure most of their existing boxed stock of this model of powerbook still had 10.3 installed.

      I was met with a sense of ‘not sure I can comply with your request’ from the clerk, but in a few minutes (shorter than the time it would take to load Tiger onto an existing powerbook, he found one in the stockroom with a small color dot attached to the box. Was it old stock that had been upgraded at the Apple Store? Had it been upgraded while I waited at the Apple Store just then, from their network server?

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