Archive for October, 2008

OpenOffice 3.0 Released

October 20, 2008  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

OpenOffice 3.0 came out of beta last week. It’s been so popular that the traffic has brought the OpenOffice website to its knees. I was able to download it, though, and have a few initial thoughts.


The goal of OpenOffice seems to be to create a FREE office application suite that will be familiar to users of older versions of Microsoft Office. OpenOffice 3.0 is a milestone because it is the first version which was truly a native Mac OS X application. NeoOffice partially filled that role, but it wasn’t a very clean solution.

The first change since the beta that jumped out at me is the gorgeous new icon for OpenOffice. The new icon is prettier and much more “Web 2.0.”

OpenOffice 3.0 Beta Icon

OpenOffice 3.0 Release Icon

OpenOffice 3.0 has many benefits aside from its native Mac application status. OO3 has read and write support for Microsoft Office formats, including the new Office 2007 / Mac Office 2008 XML file formats (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx). For those who want to break free of Microsoft’s grasp, OO3 also supports ODF version 1.2 (OpenDocument Format – an open alternative to Microsoft Office file formats). OpenOffice 3.0 has lots of other new features and improvements.

Until HotDocs supports OpenOffice, totally eliminating Microsoft Office won’t be an option. But it’s nice to see a real competitor making steady improvements. I’ll keep testing OO3 over the next few months. And if I like what I see, I may just work it into the permanent rotation.

New MacBooks Unveiled

October 14, 2008  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Apple unveiled new MacBook and MacBook Pro models today. A few things that caught my attention:

  • The 13″ MacBook and 15″ MacBook Pros are all new. The 17″ MacBook Pro received a small bump, but is based on the old architecture. The MacBook Air was “refreshed” also.
  • The appearance of the MacBook and MacBook Pro are now identical apart from the size difference. No longer do we have the plastic MacBooks and aluminum MacBook Pros.
  • Ok, that’s not totally true. The white MacBook lives on as a sub-$1000 model. It’s not very compelling from a spec perspective (only 1GB RAM and an Intel GPU), but it does make Macs seem more affordable. I am curious to see how well it will sell.
  • Apple spent a lot of time at the launch talking about the new production process. The new models are crafted from solid blocks of aluminum. I assume that means fewer screws.
  • The new MacBook and MacBook Pro models have a larger glass trackpad that supports multi-touch.
  • No more antiglare displays. The new models have glossy LED displays. This isn’t a big deal to me, but I know it is for many people.
  • No more Firewire 400 on the MacBook Pros. It’s Firewire 800 only.
  • No more Firewire on the MacBooks – at all. It’s USB only. Color me shocked. Apple always seems to find a way to differentiate their consumer models from their pro models. I guess this is one way they are doing it now.
  • No Blu-ray. Steve said Blu-ray is a “bag of hurt.”

I am impressed with how large hard drives are getting in laptops. My first generation MacBook Pro isn’t that old, but these new laptops have 2-3 times the hard drive capacity. It’s getting to the point where a laptop is having enough storage to be a primary work computer for creative types (some would argue that has been the case for a while, but I have found the disk space lacking).

This time the “one more thing” from Steve came at the beginning. Apple also announced a new Cinema Display with built-in USB hub, iSight, microphone, and speakers. Most interesting is the combined cable with plugs for the display, USB, and (the surprise) MagSafe power to hook up your laptop. The MagSafe plug is a nice touch, meaning I wouldn’t have to crawl under my desk to plug in a power cord.

Update: Apple Insider has posted a photo set of a tear down of the new MacBooks. It’s amazing how few pieces there are when it’s all disassembled.

Laptops on the Horizon

October 9, 2008  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

After much speculation and numerous rumors, Apple has confirmed that it will be announcing new laptops on October 14. To be fair, Apple didn’t exactly confirm that new laptops are coming, but the press invitation is highly suspicious. A lot of attention has been placed on the rumored new manufacturing process, but hopefully there will be more to the new MacBooks than a slight speed bump and fewer screws.

Gruber on iPhone

October 9, 2008  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Things have been pretty busy around here lately, but I wanted to take the time to point out a great article on the iPhone 3G by John Gruber over at Daring Fireball. I especially like the first part of the article, which discusses the place of the iPhone in the Grand Scheme of Things. It’s a great read, and I couldn’t agree with it more.