inessential by Brent Simmons


I watched the Jobs keynote from MacWorld (via QuickTime). First my notes, then my commentary.

***Mac OS X

In stores March 24 for $129. Pre-loaded on Apple hardware in the Summer.

New features:

The Apple menu is back. It includes commands for Sleep, Restart, Shutdown, and Log Out. It has a Recent Items hierarchical menu, menus for Locations and prefs. It's in the upper-left corner where it should be -- no more non-functional Apple logo in the middle of the menubar.

Finder toolbars are smaller and very customizable.

You can make the Finder very like the OS 9 Finder if you prefer.

You can put folders in the dock, and a hierarchical menu pops up. It's a replacement for pop-up folders in OS 9.

Jobs didn't talk about it, but it appeared that the menubar clock is back -- and in the upper-right corner where a Mac user expects it

***New G4s

733 Mhz.

CD-RW. Drag-and-drop interface for burning CDs -- it's just a Finder operation. Drag files and folders to the CD.

4 new models, from 466 Mhz to 733 Mhz. Available in February.

***Digital Lifestyle

Jobs: PC is on the verge of entering it's 3rd golden age. (First two golden ages: Productivity and the Internet.)

Cameras, PDAs, phones, etc.

"The Mac can become the hub of our emerging digital lifestyle."

"Apple's unique strength."


MP3 ripper. Playlists. Burn custom playlists onto CD, play anywhere there's a CD player.

320 million CD-R disks sold in US in 2000.

Real JukeBox, Microsoft Media Player, etc. "too complex" and "have restrictions."

Introducing... iTunes.

Pulls in track info from Internet. Rips at 8.5 times regular speed. Sort by album, artist, song.

Searching as you type.

Drag-and-drop export to portable MP3 player.

Internet radio stations.

App can be "minituarized" so it doesn't have a huge window when you're doing other things.

Psychedelic music visualization thing which I can't explain.

Runs on OS 9. It's free. Available right now -- download from


Make your own DVDs and play them in regular DVD players.

New RW drive in G4s can burn DVDs.

Software MPEG2 compression using Velocity Engine in G4s. 2x regular speed. (2 hours to encode one hour.)


App helps with layout of content, buttons, etc.

Slide shows.

Themes. Custom backgrounds via drag-and-drop. Customize existing themes.

Apple to sell blank DVDs for $10 each.

***DVD Studio Pro

Pro authoring tool. $995.

Available end of January. Complements Final Cut Pro.

***Titanium PowerBook G4

500Mhz G4. 15.2 in. "mega-wide" screen. Built-in DVD. 5 hour battery life. AirPort ready. Slot-load DVD.

1 inch thick. 5.3 pounds.

Made out of titanium. "Like the spy planes." Stronger than steel; lighter than aluminum.

2 models. $2599 and $3499. Available end of January.

Thinner than the VAIO sub-notebook.


Disclaimer: I own stock in Apple.

I don't personally care about iTunes or iDVD that much. They look good in demos, but it's unlikely I'll use them. Only because I don't care that much about the problems they solve.

About the new Titanium G4 -- I want one very badly. Wow. Thin and light and with a screen larger than my iBook. Yes, these are cool. I'm drooling, oh yeah, yes sir.

Getting faster G4s with CD-RW is a big deal. I want more speed, and I definitely want to be able to archive to CD, as I can on my Windows machine.

The big deal for me is OS X news.

All I've wanted is a UNIX-ish OS with a desktop that is:

1. Easy to use.

2. Customizable and powerful.

3. Visually appealing.

OS 9 is a good desktop -- it's all three of the above. But under the hood is where it fails.

OS X Public Beta is great under the hood, but the desktop isn't that great. (Compared to OS 9, anyway. I prefer it to some other desktops.)

GNOME and KDE are not that good. Yet, anyway. Even though under the hood they've got Linux.

But the changes coming to OS X do, finally, appear to give me what I want. The Apple menu is important. Hierarchic folder menus in the Dock are important. The menubar clock is important. The ability to customize the Finder is important.

It's unclear whether they've done anything about the anti-aliasing and transparency problems -- but I wouldn't be surprised, given the progress shown, if some of these things are customizable too. It's clear that they've been listening to feedback.

Tentatively I will say that OS X is indeed what I have been waiting for, and it will replace OS 9 as my primary OS. This has been a big question for me, and the demo went as far as a demo can in answering that question.

I still need to see it and use it, of course.

Disturbing Search Requests was written up on page 10 of the February 2001 Linux Journal. They got half a page. Very cool.

Per Murphy's dictate they got the URL wrong in the article -- they had it as So, being the nice fella I am (or can be in rare moments) I installed a redirect so the incorrect URL will work.