By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Just add money

Earlier this afternoon I stopped by my local Apple store, hoping one of the “geniuses,” as Apple actually calls them, would accept the offering of my iBook-from-hell and ship it out for the fifth time in less than three years. (This time it’s the video — again.)

I was unsuccessful. The Genius Bar was booked for the day, and my rather heated argument that I shouldn’t have to wait behind a bunch of people trying to figure out how to turn on their new iPods when I had an oft-broken computer to ship out failed to persuade the smug young manager.

While I was waiting, though, I did see something incredibly cool on the back-of-the-store projection screen — a Mac version of Google Earth. As soon as I got home, I fired up the family iMac and went looking for the download. Alas — it requires OS X 10.4, and we’ve only got 10.3.

Is this really necessary? Does Google Earth absolutely require something that’s only available in 10.4, or did Google’s programmers just not want to make the effort? By way of analogy, it’s interesting that the latest version of Firefox, an open-source browser, works just fine with 10.3, whereas if you want to keep Apple’s inferior Safari up to date you’ve got to upgrade to 10.4.

Google Maps offers much of what Google Earth has, and it doesn’t require extra software. I guess it will have to do for now.

Instant update! Google says, “Currently, Google Earth isn’t supported on the Mac OS 10.3.9 or earlier versions. We’re working on this issue and hope to have Google Earth available for more Mac OS versions in the near future.” Very nice. All is forgiven.

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  1. Steve

    “Alas — it requires OS X 10.4, and we’ve only got 10.3. Is this really necessary?”From some early reports it does indeed need 10.4.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Steve — That was a rhetorical “Is this really necessary.”

  3. Anonymous

    i could tell it was rhetorical.

  4. Steve

    Well, it *sounded* rhetorical, but in this context it’s not necessarily so. Sometimes software makers will say “OS version so-and-so required” if they haven’t tested it or won’t support it on earlier versions. Sometimes the app will work just fine. (This is probably more true on Macs than on Windows.)

  5. Anonymous

    Gotta disagree about Safari – I like Firefox, but I think Safari is better.

  6. Steve

    I was a big Safari fan, but I find now that I use Firefox for just about everything. Safari (on a 350 MHz G4 w/ 10.3.9) seems to go out to lunch or 15 seconds at a time after a bit of use, especially viewing pages with Java apps. Firefox doesn’t. I find there are some pages Firefox doesn’t work well on (dhtml content, maybe?) but they are few and far between.(And then there are the pages that absolutely ENFORCE use with IE. We will speak no more of them.)

  7. Dan Kennedy

    After having used Firefox for quite a while, I recently tried Safari again. Here are a few observations about why I think Firefox is better.1. Firefox is faster. Hands down. Speed is good.2. One of the reasons I tried Safari again was that I found Media Nation looked better in Safari than in Firefox. But when I looked under the hood, I saw that the reason was that Safari couldn’t read all the code in the Blogger template that I use: body type was supposed to be rendered at 97 percent of actual size, and Safari was doing it at 100 percent. That’s why it looked better. I dove into the template and changed it to 100 percent. Problem solved. But consider: Media Nation looked better in Safari because of a flaw!3. Safari does not print headers and page numbers unless you use the latest version, which requires OS X 10.4.In my experience, Safari is better at handing you off to other programs, such as RealPlayer and WMP. But it’s not exactly *hard* in Firefox. Just a bit less convenient.

  8. Anonymous

    Google too busy playing 3 card monty with the punters… Check out NYTimes today.

  9. Anonymous

    another prob with safari: very slow to load “post a comment” window. altho that might be good … some comments best not posted “on second thought.” maybe it Apple’s “second thought” delay system. maybe i shudnt have posted this

  10. Aaron Read

    Dan, any particular reason you’re so averse to picking up a Windows XP-based laptop to complement (NOT replace) your iBook?I work at a job where I have a Mac G4 sitting on my desk next to my PC and use both extensively all day long. I have found it quite useful…some things my PC just stinks at that my Mac does beautifully. Other things my Mac can’t hold a candle to my PC. Over time I’ve more-or-less self-separated so that I only do certain things on each. Works quite well.I also love it because it lets me run a given task on one while continuing to work on the other. For example, I can finish a long audio edit on my Mac in Protools, start a bounce (which can take anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes) and keep working on emails on my PC.I know that in a perfect world you could have ONE computer that ran all software perfectly and could let you do processor-intensive stuff while still working on other things. But in the meantime, I rather like my setup.

  11. Aaron Read

    Oyeah, I’m not a huge fan of the Genius Bar here in Cambridge, either. But I can’t help but feel for them…they put up with a lot of upset customers that no idea how to use a computer. I imagine they must feel like they’re dealing with hordes of idiots day in and day out.On the other hand, I have found that unlike some OTHER technical/computer stores, their staff generally is fairly knowledgable and (when they’re not drowning in customers) can give intelligent answers on difficult topics…rather than hem and haw and give confused looks before trying to get me to buy a cellphone.

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Aaron –There is nothing I want a PC for. I’m actually very happy with my iBook when it’s working.No problem with the “geniuses,” either — my problem was that, at 1:30 p.m., they were booked for the day answering people’s stupid iPod questions, while I had a broken computer that needed to be shipped out. Had to come back the next day and wait for two more hours.

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