TV-PGNovember 19, 2001: Is Adobe up for sale-- and is Apple trying to rustle up the cash for the purchase? Meanwhile, a new wireless standard has been approved, paving the way for faster AirPort implementations next year, and Microsoft announces that forced "product activation" is coming to its Mac products soon...
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Microsoft Photo™ 2002 (11/19/01)

If you're a graphics professional and a Mac user, chances are you've expended a lot of aggravation and tears during the long wait for a Mac OS X-native version of Photoshop. Statistically speaking, these days you probably spend 1.28 hours each and every day praying to the gods of Gaussian blurs, begging for divine intervention to give Adobe's developers a proverbial kick in the pants so you can finally upgrade to Apple's next-generation operating system and still get some work done. (By the way, if you're a graphics professional but not a Mac user, chances are you're not a very good one. May we suggest a daring career move into the fast-paced world of Fried Foods Preparation? It's a real growth market.)

Well, recent rumors hint that the wait is drawing to a close, and that Photoshop for Mac OS X may finally surface in January, which has some pixel-pushers doing Snoopy-style happy dances in anticipation. On the other hand, Adobe has officially classified those rumors as "completely inaccurate," so there's still a possibility that a Carbonized Photoshop won't see the light of day until, say, March of 2007. We don't mean to poke holes in anyone's inflated sense of optimism or anything, but given how long it's taken Adobe thus far, our brains just naturally and irrationally reject the possibility of the product shipping in as little as two months' time. Call it a mental defense mechanism to ward off potential disappointment.

So how can we get Adobe to ship Photoshop X? Funny you should ask. Faithful viewer CodeBitch took time out from her busy schedule over at MacEdition to inform us that the Naked Mole Rat has once again regained semi-consciousness. We can hear some of you wondering, "Gee, has it been six months already?" No, you didn't sleep through New Year's; it's still November, and the Rat is just being uncharacteristically lucid lately, what with two updates in a month and everything. Consider it an early Christmas gift.

Anyway, the Rat seems to feel that Adobe's recent financial woes have left the company akin to being covered in A-1 steak sauce and tossed into the desert with hungry buzzards flying overhead-- and one of those buzzards is Apple. Unlikely as it might seem, the Rat claims that Uncle Steve might be looking to swallow Adobe whole as a way to "shore up Apple's reputation as a mecca of desktop graphics and multimedia." Well, that's certainly one way to get Photoshop ported to Mac OS X. Er, on second thought, given the Carbonized Final Cut Pro's continued no-show status, maybe not...

And before you get all giddy about the prospect of Apple buying Adobe, there are a couple of other factors to consider. The first is that Adobe's current market cap is nearly twice as much as Apple's got in the bank, so we're not exactly sure where Steve would get the cash-- unless he's got $3.5 billion in change under the cushions in his couch. The second (and potentially more devastating) issue is that two other companies are rumored to be sniffing around Adobe as well-- Disney and Microsoft. Microsoft? Maybe it's just us, but the notion of the Redmond Homogenizer getting its mitts on Photoshop fills us with a level of dread we typically don't experience outside of a dentist's chair. Quick, more Novocaine!

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Faster Runways Next Year (11/19/01)

Speed freaks rejoice; if you're willing to lay out the cash, air traffic around your local wireless network may pick up a dose of extra zip come this time next year. We're well aware that a certain sector of the population was a bit disappointed when Apple introduced AirPort 2 last week and it still ran at "only" 11 Mbps, thus rendering the technology impractical for the quick transfer of immense data sets-- like, say, uncompressed real-time full-motion broadcast-quality video (roughly 18.6 MBps), or the complete works of Stephen King (more words than you can shake a stick at).

But if you consider Apple's options, it's clear that the company made the right choice; upping the bandwidth to 54 Mbps would have mandated a shift from the current 802.11b spec to 802.11a-- which is, sadly, not compatible. If Apple had made the switch, none of the existing AirPort cards or Base Stations would have been able to connect to the new gear, riots would have ensued, and Cupertino would be a smoldering pile of rubble by now. So we think sticking to 802.11b was a good move on Apple's part; after all, it's faster than good ol' 10-base-T Ethernet and can saturate all but the spiffiest home broadband Internet connections.

Of course, choosing compatibility over speed is all well and good for now, but clearly there's nowhere to go but up. With more and more wired networks standardizing on 100-base-T (and Apple even shipping Gigabit Ethernet in all of its Power Macs and PowerBooks), when it comes to transferring big files across a LAN instead of surfing the Internet, AirPort's 11 Mbps is starting to feel like a serious drag. But fear not; faithful viewer AJ Ballou was the first to alert us to a Reuters article which indicates that the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (that's Mr. IEEE to you, bub) has "tentatively approved" a new wireless networking standard called 802.11g. (No, we don't know what happened to 802.11c through 802.11f, nor do we want to. They are dead to us.)

The good news is that 802.11g has a maximum bandwidth of 54 Mbps-- just like 802.11a. The better news is that 802.11g operates in the 2.4 GHz frequency spectrum-- just like 802.11b. In other words, it's "best of both worlds" time, folks; by sharing the same frequency, the new standard is 100% compatible with existing AirPort cards and Base Stations, which means that nothing's keeping Apple from embracing 802.11g, since it will work just fine with Apple's older equipment... although at the slower 11 Mbps speed, of course.

Actually, there is one thing keeping Apple from moving to 802.11g, and that's the word "tentatively." According to The Register, "the IEEE will only ratify the exact 802.11g standard and its specifications next year when the working group meets again." The upshot is that 802.11g devices aren't expected to hit the market until the end of next year-- so don't wig out thinking that if Apple had only waited another week, AirPort 2 could have incorporated a nice speed boost in addition to its other new features. Don't worry; we figure that the nearly-five-times-faster AirPort 3 will debut just in time for Christmas lists next year.

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Large Brother Sees They (11/19/01)

Get ready to cross "Don't need to mess with Microsoft's evil Orwellian forced product activation scheme" off your list of 1,001 reasons to be a Mac user, because that fun little anti-piracy measure is coming soon to a Mac product near you. If you're blissfully unaware of how this works, basically users of Windows XP or Office XP need to register their products with the Redmond Mothership or else said products abruptly stop working. And since registration involves transmitting all sorts of interesting details about one's computer that one might consider to be none of Uncle Billy's business, lots of people aren't overly thrilled with this strategy.

So far, Mac users have been spared this indignity, but according to faithful viewer Horst Prillinger, if you're a fan of Microsoft's Mac products, you shouldn't get too comfortable with your privacy. Horst pointed out an article at Heise Online which quotes Microsoft Macintosh Business Unit bigwig Kevin Browne as saying: "Wir hätten die Aktivierungsmechanismen schon in Office v. X implementiert, wenn wir die Zeit und die Leute dafür gehabt hätten." For those of you who, like us, don't read German, that sentence translates roughly (by BabelFish-- you can't get much rougher than that) as: "We would have already implemented the activation mechanisms in Office v. X, if we had had the time and the people for it."

That surprisingly coherent translation means that at some point in the not-too-distant future, Mac users who opt for Microsoft products (at least, the products that aren't free) are more than likely going to have to surrender some details about their Macs to Microsoft's servers. We mention this for two reasons: firstly, to warn you all that if you're Office junkies, the most recently-released version is almost certainly the last that will ship sans required registration; and secondly, to have an excuse to play with the happy mangling effects of automatic translation. To wit: "Users of Windows XP and Office XP must within the first 30 days respectively after 50 starts an installation identifier, which is attached to the package, at Microsoft transmit, in order to receive thereupon from the manufacturer a special de-energising code." Mmmmpphhwaaahahaha!! Now that's comedy!

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