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Articles related to Macworld. Typically links to articles I’ve written for

An unexpected accolade

Macworld logoA few months back, I received an email from Macworld's head honcho, Jason Snell, telling me that my multi-part look at the Intel Mac mini had been nominated for a Neal award in the Best Online Article or Series category. The Neal awards are designed to recognize excellence in business media publications, and I guess they're fairly well known in the industry (although I'd never heard of them). I read the email then didn't give it a second thought, other than "hey, that's kind of cool."

Well, last week, Jason sent a quick text message from the awards ceremony: "Holy cow, we won!" I was both shocked (wow, someone actually read the whole thing?!) and thrilled--because the mini piece represents exactly what I wanted to do when I made the decision to join Macworld full time: to have the time to look at things in a more in-depth manner than I was able to when running my site as a hobby.

I was given the chance to delve deeply into a then-new Intel-powered Mac, see exactly how well it did a number of different tasks, compare it to my G4 PowerBook and Dual G5, and then write about my experiences. That the end result was recognized with a Neal award is really thrilling, and speaks highly to the editorial team at Macworld that converted my 15,000 word opus into a well-paced and easy-to-read multi-part series--it's not easy taking a piece that long and making it into a coherent multi-day story, but that's just what they did.

So thanks to ABM for recognizing the article, thanks to the great team at Macworld for making it work so well online, and thanks to the person who submitted it for consideration for the Neal awards. It was a lot of fun to write, and hopefully was useful to those who were interested in learning abou the new Intel-powered Macs.

The limits of Apple’s warranty

Macworld logoLast week, I had an issue with my MacBook Pro--the backlight went out. The machine is about 110 days old, so it's just over Apple's 90-day limit for phone tech support. I think it's pretty outrageous that a $2,500+ machine comes with only 90-days of phone support for hardware issues, and I shared my thoughts on the subject in an opinion piece for Macworld on Friday.

I really think that Apple is lagging with their policies, but some of the feedback to the opinion piece has prompted me to look into it further. I'm not sure if anything will become of it, but it's my plan to look into the bigger names in the PC world and compare their policies with Apple's for similar gear. Just for fun, I'm also planning to look at the major home electronics manufacturers, at least those who sell gear in a similar price range as something like the MacBook Pro.

If anything like an article comes of my great plans, I'll post a follow-up...

An Office 2008 VBA to AppleScript helper

Macworld logoA while back, I wrote about what I thought of Microsoft's decision to drop Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) from the next version of Office. In short, I think it's a short-sighted and stupid decision. Apparently my thoughts had no influence on the folks in Redmond (shocking, I know!), as Office 2008 is set to ship without any form of VBA support.

But it will have AppleScript support, and the fine folks at MacTECH were kind enough to send me a preview copy of their upcoming 150+ page guide to switching from VBA to AppleScript. I wrote a brief preview of this guide for Macworld last week. If you're a serious VBA scripter looking to make the move to AppleScripts, this looks to be a must-have guide. And thanks to some Microsoft support, you can buy it and six-month subscription to MacTECH for all of $10 or so. More info can be found in the link in the Macworld article.

Don’t leave the Windows open

Macworld logoI've been running Windows on my Intel Macs for quite a while now--I have Parallels, VMWare Fusion, CrossOver, and Boot Camp installed on two machines. Across all those installations, I've never done anything to protect my Windows installs from viruses and malware, other than using Windows XP Pro's built-in tools: the malicious software removal tool and the firewall. I wanted to see if Windows really was as susceptible to attack as everyone was claiming it was.


Yes, it was. I wrote about what happened for Macworld, as it was a most eye-opening experience for me--this particular Windows install hadn't done anything more "risky" than surf to a few well-known download sites, looking for some iPhoto-type applications for the PC. If this is the risk a Windows user faces every day if their machine isn't fully armored against outside attacks, I must ask...why do people choose to use this OS on a regular basis? It also made me quite thankful I've never worried about such things in all my years of Mac usage.

On meaningless hyperlink graphics

Macworld logoHave you visited one of those sites that has an annoying advertising pop-up when you mouse over a link? While I find those somewhat annoying, at least they're usually well marked (via double underlines), so you can easily avoid them. Worse, to me, are hyperlinks that appear normal, yet pop up useless information on mouseover, without any warning whatsoever.

True, I have one such link here, for the "Why is this required?" link in the spam blocker. However, that pop-up contains useful information, and it's located on the right side of the page, where it's unlikely to be accidentally activated. So I think it's OK :).

The ones I find really irritating are the Snap Preview Anywhere pop-ups, which show a small thumbnail of the page you're about to visit when you mouse over a link--talk about a complete waste of bandwidth! I rant about these (and provide some suggestions to actually make them useful) in more detail in this Macworld Editor's Notes blog.

Ten iPhone suggestions

Macworld logoEven though the iPhone won't ship for about six months, that hasn't stopped me from thinking about how I'd make it better--that is, how I'd make it more into something more of a myPhone than an iPhone. I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and came up with a final list of ten suggested iPhone improvements for Apple's consideration (because they always listen to me!).

Much of my list is influenced by my current phone--a Palm Treo--and the capabilities it provides. If the iPhone is to replace the Treo in my pocket, it's going to have to handle a majority of the items on my list. If it doesn't, I'd actually end up carrying one extra device, instead of one less device.

How realistic do I think my list is? Not very. But it's what I'd make sure the iPhone could do if I were building it just for me!

Rob talks! It’s a podcast…

Macworld logoThis afternoon, I sat down in a room with fellow Macworld employees Jason Snell (our esteemed leader; VP and Editorial Director), Philip Michaels (Executive Editor, Online), and Jonathan Seff (Senior News Editor) to talk about the keynote--what it was, what it wasn't, and when we think what wasn't might turn into what is :).

You can listen to our ramblings from the links on this page over at's episode #64, in case there are others posted there as well. I haven't done much in the way of podcasting, either creating or participating. It was kind of fun, and I heard some ideas about things I hadn't considered, even though I sat and listened to the same keynote as the others. Hopefully you'll find it interesting as well.

How not to start an Expo presentation

Macworld logoToday was my first presentation day of the show. Although the presentations went well (I was asked to give my talk twice, to accomodate everyone who wanted to hear it), I had a bit of a misadventure in getting everything going.

You can read about exactly what happened over on First time (and hopefully the last) I've ever combined a workout with a presentation!

My thoughts on the Expo keynote

Macworld logoI took a few minutes yesterday to jot down my thoughts regarding the keynote. As described in the article, I was disappointed--not by the iPhone (wow, what a product!) nor the Apple TV, but by the complete lack of information on OS X, the lack of new Apple software, and the non-existence of any new Mac hardware (excluding a never-mentioned AirPort Extreme).

Don't get me wrong--I'm not negative on Apple, and I think the iPhone is truly revolutionary. It's going to spawn a full line of products (come on, Apple, drop a 100GB drive in there, remove the phone wiring, and sell the true Video iPod). I do think it will take Apple in exciting (and profitable) new directions, and I can't wait until I can play with one in person. But attending a Macworld Expo and not getting any new Apple hardware or software to play with is...disappointing.

An ode to the Expo

Macworld logoI got a bit bored last night, after checking in and getting everything set up in the room. Left with time on my hands and not much to do, I started thinking about the upcoming keynote. For whatever reason, the poem 'Twas the night before Christmas started running through my head, but repurposed for Tuesday's event:

"Twas the day before Macworld, and all through the nets
Not a weblog was silent, they were all taking bets;
The photos were taken of posters afar,
In hopes that St. Jobs' stuff would clearly show thar.

I finished a version (although without using every single stanza in the original long poem!), then sent it to my buddy Kirk McElhearn to take a look at. He tweaked a few words, added a couple more stanzas, and we wound up with this.

Somehow, the tie-in with Christmas and the Expo keynote seems quite fitting; I hope everyone gets what they're hoping for tomorrow!