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Just a Thought - Responses

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- December 19th, 2005

Well, it's getting close to the end of another year. There's a nice, crisp nip in the air, at least, that's what it is at TMO Towers South, located in Sunny Florida. If you live further north you may be calling it a blizzard.

At any rate, it seems to be the time of year to do some chores. One chore, in particular, about which I  completely have been remiss is responding to some of your comments and letters; especially those dealing with my article on PC hardware that I thought should be available on Macs as well. So, that's what I'll do here.

Whither Thou Art, Mac Mindstorm?

Many of you commented or wrote me directly about the availability of Lego's Mindstorm Robotics system for the Mac. 

For instance, I got this note from Stefan Cockwell, who points out:

Although it doesn't come in the box sold at Toys Are Us, the software produced by the educational arm of Lego (Lego Dacta) is actually superior to the software sold to the PC user. It's produced in collaboration with National Instruments and is sort of Lab View light.

I decided to write the good folks at Lego to find out what is up with the Mac Mindstorm. I got a reply from Michael McNally, Senior Brand Relations Manager at LEGO Group, in which he says:

At this time there isn't a Mac version of LEGO MINDSTORMS available at retail. Our educational division has a slightly different product both in terms of hardware and software that is sold into schools. In addition to some other software differences, this version is the one that is Mac compatible. The Mac community is very important to LEGO Group which is why we developed the simultaneous release of the LEGO Factory experience. We're always exploring dual platform compatibilities in future product developments and will keep you and your readers abreast of any relevant news.

We can thank Mr. McNally, for putting this issue to rest.

I still find it curious that Lego would not offer a product to the general public if it is available through another channel, but that's how they've done it. Go figure.

Still, it is good to see that the folks at Lego have the Mac community in mind, if not completely in Mindstorm. (Yeah, bad pun, but I couldn't help myself)

To that end, as they mentioned in their reply, Lego is offering a free Mac compatible download of Lego Factory; with it you can design your own Lego creations and submit the design to Lego. They, in turn, will build and package a set of Legos for you that, when physically built, will be your real design. Neat, huh?  

Getting Up Close And Personal

I've gotten LOTS of comments on the availability of USB microscopes for the Mac. Many of you wrote about your experiences with Digital Blue's QX5, and Zarbeco's MiScope.

Many notes were like this one from Jon Crawford, who wrote:

I just bought a digital blue microscope with OS X driver/cd for one of my teachers....it works just fine!!!

Well, looks like Jon is right; Digital Blue has just started shipping the QX5 with OS X compatible software, thought their Web site does not reflect this change yet.

I thought I'd try to get one of these scopes to get quality time on them. I'm happy to report that I'll be posting a review of the MiScope and the QX5 soon. Also, it looks like the nice folks at ProScope will be sending along something for me to review as well. 

The Mighty Pen

Many of you agreed that the io2 Digital Pen from Logitech is tres cool. I have to admit, when the thought occurred to me to review the io2 Digital Pen, I really got excited.  This is truly a unique device, and one has to wonder why these things aren't flying off the store shelves.

So, it is with great anticipation that I wait for Logitech to send an io2 Pen System to check out. This will be interesting because there is no third party driver available for the Mac, it is a PC exclusive. (Ah, the things I do for our readers)

Numbers Game

Some of you wrote in to tell me that my estimation of the ratio of Macs to PCs is a lot less than 100 to 1, as I had said. 

Bruce Greenblatt wrote:

Love your article about PC things that should be Mac things and I am sure that as we move into larger market share, that accessory developers will want a piece of the action.  One fact you claim in your article is incorrect! 2% market share doesn't equate to 100 to 1 it is 50 to 1.

I agreed. You're right, I'm wrong. I stand corrected. Thanks to Bruce and to other for pointing out this error.

But That's Not All...

Speaking of reviewing stuff; if you run across something you think I should take a working class look at, let me know. If the vendor is willing, then so am I.

OK, that's it for now. I truly appreciate all your comments, even the negative ones. I try to respond to everyone who takes the time to write me directly, the key word being 'try'. If you've written me, and I have not responded, I offer my sincere apology. Sometime I get more than a little mail, and it can be tough to get through it all daily.

Be that as it may, if you write them, I will read them and try my darnedest to reply.

Note to self: There are some things that really shouldn't be examined up close with a microscope, let alone a digital one.

is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

You can send your comments directly to me, or you can also post your comments below.

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