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December 2nd, 1999

[5:15 PM] Apple's FireWire Makes Inroads Into The PC World
by Staff

FireWire has made a significant step into the PC world with the announcement of a new FireWire PCI card for Wintel. Belkin Components has announced FirePath, a PC only FireWire card. The company extolls the virtues of FireWire, including using the phrase "the truest plug-and-play," something Mac users have enjoyed for years. According to Belkin Components:

Belkin Components, a leader in connectivity solutions and accessories, today announced FirePath PCI Card, a new OHCI-compliant and PCI-based IEEE-1394 card that sets a new price-performance-value standard in IEEE-1394 connectivity.

"IEEE-1394 offers higher throughput than SCSI or USB," stated Melody Saffery, product manager, Belkin. "FireWire devices are capable of communicating at speeds up to 400 Mbps, for home networking, high- speed storage drives, DV video, digital audio, DVD players, digital cameras and many other devices, which are now faster and easier to use.

With FireWire, users can connect up to 63 devices in one chain and support speeds of up to 400 Mbps, 10 times faster and nine times many more devices per chain than SCSI.

FireWire is also plug-and-play in the truest sense -- users can just plug devices in and they work. FireWire(R) devices are hot-swappable, so users can connect and disconnect devices without shutting down the computer, allowing flexibility and expandability.

"FirePath is a breakthrough for digital video enthusiasts," said Anthony DeCristofaro, president and chief executive officer, MGI Software. "Digital camcorders have come down in cost so dramatically that more consumers are going to be buying them for Christmas.

The FirePath card will be available later this month at a price of US$129. You can find more information at the company's web site.

The Mac Observer Spin: This is good news for Apple as the company seeks to make FireWire an industry standard. No small task considering the effort Intel is putting behind USB 2, a competing, though inferior technology from Intel. FireWire in the PC world will have a direct positive impact on Mac users above and beyond the money Apple might make on licensing. With FireWire being cross-platform, the more users there are, the more products there will be available for Mac users (from those companies who make Mac drivers).

We see the announcement of this product from a PC-centric company as a significant step forward for Mac users and Apple.


[4:45 PM] The Mac Observer Will Be Down For Part of Monday
by Staff

The Mac Observer will be down for at least part of Monday as our provider moves to a new, more powerful network. We will resume coverage late as soon as we are back up. Friday's coverage will be on our normal schedule.

[4:15 PM] Apple Stock Watch: Technology is the Name of the Game, Apple Soars To Another All-Time High
by Wes George

Investors continued to move money from old guard industrial stocks into the new digital economy fueling a mammoth tech rally on the Nasdaq. Apple is emerging as a major market leader for this new paradigm.

Apple traded higher by 7 1/8 (6.91%) to close at 110 3/16 on average volume.

There has been a steady stream of good news lately about Apple, from the iBook snatching first place in the notebook market, to the iMac holding 5th place in the October desktop retail market, even though the new iMac DV models were not available for the full month.

Today Apple announced that Power Mac G4s will ship with the new Rage 128 Pro graphics card dramatically boosting 3D graphics performance. Also, the 350 MHz G4s will be upgraded to the same architecture used in the 400 MHz and 450 MHz configurations.

The Dow moved ahead 40.67 points (0.37%) to close at 11039 on a volume of 887 million shares traded. The market breath continued its weakness today, further evidence of investors fleeing non-technologically savvy businesses in favor of high growth tech stocks.

The Nasdaq gained a remarkable 99.05 points (2.95%) to end the session at 3452.76. Volume was above average at 1.4 billion shares traded. Today's surge scored another record high, pushing the Nasdaq to a 57% year to date gain. The Internet stocks led the way higher, but every tech sector posted broad gains.

In fact, so universal was the tech rally today, if you own a tech stock that could not rise on today's swelling tide, it may be time to cut your losses or take your profits.

The S&P 500 rose 11.07 points today (0.79%) to close at 1408.79.

30-year Treasury bond rose 14/32 in quiet trading to close at 97 9/32, the yield rose to 6.32% from 6.30% yesterday.

The Dollar ended higher against the major currencies pushing the Euro below parity with the dollar for the first time since its introduction, although the Euro did manage to come back slightly above parity by session's end.

Key to the bond market moving forward are the November employment numbers to be released on Friday. If employment dips below 4.0% or wages increase dramatically, watch out below.

In Apple related businesses there was nary a single down stock. Well, OK, Akamai suffered a bit of profit taking after being in the green all day, closing down 2 3/8 to 215 1/4. Adobe regained 2 1/16, after yesterday's 2 7/8 lost, to end 68 5/8. Macromedia got back 5 3/4 points after a two day trouncing of minus 7 5/8, to close at 67 1/2. Symantec soared an amazing 12.5 % or 5 9/16 point to close at 49 3/4, half of that gain came in the last hour of trading.

Apple's Power PC partners were both up , IBM broke out of a short downtrend, up 2 1/8 to close at 105 3/4, while Motorola gained 1 5/8 to end at 118 9/16.

Apple's competitors were winners today, except Gateway, down another 1 3/4, after selling off 4 3/8 in the last two days, to close at 73. Microsoft continues to bounce back , up 1 5/8 to 94 13/16. Intel, Compaq, Dell and Hewlett Packard also ended in positive territory.

For full quotes on all the companies mentioned in this article, we have assembled this set of quotes at Yahoo! for your reference. We also have many of these same quotes reported live (20 minute delay) on our home page. For other stories regarding Apple's stock activity, visit our Apple Stock Watch Special Report.


[3:15 PM] Apple Revs Up The PowerMac G4 Line, Making The 350 MHz Unit Attractive (For The First Time)
by Staff

Apple has bumped up the PowerMac G4 line with a new video card and is now using the Sawtooth architecture across the entire line. In addition, Apple is including DVD drives on the low end 350 MHz product. According to Apple:

Apple® today announced that it has enhanced its entire Power Mac™ G4 line to include the new Rage 128 Pro graphics card, featuring up to a 40 percent increase in 3D graphics performance and a digital video interface which supports Apple's new digitally-driven LCD displays. In addition, the 350 MHz configuration has been upgraded to the same architecture used in the 400 MHz and 450 MHz configurations, and now comes with a DVD-ROM drive, AGP graphics and support for Apple's AirPort™ wireless networking (optional $99 card required). The three new Power Mac G4 configurations are available immediately at the same prices as their predecessors.

“The new Power Mac G4 configurations offer significantly higher graphics performance and bring breakthrough features, like Airport, across the entire G4 product line,” said Phil Schiller, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.

Apple also unveiled a 15-inch all-digital flat panel LCD display to complement its already-announced 22-inch flat panel Cinema Display. Both displays feature digital video interfaces that are compatible with all configurations of the G4 line and deliver razor-sharp, distortion-free images. The new 15-inch display supports 16.7 million true colors and has a native resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels.

Apple also announced that it will offer a new Rage 128 Pro card kit to customers with existing AGP-based Power Mac G4 systems.

The Power Mac G4 is available in the following standard configurations:

  • Power Mac G4 350 MHz contains 64MB SDRAM, 1MB level 2 backside cache, Rage 128 Pro with 16MB video SDRAM, a 10GB Ultra ATA/66 hard drive, DVD-ROM drive with DVD-Video playback, FireWire® and USB ports, 10/100BASE-T Ethernet and a built-in V.90 56K modem.
  • Power Mac G4 400 MHz contains 128MB SDRAM, 1MB level 2 backside cache, Rage 128 Pro with 16MB video SDRAM, a 20GB Ultra ATA/66 hard drive, a DVD-ROM drive with DVD-Video playback, a ZIP drive, FireWire and USB ports, 10/100BASE-T Ethernet and a built-in V.90 56K modem.
  • Power Mac G4 450 MHz contains 256MB SDRAM, 1MB level 2 backside cache, Rage 128 Pro with 16MB video SDRAM, a 27GB Ultra ATA/66 hard drive, DVD-RAM drive with DVD-Video playback, a ZIP drive, FireWire and USB ports and 10/100BASE-T Ethernet.

The Rage 128 Pro card kit will be available early next year for a suggested retail price of US$99 for customers with existing AGP-based Power Mac G4 systems.

Apple says that these options are now available immediately at the Apple Store. Pricing for the product line remains the same with the 350 MHz model priced at US$1599, the 400 MHz model priced at US$2499, and the 450 MHz model priced at US$3499. The company has priced the 15" Apple Studio Display at US$1299 and expects to ship the product before the end of the year.

The Mac Observer Spin: Hooray for Apple! These changes to the product line are welcome indeed. The Yikes motherboard may have been necessary for supply reasons, but its absence will not be missed. Having the 350 MHz model use the Sawtooth architecture makes it an appealing product for the first time.

It was also smart of Apple to offer a lower end alternative to the Cinema Display which still is not shipping and will probably be limited for many months to come. Those wanting a high quality flat panel monitor can satiate their desires sooner, rather than later.


[1:45 PM] Processor Production Problems Are Not Limited To Motorola
by Kyle D'Addario

C|Net has reported that there is bug in Intel's new "Coppermine" based Pentium III chips. Reportedly, the bug interrupts the start up process, requiring users to hit the power key twice before the machine will boot properly. Intel claims that this bug is present in less than two percent of the new chips, but that is enough for some manufacturers using the Intel chip. According to C-Net:

The flaw, or erratum, becomes apparent in the "boot-up" sequence and essentially forces computer owners to hit the "on" button twice, according to Michael Sullivan, an Intel spokesman. If a computer contains a chip with the flaw, it does not start until the second try.

"It is like starting something twice," he said.

The bug only affects 1 to 2 percent of "Coppermine" Pentium III processors and has only been observed in labs, Sullivan said.

Dell has reportedly held back development of their line of Coppermine based computers, taking the higher ground and testing for any chips in their stock that contain the bug. Other manufacturers are likely to follow.

Intel claims that the bug will be fixed shortly, and by the time the new PIII chip is widely available, that problem should be alleviated.

The Mac Observer Spin: The new chip was expected to ship over the summer, and has been held back time and time again. Now, in mass production, there seems to be a flaw. Apple won the first round of "Computer Wars" by getting the G4 to market ahead of the Coppermine Pentiums. The result, of course, was positive for Apple. Despite their own problems with the new G4 chips, Apple's stock continues to rise, and support is nearing an all-time high for the little computer company that could.

Next up is the OS battle. Whoever gets a functioning, reasonably stable version of the next generations OS out the door first is going to cash in big time. OS X is going to be all you hoped, and more. Windows 2000 is likely a strong OS as well, but whichever company can produce will have the "wave of popularity" advantage.

As the problems with the new PIII chips have shown, and Apple's own G4, producing a functioning product, on time, is crucial.

Intel - Apple

[1:30 AM] XLR8 Takes To The Ice
by Staff

XLR8 has released a new USB hub, the IceView hub. This powered, 4-port hub attempts to one-ups the competition by providing an avenue for monitoring USB use called the USB Loadmeter. According to XLR8:

Today, XLR8 announced the latest addition to their USB peripheral device product line, the IceView Hub. In addition to adding four multi-powered USB ports, this “ice” colored hub offers an exclusive USB Loadmeter for monitoring port usage. The USB Loadmeter ensures that users get optimum performance from their USB devices, by providing valuable feedback that protects the user from overloading their USB controller.

Key advantages of the IceView Hub include:

  • Mac USB 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, iBook and iMac compatible.
  • 4 USB expansion ports - users are able to expand the system ports fourfold.
  • High-power expansion support - allows device expansion with devices that require additional power through the USB port, such as scanners, digital cameras, video capture and printers.
  • USB load monitoring - USB Loadmeter protects against intermittent USB performance by providing interactive feedback on USB usage
  • Ice Color – “Cool” ice color coordinates nicely with all Macintosh systems
  • Compact form factor – fits neatly on desk top, top of mini-tower, or under most displays.
  • Portable - small form factor includes a removable “weight” making the IceView extremely light and portable.

Pricing was not available at this time, but you can find more information on the IceView USB hub at the XLR8 web site.


[12:30 PM] Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Sonnet Lowers Prices
by Staff

Just in time for the holidays, Sonnet Technologies has announced a price drop across their line of G3, along with certain G4, upgrade cards. According to Sonnet:

Sonnet's new lower prices are as follows:

  • Crescendo G3/PCI 266/512 $199.95 (was $249.95)
  • Crescendo G3/PCI 300/512 $249.95 (was $299.95)
  • Crescendo G3/PCI 300/1M $299.95 (was $349.95)
  • Crescendo G3/PCI 400/1M $399.95 (was $499.95)
  • Crescendo G3/PCI 466/1M $599.95 (was $649.95)
  • Crescendo G3/PCI 500/1M $699.95 (was $799.95)

The above cards are compatible with the following Macintosh models:

  • Power Mac 7300, 7500, 7600, 8500, 8515, 8600, 9500, 9515, 9600
  • Workgroup Server 7350, 8550, 9650
  • Power Computing PowerTower Pro, PowerWave
  • UMAX J700/S900
  • DayStar Genesis Series, Millennium
  • Mactell XB Pro

Crescendo NuBus

  • Crescendo G3/NuBus 300/1M $349.95 (was $399.95)
  • Crescendo G3/NuBus 400/1M $499.95 (was $599.95)

The above cards are compatible with the following Macintosh models:

  • Power Mac 6100, 7100, 8100 (including AV models)
  • Performa 611X
  • Workgroup Server 6150, 8150, 9150
  • Radius 81/110
  • Power Computing Power 100, Power 120

Crescendo L2 Slot

  • Crescendo G3/L2 250/512 $199.95 (was $249.95)
  • Crescendo G3/L2 300/512 $249.95 (was $299.95)
  • Crescendo G3/L2 300/1M $299.95 (was $349.95)

The above cards are compatible with the following Macintosh models:

  • Power Mac 4400, 5400, 5500, 6400, 6500, 7220
  • Performa 54XX, 6360, 64XX
  • 20th Anniversary Mac
  • StarMax 3000, 4000
  • Power Computing PowerBase
  • UMAX C500, C600

Encore G3

  • Encore G3 500/1M $699.95 (was $799.95)

The Encore is compatible with the following Macintosh models:

  • G3 Desktop, Mini Tower, Server, All-In-One
  • G3 Blue and White
  • G4 Graphite "Yikes"

The Encore G3 plugs into the ZIF socket of any of the compatible models without needing switches, jumpers or control panels. The unique Encore G3 hardware will automatically configure itself to run at 500MHz whether plugged into a 66 MHz bus Platinum G3, or a 100 MHz Blue&White or Graphite.

Sonnet Metronome:

Every Sonnet G3 and G4 upgrade includes the Metronome Profiler Utility software, giving users useful system performance information such as processor type, speed, temperature, bus speed, and cache size.

You can find more information at the Sonnet Technologies web site.

Sonnet Technologies

[Column] iTeen - How To Build A Successful Web Page: Part III, Features!

[8:30 AM] DropDrawers Is Now One Louder
by Staff

ResExcellence and Sig Software have teamed up to bring you the release of Drop Drawers 1.1. Drop Drawers allow users to store an assortment of files, apps, and other computer goodies in "hidden" but accessible spaces along the side of the desktop. The new version contains assorted feature enhancements and bug fixes. According to ResExcellence:

Drop Drawers is a revolutionary user-interface enhancement which provides floating pullout, snap-shut drawers on the sides of your screen to store text, URLs, aliases, pictures, sounds, movies and anything else. It has gained top coverage from Download.Com, MacFormat magazine and others.

Version 1.1 adds many new features, including a new options interface, instant copy and paste between drawers and any Mac OS application, configurable keys to activate drawer items, full control over click actions, password protection of drawers and extended arranging options.

Drop Drawers is available for US$15. ResExcellence is also holding a contest allowing visitors to their site a chance to win a copy of Drop Drawers. For more information, and full contest rules, you can visit the ResExcellence Sig Software web sites.

ResExcellence - Sig Software

[8:30 AM] And Then Street Atlas Shrugged
by Staff

DeLorme has released new Mac-compatible versions of the atlas software, Street Atlas USA 6.0, and their GPS receiver, Earthmate. The new version adds enhanced GPS compatibility, updated maps, one-way road listing, and a host of other new features. According to DeLorme:

With new features like address-to-address routing, one-way roads in major cities, the Via routing tool and updated road data, Street Atlas USA 6.0 for Macintosh combines with the Earthmate GPS Receiver to provide powerful mapping and navigation tools for both business travelers and vacation planners.

Macintosh users will be able to type in street addresses and the program will provide directions between them, as well as a highlighted route on the map. And, with the new Via function, users can easily select and include individual road segments in the routing process. Street Atlas USA 6.0 for Macintosh includes all the great features found in the previous version, including 15 levels of map detail that can be customized and printed, distance and area measurement tools, and the ability to import an address book.

New and Improved Features:

  • Door-to-door routing (quickest, shortest, preferred or most scenic)
  • Via routing function
  • Earthmate(tm) GPS Receiver support
  • Updated road information
  • One-way roads for major cities
  • Print detailed maps, route directions and statistics

Street Atlas USA is available for US$44.95, or in a package with the Earthmate GPS for US$159.95. You can find more information at the DeLorme web site.


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