A New Mac Pro Design Could be Very Cool

What do we want in a new Mac Pro? A new design, after nine years, could be the biggest talk of the town next week. That is, if Apple thinks the developers would be excited and customers would take a fresh look.

The basic design of the Mac Pro was conceived, likely, a decade ago and introduced in 2003 in the form of the Power Mac G5. It was based on the idea that power users were differentiated from home users and the iMac. It was also based on the idea that internal storage transfer rates were substantially faster than external interfaces. The original product had just two FireWire 400 ports and one FireWire 800 port.

Ten years later, a lot has changed in both the technology and the customer needs. For example, the iPad is steering some customers away from notebooks, and there may well be a resurgence in desktops. However, not a 40+ pound monster that cuts the fingers.

It’s fun to think about what a new Mac Pro would be like, and this is a perfect opportunity for Apple to update the design, based on changing technology and customer needs. That’s because not much exciting in terms of physical design in happening in the world of Apple. The new MacBooks are expected to look just about the same, and except for a (rumored) 7-inch iPad, nothing much is happening with that product’s physical design. A new Mac Pro would have people talking.

Plus, I know that a lot of customers find the 27-inch iMac awkward to tote into the Apple retail store for repair, that internal drives and expansion slots are not so important with Thunderbolt, and that optical drives are history. That fact provides a lots of design latitude for a desktop that has a boot SSD, no moving parts, and is a dramatic step up from the Mac mini.

I’ve never cared for the sharp edges of the current Mac Pro that can scratch hardwood or cut the fingers. Smaller, lighter, faster and beautiful are always nice. It’ll be interesting to see if Jonathan Ive and Bob Mansfield are thinking along those lines.

Below is an old concept at Six Revisions for a netbook connected to a display.  But it strikes me, in 2012, as something that would be incredibly beautiful as a Mac Pro. It would have to be a little bigger, though.  Those Xeon chips crank out some heat.  Even so, how about something low, black and sleek?

New Mac Pro conceptA concept derived from a concept Image Credit: Six Revisions


Tech News Debris

UNIX nut cases are almost always interested in languages, and so I was interested to see this essay that updates us on the most popular languages. Klint Finley uses five different methodologies and then comprares them. A man after my heart: “5 Ways to Tell Which Programming Languages are Most Popular.” Of course, popularity is driven by the market, and everything depends on which market you want to be in. For beginners and people who want to get into mobile app development, C and Objective C are good starts. But for business work, in the enterprise, it’s Java. All Java.

The job listings section (#3) suggests what’s a marketable skill these days, something students and faculty should pay attention to. When asked, I tell students to learn Java and Perl (or Python, to taste). That covers the high end object oriented stuff combined with fast, low level, elegant scripting. And once you know Perl, the C family is a no-brainer.

Recently, I’ve talked about Dish Network’s Auto Hop feature. It seems that Dish was just begging to get sued and/or cut off. Last week they were sued. This week, the breaks in service started. And Dish thinks an offensive is the right way to go on this. “Dish Goes Offensive Against Hoak Media Over Ad-Skipping, Pricing.” What’s more amazing than Dish’s “kick me” approach is the opportunity waiting for Apple.

Do you have an old Apple ][ in the attic or garage that you’ve been meaning to clean up and get working? If so, you might want to check out these videos by Todd Harrison that might help you get started. “See an Apple II get torn down, cleaned up, and put back in working order.

I’m not planning a review of this next app, but I did want to bring it to your attention. The scale of the universe, in powers of 10, is amazing. I think not many people who haven’t taken an astronomy class or done some studying appreciate the scale of our universe, both upwards and downwards. For example, if our sun, which is about 100 times larger than the earth, were a basketball, the nearest star would be over 5,000 miles away. And that’s just our backyard, tiny by galactic and cosmic scale.

This app, Cosmic Eye, will take you down to the smallest distances known to man and up to distances on the scale of the universe, each step by a factor of ten. The best thing? It’s free. The developer told me that he just wanted to put it out there for general education.”

A lot of scientists offered their images for free, and our idea was to show them to the world for free. Our goal is outreach and education, not business. However, we are running adds (at least for some time) and offer to remove adds for US$0.99. The little income is used to cover some admin costs, apple developer fees, and expenses for publicity.”

If you just want a preview, here’s the YouTube demo.

NMG 1300

NGC 1300. A hundred thousand years to cross at the speed of light.

Finally, we all know about Apple’s Siri and how it has brought a science fiction dream to reality. But what’s next? The popularity of Siri, kickstarting the technology on a massive scale, with excellent funding, could bring even more rapid advances. Check: “Where Speech Recognition Is Going.”