Adobe Lightroom preorder

As Andy has blogged, Adobe Lightroom 1.0 is now available for pre-order. As a big user of the beta I’m definitely going to get it, so I popped along to the Adobe online store. The UK promo price including VAT is £146.88. For this they ship you a box, CD and manual. However, there is also a download option via which you can simply download the software on purchase (or release day I guess) This allows you to re-download should you have to. Nice.

The thing I find baffling though is that the cost of the download option is £151.25. Why more expensive?

Update: Taking the boxed version through to checkout adds a shipping fee of £5.11 making a total of £152.88 including VAT. So for saving them any variable costs incurred in sending you a box you save the princely sum of £1.63

Update 2: After order completion it lists the estimated shipment date as 20th February.

24″ iMac – initial random thoughts

24

Wow! Some random thoughts before I collate a more considered post tonight:

  • It comes in a very big box.
  • It is quite disconcerting when the invoice stuck to said box is made out to some guy in France…
  • … though he seems to have gone for the 3GB…
  • … but only the 128MB graphics card.
  • Phew, it is actually mine.
  • Why is Apple packaging so, well, cool.
  • Blimey it’s big.
  • But very, very nice.
  • Lots of system updates to download.
  • Firmware update. Please don’t go wrong…
  • …Phew.
  • 1920×1200 rocks.
  • Wires from the keyboard and mouse are annoying me already.
  • Very easy to transfer stuff over from the iBook via firewire.
  • Did I say it was big?
  • Play with FrontRow. Remote is cool.
  • 1080p trailer of 300 at native res, impressive.
  • Installed Lightroom. Wow, this is what I bought it for!

Lightroom comparison

  • SecondLife and Google Earth are sweet. Might actually tempt me to spend a decent amount of time in SL now.
  • Photoshop Elements runs quick, even under Rosetta.
  • CD drive is very quiet.
  • Very, very happy.

Anticipation

29 Jan 2007 07:00 Southampton Out For Delivery
29 Jan 2007 05:48 Southampton Import Received
27 Jan 2007 22:16 Northampton Hub Consignment Received At Transit Point
26 Jan 2007 17:09 Arnhem Hub Consignment Received At Transit Point
26 Jan 2007 17:09 Arnhem Hub Consignment Passed Through Transit Point
23 Jan 2007 11:42 Shanghai Consignment Received At Transit Point
23 Jan 2007 09:35 Shanghai Consignment Picked Up

The ins and outs of Apple shipment and order tracking

I’ve ordered numerous items from Apple over the years, including two iPods an iBook and now the iMac. As such, and like a lot of other Apple customers, I’ve become quite au-fait with their shipment procedures. In fact, it seems Apple customers are really quite anal when it comes to tracking where their precious delivery is!

When you view any hardware product on the Apple Store, it gives an estimated “ready to ship” date. If this is “within 24 hours” that normally means the product is in stock at a distribution point and you are ordering a standard configuration. If you are customising a product then your order becomes a BTO/CTO (Build-to-order / customize-to-order) order with a typical ready to ship date of 2-3 days. This will be fulfilled from the factory in most cases (iPod engraving being an exception – that is done at the distribution point) Of course, the ready to ship date is the date it is, er, ready to ship from the distribution point or factory, not the date you can expect to receive your shiny new purchase. If you are especially keen to get hold of a standard config, you might be better off heading down to your local reseller (John Lewis are best if you happen to be in the UK)

Once you’ve ordered, your order confirmation will give the RTS date, and an estimated delivery date. You will also have an order number typically beginning with W80 or W81. This is where the fun begins. If your order is CTO hardware then it is most likely going to be built in a factory in China. From there it is possible that it may be shipped directly by courier. You’ll know if this is happening as the shipping method on your order status page will be “Fast Ship (EMEA)” This means that a courier (TNT or UPS in the UK at least) will handle the delivery from factory to your door. Once your item is shipped you’ll receive a dispatch email from Apple which will contain a ten digit delivery reference number beginning with 80.

What happens now is up to the delivery method. If it is a single item through Fast Ship deliver then you are in luck. You should be able to use the delivery reference number to do a track by reference on the courier web site (try both TNT and UPS) though you will have to wait for the courier system to pick up the details after you receive the order shipped email.

Alternatively, if you’ve ordered more than one item, then congratulations, you’ve now entered the world of the fabled distribution centre. In Europe, this is the TNT European Distribution Centre (EDC) located in The Netherlands. No doubt it is surrounded by lovely windmills and tulip fields. It is here that all your items meet up and get packaged together (or merge in transit if you like) for a single delivery to your door. Factory sourced items are shipped here by a company called Kuehne + Nagel. Going through the EDC tends to add time to your order delivery, so think twice before you add that extra piece of software to your hardware order!

So, the net result is that there are various possible ways in which goods ordered from the Apple store might get to your door, so it would be nice to have a single point at which everything could be tracked, right? Well, unfortunately the Apple Store tracking system is not the best. However, help is at hand thanks to a very nice man called Thomas, and his Appletrack site. This collates information from K+N right down to the nitty details such as when your package picked up, booked on a flight, to when it gets handed over to a courier. It also has a helpful forum which contains more information that this post ever could. It is also a fun read to see people fretting about the fate of the plane their new Mac is on as tracking shows it being in the air for 48 hours!

Not that I’ll be laughing if the iMac doesn’t turn up. Now where’s my order reference number…

Useful backup trick for iTunes

I have somewhere in the region of 500 albums in my iTunes library, the vast majority of which are rips from physical CDs. However I tend only to buy music from the iTunes Music Store nowadays and as such make sure I back those tracks up regularly.

iTunes itself offers this facility by an option on the Back up to disc command to back up only purchased music to optical media, however I back up to a NAS device so this doesn’t work for me.

So, the rather neat and geeky method I use is to drop down into Terminal and do the following:

iBook:~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music aspender$ find . -name *.m4p | cpio -pdmv /Volumes/music/backup

This pipes the list of m4p files found in my iTunes library (.m4p being the file suffix used by the DRM protected AAC files you get from iTMS) to the cpio command which archives them whilst preserving the directory structure. The inclusion of the -p option performs a copy-pass function which un-archives the files into the target directory. Alternatively you could omit this and keep a single cpio archive file around.

Easy access to the powerful Unix underpinnings of OS X is one of the reasons I love Macs.

As for the rest of the library, well I’m planning a major exercise to re-rip all my CDs into a lossless format for future proofing, then do conversion into MP3 so I’m not bothered about backing them up for the time being. More on that later though.

I’m LinkedIn

I’ve finally got around to adding myself to LinkedIn. Some of you might have seen a connection request from me. I’m already suprised by how many people I know are on there, I’ve obviously been missing out on this for a while. If you read this and you know me, please feel free to connect to me. Here’s my profile, or you can click the button in my new Funky Buttons section on the right hand side 😉

Yahoo Labs WorldExplorer mashup

The O’Reilly Radar have discussed the new World Explorer mash-up created by the folks at Yahoo’s Berkely research lab. It takes publicly geotagged photos from flickr and combines them with Yahoo Maps to create a mash-up from which you can view photos associated with a particular surrounding. It has some algorithm to display tags relevant to a particular area. What’s more, there is also a night option which will only show tagged photos taken at night to give you a different perspective.

You can embed the maps into web pages, blogs etc. via a nifty little flash app generator called Badger. Unfortunately, WordPress.com doesn’t seem to be happy with the embedded object HTML so I guess we will have to wait for them to do a similar thing as they’ve done for YouTube and Google videos, hint, hint 😉

The underlying technology from Yahoo is called TagMaps, and it supports APIs to allow you to create your own tag maps from data you provide via a REST interface.  I’ve been playing with Google Maps and its APIs quite a bit over the last few months, but I’m getting more and more impressed with the functionality of the Yahoo stuff and am keen to have a play.

1and1 email problems

I’ve been a customer of 1&1 for a few years now on their Instant Mail package which provides five mailboxes (POP3 or IMAP) as well as parking of my two domains. It also supports up to 150 email aliases, web based email access and good spam and anti-virus facilities.

The main reason for using them was the fact that they allow you not to have a catch-all facility for domain based email. A few years ago a spammer blitzed my domain name with <everything>@thespenders.co.uk leading to hundreds of thousands of emails ending up in my mailbox leading to a very unhappy ISP. They were unable to suggest a suitable solution so I moved to 1&1 and have been happy ever since.

However, as The Register have reported, 1&1 have been experiencing various problems with their email service this week. The problems first surfaced for me after Thunderbird asked me for my (stored) password for my IMAP mailbox. A trip to the web mail interface failed, as did logging onto the control panel for account management. Intermittently things came back, only to disappear again. There still appear to be problems at the moment.

The most disappointing aspect however is the lack of information coming from 1&1 on the matter. Obviously there wouldn’t be much use in sending an email, though actually the email address my account is registered with is one from my ISP, not one they manage, for that exact reason. I’ve searched but have been unable to find any information about the outage/problem on their web site, either linked off the home page or from the control panel. A system status page wouldn’t go amiss. I didn’t try phoning them as it was obvious they had problems and there were informational posts around from plenty of people who had stuck on hold to get through.

The outage did make me think about whether I should move to another provider, but as the first problem in a couple of years I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. However I’ll definitely be suggesting some improved notification mechanisms for future problems. Hopefully they will be redundant though!

Apple TV and iPhone

At his MacWorld keynote, Steve Jobs announced the full details of Apple TV (formerly iTV) and the long anticipated and rumoured Apple phone: the iPhone.

Apple TV is a slim set-top box type device with wired and wireless capabilities which can connect to a TV via HDMI or Component. It has a 40GB hard disk and can sync up with your iTunes library on Mac or PC to download movies, music and photos from your iTunes. It can also stream content from up to five iTunes PCs/Macs. It will retail in the UK for £199 and is shipping in February. I think the impact of Apple TV in the UK will be muted for as long as we don’t have any TV or film content on the UK version of the iTunes store.

The iPhone however is a different story whatsoever. Whilst it is easy to dismiss Jobs’ claims that it is generations ahead of anything else out there, it does look like an amazing piece of kit. The animations available on the Apple web site promise a pretty amazing UI and interaction mechanism with fingertip control of a device which is both the first truly widescreen iPod to do video content justice, and a pretty amazing looking phone and internet device. Of course, the proof will come when it gets into the hands of reviewers and those lucky enough to pick one up in the US. In the UK we have to wait until Q4, and there are no details as yet about which networks or networks Apple will partner with. What’s more worrying as well is the lack of 3G capability meaning we will either be stuck with GPRS, or limited to networks with EDGE capability (currently only Orange in the UK and from a quick Google I don’t think they actually offer it as a service apart from select Blackberry products.) In any case, EDGE is slower than 3G and the iPhone device obviously cannot handle video calling due to the lack of a camera on the front of the device.

What’s for certain though is that Apple are going to make a very big splash in the mobile phone market with this device. Hopefully it will be a big kick up the backside to other phone manufacturers to get them to concentrate more on their interface, interaction and ease of use.