New Cube for Cube owners

I love my Power Mac G4 Cube. Small. Elegant. Takes up little desk space, and you want it on your desk so it can be displayed as the work of art it is.
The only problem with owning a Cube is that you are somewhat limited in processor and video card upgrades. Because the Cube uses convection cooling, you have to be careful that you don’t overtax the external power supply and overheat the system. Most processor upgrades for the Cube come with a small fan that, once installed, blows air up the Cube’s “chimney,” assisting in keeping the little Power Mac at peak operating performance.
As video cards have become more and more powerful, they have also increased somewhat in physical size. Sure, anything you buy these days will easily fit in the AGP or PCI slots of your Power Mac tower, but the Cube is limited to certain models whose physical proportions match those of the Cube.
PowerLogix thinks they have the answer to these Cube-owning quandries: the PowerCube Enclosure. The PowerCube offers improved ventilation, allowing faster processor upgrades to be used without adding on fans. It also features 20 times more room for video cards than the original Cube enclosure, by moving the DC/DC card.
I realize that these enclosures are hand-crafted from machined aluminum, but I’m not sure if it’s worth $269. Yes, I understand that (a) this is an expensive process to produce these enclosures, and (b) that the Cube-owning market is pretty small. All the same, I’d be more tempted to buy one if it were running around $150.
My Cube is pretty much maxed out in all areas. It has the full complement of 1.5 GB of RAM. It has a 100 GB hard drive; the only larger drive I could put in would be a 120 GB model, since the Cube’s bus limits drive size to 128 GB or smaller. My Cube sports a nVidia GeForce3 video card. I’m not a gamer, and at this stage, I’m not working with a lot of digital video, so it’s a great card for me. The only upgrade missing is a new processor, and the price on 1.2 GHz upgrades keep slowly falling, so that’s just a matter of time (and finances, now that I’m unemployed).
I had always thought that after the proc upgrade, I would eventually just buy a faster Mac, lusting after a new 15″ PowerBook and the dual 2 GHz G5. The Cube could then be put to other uses.
Laurie Duncan had a hand in seeing the PowerCube brought to production, and offers thoughts on her two test enclosures, as well as giving an overview of the transplant procedure. Response on Laurie’s forums and the Cube email list run by Eric Prentice seems very favorable.
I watched the online version of the install video. (Warning: designed for low bandwidth, so it’s low-res and really jumpy. The one that comes on DVD with the enclosure is very smooth, according to Laurie.) There are a couple of items of note that should give the Cube purists out there pause. One, the new recessed power button. On the one hand, a good idea, since many a Cube owner has put his system to sleep by accidentally brushing the button on top of the Cube. On the other hand, there is something so inherently cool about there not being any push buttons on the original Cube, that simply gliding one’s finger across the acrylic top will power on the system.
Second, no more “core removal.” While the internal chassis of the original Cube is used, with a slight modification of the Airport antenna and the DC/DC board, said chassis is screwed to the PowerCube enclosure. So you can’t simply flip your PowerCube over, push down on the latch, and lift the chassis out by the handle. Not that Cube owners do that all the time, but it’s still an incredibly easy way to get to the Cube’s internals, no longer available with the PowerCube.
Finally, and this is the purest of the purely aesthetic: I just like the way the original Cube enclosure looks. The clear acrylic shell, with nothing behind it for a good two inches or more at the bottom, makes the system look like it’s floating on one’s desk. You don’t get that with the PowerCube Enclosure.
So even if I could afford it, I just don’t think the PowerCube is for me. Though I wouldn’t say no if Robert at PowerLogix wishes to send me one to review

Dell product “designers”

Have you seen the commercial being plastered across the airwaves by Dell featuring the interns and Dell’s product “designers”?
The thought that Michael Dull employs product designers in the first place is tremendously laughable. It becomes more humorous when you notice the products said “designers” are handling:

  • a PDA–designed and produced by an OEM, with Dell’s logo planted on it
  • a printer–Dell has never made printers, does not make printers, and won’t make printers, so there’s no need to employ a printer “designer”
  • a flat-panel display–designed and produced by an OEM, with Dell’s logo planted on it
  • Inspiron notebook computer–the only item featured that actually is designed by Dull’s product “designers,” and is about as inspiring as a Michael Jordan Hanes briefs commercial.

Truly pathetic. Unfortunately, I’m sure Joe Consumer has no concept of how Dull operates, and is buying this hook, line, and sinker.
You want truly innovative product design? Come on over.

Content Search on Amazon

How do you know you’re the father of a three month-old? When you don’t have much time to read your favorite blogs, and note what you read.
Lee posted on Amazon’s new Book Content Search feature, and this is just a bit of all-right, as Austin P. would say.
I’m not so impressed with the new feature in an of itself–I doubt I will personally use it much–so much as I am by the technological feat of processing 120,000 books, not to mention the man-hours Amazon put in to the project. Kudos, Bezos and Company!

Panther or Bust

Lee relates his Mac OS X 10.3 Panther-buying experience from last night, where he also garnered an iSight.
As for your humble host, our Panther hunt was a complete bust. I seriously undermined the attention given the release by the Dallas Macintosh-using population.
Thinking that we could go grab a bite to eat, then get to the Apple Store some time after 8:30 and pick up a copy, we found, at 8:30, an hour-long wait in the line outside the store. Needless to say, I wasn’t about to stick around, waiting in a line that long with a three month-old in tow. So we headed home, and I’ll swing by and pick up Panther later today. I can do without the fake dog tags, thank you very much.

Jim and Lissa

My friends Jim and Lissa have gone live with their new site, appropriately titled, Jim and Lissa. I’m going to miss seeing Jim at work each day, but at least there’s AIM.
Congrats, you two. You are welcome to pool, and the pool, any time.

More on the crock of the BCS

Yes, once again this is where I ask the question: why is Miami in contention for the national championship? Why is Miami ranked #2 in the country by the BCS?
I mean, what a wimpy schedule this school has. It would be pretty easy for most Division I NCAA teams to romp to a 7-0 record to this point in the season with this schedule. Let’s break down the Hurricanes’ twelve games:
1. Louisiana Tech: a gimme game, and every big school has one or two of these. Heck, LSU is playing LaTech next week for homecoming.
2. Florida: a serious contender early in the season, and a game Miami struggled in, only winning by five points. A sure sign to yours truly that mighty Miami might not be ranked so highly if they played SEC- or Big 12-caliber teams each week, instead of those in the not-so Big East.
3. East Carolina: raise your hand if you’ve heard of East Carolina before. Yeah, Miami crushed them by 35.
4. Boston College: not really a championship contender in any year, they lost to the Hurricanes 33-14.
5. West Virginia: shockingly, Miami had trouble here as well, winning by only two points. West Virginia seems to be the shocker team of the year, knocking off national contender Virginia Tech last week.
6. Florida State: at least Miami plays both of the other Florida schools each year, and both of those have traditionally strong programs. But really, how hard is it to get your team up for two or three big games a year?
7. Temple: yes, that’s right, Temple is in the Big East. Now do you see why the BCS thinks Miami is deserving of #2 and a shot at the national title?
8. Virginia Tech: that game is today next week, and will be Miami’s big test pretty much for the rest of the season. Go VT.
Miami then faces Tennessee, which has disappointed this year, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh. None of the latter three are, or have been, serious contenders, and Miami will likely roll right over them, as they do every single year.
It appears Vanderbilt will be leaving the SEC after this season. Let’s bring in Miami, where they can face Tennessee every year, as well as powerhouses like Georgia, Auburn, Arkansas, and yes, since Nick Saban became the head coach, LSU. When Miami is consistently beating the likes of these teams, year after year after year, then I would certainly agree they deserve a national title shot.
Or slot them in to the Big 12 or Big 10, where they can go up against Oklahoma more frequently than the BCS national title bowl game, and play traditionally strong teams like Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Ohio State, and more.
When Miami is in a conference where going undefeated really means something, then their contention for the national championship will really mean something. Until then, it is just a pathetic attempt to get two undefeateds in to a bowl game for the attention ratings of the football-watching nation.
Better yet, let’s dump the flawed, computer-generated BCS ranking system, and establish a playoff system based on the various bowl games. Every other major collegiate sport has a playoff system to determine a national champion. Why can’t football? Seems pretty easy: take your conference champions, plus a smattering of independents that have a minimum of two losses for that year, and mix it up. Spread the bowl games out over four weeks, instead of trying to pack them all in to two, and voila! A football playoff system for college athletics. Too bad no one in the NCAA is listening.

J.S. who?

The Dallas Stars crushed the Mighty Lucks of Anaheim and goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere in their season and home opener last night at American Airlines Center. Stu Barnes and Sergei Zubov were the stories of the night, picking right up where they left off last season with their play. New captain Mike Modano led by example on the ice in the 4-1 victory, and there was solid play throughout the lineup. The only bad news for the Stars was the injury to forward Jere Lehtinen, but it doesn’t look serious and he is listed as day-to-day.
All in all, an oustanding, solid performance from the Stars. If every game could be played as well as this one, Dallas would be sure of bringing home the Cup this spring.

Innovation report good for a laugh

In case you’ve been under a rock so far this week, some of the big news in the Mac/tech world is the new Cheskin report on the top innovative companies. Apple ranked #3–behind Microsoft and Dell. I’ll give Michael Dull credit for innovative marketing, but his PCs are about as exciting as my wife’s Volvo. (Okay, bad example, since the Volvo S80 departs from the boxy design of old for curves, and features a kick-butt turbocharged six under the hood, but you get my point.)
I do enjoy the take on this from As the Apple Turns. (Thanks, Chris L.!)