Friday, March 7, 2008

NBA bars Heat's Alexander Johnson 1 game

Breaking three of Andrea Bargnani's teeth will cost Miami Heat forward Alexander Johnson one game.
The National Basketball Association suspended Johnson for Friday's home contest against the Golden State Warriors for throwing his body into Bargnani during Wednesday's 108-83 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Bargnani knocked his head on the floor at American Airlines Arena and broke three teeth on a harsh foul from Johnson as he drove to the basket with 9:57 left in the third quarter.
"I thought he was going up for a dunk, so I jumped and caught him off-balance," Johnson said. "I was not trying to hurt him."
Bargnani left for the locker room and did not return. He was to be re-examined on Friday.
"I feel a lot better now," he said, confirming that X-rays ruled out any facial fractures.
"Any time a guy leaves his feet like that and takes that kind of a hit and goes down hard, you have to be concerned," Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell said. "But it seems like he is OK.
"He is a little sore. But we don't expect that he will miss any time at all."
Bargnani scored 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter.

Stern Says NBA May Have First Foreign Owner in 18-24 Months

March 7 (Bloomberg) -- National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern said someone from outside North America probably will become the first foreign owner of one of his league's existing teams in the next 18-24 months.
Investors from China and the Persian Gulf have asked about buying teams that weren't for sale, Stern said in an interview. No sale is in the works, he added.
U.S. teams are attractive to overseas investors partly because of the decline in value of the U.S. dollar, which has lost against 15 of 16 most-actively traded currencies in the past five years. It has fallen 48 percent against the Euro in that period, with one Euro now worth $1.53.
``Our valuations are high,'' Stern said in an interview. ``But from their perspective, given the increased valuation of foreign currency, they are getting cheaper.''
Foreign investors purchased $387 billion of U.S. companies in 2007, up 54 percent from the previous year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The most active investors include those from Canada, Britain and Australia.
The Seattle Mariners baseball club, owned by the U.S. arm of Kyoto, Japan-based video-game maker Nintendo Co., are the only team in the four major North American sports held by an overseas concern.
Interest From Abroad
Stern said he is basing his prediction on interest from overseas investors, the inevitability of team sales and the league's willingness to accept foreign ownership. The falling dollar, as well as basketball's popularity in China and the NBA's plan to place five expansion teams in Europe within a decade also play a role.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said in his blog on Feb. 29 that he also expects more foreign ownership of North American sports teams because of the falling dollar.
``A quick trip to NYC to shop for currency-induced bargains need not stop on Fifth or Madison Ave.,'' Cuban said. ``It is just a matter of time, and maybe not much of it, before we start to see our sports teams gobbled up.''
In January, Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN and four Chinese investors agreed to pay $253 million for an 11 percent stake in the NBA's operations in that country.
The group was composed of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka- Shing, Bank of China Ltd., China Merchants Bank Co. and Legend Holdings Ltd. Ka-Shing is the richest man in Asia with a $23 billion fortune, according to Forbes magazine. NBA China will have the right to create teams in the country and own all broadcasting and merchandising rights.
``Investors are looking at all of our activities -- media, digital activities, marketing partnerships with leading corporations, real estate through arena development on a global scale,'' Stern said. ``We want to talk to these people when money is cheap and see if they think sports franchises are something worth investing in.''

Apple launches iPhone SDK based on Mac OS X

n the space of an hour Apple has revolutionised the capabilities of its iPhone, as it tries to appeal to gamers and businessmen alike, however users of the phone will have to wait until June before they can start benefiting. Announcing the launch of its Software Developers Kit at its town hall event in at its headquarters in California, the newly announced SDK will allow developers the chance to use the same APIs and tools that Apple says it uses in-house to develop iPhone applications. The announcement is likely to cause an avalanche of new applications for users of the mobile phone. Apple will allow programmers to build applications that have access to the handset's database as well as applications that are location-aware. Additionally they will also be able to access the device's accelerometer that works on 3-axis sensor for motion control. Showing how easy it will be to design and develop apps for the handset Phil Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing for Apple built an application on the fly in the presentation. Apple has said that rather than build a new piece of code for developers to build applications it has merely enhanced it current set of Mac OS tools such as Xcode and Cocoa. Developers will be able to test their applications on a Mac to see how they perform and use battery life with the ability to change elements in real time. To help developers further Apple has said that it will also launch an iPhone simulator that runs on OS X. Applications will be available to download directly from the iPhone via a new store Apple is calling the App Store. The software is promised for the next software update due in June. Apple will charge developers $99 to publish applications and take a further 30% of the revenue, however Apple has said there will be no charge for applications that are offered for free to end users. Apple has also hinted that it will be encouraging a push towards games for the device and will also be adding in OpenGL support, 3dimensional sound support and support for OpenAL. Apple has said that the software update and Developers Kit will be available to iPod touch users however - as with the update announced at the beginning of the year - there will again be a charge. Apple plans to release the final iPhone 2.0 software, including the iPhone SDK and new enterprise features, as a free software update for all iPhone customers by the end of June.

Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (64-bit)

You couldn't ask for more, or for less. Windows Server 2008’s fine-grained, modular configurability lets you shrink the OS footprint down to virtualization guest-friendly size, and Server Core drops the Windows GUI to dramatically reduce the memory requirements of a virtualized guest. This server OS presents a minimal attack surface for guest and host instances, and generally removes the requirement for add-in server and client security. It isn't a server in a box, but it's Microsoft’s richest server OS by far.» Read Full Review

8.5 Very Good

Manufacturer: Microsoft
CostStandard: $999 with 5 CALs, $1,199 with 10 CALs; Enterprise: $3,999 with 25 CALs; Datacenter Edition: $2,999; Windows Web Server 2008: $469
Platforms32- or 64-bit AMD or Intel x86 or Intel Itanium CPU, with minimum speed of 1.4GHz. Memory and disk requirements vary by edition and features. Author's recommended minimums for Windows Server 2008 Standard are 1GB of server RAM per virtual instance and 40GB of local hard disk for boot and swap. The GUI-less Server Core's requirements are much lower.

Apple to take on PSP and Nintendo DS

Apple has today moved closer to taking on Sony and Nintendo in the handheld market by placing a strong focus on games at its unveiling of it software developers kit of the iPhone. At the town hall event at the company's headquarters, Apple announced support for OpenGL, OpenAL, and 3dimensional sound, all standards that gamers currently develop in. In a move to overcome the limitations of no joystick Apple has given developers access to the mobile phone's accelerometer, a technology that allows the phone to sense were it is on three axes and response accordingly. The move will allow gamers to move the iPhone to move a character or vehicle on screen. Apple demoed a game called "Touch Fighter" where gamers can control a spacecraft around the screen by tilting the phone. Hoping to prove its credentials, Apple has approached a number of games companies including EA giving them two weeks to develop a game for the device to show that it was possible. EA demoed "Spore" working on a similar basis offering controls via the motion sensing accelerometer while Sega demoed "Supermonkey Ball" again with the accelerometer. Earlier this month Pocket-lint reported on a patent has been published which describes a method that would automatically determine which games on the iTunes Store are compatible with iPods or iPhones tied to a customer's iTunes software.

Advice for Apple iPhone start-ups

High-flying venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers placed a $100 million bet on Apple's iPhone on Thursday by creating the iFund.
KPCB partner Matt Murphy will manage that gamble, by heading up a team that will invest in game-changing applications for the mobile Internet. His group will include KCPB co-founder John Doerr and Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy, along with high-ranking advisers from Apple.
Matt Murphy is heading up the new iFund at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.(Credit: KPCB)
Murphy joined KPCB in 1999 after stints at Sun Microsystems and semiconductor start-up Netboost, which was acquired by Intel. His investment focus has long been on the mobile Internet, working closely with digital-map company Autonavi; traffic-data device maker Dash; and mobile software firm Pelago. He was previously a board observer at Google during its early days, and a director at server software company Peakstream, which was acquired by Google.
CNET talked to Murphy late Thursday about his new charge and the significance of the iFund.
Can you tell me the back story of how this fund got started? And why you were chosen to lead it?Murphy: We've been investors in mobile and wireless for a while. We've got over 20 ventures in that general market sector. More and more as we'd been seeing some of the trends evolve around mobile Internet usage, and post the launch of the iPhone--really seeing how that platform was driving leadership around usage and early Web app innovation--we started to believe that that would be the springboard for a lot of innovation on mobile networks. And that's where users who are looking for a differentiated experience would go.
Internally, somewhere on the order of three or four months ago, we started talking about...looking for entrepreneurs focused on the iPhone. And that led to a decision to approach Steve (Jobs) and Apple. They decided that they were very excited about it. I guess it firmed up about four to six weeks ago. We decided that it was a great idea for both sides.
Is this a novel fund for KCPB?Murphy: Essentially, it's a big signal from us that we want to allocate dollars and a lot of resource to an area like this and the reason why is that platforms don't come around that often. The PC, the Internet, Java. Thinking about how enormous the mobile Internet can become, we felt we wanted to do more to signal to entrepreneurs that we wanted to work with them. And (we wanted to) do it with a company with by far the biggest platform for the mobile Internet right now.
How will you choose and vet companies?Murphy: On the Apple Web site, there's a button for developers to submit business plans. We've done that in a structured way. Generally, when people submit plans to Kleiner, they send us an e-mail and it might include a PowerPoint. But with this one, we're trying to make it more structured with a link from Apple or from KPCB home page and those will come in. And there's a team of partners here led by me that will go through them, and we've got a lot of resource that will take these plans and get back to entrepreneurs as fast as we can.
What do you look for in a mobile application developer? What makes them fund-worthy?Murphy: We're not looking for fun-ware or widgets we don't feel like have the potential to be a standalone application or standalone company. We're looking for the next big ideas. If we view this as the next big platform, like we viewed the Internet, the kind of foundational companies that came out of the Internet were Amazon, Google, Netscape, etc. We want to find opportunities of that scale and magnitude. Obviously, when you invest in start-ups you never know whether they will reach those heights. But the point is to find companies that really have the potential to be a pillar company on the mobile Internet.
What do you think the average size of investments will be? Murphy: From a stage standpoint, we'll...invest in everything from a very early seed investment to a later stage investment that has some traction and customers, maybe a little revenue, and is aligned with our thinking around the iFund.
Areas that we're looking at--the main thesis there is around finding applications that are differentiated on the mobile experience and the iPhone. (We're) not looking for things that take what's on the Internet and port it over to what's on the mobile phone, but really taking into account that it's a different device.
When I'm on my mobile phone, I'm out and about, and I might want to look for something, buy something, share something, and (we're looking for) applications that take advantage of that serendipitous, in-the-moment behavior. That could be across social networking, mobile commerce, entertainment, or gaming. And even communications tools.
What about enterprise?Murphy: It's definitely interesting. The enterprise outside of e-mail has lagged in terms of getting broader application adoption. The fact that the iPhone is now going to sync seamlessly with Exchange makes it even more important of a business tool. It's going to be very easy for people to add rich applications for the enterprise on top of that.
So you will be looking at funding enterprise companies?Murphy: For sure. We're looking at companies that solve the largest addressable consumer need, and that's consumers as individuals and in enterprises.
Doerr joked at the announcement that $100 million would fund like four Google's, but how many investments do you realistically plan to make?Murphy: It's hard to say. Some of it depends on the stage and how much money each of the investments take. But the other important point John made is that if $100 million isn't enough, we can allocate more capital to the initiative. There's not really a hard stop on it.
It's hard to say between doing seed investments as small as $500,000 to $1 million up to doing investments that could be more than $10 million. We're so enthusiastic about the area that I don't think the fund size will be the limit to stuff we can do.
We're primarily Series A investors at Kleiner and that still remains our sweet spot, but the aperture is more wide open to find the best applications companies irrespective of stage in this initiative.
How much input will Apple have into iFund awards?Basically, we want their strategic and marketing insight on what they think their users will find interesting. We'll all be able to see data around what's taking off and what's not ... and where they see demand from their customer set. Then when companies are in the iFund, making sure that they're taking advantage of the collaborative relationship we have with Apple to be successful in terms of technical and marketing support.
Will you have Jobs' input?Murphy: (Laughs.) We've got really broad support at the key executive level around the iPhone and iPod Touch. All of the executives are very excited about doing this together.
Apple is notorious for being difficult to deal with. Some start-ups complain about trying to comply with their licensing programs, about getting shelf space in Apple stores. What does that mean for your iFund companies?Murphy: The iFund is a collaborative initiative. I think it bodes well for iFund companies to have Apple's help and support. Given the relationship at the most senior of executive levels on their side and from a core set of partners here, it's going to be pretty easy to cut through what may be a typical frustrated (experience). I certainly don't know any cases of this.
Will you invest in existing mobile developers creating applications for other phones?We're very focused on companies that are aligned with us around the iPhone. It's hard to imagine a company at this stage going after the mobile environment not wanting to develop to the iPhone platform. If someone is currently supporting a different platform yet is philosophically aligned with us on the importance of the iPhone and that that is a big priority for them, then yes.
There are funds that have emerged to just invest in Facebook application makers. I wonder how you think that compares to what you're doing with the iPhone?Murphy: I understand that Facebook is a platform, although I don't think it's a platform that cuts across quite as broadly as the mobile Internet. That's 3 billion users on mobile phones, 1 billion on the Internet.
What we're focused on in the iFund is finding companies that are going to provide the best user experience, instead of just applications, on the best platform that ultimately will go after this 3 billion subscriber base. I view iPhone as the best platform of the mobile Internet.
The mobile Internet is going to be huge--and how many, many people are accessing the Internet all around the world. The early companies that establish leadership on the iPhone platform are well positioned to have a big impact on an enormous user base and not relegated to being a widget company. We're not interested in widget companies.
Why such a big bet on Apple, when there are other smartphone makers?Murphy: The best way to look at that is that the best developers are going to go to the best platform...and address that user base first, and get deep and highly valued interaction going. And then later on they can branch out in all different ways, just like any company in any medium. If you're an enterprise company you might first address the financial services, but eventually you're going to sell to other verticals as those markets mature. What we have here is a differentiated platform in the iPhone that is the best place to do this.
Are there companies in your portfolio that make for good candidates for the iFund and Apple platform?Murphy: There's four companies that will work closely with the iFund initiative. I call out Pelago specifically as an application that's going to launch in a couple of months that's very focused on the iPhone, and (which) we're really calling as part of the iFund.
The product name is called Whrrl (in beta now) and it's about social discovery--finding people, places, things, and events in the physical world through the eyes of your social network. And doing that with the power of the mobile phone, like having location enablement so it knows where you are.
That's the kind of app that's going to be amazing on the iPhone and it's really taking advantage of the behaviors of the mobile phone and optimizing that experience on the mobile phone.

US loses 63,000 jobs as economic woes deepen

A stumbling US economy lost 63,000 jobs in February, according to a shockingly weak report released Friday as the top White House economic adviser warned the economy could shrink.
The Federal Reserve took fresh steps to pump liquidity into the stressed banking system, making up to 200 billion dollars available to fight a credit crunch related to the most severe housing slump in decades.
The Labor Department report showed the second straight month of losses in nonfarm payrolls, seen as one of the best indicators of economic momentum.
Revised data showed a loss of 22,000 positions in January, compared with a prior estimate of 17,000.
February's loss was the biggest since March 2003, at the start of the war in Iraq, and a major disappointment for analysts expecting a gain of 25,000 jobs. "The payrolls report had recession written all over it," said Avery Shenfeld, senior economist at CIBC World Markets.
"It's nearly unheard of to see these numbers outside of recession."
President George W. Bush's top economic adviser, Ed Lazear, did not rule out negative economic growth for the current quarter.
"We don't really know whether it will be negative or not," Lazear told reporters.
"This quarter will probably be our weakest quarter ... Whether you call that 'a recession' or not is something that we won't know for many months."
Bush warned Americans they would soon be feeling the pinch.
"I know this is a difficult time for our economy," Bush said in a brief televised statement.
"We will begin to see the impact over the coming months. And in the long run, we can have confidence that so long as we pursue pro-growth, low-tax policies that put faith in the American people, our economy will prosper."
The Labor Department said the unemployment rate, which is based on a separate survey, fell to 4.8 percent from 4.9 percent a month earlier. This is attributed to people dropping out of the workforce, after being unable to find jobs, according to officials.
The labor force available for work fell by 450,000 and the participation rate slipped 0.2 percentage points.
The payrolls report showed an economy quickly losing steam. Private sector payrolls fell 101,000, in a third month of decline, including a loss of 52,000 jobs in manufacturing and 39,000 in construction.
The main gains were in government, which added 38,000 jobs.
Overall, the report signaled a sharply weaker-than-expected performance for the US economy, which according to analysts needs to add at least 100,000 jobs per month to keep pace with new labor market entrants.
"The weakness in housing is starting to catch up to the rest of the economy," said Shenfeld.
The US economy expanded at an anemic 0.6 percent pace in the fourth quarter of 2007 and many analysts say they expect the first quarter to show declining activity for the first time since the recession of 2001.
"The question appears no longer to be are we going into a recession but how long and deep it will be," said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors.
In a sign of continuing inflation pressures, the report said average hourly earnings rose 0.3 percent in February and 3.7 percent year-over-year.
The Fed has been cutting interest rates aggressively since September in an effort to reignite growth.
Minutes ahead of the Labor Department announcement, the Fed unveiled two initiatives to inject cash into the strapped financial market. It raised the amounts available in its Term Auction Facility program in which banks bid for loans to a combined 100 billion dollars this month.
It also launched a series of term repurchase transactions expected to reach 100 billion dollars to pump more liquidity into the banking system.
"This was a good news-bad news story," said Scott Brown, economist at Raymond James & Co. "It's good the Fed is coming to the rescue, the bad news is that they have to."
A number of economists say the rate cuts by the Fed and a 168-billion-dollar stimulus package approved by Congress will help stabilize the economy by mid-year.
"We're looking for a first-half recession followed by a recovery in the third quarter," Shenfeld said.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Pakistan Re-Arrests Prominent Lawyer

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan authorities put a prominent lawyer back under house arrest Saturday after he tried to visit the grave of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, his spokesman said.

Aitzaz Ahsan's detention came just two days after he had been released from three months of house arrest. Ahsan, the president of the Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association, was first arrested during President Pervez Musharraf's crackdown under a state of emergency last year.

Police stopped Ahsan at the airport in the eastern city of Lahore and told him he could not fly to Sindh province where he planned to visit Bhutto's grave. Bhutto was assassinated Dec. 27 while leaving an election campaign rally.

Sindh Home Minister Akhtar Zamin said Ahsan had been banned from the province. "We are in an election process, and we don't want anybody to come into the province and disrupt the election process," Zamin said.

Ahsan returned home, telling reporters that the ban was illegal and had been issued on the federal government's orders.

"I was just going to condole the death of our slain leader, but the government is scared and took this illegal action," he said. "We will contest this move."

Later, Punjab provincial authorities served Ahsan with an order confining him to his home for 30 days, according to his spokesman Aftab Alam. No reason was given for his detention.

In London, The Sunday Times newspaper said Bhutto named the 16-year-old son of Osama Bin Laden as the leader of one of four gangs of "designated assassins" planning to kill her.

The allegation was made in an autobiography Bhutto wrote before she was killed Dec. 27 in a bombing in Rawalpindi, the newspaper said.

The newspaper, which printed what it said were excerpts of the book, quoted Bhutto as saying she had been warned by the Pakistani government and a "foreign Muslim government" that four suicide bomber teams were plotting to kill her.

They included teams led by bin Laden's son and Pakistani warlord Baitullah Mehsud, whom U.S. and Pakistani officials believe masterminded her assassination.

Parliamentary elections on Feb. 18 are meant to usher in democracy after eight years of military rule under Musharraf, who has been a valued U.S. ally in the war on terrorism but has struggled recently to contain a wave of Islamic militancy.

Musharraf's popularity has wanned recently and he could face a stiff challenge from the opposition in the elections.

One of his top challengers, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, promised Saturday to pursue the cases of hundreds of missing people if his party wins the vote. He spoke to about 100 people who believe their missing relatives are being held by intelligence agencies.

"No government agency or official has a mandate to keep people in illegal confinement," Sharif said.

The relatives held pictures of their loved ones as they gathered in a tent in front of Sharif's mansion in an upscale Lahore neighborhood. One young girl carried a sign reading: "When can we meet our dad? Tell us Uncle Musharraf."

Nelson demands full apology explanation

FEDERAL Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson wants to know how the apology to indigenous children taken from their families will be presented to Parliament.

It is still unclear exactly how the apology will be made and what the wording will be.

“Labor has been promising an apology for 10 years,” Dr Nelson said.

“But it is yet to tell the Australian public exactly what it would say on its behalf.”

Mr Rudd today warned Dr Nelson that there was little room to move on an apology to those removed from their families by government and church groups.

“You either support an apology or you don't,” Mr Rudd said in Canberra.

“The core content of it will be absolutely clear.

“The language of it and how we approach it in overall terms should be clear as the week progresses.”

The Prime Minister also said the “first stage” of developing the apology had finished ahead of the February 13 deadline.

He said he expected to meet with Dr Nelson during the week to explain the wording.

Dr Nelson remained staunch in not offering his support until the wording is revealed.

“It's about time Mr Rudd came clean and revealed the wording of his proposed apology that will be presented to Parliament in just 10 days time.”

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Getting the exclusive lowdown on The Lowdown

The Lowdown is a youth-targeted website aimed at helping young New Zealanders getting through depression and other mental illnesses, and to curb New Zealand's high suicide rates. Wikinews' Gabriel Pollard spoke to Candace Bagnall who is managing the Ministry of Health's National Depression Initiative which runs The Lowdown.

Getting the exclusive lowdown on The Lowdown
The Lowdown is one of many attempts to improve access to services to young people in need.
Getting the exclusive lowdown on The Lowdown

—Candace Bagnall

The Lowdown is a way for young people to talk about how they're feeling while facilitating the new ways of communication easily adopted by those aged 13-24-years, the demographic of The Lowdown. Young people can talk with the team via email and mobile phone texting, and they also have the opportunity to talk with other similar like-minded people through the on site Internet forum. Ms Bagnall said that research undertaken proved that text and email were the most "effective" ways of communicating with youth. "We also consulted and pre-tested with young people."

Texting has been the preferred choice of method of getting in contact.

Ms Bagnall said they were unsure how much the service - which started December 6, 2007 - would cost annually, but expected it to be in near the half-million dollar mark due to the recent nature of the site and on going development.

They do not receive any free services from Internet providers and mobile phone companies. However this isn't a worry for them because, as Ms Bagnall says, it is a "public service, not a commercial one so it is not trying to run at a profit."

The Lowdown is always able to be reached. A trained health professional is available to talk with between midday and midnight each day, including Christmas Day. Ms Bagnall said, "They work shifts and have their holidays at other times."

There are six people on the team at The Lowdown. However, Ms Bagnall says, "The Ministry is aware of gaps [...] in the number of health professionals available to young people. The Lowdown is one of many attempts to improve access to services to young people in need."

Not only do they have health professionals composing The Lowdown team, but they also have support from celebrities. They have local New Zealand celebrities accompanying the exploration of the site giving helpful advice; sharing their own personal experiences and stories on depression; and home grown music provided free of charge to listen to. "The musicians were extremely generous with their time and music. They were very supportive of the purpose of the website and didn't get paid for their contributions, but their music is being promoted through the site."

An average of 320 visitors per day have visited the the depression-focused help site between January 1 and January 23, 2008. Ms Bagnall said that most of those getting contact are in the targeted market. "The service has been running for only a few weeks so we don't have accurate figures yet and we don't know the ages of site visitors unless they access the help services."

New Zealand has high suicide statistics, for both youth and older people. Each year there are 500 suicides, of which young people account for 100 of those. Compared to other OECD countries, males aged between 15 and 24-years-old inclusive have the second highest suicide rate behind Finland. New Zealand is placed third behind Finland and Japan for females of the same age group. Age-standardised rates for males are fourth highest in the OECD, the fifth highest for females.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

i think this is really cool picture what do u think?

daho Ski Resort Seeks $42.5M State Loan

BOISE, Idaho -

Tamarack Resort, a ski resort and real-estate development near McCall, is trying to persuade the state to guarantee a $42.5 million low-interest loan to a local sewer district for a major expansion of sewer and drinking water systems that serve the ski and golf community and others in the area.

As security, the resort has pledged property it says is worth $728 million, according to documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press at a meeting of the Idaho Municipal Bond Bank, the 7-year-old state organization that lends money to local governments at favorable interest rates.

The bond bank generally lends on the condition that Idaho can intercept state sales tax revenue destined for the local government, in the rare instance that government no longer can make its payments.

In this case, the loan applicant, the North Lake Recreational Sewer and Water District, doesn't get state tax money. So the resort has offered the property as security instead.

The five-member bond bank authority, made up of state officials and lawmakers, has delayed approving the proposal so it can first gauge support among legislative leaders and Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

"Legislative leadership is critical in this, simply from the question, 'Is this the direction you want the bond bank to go?'" said state Treasurer Ron Crane, the authority's chairman. "The same with the governor's office: 'Is this what you envisioned the bond bank doing, or are we getting a little too far out of line?' "

The bond bank came about in 2000 after voters that year approved a constitutional amendment. It offers small local governments the chance to minimize bond costs and interest rates by bundling several bond issues together and then taking advantage of the state's guarantee of repayment.

For instance, the bank on Tuesday approved selling about $15 million in bonds to cover loans to the cities of Heyburn, Jerome and Eagle for utility improvements.

But the Tamarack plan, which would clear the way for the resort to complete development of more than 1,000 lots, would be the largest single project the bank has undertaken, doubling existing loans to some $80 million, Crane said.

According to the proposal, the North Lake Recreational Sewer and Water District would use the money to expand sewage collection and treatment systems, build lift stations, upgrade Tamarack's drinking water system and help pay off $11 million in existing loans the district has gotten from the state Department of Environmental Quality and State Water Resources Board.

Bill Eddy, the sewer district manager, said the resort isn't the only one who would benefit.

The expansion would allow about 2,000 other lots on the northwest shore of Lake Cascade (nyse: CAE - news - people ) to hook into the system, as well as give existing cabin owners who now have septic tanks a chance to voluntarily join the district.

"The environmental impact on the lake has to be taken into account," Eddy said, noting septic systems can hurt water quality.

In addition to offering land as security, Tamarack has pledged to pay any cost overruns in the water system expansion, as well as provide financial guarantees to complete roads, communications infrastructure and power lines, before any bond-bank money is spent on the sewer system expansion.

"Even if we had a catastrophic reduction in the value of the real estate market, that property that is there does secure the amount of the issuance and can be the ultimate recourse for the district," said Steve Millemann, the resort's attorney.

Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls and another bond bank authority member, said he doesn't doubt the merits of the project - or that Tamarack could provide adequate security to reduce financial risks of such a bond issuance.

Still, policy makers first need to consider that thousands of other sewer and water districts in Idaho could request similar assistance if this proposal goes ahead. That could sap bonding capacity from other worthy causes, he said.

"I continue to worry about how broad and popular the bond bank is becoming," Davis said, adding that if every sewer or local improvement district were to request a loan, "it makes this application seem pretty small."

MacBook Air

Product:MacBook Air
ProsWeighs three pounds; bright LED-backlit 13.3-inch screen; full-size keyboard.
ConsSlow processor; slow and small hard drive; limited configuration options; unswappable battery.
Price as rated$1,799
Best current price$1,650.65

Laptop design has always been about compromise. Though they’ve come a long way in the past few years, laptops have never been able to offer the features available in desktop computers, and certainly not at comparable prices. In order to squeeze an entire computer into a portable shell (and have it be power-efficient enough to run on a battery for hours at a time), computer-makers have to throw features overboard. And the smaller and lighter the laptop, the more compromise there needs to be.

The MacBook Air, Apple’s latest Intel-based laptop, is the lightest, thinnest laptop Apple has ever constructed, and according to Apple, it’s the thinnest laptop ever made. And in many ways, the story of this laptop is the story of a series of compromises, all made in order to fit an entire Mac in a three-pound package that’s three-quarters of an inch thick at its thickest point.

A silver MacBook

The look of the MacBook Air is an interesting hybrid of Apple’s other two laptops. It’s got the shiny aluminum shell of the MacBook Pro (), along with a backlit keyboard the likes of which has never been seen before in a small Apple laptop. (However, the MacBook Air is far more attractive than the MacBook Pro, thanks to the curved edges that make it look like the offspring of a MacBook Pro and an iPod nano.)

In all other ways, though, the Air is closest to the MacBook: in two of its three dimensions, it’s almost identical to the MacBook, differing only in thickness. (And it’s a big difference—the MacBook is 1.08 inches thick, while the Air is .76 inches thick at its hinge, tapering to .16 inches at its front edge.)

The MacBook Air’s keyboard, backlighting excepted, is the same square-keycapped design featured on the MacBook. And its 13.3-inch, 1,280-by-800 pixel display is identical in size to the one found on the MacBook. However, the Air’s screen is notably different because of what’s lighting it from behind: a light-emitting diode (LED). The LED backlighting is extremely bright, but what’s more impressive is that it immediately snaps on to its full brightness. The MacBook, in contrast, starts out somewhat dim and gradually increases in brightness.

Like the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air takes advantage of a tiny light sensor, located behind a set of microperforations just to the left of its iSight camera, to automatically adjust the brightness of the display and to control the keyboard’s backlighting. (If you turn off the lights, the screen dims rapidly and the keyboard lights up. Those who prefer to manually control their screen’s brightness can turn off this feature in the Displays preference pane.)

Despite its diminutive size, the MacBook Air doesn’t feel fragile. I wouldn’t recommend trying to break it over your knee; the keyboard feels solid, as does the Air’s entire bottom half. I noticed a bit of flexion on the top of the laptop—the portion behind its screen—but even there the MacBook Air felt sturdy. There’s no way to tell how this laptop will fare in high-stress situations, but it certainly feels durable.

Thin and light

It’s clear that Apple’s engineers followed a specific set of design constraints for the MacBook Air. By retaining the dimensions of the regular MacBook, the MacBook Air can offer a full-size keyboard as well as a generous widescreen display. (As a former user of the 12-inch PowerBook G4, I can attest to the fact that Apple’s recent user-interface design decisions—lots of big, wide windows with toolbars, palettes, and slide-out drawers—can make using Mac OS X on a small display a painful experience.)

With the keyboard and display set, then, there are only two other ways for the MacBook Air to distinguish itself from its cousins: thickness and weight.

Let’s start with weight, as this is one measurement where the MacBook Air truly excels. Prior to the Air’s release, Apple’s lightest laptop was the MacBook, which weighs five pounds—a full two pounds heavier than the three-pound Air. In fact, Apple has never released a laptop lighter than four pounds: the PowerBook 2400, PowerBook Duo series, and even that 12-inch PowerBook G4 all weighed somewhere between four and five pounds.

If your laptop lives most of its life on a desk, weight isn’t an issue. If you carry it with you at all times, weight can be its most important characteristic. Most people’s laptop use falls in between, and depending on the vagaries of your commute, the number of miles in your frequent-flyer account, and the strength and health of your arm and back, weight may or may not matter to you.

Me, I’m a relatively healthy male in my mid-to-late 30s, but my laptop is my primary Mac at home and at work, and I carry it on my back for at least 20 minutes every single weekday, to and from work. The lighter my backpack, the better. Shedding two pounds out of my backpack is something that noticeably lightens my load. (If you own a 15-inch MacBook Pro and have never really considered its weight an issue, consider this a serious hint that the MacBook Air might not be your cup of tea.)

One reason I loved the 12-inch PowerBook G4 was that it crossed some hard-to-define weight barrier, one I hadn’t even been aware of until I started using a laptop that crossed it. The 12-inch PowerBook was so small and light that carrying my laptop around with me became an afterthought. Instead of lugging a 15-inch PowerBook from place to place, I could idly hold the 12-inch model in one hand.

The MacBook Air takes that easy feeling to an extreme. Though it’s not quite as solid in my hand as the 12-inch PowerBook (owing to the latter’s additional width), it feels as thin and light as a manila folder or a couple of magazines.

That brings us to the MacBook Air’s thinness. This product was undoubtedly designed specifically to be as thin as possible, with an eye toward making the marketing claim that the MacBook is “the world’s thinnest notebook.” And there’s no disputing this. Even my six-year-old daughter—not exactly the world’s foremost expert on laptops—couldn’t resist telling me how “really flat” she thought it was.

There is no denying that the MacBook Air’s thinness makes it visually striking. But I’m not convinced of the utility of that thinness. Other than allowing Apple to declare the Air the current winner of the race to design the thinnest laptop, it seems that the Air has slimmed down in the least important dimension.

Yes, I’ll grant you, I can almost slide the MacBook Air under my office door. But I don’t believe the extra thinness is going to gain me much working room when I’m wedged in a coach airline seat behind someone whose seat is fully reclined. Or on my daily bus commute, which makes coach airline seats look like business class. In these situations, reduced depth would be more likely to improve the angle of my screen and keep the front of my laptop from pressing against my chest. But in that dimension, the MacBook Air is no different from the MacBook.

Making do with less

In order to make the MacBook Air small and light, Apple has had to remove features once considered standard on all Apple laptop models. This model is the first in recent memory to have no built-in CD/DVD drive and no FireWire ports. Its internal storage is limited, and its connection to peripherals has been reduced, too. In order to take advantage of the Air’s light weight and small size, users must be willing to sacrifice some of the features that they previously took for granted.

Let’s start with the optical drive. Yes, you can buy an 8x SuperDrive for $99 as an add-on. (It will add seven-tenths of a pound to your bag and doesn’t exactly look elegant when it’s hanging off the side of your tiny MacBook Air.) As someone who uses the optical drive in his laptop so rarely that I sometimes forget whether its slot is on the front or the side, I don’t really consider the lack of an optical drive a major omission. If you’re someone who lives or dies by the ability to burn or play back CDs or DVDs, however, you’ll find this to be a major drawback.

Apple has, to its credit, exerted quite a bit of muscle in an attempt to make the Air’s lack of an optical drive a non-issue. In addition to selling the external SuperDrive, the company has added a feature called Remote Disc that allows the Air to take over the optical drive of another computer (Mac or PC) on your local network. Just install the Remote Disc software (included on the Air’s install disc) and the MacBook Air can use Bonjour to browse your network and read what’s on any data disc. This feature worked well in my testing. The MacBook boot software has even been updated for the Air, so that it can boot via Remote Disc in the event you need to reinstall Mac OS X.

Although Remote Disc is a nice addition, it has limitations. It’s meant for installing programs and copying files, and doesn’t work as a remote DVD player or CD ripper. Apple helpfully suggests that the iTunes Store stands to assist you in all your music, movie, and TV show needs, but of course many users may prefer to consume content that originally began its life on optical discs. Using a tool such as HandBrake () is certainly an option in order to make DVDs watchable on your Mac as well as your iPod or iPhone, but converting a movie can be a time-consuming experience.

For all my nonchalance about optical drives, I know that the last time I was really sick in bed at home, I whiled away the hours watching DVDs on my MacBook. With the MacBook Air, that sort of behavior won’t really be an option, short of having an external SuperDrive hanging around at the ready.

One door, three ports

To see more of the MacBook Air’s feature compromises, look no further than the cute flip-down door on the laptop’s right side. Upon lowering the door, you can see the MacBook Air offers only three ports: a headphone jack, a USB port, and a micro-DVI port. (And yes, this means that all of those IT professionals who have to carry a sack of Mac display adapters will need to add two new ones to their stock. However, Apple has graciously included two adapters—micro-DVI-to-VGA and micro-DVI-to-DVI—in the box with the MacBook Air.)

However, Apple hasn’t compromised when it comes to the MacBook Air’s video-out capabilities. They match the MacBook’s, including the ability to drive an external monitor as large as Apple’s 23-inch Cinema Display (1,920-by-1,200 pixels). It also shares the MacBook’s Intel GMA X3100 graphics processor circuitry, which means neither laptop will ever be a gaming powerhouse.

More of a compromise is the pathway by which users can attach peripherals to the MacBook Air: a single USB 2.0 port. First let’s address that port on its own merits: if you want to attach more than a single USB device to the MacBook Air, you’ll need to invest in a USB 2.0 hub. In a desk-bound configuration, this can actually work quite well. I tested the MacBook Air attached to the USB port of the aforementioned 23-inch Apple Cinema Display, and then on to a Belkin powered four-port USB 2.0 hub. I managed to attach an external hard drive, an iPod, an iPhone, an Apple keyboard, a Kensington trackball, and the MacBook Air’s own USB Ethernet adapter, all at once, without any trouble.

However, using USB devices on the road could be more problematic. If you usually count on having two open USB ports on your Mac, you’ll need to carefully consider if your working style will still function with only a single port available, or if you’ll need to invest in (and carry around) a portable hub. Keep in mind, too, that the MacBook Air’s USB port is also the place where you must connect its SuperDrive (if you need to read or write from optical discs). And If you don't have a USB hub, you'll also need this port for connecting any other peripheral including the Ethernet USB adapter. In other words, that one USB port is going to be awfully popular.

Beyond its sheer… singularity, the MacBook Air’s USB port has other ramifications. It’s also a sign that the MacBook Air is the first Mac in years to eschew FireWire, the once-ubiquitous Apple-created connection technology that now seems to be slowly fading into irrelevance. The disappearance of FireWire brings up several other issues. If you’ve invested in a digital camcorder that connects to your Mac via FireWire, and count on being able to pull video off of that camcorder while traveling with a laptop, you’ll be out of luck with the MacBook Air. (I wouldn’t be surprised if some clever soul is even now inventing a USB-to-FireWire video bridge, but that will be an extra piece of hardware you’d need to buy and carry, even if it does someday appear.)

What’s more, without FireWire there’s no “target mode,” a feature that lets you mount a laptop’s drive on another Mac as if it were an external hard drive. It’s a feature that’s been around for a long time (dating back to a SCSI version on old PowerBooks), and it’s a convenient way to migrate files on and off of laptops, but the MacBook Air just won’t do it. (And no, sadly, there’s no USB equivalent.)

Here, too, Apple has built new software to mitigate the loss of functionality. A new edition of the Migration Assistant utility, which used to focus on FireWire as a transport mechanism, now lets you transfer files across an Ethernet or Wi-Fi network directly from within the program. Using a network isn’t quite as fast as FireWire, but it does work.

The third port on the MacBook Air’s door, the headphone jack, is the simplest of the three to comprehend: attach it to a pair of headphones or an external speaker and you’ll get sound. That’s a key feature, since the MacBook Air’s single internal speaker is small, tinny, and unfortunately located in the general vicinity of the arrow keys, in the bottom-right corner of the keyboard. If your hand happens to be over that area—and mine was more often than not, since that’s a natural place for my right hand to be—you’ll find that your hand is muffling most of the sounds out of the MacBook Air’s speaker. Even if your hands are off, the asymmetrical placement of the speaker simply doesn’t feel right, since it places all the aural action happening on your Mac to the far right.

As you might expect with a laptop as small as the MacBook Air, it’s a tight fit back there at the port door. And that tight fit leads to some interesting compatibility issues, too. Many devices with integrated USB plugs, such as broadband cards and TV-tuner cards, may not be able to fit in without a short USB extension cable. (My external EVDO modem, from Franklin Wireless, came with such a cable, but it turns out I don’t need it—it fits snugly and works like a charm.)

Likewise, many large headphone plugs—the same ones that wouldn’t fit in the iPhone’s recessed headphone jack—will not fit completely in the MacBook Air’s headphone jack. The situation isn’t as dire as the iPhone, however—the bulky plug of my Ultimate Ears headphones would plug in far enough for me to hear my iTunes music playing clearly and in stereo. However, the plug didn’t seem to be quite well seated enough to fend off numerous high-pitched buzzes and clicks, which were particularly noticeable between tracks. Using an iPhone-style headphone adapter with a small plug seemed to solve those issues.

Limited options

During the MacBook Air’s introduction at Macworld Expo, Steve Jobs showed a photograph of the MacBook Air’s interior and compared the length of its motherboard to the length of a pencil. All that miniaturization comes at a price, however—in terms of a lack of options and a limited set of features for many of the MacBook Air’s basic technologies.

Take the hard drive. Its storage capacity is 80GB, the same size as the entry-level MacBook. But the MacBook and MacBook Pro can be optionally configured with drives as large as 250GB. Those models use standard laptop drives; the MacBook Air uses a smaller 1.8-inch drive more like those found in iPods. And space is at such a premium in the MacBook Air that even the 120GB drive once used by the iPod is too thick to fit. As a result, 80GB is currently the only size of hard drive available for the Air. And the Air’s drive is slow as well as small, spinning at 4,200-rpm (compared to the 5,400-rpm and 7,200-rpm drives available in Apple’s other laptops) and connected via parallel ATA (rather than the newer serial ATA method used in the other MacBooks).

There is another storage option for the Air. For $999, you can have Apple swap in a 64GB SSD (solid-state drive). Though you’ll be paying nearly a thousand bucks for 16GB less storage, the SSD option should use less power and be faster than the hard drive option. (We weren’t able to acquire an SSD-bearing MacBook Air; we’ll share the results of our tests of that model as soon as we can.) Perhaps more importantly, the SSD—which uses flash memory like that found on digital camera cards, the iPhone, and the iPod nano and touch—has no moving parts, meaning it should be far more resistant to shocks and far more reliable than a traditional hard drive.

In any event, if you’re someone who needs more than 80GB of onboard storage, you’ll need to slim down your data before switching to an Air. I managed to switch from my nearly-full 160GB MacBook drive through a judicious program of throwing out ancient applications and preferences, moving my media to other devices, and copying old files to an external hard drive and a networked file server. If your MacBook Air isn’t your primary system, but more of a sidekick to your desktop system, the drive size should be less of an issue.

There are a similar lack of options when it comes to the MacBook Air’s RAM. The MacBook Air comes with a stock 2GB of RAM, an excellent allotment—but Apple has a very practical reason to be so generous with the stock RAM. That’s because the MacBook Air’s RAM is built in to the computer itself, inaccessible and non-upgradeable. Fortunately, 2GB is a good amount. Any less, and Apple would have risked crippling the MacBook Air into irrelevance.

In terms of the onboard Intel Core 2 Duo processor, Apple gives MacBook Air buyers two speed options: the standard 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz, a $300 option. Both speeds fall short of what’s available on the MacBook (2.0GHz, 2.2GHz) and MacBook Pro (2.2GHz, 2.4GHz, 2.6Ghz) lines.

What it all boils down to is that one of the less obvious compromises built into the MacBook Air, at least for now, is a lack of customizability and serviceability.

Speed facts

The Macworld Lab tested the MacBook Air’s $1,799 base configuration—a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo processor with an 80GB hard drive.

As you might expect from the slow clock speeds of its processor and the slow speed of its hard drive, the MacBook Air is quite a bit slower than the other MacBooks. The MacBook Air was also outpaced in our tests by one of its closest desktop cousins, the ultra-compact Mac mini 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo. Its Speedmark score of 124 is the lowest score we’ve recorded for any Intel-based Mac laptop, but it does handily beat our PowerPC laptop reference system, the 1.67Ghz PowerBook G4. The MacBook Air is also clearly the slowest currently shipping Mac model.

Preliminary MacBook Air Tests

Speedmark 5 Adobe Photoshop CS3 Cinema 4D XL 10.5 Compr. 3 iMovie HD iTunes 7.5 Unreal Tourn. 2004 Finder H'brake

MacBook Air/1.6GHz Core 2 Duo 124 1:43 1:36 3:25 1:21 1:52 19.3 7:49 5:00
MacBook/2GHz Core 2 Duo 170 1:30 1:06 2:25 0:58 1:16 22.2 5:16 3:10
MacBook Pro/2.2GHz Core 2 Duo 185 1:24 1:00 2:16 0:54 1:09 76.8 5:37 3:14
Mac mini/1.83GHz Core 2 Duo 161 1:25 1:13 2:37 1:05 1:23 21.7 6:01 3:34
PowerBook/1.67GHz G4 92 2:59 3:52 7:43 1:58 2:26 22.2 7:13 16:55
>Better >Better

Best results in red. Reference systems in italics.

Speedmark 5 scores are relative to those of a 1.5GHz Core Solo Mac mini, which is assigned a score of 100. Adobe Photoshop, Cinema 4D XL, iMovie, iTunes, and Finder scores are in minutes:seconds. All systems were running Mac OS X 10.5.1 with 2GB of RAM. The Photoshop Suite test is a set of 14 scripted tasks using a 50MB file. Photosho's memory was set to 70 percent and History was set to Minimum. We recorded how long it took to render a scene in Cinema 4D XL. We used Compressor to encode a 6minute:26second DV file using the DVD: Fastest Encode 120 minutes - 4:3 setting. In iMovie, we applied the Aged Film effect from the Video FX. menu to a one-minute movie. We converted 45 minutes of AAC audio files to MP3 using iTunes' High Quality setting. We used Unreal Tournament 2004's Antalus Botmatch average-frames-per-second score; we tested at a resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels at the Maximum setting with both audio and graphics enabled. We created a Zip archive in the Finder from a 2GB folder. To see other Speedmark 5 scores for other systems, click here.—MACWORLD LAB TESTING BY JAMES GALBRAITH, JERRY JUNG, AND BRIAN CHEN

My time with the MacBook Air came on the heels of using a 2.16GHz MacBook, and I found its speeds in day-to-day use to be perfectly sufficient. Using writing tools, checking e-mail, and surfing the Web, I generally found the difference in speed between the two systems to be minor. Using Photoshop CS3 to do some minor image tweaking seemed perfectly fine.

However, users who must rely on their portable systems to do processor-intensive tasks as fast as possible should be warned: the MacBook Air is not remotely as fast as the MacBook, let alone the MacBook Pro. But for general uses, I rarely noticed that the system was slower than my MacBook.

Though Apple’s laptops have long been criticized for running hot, sometimes intensely so, I’ve never been someone who’s been bothered by it, for whatever reason. In using the MacBook Air for extended periods of time, I found it never got particularly hot. It certainly never felt warmer than my MacBook. The heat, when it is apparent, is concentrated in the back left corner. But at no time did I judge the temperature back there as being uncomfortable or potentially injurious.

Battery included

One of the more controversial features of the MacBook Air is its battery. Not its rated battery life—although at five hours, even Apple’s estimate of the MacBook Air’s battery capacity is less than the six hours the company estimates for the MacBook and the 15-inch Mac Book Pro.

No, the most controversial issue is that the MacBook Air’s battery is not replaceable. There’s no battery door, no way to swap a dead battery out and replace it with a fresh one—like all other Apple laptops. Like an iPod or iPhone, the MacBook Air has a battery embedded inside and there’s no official way to get it out other than giving your laptop back to Apple and asking the company to replace it for a fee. (Online reports suggest that the battery is relatively easy to replace—so long as you’ve got a screwdriver and some patience. In other words, replacing the battery is something to do when the original wears out, not something to do while on a long flight. And something to do if you’re not concerned about voiding your warranty.)

For some users, swapping batteries is a necessity. If you take long plane flights or otherwise travel for long periods of time without access to a power outlet, bringing along a second battery has been a time-tested tradition. With the MacBook Air, that safety net is gone.

Apple’s decision to eliminate the battery swap might not be quite as radical as you might first think, however. Many airlines already offer power outlets for laptops (though some plugs require Apple’s $49 MagSafe Airline Adapter), and in a few years they may very well be common, especially on long-haul flights. But that’s little solace if you fly from Boston to L.A. every week in the back row of a United flight where power plugs are just a rumor.

In my 12-inch PowerBook G4 days, I used to keep a second battery around, specifically for airplane flights. But honestly, since I upgraded to the MacBook I’ve never even removed my battery, except to install RAM or swap out the hard drive. One reason for that is a change in my in-flight habits: I use my laptop for work when I’m on the flight, but when I take breaks to entertain myself, I switch to an iPhone or iPod. By spreading the load out over multiple devices, each with their own batteries, I can get through the entire flight.

In the end, the lack of a replacement battery may be a deal-breaker for people who truly need more working time than the MacBook Air’s locked-in battery gives them. In my days using the MacBook Air—Web browsing, writing, and using e-mail, all with Wi-Fi turned on—I found that it held a charge for roughly three hours total. It was an acceptable, if not inspiring, amount of time.

More troubling, however, was the time it took to recharge the battery. It took me nearly five hours to recharge the battery with the MacBook Air’s wimpy 45-watt power adapter. (In contrast, the MacBook’s adapter is 60 watts and the MacBook Pro’s is 85 watts.)

Unfortunately, the three adapters are not interchangeable—the MacBook Air’s slim design forced Apple to place its power connector on a curved edge on its left side, and the MacBook and MacBook pro adapters—though they’ll fit the connector itself—stick out straight, causing them to pop right off if you lay the MacBook Air flat on a desk or table. The MacBook Air’s connector, in contrast, turns at a right angle and nestles snug in the case’s curve.

Users of laptop stands may feel encouraged that they probably don’t have to invest in extra power adapters for the MacBook Air: my simple Road Tools Podium CoolPad raised the Air high enough up off my desk so that my existing 85-watt MagSafe adapter connected to the MacBook Air with room to spare.

Gesture of support

As is often the case when Apple introduces new MacBook models, the MacBook Air’s trackpad offers some functionality that we haven’t seen before on a MacBook.

As displayed in a redesigned Keyboard & Mouse preference pane via a series of informative animations, the MacBook Air supports new gestures that go way beyond the two-finger scroll and secondary click. In a move that will be familiar to iPhone users, the MacBook Air’s trackpad understands the same pinch-and-spread finger movement that you use to zoom images and Web pages on the iPhone.

On the MacBook Air, what that gesture does depends on what program you’re currently using. It’ll zoom in or out on an image in Preview or iPhoto, but when your cursor is over an Finder window set to Icon view, it has the odd effect of changing the size of all of the icons.

A similar two-finger gesture, taking two fingers and circling them around one another, cues iPhoto and Preview to rotate the selected image. (Other programs should be able to take advantage of these gestures as well, and presumably other future MacBook models will include this capability.)

A three-finger swipe across the trackpad kicks off another action that will be familiar to iPhone users: it advances (or backs up) within a list of items. In iPhoto, swiping to the right will advance to the next image; in Safari, swiping to the left is akin to clicking the Back button.

But the iPhone’s swipe gesture takes a single finger, while for obvious reasons the MacBook Air’s trackpad reserves single-finger movement for the act of moving your cursor around the screen. I found swiping with the required three fingers to be ungainly at best. While I can see myself adopting these new two-finger gestures just as I have the two-finger scroll and the two-finger right-click, I have my doubts about the three-finger swipe.

Sidekick or mainstay?

With its reduced hard-drive size and lack of speed, the MacBook Air may be looked upon by users with high standards as a product that’s not worthy of being any user’s primary Mac. And I’ve received numerous e-mails on that point, from Mac users who assume that Apple has intended the MacBook Air to be a sidekick to another, more powerful Mac at the true center of one’s life.

But in making the MacBook Air a full-fledged MacBook and marketing it as such, Apple has given no hint that it views this system as anything more than a tiny version of the other MacBooks in its product line. Beyond the necessary release of Remote Disc, there’s a disappointing lack of innovation from Apple in the area of easily syncing any MacBook back to a desktop Mac.

Yes, there are plenty of clever strategies you can use to make this process better, including .Mac synchronization or sync utilities such as Econ Technologies’ Chronosync. But Apple could have chosen to create software that made the MacBook Air as much of an easy-to-use companion piece to a desktop system as an iPod or an iPhone. Instead, MacBook Air users will face the same synchronization issues as every other person who uses a MacBook as a secondary system.

Then there will be those who, small drive and slow processor be damned, will adopt the MacBook Air as their primary Mac—simply because they’re laptop-only users who want that laptop to be as small as possible.

For those users, the biggest issue with the MacBook Air will be the size of its hard drive. Data pack rats will need to change their file-archiving strategy, migrating certain documents to an external hard drive. Media fans might consider packing an iPod rather than storing a copy of their music and video library on the MacBook Air’s drive.

Macworld’s buying advice

If the story of the MacBook Air is a story about compromise, the decision about whether the MacBook Air is a product worth having can be answered by one question: How much are you willing to compromise?

The MacBook Air is the slowest Mac in Apple’s current product line, though its Intel Core 2 Duo processor is fast enough for general use. Its hard drive capacity is limited to 80GB, and on a slow drive at that. It’s got no internal optical drive. It’s got no FireWire port and only a single USB port, limiting its external connectivity. It’s more expensive than the MacBook, which bests it on almost every tech-spec measurement.

That’s one side of the equation. On the other side are two features that many computer users would never think of as reasonable ways to judge a computer, features measured in pounds and inches instead of gigahertz and gigabytes: The MacBook Air weighs three pounds and is three-quarters of an inch thick at its thickest point.

Judged merely on the cold technological specifications, the MacBook Air can’t measure up to Apple’s other laptops. For those to whom the tech specs matter above all else, the MacBook Air can’t be seen as much more than an overpriced, underpowered toy.

But for those who factor size, weight, and—yes, I’ll admit it—style into the equation, the MacBook Air begins to make more sense. Up until now, Mac users who craved the smallest Mac laptop possible have made their own compromise, using the lower-powered MacBook (or clinging desperately to the even lower-powered 12-inch PowerBook G4).

Is losing several hundred megahertz, dozens of gigabytes of hard-drive space, an internal optical drive, and FireWire connectivity worth losing two pounds? (Those are the differences between the MacBook Air and the MacBook—if you’re considering a switch from the MacBook Pro, the differences are even starker in both directions.) Each laptop user will have to answer that question for themselves.

As a longtime fan of small laptops, I embraced the MacBook Air with some trepidation. But once I slipped that three-pound laptop into my backpack and threw the bag over my shoulders, I realized that sacrificing some storage space and some processor power was ultimately worth it for me.

Another Hussey dons the Australian cap

Melbourne, Jan 30 (IANS) David Hussey, younger brother of Australian batsman Michael Hussey is all set to make his debut against India in a Twenty20 match at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here Friday, the media reported here Wednesday.

Known to be a devastating hitter, an effective off-spin bowler and a brilliant slip catch and infielder, David had an outstanding season in the Pura Cup, Ford Ranger Cup and Twenty20 competition. He joins fellow Victorian top-order batsman Brad Hodge in the line-up for Friday. David, 30, will start his career at the same age when his brother Michael was given his first Australian cap.

"It was great. We were out celebrating that and it ended up being a double celebration," David said of the call he received from acting chief executive Michael Brown.

"I'm nervous about it but excited as well. To be honest, I wasn't actually expecting it. When everybody keeps asking 'when are you going to play, when are you going to get picked', it gets on your mind and you start believing it a bit. I'm kind of happy it is all over," The Age quoted David.

David said Michael had phoned to congratulate him from the Adelaide Oval dressing rooms but in the Test side's post-series celebrations his brother was a little hard to understand.

"He said, 'I'm rapt for you, buddy, hope you do well'. Half an hour later he tried to ring me again but he wasn't making much sense by that stage so I had to turn the phone off after that," he added.

David, who many thought as a junior in Perth was the more talented of the brothers and the one more likely to have the talent to take him to international success first, said his selection was the highlight of his career

"This is by a mile the highlight, this and winning the Pura Cup. I can't wait, though," he said.

Victorian chairman of selectors John MacWhirter said David was worthy of the Australian cap.

"He certainly has deserved his spot in the Australian Twenty20 side and has played well enough in all forms of the game to really push his claims across the board," MacWhirter said.

"I think it is pretty obvious to all people that David over the past three years has really matured tremendously, both personally and in terms of his batting and his approach to batting.

"And although he is still a tremendously exciting player, he certainly constructs his innings extremely well," he added.


Yousuf ton consigns Zimbabwe to another defeat

An unbeaten century from Mohammad Yousuf and captain Shoaib Malik's superb allround show has led Pakistan to a seven-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the fourth one-day cricket international at Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad.

Yousuf scored 108 not out and Malik 88 as they put on 141 for the third wicket to power Pakistan to 245 for three in 47 overs in reply to Zimbabwe's 244 all out.

It was Pakistan's fourth successive win in the five-match series.

Yousuf's fluent 111-ball innings contained 10 fours and a six. He reached his 14th one-day hundred in the 44th over, driving pace bowler Gary Brent through extra cover.

Malik, who also took three wickets, stroked 10 fours in his 95-ball innings before he was run out when he played the ball to mid wicket and set off for a single only to get no response from Yousuf.

Zimbabwe had made a strong start when Nasir Jamshed flicked Elton Chigumbura straight to Brent at short fine leg for 11.

Debutant opener Khalid Latif made 19 before he holed out to Sean Williams who took a fine low catch at deep mid wicket off Christopher Mpofu.

Yousuf and Malik joined forces with the score at 66 for two.

Zimbabwe, who won the toss, were unable to put the Pakistani bowlers under any real pressure despite an enterprising third-wicket stand of 85 between Williams, who made 48, and Tatenda Taibu, who scored 51.

Malik took three for 55 but his figures were dented when left-hander Keith Dabengwa hit him for two sixes to score 19 in the final over before being run out for 45.

Dabengwa's blitz allowed Zimbabwe to finish with a fighting total on another good batting pitch.

New Linux phone stack ships

Start-up Azingo, formerly Celunite, will officially launch its Linux-based mobile phone software stack next month. Set to debut at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the "Azingo Mobile" stack is positioned as a comprehensive software/services offering for mid-tier feature-phones compliant with LiMo (Linux Mobile Foundation) requirements.

Then known as Celunite, the venture-funded startup unveiled itself just over a year ago, at the "Open Source in Mobile" show in Amsterdam. Based in Silicon Valley, with development offices throughout India, Azingo employs about 250 engineers, with plans to "grow substantially" over the next three years, said director of marketing, Michael McLaughlin. "We'll be a 1,000-person company, with 600 working on services and 400 working on platforms. We'll offer services related to customization of our platform, operator-specific service packs, and porting customers' DRM or JVM to our platform. We'll also offer services related to developing open source software."

Earlier this month, Celunite changed its name to Azingo and announced that it would supply some tools to LiMO's CIE (common integration environment), a win that could open the door at least to business relationships with LiMo's membership of powerful phone vendors and operators. LiMo is an industry group collaboratively developing middleware for application management, security, rights management, and so on. Azingo also recently hired a Motorola executive to lead its engineering team.

Azingo Mobile mockups
(Click to enlarge)

Azingo Mobile

The Azingo Mobile stack is positioned as the first "complete" Linux phone stack -- from kernel to application layer -- that also complies with LiMo specifications. McLaughlin said, "We're quite active in LiMo, which we see as one of centers of the Linux mobile universe. But you need more than what's in the first release of LiMo. [Azingo Mobile] conforms to and uses technology from Limo, but it's a superset, offering more of the middleware suites, and it has an app suite and kernel pre-integrated."

Azingo Mobile diagram
(Click to enlarge)

The Azingo Mobile stack currently supports "13 hardware platforms from seven of the industry's leading silicon providers," said CEO Mahesh Veerina in a statement. McLaughlin said that for most platforms, a 2.6.19 kernel is available. Alternatively, Azingo can work with a customer's own kernel, or with a kernel supplied by a provider such as MontaVista or Wind River. "Partners will have a kernel version that was ported with patches to specific hardware. We have commercial relationships with customers who would rather use their own kernel," McLaughlin said.

Keeping with the device world's trend toward using desktop graphics rather than lightweight embedded graphics stacks, the Azingo Mobile stack is based on GTK. It supports the Dalvik Java Virtual Machine maintained by the Google-sponsored Open Handset Alliance (OHA), and used in Google's Android project. There's also rich multimedia capabilities, Azingo says. It comprises a "complete" stack, but can also be integrated with custom components under the terms of a service contract.

Perhaps most interestingly, despite its mid-market feature-phone focus, the Azingo Mobile stack integrates the open source Webkit rendering engine used in Nokia's S60 smartphone environment, and in Apple's iPhone. The integration provides a world-class mobile browser, of course, but even more importantly lets operators and phone vendors customize the UI using HTML, CSS, AJAX, and other web standards. The advantages of this approach include wider availability of developer talent, easier over-the-air interface updates, and an ability to promote revenue-generating web content throughout the interface. McLaughlin noted, "Suddenly you have the ability to get all these new services through the web, via non-browser app integration, and 'quick tasks' that tie into Web services -- checking the weather, traffic, photo streams, and so on."

Azingo competitor Trolltech was at work integrating Webkit in a similar fashion into its Qt and Qtopia products, prior to being acquired by Nokia on Monday.

McLaughlin said Azingo is not ready to announce any customers yet for its Mobile stack. However, he promised "a number of announcements between now and the end of March." Also promised are further announcements in conjunction with LiMo.

Guido Arnone, director of terminals technology at Vodafone said: "Azingo Mobile's ability to provide lower-cost, Internet-enabled mobile phones helps support LiMo's goal to create a true mass-market platform and surrounding ecosystem."


The Azingo Mobile stack is available now for immediate licensing, Azingo says. It will demonstrate the stack at teh Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Feb. 11-14.

MacBook Air floats down to earth

“And then the skies parted, the angels sang, the birds twittered and down from Apple Heaven floated the MacBook Air.”

Yes…if you hadn’t guessed it…Apple just announced the MacBook Air is now shipping. It also put out word that the expected Apple TV update to let you rent HD movies is “not quite finished.” It should be available in another week or so.

“And all were happy in the Apple World.”

Jailbreak iPhone/iPod Touch Automatically, No Computer Required

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You no longer need a host computer to turn a jailbroken iPhone/iPod touch with firmware 1.1.2 into a jailbroken iPhone/iPod touch with Apple's latest firmware, 1.1.3, installed. Jailbreaking allows users of these Apple devices to run third-party applications directly on their iPhond/iPod touch, instead of just through the Safari web browser from a remote location.

Introduced by the iPhone dev team, the new jailbreak - called Official 1.1.3 Upgrader - works by cracking Apple's application-signing method, which (unfortunately) may have negative consequences when it comes time to install official, Apple approved software. Rather than a PC or Mac, all that's required to set this jailbreak upgrade in motion is Wi-Fi connection and an outlet, the latter to make sure your iPhone/iPod touch’s power source doesn't poop out in the middle of installation.

For directions how to install this jailbreak, see here. Remember, the new computer-less 1.1.3 jailbreak method is only for those who've already jailbroken their 1.1.2 iPhone/iPod touch. If you haven't jailbroken 1.1.3 yet - or if simply require more detailed directions - head over here. We recommend you check out the info at the previous link first, however.

As we've mentioned before, performing any type of unofficial software upgrade, especially a jailbreak, isn't for the faint of heart. Jailbreaks, in particular, have been known to cause trouble for some iPhon/iPod touch users. They do open up a whole new world of applications to the user, though. So the risk, for many, is worth the potential benefit.

Apple TV 2.0 delayed a week or two

Apple TV 2.0 needs a little more time in the oven.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveils Apple TV 2.0 at Macworld earlier this month.

(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks)

Apple put out a press release Wednesday noting that the MacBook Air is now shipping. Check out my colleague Dan Ackerman's review of the extremely slim laptop if you're thinking about making a purchase. But the company also tucked in a sentence about Apple TV in that release, saying "Apple also announced that the new Apple TV software update, which allows users to rent high-definition movies directly from their widescreen TVs, is not quite finished."

Current owners of Apple TV will be able to download the software update in a week or two, Apple said. It was supposed to be released within two weeks of its announcement at Macworld, or that was the plan unveiled during CEO Steve Jobs' keynote speech. New Apple TVs with the updated software ship within 24 hours from Apple's online store.

The new software brings a whole new look-and-feel to Apple TV, Apple's bid to connect big-screen televisions to the Internet and computers. It will also allow Apple TV owners to rent movies through the new iTunes Rental Service.

This isn't the end of the world--after all, current Apple TV owners are getting all this for free--but it's not the best news, either. Apple has delayed a few software projects in the past 12 months, most notably the four-month slip in Leopard's ship time precipitated by the push to get the iPhone out on time.

At last year's shareholders meeting, a shareholder asked Jobs why Apple hasn't hired more engineers to keep up with the demand for its products. Jobs said the company considers software engineering a quality issue, not a quantity issue where problems can be solved by throwing bodies at a project. Still, you have to wonder if he'll get that question again this year, with so much now on Apple's plate between the Mac, iPod, iPhone, and now Apple TV businesses.

Gateway's New Desktop PCs with AMD Phenom Processors

Gateway GT5662 Desktop PC


The PC manufacturer introduces two new GM and GT series mainstream desktop PCs with AMD Phenom processors on board.

Today Gateway introduced two new GM and GT series mainstream desktop PCs. The first is the GM5664, a video-oriented PC with a "Hybrid-SuperMulti" optical drive that can read both HD-DVD and Blu-ray movie discs as well as read and burn CDs and standard-def DVDs. The GM5664 comes with a NTSC/ATSC (HDTV) tuner, a quad-core AMD Phenom 9600 processor running at 2.3GHz, and 3GB of DDR2 memory. These performance parts and the system's 1TB drive firmly plant the system in the "multimedia enthusiast" camp. The GM5664 sells for $1,149.99 at major retailers such as Best Buy, Circuit City, J&R, and

The Gateway GT5662 is the slightly cheaper little brother to the GM5664. It's priced at $749.99 and comes with a lower power (but still quad-core) AMD Phenom 9500 proccessor (2.2GHz), a 500GB drive, DVD burner, and eschews the TV tuner. Think of the GT5662 as a beginner multimedia system for the person who needs more power than the standard $400-500 dual core basic PC.

Both systems come with an ATI Radeon HD 2400XT 3D graphics card with HDMI support and Windows Vista Home Premium.