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Your Macworld Questions, Answered

I was about to type in yet another dateline to start this post, but then I remembered that I'm home. How nice!

Now that I am back in the land of distinct seasons--look, it's snowing outside!--I can finally start to catch up on all the mail and blog comments that have piled up about Apple's Macworld news. So far, I see that:

* You're divided over the utility of a laptop without an Ethernet port or an optical disc drive. (As for myself, I left the bottom half of this Dell laptop--in which the CD/DVD drive resides--at home for my trip, just to avoid the extra weight. But I did use wired Ethernet connections fairly often; my hotel at CES, for example, didn't offer in-room wireless.)

* The new iTunes movie rentals seem fairly attractive, but that 24-hour timetable could be a sticking point.

* I'm not hearing any objections to the new iPhone and iPod touch software (my early-adopter friend Randy called while I was headed to the airport to say this update also fixed some delays his iPhone had been having while switching between applications).

* The Time Capsule wireless-backup system is neat, but how about letting users plug a USB hard drive into their AirPort Extreme base stations? (This feature got yanked from Leopard just before it shipped and has yet to be enabled again.)

We can talk about all these issues, and any other tech news you're interested in, during my Web chat at 2 p.m. today. Stop by then, or submit a question early if you prefer.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  January 17, 2008; 9:56 AM ET
Categories:  Mac  
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Next: A Tech Travelogue


The lack of optical drive reminds me a lot of the furor over leaving floppy drives out of the original iMac.

I wonder if optical disks are going to get obsolete as fast as floppies did.

Posted by: MAW | January 17, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

MAW - I thought the same thing when I bought one of the original iMac's.

Rob - I sure hope they allow the USB port on the wireless extreme router to hook up to an external drive and allow Time Machine to work as the functionality of Time Capsule. If not, I'm going to sell my two week old Extreme and upgrade to a time capsule.

Posted by: CP | January 17, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

CP - "Sell" your two-week-old Extreme? You mean, return it for a full refund?

I like Apple - I have an iMac and a mini at home - but at times it seems they deliberately cripple functionality to sell more hardware. The mini has 802.11g and can "share" an Internet connection a la AirPort - but apparently only with WEP "security", even though it can connect to a WAP using WPA. Thus, I can't (won't) use it to replace my wireless router, which I have set for WPA.

Posted by: Charles | January 17, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Leopard won't allow users to plug a hard drive into the AirPort Extreme?? I'm glad I read this before upgrading to Leopard because that's how I back up my stuff (as well as share files with my wife). I like Apple products because of user friendliness, but removing this feature seems customer hostile. I'll stick to 10.4.x for now.

Posted by: BoyHowdy | January 17, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

BoyHowdy: It does. You just can't use it as your Time Machine drive (Time Machine formats a drive and dedicates it to backups, it doesn't just save a backup file to any old hard drive).

Posted by: jw | January 17, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the clarification, jw. Righteous indignation over; back to Apple bliss now ;-)

Posted by: BoyHowdy | January 17, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't probably miss the optical drive very much. I don't use the one I have very often. My only concern with the Air is that you will be almost required to use external drives with it to get enough hard drive space. Come to think of it, that might not be all bad.

Posted by: Mark | January 17, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I was horrified by the absence of an ethernet port then mollified by the existence of a USB / Ethernet adapter ($29 or some such) to make wired LAN connections possible. By and large when I am on the road I don't attach USB devices to my laptop, and probably wouldn't mind devoting the one free port to this purpose. A hub would help too (though those things are always so sketchy). I am still probably not in the target market - I don't have the self-discipline to keep even my road machine at or below 80GB of stuff, and the processor speed is a cut below my existing MacBook. That said, someone with just slightly different needs than mine might find this new machine to be just the thing.

Posted by: John | January 17, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

You've heard no problems about the iPod Touch software?
How about the fact Jobs is gouging early adopters like he did with the iPhone last year?

They can try and justify it any way they like its a simple cash grab charging users who bought one last week $20 for it.

With all new Touches sold after today including the same software for free Apple is spitting on all the loyal customers who were early adopters of the device. This sets a bad precedent for how they allow applications on the iPod Touch platform. With the upcoming ability for 3rd party developers to add their own programs to the Touch next month its only a matter of time Apple asks us to cough up more cash for the privilege of letting us use other developers software (that they made for free) because Jobs forced them to go through iTunes in order to distribute it.

I had never thought about jailbreaking mine until yesterday. Now I have no qualms of hacking the OS to circumvent Apple's greed

Posted by: Patrick B. | January 18, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Patrick B. Having to pay for software that now comes free with the latest rev of the iPod Touch torques me off. I too have been loyal to apple with computer and iPod purchases. Truth is I'll probably fork over the $20, but next time I'm in the market for a music player/browser, I'll look eleswhere as I'm sure there will be plenty of me toos out there soon.

Posted by: John L. | January 18, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Touch software, I use the Touch in large measure for Audiobooks and implementation is disgraceful. Especially if you don't buy from ITUNES. Ripping a CD IS IMPOSSIBLE If you buy from Audible you will have less problems but it still is a problem; THE AUDIOBOOK is often broken up in pieces and it won't play continuously so you have to remember where you are and so on and so on

Posted by: Chuck Adsit | January 18, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

How many cultish supplicants were in attendance at this tech orgy?

Posted by: steve ballmer | January 21, 2008 6:55 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to interupt this conversation. I am in desperate need of how to get the volume working in WIN XP pro installed into MAC Leopard on a MAC book via Parallel. Can anyone please help.

Posted by: Gary Nixon | January 21, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Sure, not having an optical disk drive inevitably recalls how floppy drives were dropped from computers by Apple before anyone else. I remember this because it was very inconvenient at the time. It's easy to look back now and think that it wasn't.

Maybe in 2-3 years optical disks will be nearly dead, but until then you'll be at best inconvenienced. Want to make a quick backup where there's no WiFi available? Give your friend a copy of your pictures or music? Too bad, Steve Jobs doesn't think you should.

Posted by: skshrews | January 21, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

i have been wondering if it is possible to change the casing on the macbook. I am aware that you can change it but i have a white macbook and i want to change the casing to a black one, is that possible?

Posted by: Fabian | January 22, 2008 6:48 AM | Report abuse

Yes Fabian. It's called black spraypaint.

Posted by: ken baltimore | January 22, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I thought about buying a Apple next time around

Posted by: Ed B. | January 22, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I thought about buying a Apple next time around

Posted by: Ed B. | January 22, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

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