2 reasons I won't be buying an AppleTV
Well, after the Apple MacWorld San-Francisco Keynote that mentioned the changes to Apple TV, I was left disappointed. There are two simple things that I will be doing with an Apple TV *much* more often than renting movies (although, if they get the pricing right when it comes to Australia, I would be tempted if I *had* a unit...). These are:

1- Play DivX: I spent a VERY long time ripping my DVD collection to DivX as a 2 pass Home Theatre profile, and I will *NOT* be going through that again just to transfer it to H.264. I mean, *come on*.. iPods play MP3s.. that is why people bought them. Apple TV not playing DivX is like an iPod that does not play MP3s.

2- Let me play DVDs. Really.. I want to *play* DVDs. All you need is either a slot load, or a remote play facility from my desktop. Low an behold, you invented wireless remote optical disk mounting for the Macbook Air, now bring it to the Apple TV.

Unless these things find their way into an Apple TV, there wont be one in my lounge room to dislodge the incumbent player, even if it is smaller, sleeker, and easier to use.

The Roof is on Fire... (Photoshop Hell)
So after dropping a bomb on a MacBook Pro 2.4Ghz, and popping 4Gb of Ram into it.. Imagine my surprise when I have an image off my D80 DSLR that I cannot crop, as PS keeps filling up... wait for it... 20 Whole Gigabytes of my remaining disk space with scratch disk. I go: File, Open (The pic is a JPG), choose the crop tool, choose the crop I want, press enter, it starts thinking, and then it throws an out of disk error.

I even did a full offline defrag wondering if contiguous disk space was the issue. Not the case...

I'll be damned if I know what is going on...
How the rest will be won...
Apple + Parallels_icon or vmware2
After successfully switching my mother to the Mac (Hallelujah! I hear you say), and after I had stopped worrying about the bastard sales guy at Harvey Norman who managed to convince her that she needed both Mac and PC version of office if she was going to run VMWare Fusion (I sent her in with a shopping list with only the PC version...) I have been working through helping her come to terms with the concept of virtualisation.

It is at this point that I believe that neither Parallels or Fusion are ready for the typical Mum/Dad Mac using faithful until they can make the experience of running windows seamless. So it is with this in mind that I have put together the following list of Must Have Features that will turn this into something that will truly "just work" for the average "Mother of an IT guy..."

1- Let me stop her from saving files to the virtual c:\
One of the benefits of my mother having a virtual Windows machine (or "Windows In a Cage" as the analogy I have chosen to explain how it works) is the completely disposable nature of the virtual instance. So long as I can be assured that she has not saved any data in the virtual machine, the snapshot is *always* there to return the PC to a known state. This is priceless for me, being 200 kms away, I don't need to make a weekend trip to their place to rebuild a PC (again...) If the Virtualisation tool could help me keep stuff off the c:\, it would make my job that little bit easier...

2- Make printing work - period:
In this day and age, how hard is it to have a virtual VMWare printer in windows that just rips and prompts you for a real output device on your Mac.. I mean.. come on already...

3- Make application access *SEAMLESS*.
Parallels almost got it right with the feature (SmartSelect) that lets you associate word documents with MS Office on Windows, but internet links with Firefox on the Mac (For example) but it just never quite worked right... Get this working properly so that my mother can use it without me having to use analogies like "Windows in a Cage" just so that she can use it... Also, when I have an MS Outlook icon on my dock and click it, it will resume the Virtual Machine (nice!), but launches a second copy of Outlook if one was already running... (Terrible!)

4- Make Exposé work properly in Unity / Coherence
Seriously, when you are using these modes, make the Exposé stuff work properly. I bought a Mac to use the stuff it comes with... no, really.. I did... I will admit that I have not used parallels since the first release of v3.0, and when Fusion shipped proper and this may work properly now in Parallels, but Fusion still gives me incorrect window views in expose (looks like a layering issue) and the last time I tried Parallels 3.0, it just gave me a single "window" for all the windows apps that were open.

5- Make removable media just work:
Make it so that removable media is available on BOTH the Mac and the Virtual side... There is no reason that a USB disk should not show up on the desktop AND be usable from the windows guest OS at the same time. (with the exception of NTFS for writing from the MAc side of course)

6- Leverage the portability into convenience.
Virtual machines are portable.. Make it easier for my Mum to burn her virtual machine to a DVD and mail it to me to fix (for when she needs something fixed that a roll back to snapshot just can't address (like getting new software working for her...) this was the best thing about her switching to the Mac with VMWare: I shipped her an XP virtual machine that I built with my media (and her software license keys obviously) on a DVD that she just drag/dropped and ran. (she was up and running in 15 minutes). Have a Compress and burn to disk function so she can do this with 3 clicks and a blank disk.

7- Make it backup seamlessly with Time Machine:
I will be switching to Leopard once I hear that the kernel panics have stopped (My friends are still getting them every so often. I live on this Mac for work, so I won't be upgrading it till I am happy that it is as stable as my Tiger system, or I refresh to a new laptop that ships with Leopard). I want to use Time Machine for her backups, but it has to *just work* for the virtual too. With incremental deltas and not just backing up the whole flat vmware disk image ad-nauseam.

Say Hello to my (new) Little Friend...
Nikon D80
Welcome to my new Nikon D80... I finally bit the bullet and went and bought my DSLR. Nikon D80 with the Nikon 18-200mm VR lens (very nice bit of Kit in my oppinion...)
In addition to that, I have picked up a Nikon SB-800 flash and a tripod also... So what does this all mean? Hopefully some additions to my photoblog and my Flickr page...

I toyed with the idea of the D40x, but the lack of bracketing support kinda killed it for me (among a few other noticeable things that were missing). The biggest killer for the D40x was its size. I have large hands, and the D40 body is just too damn small...

I also kidded myself momentarily and considered the Cannon 400D. If it weren't for the fact that Nikon bodies have the buttons where your hands already are (I spend far too much time driving Cannons with the lens pointed at the ground, as it seems that every button you actually need is always on the back of the camera) and that the 18-55mm lens that Cannon insists on bundling with the body is a complete waste of space, I might have actually considered the camera for more than 1/100th of a second...
Airport Disk performance issues...
It appears that my Airport Disk has hit a serious slow down rendering it effectively useless for data transfers (Data transmissions kit 300-400 Kilobytes a second, not good for transferring 32 Gig of data... I have read many suggestions including reformatting with HFS (no journalling) and replacing the disk / usb enclosure etc... For the time being I think I will try an airport reboot and a disk defragmentation and see how that goes... Fingers crossed.
Parrallels vs Fusion Round III
Parallels_icon vs. vmware2
I am quite impressed with VMWare's stability on the Mac. Much leaner and more reliable than Parallels. Lack of a Snapshot manager is a big killer in VMWare though. For someone who relies on a virtualisation app to run corporate apps, it is nice to be able to back up my VM as a whole and restore it to any point I have previously had a snapshot for.

I have a killer problem with Parallels at the moment. As soon as my Parallels VM is running, Expose & Dashboard refuse to work, which is quite catastrophic for someone like me that has expose bound to hot corners for fast app switching (with a flick of the wrist!!) . The strange thing is that as soon as I make the Parallels active application, expose works again. As soon as I quit Parallels, you guessed it, expose works again...

I guess the best of both worlds would be for Parallels to keep innovating, and VMWare to be 1 release behind copying Parallels ideas, but making them perform faster and more reliably.
Panasonic SDR-H20 Support under iMovie'08
I have just purchased a Panasonic SDR-H20 and can confirm that you won't get any footage off it under OSX unless you install iMovie '08 (iLife '08 suite) as there is no USB camera support under iMovie HD '06.

iMovie '08 supports the Panasonic SRD-H20 camera perfectly.
Parrallels vs Fusion Round II
After spending some time running both virtualisation products side by side, here is my list of Pros and Cons:

Pros: Disk Snapshot manager in Parallels in V3.0 is awesome. Having the ability to choose between multiple snapshots is incredibly useful.

Cons: No matter what I do, Parallels impacts on the rest of my system. Resuming from sleep still sees me waiting for random spinning beach balls that only occur when parallels is running. Also Parallels is messing with my expose at the moment... for some reason, it stops working on the hot corners I have assigned, but ALT-Tabbing to the Parallels VM brings it back.

Pros: Fast. It is noticeably faster than Parallels. It just FEELS sleeker.
Expose works on individual windows rather than shunting your invisible desktop around.

Cons: Unity mode is hard to manage when you want to select the VM and return it to windows in a "window".

So far, VMware Fusion has won me over enough to convince me to run it as my work virtual for Exchange / 'windowsy' things for a while to see how it lasts...
Parrallels vs. Fusion
I have just bought Fusion and have installed XP to trial it against Parallels. So far my initial thoughts are: "Holy smoke" it installed XP faster than I have EVER seen before. I am seriously thinking about re-installing just so I can time it. I will post more as I find it... But so far I agree with Unkie Walt's assessment that it does not hit your mac as hard as Parallels does...
As it turns out...
With no relation to this post, as it turns out, I will be working for... you guessed it: F5 in the not too distant future.. So I guess, further posts on F5 gear will have to be appropriately annotated with the relevant disclaimers. Oh well, at least I will get to work with PLENTY of F5 gear from this point forward!!