Outrageously Expensive RAM

A couple of weeks ago, I was helping to spec out some new iMacs for our computer labs. This is usually pretty straightforward; the only sticky part is actually deciding how much RAM to get. We run a lot of sophisticated software (Photoshop, Illustrator, Final Cut Pro, etc.), so I always want to make sure that we have enough RAM, now and down the road. These computers have to get us through a three year cycle.

Unfortunately, the options for built-to-order RAM on a Mac range from questionable to obscene. Keep in mind, there are only two slots for RAM in an iMac. Here’s how it breaks down:

Apple RAM Prices and Options

Thats right, 2 sticks of 2GB RAM will cost you $850 if you get it from Apple.

The 1GB option seems silly if you’re doing anything more than web browsing. 2GB is enough RAM for now, but the configuration of 2 sticks of 1GB stinks. This means that if you want to upgrade to 4GB of RAM later, those two sticks are worthless. There is no option for the obvious choice: to chose one stick of 2GB RAM, leaving an easy upgrade path.

All of this left me pretty annoyed at Apple, and feeling like no matter what I did, I was either wasting RAM (and money) now or later. So, I really had to laugh when I came across Mike Davidson’s post on RAM Arbitrage:

…to max out my MacBook’s RAM, Apple charges me $850, while if I go through my trusty RAM comparison shopping site DealRam, I am pointed to NewEgg, which ships me the same amount of RAM for $120. As a point of comparison, Dell charges $465 for an extra 4GB… still outrageous, but not a 700% markup!

He nails it. What really sucks about this practice by Apple is that I would guess many people who buy Macs don’t know that they can get the same kind of RAM from places like New Egg. They also probably don’t know how easy it is to replace RAM. It’s a racket.

Via Daring Fireball.

Spotlight Rejiggered in Leopard

I’ve heard a lot of rumors about Spotlight now actually ‘working’ in Leopard. That’s good news, because it was a total bust in Tiger. I liked the idea of it, but it was just too damn slow to actually be useful and I ended up using Quicksilver instead.

In More Goodies in Apple’s New Operating System, David Pouge mentions two new features in Spotlight (other than fixing the molasses problem) I wasn’t aware of.

Menu bar calculator:

[Spotlight] is also a tiny pocket calculator now. Hit Command-Space, type or paste 38*48.2-7+55, and marvel at the first result in the Spotlight menu: 1879.6. You don’t even have to fire up the Calculator.

This is a neat idea, and if I could train myself to actually use it, it would be useful.

Dictionary lookups

The Spotlight menu also searches the Leopard dictionary now. If you type, for example, “schadenfreude” into the Spotlight box, the beginning of the actual definition appears right there in the menu. Click it to open Dictionary and read the full-blown entry.

Um, interesting example word. Anyway, one of my favorite features in OS X is the ability to move your mouse cursor over any word (in a Cocoa app) and press Ctrl + Cmd + D and get a little pop up that defines the word.

Schadenfreude OSX word lookup

I’ve been steadily beefing up my vocabulary by using this feature. Sometimes this little trick isn’t enough though and I have to go to the real dictionary. I usually use Dashboard for this, but in general I’m really not a fan of it. This new Spotlight trick is great.

Firefox 3 To Ditch Unified Cross Platform Look

Mozilla’s Alex Faaborg announced a week or so ago that Firefox 3 would focus on visually integrating with the operating system:

Visual integration with Windows and OS X is our primary objective for the Firefox 3 refresh.

This is great news for Firefox, because as I have mentioned before, its user interface has really been the achilles’ heel of the browser, especially on the Mac.

Mozilla’s user experience team literally wants to do a better job of visually integrating with Windows than IE, and a better job of visually integrating with OS X than Safari. I don’t know if we will be able to pull that off, but that’s the goal.

I’m glad that they’ve recognized this as an issue and I can’t wait to see what they come up with. If Firefox actually did look as good or better than Safari on a Mac, I might use it as my primary browser.

Via Beauty And The Geek: Firefox 3’s Visual Makeover.

Email Hall of Fame

I recently took the plunge and switched to Apple Mail after all these years with poor little neglected Microsoft Entourage. You know, we just don’t seem to have anything in common anymore: I don’t schedule appointments, I got tired of notes, and I kind of have this new thing for Universal apps. I’m not sure if I’m going to grow to like Mail better or not (it certainly wasn’t love at first site), but we’ll give it a shot. I hear she’s going to be getting some ‘work done’ soon.

Anyway, in honor of this new partnership, if decided I’d work a little harder at gunking out my mail. I just don’t need those emails from 2 years ago asking if I can meet at 1pm on Tuesday.

I found this gem of an email in one of my folders:


as promised, here’s a sumdum of the problum.

had been working with elektra, getting along fine. no arguments or anything, then i decided to get lunch… and thought it’d be safe to leave myself logged in. WRONG! miss E wasn’t cool with me leaving her alone. she threw a tantrum, hissed a bunch, and now she refuses to open my files. most importantly, the file named portfolio piece that is located on ######.

photoshop is also a bitch. she has poor work ethic. when she encounters a problem, she causes a ruckus (i.e. corrupts my files), and then quits. doesn’t she know she’s supposed to give two weeks notice before peacing out? sheeesh, she’ll never get re-hired.

Working in computer support would be a lot more fun if I got emails like this several times a week.

Web Design Survey Results Released

The results of the web design survey conducted by A List Apart in April have finally been released. A staggering 33,000 people responded to the survey and the final report tops out at 81 pages.

Overall the report is quite interesting. It seems to confirm a lot of suspicions about the industry as a whole. The industry is in fact male-dominated; only 16% of the respondents said they were female. Almost everybody in the industry has a blog, but not necessarily any prominence for it. There are a lot of self-employed people, with varying salaries and levels of job satisfaction/unsatisfaction.

I’m quite impressed by the results of the report. There are some interesting questions posed by the data and also clear areas where a more focused approach is needed. Obviously, the method of data collection (voluntary web survey) has some serious drawbacks, but I think the data does lead to some broad conclusions of the industry and is a good starting point for more research.

On a side note, the design of the report looks positively snappy! The graphs and charts all look great, as does the type. I’d love to know how all those graphs were made so pretty.

Update: Eric Meyer has written in-depth about the process of collecting the data and creating the report. Definitely read this post after taking a look at the report. I’ve also experienced those Excel pains Meyer speaks of as well. Short answer for how the charts were created: Excel (for mac)NumbersPDFInDesign. Yikes.