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This needed to be said. Autism isn’t a disease. Just because we don’t understand how the mind works, doesn’t mean that we need to label people as disabled or broken or view them as non-persons.

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It’s been a good MacWorld this year. Nothing as mind-blowing as the iPhone, but, really, what would beat the iPhone announcement other than Apple saying that they were slashing the prices of all of their products by 75%. No, nothing will beat the iPhone announcement because that was industry changing. However, don’t get confused and think that this MacWorld wasn’t still phenomenal, because it was.

Steve Jobs’s keynote speech is always the centerpiece to MacWorld and it’s famous for it’s “One More Thing” hook. (Though, truth be told, that isn’t always incorporated into the keynote) The fervor for the keynote had built into a frenzy by the night before, with all of the rumors flowing out of such prestigious (and often times right) sites like  MacWorld and MacRumors. Fortunately, this means that zealots couldn’t sleep in anticipation of the coming events… unfortunately, it means that by the time everything had been revealed, there wasn’t a “megaton” announcement because we already knew what was coming. But we were still happy with what was showcased.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there for the festivities and I was asleep during the keynote, so I had to get my news at the same time as everyone else. For that reason, I’m a bit behind in posting this. I’ll give a run down of all the most important items, however. Two of these items I’ll be purchasing myself relatively soon.

Time Capsule:  This is one of those items that should have a “No, duh” tag attached to it. Not that someone hasn’t thought of this before (and I’m certain with some searching you could find an equivalent) but it’s amazing that it’s taken this long to get an integrated router/hard drive solution for the average user. It’s a fully functional Airport Extreme Base Station (router) with a 500Gb or 1Tb SATA HDD inside. It has 3 Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired LAN, a single Gigabit Ethernet for your modem, and a USB port for additional external HDDs or printers. Purchase a low cost USB2.0 Hub and you’re in business with a “server farm”. What’s more is that it sports Draft N wireless protocols as well as the standard A/B/G. It also has two frequency bands, 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz. Like I said, it’s a full-fledged router with a 500Gb or 1Tb SATA hard drive all in one.

iPhone/iPod Touch Upgrades: iPhone got a software update today. Included in the package, for free, are Google Maps with Location, Webclips, Chapter Options and Language Capability in iPod mode, and Multi-chat SMS. Great features that, admittedly, should have shipped with the phone but it’s great that iPhone users are getting this for free. iPod Touch is also getting an upgrade but it’ll set you back an additional $20.00. There are legal reasons for this, so don’t pout too much. Your new applications are Mail, Stocks, Notes, Weather, and Maps. Apple will also be releasing the iPhone SDK in February, so programmers and fiddlers, start your fingers, there’s apps in these here waters!

iTunes Movie Rental and Apple TV Revamp: One of the BIGGEST announcements today  concerns renting movies from iTunes. iTunes is the defacto place to go for music. Apple is angling to make it the defacto place to go for movies as well. They have managed to wrangle every major studio into their grasp. This is a major victory because it means you won’t be missing out on any movies like you would with another service. Pricing for movie rentals are $2.99 for old releases, $3.99 for new releases, and $4.99 for HD… wait… did I just say HD? You bet your sweet Sally I did. 720p with 5.1 Dolby surround sound. But there’s a catch… HD is only available with the Apple TV.

Oh, that thing… it got a revamp. Now you don’t need a computer to access iTunes. In fact, chances are you’ll want to simply hook it up to your TV and go. You can now browse the store and your library without the need for a computer. If you want to use a computer, be our guest, but it’s no longer a necessity as it was before. The price was also dropped from $299 to $229 for the entry level model. This is one product definitely worth buying into now.

Macbook Air: The biggest moment of the show, however, was reserved for Apple’s new laptop, a sub-notebook affectionately called Macbook Air. For those unfamiliar with sub-notebooks, they are used to fill a niche that really hasn’t been hit before, mostly because of the limitation of consumer level technology. They serve the niche between a PDA and equivalent device and a laptop, with the ease of portability of the former and the functionality of the latter. There have been some good introductions into the market, like the Asus eeePC, but many of these have fallen flat for one reason or another.

With the Macbook Air, Apple is entering the arena with a sleek, stylish sub-notebook that uses the power of OSX but the ease of portability of, say, the iPhone. Not that you can slip it into your pocket, because it would be ridiculous to think such a thing, but it’s a lighter alternative to the Macbook and Macbook Pro series.

Starting at $1799 (which is actually in range and cheaper than some competing sub-notebooks), you can get this beauty. It comes with a single USB2.0 port, micro-DVI, and headphone jack, multi-gesture trackpad, backlit LED display, backlit keyboard, iSight Camera, 80GB 1.8″ hard drive (64 GB SSD optional), and more. It doesn’t come with an optical drive, but in this day and change, who uses their optical drive constantly? If you do need one, you can buy a $99 Superdrive or use the Remote Disk software to let you use one on the same network. It’s that easy.

This sub-notebook isn’t for everyone. It was designed to fill a niche between power and portability. It works perfectly for those folks who already have a great desktop and need a suitable laptop or those students who need something for class but don’t need to go all out with a Macbook Pro. Great little computer for those who need it. Very stylish. Here’s hoping to see future Apple products looking this stylish.

Overall, MacWorld 2008 keynote was great. There’s, of course, many other things to come. Lots of software and lots of hands-on. This is only the beginning.

As a side note, I’ll be picking up the Time Capsule and the Apple TV in the coming six to eight months. I’ve needed a new router for awhile and since I’m diving into the Apple waters with an iMac and a Macbook Pro in the coming couple of months, I could really take advantage of the Draft N technology (especially considering I love to watch streaming media). I also don’t have cable and until cable services let me subscribe a la carte, I won’t. The Apple TV fits this niche since I can stream media from one of my computers to it and I can rent HD movies. It will look great on my HDTV, which currently doesn’t get a lot of HD content since the technology is too expensive and the choices are too limiting (thank god HD-DVD is dying) .

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I’m sometimes blown away by what we, as a species, are capable of making with a couple strings, hollowed out wood, and our fingers.

Andy McKee – Covering Africa by Toto – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt1fB62cGbo

Erik Mongrain –  Airtaps on Guitar – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym1kEsJDF1c

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