Steve Jobs to take 6 months medical leave from Apple

Steve Jobs on the front page of the San Jose Mecury News

Speculation and rumors about Steve Jobs’ health have been making the rounds since people started noticing the fairly drastic change in his appearance over the last several months. The speculation was fueled even further when Apple announced that Steve would not be giving the keynote presentation at this Years Macworld conference (Jan. ’09).

In an effort to reassure the mac community (and the stock holders), Steve made a rare public announcement earlier this month saying he was suffering from a nutritional deficiency due to a hormone imbalance, and that he would be fine. More public comments were give by Apple’s board of directors echoing the comments by Steve.

Apparently, that information was either not entirely accurate, or the situation has changed, because Steve Jobs announced today (in an email to all Apple employees) that he would be taking a 6 month medical leave of absence:

“Team,

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

Steve”

I’m not exactly sure how to react to this news, other than to say I send all my best wishes to Steve and his family. I hope everything turns out OK, and we really do see him again in June. Take care, Steve.

How to upgrade your music to 256 kbps DRM-Free versions in iTunes

Upgrade iTunes Library

Earlier today Apple announced that they’re removing Digital Rights Management (DRM) from music bought through the iTunes music store. They also announced that you could upgrade your previously purchased music from the old standard (128 kbps protected file) to the new format (256 kbps DRM Free) for $0.30 per song on individual tracks or 30% of the current album price on full albums, but it’s not immediately apparent on how you go about doing that.

It’s actually very easy… simply open iTunes and select the iTunes Store in the sidebar (on the left). On the store home page, look in the upper right, under QUICK LINKS, for “Upgrade my Library”. Clicking that will take you to a summary page of what it would cost to upgrade everything you’ve bought. Don’t worry, you won’t be charged unless you click the “Buy” button on that summery screen.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any way of upgrading individual tracks or albums… it’s either everything you’ve bought, or nothing. Also, since the entire catalogue offered through iTunes hasn’t been upgraded to the new format yet, not everything will be available. In my own tests, only about half of what I’ve bought is available for upgrade. Apple should have everything updated by the end of March, 2009.

Personally, I’m bummed about the all or nothing approach Apple has taken. I really don’t want to upgrade everything I’ve bought.

UPDATE (1/07/2009): Macworld has posted much more information about this.

Apple’s 2009 Macworld Announcements

17 inch Macbook Pro

If you haven’t already read this at a hundred other Mac sites, here’s what Apple announced today at Macworld:

17″ Aluminum Unibody Macbook Pro
Starting at $2799, the new 17″ Macbook pro will ship in late January. The good news is this thing can take up to 8GB of RAM. The bad news is, rumors were true… the battery is no longer a user-replacable part. That just sucks. Although, Apple is saying that this new and improved battery will last 8 hours on a single charge and can be recharged 1000 times (5 times the industry standard). Apple is also saying this new model is the slimmest and lightest 17″ notebook available.

It should also be noted that while the 17″ version uses the same Glossy display now used in its 15″ cousin, Apple is offering a $50 upgrade to an “antiglare display”. I thought they use to call this “matte”, so I’m not sure if this is the same option as previous models. Also, the new native resolution is 1920×1200, up from 1680×1050. In the previous 17″ model, it was a $100 upgrade to the higher resolution display. When I was shopping for my current 17″ Macbook Pro, I actually thought 1920 was a little too much for 17 inches.

You can read all the specs on Apple’s site.

iLife ’09
iPhoto now has face-recognition and geotagging built-in. It can also link with Facebook and Flickr. It actually looks pretty cool. Too bad I’m not really using iPhoto anymore. I’ve started moving everything into Adobe Lightroom.

iMovie has several new features bringing it back a little closer to iMovie ’06, instead of the radically different iMovie ’08.

There’s new versions of Garage Band, iWeb and iDVD as well. iLife ’09 will ship at the end of January. Read all about it on Apple’s site.

iWork ’09
I like iWork, but there’s nothing terrible exciting to talk about… seems like mostly basic improvements and refinements. iWork ’09 ships today.

iWork.com
Apple is starting iWork.com. Currently in beta, this will be a site for sharing and collaboration. It’s free while in beta, but Apple will charge for it in its final release.

DRM Free Music, Price Changes, and Purchase via 3G
Apple is moving away from $0.99 songs. Instead, there will now be a tiered structure of $0.69, $0.99, and $1.29 per song. Starting today they will offer 8 million songs as DRM free. The entire catalogue will be DRM free by the end of the quarter. You can also now buy music on you iPhone over the 3G or Edge networks, instead of wi-fi only.

My Thoughts
I didn’t think there was going to be any huge announcements today, but I am a little disappointed at what was announced. There were a few things that I would have bet money on:

  • New Mac Mini
  • New Apple TV
  • iPhone 2.3 software update (with ToDos!)
  • 32GB iPhone and 64GB iPod Touch

Oh well, I guess we’ll have things to look forward to in 2009. I’ll be heading over to the Expo after Lunch. I’ll write about any must-haves that I find.

Apple Cancels Christmas too!

Stendig 2009 Wall Calendar in our kitchen

As a followup to my last post

From another press release:

CUPERTINO, California—December 16, 2008—Apple® today announced that this is the last year for Christmas. Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, spoke at a joint press conference held with Santa Claus at the North Pole this morning. He announced: “Apple has been honored to work with the North Pole the last several years to make Christmas possible, however, we have decided together that this is the last year for Christmas.” more…

Hilarious! I’m amazed at how quickly people can turn these things out. :)

Holy Crap! Apple will no longer exhibit or give the keynote at Macworld!

Stendig 2009 Wall Calendar in our kitchen
Photo Credit: Wahaha wu

Holy Crap!

From Apple Press Release:

CUPERTINO, California—December 16, 2008—Apple® today announced that this year is the last year the company will exhibit at Macworld Expo. Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening keynote for this year’s Macworld Conference & Expo, and it will be Apple’s last keynote at the show. The keynote address will be held at Moscone West on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. Macworld will be held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center January 5-9, 2009. more…

If you’ve ever been to Macworld, you know that Apple’s exhibit usually dominates the hall. Their absence is going to leave a huge hole in the expo… assuming the conference can even continue without Apple. Given the other big names that pulled out of this year’s event, it’s entirely possible this may be the last Macworld. That would be really sad.

Also, I can’t believe that Steve Jobs won’t be personally giving the final keynote. What is up with this? It all sounds very suspicious.

I can totally understand why Apple may want to scale back its presence, but ditching the show all together seems strange to me. And, the fact that Phil Schiller will be giving the final keynote says one of three things (to me):

  1. Apple has virtually nothing to announce.
  2. Regardless of what they have to announce, Steve Jobs just isn’t up for it. He has been looking very thin (and sick) at the last few events.
  3. Apple has things to announce, and Steve is well enough to do it, but his health is failing and there’s going to be a transition of public figures. Apple may see this as an opportunity to aid in that transition.

I’m sure there are a lot of other possible reasons, but those are the three that come to my mind. I can’t wait to see what happens.

This totally bummed me out! I guess my dream of someday attending a keynote in person is no longer an option. :(

UPDATE: This news was (obviously) talked about on all the big Mac sites tonight. After reading a lot of what people had to say, it seems like the consensus is that Apple’s press release should be taken at face value. Apple is simply moving away from 3rd party conferences and focusing on their own events and facilities for making product announcements, which gives them (Apple) total control over announcement schedules, etc… It’s also widely viewed that the keynote being given by Phil Schiller only serves to emphasize the fact that Apple no longer considers outside events to be a priority, and is not necessarily a reflection on the health of Steve Jobs. We’ll probably (hopefully) still be seeing Steve Jobs handle Apple’s own Special Events.

Although I’ve read a lot of convincing arguments as to why Apple did this, and that it may actually be a good thing (for Apple), it’s still very sad news. I enjoy the frenzy that the Apple community gets whipped into this time of year, but that won’t happen if Apple isn’t involved with Macworld. And, despite statements to the contrary, this could be the beginning of the end for Macworld Expo.

Aluminum Macbooks unstable after 3rd party RAM upgrade

Aluminum Macbook and Macbook Pro

Back in October I wrote a post about how you could save over $500 by buying 3rd party RAM instead of buying Apple’s incredibly overpriced RAM. That was good advise for the previous generation of Macbooks and Macbooks Pros, but it may not be the best thing to do for the new (late 2008) Aluminum Macbooks / Pros.

According to this article at TUAW, A lot of people are experiencing significant problems after attempting to use 3rd party RAM with the new laptops. It’s worth checking out if you’re about to buy one of the new machines.

Fortunately, when Apple introduced these new Aluminum models, they also dropped the price of their own RAM by several hundred dollars. It’s not so painful to just by the RAM from Apple now.