Weekend tech blog: New powerful iMacs, Seattle Webby winners

Apple gears up desktop computers with new power, speed in iMac. And, here come the Webby awards: you think the Oscars take a long time?

Apple gears up desktop computers with new power, speed in iMac. And, here come the Webby awards: you think the Oscars take a long time?

Remember desktop computers? This week, Apple quietly introduced a new lineup of their trendsetting all-in-one iMac computers. To the eye, there’s little change but behind the scenes the new Macs are chock-full of power: all quad-core Intel i5 and i7 processors (translation: super-duper-powerful), and featuring Thunderbolt ports. “Thunderbolt” is a joint Apple/Intel feature that enables high-speed, high-capacity transfers between a computer and some other device: an outside hard drive, another computer, etc. It’s primarily of greatest interest for filmmakers, game developers, and the like who need fast, efficient media transfers.

Also featured are AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphic cards with on-board memory of up to 1Gb (translation: super-duper fast), an HD webcam, up to 4 USB2 ports, an SD card slot (finally!) and screen sizes up to 27 inches (diagonal measurement). Costs start at $1,200.

This is old news for many, but for people who work in mixed PC/Mac environments, Mac computers are capable of running the Microsoft operating system in addition to Mac software. This column is being written on an iMac that for all intents and purposes functions like a PC with Windows 7. Apple has a free built-in program called Boot Camp that enables the dual operating system installation. The only extra cost involved is for a full copy of the Windows operating system, including Windows XP and Windows 7 (Amazon.com lists Windows Home Premium at about $180 — much cheaper than buying a second computer).

For those who want to have both operating systems up and running on the same screen at the same time, the Parallels program lets you do exactly that. Cost: about $80.

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This week, the Webbys were announced: annual awards celebrating allegedly the best in Internet design and versatility. There were winners announced in 65+ categories. (If you hate the Oscar and Emmy award shows with their endless categories, imagine sitting through this one!) The awards ceremony will be held in New York on June 13.

Two Seattle companies were among the winners: Zillow.com, the hugely successful real estate website; and Pure Management Group for an eye-candy promotion of its hot restaurant and night club properties.

Some of the top awards went to some of my favorites app/websites: Dropbox, a cross-platform Internet-based “box” that lets you drop in and retrieve any digital file or image from virtually any computer, smartphone, etc.; Skype, the well-known computer-based worldwide phone service; PBS for iPad, which brings full, selected episodes of signature shows like "Masterpiece Theater;" and Lisa Kudrow’s raucous "Web Therapy," a five-minute-per-episode comedy series (Meryl Streep, among others, does an hilarious three-episode guest shot).

"Funny or Die," the comedy website founded by comedian Will Farrell, was the big multiple award winner with wins in nine different categories.

Here’s the complete list of winners.

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Now for a grab bag of other pending product introductions.

  • If you're hungry for a hot new Verizon phone, tech website Electronista is predicting that 3 phones — the Android-based Motorola Droid X2 and LG Revolution, and LG Trophy, based on the Microsoft Windows 7 mobile operating system— may debut next Thursday (May 12). (Bug Electronista if it doesn't happen.)
  • A new Android-based tablet, the 7-inch HTC Flyer, is available for pre-ordering from Best Buy. Although tablets are flying out the door from various manufacturers (the jury is out regarding whether any tablet other than the Apple iPad2 is flying into customers' hands), the HTC Flyer comes with what is being touted as a highly accurate stylus for notetaking and drawing — portentially a new, powerful tablet capability. The Engadget website has a detailed wrapup of this new device. According to several sources, the WiFi-only Flyer will debut with the latest Android software, Gingerbread 2.3, but the tablet-designed Honeycomb 3.0 operating system will be available as an upgrade. The unit will go to market at $499; Let's hope the Honeycomb upgrade will be fact, not rumor, ansd therefore not obsolete on arrival.
  • On Tuesday and Wednesday (May 10-11) Google is hosting its Google I/O developers conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco. While a highly technical conference, Google consumer watchers are expecting news about Google TV, Google's TV set top box that integrates your TV and the Internet. Google TV was announced with great fanfare last year, including in these pages, but it has generally been judged to date as a marketplace flop. Some are predicting that Google will announce at the conference a newer, more refined Google TV model based on a more powerful processor than the current Intel Atom CPU, and a major rewrite of the confusing Google TV user interface.

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What better source than Julian Assange, master of WikiLeaks, the ultimate Revealer in Charge, to snarl in rage about the disruptive role of Facebook? His claim: Facebook “is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented.” According to an interview he gave to Russia Today, as quoted on ZDNet, “Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States’ intelligence agencies, in building this database for them.”

And finally, this late-breaking news: A Japanese research lab has invented a machine that can simulate a French kiss, tongue movement and all, from across the Internet. Really.


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