Stories by Philip Michaels

Foosball HD for iPad

Rightly or wrongly, the foosball table became the symbol of the Dot-Com Era excess.

Hanging With Friends for iPhone

There's a decent word game to be found in Hanging With Friends, an attempt to translate the winning Words With Friends formula to the classic game of hangman. Unfortunately, like the letters of the words you try to solve, it's hidden behind flaws and bugs that mar this initial release.

Disappointing Version of TV Phenomenon

The awesome power of Regis Philbin continues to spread unabated, from daytime TV to prime time and now, with the release of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Second Edition, to the Mac. Hard-core fans will be pleased that the computer version retains the look-and-feel of the televised game, right down to the mind games Regis plays with doubt-riddled contestants.

Survival of the Hippest

Few TV shows have captured the imagination of viewers as much as Survivor, the hit show that pits 16 contestants against nature -- and each other -- on a tropical isle. The show divides the contestants into tribes, which compete in contests of skill. Each week the losing tribe votes to expel a member from the island, until only one remains -- the hearty individual who has bested personal politicking, petty bickering, and the occasional meal of grilled rat to reign as sole survivor. But why not populate the island with computer-industry heavyweights? After all, who's more familiar with personal politicking, petty bickering, and vermin than the titans of Silicon Valley? -- Philip Michaels

Who Wants to Be a Mac-Illionaire?

Sure, the stock market looks shaky now. But Apple Computer Inc. looked like a bad bet on July 10, 1997 - the day its stock price fell to a low of $12.75 a share. What if you were able to buy 500 shares then and sell them when Apple peaked at $150.38 a share last March? Assuming a 10 percent capital gains tax, you'd end up with a tidy profit in the neighborhood of $61,931.25. What should you do with all that money?

Mom Knows Best: Palm Pilot M100

Palm Inc. has won the hearts of techies with its self-named personal digital assistant (PDA). Now the company has its sights set on a new market -- consumers who have yet to jump on the handheld-organizer bandwagon.

Product Watch

New releases include a new graphics tablet from Wacom Technology Co. (800/922-6613, The US$3,999 PL500 Pen-Tablet System features a 15-inch diagonal screen, full 24-bit color with 1,024-by-768-pixel resolution, and a DVI-to-DVI connection for sharper, crisper images.

Not the Kind of Java I Had in Mind

SAN FRANCISCO (08/29/2000) - Starbucks Corp. (800/782-7282, points to the iMac as the inspiration for its new Barista Utopia. And they're similar, as long as the comparisons stop at encased in see-through plastic. As for matching the iMac's famed ease of use, the Barista Utopia may be the first coffeemaker to come with a 30-minute instruction video. Setup is a chore, and brewing a pot can take as long as rendering an iMovie transition. That flaw overshadows the Barista Utopia's novel vacuum-brewing system. Hot air pushes water up from the coffee carafe through a funnel and into the filter, where it mixes with beans. Eye-catching, sure -- but the iMac has proven it takes more than a pretty face..

Copy Cat

SAN FRANCISCO (08/29/2000) - Doodlers rejoice. Now your whiteboard scribbling can be preserved for posterity with Mimio, from Virtual Ink Corp. (877/696-4646, The US$599 Mimio features a USB-powered capture bar and four casings that hold any standard-size dry-erase marker. As you write, the pen casing sends a signal to the capture bar, which renders a near-perfect image of your musings on the computer. Software lets you save, edit, send, and re-create erased whiteboard images stroke by stroke..

OS X Headed for a Fall

Technically, the autumnal equinox does not happen until September 21, meaning that summer doesn't end on the last day of August. So if the public beta of OS X ships in early September -- as Apple Computer Inc. CEO Steve Jobs insisted it would at July's Macworld Expo -- it shouldn't count as a product delay. Apple said a public beta would be out this summer, and as we've just established, summer lingers until September 21.

No Longer Business as Usual

Scan the business-software landscape for the Mac, and you half expect to see tumbleweeds blowing on the horizon. It's not that the programs are lackluster; it's just that since Intuit Inc. stopped developing QuickBooks for the Mac several years ago, there hasn't been that one software package that handles the nuts and bolts of running a small business.

Project X

When OS X finally arrives, you might think it's time to put Apple Computer Inc.'s new operating system to the test. But hold your horses: until the programs you use are updated to run natively in OS X, they'll behave no differently than they do on your Mac today.

But What I Really Want to Do Is Direct

SAN FRANCISCO (07/27/2000) - One movie features seven elderly people living
together Real World-style. Another recaps the entire plot of Star Wars in eight
minutes. It's not a film festival gone crazy; it's what you'll find at iFilm.
With Apple Computer Inc.'s iMovie widely available, iFilm is the perfect
destination for Mac users itching to make masterpieces. Besides a multiplex
full of flicks, iFilm offers news and interviews. You can even submit your own
Best Picture contender. But don't send that movie of your family vacation,
Hitchcock. This isn't America's Funniest Home Videos.