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Archive for November, 2008

Mini-DisplayPort, a month later

Posted by bitguru on November 26, 2008

Molex Mini-DisplayPortIt’s been more than a month since Apple introduced the Mini-DisplayPort connector on its new line of laptops. Here are some thoughts.

  1. I had presumed that Mini-DisplayPort was signal compatible with standard DisplayPort, with the same 20 pins (but in a different order), but there was no corroboration. Well, my unnamed source (how mysterious!) confirms that this is the case.

    [update: Shortly after I published this entry, further validation came in the form of a mini-DisplayPort licensing page on Apple’s web site. It supplies a PDF download for mini-DisplayPort connector dimensions and pinouts.]

  2. I mentioned that Apple was continuing to sell its 23″ Cinema Display (with DVI) an addition to its new mini-DisplayPort-only 24″ Cinema Display. However Apple has since discontinued the 23″ model, leaving it without a mid-range display that can be connected to any existing Apple desktop machine. This indicates to me that Apple soon plans to release new versions of the MacPro, iMac, and MacMini that will have Mini-DisplayPort ports. (It still sells 20″ and 30″ displays that support DVI, but for how much longer?)

  3. I thought we’d see third-party miniDisplayPort-to-DisplayPort adapters by now, but I have yet to find one. My unamed source says that Apple has contributed the mini-DisplayPort connector specification to VESA for possible inclusion in version 1.2 of the DisplayPort standard. If so, cheap third-party mini-DP adapters should be around the corner. (Component manufacturing giant Molex has apparently been working on making the connectors available.) This would allow Macs with mini-DisplayPort to drive standard DisplayPort monitors, and laptops and video cards with standard DisplayPort to drive Apple’s LED-backlit Cinema Displays.

  4. It may be possible to create an unwieldy miniDP-to-DP adapter today:

    The idea is to convey the native DisplayPort signals (not DVI signals) through the conductors of the DVI cable. This presumes that the two adapters have compatible pinouts and that they have enough conductors. (The pinout of that DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter shows 17 conductors, omitting only pins 13/14/16. DisplayPort cables are supposed to leave out 13 and 14, but not 16. It might be ok to leave out 16, though, since it would only be used by the auxiliary channel.) A bigger presumption is that the F/F DisplayPort coupler doesn’t cross conductors 1-12, which unfortunately it would have to do if it’s intended to allow two coupled standard DisplayPort cables to behave like a longer standard cable. My guess is that this crazy adapter wouldn’t work, but if anyone actually tries it please let me know the result.

  5. Apple’s $100 Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter has been delayed until late December. I guess they are having trouble with it.

  6. Many have run into DRM problems viewing media through the mini-DisplayPort connector—even standard-definition stuff that shouldn’t be affected by HDCP. This is yet another case of Digital Rights Management causing problems for legitimate users. It’s getting old. Supposedly, a QuickTime 7.5.7 update addresses the issue.

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Posted in Hardware | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

snacking on dehydrated apples

Posted by bitguru on November 13, 2008

Weight Watchers Apple Snacks have been unavailable for decades, so I’ve been on the lookout for alternate sources of crunchy tart dehydrated apples. Here are two I’ve found.

– oOo –

Trader Joe's dried fruit toasted, lightly salted Granny Smith Apple Slices unsulfered & unsweetened

Trader Joe’s Granny Smith Apple Slices

The top quality Chilean Granny Smith Apples in this bag are air dried before they are very lightly salted and toasted for this unique and healthy fruit snack. The result is the crispest, chunchiest apple chips you can find, without any of the oil usually used but with all of the texture. The little bit of salt brings out the typically tart taste of the Granny Smith Apples.

INGREDIENTS: granny smith apples, salt

The apple pieces are not uniform in size. Some are fairly large (living up to the “slice” title) while others are quite small. The larger pieces have too much moisture to them. They aren’t floppy like typical dried apples but they can be bent without snapping. Chewing them has no powdery crunch and feels a bit like chewing leather at first. The texture of the smaller pieces is almost identical to Weight Watchers Apple Snacks, though, with a nice powdery crunch.

The problem is they are just too darn salty. I guess it’s possible that a “little bit of salt” would “bring out the typically tart taste” (though I doubt it) but I’ll never know because there is far more than a “little bit” of salt in these things. I’ve sampled a few different bags, and the saltiness seems to vary. Some bags have been shockingly salty—extreme salt flavor masking any apple flavor, virtually inedible. Other bags have been less salty, with an overall flavor that’s not exactly unpleasant, but puzzling in a “these might be delicious without all this salt” kind of way. (Either there is a lot of variability between bags or this guy Mike lives in an alternate universe because he says “the salt isn’t noticeable” and “the chips get stuck in your teeth,” both completely false in my experience.)

If Trader Joe’s were to produce a salt-free version of these, I believe I would purchase them regularly.

– oOo –

Gerber Graduates for toddlers Mini Fruits bite-size Apple healthy freeze-dried snack

Gerber Graduates Mini Fruits: Apple

specially made for Toddlers

  • Made from 100% real fruit
  • Freeze-dried. No preservatives
  • No artificial flavors
  • Perfect food for little fingers
  • Great for on the go and at home

INGREDIENTS: freeze dried apples

The good news is that these have no salt. The bad news is they are a too soft in texture and flavor. Admittedly this may be ideal “for toddlers,” the intended audience, but not for me. My six-year-old didn’t care for them, declaring them too tart (which is odd, since he likes Lemonheads and some other tart things), but I can detect only a slight bit of tartness and would appreaciate more.

I picked these up because I read somewhere that these were essentially the same as Weight Watchers Apple Snacks, but I beg to differ. Not only are they not tart enough, but the feel is wrong too. They do have a powdery crunch, but it’s a soft crunch. Weight Watchers Apple Snacks were much crunchier. Another difference is the faces of Gerber’s apple cubes are porous (almost fluffy) and are light in color. Weight Watchers Apple Snacks had browned, non-porous faces. One could stick a needle into a Gerber apple cube, but this would cleave a Weight Watchers cube.

There’s nothing objectionable about this product. I just didn’t find it compelling. I don’t think I will purchase it again.

– oOo –

Others?

I’ve tried a few brands of apple “chips.” These are very thin slices of apple, usually with a ring of peel around the edge. They are crunchy, but it’s not a powdery crunch, and they tend to have an off-flavor that I can’t identify. The sweetness comes through, but the tartness doesn’t. I don’t much care for them.

Two products I am looking to try are Brothers-All-Natural Fuji Apple Crisps. From the packaging I might have guessed that these were chips as described in the previous paragraph, but after reading a couple reviews I gather this is not the case. They are supposedly available at some local stores, but so far I’ve struck out actually finding any. The other product is this one—it looks promising but I’m unlikely to find it locally.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Weight Watchers Apple Snack

Posted by bitguru on November 10, 2008

Weight Watchers Apple SnackWhen I was in 2nd grade, I was quite fond of Weight Watchers Apple Snacks. These were apples, cubed, dried until brittle, and absolutely delicious. The pieces were small (maybe 3x3x8mm), browned on the outside from the drying process, and many had dried peel on one face.

The Good Snack!

Crisp, crunchy slices of tree-ripened Apples . . . that’s WEIGHT WATCHERS® Apple Snack. It’s the naturally good, naturally sweet treat everyone in the family will enjoy. Serve WEIGHT WATCHERS Apple Snack in school lunches, between meals or whenever the time is right. WEIGHT WATCHERS Apple Snack . . . good tasting . . . good for you. It’s The Good Snack.

©Weight Watchers International. 1975. Owner of the trademarks. All rights reserved.

Most dried apple products in the world are only halfway dried, with chewy or rubbery apple pieces, but not Weight Watchers Apple Snacks. The pieces were so dry they were difficult to deform with the fingers. Taking a pair of pliers to one would result in a crunching sound and a small pile of white dust. One’s teeth would do about the same as pliers, of course.

In addition to standard apple flavor, it also came in strawberry, peach, and cinnamon. These were just the same dried apple cubes sprinkled with artificially flavored pink, orange, or brown dust. It sounds disgusting but I was fond of the peach and especially the strawberry, even though they left my fingers covered with neon grime. Cinnamon was edible but I didn’t much care for it.

NEW WEIGHT WATCHERS® FRUIT SNACK

Fruit Snack is made from crisp, delicious apples…like popular Apple Snack. Comes in 3 delicious flavors…tasty flavored Cinnamon, Peach, and Strawberry. The naturally sweet treats for the whole family … at parties, between meals and school lunches. Eat Smart with Weight Watchers Apple Snack and new Fruit Snack…they fit into your weight control program.

©Weight Watchers International. 1976. Owner of the trade marks. All rights reserved.

I once got in immense trouble—and rightfully so—for consuming an Apple Snack that had been given to my brother and left unguarded, then repeatedly denying it. It somehow seemed worth the risk at the time.

As far as I can tell, Weight Watchers Apple Snacks vanished from the face of the planet in the 1970s. I have been able to find two modern-day products that are somewhat reminiscent, but describing those will have to wait for another day.

crunchy munchy Apple, artificially flavored Peach, artificially flavored Cinnamon, artificially flavored Stawberry

Posted in Nostalgia | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »