Getting to the Core of One Bad Aspect of Apple Innovation
Sometimes Planting New Seeds Leaves Bumper Crop Out to Dry

by Joe Leo, Columnist February 21, 2007

COMMENTARY: (2.21.07)-- Rarely do I speak negatively of our favorite computer maker, Apple Inc. But one of the things I've never liked is when they come out with new software that is totally cool and innovative and is a real "must have"-- only to find that it won't run on my current system without an upgrade or worse yet, run at all!

What is this, Windows Vista? Can't use new software without doing a major upgrade to your system? We're talking about the Mac here. You must be out of your mind!

Okay, you're probably wondering where this topic came from, and to tell you the truth, it was inspired by something I read last night on But trust me... the original seed was planted long ago, slowly growing until it burst out of the ground thanks to a little nurturing from that web posting I read.

The question posed was "Aperture or Lightroom: You Decide." I immediately knew what my answer was to that question. Can you guess what it was?

When I heard awhile back that Motion was coming out and was Apple's new motion graphics software application, I was mesmerized. I would finally have the tools to go beyond iMovie's "limitations" (that's an overstatement) and create fantastic eye-catching motion elements in my video productions.

I couldn't wait to get it and everyday would watch the demos on Apple's website, seeing an Apple employee demo the product to, I believe, a crowd at a developer's conference, or I think it was a NAB conference one year. (National Association of Broadcasters). Makes more sense being at NAB.

Then Apple posted previews of Motion's key features on their website and I could only imagine the endless possibilities of what I would be able to do when I finally got the software application. It was exciting.

Until I looked at the software's minimum requirements.

Would you believe my PowerMac G4 Dual "FireWire 800" model didn't cut it? The powerhouse that even Hollywood filmmakers were using in their own digital edit rooms before the PowerMac G5 came along? I mean, even when the G5s were released, a lot of pros were still using their G4s.

Well, my PowerMac did make the cut: it was just the graphics card in my tower that wasn't "powerful" enough. I had the standard ATI Radeon 9000 and it needed the Radeon 9700 which was a custom upgrade at time of purchase.

Trouble is, I bought the machine as an Apple refurb and there was no option to upgrade. I searched far and wide on eBay for parts and everyone was trying to sell a pulled card from a G5, but it meant a physical hack to the card in order to make it work in a G4 Sawtooth, I mean FireWire 800 model. (Sawtooth, get it? Never mind).

I finally found a place that had it, and it was an Apple parts reseller, an authorized service provider that happened to have the card, brand new, in stock. Cost? $479. Ouch.

I debated if this would be the best option and if I really needed Motion now. I even looked at Adobe After Effects as an option, which by the way, would run just fine on my PowerMac G4, as is. No upgrades needed (though recommended by Adobe, it was not necessary) to make the software work.

Unlike Apple's Motion application that wouldn't work unless I popped open the tower's case and did some minor hip-replacement surgery.

(Or was that surgery for me, after bending over backwards to find the darn part?).

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