September 2003 News Archive
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-- Tuesday, September 30 --
Verizon Launching Wireless Broadband Internet according to this ZDNet article and this SiliconValley.com article. It will be available initially in the Washington DC metro area and the San Diego, CA, metro area for $80 per month. A special PC card receiver is needed for the 300 kbps bandwidth service. A PC card with Mac drivers may be hard to come by. [Dana Baggett]
Satellite Internet to Serve Multiple Computers according to this PC World article. Satellite internet has been limited normally to a single computer but Hughes will soon offer and enhanced service that allows the use of multiple connections. Satellite provides about 500 kbps download and 120 kbps upload. [Dana Baggett]
RIAA Settles 52 of 261 Initial Lawsuits according to this SiliconValley.com article. The average settlement for these egregious traders of more than 1000 songs is around $3,000 more or less. The settlements probably include the 12-year old girl, an honors student. We wonder if they also include the lawsuit that RIAA dropped against the 66-year old grandmother accused of using KaZaA which doesn't even work on her Mac. [Dana Baggett]
Xbench 1.1.2 is Out and available for download via MacUpdate.com. We use Xbench as one of our How Fast Is It? speed tests. Here are the changes from v1.1.1:
StuffIt Standard 8.0 is Out and available for download from Aladdin Systems. StuffIt Standard includes the free StuffIt Expander 8.0 plus DropStuff, DropZip, and DropTar. The latter are demo versions and may be bought for $49 ($29 upgrade) The new 8.0 features and benefits are:
-- Monday, September 29 --
Hands-On Report--Apple Expo Paris Show Floor with Photos: Lots of new things were shown at the Apple Expo in Paris, many things not yet seen in the USA. Thierry Lorthioir attended Apple Expo for Macs Only! and previously provided his overview. Today, we post his report on interesting items on display, with photos, on the show's floor.
Apple vs Apple--Interview with Steve Jobs in this Times On Line article. The Beatles' Apple Corps is suing Apple Computer for the third time. This time its over the use of Apple's name and logo on the iTunes Music Store. [Dana Baggett]
-- Weekend, September 27-28 --
[Update 9:20a 9/27] Additional Hands-On Comments--New 15" PowerBook G4: Our West Coast reporter, Brian Nakamoto, has been waiting for the new 15" aluminum PowerBook G4 to arrive to replace his original TiBook. Yesterday, he picked one up at the local CompUSA. He says:
"I love everything about it so I'll just comment on the few minor concerns:
BTW, Carbon Copy Cloner is awesome! Migrated seamlessly from TiBook to AlBook in about an hour and a half."
[Update 9a 9/27] More Free iTunes AppleScripts: Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes has posted several new and updated AppleScripts for iTunes, all free to download, including:
Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes is a site offering over 220 free user-devised AppleScripts for iTunes and resources for users who write them. To stay updated on future posts and news subscribe to their RSS feed.
Mozilla 1.5rc2 is Out and available for download. The release notes are here. According to previous notes, this is likely to be the last release candidate of the Mozilla web browser before the final version is released. Update: From MozillaZine:
Hands-On Apple's AirPort Extreme Base Station Firmware v5.1.3 Update: It is available for download from this KBase article. Here are the enhancements:
We installed it in our ABS Extreme with no problem. Unfortunately, the update does not fix the incompatibility with our Asante FriendlyNet router that somehow slows the ABS Extreme's throughput by over a factor of 10. Neither our original graphite nor snow ABS have this problem. [Update: We discovered that the issue is with a LinkSys 10/100 switch between the router and the Base Station and not the Asante router. We replaced the Linksys with an 8-port SMC switch and all is fine. We have no idea why the snow and graphite base stations did not have the same problem as the Extreme base station.]
From the Dark Side--Be Thankful You Don't Use a PC and get one of the latest viruses according to this article. [Dana Baggett]
-- TGIF, September 26 --
Apple Dual 2-GHz Power Mac G5 is Less Expensive than a Comparably Performing Dual 3.06 Xeon Dell 650 Workstation: This is BIG news! The Mac's G5 has 2/3'ds the clock speed yet PC Magazine compared the two and concluded that they are comparable in performance. What PC Magazine did not write was that the Power Mac G5 is much less expensive than the Dell Workstation. Worse, PC Magazine claimed that the two were comparable in price. This is simply not true, significantly not true, as we pointed out in our Tuesday article.
In an exchange of emails with a Macs Only! reader, Ziff-Davis executives, publishers of PC Magazine, defended their statement and revised the article to include more details about the Dell 650 Workstation but inexplicably did not revise the erroneous description "similarly priced". We revisited the Dell web site and configured it using the newly divulged details and got $5,213 for the Dell instead of $5,884. However, if we revise the Power Mac G5 configuration to be consistent with the Dell (mainly 4 512-MB DIMMS rather than 2 1-GB DIMMS and add 3-yr AppleCare), the price of the G5 is only $3,887. That is a very significant $1,326 less than the comparably performing Dell not "similar" in anybody's lexicon.
But the real story is not PC Magazine's journalistic ethics. It is the fact that Apple's top-of-the-line dual 2-GHz Power Mac G5 performs as well as a dual 3.06 GHz Xeon Dell 650 Workstation but costs less, significantly less.
VTBook--New 32MB PC Card Video Card for PowerBooks: Harmonic Inversion Technology announced that the new VTBook PC Card video card for Apple PowerBooks is shipping. VTBook works with any Type II PC Card slot equipped PowerBook running MacOS 9 or MacOS X and a VGA, DVI or ADC monitor (with a DVI to ADC adapter). [Update: The VTBook apparently requires "CardBus" Type II PC Card slot, i.e. 32 bit, so many older PowerBooks can't use this card in their 16-bit slots according to a reader. We are waiting for confirmation from HIT.]
VTBook is a product of VillageTronic of Germany and imported by Harmonic Inversion Technology. The suggested retail price is $249.
From the Dark Side--M$ Critic Loses Job at @Stake, a Massachusetts firm that works closely with Microsoft, according to this SiliconValley.com article. Daniel Geer, now former CTO at AtStake, was one of the expert authors of the report we noted yesterday that warns that reliance on M$ software is a significant security threat. AtStake and M$ deny Geer's separation has any connection with the report, i.e. other than both firms repudiated the report. Uh huh, right. [Dana Baggett]
-- Thursday, September 25 --
Jr High iBook Program Moves Ahead in Minnesota: Patterned after the iBook programs in Henrico County, VA, and the State of Maine, the Stillwater Board of Education approved buying iBooks for 2270 junior high school students and 135 staff according to this TwinCities.Com article. The Board will lease the iBooks and services from Apple over 5 years for $2.85 million.
RIAA Music Piracy Lawsuits Flubbed Again: This time the RIAA "got" a 66-year old grandmother, a scuptor by profession who uses a Mac to keep in touch with her grandchildren, for sharing thousands of music files using KaZaa according to this AP article on SiliconValley.com. The only thing is that Macs can't use KaZaa. While the RIAA withdrew its lawsuit, we hope the lady is seriously considering countersuing them. We don't support music piracy but don't agree with the RIAA's tactics. [Dana Baggett]
Spam Banned in CA with Fines to $1 million: California seized the anti-spam lead among governments yesterday when Gov. Davis signed the bill into law according to this Yahoo News article. The CA law bans sending unsolicited commercial email to California residents or from California to anyone. Gov. Davis has done at least one thing very right during his potentially shortened term. [Dana Baggett]
Apple's PowerSchool Software Gets Top Marks from Hampton, IA, School System according to this Hampton Chronicle article. In reference to our published tiff with the Montgomery Co., MD, CIO over his unsubstiated public statements about PCs over Macs a couple of years ago, read this article and weep! [Dana Baggett]
From the Dark Side--Report Calls M$ Reliance a US Security Risk according to this Reuters article on Yahoo News. We have stated this numerous times on Macs Only! and openly wondered why federal agencies from the US military to the Homeland Security Department continue to rely on Microsoft software to the tune of $ billions. Now the Computer & Communications Industry Association has released a report of top industry experts that says the same thing. We hope the federal government is listening. [Kevin Stacy and Dana Baggett]
-- Wednesday, September 24 --
Dual 2-GHz Power Mac G5s Arrive in Tysons Corner Apple Store! The Apple Store nearest to Macs Only!'s global headquarters, i.e. Tysons Corner, VA, received a shipment of dual 2-GHz Power Mac G5s late yesterday and they are available for sale. Better stop by on the way to work, rather than on the way home, because they're likely to go fast. [Update: They had one left "after work." We're shocked!]
Tonight on Your Mac Life--Aladdin on StuffIt 8.0 and Apple Expo Wrap: Tune in to the Your Mac Life internet radio show hosted by Shawn King tonight at 8:30p EDT (5:30p PDT).
Tundra May Buy Motorola's PowerPC Bridge Chip Technology according to this CBC News article. Bridge chips are used to connect a main CPU to the rest of the system. Moto's bridge chips are used by Apple. Tundra wants to work with Moto to make the next generation PowerPC communication chips. [Dana Baggett]
Apple Posted "New Arrivals" Second Issue: Apple just published the second issue of New Arrivals with great information on brand new products, including Macromedia Studio MX 2004, Elibrium Business Cards, Tech4Learning MediaBlender 2.5, Enfocus PitStop Professional 6, Red Rock Software DeltaGraph 5, SoftPress Freeway Express 3.5, MacPlay No One Lives Forever 2, and much more.
The Developer Notes provide details about the features of Apple's hardware.
From the Dark Side--Windows Snatches at Apple's Bit Lead: AMD released its 64-bit Athlon 64 CPU yesterday according to this CNet article. AMDs CPU matches Apple's shipping G5 CPU in that it runs both 64-bit and 32-bit software. In addition, yesterday Microsoft released a beta version of its 64-bit Windows software but there are still no 64-bit Windows personal computers yet. Apple will extend its lead when it releases Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) in final before the end of the year. In any case, 64 bits are worthless until software that uses the extra 32 bits is released. Meanwhile, Intel is in the technology curve dust and still whining that 64-bit capability is not needed in personal computers for several years.
-- Tuesday, September 23 --
[Update 7:30 p.m. EDT] Apple Pulled Mac OS X 10.2.8 Updaters, including the Server updaters, this evening. We have not experienced any difficulties with upgraded Macs, from a Beige G3 tower and 500-MHz 12" iBook to a DP 1.42-GHz Power Mac and 17" PowerBook G4. However, Macs Only!'s Brian Nakamoto had an ethernet connection problem with an upgraded DP 500 Power Mac G4. There have been other scattered reports of the loss of ethernet connectivity after the update on older Power Mac G4s. The KBase articles state that the removal is temporary, of course. [Dana Baggett and Brian Nakamoto]
PC Magazine "Fibbed" in Article on G5/Dell Comparo? Apple can not shake myths because even respected publications too often repeat them. Take, for example, the PC Mag article that favorably compared the new Dual 2-GHz Power Mac G5 with a Dell Precision 650 Workstation (dual 3.06 GHz Xeon CPUs). The article used a BTO-configured G5 costing $4349 (an ATI 9800 Pro graphics card and an additional 1.5 GB PC3200 RAM were added) and states in part "... comparing the results with a similarly configured (and priced) Dell Precision 650 Workstation...."
Similarly priced? Give us a break! According to our visit to the Dell web site, the similarly configured Dell 650 (dual 3.06 GHz 1 MB L3 cache processors, 2 GB PC2100 memory, a 120 GB HD and an equivalent DVD-RW drive) costs $5,884 and even then it only includes slower PC2100 RAM and a smaller 120 GB hard drive. The "similar" Dell is over $1500 more expensive! An accurate statement by the PC Mag article would have been "... comparing the results with a similarly configured (but much more expensive) Dell Precision 650 Workstation...." Come on PC Mag--tell the truth!!! [Dana Baggett]
Apple Released Mac OS X 10.2.8 Client (and Server?) Updaters. It is available via the Software Update preference panel or as a standalone updater (client). According to the Read Me file, "The 10.2.8 Update delivers enhanced functionality and improved reliability for the following applications, services and technologies: Audio, Bluetooth, Classic compatibility, Finder, Graphics, LDAP, Power Management, Safari, and FireWire and USB device compatibility. The update also provides updated security services and includes the latest Security Updates."
From KBase Article 25524, "These are some of the enhancements that are a part of the Mac OS X 10.2.8 Update:
We installed 10.2.8 via the Software Update preference panel on several G4 Cubes, a Power Mac G4 DP1.42 and several PowerBook G4s with no problems.
Here are the links for available 10.2.8 updaters:
US Energy Department Holding Software Firms Responsible for Security in a newly designed contract according to this ZDNet article. They will hold a briefing today for 5 federal government departments on how to do it. [Dana Baggett]
Massachusetts Gets Less Than Half Its Legal Bill in M$ Antitrust Case according to this USA Today article. MA is the only state still holding out against the federal judge's ruling on the settlement. MA's criticism of the judge on appeal may have cost it over $1 million. The judge, reminiscent of the "bring me a stone" conundrum, stated that MA's bill wasn't sufficiently documented. [Dana Baggett]
Apple Launched a Brand New Hot Deals Web Site: No longer a part of the Macintosh Products Guide, the new Hot Deals is a web site of its own. It provides a clean, intuitive environment for visitors ... and of course, plenty of hot deals.
Aladdin StuffIt Deluxe 8.0 is Out: Aladdin Systems, Inc., announced StuffIt Deluxe 8.0, a new Mac OS X version of the industry-standard access and compression utility. The new version allows users to schedule backups and burn to CD/DVD with Archive Assistant(tm), adds plug-ins for Adobe's Photoshop(r) and Illustrator(r) and makes archives faster than ever before.
G4 1.4-GHz CPU Upgrade Comparo on Macworld's web site. These upgrades are worth considering for older Power Mac G4's. We use 1.0-1.2 GHz G4 CPU upgrades in our G4 Cubes. [Dana Baggett]
-- Monday, September 22 --
Hands-On Review--BusinessCard Composer: Everybody needs business cards. Even those who do not own a business can use their own personal cards to present themselves and to leave contact information with someone or some business. BusinessCard Composer from BeLight Software, Ltd. makes it simple for anyone with a Mac running Mac OS X 10.2 and higher and a printer to print their own "professionally-done" business or personal cards. The BeLight Software web site even has an interesting history of business cards.
BusinessCard Composer (BCC) runs natively in Mac OS X's cocoa layer to take advantage of X's Quartz graphics engine. It is a simple but powerful end-to-end application, handling the job from design to creation to printing. BCC is designed to be easy to use for the specific purpose of making personal or personal cards. But it also has simple to use graphics tools for opacity, color gradient fills, masks and more that make it a very powerful application as well.
BCC has over 100 standard designs to choose from using the 1-2-3 assistant and over 500 images to easily customize the standard designs. The standard designs are fully editable but one can still design one's own card from scratch. Data from your Address Book can be used to automatically fill out card design.
Virtually any image, including PDF, can be imported to use on one's card. The are 50 or so masks that can be used with the images. There's a snap tool and a positioning indicator for aligning objects and floating palettes for tools, fonts and colors.
Printing your cards is also made simple. BCC has a calibration procedure to use any paper stock that your printer can use. The user can define the layout and select any card on the page to print. Crop and registration marks allow for easy cutting of the page into indiviual cards.
So how well does BusinessCard Composer really work? Fortunately, there is nothing but good news--we tested v1.1. We launched the application and were greeted with the Business Card Assistant window shown at right. The first step of three is open showing the eight categories of designs. Each category, lower left pane, has some 15-20 designs for a total of over 100. We spent some time checking out all 100+ and chose Business/Aqua (shown above in the large right pane). The four buttons at the bottom of the window open an existing project, open a blank page instead of a standard design, and naviate back and foward.
We clicked the "Next" button for Step 2 and our data were automatically drawn from our Address Book. We did a minor amount of editing and clicked the "Next" button for Step 3 where we chose to format our cards as 10 3.5"x2" cards. After clicking the "Finish" button, our data were tranferred to the standard design. Then, we highlighted and deleted the two blue squares, chose "Place image" from the File menu, navigated to our web site logo on our hard drive and imported it and sized it using the "handle squares" on the image. The result is shown below in the main application window.
Also shown are the three floating palettes and the image selector in the left pane. One can use any of the tools to spruce up one's business card but we are happy with the standard result. Except for the time browsing all of the designs, it took us just a couple of minutes to create the business card above.
How about the rest of the Macs Only! staff? By clicking the "Change Person" button (third from right next to the color wheel) anybody in our Address Book can be selected and their data automatically imported into the same card design and saved. In less than 2 minutes, we had a card image for each staff member.
The printer is calibrated using the "Calibrate Printer" command under the File menu to move the images left-right, up-down. It is best just to print one card (select 1"copy" in the print dialog box) until one is sure the calibration is correct. We printed our cards with a small extra blank strip down the right side and across the bottom with our Brother MFC 3100C onto quality inkjet paper. Our calibration settings for this are +12 verical and -18 horizontal. We determined these settings by printing out one card and the "Print Calibration Sheet" from the Calibrate Printer command under the File menu on regular paper and then holding the two sheets up to a light together. This setting minimizes the number of cuts (2 vertical and 5 horizontal) to get the 10 business cards. The cards look great on inkjet paper but now we need some real card stock to print them out.
In summary, BusinessCard Composer v1.1 is a terrific application for making business and personal cards. We created a super business card using the standard 1-2-3 Assistant so BCC is incredibly easy to use and obtain great results. But if you are an artist, the sky's the limit. BusinessCard Composer costs a reasonable $39.95. A demo version is available for download from BeLight Software.
Apple to Webcast 24-hr Women's Baseball Game for African AIDS Victim Support according to this NY Times article. The game is being put together by Rob Novotny, vice president of American Women's Baseball, and will be played sometime this fall. [Dana Baggett]
From the Dark Side--Windows to Run Most Bank ATMs by 2005, about 65%, according to this Wired News article. Windows will have 12% of the market at the end of 2003 and IBM's O/S2 is the current leader. The Windows version that the ATMs will use is a stripped-down version of Windows NT. Banks poo-poo security concerns according to Wired. Start kissing your money good bye.
-- Weekend, September 20-21 --
Hands-On Report--Apple Expo 2003 Paris: Macs Only! reporter Thierry Lorthioir is attending this year's European Apple Expo in Paris. Events, including hurricane Isabel, delayed our posting of his first report but here it is. Stay tuned for further observations.
Steve Jobs' keynote address has been posted by Apple as a QuickTime streaming file.
PowerBook G4 Titanium Hinge Repairs from MacResQ: The new service offers PowerBook G4 owners a quick and easy way to replace damaged hinges on their G4 PowerBook with PowerBookResQ's famous service and nationwide convenience. The price for the hinge replacement is only $499.00, and includes pick-up at the customer's location in our custom PowerBox, overnight delivery to the PowerBookResQ service center, expert hinge repair, and return overnight shipping to the customer. The flat-rate price includes repair of one or both hinges as needed. To get started, customers simply call 1-866-Mac-Repair or visit MacResQ's web site.
-- TGIF, September 19 --
Mozilla 1.5rc1 is Out and available for download from Mozilla.org. There will probably be one more release candidate before 1.5 comes out in final. Here are the release notes. Mozilla is one of our favorite web browsers. It is open source and based on Netscape's Gecko rendering engine. We especially like Mozilla with the Pinball theme. [Dana Baggett]
Retrospect Driver Update v4.1.109 is Out: A new Retrospect Driver Update (RDU) has been release by Dantz for use with Retrospect 5.1 for Macintosh. To download the update and read a list of changes, please visit the following address--Macintosh RDU version 4.1.109 (Retrospect 5.1). [Dana Baggett]
Apple and Other Computer Makers Sued over Hard Drive Capacity Advertising according to this Reuters article. This lawsuit is reminiscent of the one over monitor screen size and seeks similar class action status. It appears to be another one of those frivolous lawsuits that, at best, only accomplish lining the pockets of the attorneys involved at the consumer's expense.
PowerMate Driver v2.02b is Out and available for download from Griffin Technology. The beta version of the PowerMate Software for Mac OS X allows the use of multiple PowerMates. Also includes new graphical programming layout. Here is the full press release.
PowerMates Only $39.99 for Limited Time directly from Griffin Technology. The PowerMate is a USB multimedia controller. It is one of the coolest accessories for a Mac.
-- Thursday, September 18 --
Apple's Focus on Frontside Bus Speed Lauded in this TechNewsWorld.com article carried on E-Commerce Times. The frontside bus is the main channel that connects the CPU to other parts of the system. The CPU communicates with the motherboard chips, RAM, the graphics card and other peripheral buses through the frontside bus. So the speed of the frontside bus, along with RAM speed, determines the computer's overall speed maybe more so than the clock speed of the CPU. Apple has dramatically increased the frontside bus speed from 167 MHz in the Dual 1.42 GHz Power Mac G4 to 1 GHz in the Dual 2 GHz Power Mac G5. In addition, Apple's G5 frontside bus is two-way so their is no wait time. The G5 CPU is made by IBM and not Motorola as incorrectly mentioned in the article. [Dana Baggett]
New 15"/17" PowerBook G4 Speed Tests are available on Bare Feats. Mad Scientist Rob ART Morgan has run them through their paces and has confirmed our previously posted speculation about the speed of the new PowerBooks. Despite having no L3 cache (the previous models have 1 MB), the new G4 Model 7457 CPU's with 512K of high speed L2 cache instead of 256K, increased clock speed and improved graphics chip, substantially out perform the previous PowerBook G4 models. The new 17" model leads as expected.
RIAA "Excessive" Music Piracy Tactics Reviewed by Congress according to this PCWorld.com article. A law to amend the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to remove the ability of RIAA to issue subpoenas without getting a judge's consent is gaining support. [Dana Baggett]
Apple Store Updates Refurb Offerings: The Apple Store has real deals on a wide variety of high-quality refurbished equipment, and they've just updated their offerings with a slew of new products at reduced prices. Included are eMacs, iPods, PowerBooks, Power Macs, iBooks, iMacs, AirPort and AirPort Extreme Base Stations, displays, and much more. All Apple refurbished equipment meets stringent refurbishment processes prior to sale, and is covered by Apple's one-year limited warranty. What's more, customers can purchase AppleCare Protection Plans to go along with their refurbished equipment. But hurry since supplies are limited and sure to go fast. All details available under the Special Deals tile.
M$ IntelliPoint 5.0 Mac OS X Drivers for Microsoft USB optical mice is available for download via MacUpdate.com. [Update: We lost use of our IntelliMouse's scroll wheel in MoH when we updated--not good.]
Apple Posted an Apple Expo Report and Photo Gallery on this web page. Apple also posted a paraphrase of Steve Jobs' keynote address. We haven't been able to find an Apple-produced QuickTime video of the keynote.
-- Wednesday, September 17 --
Hands-On Report--New 15" PowerBook G4 and comments on the improved 17" and 12" PowerBook G4s. By the time we got to the Apple Store in Tysons Corner, VA, to check out the new 15" PowerBook G4, the initial shipment was sold out. They were gone before 2 p.m. according to a store employee. Fortunately, they had pulled one aside and were setting it up as a demo so we got to see, touch and play with it. The Store also had a few improved 17" PowerBook G4s left but their improvements are all internal. The improved 12" PowerBook G4s are not due until the end of September according to Steve Jobs in his Apple Expo keynote address yesterday morning. A larger shipment of the new 15' Powerbook G4 is expected in a couple of days.
The new 15" PowerBook G4 (15" AlBook) is virtually identical in appearance to its larger 17" cousin except that it is about 3/4" less wide on each side and from front to back and on the bottom panel. The 15" AlBook is about 10% taller than the 17" AlBook at 1.1." Let's set the record straight on screen size--it is 15.2" diagonal just like the TiBook that it replaces. It is not the much-rumored 15.4". The new 15" AlBook is also about 1/4 pound heavier than the last 1 GHz TiBook.
Every major complaint that we had about the TiBook has been taken care of in the new 15" AlBook:
The battery looks smaller than on the TiBook even though the 15" AlBook is a bit heavier. It is rated at 46 watt hours, much less than the 61 watt hours of the last TiBook's battery. Apple claims 4.5 hours usage but that is very generous. Apple also claims 4.5 hours for our 17" AlBook's 58 watt hour battery but we get barely over 3 hours of actual use at full conservation while just typing into Adobe GoLive.
RAM is added through a small hatch on the bottom panel. A cover is held in place by four tiny #0 phillips-head screws.
The new 15" AlBook with 1.25 GHz CPU seemed a bit snappier than our ex-800 MHz TiBook and 1 GHz 17" AlBook. The CPU at 1.25 GHz has a faster clock speed and twice the L2 cache at 512 KB but it lacks the 1 MB of L3 cache of previous models. We think the G4 CPU is the new low-power model 7457 but we didn't have software with us to confirm it. The new 15" AlBook also has a faster ATI 9600 graphics chip set so it should be measurably faster all around. We'll conduct our speed tests at a later date to see for sure.
We expect that the new 15" AlBook will be the best seller of the three AlBooks. At $1999 to $2599 with options in between it covers the professional sweetspot on price very well. However, we like the 17" AlBook better because of its larger screen size and because it is a bit faster. Its size and weight differences are not as unwieldy as one might expect from a first encounter--we quickly got used to them. The gloat factor is also in our favor. We believe that the 17" AlBook is easily worth the current $400 difference in price.
For those who want a small and light PowerBook G4, the 12" AlBook just got a whole lot better. Its G4 CPU increased in clock speed from 867 MHz to 1 GHz and the amount of RAM that can be loaded rises from 640 MB to 1.25 GB. The DVI port now allows a digital hook up to Apple's displays and its graphics system is substantally improved from a GeForce 420 Go to a FX Go 5200 but the video RAM is still at 32 MB.
The biggest "unfortunately" for the improved 12" AlBook is, in our opinion, still the lack of a PC-card slot. That slot is needed for a wireless internet card that almost every business person with a small Wintel laptop has. Sure, WiFi is available in many airports, hotels and Starbucks, etc., but Sprint's wireless internet service is everywhere in most major cities. If one needs this service, one will have to buy the larger 15" AlBook. Worse things could happen.
[Update 7:15a EDT] New AirPort Base Station 5dBi Antenna from QuickerTek: QuickerTek, developers of PowerBook(r) antennas for Titanium PowerBooks and external antennas for both the Graphite and Snow wireless base stations, is now shipping their AntennaKit, an external antenna that works with Apple's Snow and both versions of Apple's Extreme Airport Base Stations. They claim that the AntennaKit typically increases signal strength up to 50%, increases line-of-sight distance by an average of 250 yards, and makes it easy for users to install their own antennas, even on base stations that do not provide external antenna ports.
The price of the AntennaKit is $129. The kit includes a 5Dbi Omni directional antenna along with the necessary connections, brackets and illustrated installation instructions. Installation in Snow Base Stations requires drilling a small hole in the cover (a hole guide is provided in the kit).
[Update 7:15a EDT] Your Mac Life at Apple Expo: Your Mac Life host Shawn King reports that YML was the first media outlet to interview Sandy Greene, Apple's Powerbook Product Marketing Manager, Scott Broderick Product Manager for the new Bluetooth keyboard and mouse *and* Ken Bereskin, Apple's Director of OS X Marketing on the show floor of the Expo in Paris. Audio and video of the interviews are available now on the Your Mac Life web site.
Higher Capacity PowerBook G3/G4 Batteries from NewerTech: They are 25-30% higher capacity than Apple's stock batteries according to NewerTech. NewerTech NuPower batteries are available through OWC and at other fine resellers in the US and around the globe.
From the Dark Side--PC Expo is a Ghost Town: Check out the photo of PC Expo in this Excite News article. The photo says it all about PC interest and innovation in the PC world. PC Expo opened this week in New York City's Javitts Center and has in the past drawn crowds of 55,000 per day. [Dana Baggett]
-- Tuesday, September 16 --
[Update 6:45a EDT] Apple Introduced Wireless Keyboard and Mouse at Apple Expo in Paris: From the press release, "Apple today introduced the Apple Wireless Keyboard and Apple Wireless Mouse, new Bluetooth-based peripherals that provide reliable performance at up to 30 feet and offer secure 128-bit, over-the-air encryption keeping sensitive information safe as it is being typed. Apple is the first to deliver Adaptive Frequency Hopping (AFH) software which eliminates interference between Bluetooth devices and other wireless networks and devices. This feature enables the Apple Wireless Keyboard and Mouse to perform reliably in home, office, school and lab settings where other wireless devices and networks may be in use. The Apple Wireless Keyboard and Mouse are expected to be available in two weeks through the Apple Store, at Apples retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers for a suggested retail price of $69 (US) each."
[Update 6:45a EDT] Apple Announced $50 Rebate on Keynote, Apple's presentation application, when purchased with any Mac. For more info, visit this Apple web page.
[Update 6:30a EDT] Apple Introduced New 15" PowerBook G4 at Apple Expo in Paris this morning. The new 15" PowerBook G4 has an aluminum case like the 12" and 17" PowerBooks introduced last January at Macworld 2003 in San Francisco. There are two models available from the Apple Store, one with a combo drive and 1 GHz G4 CPU for $1999 and one with a SuperDrive, backlit keyboard, AirPort Extreme and 1.25 GHz CPU for $2599. Their general specs are:
The new 15" PowerBook is available today with Mac OS X 10.2.7. Here is the full press release.
[Update 6:30a EDT] Apple Improves 12" and 17" PowerBooks: Apple also announced improvements to the 12" and 17" PowerBook G4s today at Apple Expo in Paris.
The 12" PowerBook gets a 1 GHz G4 CPU, a digital video interface (DVI) port, more RAM up to 1.25 GB and a faster GeForce FX Go 5200 graphics chip. It doesn't get a PC-card slot, backlit keyboard or FireWire 800 port. It's priced the same as before at $1599 with a combo drive and $1799 with a SuperDrive.
The new 17" model gets a 1.33 GHz G4 CPU, the faster ATI Radeon 9600 graphics chip and a $300 price reduction to $2999.
They are available today with Mac OS X 10.2.7. Here is the full press release.
Steve Jobs' Apple Expo Keynote is Today at 4 a.m. EDT: Stay tuned since the rumors for Apple Expo in Paris are juicy. We will post the salient announcements as soon as possible. In addition, our on-scene reporter, Thierry Lorthioir, will provide reports from Apple Expo in Paris throughout this week.
Intel CTO Counter-Attacks Apple's 64-Bit Personal Computer with a self-serving, butt-headed statement in eWeek. He says that 64-bit computing is not needed until 2006-7 when Intel plans to bring the technology to market. No one, of course, agrees with him outside the Wintel clan. Even AMD is pursuing 64-bit computing for the personal computer. The emperor has no clothes. [Dana Baggett]
From the Dark Side--M$ Security Plan is Stop a Virus before it Gets to Windows according to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as reported in this CNet article. Hmmm...does that mean that M$ can still produce an OS that resembles Swiss cheese from a security standpoint? The best way to stop a virus before hitting the internet, in our opinion, is to diversify the OS base globally so that hackers who write such afflictions will be too discouraged by their negligible impact to do so anymore. Hey, Steve! Great idea.
-- Monday, September 15 --
Hands-On Review--Zip-Linq Retractable USB Cell Phone Cable: When you travel do you carry along a cell phone AC adapter to keep the battery charged? Have you, like us, occasionally forgotten to take it? Well we're in luck because last month Keyspan began shipping Zip-Linq Retractable USB Cell Phone Cables that will charge your cell phone off your computer's USB port.
We know that there are inexpensive USB cables for many cell phones, but they are not retractacle like the Zip-Linq and do not include a voltage booster that some cell phones need to use the USB port on your computer. Keyspan's Zip-Linq can also charge your phone off an optional wall unit adapter or car lighter adapter.
The Zip-Linq fits many cell phone models. A kit that fits our Sony-Ericsson T68i cell phone arrived just before our last trip between coasts. It is compatible with a wide variety of Ericsson and Sony-Ericsson cell phones:
The kit included a small retractable USB cable in a case, two different cell phone plug tips and a 6-volt booster. The main part is essentailly two USB connectors and a nickel-sized case that the very thin 30" of cable retracts into. With the cell phone plug attached, the whole thing is roughly 5.5"x1" by 1/2" thick and weighs less than an ounce. By comparison, the T68i's AC adapter is about 2"x3" by 1/2" thick with 80" of hard wire that does not coil up very well. It weighs a couple of ounces and the wall plug prongs stick out. The Zip-Linq is much more convenient to carry in a computer bag.
The Zip-Linq performed as advertised. From nearly dead, our Sony-Ericsson T68i was fully charged in under an hour while connected to our 17" Powerbook G4 with the Zip-Linq. Our PowerBook was plugged in and on at the time. The phone also charges while the PowerBook is in sleep mode but not when it's off, plugged into the AC adapter or not.
The other cell phone makes besides Ericsson and Sony-Ericsson that the Zip-Linq supports are: iDen, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sanyo and Siemans. The Zip-Linq's MSRP is $22 to $30 depending on make.
Keyspan also makes a variety of other accessories based on the same very thin retractable cable. There's a small optical mouse and cables for FireWire, USB, iPaq, Palm, modem and ethernet.
RIAA Lawsuits Partly Working according to this Yahoo News article. The lawsuits last week are having a chilling effect on music file swapping according to a poll of 1004 people. There was no mention of whether CD sales have gone up. [Dana Baggett]
"One Unwired Day" is Coming September 25: Sponsored by Intel, some 5,000 WiFi hot spots (25% of the total in the U.S.) across the U.S. will allow connecting to the internet for free all day on the 25th according to this Washington Post article. carried by Yahoo News. There are about 75 participating locations in Washington DC. [Dana Baggett]
-- Weekend, September 13-14 --
Apple Report on IBC 2003 with Photos: The International Broadcasters Conference is in Amsterdam for 2003, September 12-16, and Apple is there. Apple has a dedicated web site and a gallery of photos. Yesterday's photos were just posted. [Dana Baggett]
UPS to Test WiFi at UPS Stores in Chicago according to this Computerworld article. UPS will test customer reaction in 66 former Mailboxes Etc. stores in Chicago. Actually, it is hard to imagine this venture being successful. Most ex-MBE stores are tiny and in older, smaller strip malls. We can't imagine hanging out there in favor of say, Starbucks with a frappucino. We'll see. [Dana Baggett]
-- TGIF, September 12 --
Apple is Offering Gifts for .Mac Account Renewals: We received a notice from Apple that our .Mac account would be renewed October 11. We think it's well worth the annual $99 plus $10 for each email-only account but we are not going to complain about the reward. We (and others we're sure) have been offered the following choices:
Mozilla v1.5 Final Due Out Week of September 29 according to this MozillaZine article. Two release candidates are due out in the interim. [Dana Baggett]
The Beatles' Apple Corps Sued Apple Computer over the iTunes Music Store and iPod according to this Fox News article. We wondered when this shoe would drop. Many over-55 folks will likely remember that The Beatles' company is named Apple Corps and that their now defunct (we think) recording company was called Apple Records. They originally sued Apple Computer in their heyday for using the name "Apple" in an early trademark infringement lawsuit involving commonly-used words. Apple Computer settled with a modest payment and by more or less agreeing that it wasn't a music company. Apple Computer was sued again by The Beatles when speakers were included with their computers when they could play music. Apple Computer again settled for some relatively modest payment. The Beatles, no matter how wealthy and being totally off the main music stage for some time, are back trying to suck on that cash cow's udder once again. We note that it is within their rights to try to do so.
From the Dark Side--M$ Described Workarounds for IE Patent Infringement according to this CNet article. While Microsoft still maintains that it will ultimately win the Eolas patent infringement lawsuit against their Internet Explorer, M$ has advised web designers on a couple of workarounds, including the addition of a dialog box when accessing a java applet, Adobe Acrobat file, Macromedia Flash, etc. However, in any case, the workarounds involve extensive work on existing web sites. M$ maintains that Netscape, Opera and other web browsers face the same issue. It's not clear if the Mac versions of these web browsers or Safari are affected or if its some "M$-only" technology, some of which is incompatible with most Mac web browsers. [Dana Baggett]
-- Thursday, September 11 --
Apple Java 1.4.1 Update 1 Solves Safari Issue: According to reader William Teawell, "With the Apple Java Upgrade, I no longer have to use IE to access the Comcast.net site. Before, some of the rollover buttons would not work, or even disappear."
[Update] Ben Wachtel added later, "The Java update seems to have solved a problem accessing iht.com -- the International Herald Tribune web site. Previously, using the default three-column view did not display properly, but now it does.
P2P United Offers to Pay 12-year olds $2,000 RIAA Settlement: The group, claiming to represent 6 major on line peer-to-peer file sharing services, has offered to cover the $2,000 settlement between the girl's mother and the RIAA resulting from the RIAA's first 261 lawsuits againast major on line music pirates, i.e. those sharing more than 1000 songs, according to this Yahoo News article. [Dana Baggett]
Logitech Ships 500 Millionth Mouse according to this Mercury news article. The article states that the Macintosh was first to have a mouse. Actually, it was Apple's Lisa which preceeded the Mac as the first commercial computer to sport a mouse. [Dana Baggett]
Swarthmore College Updating iMacs from OS 9 to Mac OS X for better security and more features according to the Phoenix, the college's on line newsletter. [Dana Baggett]
Dr Bott's ExtendAIR WiFi Antennas work on Power Mac G5s as well as AirPort Extreme Base Stations according to their press release. The Omni is a 3.5 dBi gain azimuthal antenna and the Direct is a 6.5 dBi gain directional antenna--both attach to the WiFi antenna port on the back of a G5. [Bob Unger]
From the Dark Side--New Windows Virus Due Soon according to this CNet article. While Macs aren't directly affected by these Wintel afflictions, they indirectly affects Macs by jamming networks and the internet. Of course, Macs can also pass on an email-entrained virus to their Wintel-using bretheren. We also got M$ Security Bulletin #39 today. That's an average of over one a week for the year--plenty of business for that huge IT staff that PCs need.
-- Wednesday, September 10 --
Apple Initiates "New Arrivals" Newsletter Web Page: With Mac OS X, developers are releasing great new products and updates to their current products at break-neck speed. Keeping up with all these product releases can be a challenge to say the least. To assist Mac users in navigating the sea of new and updated product releases, Apple introduced "New Arrivals." New Arrivals is a bi-weekly, web-based newsletter that provides users with information on a wide range of newly released products in all market categories, everything from Business to Education, from Games to Science and Technology. In addition to information on specific products, New Arrivals provides users with the ability to see the entire product line of a particular developer, as well as information on each product in the developer's line. And New Arrivals provides convenient links to other resource-rich Apple websites, like the award-winning Macintosh Products Guide, Hot Deals, Mac OS X Downloads, and more. So be sure to bookmark New Arrivals today.
Macromedia Flash Player X v7.0r14 is Out and available for download. We installed it without problem.
RIAA Settles First Suit--$2,000 for a 12-Year Old according to this Canada.com article. The honor roll junior high student's mother shelled out $2,000 to get her daughter off the hook. RIAA's suits could result in a backlash. [Dana Baggett]
-- Tuesday, September 9 --
For more details on this update, visit this Apple web page. [Dana Baggett]New Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes: Doug Adams has posted several new and updated AppleScripts for iTunes, all free to download, including:
Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes is a site offering over 220 free user-devised AppleScripts for iTunes and resources for users who write them.
PDF HandShake Print Plug-Ins for Acrobat 6: HELIOS Software GmbH announced that its HELIOS PDF HandShake printing Plug-Ins are now available for Adobe Reader 6, and Acrobat 6.0, Standard and Professional, for use on the Macintosh OS X 10.2 platform.
The HELIOS PDF HandShake 2.1 server solution offers extensive PDF printing capabilities such as printing host-based or in-RIP color separations, and ColorSync/ICC-based color management for printing separations or simulating the printing process on a proof printer. It enables advanced print options including: custom bleed settings, font availability preflight, custom paper sizes, CID to Type 1 font conversion, preserve black text plus RGB gray detection, and many more capabilities that are essential print tools for professional PDF printing sites.
RIAA Makes Its Move, Sues 261 Music File Swappers according to this Netscape News article. The RIAA stated that this is just the opening shot in and attack that may ultimately include thousands of people. [Dana Baggett]
Apple Bumped iMacs: All iMac models now feature faster processors, faster memory, and faster graphics. They also now support USB 2.0 in addition to USB 1.1, FireWire and Ethernet. The CPUs were rev'd to 1.25 and 1.0 GHz, up from 1.0 GHz and 800 MHz. The RAM is 333 MHz DDR and the top-end 17" iMac gets Nvidia's GeForce FX 5200 Ultra graphics chip. Prices remain the same. Here is Apple's full press release.
Apple Released 20 GB and 40 GB iPods and discontinued the 15 GB and 30 GB models but prices remain the same at $399 and $499. The new iPods also connect via USB 2.0 as well as FireWire. Here is Apple's full press release.
Apple's iTunes Music Store Sells 10 Millionth Song on September 3rd, i.e. in just 4 months. That's an average rate of over a half-million songs a week, making the iTunes Music Store a real success. Here is Apple's full press release.
From the Dark Side--M$ IE Security Patch is a Dud according to this CNet article. Microsoft's recently-released security patch for Internet Explorer apparently doesn't work. That's not very "trustworthy" computing in our book. [Dana Baggett]
-- Monday, September 8 --
Hands-On Review--Tom Bihn PowerBook Cases: With the receipt of our new 17" and 12" PowerBook G4's early this summer, we began looking for a travel bag and slipcases that they would fit into. Tom Bihn sent us several of his finest examples, the Empire Builder briefcase, a Brain Cell slipcase sized for each PowerBook and their new Absolute Shoulder Strap (made by OP/Tech of Montana). The Empire Builder is black and charcoal with a neat wasabi (greenish gold) interior. The Brain Cells are black on black. Tom Bihn cases come in a variety of colors that are sure to suit almost anyone's taste.
"The Empire Builder (right) is the result of 3 years of product development and 30 years of bag building experience." according to Tom Bihn. We can sure believe that. It has a unique style, is extremely well-built (Ballistic and Cordura nylon) and weighs in at 3.25 pounds. The front flap is held shut with a 2" side-release buckle and has three pockets: a horizontal zippered pocket to hold CD's or even a CD player; a vertical zippered pocket to hold a cell phone; and a diagonal, open-top pocket for a plane ticket or other flat items. The front flap covers a large pouch that has additional 3-D pockets for floppy discs, a PDA, cell phone, and pens. A nice touch is the snaphook for keys.
The main compartment unzips low on the sides and it has lockable sliders. The front, back, bottom, and sides are padded and stiffened by 1/4" (6mm) closed-cell foam to protect the contents and to maintain its form. Inside the main compartment are three hard plastic file dividers for organizing papers and a snap to keep files from getting damaged. The dividers are easily removed. Extras can be ordered for the Empire Builder for even greater organization. There are also snaps to hold a Brain Cell PowerBook slipcase.
The handles are constructed of Ballistic nylon rolled around high-quality foam. They lay naturally together at the top of the bag. A shoulder strap is an additional option for a heavy load.
Tom Bihn's all-new Absolute Shoulder Strap (left) has a unique patented internal control-stretch system. A soft, durable neoprene pad is combined with a stretchable backing. This ultimate shoulder strap can be attached to the Empire Builder or the Brain Cell. Actually it will work with most computer cases, briefcases or duffel bags with D-rings.
"The Brain Cell (right) takes laptop protection a step further." says Tom Bihn. The PowerBook is surrounded in soft foam padding inside a corrugated plastic insert to create significantly more protection than just foam alone. The top consists of two padded flaps that close with Velcro. There are four snaps on the back for securing it inside of the Empire Builder or other Tom Bihn bags. It's also available without the snaps for standalone use. The Brain Cell has a snap-closing front pocket of heavy-weight stretch mesh to hold a power supply, cables etc., web handles and D-rings for a either the Absolute or the Simple shoulder strap. There's a size for each PowerBook and iBook: Size 1 fits our 17" PowerBook and Size 5 fits our 12" PowerBook G4.
We have used the Brain Cells for over a month now to cart our 17" and 12" PowerBook G4's, as needed, around town. The Braincell for each fits perfectly. The front, stretchable mesh pocket easily holds an AC adapter, modem cable, ethernet cable, video cables and a few CDs but not much more. The pocket on the larger 17" Brain Cell obviously holds a lot more than the one on the 12" Brain Cell. However, some may find it to be a bit unsightly but the mesh is very fine and hide sthe contents reasonably well. We like the internal hard protector in addition to the foam. While it may add an unnoticeable bit of weight, we think it it worth it for the dent/scratch protection that it brings. Our only criticism is that the top opens the wrong way for easy access to the PowerBook when snapped inside the Empire Builder briefcase
We took the Empire Builder briefcase with our 17" PowerBook G4 in a Brain Cell snapped inside on two recent week-long trips by air. The Empire Builder is itself extremely well-built, probably the best we have seen in a fabric briefcase or bag. The stitching is superb. While the zippers are nylon, the slides are metal as are the D-rings. The buckle that holds the front flap is also plastic but very strong and light in weight. Loaded with our 17" PowerBook and other stuff, the 3.25-lb bag topped out at 17.5 lbs. We really like how the handles naturally lay together on top, very handy, and it was easy to carry on our shoulder without slipping. On its side, the Empire Builder fit nicely under the airplane seat in front of us.
The Brain Cell snapped neatly inside the Empire Builder leaving a main compartment area of about 2-3" wide, plenty of room for papers, magazines and other accessories. One criticism, as noted above, is that it would have been easier to get our PowerBook out when going through airport security if the Brain Cell's top opened from the outer edge rather than the inner when snapped in place. It would also be nice to have some 3D pockets for CDs inside the front of the main compartment, protected by the file dividers. We used the mesh front on the Brain Cell for this as well as holding the PowerBook and iPod's AC adapter and cord to keep the outside flap-covered main pocket from getting too bulked out, not ideal for the CDs. We also carry our AirPort Base Station and AC adapter when we travel and both fit in the main compartment along with some magazines and an inch or so of papers.
Our T68i cell phone and iPod slipped neatly into the Empire Builder's flap external compartments as designed. The other miscellaneous stuff fit nicely in the main external pocket covered by the flap. Maybe one of the 3D pockets could be widened to hold system and maintenance utility CDs. The plane ticket pocket was very useful as was the key holder. There's also a thin, water-proofed full-length pocket for sticking a magazine or a few papers on the briefcase's back (body) side.
We were surprised that the Empire Builder came stock without a shoulder strap. However, the optional Absolute Shoulder Strap is clearly the most comfortable shoulder strap that we have ever encountered. It is wide, doesn't flip over like padding that slides on a strap and doesn't accidentally slip off easily due to little underside rubber grips. Our only suggestion is that the padded area could be curved a bit to better fit a human shoulder/hanging bag's ergonomics.
In summary, the Tom Bihn Empire Builder and Brain Cell are excellent. The Absolute Shoulder Strap is outstanding. We found little that we would change (improve) because almost everything had already been thought of and built in. In our opinion, everyone should be really happy with them. Of course such quality doesn't come cheap but its not nearly as expensive as some other specialized computer cases. The Empire Builder retails for $130, the Brain Cell for $50 and the Absolute Shoulder Strap is $25, a total of $205. This investment should last a lifetime, the length of Tom Bihn's guarantee.
From the Dark Side--M$ Settles with Be's Antitrust Lawsuit for $23.2 Million plus unspecified legal fees according to this BusinessWeek article. Be, Inc. was founded by Jean-Louis Gassee, an ex Apple VP. The BeOS was a PowerPC-native operating system that literally screamed on the older PowerPC Macs before the G3 CPU was introduced. We loved it but, as a new OS, it had little application and utility software. Apple nearly bought the BeOS to be what is now the Mac OS X but Gassee and the Be board were too greedy. The BeOS was then ported to the Intel CPU and Be tried to take on Microsoft but was crushed by M$'s illegal monopoly practices according to Be. This settlement leaves only Sun Microsystems as a major competitor with an antitrust lawsuit against M$. [Dana Baggett]
-- Weekend, September 6-7 --
Apple Ramping Up Power Mac G5 Production in Taiwan according to this China Post article. The Hon Hai Precision Industry Company received orders worth NT$10 billion ($300 million) to produce the G5. [Dana Baggett]
O'Reilly's October Mac OS X Conference Shaping Up: Bud Tribble will be one of the main keynoters. Tribble is leading the Apple charge into the Scientific Computing field by helping to set the long term technical direction for the Mac OS software engineering group. Sal Soghoian, a respected fixture in the AppleScript community, is presenting his signature "Introduction to AppleScript" tutorial at the conference. The Bioinformatics Keynote will be given by Terry Gaasterland. He is an award-winning scientist who will speak on "Meeting the Demands of Genome Annotation with Savvy Distributed Computing." Other Keynote Speakers are: Adam Engst, Andy Ihnatko, Tim O'Reilly, and David Pogue. Register by September 12th and save $250.
PowerMail 4.2 is Out. What's new in PowerMail 4.2 (from 4.1.3):
Feral Working on Ghost Master: Feral Interactive will release Sick Puppies' ground-breaking game, Ghost Master, for the Macintosh on Halloween 2003. Set in the town of Gravenville - Ghost Master is the strategy game with a difference it turns the typical ghost story on its head, it lets you control a number of ghosts, gremlins and spectres, with one goal in mind scaring humans! - It's Scareware.
Apple iTunes Music Store a Winner in the long term according to Forrester research outlined in this this BusinessWeek article (scroll down). [Dana Baggett]
From the Dark Side--M$ Windows faces Competition from Asian Governments according to this ComputerWorld article. Japan, China and South Korea may work together to develop an alternative OS based on Linux. Of course, Microsoft-the-Convicted-Illegal-Monopolist-and-World's-Largest-Hypocrite is screaming the loudest about this, arguing for market forces to determine who uses what and not governments. Yeah, right, but only if M$ controls the market forces through their monopoly position.
-- TGIF, September 5 --
Amnesty for Music Swappers? Maybe, according to this AP article on Yahoo News. The program may include signing an agreement to delete any illegal music from one's computer and to not engage in illegal music swapping again. It is not expected that the 1,600 file swappers who have been specific targets of subpoenas will be offered the amnesty program. [Dana Baggett]
Contour Design Launches New Perfit Mouse Optical: Contour Design unveiled today a new version of its highly regarded Perfit Mouse. Re-engineered to incorporate optical technology, improved reliability, and increased functionality, the Perfit Mouse Optical retains all of the ergonomic benefits which have made the original Perfit Mouse so popular. The Perfit Mouse Optical MSRP is $109.95 with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Otto Matic is Re-Released: Pangea Software, Inc., re-released their epic sci-fi action-adventure game Otto Matic. Previously, Otto Matic was being published by Aspyr Media and was only available on CD, but now Pangea Software is making the game available as a download for only $19.95.
We like Otto Matic but our favorite Pangea Software game is still Nanosaur.
First Speed Tests of a Production Power Mac G5 Dual 2 GHz are available on Accelerate Your Mac. The comparisons are with a dual 1.25 GHz G4 using Cinebench 2003, iMovie and iTunes. There's a huge difference in performance.
-- Thursday, September 4 --
[Update 10:30a EDT] Apple Backup 2 Public Beta is available for .Mac members to download. You must log onto your .Mac account to get it. Backup 2PB appears to require Mac OS X 10.2.6 as well as a .Mac account. The new features:
Backup is finally becoming a generally useful utility. Backup 1.1 allows backing up only to iDisk and and an internal CD/DVD drive.
[Update 10:30a EDT] StickyBrain 2 is Free to .Mac Members until October 1. StickBrain 2 is from Chronos Applications and may be downloaded after logging onto your .Mac account. What StickyBrain 2 does:
Needham, MA, School System Picks Apple's PowerSchool software after a lengthy analysis of alternatives according to this Needham Times article. PowerSchool's integration, being web-based and requiring only one server were it's major selling points. Final approval from the School Committee to buy it will be sought September 16. [Dana Baggett]
OpenOSX Wintel 1.0.1 is Out. It is a Windows emulator for Mac OS X and it has been optimized for the Power Mac G5. We don't know anything about this emulator but we hope it will give Microsoft's Virtual PC a real good run for its money. [Dana Baggett]
Outstanding Artistic Power Mac G5 Photos by Bill Noll are on his web site. [Dana Baggett via Accelerate your Mac!]
-- Wednesday, September 3 --
[Update 9:45a EDT] Tonight, on Your Mac Life--Roxio, Monster & OS X Questions! This week the internet radio show's host Shawn King is joined by Adam Fingerman of Roxio to talk about their latest release, Toast 6 Titanium. You'll find out the Top 6 Reasons to get Toasted! Shawn will also be giving away copies of the software to lucky listeners.
Also on Wednesday's show will be Stephan Yogya of Monster. Monster is well known for their audio cables but did you know they make high quality cables for your Mac? Find out more on tonight's show.
Schoun Regan of The Mac Trainers.com will be back on answering all your OS X questions and Peter Cohen of MacCentral will have the latest in Mac Gaming News.
Shawn also nothed that "There will also be an *EXCLUSIVE SCOOP* on tonight's show regarding Macworld Expo!"
Tune in to Your Mac Life at 8:30p EDT (5:30p PDT). There's also an optional QuickTime streaming video feed.
Apple's Currently-Available, Free Online Seminars: These online seminars are available 24/7. They are designed by Apple to be no more than 30 minutes in length and offer a wide variety of resources and information for your review. The topics cover solutions using Apple and partner products and technologies.
Mozilla is 5 Years Old This Month according to this MozillaZine article. The open source movement to develop an alternative web browser to Internet Explorer based on Netscape's Gecko engine began on September 1, 1998. The complete web suite is up to version 1.5b. Version 1.5 is expected to be out in final within a month as we posted on Tuesday. Mozilla is frequently the top-rated web browser for the Mac. [Dana Baggett]
Electronic Privacy Supported by Ninth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals in a decision against a lawyer who abused federal subpoena power to obtain emails not relevant to the litigation he was involved with according to this CNet article. The lawyer had issued a blanket subpoena to an ISP for all emails to a particular firm under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Appeals Court affirmed his conviction and fine of $9,000 under the Stored Communications Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
This case had nothing to do directly with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act that the RIAA is using in a similar manner but it may be brought into play by defendents fighting subpoenas and suits and those suing RIAA. According to USA Today, the RIAA is set to pounce this Friday on file swappers found through subpoenas. [Dana Baggett]
-- Tuesday, September 2 --
Hands-On Review--Dragon Burn 3.0 for Mac OS X: Want more features than iTunes and the Finder's disk burner to burn CDs (audio and data) and DVDs (data) with Mac OS X? NewTech Infosystems (NTI) has just released Dragon Burn 3.0 for the Mac OS X (10.1.5 and higher, 10.2.x is recommended).
NTI is not new to the Mac since it has produced Dragon Burn for Mac OS 9 (9.0.4 and higher) but they have been mainly a Wintel software company. They claim a reputation for simplicity in the Wintel world. Dragon Burn 3.0 for Mac OS X is their first application for the Mac's latest operating system. It is built in cocoa, Mac OS X's purely native application interface set that harnesses all the features of Mac OS X's Quartz graphics engine. Dragon Burn's interface complies with the brushed metal theme that Apple has adopted for all but system applications.
Dragon Burn comes with Discus, software for creating CD/DVD labels and jewel box covers.
Here are the key features that NTI advertises:
The salient features that set Dragon Burn apart from other burning software is:
Here is a table prepared by NTI that compares Dragon Burn 3.0 with Roxio Toast 5.2 and Apple's iTunes/Disc Burner.
Dragon Burn includes the application, a PDF of its User Guide, and the Discus NT 2.74 application and Discus NT Artwork art database. Dragon Burn was easy to install by dragging it's icon to the application folder. Same with Discus.
Launching Dragon Burn yields its start window (below). It allows one select any of Dragon Burn's seven activities: copying discs, making data discs, making audio CDs, making MP3 CDs, making live audio CDs, etc.
We tried out several of Dragon Burn's features. First, we compared making audio CDs with iTunes 4.01 on a Power Mac G4 Dual 1.42 with it's SuperDrive. Dragon Burn allows audio CDs to be made off another audio CD, from files stored on the hard drive and from iTunes playlists. It works with aif, wav and mp3 files as does iTunes.
Clicking the Audio CD icon opens a layout page. Importing a Beethoven CD's 10 tracks of 78:39 (min:sec) of music into the layout window took 4:48 off the CD. Then, they may be saved as wav, aif or mp3 files. Permanently saving them all to the hard drive as aif files took another 4:40 while wav files took another 4:44. That's about 9.5 minutes in total. Saving (encoding) only the first track as a 192-bit mp3 file took a very long 9:29. By comparison, iTunes took just 1:05 to rip, encode as mp3 and save the same track directly off the CD. It took 5:30 to rip, encode and save the whole 10 tracks as 192-bit mp3 files. iTunes took about the same time, 5:29, to rip and save as much larger wav files and 5:40 for aif files. iTunes is much faster on our Dual 1.42, probably since iTunes takes advantage of the dual processors.
Burning an audio CD from 9 of the 10 tracks in Dragon Burn's layout window with Dragon Burn took 9:36. Burning from files or iTunes' playlists also worked fine. However, burning the same 9 tracks as an audio CD from iTunes-imported aif files took 5:46. Again, iTunes was much faster.
Next, we tried Dragon Burn's Live Audio recording feature using the microphone in our iSight camera. It was straight forward, just select Live Audio in the start window and click on the record button. It worked fine but the fidelity was not as good as we would have liked. Conversation sounded rumbling and music had no range to it. We guess this is to keep the file size as small as possible. We also tried to use it on our 17" PowerBook G4 but no matter what we did we got an error stating that the available disk space was too small. We have 30+ GB unused.
The other features we tried, burning data discs on CDs and DVDs with single and multiple (appended) sessions, worked fine. We looked at Discus but did not try to make or print any labels. However, it seemed straight forward to do so and a very nice extra.
In summary, Dragon Burn 3 for Mac OS X is a nice piece of software. All of its features that we tried worked well. But ripping, encoding, saving and burning speed for audio files is not one of Dragon Burn's strengths, especially when compared with dual-processor aware software like iTunes. And sound quality suffers in its Live Audio feature. Still, Dragon Burn adds measurably to iTunes and Mac OS X's disc burning features with multiple session, multi-device capability plus the label-maker, Discus. At $49.95 for the full retail CD version which includes Discus, the cost is reasonable. NTI also has trial and downloadable versions.
From Mel Patrick (9/9/03),
Toast offers "Custom Hybrid" where, if you are a developer, you can have a separate HFS/MSDOS Joliet partition. This allows you to distribute software for both platforms on one CD. For our business this is a much needed and used feature.
Where Did All the Power Mac G5 Dual 2-GHz Models Go? As late as last Wednesday night, we heard Apple's Power Mac Program manager Todd Benjamin state on Your Mac Life that the Dual 2-GHz models were set to ship as promised, i.e. at the end of August. We posted his statement in our Thursday edition. But many of our readers noted that their shipping date on Apple's on line Store changed from August 29th to September 26th on August 29th or late August 28th. So what happened? Is Todd's face red?
One explanation is that the 2-GHz models began shipping first at the end of August to major education customers regardless of when they ordered and everyone else was moved to later. We even found this note, purportedly from Apple, posted to a list server that we belong to:
We can not attest to it's veracity because we did not get one. The current waiting time posted on Apple Store is the very same 10-15 days as in the note [Dana Baggett]. But why would those who ordered June 23rd have the same waiting time as those ordering today? Apple's home page says "Power Mac G5, Now Shipping," the latter is in red. We saw the single 1.6's in the Tysons Corner, VA, Apple Store and Micro Center but no for-sale stock was left. [Dana Baggett]
There was also another note on the same list server claiming Virginia Tech bought 1100 DP 2-GHz G5s to make a large cluster super computer, indicating large educational institution purchases. But still, unless a hundred other institutions ordered like amounts, this wouldn't account for a significant delay.
While we sincerely hope that educational insitutions (and large firms) ordered many thousands of the new Power Mac G5s and we could wait a few weeks if that were true, our readers are still perplexed by the way that Apple handles delays. Maybe doing so minimizes cancelled orders but it sure ticks many people off.
Mozilla 1.5 Final Due in a Month according to this eWeek article.
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