April 2004 News Archive
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Preview the highly evolved Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" at WWDC 2004! Click here.
-- TGIF, April 30 --
Hands-On Commentary--Was Apple Cheated by Pepsi in the Free iTunes Song Promo? You might think so based on articles like the one posted by Think Secret which claims that Apple's internal goal was 25 million redemptions but the promo netted only 5 million. We don't know how many redemptions Apple expected to get but 5 million redemptions out of 100 million possible is not too far off from what we'd guess given the design and expected execution of the promotion. Why is that?
We participated relatively heavily in the promotion. On the one hand, it wasn't hard to do since we use our iPod mini, and our iPods before it, for hours every day and we tend to favor diet Pepsi along with Dr Pepper when we buy soda which we do a lot. On the other hand, it was difficult because we almost never buy 20-oz bottles of soda. This is partly because they are only available as singles in coolers in convenience stores or in special coolers in grocery stores or in special dispensing machines located in some bowling centers, motel hallways and the like. It is also partly because the 20-oz bottle is probably the most expensive way to buy soda and partly because 20 oz is more than we usually want to drink at one time and no fridge is usually available for the residual.
It took some serious effort to change our habit of buying soda in large flats or 12-can and 24-can boxes with large discounts or as reasonable doses from 12-oz cans from dispensing machines. One might ask if the average person who stops by a convenience store and drinks a 20-oz bottle of soda is really likely to care about redeeming a song via a computer for use with an iPod, if they even know about it in the first place. Pepsi knows the demographics of those who buy its products and we don't. But one might also ask why so many of Pepsi's promotions involve the 20-oz bottles. If Pepsi bore the cost of the promotion and knew this would minimize their outlay but Apple didn't, then maybe one could conclude that Apple got cheated but there are a lot of "ifs" involved in reaching that conclusion, more than we are comfortable with.
Clearly, Pepsi did not make the bottles with the iTunes promo caps widely available in the market quickly after the promotion began. We found only a few such bottles in a few 7-11 stores after an extensive search of Northern Virginia a full week after the four-week promotion began. It was several weeks into the four week promotion before the promo bottles were fairly common. But again, it may not have been practical to do better given Pepsi's distribution process.
Our first thought when the promotion period was announced for just 30 days with an additional 30 days for redemption that pushing 300 million 20-oz bottles promo bottles onto and through the market in that time period would be a monumental feat. We still see notes on web sites from people saying they never arrived. However, one of the areas mentioned was San Diego, CA, when we were there so we went to the local Albertsons in San Diego and found iTunes promo bottles in their singles cooler by the checkout counter. There were still promo bottles there last week which can be redeemed through today [Note: We originally incorrectly wrote "Saturday"]. So it seems that some people just don't know where to look. We wonder if Pepsi will get even the 100 million winning bottles (one-third of the total) to and through the market by Saturday. Only Pepsi knows this for sure.
Was the rate of winning bottle caps changed to accomodate a slow delivery of the promo caps to market? We managed to score free songs at a 75% rate, without "tipping", from nearly 80 20-oz bottles, a rate that is over double the advertised 33-1/3% rate. We are not particularly lucky so we don't believe that our success was entirely luck. In fact, the success rate enjoyed by a few other people whom we know who bought 50 or more iTunes promo Pepsi bottles ranged well above the advertised rate according to their recollection. Our experience over time, which supports a change, was that we had a winning rate of around 50% in the beginning and that it increased to nearly 100% toward the end.
We also have some concerns about the integrity of the process. Two of our first ten winning bottlecaps would not work, i.e. the code was not uniquely readable or it was bad. The instructions for bad caps were to get an RMA from a Pepsi web site and send the cap in a padded envelope to a Pepsi redemption center. Then, a working code would be sent back by email. Despite the fact that a padded envelope and postage costs more than 99 cents, we did this twice to test the system. The first bad cap was obtained during our first weekend survey and it received an RMA from Pepsi in the 300's. The second followed by four days and it received an RMA in the 900's so at least initially there were more than a few caps with redemption codes that did not work or were not readable. Inspite of spending an extra $3+ for the two "free" songs, we received only one code back by email from the redemption center and even that was nearly after the promotion is set to end. We suspect that most people just trashed a winning cap with a code that didn't work.
So, in conclusion, it seems to us that the promo was designed and executed in a way that was stacked against getting a high redemption number even though the actual winning rate may have been higher than designed and may have even increased over the promotion. However, it strikes us that almost any marketing person should have anticipated that happening so we find it hard to believe that Apple was cheated. If Pepsi didn't perform up to its contract, we expect that Apple will be getting some consideration but it would have been far better if the program had been designed and executed to deliver more redemptions than 5 million.
Apple Broadens iBook Logic Board Repair Program to include additional serial numbers according to this Apple web page.
iPod Mini Prices Skyrocket to Over $400 on eBay: The trickle of new iPod minis to market with high demand is leading to incredibly high prices on the gray market. A pink one went for $400 last night on eBay. Several went for over $500 in the past couple of weeks with many selling for over $400. Pink has been a hot color for gifts--our West Coast reporter, Brian Nakamoto, related to us his observation of a guy who bought 8 for gifts. So much for the pundits who thought the iPod mini was overpriced at $249.
Reports of iPod Update Problems Persist, Apple Investigates the Problem according to this CNet article. We updated several original 5-GB iPods and two iPod minis with no problem, however others have had problems. Brian Nakamoto, our West Coast reporter, was unable to update his 30-GB iPod. He reports:
Apple is encouraging those with problems to contact AppleCare. [Dana Baggett]
iBook Extension to High Schools Not in Maine Supplemental Budget according to this Portland Press Herald article. The spending bill has been sent to the Governor for signature. Gov. Baldacci proposed extending the highly successful iBook program from 7th and 8th grade to 9th grade using left over capital improvement funds but is expected to sign the bill and look for some other way to extend the program. [Dana Baggett]
Which are the Best WiFi Internet Hotels? MSNBC.com provided a report useful to road warriors. Here is their best 10 list:
Internet Tax Ban Extension Approved by U.S. Senate on a 93-3 Vote according to this Washington Post article. The Senate's extension is for four years and leaves open taxing telephone service regardless of medium. However, the House version provides for a broader and permanent ban so it still has a tough fight in Congress. [Dana Baggett]
-- Thursday, April 29 --
Apple Promo--Free iTunes Music Store Song Each Day for Eight Days: Apple is marking the first anniversary of its iTunes Music Store by thanking its customers with a free song of the day, starting Wednesday (My Hero by Foo Fighters), for the next eight days from artists who have helped make iTunes a runaway success, including Foo Fighters, Avril Lavigne, Courtney Love, Annie Lennox, Jane’s Addiction, Counting Crows, Renee Fleming and Nelly Furtado. Following the anniversary celebration, the iTunes Music Store will continue to offer a “Free Single of the Week” from up-and-coming bands, spotlighting emerging artists and offering iTunes customers a risk-free way to discover new music.
The free song is available by clicking the free song image on Apple's home page.
Washington DC's National Mall to Get Free Wireless Internet according to this Reuters article on Yahoo News. The Open Park Project has already set up a free wireless internet access point covering the Supreme Court and the Capitol. Their plan is to add 6 more along the two-mile Mall. [Dana Baggett]
This release supports many new drives plus:
The only "downgrade" is:
Apple's iTunes Music Store provided 70 million song downloads in its first year and the download rate is now at an annual level of 140 million songs. iTMS now has 700,000 songs from the five major music distributors and 450 independents. Here is the full Apple press release.
Apple Released iMovie 4.0.1 Update and it is available for download via the Software Update preference panel or from this Apple web page. According to Apple:
Apple Released QuickTime 6.5.1 (and QuickTime 6.3.1 for Mac OS X 10.1.5) and it is available for download via the Software Update preference panel or from this Apple web page. According to Apple, QuickTime 6.5.1 delivers many important updates, including:
The QuickTime Update is needed for iTunes 4.5 to properly function. We have installed it on several Macs and have not encountered a problem. [Dana Baggett]
-- Wednesday, April 28 --
[Update 7:50a EDT] Apple iTunes 4.5 and iPod Update 2004-04-28 are Out and avilable for download from Apple's iPod web page but not yet via the Software Update preference pane.
The iTunes 4.5 improvements will probably be divulged at this morning's 11:30a (ET) news conference. But the Read Me says:
What's new in iTunes 4.5
Changes for iPod without a Dock connector
Changes for iPod with a Dock connector and iPod mini
We downloaded both and installed them with no problems. [Dana Baggett]
Apple Emphasizes Enterprise IT at WWDC 2004: In-house developers, system administrators, and IT managers won’t want to miss WWDC 2004. Apple engineers and industry-leading enterprise solution experts will present detailed technical sessions on developing, deploying, and managing enterprise applications using Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Xserve G5 and the Xserve RAID storage system. Learn more about how coming to WWDC 2004 can help you make the most of your company’s investment in Apple technologies.
Did Apple's AirPort 3.4.1 Updater Take? If you had a reception issue with AirPort 3.4 and after applying the 3.4.1 updater reception did not improve, how can you tell that the 3.4.1 updater actually installed? Well, launch the System Profiler in your Utilities folder, click on "Extensions" under Software in the navigation window on the left and scroll down the the four AppleAirPort... extensions as shown below:
The first and second extensions should have the date of when you installed the 3.4.1 updater and the AppleAirPort2 extension should be version 3.4.1.
If you have problems maintaining an AirPort connection, it may have nothing to do with AirPort 3.4. We always move the primary internet connection port configuration, especially "Internel Modem," to the top of the list to minimize connection problems. To do so open the Network pane in System Preferences, click on the "Show" popup menu, select Network Port Configurations and drag AirPort to the top of the list. This works for us with dial-up connection problems but we do not have AirPort connection problems to test.
Apple Hands-On Labs at WWDC 2004 Are "Hidden Gems": The Hands-On Labs at WWDC are the “hidden gems” of the conference, offering both formal and informal opportunities to get specific advice and assistance from Apple's engineers. You can schedule a one-on-one consultation focused on your application’s UI, get tips and techniques for optimizing for the Power Mac G5, test drive the latest version of Apple’s developer tools, or simply drop in for a casual chalk-talk with an Apple engineer. Be sure to bring your source code and your questions and take advantage of this valuable opportunity to get answers from the experts. Last year the hands-on labs were huge hits according to our personal observations.
SureType 2.0 for Mac OS X is Out: SureType 2.0 for Mac OS X, from Rampell Software, allows users to define text shortcuts that insert frequently typed text, open websites and applications. With SureType, by typing address\ (address + backslash) SureType will insert your full address, or by typing excel\ SureType will open Microsoft Excel. This is similar to Microsoft Word's AutoCorrect feature, but is much more powerful and works from any application. Not only can SureType insert frequently used text items and speed up your typing, like TypeIt4Me, it can also put your favorite files, folders, and applications at your fingertips. SureType requires Mac OS X 10.2 or higher. It comes with a free 14-day trial, and can be purchased for $19.95.
Apple Subsidiary FileMaker Released Meetings 2.0 and Tasks 2.0 Business Software according to this eWeek article. FileMaker Meetings 2.0 manages meetings from making agendas, taking minutes to the assignment and tracking of follow-up actions. FileMaker Tasks 2.0 manages tasks for individuals and project groups, as well. They cost $69 each or, until September 30th, both for $99. They work with FileMaker Pro 7. [Dana Baggett]
Apple Extends WWDC 2004 Early Registration to May 14 to Save $300: Apple is pleased to extend the WWDC 2004 Early Registration deadline to May 14, 2004. You now have two additional weeks to save $300 on your WWDC 2004 E-ticket or to invite your team and save 20% on a WWDC E-ticket 5-Pack. Plus, there’s still time to get good airfare, book a great hotel room at a great price, and reserve a seat for yourself at one of the free pre-conference workshops.
-- Tuesday, April 27 --
Apple Partner in $11 Million EETT Grant to LA County Schools according to this Business Wire article. The grant is from the Enhancing Education Through Technology program, a part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The participating districts are ABC Unified, Compton Unified, Downey Unified, East Whittier City, El Rancho Unified, Norwalk/La Mirada Unified, South Whittier, and Whittier City School Districts. The 2-year grant covers 33 middle schools with some 33,000 students. Apple will be expanding 6th-8th grade student access to wireless laptop technology (iBooks and AirPort Base Stations?). [Dana Baggett]
Hands-On Report--Apple AirPort 3.4.1 Updater: AirPort 3.4.1 Updater is out and available for download via the Software Update preference pane or as a standalone file. We couldn't find any details on what exactly is fixed in the new updater. But after the release of v3.4 there were a number of reports of reduced reception and wake from sleep connection issues. While we did not see these issues on four AirPort networks, one or more of the issues may have been fixed for others in v3.4.1. Here is what the vague Read Me file says:
This is the same as for v3.4.
Upon rebooting after installation, we had to reselect the wireless network and allow access to our Keychain in a dialog box on several Macs.
With one exception, we notice no reception differences in our AirPort Extreme networks, probably because we noticed no real degradation with AirPort v3.4 as reported by some. We also had no reconnection problems after waking from sleep.
The reception exception is a 1-GHz 17" PowerBook G4 that, from the same location, consistently showed three arcs in the menu icon before 3.4. But when downloading large files, it would drop to two arcs. After 3.4, things were reversed--the icon would display two or three arcs normally and a solid three arcs during a large download. In either case, however, the throughput as measured by several download speed services was the same on average regardless.
After 3.4.1, the icon is back to a solid three arcs normally and it also displays a solid three arcs during a large download. Unfortunately, the download speed remains the same as before using the speed tests (CNet and Bandwidth Place). We conclude that our reception issue was really cosmetic. [Dana Baggett]
Bedlam 2 v1.1 is Out and Runs on Mac OS X: Bedlam 2 is a fast action, arcade-style game with forty-five levels of blistering game play. As you blast away at the invading forces, your ship moves along the bottom of the screen while you try to avoid a barrage of enemy firepower, collisions with attacking ships and the occasional chunk of floating space debris. By racking up points along the way, you earn much-needed extra ships, and can even capture hunks of gold bars released when you've demolished the ships of some of the greedy trespassers. Other fun and nasty surprises materialize during your long mission to free our galaxy from this evil infestation. Changes in this version (v1.1) include:
Bedlam 2 v1.1 is available for $15.
Apple's Steve Jobs to Hold Wednesday Conference on iTunes Music Store Anniversary according to a news story broke yesterday morning by MacMinute and confirmed by MacCentral late yesterday afternoon. The conference will include BIO media and analysts and will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 28th, the anniversary of Apple's iTunes Musinc Store. [Dana Baggett]
-- Monday, April 26 --
[Update 10:30a] ADHOC (formerly MacHack) Announced Keynote Speakers: The Advanced Developer Hands On Conference (ADHOC) will take place in Dearborn, MI, on July 21-24. It will have two keynote speakers.
One featured speaker is Jordan Hubbard, Apple's manager of the Darwin (UNIX-based) core of Macintosh OS X. He's famous for co-founding the FreeBSD project and being an active contributor to the Open Source community. His career focus pretty well mirrors the range of ADHOC, cutting edge technology that can be used and expanded on by all.
The official keynote speaker will be David Pogue, an author who gets around. Not only is he the New York Times Technology Columnist and tech expert for CBS News, but he is also responsible for a diverse series of how-to books (over 3 million sold!) including the well-read "Missing Manuals" series. He's also an accomplished music composer and longtime Macintosh aficionado.
Hands-On Review--Dual BayDock 400 with InfoTrays from WiebeTech: We purchased a new 120-GB 7200 RPM Seagate Barracuda hard disk drive (HDD) along with a PowerLogix 1.4-GHz CPU for one of our G4 Cubes. It it had been upgraded with a PowerLogix 1-GHz CPU a couple of years ago, but one that wouldn't sleep. The new 1.4-GHz model is not only faster and uses less power, hence produces less heat, but it has no sleep problem nor any other problem that we are aware of (see our review).
Installing the Seagate Barracuda HDD displaced the original 20-GB Western Digital Caviar ATA HDD in our Cube. We already had a 20-GB IBM Deskstar ATA HDD in an inexpensive external FireWire 400 case. We use the external HDD for backup storage for our Cube but the old case's FireWire bridge was giving us occasional trouble, i.e. not mounting, and the fan on the case was louder than we like. Rather than get two new but similar external FW400 cases for the two 20-GB HDDs, we decided to try out a dual model of WiebeTech's BayDock 400 with InfoTrays. It is a bit more expensive than two OWC Elite FireWire cases, our favorite external FireWire case because they are attractive and quiet, but we really liked the features of WiebeTECH's BayDock with InfoTrays, including only one power cord and easy drive removability.
WiebeTech's BayDock is a flexible system. It comes in one, two and four bay models. One can get the BayDock with plain trays ($19.95 each) or with InfoTrays($49.95 each). The InfoTrays provide lots of information about the drives and the tray on an LCD read-out on the front of the tray. The BayDock also comes with either FireWire 400 or 800 bridges. We decided on the dual BayDock 400 with two InfoTrays, all for $279.95.
We got the older FireWire 400 model because the Cube has original FireWire 400 ports and we plan to use our until it drops. Besides, the two 20-GB HDDs are circa 2000 and they are not the fasest on today's market at 5400 RPM. It might be smarter for some to invest $449.95 for the dual FireWire 800 model with InfoTrays if one is looking for maximum speed.
The BayDock and each InfoTray has a built-in fan, something that originally concerned us since the old external case had such an unacceptably loud fan that we kept it off until we really needed to use it, quite an inconvenience. But the BayDock's spec sheet states, "Yes, the fans are very quiet. We know how important that is."
Our dual BayDock with InfoTrays was shipped overnight the business day after we ordered it. Aside from the two InfoTrays and their screws and keys, it came with a CD containing setup and operation instructions, short and long FireWire cables and a power cable. The BayDock is quite attractive and not as large as we had imagined (7"x11"x5.5" tall). The InfoTrays are removeable and have a lid that slides off to allow a drive to be easily installed.
Installation was quite simple given the instructions provided on the CD. Jumper wires, the power cable and the ATA connector are pressed into the HDD and it is secured in the tray with four screws. The tray with lid closed is slid into the BayDock, its faceplate is closed, it is locked into place with the key and the dark gray lever closed. Note that the HDD will not run unless the tray is locked with the key. The photo below shows the BayDock running next to our Cube.
The hardest part of installation for a non-engineer is to figure out where to connect the three jumpers on red, yellow and green wires and how to set the dip switches on the back of the tray. But we did it right the first time so probably most anyone can. One has to remove the existing jumpers from the jumper block on the HDD and plug in the tray's jumper wires. WiebeTech provides a diagram for most drives on the market of where the tray's jumpers go. The conventional perspective of the diagram is from looking at the jumper block with the drive's electronic board downward. WiebeTech also provides diagrams of how the tray's 4 dip switches should be set for each drive manufacturer. WiebeTech recommends that each drive be set to "Master" unless the manufacturer or type of installation calls for another configuration.
The "info" part of WiebeTech's InfoTray has these features:
The information LCD is shown above at right. During our use, the drives generally ran at 80-81 deg F.
The WiebeTech dual BayDock with no drives or trays installed is whisper quiet. The one medium size fan on the BayDock's back can not be heard in a room with normal background noise. However, with two drives running and the small fan in each tray running, the sound is noticeable. We would not call it "very quiet" as it is somewhat louder than our Cube with a single large fan to cool the 1.4-GHz CPU. But it does not have an objectionable pitch so we leave it on all the time. The BayDock's noise fades into the room's background noise after awhile.
What about the performance of the two 20-GB 5400 RPM drives? We used Xbench 1.1.3 to benchmark each drive separately in the old FireWire case and each separately in the BayDock and together as a striped RAID set up using Mac OS X's 10.3.3 Disk Utility. We also benchmarked our new 120-GB 7200 RPM Seagate internal HDD for comparison. Here are the results:
The FireWire bridge in the BayDock is much faster than in the old FireWire case, nearly a third faster according to the aggregate scores and mostly in the sequential actions. Striping the two drives provides a 20+ per cent additional boost overall. But the new Seagate drive is still about twice as fast overall.
The WiebeTech dual BayDock 400 with InfoTrays is quite a neat solution, it's attractive, fast, reasonably quiet and informative. While we used our available two extra 20-GB drives, if we had been more observant we might have noticed that a single BayDock 400 with InfoTray and a 120-GB 7200 RPM hard disk drive is only $249.95. It would have been $30 cheaper to trash our two older 20-GB drives for a much faster and, with only 1 tray fan, probably quieter solution with 80-GB more space! D'oh!
Apple Knocks Out PlayFair according to this article in The Age. PlayFair is a project that stripped Apple's digital rights management software, FairPlay, from songs downloaded from Apple's iTunes Music Store. The project started with open source software distributor SourceForge.net but left after Apple threatened them with legal action. The project then moved to a similar program in India called Sarovar. Sarovar has now dropped PlayFair in the face of further Apple legal action. [Dana Baggett]
-- Weekend, April 24-25 --
Hands-On Report--DiskWarrior 3.0.2 CD Update is out and available for download from Alsoft. What's new in DiskWarrior 3.0.2?
Note that you need an original 3.0 or 3.0.1 CD to use this updater and that it produces a new CD so you need a CD burner and a blank CD as well.
We downloaded the updater and updated our DiskWarrior to v3.0.2, getting a new CD in the process. The new DiskWarrior 3.0.2 CD booted our PowerBook just fine. Then we optimized the directory on the hard disk drive in our 1-GHz 17" PowerBook G4 and on our external bootable FireWire hard disk drive. Both were about 30% scrambled and it took just a couple of minutes to complete the optimized directory for each drive. If you need a CD with Mac OS X 10.3.x on it to boot your Mac, call Alsoft.
Senate Set to Move Internet Tax Ban Bill Next Week according to this Reuters article on Yahoo News. The compromise will extend the ban for 4 years but the issue of whether or not to include voice calls over the internet in the ban will have to be addressed by Congress. [Dana Baggett]
-- TGIF, April 23 --
Griffin Announced their iTalk Voice Recorder for iPod is Now Shipping: The iTalk Voice Recorder's exclusive features include external microphone input and headphone play-through. Griffin Technology, Inc, innovator of accessories for iPod like the iTrip, today announced the iTalk Voice Recorder for the iPod is now shipping--on schedule. This stylish accessory snaps directly on top of the iPod and turns it into a fully functional voice recorder and playback device. In addition to it's superior built in microphone and internal speaker, the iTalk has a connector that supports both headphone monitoring and the use of an external microphone. Recording control is handled directly on the iPod and recording time is limited only by the iPod's size. The iTalk Voice Recorder retails for $39.99 and is available now.
Apple FireWire Audio Driver Update 1.0.8 for Mac OS X 10.3.3 is Out and available for download. However, it does not appear in the Software Update preference pane. According to Apple,
[Dana Baggett via MacUpdate.com]
Internet Piracy Busts Around the World Announced by Justice Department according to this AP article on Excite News. The busts occurred in 27 states and 10 countries, netting 100 people and 200 computers including 30 servers. A bust happened in the near-future city of our global headquarters, San Diego, where six warrants were served by the FBI in Operation Fast Link (AP news). The piracy involved music, movies and software. [Dana Baggett]
Apple Wins NAB 2004 Best of Show Awards: The 2004 Vidy Awards, Digital Television/TV Broadcast Awards and Government Video Salutes, which are presented in recognition of outstanding achievement in the advancement of the art and science of video technology, were announced at NAB yesterday.
Apple's Shareholder Meeting Results in a Paragraph: Apple's spring shareholders meeting was yesterday. Basically, Steve Jobs and Apple executives defended not opening up the iPod to RealNetwork's music service and defended closing the Elk Grove, CA, plant to manufacturing. The shareholders elected the proposed slate of directors, approved KPMG as Apple's auditor and defeated a union proposal to limit executive pay, a proposal not surprisingly opposed by Apple management. The details are covered in this CNet article. [Dana Baggett]
Trade Your Palm PDA for an HP iPAQ with PocketMac Pro Software: Check out PalmUptrade.com, an initiative between the makers of PocketMac Pro software (Information Appliance Associates) and Hewlett Packard for existing Mac-based Palm users to trade in their Palms for significant rebates on Hewlett Packard's iPAQs and PocketMac Pro software. The initiative comes on the heels of news of Palm deciding to discontinue Macintosh support for Palm syncing in future versions of their operating system according to an Information Appliance Associates press release.
They will also be giving Palm users a free tool, PocketMac Palm Importer, to move over their existing Palm Desktop data to Entourage, iCal or OS X Address Book. In total, Palm users will get a minimum rebate of $50 from HP (more for newer Palms) and an instant rebate of $43 from PocketMac.
-- Thursday, April 22 --
Apple Posted a Preliminary WWDC 2004 Conference Schedule: You can begin planning your WWDC experience today. Check out the preliminary conference schedule to get a head start on what you’ll want to attend when. You should also take a look at the full slate of evening events we have planned. Finally, be sure to sign up for one of the free pre-conference workshops scheduled for Sundayspace is limited, and these valuable bonus sessions are always popular.
Mozilla 1.7rc1 is Out and available for download. The next version of the Mozilla web browser is out as a release candidate. Here are the release notes and long lists of new things in the browser, mail and chat applications plus under the hood. [Dana Baggett]
Review--Five 17" Laptops including Apple's 17" PowerBook G4 are reviewed in this CNet article. Apple's 17" PowerBook G4 is rated slightly (0.2 points) behind a 17" HP Pavillon basically on the difference in performance as a desktop replacement. However, the total unweighted score of the PowerBook is higher than the HP and it has a higher reader rating. In addition, all the others are thick and weigh in at a huge 9+ pounds vs Apple's 6.8.
WAPi AMUG April Meeting--iMovie: Fun, Fantastic, Free: The metro Washington DC area's Washington Apple Pi, one of the oldest AMUGs, will devote the entire April 2004 General Meeting to iMovie and the wonders of QuickTime. Come see clips and mini-feature films created by Pi members. Grab the brochure, with details on how your own iMovie masterpiece can be shown at the meeting, in Web-friendly GIF (89K) or Web-resolution PDF (184K) or hi-resolution PDF (3.5 MB) format. Mark your calendar: April 24, 2004, 9 a.m. to noon.
Note that the April General Meeting has been moved to the staff dining room at Northern Virginia Community College's Annandale campus. This room is quite removed from our normal location in the Forum. It is in building CF. Use the Cultural Center parking lot as usual and the Pi will place signs to help you find the right place. Plan to get there early if you want good seats for the iMovie program. Here's a map of the NVCC campus.
-- Wednesday, April 21 --
AirPort 3.4 Update Problems? None Here: We may be fortunate because there are reports of reception, connection retention and wake from sleep problems on several Mac web sites. We have updated an all AirPort Extreme network, including updating the Extreme Base Station with firmware 5.4, a mixed network with an Extreme card in a G5 and a snow Base Station and an all original AirPort network with a graphite Base Station. We have also updated an original white 500 MHz iBook with regular AirPort card on a Cisco access point. We've had no problems with any of the clients on those networks, not with a reduction in reception nor with waking from sleep and re-establishing the connection.
The only problem with all of the new AirPort software that we've encountered is a minor one with the AirPort Management Tools software that Apple released Monday. The date in the log of the AirPort Management Utility initially was December 31 but yesterday it updated to April 20 and is now correct.
El Dorado High School Students May Get iBooks according to this El Dorado Times article. The proposal includes a pilot with the seniors and juniors of El Dorado High in El Dorado, KS. The school Board would then evalute the program to see if it should be extended to freshmen and sophomores. The school district technology director is working with Apple to prepare the proposal. [Dana Baggett]
Review--IOGear Miniview Extreme 2 and 4 Port KVM Switches in this OFB.biz article. A KVM switch is used so that several computers can share one keyboard, mouse and monitor set. Many KVM switches don't work particularly well with Macs and are very expensive. This one does work well with Macs and is relatively inexpensive at $129 (2 ports) and $179 (4 ports). It also includes USB for sharing audio peripherals so it's really a KVMP switch. [Dana Baggett]
Apple In Cahoots with Eight Japanese Firms to Deliver Music to Digital Audio Devices rather than PCs to protect music from copyright infringement according to this EETimes article. Apple's iPod will be the first hard drive based device and the music will use Sony's copyright protection technology:
Have You Tried GarageBand, The New iLife '04 Application? Well, the MacDevcenter has an article by a singer but a complete newbie to music making. He used GarageBand to make his own music--successfully! He describes how he did it so you can do it too. [Dana Baggett]
-- Tuesday, April 20 --
Netscape.com is Aggressively Hiring according to this ZDNet article. Could this mean that AOL has decided to resurrect Netscape as a product? [Dana Baggett]
Apple AirPort Update 3.4 is available for download via the Software Update preference pane and as a standalone updater. It includes the AirPort Extreme Firmware Update 5.4 for Extreme Base Stations--the firmware is also available as a standalone updater. To apply the firmware update, open the AirPort Admin Utility and then open the configuration window--a dialog box to apply the update should pop up.
Apple Bluetooth Firmware Updater 1.1 is Out and available for download via the Software Update preference pane and as a standalone updater.
The Firmware Updater must be run after it has been downloaded. If the Software Update preference pane was used, the Updater will be in the root Utilities folder. An internet connection must be live, Bluetooth must be on and the computer must not be disturbed during updating. We applied it to our 1 GHz 17" PowerBook G4 with no problem.
In the past we have occasionally had interference problems between Bluetooth and AirPort, particularly when the AirPort signal strength is not really high. Hopefully, the AirPort and Bluetooth updaters fix this issue.
Panasonic and Apple Collaborate to Bring HD Over FireWire to the Desktop and Mobile Editing: Panasonic and Apple announced the world’s first implementation of IEEE 1394 FireWire with 100 Mbps DV-HD (the native video compression of Panasonic DVCPRO HD recording systems) to bring unmatched capabilities to high definition (HD) post-production and content distribution. Together, Panasonic and Apple bring HD over FireWire capabilities to desktop and mobile editing with Panasonic’s new AJ-HD1200A, the first HD production VTR to offer a FireWire interface, and Apple’s newly-announced Final Cut Pro HD professional video editing software, enabling mass adoption of HD resolution images on the desktop, and even on PowerBooks.
According to Apple's press release, the new hardware and software solution dramatically lowers the costs of HD production.
The new PowerBook G4s get 1.33 and 1.5 GHz CPUs in place of 1.0, 1.25 and 1.33 GHz, faster graphics with a minimum of 64 MB VRAM and AirPort Extreme cards and Bluetooth modules are included across the lineup. The 15" and 17" PowerBooks' graphics chip is the ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 in place of the 9600 of the previous models. In addition, the VRAM in the top 15" and the 17" PowerBooks can be upgraded to 128 MB and have faster 4X SuperDrive DVD/CD RW optical drives. The price of the 17" model was reduced $200 from $2,999 to $2,799 and the price of the top 15" model was reduced $100 from $2599 to $2499.
The new iBook G4s get 1.0 and 1.2 GHz CPUs in place of 800, 933 and 1000 MHz CPUs, ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 graphics with 32 MB VRAM and are AirPort Extreme ready. The top 14" iBook also has AirPort Extreme included and the 4x SuperDrive DVD/CD RW optical drive as a BTO option.
The only downside to us is that the 12" PowerBook G4 still does not come with PC card slot which we need for a broadband wireless PC card. We were waiting for this refresh before shopping for a small, lightweight laptop with a PC card slot like the 1.7 lb Sony Vaio x505--rats.
The speed and value of the PowerBook and iBook G4s were greatly enhanced with this refresh. The cases are identical to the previous models which is fine with us since we think they are very hard to improve upon.
All but the 17" PowerBook are available now. The new 17" model will be available in May.
Apple Released Third AirPort Extreme Base Station Model with Power over Ethernet: The new AirPort Extreme Base Station allows one to provide power through the ethernet cable so no AC adapter is needed at or near the location of the Base Station. This is very helpful for placing Base Stations in odd places where there is no power like in air handling passageways, ceilings or out in the middle of large rooms. The new Base Station also meets UL2043 safety standards for placing it in ceilings and air handling systems. It has an external antenna port but no modem and sells for $249.
Maine Middle School Teacher Testified Before Legislature in Favor of iBook Program Expansion to High School: The testimony of Ernie Easter was published here. Mr. Easter is a 7th and 8th grade teacher in New Sweden, Maine. His summary is:
-- Monday, April 19 --
Print It! 1.0 for OS X is Out. With Print It!, if you can see it, you can print it and a whole lot more! And Print It! is fast--very fast. Simply put, Print It! is a big advance in Mac OS X printing technology, MacEase Software claims.
Here is a partial list of Print It!'s features:
Print It! works with Mac OS X 10.2 and higher and costs $24.95. A demo version is available for download.
New Super-Fast Internet Protocol is 6,000 Times Faster than DSL: NCSU scientists have designed a new internet transmission protocol called BIC-TCP (binary increase congestion transmission control protocol) to replace TCP adopted in the '80's according to this Yahoo News article. With BIC, speeds of 6,000 times DSL or 150,000 times a 65K dial up are possible. BIC is one among a half dozen protocols being considered as a new internet standard. [Dana Baggett]
Broadband Internet Continues to Replace Dial-Up Connections: According to the latest surveys, broadband accounts for 55 per cent of internet connections in the U.S., i.e. about one-third of all adults, at home or at work. [Dana Baggett]
Lowry Digital Makes High Definition DVD Restorations with Power Mac G5s, 600 of them according to this NYT article on Excite News. The G5's have a total of 2400 GB of RAM. Lowry scans aging celluloid film images at 4,000 lines per image frame rather than the norm of 480 to 2,000. For comparison, high definition TV has just 1080 lines per image. [Dana Baggett]
-- Weekend, April 17-18 --
[Update 12:30a EDT 4/18] New NVIDIA 6800 Ultra Graphics Kicks the ATI Radeon 9800 XT's Butt in two early reviews. Last Friday we reported on NVIDIA's event releasing their new ATI-killer graphics card. In terms of visual quality involving anti-aliasing (removing jaggies) and anisotropic filtering (detailing) ATi has been king, but the new-yet-to-be-released NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra reference card has caught up to ATI's top dog, the Radeon 9800 XT, and surpassed it in some ways. In terms of speed for 3D gaming, the GeForce 6800 Ultra cleaned the Radeon XT's clock by a substantial margin in virtually every comparison.
Of course, the reviews (here and here) are based on PCs running Windows XP, mostly with Microsoft DirectX 9.0c APIs but some with OpenGL, since there is no Mac version of the GeForce 6800 yet. There's not even a Mac version of NVIDIA's previous top performer, the GeForce 5950 Ultra, only the previous generation GeForce4 Ti 4600. Heck, we're still waiting for the long-ago announced 256 MB version of the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro Special Edition. But the reviews indicate what might be in store for the Mac at the next upgrade of the top-end Power Mac G5.
The other shoe has yet drop--ATI has the X800 under development and we may hear more about it now that NVIDIA has released the GeForce 6800 Ultra.
$5 Game Special--Choose any of the games in the list below for just $5 each, no limit on the number you can order. This promotion ends at midnight (CST) on April 26, 2004.
Coming Titles--Here is the status of MacPlay's upcoming games:
Review--Flatbed Scanners Digitize 35mm Slides: This AP article reviews two flatbed scanners that the author used to digitize an old 35mm slide collection. The scanners are the $99 Epson Perfection 1670 and the $199 HP ScanJet 4670. The author likes the looks of the HP ScanJet itself but likes the results of the Epson Perfection better. [Dana Baggett]
-- TGIF, April 16 --
Apple Rejected Discussing Online Music Alliance with RealNetworks according to this AP article on Yahoo News. RealNetworks wanted to discuss an alliance involving Apple's iPod as widely reported yesterday. But AP reported early this morning that Apple CEO Steve Jobs rejected the meeting, not wanting to open up the iPod to music services other than Apple's iTunes Music Store.
Apple .Mac Promo--60 Days Free Trial: Check out the .Mac web site if you are not currently a member and are interested in a free trial. We have had a .Mac account since its inception and find it to be extremely convenient for syncing computers at our several locations, transporting moderately large files among them and posting photos on the web for our widely dispersed family.
Apple Final Cut Express v2.0.3 is Out and available for download via the Software Update preference pane if you have FCE 2.x installed according to VersionTracker. Only v2.0.2 is listed on Apple's Final Cut Express' web page.
NVIDIA Announced Latest ATI Graphics Killer, The GeForce 6 Series: NVIDIA Corporation, a leader in visual processing solutions, introduced the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 models of graphics processing units (GPUs) for high-performance desktop computers. The NVIDIA GeForce 6 Series, which includes the flagship GeForce 6800 Ultra and GeForce 6800, is designed to deliver the ultimate graphics experience, including:
The first GPUs based on the NVIDIA GeForce 6 Series, the GeForce 6800 Ultra and GeForce 6800 models, are manufactured using IBM’s high-volume 0.13-micron process technology and are currently shipping to leading add-in-card partners, OEMs, system builders, and game developers.
No mention of Apple was made in NVIDIA's announcement but then again no other OEM was mentioned either. Apple has moved more to ATI graphics recently, especially in its top end models.
Transferring Data to a New Mac, Let me Count the Ways: So, you’ve got a new Mac. Now how can you copy all of your Photoshop, AppleWorks, Excel, FileMaker, iMovie, and other files from your old Mac to your new Mac? Well, you could:
Information about each of these data-transfer methods can be found in the Apple Knowledge Base article Moving Files from your Older Macintosh to a New One.
But the answer is six. Mac Help provides the other way. In the Finder, just type Command-? and then type "Using IP over FireWire" to learn how Mac OS X Panther lets you transfer data between two Macs with just a FireWire cable.
-- Thursday, April 15 --
Apple Posted Q2 Profit of $46M, Beat Consensus Estimate by 20%: Late yesterday Apple announced its second quarter earnings, a $49 million net profit on earnings of 12 cents per share beating the consensus estimate by 20 per cent. The consensus estimate that we reported on Monday was 10 cents per share. Apple's sales were $1.9 billion, a 29% increase over the same quarter last year and a 5% decrease over the first quarter, traditionally a high quarter because it includes the holiday season.
Apple shipped over 749,000 Macs and 807,000 iPods in their second quarter, i.e. from January 1st though March 31st, 2004. These sales represent a 5% increase in Macs and a whopping 909% increase in iPod sales over the same quarter last year. Here are the unit sales details:
Sales of iBooks increased a significant 51% over last year but were flat from the last quarter. Power Mac sales increased 12% over last year but decreased 19% below last quarter. iMac sales continue to decline significantly. While PowerBook sales declined only 5% from the same quarter last year, they declined nearly 20% below the previous quarter.
The star was the iPod, of course, with sales nine times last year and even 10% over the preceeding hot holiday quarter.
Revenue from Apple's retail stores increased nearly 100% over the same quarter last year but declined 4% below last quarter, the holiday season. Revenue increased year to year in the Americas and Europe but Japan showed a decline.
Except for iMacs and the Japan region, Apple's second quarter report is excellent. Here is Apple's press release for further details.
Hands-On Report--Our iPod Mini at 7 Weeks and Counting: On Friday, February 20th, we stood in line at the Tysons Corner Apple Store until the appointed hour of 6pm for an opportunity to be among the first to buy a retail edition of Apple's brand new iPod Mini. Despite the many online and print media whines that they were overpriced at $249 and sales would bomb, we believed otherwise and thought they'd go fast and be hard to get. After using an original 5-GB and then 10-GB and 30-GB iPods we were certain that the iPod Mini would be our perfect digital music player. After we took home our silver iPod Mini, we were quickly convinced of this (see our highly enthusiastic February 23rd review).
Our New England Editor, while not particularly a digital music buff, takes hour-long early morning walks in his rural Maine neighborhood to start the day. Dana's walking companion was recently sidelined with an injury so he decided to get a 15-GB iPod to listen to audio books during his morning constitutional. Our enthusiastic endorsement along with the iPod Mini's lighter weight and $50 cheaper price tag convinced him to get a Mini instead. With the nearest Apple Store a 5-hour drive away and the online Apple Store out of stock, Dana opted to get a silver one from an online retailer--one of the last as the first 100,000 manufactured completely sold out right afterwards.
Our iPod Mini is still as good as new, with nary a scratch on it's sleek anodized case despite being carried virtually everywhere we have gone since February 20th. This includes more than a half dozen cross-country flights as well as tooling around town in various cities to work. It still pumps out great digital music from our collection that grew by over 25% during the Pepsi/iTunes free song promo.
Unfortunately, Dana was not as lucky. After about a week's use, just an hour a day during his morning walks, his iPod Mini occasionally began to emit static. The frequency of static rapidly increased and the sound became distorted as well. If he lightly tapped his Mini's case, the sound would improve somewhat or get worse. After consulting with an AppleCare technician, Dana was shipped a cardboard coffin and he sent if off to be repaired or replaced. This was a little over two weeks ago. Dana was hopeful to get it back repaired or replaced right away as the warranty proclaims. AppleCare immediately gave him a replacement order with the Apple Store but after a week the order still showed a 3-5 week wait.
Then, last week it became apparent that the static problem in Dana's iPod Mini was more widespread and may, in fact, be caused by a design or manufacturing defect or both. There are claims of a poor design in the connector between the headphone jack's mini-board and the main electronic board and poor soldering of the pins in the connector (see this web site).
The jack board is solidly connected to the top of the iPod Mini's case while the main board is "loose" in the case. The connector between them is solid rather than flexible so it would receive stress from any movement of the main board. It is not clear from the articles or pictures that we have seen that the main board can actually move around inside the case. However, our unopened iPod Mini's aluminum case can be flexed a bit on the front and back with a little finger tip pressure just below the top in the area of the connection at issue. Doing so produced no static.
We are hopeful that the boards' solid connection is not an inherent design flaw and that either only a few had a poor soldering job or that there is some other isolated problem. CNet reported that Apple is looking into the issue and provided this Apple quote: "Apple is aware of a few isolated reports online of iPod Mini audio static."
Meanwhile, yesterday Dana received notice that his replacement iPod Mini has shipped. This may indicate that Apple has either fixed the problem or has confirmed that it is an isolated problem. At least it means that a continuing supply of new iPod Minis still exists and Apple is allocating some for repair/replacements.
Our iPod Mini continues to work fine.
-- Wednesday, April 14 --
Hands-On Report--TaxCut 2003 Premium for Mac: We finally finished our 2003 tax returns, well, mostly. We're still waiting for the Commonwealth of Virginia to bless our Monday afternoon electronic filing. The feds took less than 24 hours to do so but, not to worry, the VA return is not due until May 1st. We also filed a California return which had to be printed and mailed since we are a non-resident. We are not sure why the state that houses the electronic industry capital of the world either can't or won't process an e-filed non-resident return. Doing so might even save the budget-troubled state a few bucks.
We are extremely impressed with the 2003 tax year version of TaxCut from H&R Block. It ran perfectly on Mac OS X 10.3.3. We know this endorsement probably doesn't help you decide on which tax preparation software to use for your 2003 return. Since we always owe Uncle Sam more money and the preparation of data for entry from our records is such a huge chore that takes a lot to get up for, we usually prepare our returns in the last fews days before April 15th. Our New England Editor swears by TurboTax from Intuit. Our Editor in Chief switched to TaxCut several years ago because it was much cheaper then and had received better reviews than MacInTax (now TurboTax). But doing taxes is such a chore that neither of us can quite bring ourselves to do it twice or more using the range of tax preparation software available for the Mac.
Our tax return is fairly complicated with several businesses plus a primary employer and income sourced from two states. Fortunately, Virginia and California have an agreement to avoid double state taxation but, unfortunately, not one to reduce the hassle of filing two returns. After checking for, downloading and installing a set of updates, TaxCut 2003 quickly imported the data from our 2002 return with no problem. Up popped a report for all of the forms we used in 2002 showing completed data entry fields for 2002 and blank ones for 2003. It appeared to be a relatively simple matter of just entering the gathered 2003 data on that one report form. Since we had a couple of new/different 1098 & 1099 forms, we decided instead to go through the interview and watch the report change as we did so.
This year, TaxCut's interview was well-tailored to continuing from a prior year, much better than the TaxCut versions of prior years and we whizzed through it. The total data entry time for all three returns was less than half that of previous years. Our federal return was straight forward with no glitches, missing IRS forms nor the few crashes that we encountered previously.
The interviews for the state returns were much more helpful than in previous years. TaxCut's Help system for the state returns was more user-friendly, not just a partial or often incomplete recitation from the state form instructions. Only one computation on paper forms was needed to make a data entry and that one was silly. We had to manually compute whether or not we owed a penalty on our Virginia return for under payment when the rule was essentially whether or not our underpayment was less than 10 per cent of what we owed. You'd think H&R Block could have programmed that one.
After completing the data entry, TaxCut checked for errors and questionable entries. It found no errors and issued a half dozen "warnings," questions to check up on in our three returns. Fortunately, the warnings checked out as okay. We e-filed our federal and Virginia returns and printed and mailed our California return. All with no glitches.
In summary, TaxCut Premium for Mac for the 2003 tax year is excellent. Since it continues to be improved significantly each year, we highly recommend it and intend to use it again next year.
Apple Closed Its Elk Grove, CA, Manufacturing Plant, idling 235 workers according to this Sacramento Bee article. That work will be done under contract elsewhere in Southern California and Apple will place other unspecified operations in its Elk Grove facility. [Dana Baggett]
From the Dark Side--M$ Continues to Clean Its Hands in Settling with InterTrust Technologies Corp. who had sued Microsoft for patent infringement according to this Washington Post's AP article. The lawsuit was over technology which prevents copying of digital content like songs and movies through file sharing. The settlement brought InterTrust $440 million--another M$ "innovation" gone poof.
In fact, this has become a way of doing business for M$. Infringe on others patents and violate antitrust laws, then lose or settle in court and still make more money, gobs of it, as outlined in this CNet.com article. [Dana Baggett]
-- Tuesday, April 13 --
[Update 9:20a EST] Apple Released Faster 1.25 GHz G4 eMac with Bluetooth Capability for $999: Apple today announced a faster and more affordable line of eMac desktop computers for home and schools. The latest eMac includes a faster PowerPC G4 processor running at 1.25 GHz, 333 MHz DDR memory, a faster ATI Radeon 9200 graphics card with 32 MB VRAM and USB 2.0 connectivity to peripherals. The eMac now also offers an optional internal Bluetooth module, in addition to including a built-in antenna and card slot to support an optional AirPort Extreme Card for 54 Mbps 802.11g fast wireless networking. Apple’s most affordable SuperDrive-equipped Mac is now available starting at $999. The combo drive model is $799. Here is the full press release.
CA State Senator Will Try to Block Google's New Gmail Service: According to this CNet article, Google's new free Gmail service will insert ads into its Gmail after searching the content for key words consistent with Google's ads. Privacy advocates are freaked out over this but if Google clearly discloses this to customers, which they plan to do, we don't see what the big deal is all about. The ads alone kill the concept for us.
VoIP to be Unregulated if Bill Passes Congress: Using the internet for voice services (voice over IP or VoIP), will be clasified as an information service by law if a bill just introduced into the House and Senate passes according to this AP article on Yahoo News. The bill ensures that VoIP will not be classified as a communication service and regulated as such. [Dana Baggett]
New Laptop Battery Specification Released by IEEE: According to this ExtremeTech article, the new statndard, termed IEEE P1625, covers manufacturing lithium-ion and lithium-ion polymer batteries. The new standard will help "...to reduce the incidence of user problems, the portable computer and battery industries need standardized criteria for qualification of rechargeable battery systems and for verifying the quality and reliability of those batteries." Apple was not a member of the workgroup that developed the new standards but its batteries should benefit anyway. [Dana Baggett]
Apple's PowerSchool Announced New Version 2004 of its Student Information System: PowerSchool, a division of Apple and maker of the leading web-based, single-server Macintosh and Windows compatible student information system (SIS), announced the availability of PowerSchool SIS version 2004. The upgrade is one of the most significant of PowerSchool’s recent versions, including more than 100 new features.
PowerSchool SIS 2004 is scheduled to ship June 25, 2004, in time for full implementation prior to the 2004 back-to-school season. Schools and districts interested in learning more should call 1-877-873-1550 ext 0. Here is the complete announcement.
OpenOSX Posted Free TrojanDefuser for MP3Virus.Gen: According to Open OSX, "This application [TrojanDefuser] will allow you to drag files that are suspected of being the recently (4/8/04) discovered Trojan Horse 'MP3Virus.Gen' by making a copy of the suspected file without the resource fork, therefore eliminating the potentially malicious code and preserving the data fork of the file. If the dragged file(s) is type 'APPL' (application), then it will be considered suspect."
As we posted last Friday (here and here), the MP3Virus.Gen cited by Intego's press release is a "proof of concept" Trojan Horse and is benign. There have been no known instances of it being delivered to anyone's Mac, malicious payload or not. Still, it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to such things.
The keynote speakers for OSCON 2004 embody open source's diversity and its adoption into the enterprise:
By day, other OSCON stalwarts such as Damian Conway, Guido van Rossum, Monty Widenius, Eric Raymond, Theodore Ts'o, and Mitchell Kapor lead convention sessions and panels focusing on Linux, PHP, Python, Perl, Apache, XML, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Security (new this year), Emerging Topics, Java, and Ruby.
At night, event plans include:
For more details and registration, go to this O'Reilly web page.
-- Monday, April 12 --
Electronic Tax Filing Rate Way Up according to this AP article on Yahoo News. Electronic filings are 5 million ahead of last year. Hopefully, we'll add ours to the list very soon. [Dana Baggett]
Apple to Post Second Quarter Earnings Report This Week: According to this AP article on the South Bend Tribune web site, Apple is expected to post earnings of 10 cents per share on gross sales of $1.8 billion. However, Steve Jobs likes to beat the consensus estimates so look for Apple's earnings to be a bit better. There will probably be an audio webcast conference call when Apple announces its earnings. Watch for the link on Macs Only!--Late this morning Apple issued a Media Alert which posted the QuickTime Streaming audio webcast link, here it is. [Dana Baggett]
[Update 7a EST] Studiometry 1.2 is Out--Adds Windows File Compatibility: Oranged.net Software, a graphics design/software company, released a significant update to their organizational tool for freelancers: Studiometry. According to the developer,
Studiometry 1.2 adds Windows compatibility, allowing users to copy their data file to a Windows computer and access it exactly as they would on the Mac. This update also adds customizable project specs, a completely new Alerts window, multi-threading, and many other new features and updates.
Studiometry is $54.99, with free upgrades until Version 2.0. A free demo is available now from the Oranged.net web site. The demo disables Project, Client, and To Do saving, and also has a 10 hour time limit.
[Update 7:30a EST] New O'Reilly Article: Speech on Mac OS X: When Apple announced Spoken Interface, this raised interest in speech recognition. However, the technologies for speech recognition and synthesis have been incorporated in Mac OS X for quite awhile. Learn more about speech technologies in Mac OS X by reading this new article on the O'Reilly Mac DevCenter.
-- Weekend, April 10-11 --
[Update 4/11] Feral Interactive's Worms 3D Due Out End of Month--Demo Released: According to a note we received from Feral Interactive, Worms 3D has been declared Golden Master and is ready to be released. The game will be available at the end of the month on DVD.
Feral also released a demo of Worms 3D. The demo, while a whopping 208MB, is a cut-down version of the full game and contains all of the following:
-- TGIF, April 9 --
The same note is also posted on Intego's web site. In addition, according to this MacCentral story, Apple has stated that it is investigating the vulnerability exposed publicly by Intego. The good news in all of this is that there are no records so far of the vulnerability being exploited in the wild, i.e. the Trojan horse exposed by Intego has not been circulated and it is benign.
Mac OS X MP3 File Trojan Horse--Fact or Fiction? Intego, maker of VirusBarrier software, issued a press release yesterday from it's Paris office that warned of the existence of a trojan horse "virus" for Mac OS X masquerading as an MP3 song file and noted that the latest version of their VirusBarrier's definitions will scan for the trojan. Intego's notice set off a huge debate on the web, including on at least three major Mac lists that we read.
While debaters argued for and against the possibility of such a file, many were cynical pointing out that there have been no such notices from other virus protection vendors or even Apple itself and no one has reported having been struck by the trojan. Later in the day McAfee issued a beta of their Virex X v7.5 following the furor but did not claim that it addressed the alert that Intego issued.
So is the trojan real and the Intego warning to be heeded? Here is a purported (note the incomplete sentence at the end of the third paragraph) email from Intego addressing the question posted to a list we subscribe to:
We are not experts in this field so we can not offer our readers any useful advice beyond the traditional advice of always be conservative, i.e. do not click on files attached to an email that you were not expecting even if it appears to be from someone that you know.
Tonight on The Mac Night Owl LIVE--Macworld's Chris Breen and Author Pieter Paulson: This week, The Mac Night Owl LIVE will conduct a special live segment featuring Macworld [www.macworld.com] 911 columnist and best-selling author Christopher Breen. So have your questions ready to send via email or our chat room. We'll also hear from Mac guru Pieter Paulson, who has written books about Mac and Windows integration and other subjects.
Tune in to Gene's internet radio show at 9-11 pm EDT (6-8 pm PDT).
Automatically Dump Accursed Virus-Infected Wintel Emails with .PIF Attachments: Don't you hate messing with all of those virus-infected emails with .pif attachments even though they can't damage your Mac? Well, they can be automatically sorted to your Junk Mail folder. This can be done with Apple's X Mail and AppleScript using the script created by TeraDome and available from their web site. With the script installed all email that you receive with an attached .pif file will be sorted to your Junk Mail folder. Don't worry about junking good email because a .pif file has no use on a Mac that we are aware of. [MacSurfer]
O'Reilly Releases "Excel Hacks" The Creative User's Guide to Excel: "Excel Hacks" shows even the most experienced users how to do things with Excel they might never have thought of doing--and shows them how to have a little fun while they're at it. Readers learn to bring a hacker's creative approach to both common and uncommon Excel topics-- "hackers" in the sense of those who like to tinker with technology to improve it.
The little known "backdoor" adjustments in the book include everything from reducing workbook and worksheet frustration to hacking built-in features such as pivot tables, charts, formulas and functions. "Excel Hacks" shows how to:
This practical, roll-up-your-sleeves guide is for intermediate to advanced Excel users eager to explore new ways to make Excel do things--from data analysis to worksheet management to import/export--that you never thought possible. "Excel Hacks" (O'Reilly, US $24.95) by David and Raina Hawley will help you increase productivity with Excel and give you hours of creative enjoyment along the way.
-- Thursday, April 8 --
Cluster Computers Given Extensive Treatment at Apple's WWDC 2004: There will be specific sessions on cluster computing at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference 2004 this June 28-July2. Here is a sample of the sessions:
Click here for more details on cluster computing sessions and the 100+ WWDC 2004 sessions.
Ninth Annual Apple Design Awards are Open for Nomination Submittals: The Ninth Annual Apple Design Awards are now open for submissions. These prestigious awards from Apple are presented at the annual WWDC. They recognize excellence in Application Software, QuickTime Content, and new for 2004Performance Demos. Don’t miss this opportunity to showcase your efforts to the entire Mac community. Check out the details and make your submission.
WWDC 2004 Exhibit Fair Announced: The Worldwide Developers Conference Exhibit Fair for 2004 will be the ideal place to demonstrate technology products and services to the largest annual gathering of Mac developers and Apple technology experts and influencers.
The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference attracts thousands of Mac OS X developers, IT professionals, and digital media authors who want to get the latest technology updates from Apple, hone their professional skills, and connect with colleagues from around the world. You don’t want to miss this unique opportunity to get face-to-face with the highly-qualified WWDC audience.
Check out the details.
O'Reilly Releases "Network Security Assessment." An increasingly popular approach to network security is to think like the bad guys: by understanding the methods and motivations of those who attempt to penetrate your defenses, you'll be better able to withstand their assault. "Network Security Assessment" by former-teen-hacker-turned-security-analyst Chris McNab provides a methodical approach to identifying and assessing the risks in computer networks. Using steps laid out by professional security analysts and consultants to identify and assess risks, the book offers an efficient testing model that network administrators can adopt, refine, and reuse to create defensive strategies to protect their systems from the threats that are out there, as well as those still being developed.
The book focuses on a single area of network security in detail: that of undertaking IP-based network security assessment in a structured and logical way. "Assessment is the first step any organization should take to start managing information risks correctly," says McNab. Over the last five years, McNab has achieved a one hundred percent success rate in compromising the networks of financial services companies and multinational corporations. With "Network Security Assessment" (O'Reilly, US $39.95), McNab hopes to use his expertise to help others by clearly defining an effective best practice network assessment methodology.
-- Wednesday, April 7 --
Apple's WWDC 2004--Pre-Conference Workshops Revealed! Pre-conference workshops are exclusively for WWDC 2004 attendees. At no extra cost, attendees can choose from five pre-conference workshops conducted by Apple engineers and third-party experts on Sunday, June 27. Register for WWDC today, and reserve your spot in one of these exclusive in-depth workshops. Check out what's covered!
Apple's WWDC 2004--After-Hours Activities Divulged! The WWDC experience extends beyond its five full days of sessions. Each evening, there are activities designed to connect you with your peers, Mac community leaders, and Apple engineers. WWDC veterans maintain that these casual events are perfect for touching base with old friends, making valuable new contacts and, most importantly, getting questions answered and problems resolved. We can tell you personally that they are a blast! This year, WWDC After Hours activities include:
The Apple Campus Bash is our favorite. One can pick up neat stuff at The Company Store and the music has been truly outstanding, not to mention the opportunity to discourse with Apple engineers. Check out the details.
ADHOC 2004 (MacHack) Keynote Speaker Announced--David Pogue--Early Birds Save $200! The organizers of ADHOC (the conference formerly known as MacHack) are pleased to announce that after an exhaustive search, they've found an excellent keynote speaker for this year's independent Macintosh developer's conference. The first keynote speaker this year will be David Pogue. David Pogue is an author who gets around. Not only is he the New York Times Technology Columnist and tech expert for CBS News but he is also responsible for a diverse series of how-to books (over 3 million sold!) including the well-read "Missing Manuals" series. He's also an accomplished music composer and long-time Macintosh aficionado.
While ADHOC encourages experienced and accomplished Macintosh developers to lead technology sessions in their expertise, beginning Macintosh programmers and students of all ages are also encouraged to attend--there's sessions geared to every level. Attendance at this conference is limited to 400 and there are discounts off the Conference fee for registering early (deadline is April 15th, 2004) and for leading a session (ADHOC is a conference by developers and for developers).
Macworld Conference & Expo 2004 in Boston Registration Opened: They have the most innovative and knowledgeable industry experts leading the world-renowned Macworld 2004 Boston conference program and activities on July 12-15. Learn great things from the best!
Whatever your training needs, there will be a solution with one of the five conference packages. Find full conference program details on this web page.
Review--Altec Lansing's InMotion Speakers for iPod by Henry Bortman in this Macworld article. The InMotion speakers are designed for the full size iPod buth there is an adapter for the mini. It's hard to tell if he likes it but there are no negative comments.
The InMotion speakers cost $149. [Dana Baggett]
WiFi Rankings by City are Divulged in this San Jose Mercury News article carried on Yahoo News. The San Francisco Bay area is number one for hot spot wireless internet followed by Orange County, CA, the Washington DC area and the Austin, TX, area. [Dana Baggett]
Free Exhibits Pass to NAB 2004 from Inside Mac Radio & Peachpit: Inside Mac Radio & Peachpit will be at the National Association of Broadcasters Show 2004 in the Las Vegas Convention Center April 19-22, 2004 in Las Vegas Nevada. Peachpit will be located in booth SL466 displaying the Apple Pro Series books and the latest and hottest books in video production.
Take advantage of this special offer to get a VIP Exhibits pass to NAB 2004 from your friends at Peachpit & Inside Mac Radio. Register today! Go to this NAB web page and select registration, click VIP Pass and enter code: MJ1656
This pass is valid for a free admission to NAB2004 exhibits only when registration is received by April 14, 2004. A $20.00 processing fee will be applied after April 14, 2004.
Apple WWDC 2004 Sessions Detailed for All of Us: Here are a few general interest sessions out of 100-plus sessions at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference 2004 this June 28-July 1. For the details on each session, click on the the title below and then "Description":
-- Tuesday, April 6 --
MacDesign Conference Apple Macintosh User Group Discount: Apple's User Group Advisory Board has arranged for a $50 (US) discount for all user group members attending the MacDesign Conference in Chicago, June 2-4.
To receive a user group discount, call 800-738-8513 ( in the U.S.) or +1 813-433-5010 (international) and mention code MDCMUG upon confirmation of user group membership.
Maine iBook Program Gets Broad Support Before Senate Education Committee according to this Maine Today article. Students, teachers, education administrators and businesses all testified in favor of expanding the iBook program from 7th and 8th grades to 9th grade next year. [Dana Baggett]
Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac Out 3rd Week of May according to this M$ press release embargoed until today. Last Thursday we noted that MacMall claimed that the new office suite would be available in May--it looks like they were right. M$ Office is virtually essential for the Mac to survive in the enterprise environment. MO2004 has a number of new features but are they enough to make it worth the upgrade from v.X or 2001/1998 for that matter? [MacSurfer]
Apple Security Update 2004-04-05 is Out for Mac OS X 10.3.x and 10.2.8. Download it via the Software Update preference panel or for 10.3.3 from this Apple web page--for 10.2.8 go to this Apple web page. Security Update 2004-04-05 delivers a number of security enhancements and is recommended for all Macintosh users running Mac OS X 10.3.x and 10.2.8. This update includes the following new components for Mac OS X 10.3.x:
but just CUPS Printing is new for 10.2.8.
We installed the update on several Macs running 10.3.3 with no problem. OS X Mail is updated from v1.3.4 to v1.3.7. [Dana Baggett]
Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes Update iTunes Library Manager to v3.0.1: Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes has posted an update to "iTunes Library Manager", an AppleScript application that makes backup copies of the iTunes Library database file, allowing users to easily save multiple iTunes Library configurations which can be retrieved and loaded at any time.
New in iTunes Library Manager 3.0.1:
Mail Factory Coming Soon! BeLight Software, author of famous Business Card Composer, announced Mail Factory, a new Mac OS X tool to design and print envelopes, shipping and address labels. This elegant application allows the user to save time and money on preparing address labels for mailing pieces. Mail Factory costs $29.95 and is scheduled for release in May, 2004.
Mail Factory cares for guaranteed delivery and saving on postage. It places the barcode and addresses in the standard location in according to the USPS automation requirements. Automated processing of these mails can reduce postal expenses more than any other effort. To make things easier, the addresses can be taken from the Apple Address Book, Entourage or other sources. Support for most popular labels (Avery, DYMO, APLI, AOne, Herma, etc.) and envelope formats gives you enough freedom.
Broadband Internet Connection Tax, Cable No but DSL Yes in seventeen states and the District of Columbia according to this NYT article on Excite News. The cost is about $3-4 per month. We tried DSL for the past year but probably will be going back to cable soon. DSL is slightly cheaper and offers a static IP address (for a fee) but is much slower. The frequency of outages, very low, has been about the same for both technologies but more frustrating for DSL on occasion, requiring a contact with support to re-start several times. Once our DSL provider, Earthlink via Covad, completely lost our subscriber records and cut us off. As might be expected, Earthlink and Covad blamed each other and each referred us to the other's seemingly always-busy phone to fix it, losing 5 days of service.
PowerLogix Ships 1-GHz G3 Upgrades for PowerBook and Power Mac: PowerLogix announced two new G3 CPU upgrade models. Both products offer the fastest clock speeds for their respective platforms. Based on the new IBM PowerPC 750 GX CPU, these user-installed upgrades deliver clock speeds up to 1.0 GHz with a full megabyte of cache also running at 1.0 GHz.
The first product using this chip is Blue Chip G3 Pismo running at 1.0 GHz. The Blue Chip is compatible with all Pismo PowerBooks, and is two to 2.5 times faster than the clock speed of a stock Pismo. The L2 cache is also five times faster, ensuring the highest possible performance. The Blue Chip G3 Pismo with the 1.0 GHz 750 GX also operates very cool, due to the lower power characteristics of this chip. The CPU speed is adjustable on the fly to a lower clock speed, for additional battery life. Tests show an additional 30 minutes on a full charge can be expected (all other factors equal except clock speed.)
The second product also using the 750 GX is the PowerForce G3 ZIF running at 1.0 GHz. This model is compatible with the PowerMac G3 Beige, Blue and White, and original PCI PowerMac G4, and offers up to four times the performance of the original PowerMac.
Availability: The PowerForce G3 1.0 GHz ZIF and Blue Chip G3 1.0 GHz Pismo are available now. Supplies will be limited initially due to IBM ramping GX production. Pricing: Blue Chip G3 1.0 GHz Pismo, $399; PowerForce G3 1.0 GHz ZIF, $349.
-- Monday, April 5 --
WWDC 2004 Detailed Sessions Divulged for the Rest of Us: There will be over 100 sessions at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference 2004 this June 28-July 1. Here is a list of some of those that are of general interest. There's bound to be at least one of interest to you. For the details on each session, click on the the title below and then "Description":
Maine iBook Program Expansion to High School Hinges on Financing according to this Portland Press Herald article:
As we have noted, the first year of the expanded program is esentially cost free! [Dana Baggett]
Mozilla 1.7 Final to Become Future Mozilla Development Foundation according to this MozillaZine article:
-- Weekend, April 3-4 --
New Apple Promo--"Impress for less." Get a $99 Refund: The Apple Store has launched a new promo for the second time this week. Entitled "Impress for less," the way the promo works is simple: Purchase a Mac and an HP DeskJet printer, HP Photosmart printer, or any HP all-in-one product between April 2, 2004, and June 26, 2004and get $99 back by mail.
When is a game port not just a port?
When bringing games to the Mac it's our aim to give you something extra that makes the games distinctively Mac. Almost as important as the increased pleasure they bring to the game, such refinements give Mac gamers bragging ammo to fire off at the dark side. So here’s a little something for your grenade launchers, courtesy of Worms 3D and XIII.
Checkout our these images for examples of the improvements in XIII and Worms 3D!
Multiplayer Mayhem - sometimes it pays to wait.
While on the subject of Worms 3D and XIII, both games support Game Ranger and are set to become two of the hottest online Mac games on the planet. Additionally XIII supports Mac vs PC networking. Plus and this is the biggies the Mac version of XIII will include every multiplayer mode - ALL of them from every platform (console and PC). No other platform release of XIII has had more than 4 of these multiplayer modes. But you are getting all six:
Find our more here.
Web Competing With TV, Especially Among the 18-34 Age Group according to this CNN article. That age group has 24% of the people in the U.S. but makes 40% of the web page views. [Dana Baggett]
From the Dark Side--8-16 Million Windows Computers Infected by MSBlast Worm according to this ZDNet article. The count comes from Microsoft who monitors the number of computers connecting to their server for the security patch and the tool to clean their system of the worm. Aren't you glad you use hassle-free Mac OS X? [Dana Baggett]
-- TGIF, April 2 --
Tysons Corner, VA, Apple Store Renovation Completed with New Larger Theater: Stop by the Apple Store in Tysons Corner, VA, and check out their newly expanded theater. Sit back and learn about the latest in Apple technology with free workshops and demonstrations on everything from .Mac to iTunes to Final Cut Express. It's one more reason the Apple Store, Tysons Corner, is the perfect place to learn how to get more from your Mac.
Apple trivia questions: Who is the first manager of the first Apple Store? Where did that manager work before coming to Apple? The answers will appear on our weekend edition.
Apple Pro Day is every Wednesday at Apple Stores--April Schedule: Here is the Apple Pro Day schedule for the month of April:
Here are the details.
Pinstripe is Default Theme for Mozilla Thunderbird, the stand-alone emailer from Mozilla.org according to MozillaZine. Pinstripe fits with Mac OS X's aqua theme and is the default theme for Mozilla Firefox, the stand-alone web browser. [Dana Baggett]
We are pleasantly surprised to see the 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition (256 MB VRAM and 8x AGP Pro interface) listed. Hopefully, the card will be released soon.
Spammer Convicted of Internet Fraud in New York according to this AP article carried on Excite news. Howard Carmack was convicted of stealing email addresses or fraudulently using the names of other people to establish email accounts to send over 800 million pieces of spam. He will be sentenced May 27 to 2-7 years in prison. [Dana Baggett]
Tonight on The Mac Night Owl LIVE--MACadam and Mr. MacFixIt: This week, The Mac Night Owl LIVE will conduct a special segment covering allegations of wrongful conduct by Apple towards its independent retailers. Featured will be Tom Santos, owner of MACadam Computers [www.tellonapple.org], one of the dealers involved in litigation with Apple over the issue. In the second half of the show, we'll also be joined by "Mr. MacFixIt" himself, Ted Landau [www.macfixit.com]. More guests will be announced shortly. Tune into the broadcast from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern.
Apple ProCare Debuts at $99 Per Year according to this Apple web page. Available at Apple's retail stores, Apple's new form of service and support provides priority walk-in service with next-day turnaround and the ability to make fixed appointments with a Genius up to seven days in advance--no waiting! There are other benefits as well. If you already have an Apple Pro card, the first year of ProCare is free.
-- Thursday, April 1 -- Happy Birthday, Apple Computer, Inc.!
Disgruntled Former Independent Apple Dealers Open TellOnApple.Org: The explanation on the TellOnApple.org web site is:
We don't think this is an April Fools Day joke. Thomas Armes of Elite Computers alerted us with an email.
Technology Industry--Government Regulation May be Necessary for Adequate Security where market forces are likely to fail in a report issued yesterday according to this AP story. Areas like banking and government may need the regulations to achieve better security that market forces will provide. [Dana Baggett]
Apple Workgroup Cluster Won "Best of Show Award" at Bio-IT World Expo according to Apple's Hot News web page. Apple's Workgroup Cluster Computer for Bioinformatics beat out Oracle Database 10g and SGI Altix 350 Servers in the Information Technology Infrastructure category. [Dana Baggett]
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