November 2004 News Archive

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Copyright 2004 by Bill Fox All rights reserved.
Last Updated: Nov. 30, 2004

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[11/30] [Updated]
Brief Hands-On Report--Apple's Verizon PC 5220 Wireless Internet Support: In brief, it works very well and simply in our 17" PowerBook G4.

Verizon Wireless has a fast wireless broadband internet service available in many cities and airports. They claim 300-500 kbps speed with peaks over 1 mbps. Most of the wireless internet PC cards using cell phone technology do not work on the Mac or at least need a hack. However, Apple has a driver for the Verizon card (Qualcomm 3G CDMA PC 5220) and its broadband wireless internet service.

We downloaded Apple's Verizon BroadbandAccess Support 1.0 driver for the AirPrime 5220 PC card and Verizon's wireless network from this Apple web page. According to the web page:

This software supports the Express Network PC Card (PC 5220) in Mac OS X, for use on the Verizon Wireless network. To use this card, you need an account with Verizon (fees may apply).

Fees do apply because Verizon's service costs $80 per month for unlimited time and volume.

We installed the driver, restarted and plugged our Verizon AirPrime 5220 PC card into the PowerBook G4's PC-card slot. The AirPrime card had been previously activated on a PC laptop so we do not know if it can be activated on a Mac. [It can according to reader Mitch Pilchuk who wrote, "I got this card last month. I did the apple download and then went out an purchased it. I plugged it in and a requestor popped up asking if I wanted to activated the card, click yes and a few seconds later you are up and running. Works great. I love it. I only wished I'd plugged it in while in the store. The sales guy didn't believe that it would work on an Apple. It has been seamless. I'm in the Washington DC area."--ed] A dialog box popped up stating that a new port had been found. We opened the Internet Connect application and saw that a new panel had been added and, better yet, it was already configured (see image at right). In addition, an icon appeared on the menu bar with a drop-down menu (see image below left).

We clicked on the "Connect" button and it just worked, claiming a connection speed of 230 kbps, nearly 5 times as fast as our usual "56K" modem connection of 46-48 kbps. Not quite cable or DSL speed but very good for internet access almost anywhere in the supported cities and airports. [Bill Fox and Brian Nakamoto]

Apple Ethernet Driver 1.1.10 for Mac OS X 10.3.3 and Later is Out and available for download from this Apple web page. According to Apple,

This update provides improved connection stability. This updater is recommended for all Xserve systems and PowerMac systems with the Apple PCI or PCI-X Ethernet card installed.

Unfortunately, we do not have a candidate system to test this new driver for you. [Dana Baggett]

O'Reilly Released "Flash out of the Box:" In his new book "Flash Out of the Box" (O'Reilly, US $29.95), Robert Hoekman delivers an innovative user-centric introduction to Flash MX 2004--and makes the process of learning Flash intuitive, logical, and, most of all, fun according to O'Reilly. [Bill Fox]

Hands-On Review--Apple 30" Cinema HD Display: In early November our 30" Cinema HD Display arrived from Apple, about a week after the Apple OEM Nvidia 6800 Ultra DDL graphics card (NV6800U) that Apple stated was needed to run it. We reviewed the NV6800U on November 8 and today we take a look at the 30" Cinema HD Display after we have used it for several weeks.

The 30" Cinema replaced our year-old Apple 23" Cinema HD Display and it looks immense in comparison. With a native resolution of 2560x1600 pixels versus 1920x1200 pixels, the 30" screen has 78% more pixels than the 23" screen. We placed the 30" Cinema on a box behind the 23" Cinema in the photo at right to compare both displays. The screen area of the 30" Cinema is about as large as the entire 23" Display, not counting the legs, some two-thirds larger physically in area.

The new Cinema displays are brushed aluminum with white plastic inserts in the left and right ends. The bezel holding the screen is much thinner so, as such, they work better when two or more are used side-by-side as an expanded screen. The L-shaped pedestal gracefully holds the immense 30" screen some 4" off the desk. It tilts easily and holds its postion with no problem. It is also easy to swivel the pedestal right or left on the desk, something that was much harder to do with the previous 23" easel-style display. Still, we really like the overall design of Apple's previous easel-style displays. The new aluminum design more closely matches that of the Power Mac G5 but we think either looks good with it, especially if the Power Mac G5 is on the floor where ours sits.

The brightness controls for the 30" Cinema are two touch-sensitive depressions in the outer edge of the bezel on the right side of the screen. Our 30" Cinema's screen seems subjectively a bit brighter than our 23" Cinema's but that may be an illusion. At least it does not seem darker. At full brightness, we can feel warmth on our face from the light emitted by the screen while sitting at our keyboard. We use the 30" Cinema set at about two-thirds brightness in a slightly dimmed room but we used our 23" Cinema at full brightness in the same room. Like our 23" Cinema, the 30" screen is nearly perfect as LCDs go, no bad pixels and no obvious light or dark areas. The corners look as good as the center and are just as sharp as expected with an LCD montor.

The only other control on the 30" Cinema is power-related and positioned just below the brightness controls. This touch-sensive depression doesn't turn on the computer and display, one of two things that we do not like about Apple's new display models. Since we keep our Power Mac G5 on the floor beside our desk, we really like the previous easel-style display's ability to turn the computer on and off and to sleep and wake the system with the glowing, touch-sensitive switch on the front of their bezel. For the 30" Cinema, the Display pane in System Preferences provides three options for the power-related control:

  1. Turns the display on and off
  2. Puts the system to sleep or wakes it
  3. Does nothing

We selected option 2. When we originally began using the 30" Cinema, option 2 worked as stated, just sleeping and waking the system when touched. However, now touching the control brings up the power dialog box allowing one to restart, sleep or shut down the system with an additional mouse click or keystroke. We are unsure which software update caused the change but it is a change for the better, in our opinion, even if involves an additional action.

There are two USB 2.0 ports and two FireWire 400 ports on the back of the 30" Cinema display toward the right side with the controls. The location makes it relatively easy to connect and disconnect USB or FireWire devices but a more central location near the pedestal's connection with the screen would be easier to bring cables through the hole in the pedestal to be less messy, a small thing. It's great to have two additional FireWire 400 ports.

Apple's displays no longer come with the excellent ADC connector that carried power and USB. It now comes with what we've termed as a Hydra cable, after the multi-headed monster in Greek mythology. The thick cable coming from the display splits into DVI, USB, FireWire and power cables. The upside is that the industry-standard DVI cable on displays other than the 30" model can connect directly to recent Powerbook G4s, retail graphics cards or PCs without a $100 adapter. The displays also have FireWire ports. The downside, aside from the many connectors, is that the displays have a power brick--one more power plug to accomodate and a power brick to find a place for. Is it an even trade? Well, this is the second thing we do not like about Apple's new displays.

Apple states in many places that an Nvidia 6800 Ultra DDL graphics card is needed to run the 30" Cinema Display. In other places, Apple states that the Nvidia 6800 GL graphics card can be used as well. We now know that it can be run by an ATI Radeon 9600 XT (see our note on 11/27) at a resolution of 1280x800 and probably at higher resolutions by an ATI Radeon 9800 SE. A reader wrote that he saw a demo iMac G5 running one at an Apple reseller. Still, if you want to use the 30" Cinema at its native 2560x1600 resolution, and you will, you need to spring for one of the Nvidia 6800 graphics cards.

In summary, the new Apple 30" Cinema HD Display looks great and works great. The two things we do not like about the new displays, i.e. no power on button and the power brick and cord, are more than compensated for by the quality of the display and the screen real estate. The addition of FireWire ports is topping on the dessert. If you can afford the pretty stiff tariff of $3,299 plus an Nvidia 6800 graphics card for up to $599 you will love this display. It's great for 3D games but if you do graphics work professionally, you need this display.

Use an ATI Radeon 9600 XT with Apple's 30" Cinema Display? -- Yes Sir! A Thanksgiving Day posting by The Clearance Store France claims that they inadvertantly tried it and it worked in their dual 2.5 GHz Power Mac G5:

25/11/04 Apple Cinema Display 30" marche avec une vulgaire Radeon 9600 ?????

Je viens juste de brancher le 30" sur un G5 2.5 Bipro et comme un idiot je n' ai pas mis la Nvidia spéciale 30", et la surprise le logo Mac Os X apparait !! Je me pince, ouvre le G5 oui c' est bien une Radeon 9600 ... Hum, je check Halo :P et il tourne parfaitement en 1280 x 800. Moralité on peut acheter un Apple 30" Cinema Display et le faire tourner avec une carte classique en attendant les nouvelles ATI X800 et X850 !!

TCS's English page is a week behind their French posts. Our French is just good enough to figure out that the note says you have to set the screen to a resolution of 1280x800 rather than the 30" display's native resolution of 2560x1600 and that they ran Halo with no problem.

Apple has maintained that an Nvidia 6800, Ultra or GT, is needed to run the new 30" Cinema Display. According to the TCS note, this is not completely true. A resolution of 1280x800 approximates the native resolution of many 17" monitors. We tried 1280x800 on our 30" Cinema to see what it would look like. If we have trouble reading our 30" screen at the native resolution, we wouldn't any longer--1280x800 makes everything huge.

We tried switching out our Nvidia 6800 Ultra card for the stock 9600 XT to confirm that it works--it does. We set our G5 to a resolution of 1280x800, shut down, switched the cards and started up just fine. The Displays preference pane shows resolutions of 640x480 up to 1280x800, which may be the maximum that the ATI Radeon 9600 XT with 128 MB VRAM can handle with the number of pixels in the 30" Cinema. It is possible that an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition with 256 MB VRAM can do better but we don't have a card to try. If someone does, please let us know the results. [Bill Fox]

TurboTax for the Mac is Shipping from Intuit. Dana Baggett reported that he just received his CD in the mail yesterday. Less is more this year. We reported some time ago that TurboTax for Mac 2004 is no longer a standalone product on CD. It is combined with the Windows product on the same CD. So, if one shops for it on a store shelf in a retail box, the Mac version will not be separately packaged. (Dana checked Staples on line to confirm the retail bundling.) While this may be seen by some as a cost-saving measure by Intuit and even worse, an implication that the Mac product has been downgraded, it actually is a benefit to Mac users who last year had but one version. This year there are three versions: Base, Deluxe and Premier as detailed here.

Installation this year is simplified. Drag the application folder from the CD to your hard drive. That's it! No activation codes. The availability of state downloads is posted here. [Dana Baggett]

Apple's "Shop Friday and Save All Day" Promotion is Today--Some Examples. The day after Thanksgiving promotion applies to the Apple retail stores (we think) and its online store for sure. The note from Apple states:

If you’re brave enough to shop today, you deserve a break. A price break. So today only — Friday, November 26 — discover big savings on a collection of our favorite gifts: the gorgeous iMac G5, our complete iPod selection, speakers, accessories, software and more.

Some examples: the iMac G5 is $101 off, AirPort Express is $98, .Mac membership is $68 and the iPods are $21 off. Sorry for the late post. [Bill Fox]

The Intricacies of Installing the Apple Bluetooth Module Firmware Update 1.2. It is out and available for download via the Software Update preference pane or from this Apple web page as a stand-alone updater. The updater is for Apple's internal Bluetooth module or an external D-Link USB Bluetooth adapter (rev B2 or later). But folks, pay attention because this is a weird one. Here is what the Software Preference pane says:

The Apple Bluetooth Module Firmware Update 1.2 improves Bluetooth performance and reliability.

When this Update package is downloaded, it will install the software updater (listed below) for the Apple Bluetooth Module in the Applications/Utilities folder. Double click the installer and follow the on screen directions.

Yes, that's right. When the Software Update download is complete you still have to go to the Applications -> Utilities folder and click on the updater to install it despite what the Software Update preference pane says after the download is complete. The updater can take quite some time to finish. Our PowerBook G4 took almost 7 minutes with many 15-second pauses and two final 36-second pauses to install. On the other hand, our Power Mac G5 zoomed straight through the updater in less than a minute.

The firmware updater appeared in the Software Update preference pane of our PowerBook G4 because it has a built-in Apple module. It did not appear there on our Power Mac G5 that has an external D-Link USB module. For it we had to download the stand-alone updater. Once again, after the package installer finished, we had to go to the Applications->Utilities folder and click on the Bluetooth firmware updater.

After the updates, our Bluetooth wireless devices, i.e. Apple mice and keyboards, worked fine. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

Apple User Event December 2nd--A Special Invitation from CompUSA: CompUSA, wants you to get into the holiday spirit and join the festivities at CompUSA in the U.S. for an exclusive holiday celebration for Apple users. The event will be held from 7 to 9 a.m. Thursday, December 2, so get there early! Enjoy refreshments. Get advice from an Apple Solution Consultant. Enter a drawing. And get special pricing on almost every product in the store. It's all just for you, they say. [Bill Fox]

Digital Video Expo West 2004 has Apple Certified Pro Track: DV Expo West is December 5-10 at the Los Angeles Convention Center and it has a Certified Apple Pro track covering everything from Avid Xpress Pro to Final Cut Pro to Motion to Logic Pro in 40+ sessions, many with Apple and Avid certification. [Dana Baggett]

NAV 7.x, 8 and 9 Nov. 23 Virus Definition Updates are Available via the LiveUpdate feature on the application or from this Symantec web page. Lots of updates recently from Symantec. [Dana Baggett]

Macworld Expo SF 2004 Heavy on Education: IGDG's Paul Kent, Macworld Conference Expo Chairperson, wrote us to say that:

Macworld Conference & Expo returns to San Francisco January 10 – 14 and brings with it our best-of-class educational program. Our world renowned conference agenda brings together over 125 sessions, 150 faculty members, thousands of attendees and an environment unmatched for education, inspiration and thought provoking discussion. With sessions for advanced, intermediate and beginner users, there are skill development opportunities for everyone.

Here's what Paul wrote that one can expect at Macworld this year:

PowerTools - 2 day intensive training courses on your favorite products:

Adobe Creative Suite • Dreamweaver, MacOSX Server • Filemaker 7 • AppleScript • Photoshop • Music and Audio Production with your Mac • Developing Dashboard Widgets for Tiger • DVD Studio Pro • Expanding your Creativity • Developing Interactive Solutions • Enterprise Security • Acrobat • Motion • Final Cut Pro

Workshops - 1 day immersive experiences on key topics:

Becoming a Power User • Troubleshoting • Airport (Wireless) Networking • Final Cut • Getting Started in the Game Industry for Creative Professionals

MacIT Conference - the most comprehensive 3-day conference on Apple's IT and Enterprise Computing technologies:

Join us as we present tracks on Servers and Services, Client Issues, Interoperability, Network Management and a special track of introductory material for new network administrators. We'll even be taking a special look at Apple's new Tiger Server!

Users Conference - something for everyone at this look at products, tips and techniques from across the Mac community:

We'll look at Music and Audio, Digital Video, Digital Photography, Creative ideas, Inside Mac OS X and cool tips and software suggestions in our Best of the Mac track! Sessions taught by a world class faculty of educators, journalists. We’ll also present the first public training classes on Apple’s forthcoming OS update – Tiger!

Hands-On MacLabs – curriculum’s are designed specifically to walk you through the paces of key software programs to make you more immediately more productive:

Limited class size provide you the most personalized attention from instructors at these half day, hands-on training classes. Classes on Mac OS X Administration, DVD Studio Pro, Motion, Adobe Creative Suite, PDF Workflow, Photoshop.

For course descriptions, pre-requisites and skill level expectations, check out the Macworld Expo web site. [Bill Fox]

MacUpdate Desktop 4.2 Released: MacUpdate Desktop is an application that helps keep all of the software on your Macintosh up-to-date with the latest releases. It monitors and highlights outdated applications on your Mac, giving you the option to download and update each to the latest release. Version 4.2 adds the following new features:

  • Added a toolbar menu, making it much easier to manage your watch list, add and delete items.
  • Added a powerful Synchronization feature that allows you to synch new changes on your web based Watch List with the MacUpdate Desktop watch list,
    and vice versa.
  • Added the ability to add items to your watch list that are not already installed on your Mac.
  • Fixed numerous bugs in the graphical interface.
  • Enhanced the speed and memory usage of certain data retrieving processes.

For more information and video tutorials, go to MacUpdate's web page. Joel Mueller provides an excellent and invaluable web site.

Security Details on Apple iCal v1.5.4 Updater: The update came out at about 5pm ET yesterday and is available for download via the Software Update preference pane or from this Apple web page. Here is what the Read Me file says:

iCal 1.5.4 includes security enhancements to help protect your computer when importing events with alarms that open files or applications.

Here are the details on the included security enhancements:

CVE-ID: CAN-2004-1021

Availability: iCal 1.5.4 is available for Mac OS X v10.2.3 or later

Impact: New iCal calendars may add alarms without approval

Description: iCal calendars may include notification of events via
alarms. These alarms may open programs and send e-mail. iCal has
been updated to show an alert window when importing or opening
calendars containing alarms. Credit to for reporting
this issue.

We updated all of our iCal installations without problem. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

Apple Revised the Offerings from Three Hot Deals Retailers:

CDW|MacWarehouse has great deals on cool Mac products, including Canon's EOS Digital Rebel with EF-S 18-55mm Lens, Kodak EasyShare CX730 Digital Camera, Brother MFC-8840DN Multifunction Device, Maxtor OneTouch 250GB FireWire/USB External Hard Drive with $20 mail-in rebate, Canon Digital Photo Printing Bundle, Epson Perfection 4870 Flatbed Scanner, Intuit QuickBooks Pro 2005, and much more.

B&H Photo and Video has fantastic prices of superb products for your Mac, including Canon's EOS 20D with 18-55mm Lens and Lexar 80x 2GB CompactFlash Card, Olympus 256MB xD Picture Card, Fujifilm FinePix F810 Digital Camera, Epson Stylus Photo R320 Color Inkjet Printer, Panasonic AG-DVC60 MiniDV Camcorder, Canon Pixma iP6000D Photo Quality Printer, Hewlett Packard PCS-2610 All-in-One Machine, and much more.

Ramjet has super low prices on RAM upgrades for your Mac, including 2GB DDR400 Kit for Power Mac G5, 512MB PC-133 SDRAM DIMM for PowerMac G4, 512MB Module for Aluminum PowerBook G4, 512MB Module for Titanium PowerBook G4, 1GB DDR User Slot Module for iMac G4, 1GB DDR Kit for eMac 1.25GHz and above, and much more.

[Bill Fox]

November Aspyr Media Game Report: According to the latest report from Aspyr:

Call of Duty: United Offensive is coming very soon. We are a Call of Duty addict and can hardly wait for this $29.99 expansion pack that adds maps and the ability to operate vehicles like Battlefield 1942. Call of Duty: United Offensive may be pre-ordered at this time.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is also coming very soon. According to Aspyr,

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation(TM) immerses players in the CSI world created by the hit TV show. With real music, atmosphere and locations, gamers become a part of the CSI team. Enter the gritty world of solving the vicious murder of a woman, a slain police officer and a mysterious arson case, among others. Players must utilize razor-sharp wit, puzzle-solving prowess and unflinching nerve to stay on the case and track down the killers.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation may be pre-ordered now as well for $29.99.

Stubbs the Zombie in "Rebel without a Pulse" is coming Summer fo 2005. According to Aspyr,

The title is an original IP, third-person action game using the Halo engine. In this game, players take on the role of the rebel himself, Stubbs, a wisecracking Zombie who takes on an ultra-modern city of the future using nothing but his own carcass and the weapons of his possessed enemies. The game's tongue-in-cheek humor, innovative combat and strong storyline keep Stubbs the Zombie's gameplay as bizarre and unpredictable as its namesake.

Sims 2 is now in full development for Mac OS X. According to Aspyr,

We have one of the largest programming teams we've ever assembled for a single project working on bringing Sims 2 to the Mac, and we're planning to make it our most Mac friendly game ever. Not only are we optimizing the game for OS X, we're also looking into integration with some of the Mac's built-in technologies like iTunes and .Mac. In addition, we're working directly with Apple to have Sims 2 take advantage of extra features in Mac OS X Tiger, for those users that upgrade to the latest OS in 2005 (the game won't require Tiger, but some extra Mac features may be Tiger-only).

[Bill Fox]

National Geographic’s Back Roads Explorer is Finally Fully Mac Compatible: According to a note from National Geographic, their Back Roads Explorer, an 18-disc U.S. recreational atlas on CD-ROM, is now available in a PC/Macintosh hybrid format, granting all outdoor enthusiasts, regardless of their computer platform, access to this resource that can help them find their way to hunting or fishing grounds, hiking trails, scenic byways and other remote locales. Back Roads Explorer combines seamless 1:100,000-scale USGS topographic maps with the most current road information available.

There are easily downloadable maps for a Palm or Pocket PC and it's compatible with Garmin, Magellan, Lowrance and Eagle GPS units. Powered by TOPO!, National Geographic’s award-winning map software, Back Roads Explorer carries a fairly reasonable SRP of $59.95. [Bill Fox]

OWCs FireWire Products are Fully Compatible with Mac OS X 10.3.6 according to a note we received from OWC:

Just a quick note this morning to pass along Other World Computing's announcement that OWC FireWire solutions are 100 percent compatible with Apple OS 10.3.6, and don't require updates or fixes in order to maintain perfect functionality.

The cool OWC Elite Pro FireWire drive cases noted in our article on the Sonnet Tempo Bridge all use the Oxford 911 controller chip and we had no mounting problems with them after installing Mac OS X 10.3.6. However, we continue to have booting problems from time to time on drives set up as startup drives that required the use of Carbon Copy Cloner to overcome. Our experience is that the bootability problem is random and endemic to FireWire drives in general. [Bill Fox]

[11/22] Sonnet's Tempo Bridge for Parallel to Serial ATA Connections--How Fast Is It? Do you have a new Power Mac G5 with a modern and fast serial ATA drive and a free serial ATA drive bay but some older and still good parallel ATA hard drives? If so, like most people you are not alone. We have several parallel ATA drives ranging from 20GB to 80GB that have served as backup drives for our previous Power Macs.

Our parallel ATA-6 hard drives are encased in OWC's cool Elite Pro FireWire 400 cases. That makes them readily available for our variety of Macs but external FireWire 400 is slower than an internal parallel ATA interface and FireWire drives are occasionally afflicted with bootability and mounting problems. While the OWC cases are cool looking, they also require FireWire and power cables. Until recently, we had no other satisfactory option for our Power Mac G5 with its new internal fast serial ATA interface because we have experienced even more problems with PCI ATA controller cards.

Sonnet Technology to the rescue--last month Sonnet announced the Tempo Bridge, a $49.95 adapter for parallel ATA drives to connect to the new serial ATA interface in a Power Mac G5. We immediately ordered one and it arrived a little over a week ago and we immediately installed it and have been using it since.

The Tempo Bridge is a small adapter board that connects to the parallel interface on a parallel ATA hard drive. Also included is a short cable that provides power to the drive from the adapter board. Both are easy to install on the hard drive and the drive is very easy to install in a Power Mac G5.

To install a drive in a Power Mac G5, just remove the four black plastic "screws" kept on a panel to the left of the drive bay and screw them into the two holes on each side of the drive nearest the connector. They serve to hold the drive in the slots. Then slide the drive into the bay's slots upside down, attach the Tempo Bridge and its power cable (see left) and plug the two cables kept under the Power Mac's drive bay into the Tempo Bridge. It was very easy to accomplish and there is virtually no chance of cut knuckles and fingers, unlike installing drives in most computer cases.

The drive we installed in our dual 2.5-GHz Power Mac G5 is a very silent and fast parallel ATA-6 7200-RPM 80-GB Seagate Barracuda. This is the same drive that we use in our Power Mac G4 Cubes because of its speed and silence.

So, how fast is it? We ran four of our standard tests that relate to hard drive speed. The tests were run on the drive while in the OWC Elite FireWire case with the Oxford 911 chipset and up-to-date firmware and again in the Power Mac G5 with the Tempo Bridge attached. We also ran our tests on the serial ATA 160-GB drive that came with our Power Mac G5. All tests were run with Mac OS X 10.3.6.

Disk Drive Speed Tests (average scores or secs).
Test Ext. FW 400*
Tempo Bridge*
Stock ATA Serial**
Canned Benchmarks:
Xbench 1.1.3 - Hard Disk Score
"Real World" Tests:
Startup (sec)
Launch Classic Mode (sec)
Dup. 700 MB Folder 3600 Files (sec)

*Parallel ATA-6 7200-RPM 80-GB Seagate Barracuda hard drive.
**Stock Power Mac G5 serial ATA 160-GB hard drive

The 80-GB drive tested out to be 9 to 30 per cent faster hooked up internally with the Tempo Bridge than as an external FireWire 400 drive. But the stock serial ATA drive is faster yet on three of four tests, some 10 to 27 per cent.

In summary, Sonnet Technology's Tempo Bridge at an MSRP of $49.95 is an inexpensive way to add a second drive to the serial ATA drive bay of a Power Mac G5. The drive was very easy to install, the easiest and safest to install that we've ever encountered. Our drive was significantly faster on the internal serial ATA bus with the Tempo Bridge than as a FireWire 400 external drive. It has run flawlessly as our data backup and emergency boot drive. The emergency boot drive was created with Mike Bombich's Carbon Copy Cloner v2.3 since we have an Nvidia 6800 Ultra DDL graphics card installed and are unable to boot with the System CD that came with our Power Mac G5. [Bill Fox]

[11/20] Virex 7.5.1 for .Mac Members is Out and available for download from Apple's .Mac web site. Version 7.5.1 replaces the ill-fated v7.5 that caused problems with emails checked for viruses. Version 7.5.1 does not check email but otherwise has active virus detection. Here are the release notes from Networks Associates,

Release Notes forVirex 7.5.1 Copyright (c) 2003 - 2004 Networks Associates Technology, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Product Release: 11/2004

DAT Version: 4403

Engine Version: 4240


Active Scanner -- A new feature to Virex that provides continuous anti-virus protection on the hard disk from network connections and the Internet.

Background Scanner -- A new feature that permanently scans all files on your system looking for infected files.

Scan Mounted Volume -- A new feature that initiates a scan of a volume such as a CD or camera when one is locally mounted. With this scanner you can scan a large volume or device for infection before interfacing it with your system.

Core Scanner -- A new feature that utilizes the latest virus-scanning engine to provide functionality for the Active Scanner, the Background Scanner, and the ‘Scan Mounted Volume’ scanner.

HealthCheck -- A new feature that ensures your system is protected and any outage is minimized by monitoring the operation of all other scanners and restarts them if they fail.

VirexReporter -- A new feature that reports infected files found by scanners. It provides tracking and reporting to the anti-virus scanning so you can see where threats to your system may be coming from.

Virex Schedule Editor -- A new feature that enables you to schedule automated scans and updates to virus definition (DAT) files and software components that are available online.

We installed a copy on several Macs with no problems. After installation, be sure to run the eUpdate feature to get the 11/19 virus definitions installed.

[11/20] Symantec Issued Another Mid-Month Virus Definitions Update for NAV 9.0: The update can be installed via the application's LiveUpdate feature or as a stand-alone file from this Symantec web page. [Dana Baggett]

[11/20] Congress Sinks State/Local Internet Taxation on Friday according to this AP article. Late Friday both houses of Congress finally got their acts (no pun intended) together and passed legislation to block state and local internet taxation and sent it to the president for signature. President Bush is expected to sign the bill. Unfortunately, all states that already tax the internet, except Wisconsin, are grandfathered in. [Dana Baggett]

[11/20] iPod photo Image Features Detailed in this PCWorld article. If you have a lot of photos and like to look at them a lot or show 'em around or you give presentations, the $100 premium in the iPod photo may be reasonable for you. [Dana Baggett]

[11/20] Apple Revised the Offerings from Two Hot Deals Retailers:

The Apple Store has updated it's selection of quality Apple Certified reconditioned products. New money-saving deals include an eMac 1.25GHz/Combo for only $649 and eMac 1.25GHz/SuperDrive for only $799. There are also several other products available at great prices, including iPods, iBooks, PowerBooks, and more. But, hurry as supplies are limited. You can also find current Sale Products, Promos and Rebates on Apple hardware and software, as well as third-party accessories in the Special Deals section of the Apple Store. All details available at the following URL under the "Special Deals" tile.

O'Reilly has exclusively Hot Deals discounts for many of it's most popular Mac titles, including "GarageBand: The Missing Manual," "Mac OS X Panther: Hacks, 2nd Edition," " Mac OS X Unwired," "Dreamweaver MX 2004: The Missing Manual," and much more.

[11/19] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple iPod Updater 2004-11-15: Apple released iPod Updater 2004-11-15 yesterday afternoon. The updater is available via the Software Update preference pane or as a stand-alone file from this Apple web page. It includes iPod mini Software 1.2 for the iPod mini and iPod software 3.0.2. for iPods with a Click Wheel. iPod Updater 2004-11-15 contains the same software versions as iPod Updater 2004-10-20 for all other iPod models. According to the Read Me file,

New features of iPod mini Software 1.2:

  • Compatibility with iTunes 4.7 and iTunes Music Store
  • Shuffle and play song library with one click (using the Shuffle Songs item in the main menu)
  • Create multiple On-The-Go playlists
  • Delete songs from On-The-Go playlists
  • Select reading playback speed for audiobooks
  • Hear Click Wheel clicker through headphones
  • Sync and go with improved disconnect performance

New features of iPod Software 3.0.2 provides:

  • Compatibility with iTunes 4.7 and iTunes Music Store
  • Improved USB 2.0 connectivity

We downloaded the updater via the Software Update preference pane and used it to update our "First Day Edition" iPod mini. Everything went smoothly.

[11/19] London's MacExpo 2004 Opened Yesterday, Here are Photos posted by Apple on this web page. The event attracted 100 vendors including top Mac software and hardware firms like Adobe, Bose, Epson, HP, Microsoft, Quark and Sony. About 20,000 visitors are expected over the three days, some 20-30% of a U.S. Macworld Expo crowd. [Dana Baggett]

[11/19 updated] IBM Power5 "G6?" Top Servers Smash Top HP Rival by Three Fold according to this Reuters article on Yahoo News. IBM's servers running Unix with IBM's Power5 (G6?) CPUs beat out HP's highest end server running Intel chips, not just by a comfortable margin but by nearly three times. To quote the salient part of the article,

IBM said its eServer 595 in the widely recognized TPC test of banking, insurance and retail transactions performed 3.21 million transactions per minute, or nearly three times the 1.2 million transactions of HP's fastest tested machine.

The G5 is a Power4 CPU so the Power5 may become Apple's G6 CPU. Does anyone still think Apple should switch to Intel CPUs? [Dana Baggett]

[11/19] Graphing Calculator is Now Native on Mac OS X from Pacific Tech. The Mac OS X version requires 10.3.6. Pacific Tech gives a 40% educational discount off the $100 application.

[11/18] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple Power Mac G5 (June 2004) Firmware Update v 5.18f: It is out and available for download via the Software Update preference pane or as a stand-alone updater from this Apple web page. According to the skimpy, arcane documentation:

This firmware update improves system stability for your Power Mac G5 (June 2004).

We haven't noticed any stability issues with our dual 2.5 GHz Power Mac G5 but we downloaded and installed the firmware update anyway with no problems. In several hours of use we notice no difference. We wonder what was corrected. [Dana Baggett]

[11/18] O'Reilly Released Four New Fan Books--Treo, iBook, PowerBook and Xbox: The ideal gift for anyone who owns a Treo, PowerBook, iBook, or an Xbox--or who will own one once Santa visits--are O'Reilly's new flock of "Fan Books." These colorful little guides are the quick and fun way to get users acquainted with their new devices, lead them through the many features and capabilities and show them tips and tricks that will make them instant experts.

O'Reilly's Fan Books show users how to customize preferences and learn about the coolest cases, add-ons and doodads that not only add functionality but also personalize their devices.(Treo, PowerBook, iBook and Xbox; O'Reilly, US $14.95).

[11/18] Apple's Developer Connection Publishes Java Studio Creator on Mac OS X: Java Studio Creator on Mac OS X is an easy-to-use tool for building Web applications with Java. Available now from Sun Microsystems, Java Studio Creator lets you leverage the power of the Java platform to solve business problems, without bogging you down in backend issues, or forcing you to give up the productive visual style you probably are used to. This ADC article explains how to get started developing with Java Studio Creator on the Mac platform.

[11/18] Tonight on The Mac Night Owl LIVE Internet Radio Show: This week, hosts Gene and Grayson Steinberg bring you another triple header. Jim Dalrymple, Editor of MacCentral will be on hand to bring us the latest news in the Mac universe. Jason Randall, from will explain an easy way for a Mac to talk to a Windows PC over the Internet. You'll also enter the David Biedny Zone where our favorite critic will regale us with his views on the prospects for a video iPod, the use of Windows in voting machines, software bloat and other hot topics. Tune in tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern.

[11/18] Apple Revised the Offerings from Three Hot Deals Retailers:

Apple's new section of Hot Deals is dedicated entirely to end-of-life and clearance Mac and Mac OS X products boasts some newly added offers, including Microsoft's Optical USB Mouse by Starck for only $9.95, Fiberline 7-in-1 USB 2.0 Card Reader for only $4.99, Ramjet 256MB SDRAM for Power Mac G3 for only $66.00, PCUSA 4-port USB 2.0 Hub for only $14.99, Epson Perfection 2480 Flatbed Scanner for only $93.95, and much more.

Publishing Perfection has great deals on a variety of design and print products for your Mac, including Markzware's FlightCheck Pro 5.5 Upgrade, Pyrus FontLab 4.6, Learning Mac OS X Panther, Pacific Image PrimeFilm 3650u Film Strip Scanner, Corel Painter IX, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Extensis Suitcase X1 Upgrade, Wacom Intuos3 4x5 Tablet, Epson Perfection 4870 Photo Scanner, and much more.

Sweetwater has fantastic deals on a wide range of audio products for your Mac, including M-Audio's Mobile Pre USB Audio Interface/Preamp, M-Audio Uno, AKG K55 Professional Headphones, FXpansion BFD, Event Tuned Reference 6 Speakers, M-Audio Keystation 61es, and much more.

Check them out.

[11/18] Netscape to Leapfrog Firefox in Next Release according to this CNet article. Netscape releases have pretty much followed Mozilla builds very closely, at least through the latest version 7.2. However, some innovation is ahead according to the CNet report. A beta will be released to a group of testers on November 30th. [Dana Baggett]

[11/17] Sync your Pocket PC to your Mac for under 15 dollars--PocketMac Lite: Information Appliance Associates announced the new release of PocketMac Lite Edition, their new condensed version of the PocketMac technology allowing Mac users to sync their Pocket PCs to their Macs.

In addition to support for the OS X Address Book & iCal, PocketMac Lite Edition is most notable for its new features, offering Mac users many tools to sync their Pocket PC with their Mac, including:

  • iCal Calendar Synching--PocketMac Lite fully syncs iCal calendar events with full support of multiple calendars.
  • iCal To-Do/Task Synching--PocketMac Lite fully syncs iCal "To- Do" items with the Pocket PC's Tasks.
  • OS X Address Book Contacts Synching--PocketMac Lite syncs contacts from the OS X Address Book to the Pocket PC.
  • Bluetooth--PocketMac Lite offers complete support for wireless synching with Pocket PCs over Bluetooth or Airport (802.11b). USB support is included as well.
  • Complete Support For Pocket PC 2003 Edition--PocketMac Lite has full support for the newer Pocket PC 2003 devices, as well as all of the Pocket PCs and Pocket PC Phones supported by PocketMac Pro.
  • iSync Integration--PocketMac Lite offers full integration with Apple's iSync.
  • Desktop Mounting--Now, PocketMac Lite can mount the Pocket PC's memory and/or any of the Pocket PC's storage cards on the desktop for greater integration with Finder.
  • Sync on Connect--When PocketMac Lite users put their device in their USB cradle, PocketMac will automatically sync their Pocket PC with their Mac; they do not have to manually initiate a sync each time.
  • Installation Of Pocket PC Themes--PocketMac 3.0 offers one- click support for the installation of Pocket PC themes.
  • Internet Passthrough--PocketMac Lite allows users to have their Pocket PC "piggyback" on their Mac's internet connection, allowing them to exchange email, view websites and more directly from their Pocket PC while it's connected to their Mac.

PocketMac Lite retails for $14.95.

[11/17] O'Reilly Released "DVD Studio Pro 3: In the Studio:" The highly sophisticated yet easy-to-use DVD Studio Pro 3 allows independent filmmakers, video producers, trainers, event videographers, and enthusiasts to create professional-grade DVDs on the Mac. "DVD Studio Pro 3 can make quick work of simple projects, yet still enable you to build some of the most complex discs available today," says Marc Loy, author of the new "DVD Studio Pro 3: In the Studio" (O'Reilly, US $44.95). Loy claims that admiration of the DVD Studio Pro 3 application drove him to write the new book, which aims to be the definitive guide to DVD authoring with Apple's program.

[11/17] Review--Headphones to Replace your iPod Earbuds. The review covers a wide variety of headphones in three categories -- lightweight, travel and full-size -- and has a suggested favorite for four kinds of buyers: the bargain hunter, the value shopper, the chic styler, and the ultra audiophile. The review claims that "[w]hichever model you choose, you'll be taking a step up the audio ladder" [from the iPod earbuds]. The recommendations include our mid-cost ($150) favorite, the Etymotic ER-6i in-ear-canal headphones, but not the bargain ($15) Griffin EarJams nor the expensive ($300) Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones. The latter two weren't even considered. Check out the review in this Computerworld article. [Dana Baggett]

[11/17] WAPi Monthly Meeting this Saturday Features Filemaker Pro 7: Washington Apple Pi is the greater Washington DC area AMUG and one of the oldest. Greg Bartolett will be the featured speaker as he demonstrates how FileMaker Pro can be used to organize almost any conceivable collection of information into documents for powerful decision-making. Filemaker 7 offers improved realization of the relational model as well as a much improved Web interface.

The second part of the meeting will Feature Steve Roberson's take on the "Top Ten Mac Gifts for 2004." The "Membership Meeting" portion will center on approving an operating budget for the remainder of the Pi's fiscal year. All in all, this is an action-packed meeting. Don't Miss it! Details are here.

[11/17] Envision Web Show of the Week--Macworld Expo Digital Art: Part of MacWorld Expo for the past few years has been a Digital Art Contest. MacWorld/SF is coming up in January, and another Digital Art Contest is planned. This week's Envision Show of the Week highlights winners from last year's contest. The show file can be downloaded from the Show of the Week web site.

While you're there, check out the new Envision v1.0.2. It is a free upgrade for all registered users and it features significant performance enhancements (especially for large Web shows), bug fixes and smaller download size. It's available from Open Door Networks' web site. Open Door Networks will have a booth at Macworld Expo in January.

[11/16] Hands-On--AirPort v4.1 Provides WPA Security for Multiple AirPort Base Station Networks and other improvements. It is available via the Software Update preference pane or as a stand-alone updater from this Apple web page. We are running two AirPort Extreme and one Express base stations to cover our global headquarters but have not enabled WDS because WDS has only supported 128-bit WEP security and not the latest and best, WPA. We also look forward to using the Keyspan Express Remote with our AirPort Express Base Station when it ships.

According to the Software Update preference pane:

This software update provides improved AirPort wireless networking software, and is recommended for all users with an AirPort Extreme and AirPort enabled computer or an AirPort Extreme or an AirPort Express base station.

According to Apple's software uppdate web page:

The AirPort 4.1 for Mac OS X 10.3 software supports all models of Apple AirPort base stations including the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express models.

What's new in AirPort 4.1:

• Supports Keyspan Express Remote for use with AirTunes (AirPort Express only)
• Support for WPA security on WDS networks
• Ability to rename a USB printer connected to a base station

To update the base stations, after running the AirPort 4.1 updater the AirPort Administration Utility must be launched and the "Configure" button clicked to bring up the firmware update dialog box. Our Extremes were updated to v5.5 and our Express was updated to v6.1.

We updated several Macs: desktops, Powerbooks and iBooks, and several base stations, Express and Extreme. So far we have noticed no issues with the new software. We wonder if it fixes the problem we have had with our Express unit that occasionally dropped our internet connection after awakening from sleep--time will tell. Look for a "long-term" use report next Monday or so.

[11/16] Apple Revised Its Hot Deals, Gives EOL and Clearance Products Their Own Page:

New to Apple's highly-popular Hot Deals web site is Hot Deals Clearance Bargains. This new section of Hot Deals is dedicated entirely to end-of-life and clearance Mac and Mac OS X products from the industry's biggest and most trusted resellers. Currently, you'll find great products like Dr. Bott's ExtendAir Direct WiFi Wireless Antenna, Epson L-410 Digital Camera, Nikon D-100 Digital SLR Camera, D-Link Wireless 802.11g Cable/DSL Router, M-Audio FireWire Audiophile Compact Audio/MIDI Interface, Brother MFC-884DDN Multifunction Printer, D-Link Bluetooth USB Adapter, and much more.

[11/16] Northern Softworks Released Panther Cache Cleaner 2.4.5: Northern Softworks announced the release of version 2.4.5 of Panther Cache Cleaner, its catchall OS X maintenance and utility application. Version 2.4.5 updates its permissions repair routines to fix Adobe Photoshop Elements 3 so it can run in a non administrator user account. This release adds Firefox to its internet browser cache cleaning list. This release adds the ability to temporarily run the Finder with root privileges. This release adds the ability to automatically scan and fix key system preference files at runtime. This release now reports its requested rights during authentication. This release also includes other minor bug fixes and improvements. This release updates PCC for OS X 10.3.6. This release is a free upgrade for previously registered Panther/Jaguar Cache Cleaner users.

Panther Cache Cleaner is US $8.95 shareware. It is available from the Northern Softworks web site.

[11/15] Hands-On Report--Griffin Technology EarJams: The latest iPod (regular, Mini and Photo) accessory shipping from Griffin Technology is the $14.99 set of EarJams. They are acoustical plastic "cones" that snap on the standard iPod earbuds (see image at right). The other end fits into the ear like in-ear headphones. Griffin Technology claims that the EarJams:

• Deliver massive bass and improved sound
• Enhance the comfort and fit of your iPod earbuds
• Raises your earbud volume by up to 10 decibels

We were interested in the promise of significantly increasing the bass output from our standard iPod earbuds and of increasing their volume for airline travel, so we ordered a set when they were first announced in late August. They arrived a little over a week ago, just in time to use on an airplane trip of over 4 hours each way.

Our EarJams arrived housed in a clear plastic hang-up package with a small zippered case and three sets of soft plastic gray ear pieces in small, medium and large sizes. The case holds the earbuds with the EarJams attached so we now have something to keep our earbuds cords from becoming a rats nest. The case itself is worth the $15. Fortunately for us, the smallest ear pieces fit our ear canals but just barely. The lack of a small enough ear piece and a stem that is way too short have kept us from using our $40 Apple in-ear headphones.

The EarJams fit our ears fairly well with the small ear pieces. We can easily "screw" them into our ear canals and they are surprisingly comfortable. They didn't hurt our ears either way during the 4-hour airplane trip.

Do they work? You bet, just as advertised. The bass output is greatly increased, probably because of their physical contact with the ear canal. In addition, we normally have to crank our iPod Mini's volume up to 80-90% of full on an airplane for decent sound over the engine noise and rush of air across the fuselage. With the EarJams, we only had to set the volume up to just short of 50% for excellent sound. The EarJams do a great job of cutting out airplane noise. At $14.99, you can save $285 by getting the EarJams instead of Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones and a lot of space in your travel bag.

[11/15] Xcode 2 Coming with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger a Major Improvement according to this SD Times article. The new and improved developer tools will include v4.0 of the GCC compiler and will compile 64-bit applications. [Dana Baggett]

[11/15] Jobs vs Gates, a Rematch over Digital Music: CNet has a good article that chronicles the Gates-Jobs battle over market dominance in personal computer operating systems which Microsoft won hands down with its Windows OS. Now Microsoft is rising again to the occasion to do battle over the digital music market. In both cases, Apple had a comfortable lead and still has in the new digital music market. [Dana Baggett]

[11/15] Apple Granted Patent for Wireless iPod last Thursday according to this engadget article. The patent includes beaming music from an iPod to other media devices and a network. Hmmm...this might do away with the need for an AirPort Express. [Dana Baggett]

[11/15] Really Simple Syndication (RSS) Made Simple For the Rest of Us in this upcoming Nov. 22nd Time Europe article. Read about how RSS, to be included in Mac OS X 10.4's version of Safari, makes web news gathering very simple. BTW, Macs Only! produces an RSS news feed that you can subscribe to. [Dana Baggett]

[11/13] Booting a Power Mac with a 30" Cinema and Nvidia 6800 Ultra DDL Graphics Card: As we noted in Monday's How Fast Is It? article on the NV6800 Ultra, once installed there was no way to boot our new Power Mac G5 except off the main drive with the Nvidia drivers we installed BEFORE we installed the card and hooked up the monitor. Not even the system install discs that came with our month-old Power Mac G5 would boot it. How would we reinstall Mac OS X if we had a rare disaster with no CD that would boot it? How would we create another startup drive?

Well, the only way to do it, we thought and noted at the time, was to switch out the NV6800 Ultra for the stock ATI 9600 XT graphics card, install Mac OS X and the NV6800 drivers and then switch the cards again, a lengthy royal PITA. To do this an extra monitor is needed also since the 30" Cinema Display will only run off NV6800 cards. But what if we had sold our stock graphics card before realizing the conundrum or didn't have a spare monitor?

There is another solution, one that Apple should have included with each $600 NV6800 card sold, at least for the time being. Install Disc 1 of the system disk set that came with our month-old 2.5 GHz Power Mac G5 is version 1.2 and is Mac OS X 10.3.4, no less, even though 10.3.5 has been out for a long time. But we found out that there is a newer version 1.3 of Install Disc 1 that comes with more recent (less than a month!) Power Mac G5s and it will boot a Power Mac G5 with a NV6800 card and 30" Cinema Display.

So we called AppleCare to get the newer set of system install discs. Rather than doing the right thing at first, the AppleCare technician said the official workaround was to switch cards back and forth and not to send out new system discs. I was astonished but I pressed him for the new discs. After all, this is something Apple should have anticipated and switching cards and monitors is no simple 5-minute task. It would have been a simple matter for Apple to have included a new v1.3 Install Disc set with each NV6800 card. The suggested workaround is absurd, especially for an $8000 purchase. When you call AppleCare remember that, if suggested, their workaround won't work if you no longer have your stock graphics card or don't have an extra display or both. Our new system discs should arrive within a week according to the technician.

[11/13] Feral Weekend Report--Bionicle and Commandos Updates: According to UK game house Feral Interactive, Bionicle has gone golden master so "...within weeks the Toa will be rushing from their island home straight to a Mac near you. Prepare yourselves, young Matorans, be ready for the Boh-rok swarms--the time for combat is at hand!" Check out Bionicle.

Feral's Commandos Battle Pack (Commandos 2 and 3) is coming to the Mac in December. Check out the details and the trailers.

[11/13] Small Dog has Great Deals on AppleCare Protection Plans, up to $80 Off according to their Friday newsletter. Check out these prices on AppleCare Protection Plans,

The prices are good for the next five days.

[11/13] Staples Doesn't Sell Macs But They Sure Do Use 'Em according to this Apple Pro Design web page. Staples' 135-person in-house creative team uses Power Macs and Xserves to do their job of "brand management."

"Staples is all about easy," says Staples VP Creative Director Alexis Denicke, "and the Apple platform just makes it easy for my team to be creative. The simplicity and reliability of the Mac OS X operating system and the Adobe Creative Suite ensure technology never gets in the way."

[Dana Baggett]

[11/12] Griffin Released Xpress Digital Audio Cable for AirPort Express: Griffin Technology Inc. today announced the Griffin XPress Digital Audio Cable. The XPress Digital Cable is the ideal way to connect an Airport Express to the digital input on a home stereo for the highest quality audio possible. The 9-foot digital optical cable has Toslink based connectors on both ends and comes with two Toslink-to-mini digital cable adaptors. The digital mini connectors are the same connectors that provide digital audio output on the Airport Express, as well as the new iMac G5 machines. The XPress Digital Audio Cable costs $19.99 and is available now.

[11/12] Apple Revised the Offerings of Four Hot Deals Retailers:

The Apple Store has updated it's selection of quality Apple Certified reconditioned products. New money-saving deals include an eMac 1.25GHz/Combo for only $649 and eMac 1.25GHz/SuperDrive for only $799. There are also several other products available at great prices, including iPods, iBooks, PowerBooks, and more. But, hurry as supplies are limited. You can also find current Sale Products, Promos and Rebates on Apple hardware and software, as well as third-party accessories in the Special Deals section of the Apple Store. All details available under the "Special Deals" tile.

CDW|MacWarehouse has great deals on cool Mac products, including Canon's EOS Digital Rebel with EF-S 18-55mm Lens, JVC GR-HD1 Camcorder, Iomega REV Drive, Intuit QuickBooks Pro 2005, Xerox Phaser 6250N Color Laser Printer with $300 mail-in rebate, El Gato EyeHome, Microsoft Mobile/Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse with $5 mail-in rebate, Nikon CoolPix 4100 Digital Camera with FREE Epson C86 Color Printer, and much more.

MacMall has fantastic prices on essential Mac products, including Griffin's iTrip FM Transmitter for iPod w/Dock Connection, Kingston 64MB Secure Digital Card FREE after rebate, 3G Technology GM-1708 17" LCD Flat Panel Display, THQ The Incredibles - When Danger Calls, SanDisk 1GB Cruzer Mini High-Speed USB 2.0 Portable Flash Drive, Microsoft Office 2004 Student and Teacher Edition, Lexar 1GB 80x Professional Compact Flash Card, and much more.

AudioMIDI has fantastic deals on a wide range of audio products for your Mac, including SE Electronics Microphones SE1, Submersible Music Drumcore, M-Audio FireWire 1814 with FREE M-Audio Luna Mic, Korg KLC-1 with FREE Sennheiser HD 202 Headphones, Ableton Live 4 with FREE Evolution X-Session Controller, and much more.

[11/12] NSW School System Technology Initiative includes Apple among 30,000 Computers added to the Australian state's public schools according to this Inverell Times article. The New South Wales' initiative has brought the computer:student ratio up from 1:22 to 1:5 today. [Dana Baggett]

[11/12] AOL Dropping Broadband Internet Service for Its Southeastern Customers according to this AP article on Excite. AOL provides broadband internet for $54 per month which is much more expensive that its competitors prices. AOL's broadband service in the states of Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina is being dropped as of January 17th. [Dana Baggett]

[11/12] NAV 9.0 Virus Definitions Update 11/11 is Out and available via the LiveUpdate feature in the application or as a download from this Symantec web page. [Dana Baggett]

[11/12] AP Posted an Excellent Review of Firefox 1.0, the new stand alone web browser from the Mozilla project. One key feature, protection against bogus web sites or phishing fraud, worked fairly well according to the review but we have been unable to find out how to enable it to test. Firefox batted 0 for 6 in our clicks on obvious phishing URLs so we may not have it enabled.

We have been using our copy extensively over the past week and have run into no problems so far. The initial problem with our favorite theme, Nautipolis, was resolved by deleting the copy updated during installation and installing it again from Firefox's theme web site. [Joe Sacco]

[11/12] Fixing Safari Broken by Mac OS X 10.3.6 Updater. In our note on last week's Mac OS X 10.3.6 Updater, we mentioned that the update had hosed our copy of Safari v1.3 Developer Preview. Reader John O. suggested that we simply trash it and copy one over from another Mac. He said doing that had worked for him twice. Laurie Duncan, a professional Mac tech and proprietor of the excellent web site, suggested that we trash the application and the webkit.framework file, then reinstall Safari from a stand alone updater. We elected to do the latter since we didn't have another Mac handy at the time. The more complete process may also ensure that we don't have problems down the road. We downloaded Safari 1.2.0 from Apple's Safari web site and then ran the Mac OS X 10.3.6 Combo updater to bring it up to the latest v1.2.4. Safari now works fine on that Mac, a G4 Cube.

[11/11] O'Reilly Released "iPod Fan Book." For anyone who wants to live the fullest iPod lifestyle possible, this sleek, full-color fan book is a quick and fun way to learn all the features and capabilities of the mighty little device according to O'Reilly. The "iPod Fan Book" (O'Reilly, 112p. $14.95) delivers everything from connecting the iPod, loading music, ripping CDs the right way (as well as the lazy way!), using iTunes with Windows, optimizing sound quality, protecting the iPod, saving the battery's life, burning iPod tunes onto CDs and DVDs, using the iPod as a hard drive, and much more.

[11/11] What is Bill Atkinson Doing Today, Taking Pictures of Rocks? Yes, but not just any old pictures of any old rocks according to this article. Bill Atkinson is one of the original designers of the Mac interface, including the pull down menu, and MacPaint. He's now using special digital photographic equipment and an Epson 9600 printer to make extreme closeup images of rocks. [Dana Baggett]

[11/11] Keyspan's Express Remote to Support Apple Airport Express: Keyspan announced that its new USB infrared remote control includes support for Apple's AirPort Express. The Keyspan Express Remote is a convenient infrared remote that enables users to control media applications on a Mac just as they control their TV or VCR. And it can also control Apple's iTunes over an Airport Express wireless network. Retailing at $59 and shipping in mid-November, the Keyspan Express Remote will be available through Apple's retail stores as well as from CDW-Macwarehouse and other leading resellers of computer accessories.

[11/11] InDesign CS Plug-in J2SCatalog is Out. J2S announced the release of J2SCatalog, an InDesign CS plug-in designed to automatically lay out and tag a document starting from an XML data source. J2SCatalog can be used to lay out catalogues, property listings for estate agents, directories, i.e. any kind of publication featuring information sharing the same structure (records). Check it out.

[11/11] Tonight on the Mac Night Owl LIVE Show: This week hosts Gene and Grayson Steinberg have a triple header on their internet radio show. You'll learn about the newly released QuarkXPress 6.5 with associate product manager Tim Banister. PalmOne's Anthony Armenta will talk about the latest Palm handhelds. You'll also hear from home video guru Lance Braithwaite about the ins and outs of digital TV. Tune in from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern.

[11/10] O'Reilly Mac OS X Conference Report: Mac developers, system administrators, digital musicians, and users were treated to a thorough exploration of Mac OS X's past, present, and future at the third O'Reilly Mac OS X Conference, which took place in Santa Clara, CA from October 25-28. Over 500 attendees filled sessions examining the many aspects and applications of Mac OS X: a Tiger preview, digital forensics, Podcasting, AppleScript, GarageBand, Mac hacks for the home, Mac OS X in a Unix environment, creating digital music, and much more.

In addition to tracks devoted to the needs of programmers and sys admins, two new tracks debuted at this year's conference. The Insanely Great Mac track focused on cool and useful applications in mobile computing, home automation, creative networking, and digital media. The Digital Audio track, for musicians and tech gurus, explored fine tuning Macs for peak performance, designing workflows to manage huge amounts of content, how to work with professional applications, and how to get new music in front of audiences.

Just a few of the notable conference participants included Stewart Copeland, the former drummer for the Police who now creates award-winning film and television scores using Mac OS X technology; New York Times columnist David Pogue; Andy Hertzfeld of; Chris Bourdon and Wiley Hodges, Apple's Tiger experts; Karelia Sofware's Dan Wood; audio for gaming guru Clint Bajakian; Brent Simmons of Ranchero Software; Michael Bartosh of 4AM Media; and authors Niel Bornstein, Gordon Meyer, and Ted Landau.

Other conference highlights include:

  • Winners of the second Mac OS X Innovators Contest were introduced. First Place in the U.S. category went to "Delicious Library" from Delicious Monster Software, which lets users create a home or office lending library of books, movies, music, and video games. In the International category, First Place went to "FotoMagico" from Boinx Software, which allows users to create live presentations and complex slideshows with pictures from an iPhoto Library
  • Andy Ihnatko took attendees on a riotous virtual tour of his treasure vault (a.k.a. unit 227 at Uncle Bob's Self-Stor) of the gizmos and jetsam he's saved and created throughout the years
  • Sean Fitzroy and Vikki Merriman detailed their experience of using Mac OS X to create the film which won the 2003 Boston 48 Hour Film Project
  • Apple Developer Connection once again stocked its Airport Extreme Lounge with the latest Apple hardware for conference attendees to test drive, and hosted an evening reception to bring conference participants together informally

Get further details on this O'Reilly web page.

[11/10] ATI Displays 4.4.2 Updater is Out and available for download via v4.4.2 comes right on the heels of v4.4.1 which had a problem with OpenGL overides on some portables. v4.4.2 purportedly fixes that problem. We did not have it with 4.4.1 and our 1.5 GHz 17" PowerBook v4.4.2 also works fine for us. Here are the release notes. [Dana Baggett]

[11/10] MacLinkPlus v15 is Out: DataViz has released the newest version of MacLinkPlus, version 15. The new features of the venerable file translator are:

  • New Translators for Word and Excel 2004 as well as WordPerfect 12
  • Convert PDF Files
  • Enhanced Graphic Translators
  • Carry your Documents on your iPod**
  • New Decompression for StuffIt X

Version 15 costs $39.99 to upgrade.

[11/10] Apple Revised the Offerings from One Hot Deals Retailer, ClubMac: ClubMac has fantastic prices on essential Mac products, including THQ's The Incredibles: When Danger Calls, Aspyr Media Battlefield 1942: Secret Weapons of WWII, Princeton 19" LCD Flat Panel Display with Built-in Speakers, LaCie Extreme Triple Interface 160GB External Hard Drive, Corel Painter IX Upgrade with FREE Sketchbook, Belkin Hard Case for iPod mini, XtremeMac Sportwrap iPod Armband, and much more.

[11/10] Apple Published Shark 4 Feature Article: The Apple Developer Connection published a new technical article "Optimizing Your Application with Shark 4" on the ADC web site. Shark 4, the latest version of Apple's performance optimization tool for developers, includes powerful new features such as data mining and Java support. This article explains how using Shark 4 can help you dramatically improve performance in your application and includes some sample applications that illustrate Shark's features and functions.

[11/9] Microsoft Released Virtual PC v7.0.1 Updater and it is available for download from Microsoft. According to Microsoft:

This update is recommended for all users who are using Virtual PC for Mac Version 7.0. This update improves overall stability of Virtual PC and other issues affecting customers who are running Virtual PC on Power Mac G5 computers with more than 2 GB of memory.

We downloaded VPC 7.0.1 and updated our copy of Virtual PC 7 on our PowerBook G4. Doing so requires a restart and new Virtual PC Additions have to be installed by selecting that action from the PC menu.

[11/9] [Updated] Firefox 1.0 the Mozilla Project Web Browser Due Out in Final Today according to this Mozilla web page. Firefox is the stand alone web browser produced by the open source movement Mozilla project. We have used Firefox as our backup web browser for some time and look forward to its 1.0 release.

[Update: We downloaded and installed the final 1.0 version of Firefox, replacing our copy of the 1.0 Preview Release. On first launch it notified us that our favorite icon theme set, Nautipolis, needed to be updated. We did so but have been unable to get the theme to work. Mozilla's theme server seemed to be down or overloadedf but we'll keep trying. Otherwise, it has worked great. This web browser is worth a try out. It's fast (except at first launching after a restart), very flexible, feature rich and renders very well. ed.] [Dana Baggett]

[11/9] PocketMac iCalPrinter Provides List Printing: If you want to print out your iCal appointments as a list instead of as a grid, PocketMac iCalPrinter is for you. PocketMac iCalPrinter from Information Appliance Associates has the ability to print ranges of users' appointments in the "Office-style" format.

"We're incredibly excited," said Terence Goggin, CTO of Information Appliance Associates. "iCal is a great solution for most users but until now, if an iCal user wanted to print their calendars 'grid-free' and in a more traditional list format, they had no options. That all changes with PocketMac iCalPrinter."

PocketMac iCalPrinter retails for $9.95.

[11/9] At 12.25 Teraflops, Virginia Tech's Power Mac G5 Cluster Super Computer Placed 7th on the current list of the 500 world's fastest super computers according to this PC World article. IBM placed first with its super computer built for the Energy Department's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory out of 2.2GHz PowerPC (read "G5") CPUs at 71 teraflops. IBM's machine beat out Japan's Earth Simulator which has held first place with 35 teraflops for two years. IBM also built four of the top ten. Mac rules! [Dana Baggett]

[11/8] Apple Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL--How Fast Is It? We received our Apple OEM Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL graphics card (NV6800 Ultra) 10 days ago and our Apple 30" Cinema Display last weekend so we've had a little over a week to use both. The Apple 30" Cinema requires the NV6800 Ultra which costs $599 (or NV6800 GL which costs $499) from Apple as a kit or $450 ($350 for the GL model) if bought as part of a CTO dual 2.5GHz Power Mac G5.

The specifications of the NV6800 Ultra can be found on the Apple Store from a link on the 30" Cinema's web page. The salient part is:

The groundbreaking new NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra delivers the industry's first 16-pipe superscalar architecture and support for the world's fastest DDR3 memory to raise the bar for 3D graphics performance. The specifications of the GeForce 6800 Ultra GPU, are stunning: Using over 220 million transistors it supports a 256-bit interface for an effective memory bandwidth of 35.2 GB per second which delivers 600 million vertices, 6.4 billion textured pixels per second. The GPU is built on an AGP 8X board and includes 256MB of DDR3 memory for use in the most demanding graphics applications. It is the first card available to support the DVI standard dual link digital signal specification from the two DVI ports it features. This capability is required to drive the new 30-inch LCD, high resolution Apple Cinema HD display. The combination of a GeForce 6800 Ultra with a dual processor Power Mac G5 driving two 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Displays is the definitive tool for the creative professional.

The NV6800 Ultra is surprisingly large compared with other modern graphics cards. It is nearly twice as long as the stock ATI Radeon 9600 XT (see photo above right). It is also twice as thick, so it takes up the AGP slot and one of the PCI slots. The flange is two slots wide.

How fast is it? We ran a subset of our usual suite of tests, i.e. those that relate to graphics performance. Our test platform is our new dual 2.5GHz Power Mac G5 which comes standard with an ATI 9600 XT graphics card. The stock 9600 XT is a very nice graphics card that does pretty well at high resolutions because of its 128MB of video RAM as noted in our review of the dual 2.5GHz Power Mac G5. We have used it for a month and it does well with demanding 3D games such as Call of Duty. However, the NV6800 Ultra is on a higher plane with its 16 pipelines and 256MB of DDR3 VRAM.

Here are the results using an original 23" Cinema Display:

Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL Speed Tests (average scores or secs)*
ATI 9600 XT
Nvidia 6800 Ultra
Per Cent Improvement
Mac OS X Version:
Canned Benchmarks:
Cinebench 2003 - Rendering
- OpenGL Hardware Lighting
Let1kWindowsBloom 1.0 (sec)
Xbench 1.1.3
- Quartz Graphics
- OpenGL Graphics
- User Interface Graphics
"Real World" Tests:
Scroll 142p Acrobat Reader File (sec)
Halo 1.0.5 MQ (frames/sec)
Quake III Arena 1.32 (frames/sec)

*Using a dual 2.5GHz Power Mac G5 with 1.5GB RAM and 23" Cinema Display.

While the NV6800 Ultra has first generation drivers, it's performance is generally disappointing. But for 3D games, its performance is exceptional. Our impression of Nvidia graphics chips is that they are outstanding for 3D games at high resolutions (we test them at 1024x768, a moderate resolution) but are bested by less expensive ATI cards for most everything else. For example, an ATI Radeon 9600 Pro for the Mac which is nearly as good as the XT model on the Mac sells as low as $99.

Still, if you do a lot of 3D gaming, you'll want this card. We've played Call of Duty, our current favorite, dozens of times with it installed. The NV6800 Ultra has clearly boosted our performance significantly in maps with close fire fights.

But what about the recent release of Mac OS X 10.3.6 which includes new graphics drivers? We don't know if new NV6800 drivers were included but will the NV6800 Ultra do even better? Here are the results, this time using our 30" Cinema Display:

Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL Speed Tests (average scores or secs)*
Nvidia 6800 Ultra
Nvidia 6800 Ultra
Mac OS X Version:
Canned Benchmarks:
Cinebench 2003 - Rendering
- OpenGL Hardware Lighting
Let1kWindowsBloom 1.0 (sec)
Xbench 1.1.3
- Quartz Graphics
- OpenGL Graphics
- User Interface Graphics
"Real World" Tests:
Scroll 142p Acrobat Reader File (sec)
Halo MQ (frames/sec)
Quake III Arena 1.32 (frames/sec)

*Using a dual 2.5GHz Power Mac G5 with 1.5GB RAM and 30" Cinema Display.

The scores are virtually identical between Mac OS X 10.3.5 and 10.3.6.

The only downside that we have run into is that there is no Mac OS X CD or DVD that will boot our Power Mac G5 with the NV6800 Ultra installed. That means we can not reinstall Mac OS X on our Power Mac G5, if needed, nor can we install Mac OS X on a second, internal or external, drive without exchanging video cards, a real pain. Hopefully, Apple will issue a CD or DVD with Mac OS X 10.3.x with the NV6800 Ultra drivers without having to wait for Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) in the first half of next year.

In summary, the Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL is the best graphics card there is for 3D gaming on a Mac. It substantially out performs the stock ATI 9600 XT and the ATI 9800 based on our other previous tests. So if you have a Power Mac G5 with an 8X AGP slot and have deep enough pockets, you will get this card. If you want to use Apple's fantastic new 30" Cinema Display, you will need this card or its $100 cheaper cousin, the Nvidia GeForce 6800 GL DDL graphics card also sold by Apple. In fact, two 30" Cinema Displays can be used with this card at the same time. On the other hand, if you are not a fanatic 3D gamer nor have a 30" Cinema Display, then we recommend that, for now at least, you save your money and stick with the stock ATI 9600 XT.

[11/8] New Diskwarrior 3.0.2 Rev. 35 Boots iMac G5 and Single 1.8 GHz Power Mac G5: It also boots the late 2004 iBook. The new revision is available free to 3.0.2 owners from Alsoft. Unfortunately, Rev. 35 still will not boot a Power Mac G5 with a 30" Cinema Display because of the Nvidia 6800 Ultra or GL cards required to run it. [Dana Baggett]

[11/6] External FireWire Drives and Mac OS X 10.3.6 Update, a Problem for Some? According to reports on the web (e.g. MacInTouch), some people are having problems with mounting external FireWire drives after applying the 10.3.6 updater to their main computer. We have not seen that problem with a half dozen or so upgrades to PowerMac G4's, PowerBooks and Power Mac G5s with attached external FireWire 400 drives. So we expect that there is not a general problem with 10.3.6 and FireWire 400 drives. No pattern has emerged from the reports that we can discern. However, we don't have any fast FireWire 800 drives which originally had a firmware problem with Mac OS X 10.3. [Dana Baggett]

[11/6] Look Out for Mac OS X 10.3.6 Update Quirks--File Size and Safari Developer Beta 1.3: Late yesterday afternoon Apple released Mac OS X 10.3.6 Update for client and server versions of the operating system. They are available via the Software Update preference pane or as stand alone updaters. While we favor the combo versions for client and server (complete update from any version of 10.3), there are also delta updates for client and server (updates only from v10.3.5).

Key client enhancements include:

- network volumes are now available in the Finder sidebar and Desktop for convenient access
- improved file sharing and directory services for Mac (AFP), UNIX (NFS) PC (SMB/CIFS), PPTP, and wireless networks
- improved support for NTFS formatted volumes
- improved reliability of user logins, mounting of home directories in a networked environment, and launch of network applications
- improved PostScript and USB printing
- improved font management
- improved disc burning and recording functionality
- improved Bluetooth compatibility for Apple Wireless Keyboard and Mouse and Bluetooth phones.
- iPods connected via USB 2.0 are now recognized by iTunes and iSync
- improved Open GL technology and updated ATI and NVIDIA graphics drivers
- updated Address Book, Calculator, Disk Utility, DVD Player, Image Capture, Mail, Safari, Stickies, and QuickTime applications
- improved compatibility for third party applications
- additional support for FireWire and USB devices
- FileVault, FireWire 800 and WebDAV improvements from Update 10.3.1
- previous standalone security updates and Bluetooth Update 1.5.1

Key server enhancements include:

- improved reliability of AFP, CIFS and NFS file services, and network automounts
- enhanced Server Admin, Workgroup Manager and Network Image Utility applications
- improved Open Directory scalability and reliability, Active Directory integration and Kerberos support
- updated QuickTime streaming and broadcast services for compatibility with 3G phones - added support for background rebuilding of RAID mirrors, and network VLAN tagging
- updated to Samba version 3.0.2 and MySQL version 4.0.18
- improved PostScript and USB printing
- added Fibre Channel Utility application and multipathing with support for bandwidth aggregation and failover
- additional support for FireWire and USB devices
- improved compatibility for third party applic ations and devices
- previous standalone security updates

There are some quirks, however. A harmless one is that the file size varies by computer when installed from the Software Update preference pane. The 10.3.6 client updater weighs in at only 14MB for our PowerBooks and iBooks but 34MB for our desktops, including a G5. This Apple article explains why computers receive different sizes of files via Software Update. The stand alone client updaters weigh in at 34MB for the delta and 92MB for the combo.

Another quirk is more problematic. We had the WWDC 2004 developer beta v1.3 of Safari installed on a test Mac. Applying 10.3.6 via the Software Update preference pane rendered Safari 1.3 unable to completely launch. We may get away with fixing perkissions or may have to do an Archive and Install of Mac OS X 10.3 and apply the combo updater to get a working copy of Safari v1.2.4, the release with Mac OS X 10.3.6.

Otherwise, we have found v10.3.6 to work well and fix some network problems on a Windows network. We can now connect to Windows shares via the Finder's network browser without receiving the "original item can not be found" error. Connected computers also have an icon on the Desktop now as well as in the Finder sidebar. [With contributions by Dana Baggett]

[11/6] Consumer Reports Magazine Touts Virtues of Apple and Macs: In a very positive change to CR's usual mistreatment of Apple, the December edition states:

"The survey was based on nearly 5,000 people with desktop computers. Compaq's tech support rated at the bottom. HP, Gateway and Dell's were mediocre. The exception was Apple. 'The people who own Apple computers, they found the support staff quite good and even their Web support was better than the other manufacturers,' Tordesillas said. [...]

In addition to better tech support, Apple's reliability is rated among the best of all the computer makers."

The article covering the report was posted by KIRO, a Seattle TV station. [Dana Baggett]

[11/6] New Virex 7.2 (.Mac) Virus Definitions are Out and available for download via the eUpdate feature on the application. They carry a November 3, 2004, date in Virex's dialog window.

[11/6] Send Email to Santa Safely, eSanta is Back for 2004: Featured on the June 2003 MacAddict magazine, eSanta from If Then Software will make it easy for your children to send a safe and quick eMail to Santa–they will even get a response while they wait! eSanta simulates an internet connection to the North Pole, so the user doesn't even have to have a real internet connection to enjoy. Print out the letter or have it read to you with the speech capabilities of OS X! A new feature added last year was a "Thank Santa" function that the children can use to send a note of thanks to Santa after the holidays! eSanta is donationware.

[11/6] Apple Revised the Offerings of Three Hot Deals Retailers:

The Apple Store has launched a brand new promo titled, "Print out. Cash in." The way the promo works is simple: Between November 2, 2004, and January 10, 2005, buy a qualifying iMac, eMac, Power Mac, iBook, or PowerBook computer from Apple or a participating Apple Authorized Reseller and get an Epson Stylus C86 — free via mail-in rebate.* Or purchase a qualifying Mac and an Epson Stylus CX4600, Stylus CX5400, Stylus CX6400, Stylus CX6600, Stylus Photo R300, PictureMate, Stylus RX500, Stylus Photo R800, or Stylus RX600, and get up to $100 back via mail-in rebate.

O'Reilly has exclusively Hot Deals discounts for many of it's most popular Mac titles, including "DVD Studio Pro 3: In the Studio," "GarageBand: The Missing Manual," "Dreamweaver MX 2004: The Missing Manual," "iPod and iTunes Hacks," "Inside .Mac," and much more.

Ramjet has super low prices on RAM upgrades for your Mac, including 2GB DDR400 Kit for Power Mac G5, 1GB DDR for PowerMac G4, 512MB Module for Aluminum PowerBook G4, 512MB Module for Titanium PowerBook G4, 1GB DDR User Slot Module for iMac G4, 1GB DDR Kit for eMac 1.25GHz and above, and much more.

[11/5] Help Fight Mac Marginalization, Know Why Macs are Best for Science: Apple posted a new web page devoted to the benefits of using a Mac in science. The article has links to five web pages that tell the story, including:

Top 10 reasons why Mac is the ideal platform for scientific computing; and

Common myths about the Mac

[Dana Baggett]

[11/5] iMovie Film won London Film Festival Award: Nicole Kassell, an independent U.S. filmmaker, made "The Woodsman" using iMovie. It won the Satyajit Ray Award for the best first feature according to this Guardian article. [Dana Baggett]

[11/5] O'Reilly Released "Modding Mac OS X: Extreme Makeovers For Your Mac": Among Mac users, you can find wonderfully original modifications that run the gamut from intriguing case "mods" to cool interior lighting effects, but there are also amazing adaptations users can make without touching the case at all. In "Modding Mac OS X: Extreme Makeovers for Your Mac" (O'Reilly, US $24.95), author Erica Sadun shows you how to take control of your Mac's user interface, unlocking its secrets and bending its will to your own according to O'Reilly.

[11/5] Apple Posted "Working with Spotlight" in its Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4) Developer Overview Series: The Apple Developer Connection has published a new article in its Tiger Developer Overview Series called "Working with Spotlight." With Spotlight, Tiger will be the first industrial strength operating system to feature a fully integrated, fast, and efficient search across all of the files on a system. The article explains the development technologies behind Spotlight and how you can integrate it into your applications.

[11/5] ATI Displays Control Panel v4.4.1 is Out for Retail and OEM Radeon Graphics Cards and PowerBooks: It is available for download via ATI Displays allows one to control the detailed features, especially the OpenGL overrides, of a Radeon card for even the OEM cards bought directly from Apple and the Radeon Mobility GPUs in PowerBooks. Here are the release notes for further details.

[11/4] Apple Revised the Offerings from Five Hot Deals Retailers:

CDW|MacWarehouse has great deals on cool Mac products, including Nikon's CoolPix 4100 with a FREE Epson C86 Color Printer, Canon Optura 400 MiniDV Camcorder, Microsoft USB Optical Mouse by Starck, Sony Handycam DCR-HC40 MiniDV Camcorder, Adobe Photoshop Elements 3, Kanguru Fire Flash 512MB Drive, Epson PictureMate, LaCie 160GB External FireWire Hard Drive by F.A. Porsche, and much more.

MacConnection has fantastic prices on essential Mac products, including a FREE Epson C86 Color Printer with the purchase of any Apple Macintosh Computer, Lexmark E234 Laser Printer, Logic3 iStation iPod Speaker System with Dock, Marware iPod Runabout Case, Now Software Now Up-to-Date and Contact Bundle, IOGear 200GB Combo FireWire/USB 2.0 External Hard Drive, Belkin TuneCast II Mobile FM Transmitter, and much more.

Publishing Perfection has great deals on a variety of design and print products for your Mac, including Vertigo 3D PopArt 2.0, Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0, Extensis Suitcase X1 Upgrade, Pantone Ultimate Survival Kit, Wacom Intuos3 4x5 Graphics Tablet, Epson Perfection 4870 Flatbed Scanner, Hewlett Packard cp1700 Color Inkjet Printer, Alien Skin Image Doctor, and much more.

J&R has fantastic prices on essential Mac products, including Micromat's TechTool Pro 4, Allume Shade 7 Standard, Aspyr Adrenaline Sports Pack, Brother MFC-210C Color Flatbed Multifunction Device with $30 mail-in rebate, Corel Painter IX Upgrade, Kensington Keyboard in a Box, MacAlly IceMini USB Optical Mouse, MediaFour Mac Drive 6 File Transfer Software, and much more.

B&H Photo and Video has fantastic prices of superb products for your Mac, including Nikon's CoolPix 8800 Digital SLR Camera, Epson Stylus Photo RX600 All-in-One with Preview Monitor (includes FREE gift card), Sony DSC-V3 Digital Camera, Canon CanoScan 9950F Flatbed Scanner, Canon Selphy DS700 Photo Quality 4x6 Compact Photo Printer, and much more.

[11/4] Review--Griffin Radio Shark: We posted a note when Griffin Technology announced its Radio Shark, a radio station program recorder that allows playback on an iPod as well as a Mac. We don't have one but AP posted a nice review. They sell for $69.99. [Dana Baggett]

[11/4] Two Convicted of Internet Spam Fraud and one was found not guilty in the first federal spam conviction according to this AP article. One of the convicts received a sentence of 9 years in jail. They had been accused of spamming milllions of people for useless or phony software, amassing a fortune of over $24 million. [Dana Baggett]

[11/3] Apple Posted Pro Tip of the Week--Window Housekeeping: Every Wednesday Apple posts a pro tip of the week. This week the tips are about window housekeeping using the View menu and "snap to grid" and/or "arrange by" commands with the window in icon view. [Dana Baggett]

[11/3] Apple Posted Pro Design Story "Beating Out the Big Dogs" about Fabrice Frere: The story by Barbara Gibson highlights CITY magazine's creative director Frere's accomplishments, including beating out other top magazines for the Ellie Award for Best Photography. [Dana Baggett]

[11/3] Spiderweb Software Celebrates Tenth Birthday with 10% Discounts: Ten years ago, Spiderweb Software began its work. They had nothing but a new computer, a cockroach-infested apartment, lots of coffee and a dream to bring the great fantasy rpgs of the eighties back to life with pretty much the same quality graphics according to Spiderweb. Eleven games and tens of thousands of satisfied customers later, they're still in business and putting out fun, cheap games for fantasy gamers.

For the month of November, all of their products are ten percent off! Explore the alien, completely open-ended epic story of Geneforge or sample the many free adventures made by the Blades of Avernum community, all on the cheap! In addition, nice, big demos for all of their games are available.

[11/3] Our Griffin EarJams have Shipped: We received notice that our set of the Griffin EarJam iPod earbud "extenders" are on their way. The EarJams are supposed to allow for better bass from the iPod's earbuds. They cost $14.99. We'll let you know what we think.

[11/3] Student Evolution--A Cartoon from the Maine Learning Technology Initiative Newsletter:

[Dana Baggett]

[11/2] Wednesdays are Pro Days at Apple Retail Stores--November Schedule: Apple Pro Day is every Wednesday at your local Apple Store. Here is the November schedule of presentations:

11/03--.Mac for Small Business
11/10--Creating a Wireless Network for Your Business
11/17--Increase Your Productivity Using Microsoft Office 2004
11/24--Creating Professional Presentations with Keynote

The actual presentation times vary so check with the Apple Store near you.

Also, ask about one of these product demonstrations:

Using FastTrack Schedule 8
Video Conferencing for Any Business
Managing Data with Mac OS X Panther

Here are more details on the Apple Store Pro Day.

[11/2] Vuescan v.8.1.5 First to Support all Canon Scanners: This version from Hamrick Software adds support for the entire range of Canon scanners. Vuescan is the only scanner software to support all of Canon's scanners for professionals, prosumers, and consumers (including all CanoScan LiDE models, and the D/U and 3-9/F series).

[11/2] Apple Revised the Offerings from One Hot Deals Retailer:

MacZone has fantastic prices on essential Mac products, including Microtek's ScanMaker s400 Flatbed Scanner, PalmOne Tungsten T5 Bluetooth Handheld Device, Logitech 3-button Plus Wheel Optical Mouse, Brother Color Multifunction Device, LaCie 16x DVD-RW FireWire/USB 2.0 External Drive, Fellowes Universal Air/Auto Notebook Power Adapter, Xerox Phaser 6100DN Color Laser Printer with $100 mail-in rebate, and much more.

[11/2] Mozilla and Firefox Continue to Gain Market Share from Internet Explorer according to this CNet article, although it's still quite small. The market share for two open source and free web browsers together has grown from 3.5 per cent in June to 6 percent in October. We use Mozilla and Firefox as well as Safari. [Dana Baggett]

[11/1] Apple's New Dual 2.5 GHz Power Mac G5--How Fast Is It?--Part II. In Part I of our two-part hands-on review of Apple's fastest desktop yet, we covered the overview, canned benchmark scores and some intial user observations. We have used the PMG5 DP2.5 for over two weeks so we now present the "real world" benchmarks and provide a few more user observations.

Here are the results from our full suite of speed tests, now including the so-called "real world" benchmarks as well as the canned benchmarks.

Power Mac G5 Speed Tests (average scores or secs).
Test G5 dual 2.0-GHz*
G5 dual 2.5-GHz*
Per Cent Change
Mac OS X Version:
Canned Benchmarks:
Altivec Fractal 1.1.3 (GFLOPS)
Cinebench 2003 - Rendering
- OpenGL Hardware Lighting
Let1kWindowsBloom 1.0 (sec)
Xbench 1.1.3 - CPU
- Threading
- Memory
- Quartz Graphics
- OpenGL Graphics
- User Interface Graphics
- Hard Disk
"Real World" Tests:
Startup (sec)**
Shutdown (sec)
Launch Classic Mode (sec)
Dup. 700 MB Folder 3600 Files (sec)
Scroll 142p Acrobat Reader File (sec)
Encode MP3 in iTunes 4.5/4.7 (sec)
Export QT .mov in iMovie 3.0.3/4.01 (sec)
Quake III Arena 1.32 (frames/sec)

*Using the stock ATI RADEON 9600 Pro and 9600 XT graphics cards.

With startup times below a minute and the few times that a Power Mac using Mac OS X actually needs a cold boot, the startup time is largely irrelevant these days. Still, the new PMG5 DP2.5 manages to cut a further 10 per cent off the startup time. Shutting down takes exactly (to the full second anyway) the same time.

The slow speed of launching applications was a sore point with early Mac OS X versions but now, for the most part, they launch in seconds. Even launching Classic Mode has dropped to less than 10 seconds, a nice 25 percent improvement for those who still occasionally need to use a Classic application.

We are pleasantly surprised at the 26 per cent increase in speed to copy a large folder with many (3600) files of varied sizes. Scrolling speed increased a marginal 7 per cent.

The time to encode our test CD track, Beethoven's 6th, as an MP3 file increased slightly but that may be due to the change in versions of iTunes from 4.5 to 4.7. We can't imagine that the PMG5 DP2.5 is actually slower than the DP2.0 at this task. Similarly, the time to export our test movie in iMovie improved only 5 percent but again there were several version changes between the two tests that may have affected the results. Unfortunately, our DP2.0 is in someone else's good hands so we can't repeat the tests with the newer application versions.

Finally, there was a nice improvement of 14 per cent in the frame rate of our test using the venerable 3D first person shooter Quake III Arena.

As we noted in Part I of our review, there aren't many significant hardware changes between the original Power Mac G5 DP 2.0GHz and the new DP 2.5GHz model. The major ones being the 25 per cent boost in CPU clock speed, along with the liquid cooling system, the two USB 2.0 ports, an increase from 4x to 8x for the SuperDrive and the upgrade of the video card from an ATI 9600 Pro to an ATI 9600 XT, mainly an increase in VRAM from 64 to 128 MB. The latter mainly allows faster speeds at higher resolutions but little improvement, if any, at the same resolution. The doubling of the DVD burning speed may be important to those who burn DVDs extensively.

The dual 2.5GHz Power Mac G5 is the fastest Mac on the planet and in some respects also the fastest PC desktop. If you really need speed, the dual 2.5 is measurably faster than the original crown holder. However, it runs hotter and the fans work a lot more than they did in our original dual 2GHz G5. It's not annoyingly loud most of the time but the dual 2.5's fans do rev up to high speed far more frequently when doing intensive video tasks than they did in its predecessor, a whisper-quiet machine virtually all of the time.

We look forward to testing our dual 2.5 GHz with a 30" Cinema Display and Nvidia GeForce 6800 DDL graphics card installed--coming very soon.

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