December 2005 News Archive

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Copyright 2005 by Bill Fox All rights reserved.
Last Updated: Dec. 31, 2005

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Brief Hands-On Report--Camino 1.0b2 Web Browser is Out and available for download from this Mozilla Web page. Camino is the Mac OS X Cocoa-native Web browser being produced as an open source project from Mozilla. Quite a bit of work has been done between the 1.0 beta 1 release and this 1.0 beta 2 release--here are the release notes.

Camino is finally maturing into a generally useable product, one that we like very much. We downloaded the 1.0b2 version and tried it out for a couple of hours of Web work. It performed without a hitch on the Web pages we tried, including our bank's. [Bill Fox]

Peachpit Published Apple Training Series: Soundtrack Pro: Soundtrack Pro, Apple's exciting sound design software, is the newest member of the Final Cut Pro Studio digital video suite. In this Apple-certified book/DVD combo, readers will find a complete, self-paced course in all aspects of Soundtrack Pro. Author Mary Plummer of the Apple Training Series: Soundtrack Pro (Peachpit, ISBN: 0-321-35757-4, $44.99) guides you through the secrets of editing, repairing, mixing, and arranging multi-track audio files, as well as how to create original soundtracks, score to video, add effects, and more. Step-by-step exercises and lesson files will have readers taking advantage of Soundtrack's thousands of audio loops to create perfectly synched scores in no time. Also included are dozens of advanced sound editing tips for professional users who want to take their video, DVD, and Web projects to the next level. [Bill Fox]

LoadPod Adds Movie Loading Service for iPods with Video: According for a note from Bill Palmer, his LoadPod service has launched a DVD movie loading service for users of the new Fifth Generation "video iPod" in eight major U.S. cities. LoadPod picks up the customer's video iPod and DVD collection at the customer's home or office, and returns the iPod fully loaded in a few days. Movies are encoded into 320x240 display format, ideal for the video iPod's screen, and take up an average of less than one gigabyte of iPod space apiece. iPod Movie Loading service is currently available in New York City, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. Customers can place their iPod Movie Loading order starting today. [Bill Fox]

Cool (and FREE) Mac Software--NetSpeedometer 1.0: This little utility measures and reports via a speedometer-like window the download and upload speeds of packets as you surf the Web. NetSpeedometer 1.0 is donaware from SubRosaSoft and available for download from this Web page. If you like the app, SubRosaSoft requests a donation to the American Foundation for the Blind. [Bill Fox]

Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--"Mr. Gadget," author Kirk McElhearn, The John Lennnon Educational Tour Bus and Tonight co-hosts Gene and Grayson Steinberg will have an action-packed episode featuring Steve "Mr. Gadget" Kruschen, who will review the best consumer electronics gear for the past year. You'll also meet Kirk McElhearn, author of "How to Do Everything with Mac OS X Tiger" and lots of other books. A special guest will come on board, and that's Brian Rothschild, executive director of The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. In addition, you'll meet Nicholas Raba of, who says Mac spyware is already out there and that he has software to protect you. Tune in the broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern. The chat room will also be open for listener participation. A podcast and an archive of the show will be available for listening at your convenience shortly after the original broadcast. [Bill Fox]

NewerTech miniStack with an iMac G5: Yesterday's review of NewerTech's terrific miniStack external hard drive for the Mac mini encouraged Charles Gaba to share his use of a miniStack with his 20" iMac G5. Charles wrote:

Just read your review of the OWC miniStack.

As it happens, I just hooked one of these (the 320 GB model) up, not to a Mac mini, but to my 20” Rev. B iMac G5.

As you can see, if you turn the unit sideways, it fits perfectly right under the iMac; the metal base is the perfect size for it to sit on, with just enough clearance room for ventilation and to adjust the iMac if necessary.

Plus, while the FW/USB cables were too long for your taste, they’re actually the perfect length to reach the ports on the iMac G5 (and actually, on the new iSight Rev C models, I believe the ports are across the bottom, which means this should work with the non-OWC models of these combo devices as well).

Just thought you’d find this use interesting.

Also, as you probably figured, the pre-installed hard drive versions fit better than your case-only version; no bulging, etc. on mine.

Charles Gaba produces the excellent resource, Mac vs PC System Shootouts. [Bill Fox]

Our Mac mini as a Media Center: After yesterday's review of NewerTech's miniStack, a number of people emailed asking us how we set up our Mac mini as a media center so we thought we'd share our simple and inexpensive solution.

Our 1.25GHz Mac mini running Mac OS X 10.4.3 with 512MB RAM sits on top of our projection TV as does our home theater system, except for the speakers of course. The Mac mini is connected to our TV via an Apple DVI to Video Adapter ($19) and a Radio Shack S-video cable (~$15). The Mac mini is connected to the home theater receiver via a Monster iCable iPod to Stereo cable ($40) obtained from a retail Apple Store. A D-Link DBT-120 Bluetooth module ($40) is plugged into a Mac mini USB port to control the Mac mini with an Apple Wireless Keyboard ($59). We also have an Apple Wireless Mouse ($59).

Finally, we use Front Row 1.0.1 with Front Row Enabler to select among movies, songs in our iTunes library and photos in our iPhoto library. [Bill Fox]

[Happy Birthday to Us! Today marks Macs Only!'s 10th anniversary. We began as a Mac links web site on December 28, 1995, and added commentary, reviews, tutorials and other features over the next two years. Then, we began offering regular daily news updates with our own domain name in July of 1997. -.- Ed.]

Hands-On Review--NewerTech miniStack: We have been looking for an external hard drive case to match our Mac mini and couldn't pass up a $69 special from OWC on a bare NewerTech miniStack. We already had a super-quiet and very fast 80GB 7200 RPM Seagate Barracuda IV hard drive to go in it. Along with its good looks, the miniStack has built-in hubs for 3 FireWire 400 ports and 4 USB 2.0 ports so $69 is a real bargain.

Our miniStack arrived quickly with OWC's inexpensive UPS 2nd Day Air shipping option ($7.95). In the box were the silver miniStack bottom, a white cover, a small power brick and cord, a 12" FireWire cable, a 12" USB 2.0 cable and an owner's manual and assembly guide. The minStack is all plastic so its silver color is similar but not identical to the aluminum Mac mini. Our only gripe, and a small one at that, is the FireWire and USB cables could have been much shorter and the thinner variety for a neater appearance when assembled.

Our Seagate hard drive was a very tight fit but fit it did. With a drive installed, the miniStack is a very compact package. Unfortunately, our drive distorted the miniStack slightly so the white top didn't snap on perfectly.

Cooling is partially obtained via a heat sink, the aluminum carriage that holds the drive. The fins of the heat sink extend out of the bottom of the case. The miniStack also has a small fan (upper right in photo at left) to help with cooling. The miniStack's fan can be set at a constant low, constant high or automatic speed. The default setting is automatic and that is where we left it. A heat sensor turns on the fan when needed and runs it at low or high as needed. One can see the heat sensor taped to the center of the Seagate hard drive.

The miniStack has Oxford 911 FireWire 400 and Prolific 2507 USB 2.0 bridges. It can be set to automatically use either FireWire or USB 2.0 to communicate with the Mac mini or it can be forced to use FireWire only. The recommendation is forced FireWire and that is where we set it. When connected to a Mac mini, the miniStack has two FireWire 400 (one more) and three USB 2.0 (two more) ports available for connecting additional peripherals.

The miniStack has a power switch but generally it is not needed. It powers up and down with the Mac mini so there's no need to ever turn the miniStack off.

We have used the miniStack for several days now. It is a bit more finnicky to move around among computers that any other external FireWire drive that we've used. We occasionally had to shut it and the computer off and disconnect them and then turn them both on and connect them again to get it to work correctly. But this was a minor nuisance and did not reappear once it was working right and left connected and powered up and down only via the computer.

Our Mac mini is used as a multi-media center attached to our large screen TV and home theater sound system. We use Apple's Front Row 1.0.1 hacked to work with the free Front Row Enabler and a Bluetooth keyboard to select among movie, song and image files from our collection on the larger external drive. Adding the larger external drive adds disk space for holding more files. We can easily increase it to 500GB if needed. The external 7200 RPM 80GB drive is also faster than the stock 4200 RPM 40GB internal drive.

So how fast is it? We tested the Mac mini stock internal drive against the external miniStack drive using two of our standard tests, Xbench Disk and duplicate a 700MB folder of 3600 files. Here are the results:

Relative Performance of Mac mini Stock Internal vs External FireWire Drive
% Change
Xbench Disk (score)
Duplicate Folder (sec)

The external drive is much faster as expected.

What about noise? The miniStack's fan comes on during heavy work like the folder duplication test but it is not obtrusive. It is very much like a PowerBook fan, a rush of air but no annoying whine.

We like the miniStack by NewerTech. It looks very good in the company of a Mac mini and it adds two USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire 400 port to the stock configuration. The miniStack has a fan like the Mac mini and, like the Mac mini, when the fan kicks in it's not annoying. Our complaints are minor: cables too long, color slightly off, fit not perfect and the connection flaky the first time. But the miniStack looks better on the desk than our former favorite, the OWC Elite, and at $69 (still) it is inexpensive. [Bill Fox]

Hands-On Report--Trendy Shield for Video iPod: We ordered the Trendy Shield from TrendyGeek for our iPod with video a week ago by "Express Shipping" and it arrived yesterday afternoon by USPS Express Mail. Demand must be ahead of supply, at least for the packaging, since our Trendy Shield arrived in packaging for the previous 4G iPod model.

The Trendy Shield is set of clear films that are applied to the front and back of the 5G iPod with video to prevent scratches. According to TrendyGeek,

The film is 100% transparent so you can barely see it when applied. The film adheres strongly to the iPod and will not come off with regular use but is easily removed with out leaving any residue on the ipod.

Two sets of the films are included for $12.99. Express shipping was $12.

What the TrendyGeek web site promotional material does not say is that the film is applied after dipping it in water with a few drops of detergent added. This caused us some concern for water being syphoned into the internal workings of our iPod with video, particularly around the click wheel. Nevertheless, we pushed on and installed the Trendy Shield following the directions supplied by TrendyGeek.

After letting it dry for a hour as directed, the Trendy Shield was solidly affixed to our iPod with video with no discernable bubbles or other discontinuities. Our iPod still worked so our concern for water getting inside and damaging it, at least for now, remains unfounded.

How does it look? We'd say it's okay. We can tell the Trendy Shield is there but it is not particularly obtrusively noticeable to eye or hand. In a week or so we'll peel it off and report again on its adherance, appearance and if there is any residue or not. [Bill Fox]

TomTom GO Car Navigational Systems work with Macs: You would never know it just by perusing TomTom's Web site but the all-in-one GPS naviational system, TomTom GO, works with Macs. It has done so at least since version 5.420 of its software was released in July 2005, according to this FAQ page. Everywhere else we looked on their web site, the computer system that the TomTom GO interacts with is simply referred to as a "PC" which usually means a computer with a Windows operating system.

That TomTom GO now works with Macs is good news for those looking for an after-market car Nav System. [Bill Fox]

Cool Mac Software--Mactracker 4.0.2 Released: Know everything (well, almost everything) there is to know about every Mac ever made, all for free. Mactracker also includes info on Apple monitors, printers, cameras, AirPort Base Stations, iPods, etc. Download the update from within the application or via this MacUpdate Web page. According to the Read Me file,

Mactracker 4.0.2 adds a "Timeline" option to view models by date introduced, adds updated history information for latest iPods and the main window now uses the "Unified title/toolbar" appearance under Mac OS X 10.4 if "Use brushed metal appearance" is not checked in the preferences.

[Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

Maine Plans to Extend Learning Technology Initiative--Bid to Replace iBooks Out in January 2006: Maine was the first and only state to equip the entire 7th and 8th grade student population and their teachers with laptop computers and wireless networks. Under the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), Apple won the contract and equipped the students with iBooks. That contract expires in June of 2006 and, according to Macs Only!'s sources, it will be re-bid starting in January 2006. The plan is to complete the bid process in April 2006, once again covering all of Maine's seventh and eighth graders and their teachers.

The bidding will be open to all vendors, not just Apple or vendors of Apple iBooks. If there is no successful bid, then Maine will seek to extend the current program for another year.

If there is a successful bid, the existing inventory of iBooks will be purchased by Maine's Department of Education for $48 per iBook and then offered for re-purchase by individual school districts. The iBooks include AirPort networking equipment and software, including Mac OS X 10.2.8. The iBooks may be used to extend the MTLI to grades other than 7 and 8.

The MLTI followed the first big school district purchase of iBooks by Henrico County, VA. Henrico County's program was re-bid earlier this year and Dell was the winning vendor based on a significantly lower cost and a much smarter bid. Hopefully, Apple has learned something from that debacle. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

Intuit Posted TurboTax for Mac OS X 2005 Manual Updaters: Intuit posted various manual updaters for TurboTax for Mac. They are available from this Intuit Web page. Intui explains:

"If you are unable to update your TurboTax product through the program, follow the instructions below to update your program manually. Manual updates are available for TurboTax federal products only."

We downloaded all five that are available for the "Retail Outlet" and "Other Retailer" list--we got ours from Even though they are .exe files, which are usually for Windows and do not run on the Mac, they ran fine when double-clicked and updated our copy of TurboTax for Mac 2005. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

FileMaker Pro 8.0v2 and Advanced 8.0v2 are Out for Mac OS X and available for download from this FileMaker Web page. This updater has about two dozen fixes. [Bill Fox]

Apple Released Aperture 1.0.1 Update: Aperture is Apple's new application designed for the post-production workflow of digital photographers. The v1.0.1 update is available for download from this Apple Web page or via the Mac OS X Software Update application if you have Aperture installed. It's a relatively modest 11.4MB file. According to the Read Me file,

Aperture 1.0.1 Update addresses a number of issues related to reliability and performance. It also delivers improved image export quality and metadata handling.

Among the key areas addressed are:

- White balance adjustment accuracy and performance
- Image export quality
- Book and print ordering reliability
- Auto-stacking performance
- Custom paper size handling

This update is recommended for all Aperture users.

[Bill Fox]

Brief Hands-On Report--Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5rc2 is Out and available for download via Thunderbird is the standalone open source email client from the Mozilla Project. Thunderbird 1.5 will have lots of new features and this is Release Candidate 2, meaning the final version will be out shortly. The companion Web browser, Firefox 1.5, has been out for awhile. Some of the new features are:

  • Automated update to streamline product upgrades. Notification of an update is more prominent, and updates to Thunderbird may now be half a megabyte or smaller. Updating extensions has also improved.
  • Sort address autocomplete results by how often you send e-mail to each recipient.
    Spell check as you type.
  • Saved Search Folders can now search across multiple accounts.
  • Built in phishing detector to help protect users against email scams.
  • Podcasting and other RSS Improvements.
  • Deleting attachments from messages.
  • Integration with server side spam filtering.
  • Reply and forward actions for message filters.
  • Kerberos Authentication.
  • Auto save as draft for mail composition.
  • Message aging.
  • Filters for Global Inbox.
  • Improvements to product usability including redesigned options interface, and SMTP server management.
  • Many security enhancements.

We use Thunderbird as our backup to Apple Mail so we downloaded and installed a copy. The interface is very nice, similar to Apple Mail's interface. We used it to send several test messages, save as draft, attach files, etc. It worked perfectly. [Bill Fox]

Apple Pro Tip of the Week--Quick and Simple Migration: In the past when you bought a new Mac or main hard drive, migrating all your files, data and applications to the new one was a giant P.I.T.A., to say the least. Now all you have to do is use the Migration Assistant application in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder. More... [Dana Baggett]

Trans Intl. Announced 2 Terabyte Internal Storage Solution for G5 Dual/Quad Core: Trans Intl. announced the immediate, worldwide availability of SwiftData200R. This new version of the popular Swiftdata 200R is engineered to give Dual and Quad-core Macintosh G5 users over 2 terabytes of internal SATA storage. Through innovative engineering the SwiftData200R neatly fits an additional 3 drives inside a Macintosh G5 Dual and Quad-core computer. Combined with the two drives already in the Macintosh G5's SATA internal drive bay – that’s a total of 5 internal hard disk drives. This will give the user over 2 Terabytes of storage - enough for over 140 hours of uncompressed DV video - for audio professionals, this translates to over 3000 hours of stereo PCM audio. These drives can be used as RAID Type 0,1,5,10 or JBOD. One free PCI express slot is required for the SATA PCI express RAID card to control the additional drives. [Bill Fox]

Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Andy Ihnatko, Bob Crane and Jason Barkeloo: Tonight co-hosts Gene and Grayson Steinberg will welcome that fabulously entertaining tech commentator, Andy Ihnatko. You'll also rediscover the excitement of radio with Bob Crane, from C. Crane Company, and you'll learn about a new technology linking printed materials and online content from Jason E. Barkeloo, President of Somatic Digital, LLC. Tune in the internet radio broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern . Their chat room will also be open for listener participation. An archive and a podcast of the show will be available for listening at your convenience after the original broadcast. [Bill Fox]

TamTam Sales Halted by equinix Over Lawsuit Threat from TomTom: equinix has halted the sale of TamTam, an application that allowed one to use the Windows-only TomTom GO navigation system with Mac OS X. With TamTam, Mac users could load maps, voices, firmware updates as well as perform backups for their TomTom GO. According to equinix,

"The Dutch navigation-system manufacturer TomTom has threatened to file suit against the software developer equinux should they fail to make the wanted changes in the sales and marketing of TamTam....TomTom brought forth numerous complaints, including that equinux must should give up and cease to use the 'TamTam' name. equinux must also commit to no longer using the program icon of TamTam; TomTom feels that there is a danger of mistaking Tam Tam's feet logo with TomTom's hand logo. Lastly, equinux is no longer allowed to use the term 'TomTom'. The resulting effects of this complaint is essentially a sales-ban for TamTam."

"TomTom is that typical hardware manufacturer that first ignores the Mac market, leaving others to pave the way and make their devices Mac compatible. Once the market has matured, they then take-over via arbitrary threats against those who provided the initial Mac-based solutions," says Till Schadde, CEO of equinix.

equinix makes other great Mac software including VPN-Tracker and iSale, an Apple Design Award winner. More... [Bill Fox]

Mozilla Released Sea Monkey 1.0beta Web Browser: It is available for download from this Mozilla Web page. SeaMonkey 1.0 Beta was enhanced with new features like tab drag and drop. Much of the core code is shared with Firefox 1.5 but SeaMonkey comes with the the look and feel of the Mozilla Suite and Netscape Communicator packages. See the new logo at right. Here are the release notes.

SeaMonkey is the successor to Mozilla 1.7.12 going forward. We downloaded and used it--seems to work well. [Dana Baggett]

Apple in Group Developing Next-Gen Standard Display Interface: A group of leading computer and electronics comanies, including Apple, announced that they are working on a new standard for the digital display interface called UDI or unified display interface. UDI will provide compatibility among consumer electronics and computers. UDI will replace VGA and will include compatibility with DVI (digital video interface), now Apple's standard, and HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) for HDTVs.

Hopefully, it will be similar to Apple's ADC that it dropped in favor of the more ubiquitous DVI. ADC supplied power and USB along with the display signal in a single cable and snap-on connector. More... [Dana Baggett]

AssistiveWare Released SwitchXS 2.2: SwitchXS is a switch access solution that provides virtually complete access to Mac OS X and all standard Mac applications for people who cannot use a mouse or keyboard. SwitchXS provide the best access solution ever on the Mac (and beyond) for people who are, for example, quadriplegic due to an accident, or suffering from neuromotor diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) or Cerebral Palsy (CP) with very limited limb movement. It offers full mouse and keyboard emulation by means of a so-called scanning mode. With each click on the switch the user selects an action, such as "move the cursor up" or "type B", from a "scanning" menu.

SwitchXS 2.2 is a major update with the following main new features:

  • SwitchXS now speaks Japanese when the user has the Japanese DTalker application ( installed on their machine. This way, SwitchXS can provide voice cueing during scanning in Japanese. What is more, when combined with the PCS for LayoutKitchen communication symbol collection SwitchXS can now be turned into a complete switch accessible communication solution for Japanese Mac users who cannot speak. For English, French, German, Spanish and other languages SwitchXS can be combined with our Proloquo software ( for the same purposes.
  • To save efforts, SwitchXS now remembers which panel was last used in each application and can (optionally) automatically load that panel each time a particular application is used.
  • For beginning switch users, a "simplified scanning" feature was added that instantly scans any panel linearly instead of applying traditional row-column scanning. This is great for beginning switch users and at the same time saves parents and educators time, because they do not have to make dedicated linear scan panels, but can turn on linear scanning for all scan panels.
  • The color of the rotating cursor beam can now be set by the user.
  • Includes LayoutKitchen 1.0.4.
  • An expanded user manual.

SwitchXS works with any HID compliant USB gamepad, joystick and keyboard, and starting with Mac OS X 10.3 also with any HID compliant USB mouse or trackball. SwitchXS also works with USB switch interfaces emulating any of the above devices. SwitchXS is currently available in English, French and Japanese but works fine with most other languages. The suggested retail price is US$ 299. [Bill Fox]

St. Clair Software Released HistoryHound v1.9--Index and Search Web Pages: HistoryHound 1.9 now lets you search and display RSS feeds as well as web pages from your browser history and bookmarks. It also delivers stability, efficiency, and speed improvements in its indexing and searching of pages you've viewed in Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, OmniWeb, Camino, Mozilla/Netscape, Opera, and Shiira web browsers or the built-in browsers of the NetNewsWire 2 and PulpFiction RSS readers. Just type in a word or words that appeared on a page or RSS feed you've seen before, and HistoryHound will find it.

The update is free for registered users, and is localized for English, Japanese, French, and Danish-speaking Mac OS X users. [Bill Fox]

O'Reilly Released DV Filmmaking: From Start to Finish: This book provides a solid foundation of tremendous value to a beginner, while addressing the fine points of filmmaking with a level of sophistication, detail, and insight that even the most worldly director or educator can appreciate. Ian David Aronson, the book's author, draws upon
his years of experience teaching at the college and graduate level, his extensive professional background as a media producer, and his unmistakable love of cinema to create a text that's educational and fun to read. DV Filmmaking: From Start to Finish (Aronson, O'Reilly, $39.95 US). [Bill Fox]

Game Developers Conference 2006--The Programming Track: The Game Developers Conference 2006 (GDC:06)will be held March 20-24 in San Jose, California at the San Jose Convention Center. Next-gen game development will revolutionize every aspect of the gaming industry. From increased production complexity, team sizes, and budgets to new ways to reach the mass market, GDC:06 will answer the questions critical to the industry's success. There will be eight tracks: Vision, Audio, Business & Management, Game Design, Production, Programming, Visual Arts and IGDA.

Today we focus on the Programming Track. As new platforms emerge and existing platforms evolve, programmers face an ever increasing challenge to produce games that capture the attention of the public and the media. The Programming Track focuses on these challenges and the opportunities presented by next and current generation development.

Programming Track Highlights:

  • Building Project Gotham Racing 3: An Xbox 360 Postmortem--Gareth Wilson & Paul Kerby (Bizarre Creations)
  • LucasArts and ILM: a Case Study of the Convergence of Games and Film--Steve Sullivan (Industrial Light & Magic) & Chris Williams (LucasArts Entertainment)
  • Ritual: Next-Gen Visual Effects on Direct3D 10--Douglas Service (Ritual Entertainment) & Sam Glassenberg (Microsoft)
  • The Next Generation Animation Panel--Ken Perlin, Victor Zordan, Okan Arikan, Leslie Ikemoto & Lucas Kovar
  • Three States and a Plan: The AI of F.E.A.R.--Jeff Orkin (Monolith Productions and MIT Media lab)
  • Backwards Is Forward: Making Better Games with Test-Driven Development--Noel Llopis & Sean Houghton (High Moon Studios)

A complete descriptions of all sessions is available from this GDC:06 Web page. [Bill Fox]

Apple Released Soundtrack Pro Update 1.0.2: The update is available for download from this Apple Web page. It is a 41.6MB file that includes the latest updates to all Soundtrack Pro applications: Soundtrack Pro and Compressor 2. Soundtrack Pro gives audio and video professionals a powerful way to edit and design sound. [Bill Fox]

iPod with Video Conversion Software Updated--Free iSquint Joins Pack: We recently posted a speed shootout among MoviePod 1.0, Podner 1.1.1 and Video2Pod 1.1.1. MoviePod won but the other two developers are not standing still and have upgraded their offerings:

Podner 1.2 -- "...a 10-50% speed increase - along with a tendency to make iPod®-compatible H.264 files when QuickTime® Pro can't. MPEG-4 quality is vastly improved while file size has been reduced..."

Video2Pod 1.2.1 -- "Problems with muxed mpeg1 videos fixed, conversion speed of such videos is much faster now."

MoviePod remains a v1.0 and all three applications sell for about $10 each.

There's a new video iPod file conversion application out as well, iSquint v0.9k, and it is freeware. According to the developer,

"iSquint is an iPod video conversion app. It's up to 5 times faster than Apple's method, works well with AVIs and MPEGs, and is infinitely free-er....On a 1.5GHz G4, iSquint can convert most video files to iPod-screen-sized videos in realtime. Depending on a few factors, a 20 minute video will take up anywhere from 50-150MB of disk space."

Unfortunately, iSquint does not support H.264 nor .wmv9 files without Flip4Mac just yet. [Bill Fox]

Apple Released Final Cut Pro Suite 5.0.4 Update: The updater, an 85MB file, is available for download from this Apple Web page. It includes "The latest updates to all Final Cut Pro 5 applications: Final Cut Pro 5, Cinema Tools 3, LiveType 2, Compressor 2." According to Apple, the update "Provides improved reliability...." [Bill Fox]

First iBooks, Now Maine Wants High-Speed Wireless Internet for 90% of Rural Areas: Maine was the first state to provide all seventh and eighth graders with iBooks under previous governor Angus King. Current Gov. John Baldacci is leading an initiative to cover 90 per cent of Maine's rural population with a density of 5 people per square mile or more with high-speed wireless internet service. The initiative called "Connect Maine" may cost around $55 milion for all the cell towers but they will bring cell phone service as well. More... [Dana Baggett]

The Battle for Professional Digital Photographers--Apple Aperture vs Adobe Photoshop CS2 with Bridge and Camera Raw: A couple of weeks ago we had a chance to talk to John Nack, Adobe's Senior product Manager for Photoshop & Bridge, about Adobe's products serving digital photographers. The backdrop for the conversation was Apple's impending release of Aperture, Apple's new professional digital photography workflow application. We have waited for Aperture to be released and independently reviewed rather than rely on Apple's pre-release marketing announcements to have a more realistic understanding of Aperture's capabilities versus those Adobe has built into its products: Bridge and Photoshop CS2 with the Camera Raw v3.3 plug-in.

The touted advantage of Aperture is working directly and non-destructively with RAW images throughout a complete workflow from importing through retouching and publishing to archiving. Aperture also works with Mac OS X's core image technology for speed and it has some great new tools like the light table and loupe for magnifying portions of images. Some reviews of Aperture 1.0 (see Ars Technica, Ars Technica: II, Photo District News: I and Macworld) are in and the general verdict is that Aperture has the workflow down, the new light table and loupe tools are terrific but many of the components need more work.

Adobe's John Nack pointed out to us that between Bridge and Photoshop CS2 with the Camera Raw 3.3 plug-in, Adobe also has the workflow of a digital photographer well-covered. While separate applications, they work together seamlessly. Bridge is Adobe's "next-generation" File Browser. With Bridge, one can process multiple camera raw images at once; resize, rate, and label thumbnails; review images in Slideshow mode; search metadata; etc. The images can be moved easily into the Photoshop environment for unparalleled re-touching and artistic modification.

What is the to-do about "raw" images? Raw is the original image format that a given digital camera uses. It contains all of the information exactly as the camera captured it, i.e. the image file is uncompressed and unmodified in any way. Of couse, not every "raw" file can be read by every digitial image application. Aperture handles many top cameras but less than two dozen in total. Adobe's Camera Raw 3.3 handles 102 cameras according to Nack.

While editing "raw" images is increasing, Nack presented us an InfoTrends article showing digital photographers currently edit their images in a number of formats, mostly in JPEG (57%), Camera Raw (55%) and DNG (19%)--obviously some use multiple formats. DNG (Digital Negative) is a fully-documented open format for Camera Raw images developed by Adobe. The DNG standard offers interchangeability among editors and photographers. "Our goal is to sell solutions to digital photographers with freedom," said Nack.

Apple touts that Aperture works non-destructively on RAW images but Nack countered that Adobe's products have worked non-destructively all along and on multiple file derivations of the same image at the same time. Still, Aperture works directly with the original RAW image throughout the workflow.

Apple has positioned Aperture at $499 to become the primary application for professional digital photographers. Adobe Photoshop CS2 at $649 is the established primary application for graphics artists working with digital images. So Aperture is not targeted at Photoshop per se but at Adobe's Bridge and Camera Raw plug-in for Photoshop CS2 that come included with Photoshop CS2.

From the reviews, it appears that Aperture has integrated the workflow and has some great tools but has a way to go to achieve its goal to be the application. In the meantime, we would bet the farm that Adobe will not be resting on its laurels. For digital photgraphers, competition for their workflow would be very good news, a situation that can only result in greatly improving support for them. It will be fun to watch the battle and see if Apple with Aperture can ace the field for digital photographers as it has done with Final Cut Pro for video. [Bill Fox]

Microsoft Internet Explorer Totally Dead for 2006: We all know that the development of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser stopped in 2003 following the release of Apple's Safari. It stands at v5.2.3. But IE is now officially totally dead. A note on Microsoft's Mactopia Web page for IE states the following:


In June 2003, the Microsoft Macintosh Business Unit announced that Internet Explorer for Mac would undergo no further development, and support would cease in 2005. In accordance with published support lifecycle policies, Microsoft will end support for Internet Explorer for Mac on December 31st, 2005, and will provide no further security or performance updates.

Additionally, as of January 31st, 2006, Internet Explorer for the Mac will no longer be available for download from Mactopia. It is recommended that Macintosh users migrate to more recent web browsing technologies such as Apple's Safari.

Download a copy now if you want to keep one just in case. However, we find Firefox and Opera to be good adjuncts to Safari and have not found a need for IE for over a year. [Bill Fox]

Brief Hands-On Report--ATI Released ATI Diplays 4.5.7 But It Doesn't Fix 17" PowerBook Display Rotation Bug: ATI Displays Update 4.5.7 is available for download via This special preference pane enables advanced graphics options and Versavision rotation on many ATI Radeon graphics cards, including supposedly the Radeon Mobility cards in many PowerBook G4s. According to the release notes,

Changed in this release

  • Added support for iMac G5
  • Added support for 15"(1.67/1.5 GHz) and 17"(1.67 GHz) G4 Powerbook - 2005
  • Improved reliability for self repair feature.
  • V-Sync disabled for Mac OS X 10.4.3; enabled for prior OS versions.

Despite what the release notes claim, 4.5.7 does NOT fix the Versavision display rotation bug on our 1.67GHz 17" PowerBook G4. This problem has existed at least since 10.4.3 and Displays 4.5.5--maybe earlier.

We downloaded the update, installed it and tried the rotation option and got a freaked out screen. We fixed the problem by booting into safe mode (holding shift key at chime until progress wheel appears--takes a long time) and deleting the ATIDisplays3.plist in the preference folder of our home library folder and rebooting. [Bill Fox]

Apple Revised the Offerings from Five Hot Deals Retailers:

PowerMax has fantastic prices of superb products for your Mac, including Dr. Bodelin iPod Boom Box with Built-in Dock and Remote Control, MacAlly Cassette Tape Adapter for iPod, Griffin iTalk Voice Recorder for iPod, Belkin Hi-Speed USB 2.0 15-in-1 Media Reader and Writer, Wacom Intuos3 6x8 USB Graphics Tablet, and much more.

MacMall has fantastic prices on essential Mac products, including Wacom Graphire3 White 6x8 Graphics Tablet, Canon DC10 DVD Camcorder with $50 mail-in rebate, Microtek Scanmaker i320 Color Flatbed Scanner with $20 mail-in rebate, Epson Stylus Photo RX620 All-in-One with $50 mail-in rebate, Hewlett Packard DeskJet 5740 Color Inkjet Printer with $20 mail-in rebate, and much more.

ClubMac has great deals on essential Mac products, including SDI Technologies iHome IH5 Clock Radio for iPod, Epson Stylus CX4200 All-in-One Printer with $20 mail-in rebate, Fantom 120GB Titanium USB 2.0 External Hard Drive with $40 mail-in rebate, Roxio Toast 7 Titanium with $20 mail-in rebate, Adobe Creative Suite 2 Standard Edition, and much more.

Small Dog Electronics has great prices on top quality Mac products, including Burton iPod-ready Jackets and Backpacks with FREE shipping, Klipsch iFi iPod Speaker System, Aspyr Media SimCity 4 Deluxe, GizMac Xrack Pro 2 Noise Reduction Enclosure, Matias Tactile Pro USB Keyboard, Sennheiser PX200W Mini Foldable Headphones, and much more.

Mac Game Store has great deals on the hottest games for the Mac, including MacSoft Tropico 2: Pirate Cove, MacSoft Zoo Tycoon 2, Oddlabs Tribal Trouble, Aspyr Media Spongebob Squarepants: the Movie, Kutoka Creatures: Exodus, Encore Inc. No Limit Texas Holdem: Tournament Edition 2006, Aspyr Media RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, and more.

[Bill Fox]

TidBITS Electronic Publishing Announced the eBook Take Control of .Mac: Apple Computer's .Mac service offers oodles of features, but many users either don't realize all that's available or haven't figured out how to use all of .Mac's capabilities as effectively as possible. Now .Mac users can find friendly guidance in best-selling author Joe Kissell's Take Control of .Mac, (TidBITS Electronic Publishing, ISBN: 1-933671-08-4,December 15, 2005, $10) which covers all of .Mac's major features. Take Control publisher Adam Engst said,

".Mac offers an impressive set of features for $100 per year, and with Joe's detailed instructions, you can be sure you're getting your money's worth."

After helping readers get set up and giving an overview of .Mac, the ebook delves into the major .Mac services: Mail, iDisk, .Mac Sync, Backup, HomePage, and Groups. Readers will learn the best ways to read email via the .Mac Web interface or in an email program, how to share files with others via an iDisk, and the ins and outs of synchronizing data between multiple Macs. The ebook also provides real-world advice about techniques for protecting important data with Backup; creating a full-fledged Web site with photos and movies shared from within iPhoto and iMovie; and using .Mac Groups to establish private online areas for sharing messages, photos, calendars, and files with family, friends, or colleagues. [Bill Fox]

Apple's iPod Success is Among Top 10 IT Stories in 2005 according to an IDG article on While we agree with that designation, IDG produces the Macworld Expo and publishes Macworld Magazine, and Of course, they also publish PCworld so they are not biased.... IDG's other top 10 IT stories include: Oracle buying Siebel, HP firing CEO Carla Fiorina, Sony choosing Stringer as CEO, Google's super success, Web 2.0, Microsoft's Xbox 360, AMD suing Intel for antitrust violations, Sony's rootkit CD copy protection fiasco, and Time-Warner's struggle with what to do with AOL--interesting choices. More... [Dana Baggett]

Adobe Updated Components of its Creative Suite 2 for Mac OS X: Adobe posted Adobe Stock Photos 1.0.5 and Adobe Help Center v2.1 according to We got Adobe Stock Photos 1.0.5 via the "Update" selection under the "Help" menu in the Adobe GoLive CS2 application. However, the new Help Center update didn't appear as an auto-update so we downloaded it via [Bill Fox]

Really Cool Mac OS X Software Updated--SallingClicker 3.0.1 and coconutBattery 2.1:

Salling Clicker 3.0.1--One of the all-time best Mac utilities, Salling Clicker turns a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone (or PDA) into a remote controller of applications on a Bluetooth-enabled Mac. We used to get a kick out of the reaction of audiences to our using a Sony-Ericsson T68i cell phone to control a Keynote presentation. Unfortunately, SC is still not compatible with our replacement Motorola RAZR even though iSync is compatible--maybe soon? $24 Shareware.

coconutBattery 2.1--The best PowerBook/iBook battery utility available. It displays very useful information like a battery's current capacity relative to its original in additin to a battery's relative charge, number of recycles and 'Book's age. It also stores date-clocked reports on a battery's status. It comes with a cool widget as well. Freeware.

[Bill Fox]

O'Reilly Published Skype Hacks: Author Andrew Sheppard, calls Skype "...a technology that is limited only by your imagination." Though the savings of switching to Skype from your traditional phone system--like saving from free calls all over the world--can be considerable, saving money is just the beginning. For example, you can have your phone calls follow you wherever you go, and you can send free text messages from a web browser on a computer that doesn't even have Skype installed.

However, the Skype program offers very little documentation, which can make it difficult for the beginner. Skype Hacks (Sheppard, O'Reilly, $24.95 US) functions as a how-to guide and like a road map to Skype's features and benefits.

We use Skype for calling relatives on their computers in Spain and Panama for free or off-net to their home phones for just pennies a minute. It saves us a huge amount of money and the quality is usually excellent. If not, then a simple reconnection always clears it up. [Bill Fox]

Last of Apple's Tiger BitTorrent Lawsuit Apparently Settled: As you may recall, Apple sued three named individuals and an unspecified number of un-named individuals in December 2004 for distributing a beta version of Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" via the BitTorrent file sharing service. The named individuals are (or were) members of Apple's developer program and, as such, had agreed to NDA's that prevented them from disclosing what they received from the program.

According the the DrunkenBlog, the third named suit finally has been settled. The agreement prohibits the defendant from "...possessing, controlling, distributing, transferring, copying, sharing, [sic] or communicating..." any non-public Apple information and property and requires that the defendant return any and all non-public Apple information or materials possessed.

The settlement is similar to the previous two settlements early this year and seems reasonable to us. [Bill Fox]

Intuit Updated Mac OS X Version of TurboTax Deluxe for 2005: The first of likely several updates to federal TurboTax Deluxe for 2005 is available. A dialog box should pop up when TurboTax is launched. If not, check for updates via the One-Click Updates feature under the Online menu bar. No manual download updates have been posted yet on the TurboTax web site as of publication time. [Dana Baggett]

Apple Mac OS X Pro Tip of the Week--One-Click ZIP Files: Making compressed ZIP files in Mac OS X is easy. No third-party application is needed. Just "Control-Click" on a file and select "Create Archive." There are other ways, too, so check out this week's Apple Pro Tip. [Dana Baggett]

Apple Revised the Offerings from Four Hot Deals Retailers:

MacZone has fantastic prices on essential Mac products, including Xerox Phaser 8500N Color Laser Printer with $100 mail-in rebate, LG 17" Digital LCD Monitor with Auto Pivot/Mirror and $180 mail-in rebate, Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium/Macromedia Studio MX Upgrade Bundle with FREE Shipping, Microtek Scanmaker i800 Flatbed Scanner, and much more.

CDW|MacWarehouse has great deals on cool Mac products, including Samsung Laser ML1610 Laser Printer, Microsoft Office Standard Eidtion, Canon ZR100 MiniDV Camcorder with 20x Optical Zoom, Epson Perfection 3490 Photo Flatbed Scanner, Adobe Photoshop CS2 Upgrade Version, Edge Four-Pack of 128MB Secure Digital Memory Cards, and much more.

Sweetwater has fantastic deals on a wide range of audio products for your Mac, including Numark iDJ Mixer for Dual iPods, Frontier Design TransPort USB Wireless DAW Controller, PG Music Band-in-a-Box, Mackie Tracktion 2, M-Audio GrooveLab, PreSonus INSPIRE 1394, Brian Moore iGuitar, M-Audio Podcast Factory, and much more.

O'Reilly has exclusively Hot Deals discounts for many of it's most popular Mac titles, including Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Tiger Edition, The Best of The Joy of Tech, FileMaker Pro 8: The Missing Manual, Running Mac OS X Tiger, iLife '05: The Missing Manual, and much more.

[Bill Fox]

Tonight on the Tech Night Owl LIVE--David Biedny, Paul Kent on Macworld Expo 2006 and Dr. Smoke: This week co-hosts Gene and Grayson Steinberg will enter "The David Biedny Zone" for unvarnished talk about the iPod with video, Apple's new photo editing application, Aperture, and other hot topics. You'll also hear Paul Kent deliver a full report on plans for the upcoming Macworld Expo in San Francisco. And you'll receive an extended briefing on Tiger troubleshooting tips from Gregory "Dr. Smoke" Swain, author of "Troubleshooting Mac OS X." Tune in the broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern. The new chat room will also be open for listener participation. An archive of the show will be available for listening at your convenience within four hours after the original broadcast. A podcast will also be available. [Bill Fox]

QuickerTek Released 5.5dBi AirPort Antenna for iMac G5: Apple iMac G5 users can now get improved wireless networking performance with a new external antenna. QuickerTek's new 5.5 dBi omni-directional antenna offers iMac G5 users the best all-around antenna solution for networks where a directional antenna limits AirPort signal strength and speed.

The new iMac G5 Antenna offers 5.5dBi of RF power, which means that wireless networking distances can be as much a three times further than when using the stock antenna. It also means that the signal will also allow a full speed connection so that not only will users be able to use more networks but also use them at the highest speeds possible. The suggested retail price of the iMac G5 5.5dBi antenna is $99.95.

Your Face in Lights Over Times Square on New Years Eve Courtesy of Opera Software: Opera Software announced that one lucky Opera web browser user will have his or her face on the gigantic ABC SuperSign in New York's Times Square on New Year's Eve. In honor of its dedicated fanbase, Opera has chosen this high profiled venue to celebrate its community of users. Nearly one million party-goers will witness Opera's supersized fan tribute on the 585 square foot (54 square meter) screen.

All Opera users have the opportunity to be spotlighted, with one lucky user chosen. They simply have to send their photograph to Opera, along with the reason why they think they deserve to be featured on the big screen.

"Opera owes everything to the millions of devoted Opera users around the world, and we want to finish our 10th year with a big splash to thank them," says Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. "I hope 2005 will be remembered, not as the year of my overly optimistic attempt to swim to the USA, but as the year the Opera browser went free and the Opera community grew larger and stronger than ever before."

Opera will fly (or bike) the lucky Opera user with a guest to New York City for the New Year's celebrations, where they will be staying at one of New York's premiere hotels and receive two tickets to ABC's New Year's Eve party.

Starting on December 26 and climaxing on New Year's Eve, the video tribute will be on rotation at least nine times a day on the gigantic 585 square foot (54 square meters) ABC SuperSign in the heart of Times Square.

To sign up, read more or follow the development leading up to the 26th, please visit Opera Software's Web site. [Bill Fox]

The Apple Developer Connection Published Working with Xcode Build Settings: Mac OS X software developers are finding that the Xcode Build Settings allow them to customize their application build process in an intuitive way, giving greater control managing complex software development project settings.  If you develop on Mac OS X using Xcode, Working with Xcode Build Settings shows you how to take your development a step farther by mastering the power of Xcode build settings. [Bill Fox]

Hands-On Report--TechTool Pro 4.1.1 Update for Mac OS X: Micromat just released the 4.1.1 update to its excellent disk utility, TechTool Pro.

We downloaded the v4.1.1 update when first posted by MacUpdate.Com. Initially, we were uncertain about the applicability of this update. Previous updates have been offered in numerical order, e.g., v4.0.1, 4.0.2, etc. We reviewed v4.0.6 on its release date October 15. Did we miss something thereafter? Nope. The Release Notes make it clear that this is the latest update, replacing v4.0.6.

Here's what Micromat cites as What's New in v4.1.1.

  • Faster Volume Structure testing and repair.
  • Faster Directory Maintenance rebuilds.
  • Updated eDrive creation and removal routines.
  • Fixed Data Recovery issue.
  • Support for PowerPC G5 970MP testing and detection in Processor test.
  • Added "Loop Count" feature to Hardware test.
  • Added "Group By Test" feature for Drives and Files tests.
  • Added Backup dialog on program launch.
  • Added Authorization on program launch.
  • Added "PDF" feature to Print dialogs.
  • Added compatibility for new Macintosh models up to Fall 2005.
  • Other minor changes and feature enhancements.

We successfully ran the updater on the TechTool Pro 4.0.6 installation on our first generation 20" iMac and on our backup external 38GB hard drive. A reboot was required after each update. Notably, the revised application "remembers" the owner's name and serial number, a welcome convenience and improvement from prior updaters.

We ran the updated application from the unique eDrive, selecting the Intermediate Suite of Tests. The test suite completed its work without incident. We thought it was noticeably faster. The speed up was confirmed when we ran Directory Maintenance and it was especially evident when we did a Volume Optimization. Our hard drive had over 4,600 disk fragments and TTP 4.1.1 eliminated them in about an hour and a half. This is a significant improvement over previous editions.

All went well. We highly recommend TechTool Pro 4.1.1. [Dana Baggett]

Follow-Up on iPods Hot at Sam's Clubs--Demand Outstripping Supply: On Saturday we posted a note from a reader that iPods were hot at Sam's Clubs as well as at Radio Shack. Apparently, the demand for iPods is humongous and outstripping supply. The reader wrote again to mention that Sam's Club has notified its employees that there will be no more shipments to inventory of iPods before Xmas. [Bill Fox]

FREE Exhibit Passes to Macworld Expo SF 2006 from Peachpit Press: Peachpit is offering free passes to the upcoming Macworld Expo taking place in San Francisco January 10-13. To request a pair of passes (exhibit-only passes, a combined $90 value), send an email message to with your name and postal address. The passes are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and we must receive requests by January 3. [Bill Fox]

New Apple Promo--Get Your Year-End Bonus. Save Up to $350 Off M$ Office and Printer: The saving of up to $350 can be obtained when one buys a new Mac and saves 50% off Microsoft Office (up to $250) by January 31, 2006, and saves $100 on any of 35 printers by January 16, 2006. [Bill Fox]

DoorStop X Suite Released--Protect Macs on a Network: Open Door Networks Inc. announced an expanded line of Internet security products, the centerpiece of which is its new DoorStop X Security Suite. Available immediately, the DoorStop X Security Suite represents a comprehensive, integrated approach to protecting Macs on the Internet.

The Suite consists of major new releases of Open Door's DoorStop X Firewall and Who's There? Firewall Advisor, along with an electronic second edition of the book Internet Security for Your Macintosh: A Guide for the Rest of Us. The three revised products are designed to act together in the Suite, providing users with both the tools and the information they need to better protect their Macs on the Internet.

The Suite is available for purchase directly off Open Door's Web site for a special introductory price of $69 through January 31, 2006. Upgrades to the full Suite for DoorStop X Firewall and Who's There? users are also available, as are free evaluation versions of DoorStop X and Who's There?, along with a sample chapter from "Internet Security for Your Macintosh." [Bill Fox]

Inside Scoop--Video Content Bridge "Wider" Coming Soon from Vydeo Integrated Systems according to a reader who requested anonymity:

It is my understanding that Vydeo Integrated Systems, Inc. ( is close to announcing their Wider product, which they will tout as the industry's first Video Content Bridge (VCB). [...] I think the announcement target is prior to MacWorld/CES time frame. Their marketing brochure reads: "While the market is cluttered with video converters, DVRs and PVRs, Wider is the first true bridge - the first VCB - between your video content and your personal video player."

The Steve calls the 5G iPod "wide," so Vydeo named their device "Wider." It will accept a couple of video formats / sources, e.g., s-video and composite; rescale and convert (with very high quality) to a video iPod acceptable H.264 format; and, either stream to a 5G iPod or to an external USB HDD attached to one of two high speed USB2.0 ports. Stand-alone product, all functions done automatically, and H.264 conversion in real time.

It will be relatively low cost and low profile.

This is exactly what's needed! The news is an awesome Christmas present for Mac users, I wish the product would have been ready in time. People have proven over and over again that they don't want to put a computer in their family room, and this'll hit the mark perfectly.

We look forward to seeing this product from [Bill Fox]

1000 FREE PocketDock FW iPod Connectors--While Supplies Last! SendStation’s christmas present is 1,000 free PocketDock iPod adapters. In a special arrangement with Santa, SendStation Systems is giving away 1,000 free PocketDocks FW, its legendary thumbsized iPod FireWire adapter. SendStation's offer is available while supplies last or until Dec. 24, 2005, and is limited to one PocketDock per person.

Get yours now from SendStation's Web site. The PocketDock FW will work with any iPod that has a dock connector but FireWire only charges the iPod nano and iPod with video. We carry one of these tiny adapters with our iPod just in case and have had to use it several times to re-charge one our iPods. [Bill Fox]

Griffin Technology Announced Near-Universal iPod PowerBlock USB Charger and Cable: The Griffin PowerBlock can power and charge almost any iPod from a wall outlet. iPod shuffle plugs directly into PowerBlock, and all other supported iPods use the included cable (itself, a $19.95 value that Apple does not include with its AC adapter). It works with:

• 5th Generation iPod with Video
• iPod nano
• iPod shuffle
• iPod mini
• iPod Photo
• 4th Generation iPod with Click Wheel

The PowerBlock accepts 120 or 240 Volt service for use with international plug adapters and it's compact size makes it ideal for mobile use. PowerBlock is priced at $29.99 USD, and is available now from Griffin Technology. [Bill Fox]

e2Sync for Entourage has Special Holiday 30% Discount: Until Dec 26th they have lowered the price of e2Sync, the Entourage conduit for iSync, from the normal $39 to $27.30, a 30% discount. This discount can only be obtained using the discount code TASIB05.

e2Sync plugs into OS X 10.4 Tiger's iSync to establish connectivity and system-level integration with OS X's technologies giving OS X access to Entourage. iSync grabs Entourage info and populates the OS X Address Book with Entourage contacts. [Bill Fox]

Ashalii 1.1--Mac Shareware Game Released: Curry K. Software announced an important update to Ashalii, a unique and challenging new arcade puzzle game for Mac OS X. Version 1.1 shows the correct background image in menu screens. The game is set in a trap in outer space, crafted by aliens to capture unwary travelers. While fitting shapes into the board, players connect pieces of the same colors to remove them. To escape, they must advance through increasingly difficult levels, each requiring more adjacent matching pieces than the last. The game features engaging space backgrounds, attractive fractal pieces, and a trap-themed interface. By combining focus on shapes and colors during play in a new fashion, Ashalii offers an enjoyable and rewarding casual game experience.

Curry K. Software features educational, entertaining, and useful shareware for Macintosh. Ashalii 1.1 is $14.95 shareware. [Bill Fox]

Apple's iPods Also Hot at Sam's Club: Yesterday, we noted that Apple's iPods are THE hot item at Radio Shack. Well, reader John Keahey wrote that the same is true for Sam's Club:

After seeing your news piece on iPods at Radio Shack this morning, I thought I should mention that this is not an isolated phenomena. I work at Sam's Club here in Huntsville, AL and we have been out of iPod Nanos ($234 for 4GB black) since before Thanksgiving. iPod Shuffles ($92.76 for the 512 version) are selling at about 3-5 per day and I have several people anxiously awaiting our first shipment of iPod Videos ($344 for the 60 GB black).

I have about 10-15 requests per day for the Nano. I expect that if we get more before Christmas, we will sell out as fast as they come in. The power of Apple indeed!

[Bill Fox]

Apple Revised the Offerings from Three Hot Deals Retailers:

ClubMac has great deals on essential Mac products, including Sony CyberShot DSC-S90 Digital Camera with $40 mail-in rebate, Belkin TuneCast Mobile FM Transmitter, SanDisk 1GB Cruzer Profile Biometric USB 2.0 Flash Drive, Hewlett Packard DeskJet S650 Color Inkjet Printer, Altec Lansing inMotion Portable iPod Speakers, Kensington WiFi Finder, and much more.

MacMall has fantastic prices on essential Mac products, including Canon PowerShot A520 Digital Camera, LaCie 250GB Porsche External FireWire Hard Drive, Intuit Quicken 2006 for Mac, MacCase 17" PowerBook Messenger Bag with FREE Stealth Black Sleeve, Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium Full Version, Adobe Photoshop CS2 Upgrade Version, and much more.

PowerMax has fantastic prices of superb products for your Mac, including Dr. Bodelin iPod Boom Box with Built-in Dock and Remote Control, Griffin iTalk Voice Recorder for iPod, UbiSoft Myst IV: Revelation, Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0 for Mac, MacSoft Dora the Explorer: Animal Adventures, ATI Radeon 9200 128MB Mac Edition PCI Video Card, and much more.

[Bill Fox]

Today is the Deadline for a Macworld Early Bird Discount: You must register on or before December 9th to get the $5-100 discount, depending on the package. The special Digital Photography Day is already sold out. [Brian Nakamoto]

Brief Hands-On Report--New Retrospect 6.1 for Mac Driver Update is Out and available for download from this Dantz Web page. According to the Read Me file,

New Drive Support Since Last Release

ADIC FastStor 1 Tape Library
ADIC Scalar i500 Tape Library
HLDS GWA-4165B (Apple version) CD/DVD Drive
HP StorageWorks DAT 24 USB Tape Drive
LaCie d2 DL DVD?RW 16x (ND-3520AW version) CD/DVD Drive
Matshita UJ-845E (Apple version) CD/DVD Drive
Matshita UJ-846 (Apple version) CD/DVD Drive
NEC ND-3550A CD/DVD Drive
NEC ND-4550A CD/DVD Drive
Overland Storage Neo Series Fibre Channel Tape Library
Overland Storage Neo Series iSCSI Tape Library
Pioneer DVR-109 (Apple version) CD/DVD Drive
Pioneer DVR-110D (Apple version) CD/DVD Drive
Pioneer DVR-K04L (Apple version) CD/DVD Drive
Pioneer DVR-K05L (Apple version) CD/DVD Drive
Plextor Premium CD/DVD Drive
Plextor PX-716UF CD/DVD Drive

Additional changes with this release

-DVD-R DL media support (requires supported DVD DL drive)

We downloaded and installed the new driver with no difficulties. [Dana Baggett]

iPods Hot at Radio Shack: We happened by our local Radio Shack yesterday to buy a couple of of 6-inch extension cords. (Very handy by the way if you're trying to connect a power adapter or two on a power strip.) We discovered that the shop has a very nice iPod display with special posters, etc. And, of course, that's where the action was. With several customers crowding around, a clerk was checking inventory at another Radio Shack, etc., at mid-day. And it was only Dec. 8.

The Power of Apple. :-) [Dana Baggett]

Cool Mac Software--MacTracker 2.0 Update: If you have version 4.0.1 (v103) of MacTracker dated 10-26-05, there is an update 2.0 available via the "Check for Updates" selection under the MacTracker menu. After applying the update and relaunching MacTracker neither the version number nor the dates created/modified change and there is no note on what exactly is updated. Furthermore, the MacTracker Web site states that the latest version is 4.0.1 released 10-27-05. However, now selecting "Check for Updates" again results in a dialog stating the application is up to date. [Dana Baggett]

Apple Revised the Offerings from Five Hot Deals Retailers:

J&R has great prices on top quality Mac products, including Vivendi World of Warcraft, Epson Stylus CX4200 All-in-One Printer with $20 mail-in rebate, Aspyr Media Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005, M-Audio Black Box MIDI Interface, Midiman Delta 44 24/96 PCD Digital Recording Interface, Valuesoft Tune Transfer for iPod, Alsoft DiskWarrior for Mac OS X, and much more.

Small Dog Electronics has great prices on top quality Mac products, including Hippod iPod Case and Speaker, Klipsch iFi iPod Speaker System, Aspyr Media SimCity 4 Deluxe, Dymo Costar LabelWriter 400 Turbo USB Label Printer, Matias Tactile Pro USB Keyboard, Leister Reunion 8.0, Logitech MX700 Cordless Optical USB Rapid Charge Mouse, and much more.

B&H Photo and Video has fantastic prices of superb products for your Mac, including Canon XL-H1 3CCD Native High Definition 1080i Camcorder, Epson Stylus Photo RX700 All-in-One Printer, SanDisk 512MB Secure Digital (SD) Card, Hewlett Packard PhotoSmart 335 GoGo Photo Quality Inkjet Printer, JBL OnStage Speaker System for iPod, and much more.

Ramjet has super low prices on RAM upgrades for your Mac, including 2GB DDR Kit for Power Mac G5 for only $275, 512MB DDR for Power Mac G4 for only $48, 1GB DDR2 for Aluminum PowerBook G4 for only $117, 2GB DDR2 for Power Mac G5 for only $222, 1GB DDR DIMM for iMac G5 for only $136, 512MB Module for iBook G4 for only $63, and much more.

Publishing Perfection has great deals on a variety of design and print products for your Mac, including Alien Skin Eye Candy 5 Bundle, Eovia Carrara 3D Basics, Gluon ProPack, Logi Arts InDesign IdeaBook, LaserSoft SilverFast, Pacific Image PrimeFilm 1800 Silver Scanner, SoftPress Freeway 4 Pro, and much more.

[Bill Fox]

Game Developers Conference 2006--Featuring The Business & Management Track: The Game Developers Conference 2006 (GDC:06)will be held March 20-24 in San Jose, California at the San Jose Convention Center.

The business of gaming requires sound strategies and outstanding tactical execution. The Business and Management Track at GDC:06 looks at these aspects of the game development process and offers proven strategies to understand complex game industry business issues.

Business & Management Track Highlights:

Business Geeks: How Leading Developers Use Strategic IT, HR, Finance, and Marketing

Clarinda Merripen (Cryptic Studios); Carrie Oliff (Insomniac Games); Richard Iwaniuk (BioWare Corp.); Eugene Archibald (Nokia Network Gaming Solutions); and Mike Lustenberger (Sony Online Entertainment)

Creating Stubbs the Zombie with the Wideload Model

Alexander Seropian (Wideload Games)

How to Raise Venture Capital to Build a Game Company, Phase II

John Welch (PlayFirst, Inc.)

The Axis of Gaming: Canada, U.K. and Australia

Scott Campbell (UK Trade & Investment); Jack Sorensen (Worldwide Studios, THQ); Adrienne Sanders (San Francisco Business Times); Evelyn Richardson (GDAA); Lynda Brown (New Media BC); and Lee Jacobson (Midway Games, Inc.)

Profitable Growth – the $ and Cents of Growing a Healthy Studio Custom

Guha Bala and Karthik Bala (Vicarious Visions, Inc.)

For complete descriptions of all Business & Management sessions, check out this GDC:06 Web page. [Bill Fox]

Paraglyph Press Published Game Design Complete: As the games industry gets increasingly complex, and the cost of developing games reaches new heights, most designers can't afford to waste time and resources on a product that won't succeed. Those designers can now rely on the Bible for today's game industry, Game Design Complete (U.S. $39.99, 500 pp, ISBN 1-933097-00-0), just published by Paraglyph Press. Written by master game designer Patrick O'Luanaigh of SCi Games in London, Game Design Complete takes you deep into the world of game design, from concept to finished product. With this book, designers will learn the techniques of creating well-designed and marketable games from the masters. [Bill Fox]

Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Apple Computer's Laura Metz, Author Joe Kissell, Publisher of Default Folder X Jon Gotow and Julian Miller of Script Software: This week is a super show. Co-hosts Gene and Grayson Steinberg will welcome iMac Product Marketing Manager Laura Metz from Apple Computer. In addition, you'll hear from Joe Kissell, author of "Take Control of Apple Mail in Tiger," Jon Gotow of St. Clair Software, publishers of Default Folder X and other products, and Julian Miller, from Script Software, who will talk about his latest Mac and Windows shareware offerings. Tune in the internet radio broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern. TTNOL also offers an audio streaming archive and podcast following the show. [Bill Fox]

Game Developers Conference 2006--Featuring The Game Design Track: The Game Developers Conference 2006 (GDC:06)will be held March 20-24 in San Jose, California at the San Jose Convention Center.

Game designers need to understand and exploit the possibilities of new technologies even as they continue to master the traditional disciplines of drama, gameplay, and psychology. The Game Design Track explores the challenges and ramifications of the interaction between new technologies and established techniques.

Here are the GDC:06 Game Design Track Highlights

Defining The Assassin: Designing Next-Gen Gameplay in Theory and in Practice

Jade Raymond
Patrice Desilets
(Ubisoft Montreal)

Harnessing Hulk: Controls, Motion, Gameplay!

Eric Holmes
Bryan Brandt
(Radical Entertainment)

Scaring the Beejezus out of the Player in an FPS

Brent Disbrow
Matt Tieger
(High Moon Studios)

MMO Player-to-Player Sales, or You only paid $50 for that blaster?

Sam Lewis
(Sony Online Entertainment)

Game Design Considerations for Alternate Controllers

Greg LoPiccolo
Tracy Rosenthal-Newsom
(Harmonix Music Systems)

Sixty of 210 session are in the Game Design Track. For complete descriptions of all Game Design sessions, check out this GDC:06 Web page. [Bill Fox]

Apple Macintosh User Group Officers, Don't Miss The User Group University San Francisco 2006: The half-day event at Macworld SF 2006 on Monday, January 9, runs from 1:00-7:30 pm. Sign up by December 23rd to ensure your spot as space is limited and you will save a few bucks. The price is $34.95 until December 23rd or $40 thereafter and at the door if spots are still available.

Sessions for this half-day user group leadership event include:

- Tiger by David Pogue
- Talk Back with Chris Breen, Adam Engst and Bob LeVitus
- User Group Websites that Work by Terry White
- The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

Conference sessions will be followed by a vendor reception and raffle. For more information, see this Web page. [Bill Fox]

Apple Added 11 TV Shows to iTunes Music Store for iPod with Video: In addition to the four original iPod with video TV shows (Lost Desperate Hpousewives, NightStalker and ) from Disney/ABC, Apple has added 11 TV shows from NBC Universal-- NBC Network, the SciFi Channel and USA Network--including NBC’s "Law & Order," "The Office," "Surface," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," the USA Network’s Emmy Award-winning "Monk" and Sci-Fi Channel’s "Battlestar Galactica" as well as classic TV shows including "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Dragnet," "Adam-12" and "Knight Rider."

The deal is the same, $1.99 per episode the day after it shows. More... [Bill Fox]

The Apple Developer Connection Published Salon Transcripts Exploits Benefits of Mac Advantages: The Macintosh is an elegant computer with a remarkable operating system, and those qualities can provide a competitive advantage for software developers.  This new ADC article, Salon Transcripts Exploits Benefits of Mac Advantages, explains how the developers at Salon Transcripts leverage the technologies of Mac OS X as well as the design elegance of the Mac platform to achieve success in their market. [Bill Fox]

The X Lab Published Troubleshooting Mac OS X, Tiger Edition: The new ebook from The X Lab is dedicated to preventing or resolving common problems with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. This is the third ebook in The X Lab's continuing Troubleshooting Mac OS X series. The e-book format enables the reader to quickly find the solution to any of the numerous Mac OS X problems addressed in the over 600 pages of Troubleshooting Mac OS X, Tiger Edition. The ebook is extensively hyperlinked and cross-referenced, both within the ebook itself and to some of the best Mac OS X troubleshooting information on the Internet. Pricing begins at US$19.95 for a single-user license. Multi-user licenses are also available. [Bill Fox]

Supplement to Our Brief Hands-On Report--Apple Broadband Tuner 1.0: We posted an initial hands-on note on Apple's Broadband Tuner 1.0 while we were on travel with our PowerBook G4 and using a hotel DSL connection. We reported that tests with four runs each indicated a modest average increase in download speed after installing it. Subsequently, Apple revised its article to note that it applied specifically to FiOS-based internet connections.

When we returned from travel, we installed Broadband Tuner 1.0 on our Power Mac G5 Quad hooked up to a 4-6Mbps Cox cable internet connection. Our download speed tested out at just 10% of the speed before we installed Broadband Tuner 1.0. Further testing with our PowerBook G4 on the same internet connection produced identically poor results. We used Broadband Tuner's installer to uninstall it and our download speed once again increased to its normal speed.

We don't know if our hotel located in Northern Virginia actually had a FiOS-based internet connection but perhaps. Now that Apple has clarified the specific type of connection that Broadband Tuner 1.0 is designed for, we strongly recmmend you not install it or uninstall it if you are not on the targeted type of network. [Bill Fox]

Apple Opened iPod 101 Support Web Site: Apple opened a new Web site called iPod 101: Master Your Music and More. According to Apple,

Whether you're a Mac or Windows user, iPod 101 contains tons of information that'll help you enjoy your iPod to its fullest and guide you on your way to becoming iTunes savvy (we're using iTunes 6 in our course materials). Get ready to walk through the virtual aisles of the iTunes Music Store; learn how to sync your music, contacts, calendars, and more; admire your pretty pictures (and force others to do the same); watch TV shows and video; and find out what to do when things don't go as planned.

Here are the topic headings -- subject matter:

  • iPod Anatomy -- Using the iPod
  • Crank Up the Tunes -- Using iTunes
  • I Need More Music -- Using the iTunes Music Store
  • Show Me My Photos and Videos -- Photos and videos
  • Maximize My Experience -- Use beyond music, photos and video
  • My iPod is Sad (or Alarmed) -- Troubleshooting

[Bill Fox]

Control and Manage the Macs on Your Network for Free: We have been using Apple Remote Desktop v2.2 to manage the Macs on our combo wired and wireless network. It is an excellent network management application that we happened to get for free as a participant at an Apple Worldwide Developers Conference a couple of years ago.

Previously, we noted that by using the open source applications Chicken of the VNC and OSXvnc server one could manage Mac networks for free. With Mac OS X 10.4 all that's needed is just Chicken of the VNC since VNC support can be enabled in Tiger. VNC is enabled via the Sharing pane in Tiger's System Preferences--here is a nice tutorial from Chicken of the VNC 2.0b3 is available from this SourceForge Web page. [Bill Fox]

RealNetworks Launched Rhapsody.Com Calling Steve Jobs' Music Strategy Pig-headedness: RealNetworks launched its new music download service Web site called We received the following announcement from RealNetworks:

...a quick note to let you know that beta launched this morning, giving virtually anyone, including for the first time Mac and Linux users, with a broadband connection access to the Rhapsody music service.... is a Web-based version of RealNetworks' digital music service that offers consumers a free and legal way to find, play and share full length songs or albums from a deep catalog that includes all major labels. At any consumer can stream for free up to 25 on-demand songs per month, while Rhapsody subscribers can stream an unlimited amount via the new beta site. In answering questions at the announcement the new Web site, RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser referred to Apple's strategy of allowing iPod compatibility only with iTunes as "Steve's pig-headedness" according to CNet.

As many of us will remember, Rhapsody was the original name of the new Mac OS based on the NeXT OS that Apple under CEO Gil Amelio bought in a deal that also brought Steve Jobs back into Apple.

To use, one has to install the Mac OS X Rhapsody Player Engine and register with an email address and password. We did this and using Safari listened to Sloop John B by The Beach Boys, Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show by Neil Diamond, I Fought the Law by The Bobby Fuller Four, Brown Eyed Girl by Jimmy Buffett, Lyin' Eyes by The Eagles, You Can't Aways Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones, Candle In The Wind by Elton John, You're Still The One by Shania Twain, I Want To Know What Love Is by Foreigner, Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman? by Bryan Adams, You And Me by Lifehouse and our all-time favorite, Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin, streamed from

The sound was very good through our Power Mac G5 Quad and Bose Quiet Comfort 2 headphones when cranked up all the way. Safari crashed while playing the Neil Diamond song as we fiddled with the Web site but it didn't cost us one of our free songs. Of course, we have used half our free monthly allotment in one sitting. We're with Steve Jobs when he says most people want to own their music. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

Apple's Free Online Seminars--Three are New for December: Apple's excellent online events are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from any computer with internet access. They are designed to be no more than 30 minutes in length and offer a wide variety of resources and information for your review. Topics cover solutions using Apple and partner products and technologies.

3D Modeling on the Mac with modo--Watch Brad Peebler, President of Luxology, as he provides a tour of modo and find out how you can turn your inspiration and creativity into amazing 3D models.

A Blueprint for Tiered Storage--Steve Duplessie, recognized independent expert on storage technology, discusses the practicalities of tiered storage & set-up of a solution that works.

Apple in Science: Diversifying the IT Infrastructure--By incorporating Mac OS X into the infrastructure and supporting desktop Macs, IT organizations have increased the productivity of their research organizations.

Asset Management for Creative Workgroups: With Xserve G5 and Extensis Portfolio Server--Learn how you can better manage your photographs and creative assets with the winning combination of Apple Xserve and Extensis Portfolio Server.

Biotech is in our DNA--Michael Athanas, Ph.D., of The BioTeam will show how to install a fully provisioned informatics cluster on one or more Xserve servers using iNquiry. Topic: Servers/Networks

Build High Performance Tiered Storage Strategies With Xserve RAID--Join Alex Grossman, Senior Director of Server and Storage Hardware, and learn how you can implement a tiered storage strategy using Xserve RAID.

Capture, Create and Share Digital Media with QuickTime 7 Pro-NEW--Join Apple?s team of QuickTime experts in this free online seminar to learn how QuickTime 7 can take your digital media to the next level.

Change Your Infrastructure Legacy: Lower Costs and Simplify Server and Storage Management--Join Alex Grossman, Apple Sr Director, and learn how adding Xserve G5 and Xserve RAID to your IT infrastructure can help you meet today's business demands.

Color Management: From Input to Edit and Print with Mac OS X Panther & ColorSync--Join Steve Upton, industry consultant on color, as he gives you an overview of color management from displays to applications and output.

Computational Clustering in the Sciences--A number of Apple technologies simplify cluster computing, and for clusters of up to 64 processors, Apple provides pre-qualified solutions to meet your needs.

Computational Clusters for Bioinformatics--Elizabeth Kerr, Ph.D., Director of Science and Technology Markets at Apple, moderates this informative webcast discussion of the Apple Workgroup Cluster.

Cost-effective Storage Deployments for Research Computing--Learn how to achieve better data accessibility and faster storage retrieval in a more cost-effective way with industry-leading solutions.

Deliver Simplified Workgroup Services--Join Douglas Brooks, Server Product Mgr, to learn how to deliver robust workgroup & internet services without straining your budget or stretching your IT staff.

Desktop Management Made Easy with Apple Remote Desktop 2--Join Apple Product Mgr Nader Nafissi to learn why Apple's new, easy to use desktop management software is the essential tool for any Mac system administrator.

Developers win with Mac OS X, Reap the rewards--Built on a rock-solid UNIX core and standards-based technologies, Mac OS X is hailed as the world's most advanced operating system.

Font Management for Creative Professionals--Join Brent Haley, Apple marketing mgr, for an overview of font management capabilities in Mac OS X and to see solutions from Extensis and Insider Software.

Getting Started with High Performance Computing--On-demand rebroadcast of the Dec 16, 2004 webcast discussion of the high-level concepts of high performance computing, issues & obstacles, and more.

Grid Computing in the Life Sciences--Learn how Xgrid, built into Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server, makes it feasible to deploy large computational grids without the addition of software.

Guitarists and the Mac: A Conversation with Pat Metheny--Join Pat Metheny in this free online seminar and learn how the Mac can help you take your music to the next level.

Improve Your Presentation Skills--Watch this free online seminar and find out how to improve your presentation skills.

Information Lifecycle Management--Steve Kenniston, an Enterprise Storage Group analyst will offer insights as to how to manage vast amounts of data while keeping your overhead low.

Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server for High Performance Computing--Learn about the technical underpinnings of Apple's latest OS, and how new features and updates will benefit users of Mac OS X-based clusters and grids.

Mac OS X v10.4 "Tiger" for Scientific and Technical Computing--Join Apple in this densely-packed on-demand webcast rebroadcast on how each new feature in Tiger applies to Apple's scientific customers.

Managing Your Creative Assets--Join Brent Haley, Apple marketing manager, for an overview of the latest storage solutions from Apple and an intro to asset management solutions.

Maximizing Mac OS X Application Performance--Re-broadcast of the webcast discussion of the basics of optimization, how and why developers should turn a critical eye to the code they've just written.

Mobile Creative Studio, Portable Workstation, Office-on-the-Go--Join Gail Nishimura, PowerBook product manager, to learn about the latest advancements in the PowerBook G4 line and discover which model is right for you.

Mobile Field Editing with Journalist Dr. Bob Arnot--Join Dr. Bob Arnot to learn how the Mac can help you become a more successful storyteller and videographer by editing video on-the-go using tools from Apple.

Optimize Your Creative Workgroup with Apple's UNIX-Based Server Technology--Join Brent Haley as he demonstrates how to deploy, manage, and scale technologies for creative workgroups using the latest services included in Mac OS X Server.

OsiriX: Multi-dimensional Image Navigation Software--Dr. Osman Ratib's presentation at Children's Hospital Boston, Department of Radiology, on OsiriX, an open source, medical imaging application built on Mac OS X.

Perfect Color Starts Here, With Apple Cinema Displays--Join the Apple Cinema Displays product manager to learn how adding an Apple display to your creative system can boost your color-viewing experience.

Powerful tools for 2D and 3D post production--Watch Daryl Obert of Alias and Charles Meyer of Apple as they explore ways you can bring new levels of integration to your post production workflow.

Powering Creative Desktops with Mac OS X Tiger--Join Brent Haley, marketing manager for design and print market, as he goes under the hood and shows you the creative features of Mac OS X Tiger.

Pre-Visualizing and Presenting Your Ideas with StoryBoard Artist--Watch Jeff Walsh of PowerProduction demo StoryBoard Artist and find out how to convey your ideas with more depth, flair and accuracy than you thought possible.

Russell Brown presents Mac OS X and Photoshop CS2--Join Photoshop expert Russell Brown for a look at the ultimate digital studio: Adobe Photoshop CS2, a Power Mac G5, and the 30" Apple Cinema HD Display.

Standards-based Web Electronic Filing Systems-NEW--Apple invites you to view a free webcast that discusses technical best practices around web-based electronic filing solutions.

The Production Value of HD-NEW--Don't miss Don Peebles of Apple, as he provides an overview of Final Cut Studio, the suite of pro applications for video content creation, editing and output.

The Ultimate Creative Workstation. Discovering the Apple Power Mac G5--Todd Benjamin provides a tour of the Power Mac G5, describing what makes them so innovative and how they will benefit your creative endeavors.

Third-party HPC Solutions for Mac OS X--Apple will be joined by representatives from companies who develop their software or hardware for the platform to talk about their products.

We have viewed a large number of Apple's online seminars and they were excellent. [Bill Fox]

TiBITS Published Take Control of Podcasting on the Mac: Mac users interested in podcasting but intimidated by its steep learning curve can now find all the details and advice they need in a new ebook, Take Control of Podcasting on the Mac (TidBITS, ISBN: 1-933671-06-8, $10). Long-time podcaster Andy Williams Affleck shares his real-world experience about every step of the process, first helping readers get started by planning their podcast and choosing the right microphone and audio software. Then he provides detailed, step-by-step instructions for recording a podcast using several common pieces of audio software, editing out the awkward bits, mixing in additional audio, encoding the audio file, and adding necessary tags. The ebook also discusses how to choose a podcast publishing tool, offers essential advice about keeping an eye on bandwidth costs, and suggests seven ways to promote podcasts. [Bill Fox]

Griffin Released "EarThumps"--iPod Earbud Headphones: Griffin Technology Inc. announced earbuds engineered specifically for iPod. EarThumps are earbuds that are designed to isolate your listening experience from outside sound by fitting comfortably inside the ears, to deliver rich, crystal clear audio. Griffin claims that the EarThumps deliver clean transparent atmospheric highs, and deep, low bass. They come in either Status Symbol White or Undercover Black to match the newer iPods. EarThumps are only $19.99 from Griffin Technology. [Bill Fox]

Kinemac 1.0 Released--Easy 3D Animations: Kinemac is a 3D real time animation and presentation software for Mac OS X. According to the developer, it allows you to create your own professional 3D animations with the simplicity of a 2D presentation tool.

Kinemac plays the animations in real time at full screen and exports them to QuickTime movie files or to a series of single still images. For this reason it's an application to create advertising for TV, trailers for movies, video-clips, instant scrolling messaging to put "on air" in real time, video content for CD, DVD, web sites. Just drag your images, text, movies and songs onto the Kinemac stage to get them into your animation. Also you can quickly call a menu and create 3D and 2D objects such as cubes, cylinders, spheres, tubes, pies, rectangles, disks. On any object you can apply image and movie textures and set the surfaces attributes such as color, transparency, reflection. It costs $249 for a single user license. [Bill Fox]

Apple Pro Training Series: Getting Started with Aperture--First Book on Aperture: Apple Pro Training Series: Getting Started with Aperture by Estelle McGechie is the only book available in conjunction with the shipping of Aperture, Apple's new application designed for digital photographers (Peachpit, ISBN: 0-321-42275-9, $34.99). This book is an introduction to the program and the fastest way for digital photographers to learn to manage their images using Aperture. Certified by Apple, the book's focused lessons take the reader step-by-step through real-world workflows using professional photoshoots, teaching how to handle the most tedious tasks of professional photography.

The books covers:

  • Sorting, ranking, and managing with unparalleled efficiency
  • Displaying onscreen proofs and contact sheets for clients in compelling ways
  • Editing and retouching selected images professionally
  • Publishing proofs, portfolios, and final images on the Web and in print
  • Archiving images in a way that is secure, intuitive, and easy.

Apple Pro Training Series books are the official curriculum of the Apple Pro Training and Certification program used by Apple-authorized Training Centers around the world. [Bill Fox]

Spamphibian, New Spam Fighting Server Software Released: Outspring Incorporated, makers of QuickMail, announced Spamphibian. The product works with an administrator's existing email server to eradicate spam and other unwanted email with virtually no false-positives (good email mistaken as spam) as claimed by the manufacturer. Spamphibian can be configured to quarantine, flag, delete or bounce unwanted email and is compatible with practically every email server and ISP. Spamphibian Gateway is a spam fighting solution that is setup between an organization's email server and the rest of the Internet, evaluating all incoming emails.

Outspring expects Spamphibian to ship on December 7, 2005. The cost will be $650 which includes a 1-year subscription to the Spamcaster Service that provides automatic and frequent database updates. Spamphibian will be available directly from Outspring at their website, as well as from international distributors worldwide. [Bill Fox]

Apple Released iPod Updater 2005-11-17 for iPod shuffle: The updater only affects the iPod shuffle and it is available from the Software Update application or as a standalone file from this Apple Web page. According to the Read me file,

iPod Updater 2005-11-17 includes new iPod Software 1.1.3 for iPod shuffle. iPod Updater 2005-11-17 contains the same software versions as iPod Updater 2005-10-12 for all other iPod models.

Features of iPod Software 1.1.3 iPod shuffle:

  • Bug fixes

[Bill Fox]

Adobe Update Manager 4.0.3 for Adobe Creative Suite 2 is Out and available for download via

The Adobe® Update Manager 4.0.3 update supports multiple volumes and resolves a problem where an update to Adobe Update Manager was downloaded and installed, and subsequently Adobe Update Manager would quit rather than download additional updates. After downloading and applying this 4.0.3 update, Adobe Update Manager will again offer appropriate product updates when you choose Help > Updates.

[Bill Fox]

Apple Revised the Offerings from Four Hot Deals Retailers:

MacZone has fantastic prices on essential Mac products, including Xerox Phaser 8500N Color Laser Printer with $100 mail-in rebate, LG Flatron 19" LCD Display with FREE Shipping, Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Pro Upgrade with FREE 128MB Flash Drive, Intuit Quicken 2006 Basic with $20 mail-in rebate, Microsoft Office 2004 Professional Upgrade with Toast 7 Titanium, and much more.

CDW|MacWarehouse has great deals on cool Mac products, including Sony Microvault Pro 5GB External High-Speed USB Drive, Canon PowerShot S60 5MP Digital Camera, Canon ZR100 MiniDV Camcorder with 20X Optical Zoom, Hewlett Packard DesignJet 30 Wide Format Color Inkjet Printer, Creative SBS 2.1 Multimedia Speaker System, and much more.

Small Dog Electronics has great prices on top quality Mac products, including Hippod iPod Case with Speaker, iCarrier 3-way Speaker System for iPod, Leister Reunion 8.0, SwissBit 512MB USB Flash Drive and Swiss Army Knife, KidzMouse Rugrats USB Mouse, Logitech MX700 Cordless Optical USB Rapid Charge Mouse, and much more.

Mac Game Store has great deals on the hottest games for the Mac, including MacSoft Tropico 2.0: Pirate Cove, Aspyr Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse, Sega Worldwide Soccer Manager 2006, THQ The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer, Got Game Entertainment RHEM 2 Aspyr SimCity 4 Virtual Programming Gangland, and more.

[Bill Fox]

Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Breen, Gaskin and Steinberg: This week co-hosts Gene and Grayson Steinberg will welcome Macworld's Christopher Breen. You'll also hear from James Gaskin, author of "Talk is Cheap: Switching to Internet Telephones" and Adam Steinberg (no relation to the hosts), Director, Product Line Management, Elgato Systems, who will talk about EyeTV. Tune in the internet radio broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern. A podcast and streaming archive will be available follow the show. [Bill Fox]

Bogus Income Tax Refund Used as Phishers' Bait--Macs Vulnerable: According to a CNet report, phishers are sending emails disguised as coming from the IRS to victims stating that they have a tax refund of $571.94. The bogus email has a real U.S. government URL ( but a flaw in coding the web site permits the phisher to bounce the email to their own bogus IRS web site to collect sensitive data. More... [Dana Baggett].

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