August 2006 News Archive

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Copyright 2006 by Bill Fox All rights reserved.
Last Updated: August 31, 2006

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[8/31] Apple Launched Open Source Web Site Named Mac OS Forge

Mac OS Forge is a new community development site hosted by Apple. It was launched to support Web Kit and other open source projects focused on Mac OS X. In addition, developers can create and browse third-party open source projects that are closely related to the Macintosh operating system. Current projects on Mac OS Forge include source code to the new iCal Server in Leopard Server, and Apache-licensed versions of Bonjour service discovery and Launchd process management. While select projects in Mac OS X are featured on Mac OS Forge, a complete set of open source software within Mac OS X can be found by visiting this Apple Developer Connection Web page. [Bill Fox]

[8/31] Mozilla SeaMonkey 1.1 Alpha is Out for the Bleeding Edgers

The Mozilla Project released the next generation of SeaMonkey 1.1 Alpha, Mozilla's Web suite software. A few of the exciting new features include: page previews in tab tooltips, spell checking in text boxes, a new e-mail tagging system, a better startup script for Linux users, the ability to use drag and drop to open URLs in new tabs in between existing tabs and an updated version of Chatzilla. For developers, the "Storage" component is also included. The download link is above but beware, this is alpha software that probably has plenty of bugs at this stage. [Dana Baggett]

[8/31] Divine Fiat Released Workstation Theme for Keynote

Divine Fiat released Workstation, their latest theme for Apple's Keynote presentation software. Inspired by the industrial look and feel of the Mac Pro, Workstation will give an elegant power to your next presentation. From the "cheese-grater" ventilation to the aluminum encasement, Workstation is as sleek and strong as the computer that inspired it.

One of the more practical features included in Workstation are the scalable countdown timers in the form of progress bars. These QuickTime movies sport transparent backgrounds for a seamless look when used with Workstation or any Keynote theme. Countdown to the start of a presentation or to mark how much intermission time is left before your lecture resumes. Timers come in 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 minute lengths. Workstation also features creative photo cutouts with plenty of seamless transitions, buttons for kiosk style presentations and custom fill textures for shapes, charts and tables (including the "cheese-grater" texture). Workstation is an excellent addition to any Keynote theme collection.

Workstation can be purchased from Divine Fiat for $19.95 and is a part of the upcoming Compute theme set. [Bill Fox]

[8/31] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl Live--Dr. Mac, Windows Vista and Zune

Host Gene Steinberg presents the return of the inimitable Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus, who will tell you how mating his athletic shoes with his iPod have helped him lose weight, plus lots of other cool stuff. Industry analyst Joe Wilcox of JupiterResearch will deliver an update as to whether Windows Vista is yet ready for prime time, and digital music guru Eliot Van Buskirk will evaluate the prospects for Microsoft's Zune player, and whether it can really compete against Apple's iPod. Tune into the Web broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern. [Bill Fox]

[8/30] CEO of Microsoft's Arch Rival Joins Apple's Board of Directors

Dr. Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google, was elected to Apple's board of directors at their meeting yesterday. Eric also sits on Google's board of directors and Princeton University's board of trustees. Google has been identified by Microsoft executives as Microsoft's chief competitor.

"Eric is obviously doing a terrific job as CEO of Google, and we look forward to his contributions as a member of Apple's board of directors," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Like Apple, Google is very focused on innovation and we think Eric's insights and experience will be very valuable in helping to guide Apple in the years ahead."

"Apple is one of the companies in the world that I most admire," said Eric Schmidt. "I'm really looking forward to working with Steve and Apple's board to help with all of the amazing things Apple is doing."

Eric Schmidt joined Google from Novell, where he was chairman and CEO. At Google, Eric shares responsibility for Google's day-to-day operations, and is focused on building the corporate infrastructure needed to maintain Google's rapid growth while ensuring that quality remains high and product development times are kept to a minimum. Eric's 20 years of experience as an Internet strategist, entrepreneur and technologist give him a well-seasoned perspective which perfectly complements Google's needs as a young and rapidly growing company with a unique corporate culture.

This move appears to be very good for Apple. [Bill Fox]

[8/30] Linkin Park's Music Now on iTunes Music Store

Multiple Grammy award-winning band Linkin Park and Apple yesterday announced the availability of the entire Linkin Park catalog on the iTunes Music Store. For the first time, fans of the band can download their favorite Linkin Park songs for just 99 cents per song, or the band's albums with new, exclusive digital booklets. The hit albums "Meteora," "Hybrid Theory" and "Reanimation" include two bonus tracks along with a track that is exclusive to the albums on iTunes. iTunes will also offer both audio and video downloads of the concerts that are currently available as the "Live in Texas" and "Collision Course" CD and DVD releases. [Bill Fox]

[8/30] Get Recalled PowerBook and iBook Replacement Batteries Overnight

In response to Apple Computer's voluntary recall of 1.8 million Lithium-Ion batteries for iBook G4 and PowerBook G4 laptops sold between October 2003 and August 2006, Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech) has replacement batteries that can be ordered with overnight delivery for safe and improved capacity performance. NewerTech NuPower high capacity replacement batteries for Apple iBook and PowerBook notebook computers are manufactured in the United States of America utilizing different Lithium Ion cells than Apple uses. NewerTech's cells are obtained exclusively from Sanyo, Panasonic, and E-One Moli.

Because NewerTech NuPower batteries utilize different cells and small batch manufacturing processes for stringent attention to detail not necessarily possible in mass production plants, NewerTech batteries achieve the higher capacity the company is known for, in some cases up to 62% higher capacity than factory batteries. More importantly, the engineering specifications of NewerTech NuPower batteries uniquely employ a Thermal Fuse wherein in the unlikely event an unsafe temperature is ever reached due to internal or external factors, the battery is permanently disabled ensuring optimum safety.

More details are available from this NewerTech Web page. NewerTech batteries are available from OWC. [Bill Fox]

[8/30] Apple Revised the Offerings from Three Hot Deals Retailers

J&R Computerworld has deals on a wide variety Mac compatible hardware and software products including: Adobe Photoshop CS 2 Classroom in a Book w/companion CD of the book's project files from Adobe Press for only $34.99!; Quicken 2007 from Intuit for only $49.95!; 200GB external hard drive w/FireWire/USB 2.0 from Seagate for only $159.99!; digital gaming/multimedia USB headset w/boom microphone from Plantronics for only $47.99!; Canoscan 8400F Color Flatbed Scanner from Canon for only $99.99!; MicroTrack 24/96 Digital Recorder w/USB 2.0 and Compact storage slot from M-Audio for only $379.99!; Samson Audio C01U USB condenser microphone for only $79.00; and much more.

MacMall has deals on a wide variety Mac compatible hardware and software products including: Sony HDR-HC3 HDV MiniDV high-definition camcorder for only $1149.99!; Lexmark E120N monochrome laser printer for only $119.99!; 8GB Monstor USB 2.0 drive from US Modular for only $69.00!; GM-171B 17" TFT LCD display from 3G Technology for only $89.99!; Check It system performance suite for Mac from Allume for only $59.99; RDS FM Transmitter/car charger for iPod from Kensington for only $103.00!; TransPod all-in-one car solution for iPod from DLO for only $124.99!; and much more.

MacZone has deals on a wide variety Mac compatible hardware and software products including: Hewlett Packard HP LaserJet 1320 b/w laser printer for only $298.97 w/free shipping!; Olympus Stylus 600 6-megapixel compact digital camera for only $279.99 w/free shipping!; HP Photosmart 3310 all-in-one color photo printer for only $348.97 w/free shipping; InFocus Work Big IN24 1700 Lumens SVGA DLP projector for only $599.98 after mail-in rebate- w/free shipping!; Podium CoolPad notebook cooling pad from Targus for only $24.99; and much more.

[Bill Fox]

[8/30] Know Thy Cable Internet Modem--Hacking the Cable Modem

Hacking the Cable Modem by DerEngel (No Starch Press, September 2006, 312 pp., $29.95, ISBN 1-59327-101-8) goes inside the device that makes Internet via cable possible and, along the way, reveals secrets of many popular cable modems, including products from Motorola, RCA, WebSTAR, D-Link, and more. The book's author, DerEngel, is regarded in hacker circles as the foremost expert on cable modems. [Bill Fox]

[8/30] O'Reilly Published CSS: The Missing Manual

"You can't design a fantastic looking web site that works well and downloads quickly without understanding Cascading Style Sheets--the formatting language used to make boring HTML look fantastic." So says David Sawyer McFarland, the bestselling author of the latest release in O'Reilly's Missing Manuals series--CSS: The Missing Manual (O'Reilly, US $34.99). In the new book, McFarland, a master designer and power user, shows readers how to create stylishly enticing Web pages.

The new Missing Manual takes the frustration out of learning to navigate the ins-and-outs of CSS and gives designers precision control over their web pages' appearance. Created for serious hobbyists, aspiring designers, and pros, it features dozens of clearly presented, hands-on tutorials and real-world exercises. McFarland (author of Dreamweaver 8: The Missing Manual) shows readers how to format text and images, style web forms, build navigation bars, precisely control the layout of Web pages, overcome browser bugs, and, most important, create fast loading and easily maintained web sites. [Bill Fox]

[8/29] [Updated] Hands-On Report--eSATA vs FireWire 800 on a 15" MacBook Pro--How Fast Is It?

For external drives, FireWire 800 (or fast FireWire) has been the top data transfer protocol for large data transfers on PowerBooks using relatively inexpensive drives at a speed of up to 800Gb/sec. But Serial ATA (SATA-II) is a rapidly rising star for external drives, especially with the new connector called eSATA which promises speeds of up to 3Gb/sec, nearly four times the speed of FireWire 800. However, in the real world today's SATA-II drives can not work as fast as either protocol's theoretical limit so that raises the question, which is faster with a new SATA-II drive?

Last week, we reviewed the FirmTek SeriTek/2SM2-E, and eSATA ExpressCard 34 for the MacBook Pro's new slot and Monday we reviewed the NitroAV FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34. These two cards allow us to compare the eSATA and FireWire 800 protocols using the OWC Elite-AL Quad case and a brand new, empty 250GB 3.5" Seagate SATA-II hard drive spinning at 7200rpm and formatted with the GUID partition scheme required by Intel-based Macs.

We used three tests to measure the speed of the eSATA, FireWire 800 and FireWire 400 connections between our MacBook Pro and the SATA-II drive in the Elite-AL Pro Quad case--QuickBench 2.1.2, Xbench 1.3 and duplicating our test 500MB folder. We didn't bother with the Elite-AL Quad's slow USB2.0 connection. For comparison, we also added the results of the three tests for the MacBook Pro's internal SATA drive, a 100GB 2.5" Seagate Momentus rotating at 7200rpm, from Monday's article. Here are the results in megabytes pre second (MB/s):

Data Transfer Speed Tests (average MB/s*) of Hard Drive Connections.
Test Elite-AL Quad w/3.5" SATA-II Drive
Internal Drive
(Higher is faster)
FW 800
FW 400
QuickBench 2.1.2 Extended Test
- Write (MB/s), Avg. of 30-100MB runs
- Read (MB/s), Avg. of 30-100MB runs
Xbench 1.3 Drive Test (256k blocks)
- Sequential Write (MB/s)
- Sequential Read (MB/s)
- Random Write (MB/s)
- Random Read (MB/s)
Duplicate 500 MB Folder (MB/s)
*Average of 3 runs. Red is fastest. Blue is slowest.

The eSATA connection is faster than FireWire 800 in almost every test. Although FireWire 800 beat eSATA in the QuickBench Read test and came very close in the Xbench 1.3 Sequential and Random Read tests, it lost handily in the three write tests and in the file duplication test.

3.5" drives are much faster than the 2.5" drives used internally in notebooks even when both use current technology and rotate at the same speed. This is borne out in that the 3.5" external drive with a regular FireWire 400 connection is about as fast as the internal drive with a SATA connection.

While eSATA is faster than FireWire 800, at least in our tests, it currently has one significant drawback. External eSATA drives cannot startup a MacBook Pro while a FireWire 800 can. Hopefully, booting a MacBook Pro from eSATA will be built into a near future update of Mac OS X 10.4.x or a firmware update as the case may be. [Bill Fox]

[Update 8/30] This article sparked much more than the usual feedback from our readers. We want to point out that the article was not meant to be a complete analysis on the two techologies, FireWire 800 vs SATA. It was meant to be focused on the 15" MacBook Pro which came without a FireWire 800 port, much to the chagrin of many PowerBook G4 owners wishing to upgrade to the Intel-based Apple 15" MacBook Pro. We have changed the title accordingly to convey this. In addition, we received comments on SATA vs FW 800 generally.

Michael Bean of the Arizona Macintosh User Group provided the broadest comments on the comparison between FireWire 800 and SATA as general data transfer protocols:

1. While the write speed of FW800 is about 40% slower with a single drive, once you configure 4 SATA hard drives in a striped RAID set on a PowerMac G5, SATA leaves FW800 in the dust with the same configuration. In fact, FW800 is a very slow interface for striped RAID use vs PCI-X or PCIe SATA host adapters with multiple hard drives.

2. FW800 requires an expensive bridge for each enclosure. SATA interfaces do not have this issue.

3. FW firmware is constantly evolving which has caused some enclosures to no longer work properly when daisy chained and at worst some hard drives have been corrupted by FW800 code changes.

4. SATA hard drives are bootable on several host adapters. For the PowerMac G5 PCI and PCI-X users the FirmTek SeriTek/1eVE4 Host Adapter provides 4 bootable ports (reference) and the FirmTek SeriTek/ 1VE2+2 provides 2 internal and 2 external bootable ports (reference). For PCIe users the FirmTek SeriTek/2SE2-E two port PCIe SATA host adapter provides two bootable ports. SATA hard drives can provide great turbo boot
capability when matched with a bootable FirmTek SATA host adapter.

5. FW800 has never been the "top data transfer protocol". Direct IDE and SATA connections have always beat it for speed. USB 2.0 is the most common external hard drive interface. In the computer industry there are 10x more SATA enclosures sold than FW800. As soon as external SATA ports are added as a standard option to Apple computers, there will be very little reason to purchase FW800 enclosures.

[Bill Fox]

[8/28] Hands-On Review--NitroAV FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34

Back in May we noted that NitroAV had announced one of the first ExpressCard 34 devices for the MacBook Pro's new ExpressCard 34 slot, a FireWire 800 adapter. When we favorably reviewed the Trans International miniXpress external FireWire 800/400/USB2 drive case last week, a reader reminded us about the NitroAV card so we ordered one.

The NitroAV FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34 has two FireWire800 ports (i.e. two 9-pin connectors) and an AC/DC port. At the fairly reasonable price of $89.95, it comes bare, i.e. with no cables, no AC/DC adapter and no instructions.

An AC/DC adapter is needed for either the NitroAV card or the external hard drive case because the ExpressCard 34 slot does not provide enough power for an external hard drive. When ordering the NitroAV FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34, an AC/DC adapter is an option.

Cables to match the particular FireWire peripherals, depending on what's needed, have to be purchased if they did not come with the external hard drive. With the FireWire 800 protocol one can get theoretical transfer rates of 100, 200, 400, and 800 Mbps.

The NitroAV FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34 easily inserts into our 15" MacBook Pro's ExpressCard 34 slot. It locks into place with a click when fully inserted. Removal first requires dismounting the attached drive and turning the card off in the menu item, then it is pressed in further and it unlocks with a click. As we've stated before, we aren't fond of this locking system because it is too easy to accidentally unlock and dislodge the card when plugging a cable into it.

How Fast Is It?

In our review of Trans International's miniXpress case with a 2.5" 160GB Seagate drive rotating at 5400rpm, we measured its data transfer speed using three tests and its FireWire 400 and USB2.0 ports. Using the NitroAV FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34 we ran the same three tests with the miniXpress' FireWire 800 ports. Here are the results in megabytes per second (MB/s),

Data Transfer Speed Tests (average MB/s*) of miniXpress Hard Drive Connections.
Test (Higher is faster) Hard Drive
FW 800
FW 400
USB 2.0
QuickBench 2.1.2 Extended Test
- Write (MB/s), Avg. of 30-100MB runs
- Read (MB/s), Avg. of 30-100MB runs
Xbench 1.3 Drive Test (256k blocks)
- Sequential Write (MB/s)
- Sequential Read (MB/s)
- Random Write (MB/s)
- Random Read (MB/s)
Duplicate 500 MB Folder (MB/s)
*Average of 3 runs. Red is fastest. Blue is slowest.

The external 160GB 5400rpm Seagate SATA drive in a miniXpress case tested marginally faster than our MacBook Pro's internal 100GB 7200rpm Seagate SATA drive using the NitroAV FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34 in four of the seven test results. The internal drive was marginally faster in three of the results. Essentially, the two are the same speed. The FireWire 800 protocol is clearly much faster than FireWire 400 or USB2.0.

The miniXpress using the NitroAV FireWire 800 ExpressCard worked as a startup drive and produced no difficulties with sleep, logout/login or restarts in several days use.

In Summary

The NitroAV FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34 for $89.95 works great with our miniXpress external drive and it provides our 15" MacBook Pro with two very fast FireWire 800 ports. The only drawback, aside from the generic issue with the locking system for ExpressCards, is the additional need to carry an AC/DC adapter for the external drive while on the road. [Bill Fox]

[8/28] Last Call For The Great Mac Mod Challenge 2006

As "Modify Your Mac Month" enters its final week, Other World Computing and are issuing the last call for mod submissions to The Great Mac Mod Challenge 2006. OWC, along with Griffin Technology,, and are giving away over $3,500 in prizes. Entries will be accepted until Thursday, August 31 at 11:59PM. iPod mods, carputer mods, overclocking, liquid cooling, painting and more are eligible for submission. More information on how to enter and the prizes is available on this Web page. [Bill Fox]

[8/28] Keyspan's New Cordless VoIP Phone for Skype and the Mac

Keyspan's new Cordless VoIP Phone is Skype-compatible. Shipping this month, the Keyspan Cordless VoIP Phone will sell for an MSRP of just $79.

"Finally, there is no need to sit at your Mac when using Skype. The Keyspan Cordless VoIP Phone lets you use Skype anywhere in your home or office," noted Mike Ridenhour, president of Keyspan. "And, you can also take the Keyspan Cordless VoIP Phone on the road, to use in hotels, airports and cafes, as long as you have an internet connection and are within range of your laptop."

The Keyspan Cordless VoIP Phone:

  • Supports both Mac-to-Mac and Mac-to-Phone calling
  • Supports Caller ID and Speed Dial for both Skype and Skype Out numbers
  • A single button on the phone opens and closes the Skype application on your Mac
  • An LCD display shows who is online as well as status information for talk time and signal quality
  • Rechargeable batteries provide standby time of up to 1200 hours and talk time of up to 15 hours

The Keyspan Cordless VoIP Phone is available to consumers from the Keyspan Store, as well as from PC Connection, and other leading resellers of computer accessories. It is available to resellers through Ingram Micro and D&H. [Bill Fox]

[8/25] Sony States Battery Problem Limited to Apple and Dell

Last week Dell issued a recall for 4.1 million batteries with Sony lithium ion cells and yesterday Apple recalled 1.8 million of the same batteries, 1.1 million in the U.S. market and an additional 700,000 sold outside of the U.S. with Apple PowerBook G4s and iBook G4s or alone. Dell laptops actually caught fire and burned in several documented events while Apple experience was, at worst, two hot batteries that caused minor injuries.

Sony originally stated that all of the potentially defective batteries were sold by Dell but it was widely reported that Apple was investigating the issue and ended up with a recall as well. Now, Sony is again claiming that only Dell and Apple batteries with Sony cells are potentially defective. We hope this is true and that all potentially defective batteries get reclaimed in the recalls.

It has also been reported that Qantas Airlines has prohibited the use of all Dell notebooks on its flights unless the battery is removed and the Dell is run on seat power that is limited to the Business and First Class sections of some aircraft. Given the seriousness of some of the Dell events, this may seem reasonable but the airline authorities could simply check the battery against the recall list for better customer service. We hope that this does not become a widespread hysteria affecting Apple notebooks as well. More and More... [Dana Baggett]

[8/25] Trans International Shipping Full-Spec Mac Pro Memory on Monday--2GB for $499

Today one can order DDR2 667Mhz, 72 Bit ECC Fully-Buffered DIMM (FB-DIMM) for Apple's New MacPro from Trans International. The heat spreader (heat sink) has been specially engineered by Trans International for the memory to be installed in the Mac Pro Quad Xeon which exceed JADEC standards and conform to Apple's stringent thermal, mechanical and electrical design specifications and guidelines. The greater cooling surface on these heat spreaders allow better heat dissipation, providing efficient cooling for the components and enhancing memory performance.

Trans International's Mac Pro Memory Upgrade kits from 2GB to 16GB will ship on Monday, August 28. The 2GB Kit (2X1GB) is currently offered at $499.00. See this Trans International Web page for other configurations up to 16GB. [Bill Fox]

[8/25] NewerTech Released 74Wh Highest Capacity Battery for 14" iBook

Newer Technology Inc. introduced a new 74 watt-hour (wh) NuPower Lithium Ion replacement battery for the 14"/14.1" iBook G3 and G4 models for $129.99. OWC, the online store that carries the new batteries, stated that the new battery has tested to be the longest lasting, longest running unit on the market, and provides up to 34 percent more capacity than the original Apple battery. For more information, check this OWC Web page.

We use a NewerTech NuPower battery in our original 12" PowerBook G4 that has been upgraded with a 1.4GHz CPU and it lasts significantly longer than the original Apple-supplied battery. We are very happy with it. [Bill Fox]

[8/25] Apple Revised the Offerings from Three Hot Deals Retailers

audioMIDI has deals on a wide variety Mac compatible hardware and software products including: Audio-Technica ATH-T44 Headphones - buy one and get one free - for only $59.00!; control your digital audio workflow wirelessly with the Tranzport from Frontier Design Group for only $195.00!; UF5 49-note Controller with Cubase SE (while supplies last) from CME Controllers for only $189.42!; Traktor DJ Studio 3 - a comprehensive DJing solution - for only $99.00!; Behringer DFX69 Tweakalizer - a powerful desktop DJ effects processor for only $99.00!; get hypersampled production pianos w/Reason Piano Refill from Propellerhead for only $99.00!; and much more.

MacConnection has deals on a wide variety Mac compatible hardware and software products including: run Windows on your Mac with Parallels Desktop free w/purchase of any Intel-based Mac! (Microsoft Windows OS sold separately); Olympus Evolt E-500 8-megapixel SLR digital camera w/14-45mm lens and 1GB Compact Flash card for only $749.95!; LaCie 250GB Porsche Design external USB 2.0 hard drive for only $99.95!; Adobe Macromedia Studio 8 upgrade w/free 1GB USB 2.0 DataTraveler flash drive for only $409.95!; Samsung 205BW 20" widescreen LCD Monitor for only $289.95!; project your ideas with the IN24 DLP Projector from InFocus for only $599.00!; and much more.

Small Dog Electronics has Hot Deals exclusive prices on selected items including: the iSongBook iPod speaker system/clock radio from Tivoli for a Hot Deals exclusive $259.00!; the Edge I (black) laptop carrying case for the MacBook from Brenthaven for a Hot Deals exclusive $39!; the Edge II (light blue) laptop carrying case for the MacBook Pro from Brenthaven for a Hot Deals exclusive $39!; 2GB Kingston Data Traveler USB Flash Drive for a Hot Deal exclusive $49.00!; Microsoft Office 2004 Student/Teacher Edition for only $138.00 - and get $50 back w/mail-in rebate!; 300GB LaCie d2 FW/800/400/USB 2.0 external hard drive for only $169.00!; and much more.

[Bill Fox]

[8/25] WAPi August General Meeting Tomorrow Features Making Family DVDs

At tomorrow's Washington Apple Pi AMUG (WAPi) August General Meeting, member Steve Lemon will show how to create a Family Story DVD. Steve will share techniques, tips and tricks in scanning and assembling family photos into memorable slide shows accompanied by music and personal narration. The meeting is open to the public and begins at 9am ET (8:30am for members only). For more details, check this WAPi Web page. WAPi is the metro Washington DC AMUG, one of the oldest in the nation. [Bill Fox]

[8/24] NewerTech PowerBook/iBook Replacement Batteries Not Made by Sony, Not in Apple/CPSC Recall

Today Apple and the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall of certain lithium ion batteries made for 12" and 15" PowerBook G4s and iBook G4s. Here is Apple's Web page on the recall (Very busy at publication time--ed.) and CPSC's notice. The recall covers batteries made from Sony lithium ion cells similar to those recalled by Dell. The total number of batteries in the U.S. is 1.1 million and there are some 700,000 more outside the U.S. for a total of about 1.8 million batteries.

Those with 12" and 15" PowerBook G4s and iBooks should check Apple's Web page or the CPSC notice to determine if their battery is involved in the recall and, if so, to stop using it until it can be replaced by Apple.

NewerTech replacement batteries for iBook G4s and PowerBook G4s are made in the U.S. and are not made from Sony cells. They are not involved in the recall.

[Bill Fox]

[8/24] Apple and Creative Settle iPod Suits and Countersuits--Creative to Get $100 Million from Apple

In order to move on in the MP3 player consumer space, Apple has admitted no wrongdoing but has agreed to give Creative Technology $100 million and drop its countersuits to settle suits filed by Creative against Apple over the iPod's interface. The settlement was announced late yesterday.

In essence, Apple has paid a large one-time license fee which is significant to Creative with a market capitalization in the hundreds of millions of dollars. However, such an amount does not present a difficulty for Apple's financial picture. The settlement allows both companies to escape from the prospect of accumulating huge legal bills. Apple may actually recoup some of its payment if Creative is successful in licensing their previously disputed patent to others.

Furthermore, the companies announced that Creative joined Apple's "Made for iPod" program and will be announcing their own iPod accessory products later this year.

"We're very pleased to have reached an amicable settlement with Apple and to have opened up significant new opportunities for Creative," said Sim Wong Hoo, chairman and CEO of Creative. "Apple has built a huge ecosystem for its iPod and with our upcoming participation in the Made for iPod program we are very excited about this new market opportunity for our speaker systems, our just-introduced line of earphones and headphones, and our future family of X-Fi audio enhancement products."

Looks to us like good news all around. More... [Bill Fox]

[8/24] Apple Pro Tip of the Week--Under the Hood Info in the Dock

How many of you know about the utility Activity Monitor? It's located in the Utilities folder in the Applications folder. Activity Monitor displays things like CPU usage, memory usage, network usage and disk activity. To view this information in the dock, just drag and drop Activity Monitor on the Dock to create the icon there. Then, in Activity Monitor's preferences one can set which set of information, if any, to be displayed in the icon in the Dock. One can also select the other kinds of information by a click-and-hold on the icon. More... [Dana Baggett]

[8/24] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl Live--Backing Up and Leopard's Time Machine, Mac vs PC Cost and Mac Security

Tonight host Gene Steinberg will explore effective ways to backup your stuff and Apple's Time Machine with author Joe Kissell, author of "Take Control of Mac OS X Backups." Cutting-edge tech commentator Daniel Eran, of Roughly Drafted Magazine, will be on hand to talk about Mac versus PC cost comparisons and other hot topics. You'll also get a Mac update from author and security expert Kirk McElhearn.

You can tune in the Web broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern. In addition, The TNOL chat room will also be open for listener participation and an archive of the show will be available for downloading and listening at your convenience within four hours after the original broadcast. [Bill Fox]

[8/23] Meander 1.2 (Universal) is Out--Map Analysis Application for Mac

Acutus Trading announced Meander 1.2, a Mac application for route-plotting and distance-measuring with any map: software, web-based, or scanned maps are all compatible. Since version 1.0, Meander has undergone a major transformation with the addition of a "Snapshot" feature to capture background maps. Printing and JPEG exporting have also been included. Meander can be downloaded from this Web page. Activation Codes may be purchased for $19.99. [Bill Fox]

[8/23] FileSalvage 5.0 (Universal) is Out--Recover Files on Any Device

SubRosaSoft released FileSalvage version 5.0. This latest version incorporates a new and streamlined interface, support for Intel-based Macs, an auto file renaming feature, and a new bootable DVD.

FileSalvage 5.0 contains powerful data recovery tools designed to restore files that have been accidentally deleted, have become unreadable due to media faults, or were stored on a drive before it was re-initialized or formatted. It is device and file system independent, allowing the users to recover files from a normal Mac OS hard drive, USB key, Linux disk, Windows drive, FLASH card, scratched CD, and almost any other media or file system that can be recognized in Mac OS X.

FileSalvage 5.0 is available on a dual-boot bootable DVD that will start up from either Power PC or Intel-based Macs. The MSRP is $89.95 for MSRP plus shipping for the CD version or $79.95 for download only. Upgrades from v4.0 are $40 CD and $30 download. [Bill Fox]

[8/22] [Updated] Hands-On Review--160GB miniXpress External Drive

We are always looking to reduce the size and weight of computer gear that we have to carry on the road. When we needed a larger capacity 2.5" external hard drive to act as a boot drive and backup drive, Trans International's miniXpress with a 160GB 2.5" SATA hard drive caught our eye.

At 5.125"x3.125"x0.8125" (our measurements) and 5oz, the miniXpress is among the smallest of the 2.5" external hard drive enclosures and it really can fit in a shirt pocket although we wouldn't want to walk around with one there. With an Oxford 924 FireWire/SATA bridge, it accepts SATA drives and boots a MacBook Pro. A close competitor on size will not boot a MacBook Pro because its FireWire bridge is not compatible with Intel-based Macs and it does not accept SATA drives.

The case of the miniXpress is made from aluminum rather than plastic so it facilitates heat dissipation. This is important because the 160GB SATA drives run on the very warm side when under a heavy load.

The ports on the miniXpress are generous: 2 FireWire 800, 1 FireWire 400 and one mini USB 2.0. Unfortunately, the 15.4" MacBook Pro does not have a FireWire 800 port and there are not yet any FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34 adapters [Update: A reader noted that one does exist and we have ordered one.]--there are FireWire 800 ExpressCard 54 adapters but, of course, they don't fit. There is an eSATA ExpressCard 34 as we reported on yesterday but MacBooks can not yet boot from an eSATA drive. Hopefully, someone will make a FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34. [Update: A reader noted that one already exists and we have ordered one.]

Trans International offers the miniXpress with either of two 160GB 2.5" SATA drives, the Seagate Momentus ST9160821AS and the Hitachi Travelstar 5K160. Both drives rotate at 5400rpm and use the new perpendicular data technology. The Hitachi is $40 less than the Seagate and is offered in a bundle with the miniXpress case for $328. If you want the Seagate, you have to order the bare miniXpress for $99 and the 160GB Seagate for $269.

How Fast?

We speed tested both drives in the miniXpress case using FireWire 400 with three tests: QuickBench 2.1.2, Xbench 1.3 and duplicating our test 500MB folder. We also tested the miniXpress with the Seagate drive using the USB 2.0 connection instead of FireWire 400.

For comparison, we also ran the tests on our internal MacBook Pro drive, a 100GB Seagate Momentus 2.5" SATA that rotates at 7200rpm, and an 80GB Toshiba MK8032GAX 2.5" ATA6 that rotates at 5400rpm in an external OWC On-the-Go FireWire 400 case. Here are the results:

Data Transfer Speed Tests (averages*) of Hard Drive Connections.
Test Hard Drive
(Higher is faster)
FW 400
USB 2.0
FW 400
FW 400
QuickBench 2.1.2 Extended Test
- Write (MB/s), Avg. of 30-100MB runs
- Read (MB/s), Avg. of 30-100MB runs
Xbench 1.3 Drive Test (256k blocks)
- Sequential Write (MB/s)
- Sequential Read (MB/s)
- Random Write (MB/s)
- Random Read (MB/s)
Duplicate 500 MB Folder (MB/s)
*Average of 3 runs. Red is much faster. Blue is much slower.

Comparing the second and fourth columns, the Seagate and Hitachi SATA drives are pretty well matched in performance using FireWire 400 in the miniXpress case. They are both a little faster than the Toshiba ATA6 drive (column 5) in the OWC On-the-Go case. But the fastest, as expected, is the internal Seagate 7200rpm SATA drive on a SATA interface. Column 3 shows that USB 2.0 doesn't compare well with FireWire 400 on the Mac despite USB 2.0 having a higher theoretical speed.

In Summary

The miniXpress case with 2.5" 160GB SATA drives is an excellent external FireWire drive for emergency booting our MacBook Pro and for backing it up. It is small and light and has FireWire 800 for those with a port on their 17" MacBook Pro or PowerBook. We hope a FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34 will hit the market soon. [Update: A reader noted that one already exists and we have ordered one.] The aluminum case did a great job of dissipating the heat generated by these drives.

In the end, we decided on the Seagate drive because of its longer warranty (5 years), our good experience with Seagate drives and because it ran a bit cooler than the Hitachi. But if you want to save $40, the Hitachi drive bundled in the miniXpress from Trans International for $328 is the "best value" option.

The miniXpress from Trans International comes with cables for all three interfaces (FireWire 800, FireWire 400 and USB 2.0), an AC adapter (needed for USB 2.0 and some older Macs with FireWire) and a CD with backup software and an OEM copy of Intech's SpeedTools that includes QuickBench 2.1.2 used in our tests. [Bill Fox]

[8/22] Apple Revised the Offerings from Five Hot Deals Retailers

B&H Photo Video has deals on a wide variety Mac compatible hardware and software products including: get the new Sony Alpha 10.2-megapixel digital SLR w/18-70mm lens for only $999.95!; SanDisk 2GB Ultra LL Secure Digital (SD) memory card for only $79.95!; Hitachi DZGX3100A DVD-RAM/DVD-R Camcorder for only $499.95; Casio Exilim EX-Z1000 10.1-megapixel compact digital camera for only $399.99!; Sony UP-CR10L Snap Lab 5" roll-feed, dye sublimation, digital photo printer for only $1549.95 after mail-n rebate!; Adobe Macromedia Flash Basic 8.0 for only $369.95!; NEC MultiSync 20WMGX 20" widescreen LCD display/TV for only $659.95!; Adobe Photoshop CS2 for only $599.95; Digital Photography & Adobe Photoshop Elements 3 DVD hosted by Brian Maffitt for only $49.95 from Total-Training!; and much more.

CDW Mac Warehouse has deals on a wide variety Mac compatible hardware and software products including: BookEndz Docking Station for the 15" MacBook Pro for only $299.95!; Microsoft Office 2004 Pro for only $469.00!; Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT Kit w/18-55mm lens and free 256MB SanDisk CF card for only $999.00!; get fast, high-quality scans with the HP ScanJEt 7650 Flatbed scanner w/auto feeder for only $599.99!; run Windows XP on your Intel-based Mac w/out rebooting with Paralles Desktop for only $71.99!; Wacom Graphire 6"x8" Bluetooth wireless digitizer tablet w/mouse and stylus for only $231.99!; and much more.

ClubMac has deals on a wide variety Mac compatible hardware and software products including: get the only screen writing software developed exclusively for Mac OS X - Montage Screenwriting Software for only $129.99!; get fast access to all of your files with Portfolio 8 from Extensis for only $199.94!; increase your outlook with the Samsung SyncMaster 204B 20.1" LCD display for only $368.99!; backup your files with the EZQuest Monsoon 300GB external FireWire 400/USB 2.0 hard drive for only $149.99!; record direct to DVD with the Sony DCR-HC26 MiniDV camcorder w/FireWire (i.LINK) and more for only $349.99!; Cyber Acoustics A-303 docking speaker system for all iPods for only $159.99!; and much more.

MacMall has deals on a wide variety Mac compatible hardware and software products including: LG Electronics 20" widescreen LCD display for only $345.99!; get your game on with Legion Arena (works natively on Intel-based Macs!) from Freeverse Software for only $38.99!; also ready for Intel-based Macs, iListen speech recognition and dictation software from Macspeech for only $93.99!; Canon Digital Rebel XT SLR (Silver) w/18-55mm Lens Kit and free Kingston 1GB Compact Flash (CF) card for only $739.99!; record high-def home videos with the Sony HDR-HC3 1080i Handycam Camcorder for only $1149.99!; Wacom Intuos3 12"x12" USB tablet w/wireless mouse and stylus pen for ony $509.99!; and much more.

O'Reilly Media, Inc. has Hot Deals exclusive pricing on a variety of Mac-focused books including: for tips and tools for ripping, mixing and burning get iPod and iTunes Hacks by Hadley Stern for only $17.46; Photoshop Filter Effects Encyclopedia - the hands-on desktop reference fro digital photographers by Roger Pring for only $20.96!; iWork '05: The Missing Manual by Jim Elferdink for only $17.46!; for scripting and automating your Mac get AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Ed. by Matt Neuburg for only $27.99!; find out the basic as well as the hidden talents of AppleWorks with AppleWorks 6: The Missing Manual by Elferdink and Reynolds for only $13.96!; and much more.

[Bill Fox]

[8/21] Hands-On Report--FirmTek eSATA ExpressCard 34 and OWC Elite-AL Quad Case--How Fast Are They?

Late last year, Apple introduced SATA (serial ATA) hard drives in the redesigned Power Mac G5 Quad. Now, the MacBook Pro, MacBook, Intel-based Mac mini, iMac Core Duo and the new Mac Pro all use SATA drives and they are becoming the most common hard drives. Why? Because the interface is fast, promising up to 3Gigabits per sec (Gb/s), i.e. 375 MB/sec, transfer speed.

Apple dropped the PCMCIA (PC-card) slot and the fast FireWire 800 port from the new 15.4" MacBook Pro. Instead, the new MacBook Pro came with a 34mm ExpressCard slot, the much faster next generation of PCMCIA. Apple's expectation is that third party vendors will make ExpressCard 34 adapters for the new slot to connect fast FireWire 800 or SATA devices or other devices that have commonly used the PCMCIA slot. Well, six months later there's still no FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34 but there is an eSATA ExpressCard 34 from FirmTek called the SeriTek/2SM2-E.

The SeriTek/2SM2-E sells for $119.95 and has two eSATA ports (image at right courtesy of FirmTek). It plugs into the ExpressCard 34 slot on the left side of the MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, there are no native Mac OS X drivers so FirmTek supplies them and they must be installed before using the SeriTek/2SM2-E. FirmTek also has $20 cables for connecting devices with SATA and eSATA connectors and a $309.95 bundle that includes the card, a 3.5" drive case with 2 bays and two cables.

But what good is an eSATA ExpressCard without a SATA external drive in a case with an eSATA port? Fortunately, we have a backup 3.5" SATA drive (250GB Seagate 7200.8 SATA) from our ex-Power Mac G5 Quad and there are a number of cases now on the market. The one that caught our eye is OWC's Elite-AL Pro Quad (image below courtesy of OWC) because for $109.99 the case has eSATA, FireWire 800, FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 ports, comes with four cables for all four port types and looks great! The SeriTek/2SM2-E card and Elite-AL pro Quad case with cables arrived last week so we've had a chance to use them for awhile.

Setting Up

The Elite-AL Pro was easy to set up with our hard drive. OWC supplies an excellent set of installation instructions and a torx 10 screw driver for opening the case. We only had to supply a small philips head screwdriver with a magnetized tip. The latter is important because the screws that hold the drive in place have to be inserted through slots in the sides of the case and they are hard to fit and easy to drop without a magnetized tip on the screwdriver. Once the drive is in place, there are just two connectors to plug into the drive before closing the case. We stood the case up on edge with the included stand as shown in the OWC photo above left. The style of the Elite-AL Pro Quad is very much like the Mac Pro and Power Mac G5 and the blue access light is cool. OWC also supplies a small AC/DC power supply with the case, thankfully with a cord and plug instead of a wall wart.

The SeriTek/2SM2-E slides into the MacBook Pro's ExpressCard slot and clicks into place. To remove it, one just presses it in again and it clicks loose for extrication. Actually, as an aside, we don't particularly like this method of holding the card because once one inserts the card, it's too easy to click it loose again inadvertently when inserting cables into the card's slots. Of course, this is not FirmTek's fault since they didn't design the slot. Upon insertion of the SeriTek/2SM2-E with the eSATA cable attached, an ExpressCard icon pops up in the menu bar. Attach the cable to the drive case and the drive mounts on the desktop.

We plan to use the SATA drive as our "in-office" backup drive and the eSATA connection should let us completely backup our entire MacBook Pro internal drive, about 75GB, as a bootable copy using Drive Utility's "Restore" option in the least time possible. Transferring about 75GB takes over 2 hours by FireWire 400 to a 2.5" external drive. But first we have to transfer the data off our MacBook Pro's internal drive, reformat it and transfer it all back in order to install Boot Camp. By experience, that's a 4-5 hour job using FireWire 400 with a 2.5" drive. We hope to shorten it to under 2 hours with the eSATA connection and 3.5" drive.

How Fast?

So how fast is the eSATA connection? We used three tests to measure the speed of the eSATA, FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 connections between our MacBook Pro and the SATA drive in the Elite-AL Pro Quad case--QuickBench 2.1.2, Xbench 1.3 and duplicating our test 500MB folder. Here are the results:

Data Transfer Speed Tests (averages*) of Hard Drive Connections.
Test Hard Drive Connection
(Higher is faster)
FW 400
USB 2.0
QuickBench 2.1.2 Extended Test
- Write (MB/s), Avg. of 30-100MB runs
- Read (MB/s), Avg. of 30-100MB runs
Xbench 1.3 Drive Test (256k blocks)
- Sequential Write (MB/s)
- Sequential Read (MB/s)
- Random Write (MB/s)
- Random Read (MB/s)
Duplicate 500 MB Folder (MB/s)
*Average of 3 runs. Red is much faster. Blue is much slower.

As expected, the eSATA connection is the fastest in all tests, some nearly twice as fast as FireWire 400. The tests also show how pathetic a USB 2.0 connection is. We are surprised that the eSATA connection wasn't as much faster than FireWire 400 as we expected on the Xbench 1.3 random write and read tests, only some 20-30 percent.

The big job of copying the 75GB of data on our MacBook Pro's internal drive to the external SATA drive and then recopying it back after the internal drive was reformatted took just over 2 hours, about half the time it took using FireWire 400. Afterward, the internal drive booted our MacBook Pro just fine and we were able to create a partition with Boot Camp for a Windows XP SR2 installation in the near future.

In Summary

eSATA is a very fast protocol and it is sure to become a more widespread data transfer protocol in the near future. Perhaps, this is why Apple left the FireWire 800 port off the MacBook Pro. The FirmTek eSATA ExpressCard 34, the SeriTek/2SM2-E, worked great during the speed tests as did the OWC Elite-AL Pro Quad case. We will report later on their general use in a subsequent report. [Bill Fox]

[8/21] QuickerTek Has New 5.5dbi WiFi Antenna for 15" Macbook Pro

QuickerTek has a new version of the popular 5.5dBi antenna line for the 15-inch MacBook Pro. According to Quickertek, this antenna more than doubles the wireless signal strength and range over the stock Apple AirPort for $100.

The new external wireless antenna features 5.5dbi gain signal strength and is designed specifically for the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro (Intel). Users can expect both a gain in the wireless range and in the signal-to-noise ratio, giving a stronger (faster) wireless signal. It's easy to attach, use and remove for maximum portability according to Quickertek.

Like most QuickerTek products, the 5.5dBi Antenna for the 15-inch MacBook Pro is backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor. [Bill Fox]

[8/18] Apple Released MacBook SMC Firmware Update

The MacBook SMC Firmware Update is available for download via the Software Update application or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,

The SMC Firmware Update adjusts fan behavior in the MacBook.

After this update has completed successfully, your SMC Version will be: 1.4f10.

Unfortunately, we do not have a MacBook to test this update for you. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[8/18] Apple Updated its Xsan Software to v1.4

Xsan 1.4 Uninstaller--This uninstaller will remove Xsan from your computer. It will also remove the Xsan Admin application and documentation files.

Xsan Admin 1.4 Update--The Xsan 1.4 update delivers overall improved reliability for remotely administering, configuring and maintaining Xsan deployments. It includes fixes for:

  • labeling and initializing Fibre Channel LUNs larger than 2TB in size
  • expanding storage pools and volumes
  • working with multiple Xsan metadata controllers in a heterogeneous environment
  • displaying progress messages while performing lengthy operations
  • preventing custom configuration changes from being overwritten during a save
  • accurately reporting Fibre Channel multipathing errors

Xsan Filesystem 1.4 for Mac OS X 10.4--The Xsan 1.4 update improves reliability and is recommended for all systems running Mac OS X or Mac OS X Server version 10.4. It includes fixes for:

  • using file system access control lists (ACLs)
  • labeling and initializing LUNs greater than 2TB in size
  • AFP and NFS performance when re-sharing Xsan volumes
  • handling file system quotas and notifications
  • compatibility with Apple and third party applications

It also fixes this security issue:

CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3506
Available for: Mac OS X v10.4.7, Mac OS X Server v10.4.7
Impact: Malicious users may be able to cause systems using Xsan
to crash or execute arbitrary code
Description: A buffer overflow may occur in the Xsan Filesystem
driver when processing a path name. A malicious user with write
access to an Xsan volume may be able to trigger the overflow on
systems directly attached to Xsan. This could lead to a system
crash or arbitrary code execution with system privileges. This
update addresses the issue by performing additional validation
of path names. Credit to Andrew Wellington of The Australian
National University for reporting this issue.

[Bill Fox]

[8/18] Apple Updated Logic Pro and Logic Express to 7.2.2

Logic Express 7.2.2 improves compatibility with the Mac Pro and delivers increased performance through full use of the Mac Pro Quad-core architecture as well as optimized support for the built-in audio ports.

Logic Pro 7.2.2 improves compatibility with the Mac Pro and delivers increased performance through full use of the Mac Pro Quad-core architecture as well as optimized support for the built-in audio ports.

[Bill Fox]

[8/18] Brief Hands On-Report--Adobe Updated Photoshop CS2 to 9.0.2

Photoshop 9.0.2 popped up in the Adobe Updater application so we downloaded and installed it. No ReadMe file was left so we do not know what was fixed. In addition, Photoshop 9.0.2 is not listed as of publication time on Adobe's download Web page.

We opened our copy of Photoshop, performed a number of routine tasks and encountered no problems but we were having no problems with Photoshop 9.0.1 either. [Bill Fox]

[8/18] MacSoft Released Halo v2.0 (Universal) for the Mac

The Halo v2.0 update to Halo [NOT Halo 2] is a Universal application, i.e. it can run natively on Intel-based Macs. It is not a patch but a whole re-write of the Halo game code for Intel-based Macs and is otherwise no different than Halo v1.52 for Power PC Macs. It is available from MacSoft on a CD for $9.95 (free for those who purchased Halo January 1, 2006) or as a 650MB download that has to be burned to a CD for $5.

We elected to go with the $5 download and burn our own CD. All went well. [Bill Fox]

[8/17] Apple Boot Camp 1.1 Beta Follow Up--External iSight Works

As we noted yesterday, an improvement in the Macintosh Drivers for Windows included with the new Boot Camp 1.1 beta is a new driver for iSight. Our external iSight connected via a FireWire hub to our Mac mini Core Duo was recognized by Windows after updating our Boot Camp installation with the new drivers. We downloaded and installed Yahoo Messenger. Our external iSight was recognized by the application but at first the brightness was way to high. When adjusted, the video that the iSight produced was excellent. [Bill Fox]

[8/17] [Updated] Apple Pro Tip of the Week--The Sidebar Works Like the Dock

The Finder's sidebar can work like the dock by adding icons of folders and applications. Just open a window with the folder or application and drag and drop it onto the sidebar in the order you like. More... [Dana Baggett] [Update: We fixed the link.]

[8/17] Tonight on the Tech Night Owl Live--Power Mac Eulogy and WWDC Commentary

This week host Gene Steinberg explores the rest of the story about Apple's WWDC. On hand to talk about the goings-on and deliver a Power Mac eulogy will be Special Correspondent David Biedny, as we enter, once again, "The David Biedny Zone." You'll also hear a special conference on the WWDC featuring Macworld's Christopher Breen and Dan Frakes. To round out our outspoken quartet, noted author John Rizzo, of, will talk about some of the things that annoyed him about the event.You can t Tune in the Web broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern. [Bill Fox]

[8/16] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple Boot Camp 1.1 Beta

Apple updated Boot Camp public beta to v1.1. It is available for download via this Apple Web page. The file is 202MB and it contains a number of updates. Version 1.1 is intended for all new and previous Boot Camp beta users. According to Apple, Boot Camp 1.1 beta includes:

  • Support for the latest Intel-based Macintosh computers
  • Easier partitioning using presets for popular sizes
  • Ability to install Windows XP on any internal disk
  • iSight camera support
  • Support for built-in microphones
  • Right-click when pressing the right-hand Apple key on Apple keyboards
  • Improved Apple keyboard support including Delete, PrintScreen, NumLock, and ScrollLock keys

If you previously installed Boot Camp beta and Windows XP, you should update to Boot Camp 1.1 beta by burning a new Macintosh Drivers for Windows CD using the Boot Camp Assistant in v1.1 and installing the drivers in Windows XP. You don't need to partition your hard drive again (unless you want to change its size) or reinstall your Macintosh and Windows software or documents. Complete instructions are provided in the Installation and Setup Guide included with the Boot Camp 1.1 beta software.

We downloaded Boot Camp v1.1 and burned a new Macintosh Drivers for Windows CD using the Boot Camp Assistant. Then we booted our Mac mini Core Duo into Windows XP and inserted the CD. The new drivers were installed automatically. After a reboot, the iSight camera attached to our Mac mini via FireWire was recognized by Windows XP. But, of course, at present, we have no Windows software that uses the iSight. Nor do we have an additional internal drive or built-in microphone in the Mac mini. However, the new keyboard commands all work.

We have been unable to install Boot Camp 1.0 or 1.0.1 on our MacBook Pro because we get an error message saying that some files can't be moved during the partitioning process. Unfortunately, we get the same error message with v1.1. We guess we will have to remove, reformat the drive and restore our data to it. That's about a 4-5 hour project using FireWire 400 but we hope to reduce it to 2 hours or less with an eSata drive and ExpressCard 34. [Bill Fox]

[8/16] Apple Revised the Offerings from Three Hot Deals Retailers

MacGameStore has deals on a wide variety of Mac games with an exclusive 5% discount at checkout: Age of Empires III from MacSoft for only $49.95 before discount! Runs natively on Intel-based Macs!; The Sims 2 Open For Business from Aspyr Media for only $34.95 before discount! Runs natively on Intel-based Macs!; Legion Arena from Freeverse Software for only $39.95 before discount. Runs natively on Intel-based Macs!; Phantasia (digital download) from Rake In Grass for only $19.95! Runs natively on Intel-based Macs!; Jewel Quest (digital download) from iWin for only $19.95 before discount! Runs natively on Intel-based Macs!; and much more.

Ramjet has Hot Deals exclusive pricing on Mac compatible RAM upgrades including: 1GB DDR2 RAM module for the MacBook Pro for only $124.00!; 2GB (2X 1GB modules) RAM upgrade kit for the iMac w/iSight (Intel-based) for only $244!; 1GB RAM module for the iMac G5 w/iSight for only $88.00!; 1GB (1x 1GB module) RAM upgrade for original iMac G5 for only $117.00; and much more.

Sweetwater Sound has Hot Deals on a wide variety Mac compatible hardware and software products including: PreSonus DigimaxFS 8-channel mic preamp with 96kHz ADAT output for only $599.97; HHB FlashMic condenser microphone w/built-in flash recorder and software for only $1299.97!; M-Audio MidAir 25, 25-key wireless USB MIDI keyboard controller w/Ableton Live Lite 5 software for only $199.97!; Samson Q1U super-cardioid dynamic handheld microphone with USB interface for only $49.97!; Cakewalk Rapture wavetable softsynth for only $199.97!; and much more.

[Bill Fox]

[8/16] 14th Annual Mac Computer Expo at Santa Rosa Junior College--First Announcement

Mark your calendars! Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) and North Coast Mac Users Group (NCMUG) are teaming up for the 14th annual Mac Computer Expo (MCE) at the Santa Rosa Junior College Saturday, October 7, 2006, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Non-profit NCMUG has been supporting computer users in the North Bay for over twenty years. This year more than two dozen software and accessory vendors will team up along with nine nationally known experts and authors as NCMUG and SRJC sponsor the largest gathering of Apple Macintosh enthusiasts in Northern California, aside from Macworld held in January each year in San Francisco.

Vendors attending will include Microsoft, Monster Cable, MacAddict, Macworld Publishing, and Sonoma County's O'Reilly Media and Micromat. Nationally known photo specialists Derrick Story and Bert Monroy will speak at MCE. Exhibits, demonstrations, and raffle prizes will also be featured throughout the day. Free computer recycling drop-off to be provided by Computer Recycling Center. Further information is available at NCMUG's Web site. [Bill Fox]

[8/15] Hands-On Report--Xbench 1.3 (Universal)

Xbench 1.3, one of the benchmark applications we use on our How Fast Is It? series, was released on Monday and is available for download via Like its predecessor v1.2, it is a Universal application that runs natively on both Intel-based and PowerPC-based Macs.

As far as we knew, Xbench 1.2 had only one glitch--it produced invalid scores for the User Interface test when running on Intel-based Macs. But according to the developer, there are more fixes in v1.3 vs v1.2:

  • Corrected a mistake that caused the altivec test to be turned off on PowerPC machines
  • Turned off coalesced graphics updates for all platforms on Mac OS 10.4.4 and higher
  • Switched compiler to GCC 4.0 on PowerPC. This provides some boost to floating point and AltiVec scores, and these have been recalibrated accordingly. This also raises Xbench's system requirements to 10.3.9 or higher.
  • Revised machine database to include the MacBook, Intel iMac and several other models
  • Added code to dynamically load machine database on launch from the Xbench website
  • Added support for temporarily turning off beam sync on Tiger while running graphics tests
  • Fixed an issue that causes Xbench to fail to launch on Leopard
  • Built with Xcode 2.4

The list says nothing specific about the User Interface glitch but it is fixed as you will see below.

We ran Xbench 1.2 and 1.3 on our Intel-based 15" 2.16GHz MacBook Pro and our upgraded PowerPC-based 12" 1.4GHz PowerBook G4 to determine where the main differences are. Here are the results:

2.16GHz 15" MacBook Pro Speed Tests (average* scores) with Xbench 1.2 and 1.3.
Test Mac OS X = 10.4.7
Xbench 1.2
Xbench 1.3
Perf. Chg. %
Xbench Test
- Threading
- Memory
- Quartz Graphics
- OpenGL Graphics
- User Interface Graphics
- Hard Disk
*Average of 3 runs. Red is much faster. Blue is much slower.

For our Intel-based Mac, Xbench 1.3 gives much higher scores in Quartz Graphics and in User Interface Graphics. These are two areas where Intel-based Macs appeared to lag PowerPC-based Macs (c.f. our Mac Pro vs Power Mac G5 comparison). The User Interface score of 218 for our MacBook Pro compares well with our former Power Mac G5 Quad at 236, consistent with our experience qualitatively. Xbench 1.3 seems to give more reasonable results comparing across the G5 and Core Duo CPUs.

1.4GHz 12" PowerBook G4 Speed Tests (average* scores) with Xbench 1.2 and 1.3.
Test Mac OS X = 10.4.7
Xbench 1.2
Xbench 1.3
Perf. Chg. %
Xbench Test
- Threading
- Memory
- Quartz Graphics
- OpenGL Graphics
- User Interface Graphics
- Hard Disk
*Average of 3 runs. Red is much faster. Blue is much slower.

For the PowerBook G4, a higher CPU score is expected due to a fix in the application's Altivec test. But three other scores were also higher at nearly 20 percent or more.

It is clear that Xbench 1.3 will give better and more comparable scores than Xbench 1.2 as we use it in future speed tests. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[8/15] Parallels Issued Update to Parallels Desktop for Mac Beta--Fixes Our Launch Error Issue

Parallels issued Parallels Desktop for Mac v2.2 beta Build 1862.2 and it is available from this Parallels Web page. Build 1862.2 fixes the problem we encountered after installing the beta version as we noted here on August 9.

With v2.2 Build 1862 we got an error message--"Unable to allocate virtual machine memory"--when launching our Windows XP virtual machine. The new Build 1862.2 fixes this problem.

The final release of v2.2 is expected in the next week or two.

As a user of nearly every version of VirtualPC since v1.0, we are amazed at the performance and stability of Parallels Desktop for Mac running Windows XP on our MacBook Pro. We think we understand why Microsoft decided not to continue the development of VirtualPC. [Bill Fox]

[8/15] From the Dark Side--Dell Issues Battery Recall Today After Notebooks Burn

Dell has identified problems with batteries for its Latitude, Inspiron, XPS and Precision mobile workstation. The press release states in part,

"Dell is today [Tuesday] announcing the voluntary recall of approximately 4.1 million Dell-branded lithium-ion batteries with cells manufactured by Sony. Under rare conditions, it is possible for these batteries to overheat, which could cause a risk of fire."


"Dell sold or provided these batteries with the notebook computers, as part of a service replacement, and as individual units from April 1, 2004, through July 18, 2006."

More details about the Dell Battery Recall Program are available from this Dell Web site.

We're glad to see this recall finally happening as we have been thinking about traveling by air with so many Dell's in circulation and so many recent instances of Dell notebooks that simply caught fire and burned up. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[8/14] Hands-On Review--Laptop Desk 2.0

As we were first to note back in January in our "Hands-On" Macworld 2006 show floor report, Apple's Intel-based MacBook Pros run on the hot side. While we don't find our production 15" MacBook Pro to be particularly hotter than our previous 17" PowerBook G4's, at least not subjectively, many apparently do to the point where using a MacBook Pro on their lap is claimed to be painful. Apple has responded to this issue by no longer calling its portables "laptops" but calling them "notebooks" instead. Accessory makers have responded with products.

One such product is the Laptop Desk 2.0 from LapWorks. Laptop Desk 2.0 is actually two products in one, in that it easily converts from a laptop tray to a desktop stand. It is made from high impact black plastic and it has rubber areas to grip the back of a notebook.

LapWorks claims that the Laptop Desk 2.0 cools your notebook by up to 15 to 20 percent and backs it up by posting this thermal study. The study measured an 8-10 percent reduction in heat in the tray position, i.e. sitting on one's lap, and 15-20 percent heat reduction in the desktop stand position.

We have used our review copy of the Laptop Desk 2.0 for several weeks with our MacBook Pro and our 12" PowerBook G4. At no time did we feel heat through the Laptop Desk 2.0 while wearing shorts. The Laptop Desk 2.0 as a laptop tray is very sturdy and we easily used it with both 'Books in this mode. The image above shows a mouse being used with a Laptop Desk 2.0 in the tray position but the area for a mouse is actually quite small. It is usable but is fairly constrained for our wireless Mighty Mouse.

On a desk, the Laptop Desk 2.0 folds into a stand with five different elevations. It works fine in this mode.

The Laptop Desk 2.0 is very light and can be folded and placed in a laptop bag for travel. The lightness, however, contributes to the underside being slightly uncomfortable on bare legs because there is no backing, a relatively minor issue.

We can't confirm that our 'Books ran any cooler on the Laptop Desk 2.0 than without it. We played the Macworld 2006 keynote in QuckTime nearly full screen for 30 minutes and then read the 'Books' temperature as determined by the utilities Temperature Monitor (12" PowerBook G4) and CoreDuoTemp (15" MacBook Pro). The recorded temperatures were identical--56oC for the 12" PowerBook G4 and 62oC for the 15" MacBook Pro-- whether the 'Book was running flat on the top of the desk or on the Laptop Desk 2.0 in stand position.

In summary, the Laptop Desk 2.0 at $29.95 is an excellent accessory for using your 'Book on your lap without feeling any heat. It also makes into a very usable desk top stand and is light enough to fold and carry with you in a bag. [Bill Fox]

[8/14] PC World Magazine Crowns the Apple ][ Number 1 of 25 Greatest PCs

The Mac Plus is number 4, the PowerBook 100 is number 10, the iMac G4 is number 19 and the eMate 300 is number 23. Here are the criteria the PC World editors used:

  1. Innovation: Did the PC do anything that was genuinely new? Did it incorporate the latest technology?
  2. Impact: Was it widely imitated? Did it become part of the cultural zeitgeist?
  3. Industrial design: Was it a looker? Did it have clever features that made using it a pleasure?
  4. Intangibles: Was there anything else about it that set it apart from the same ol' same ol'?

Our opinion is that the original 128k Mac should have made the list in place of the Mac Plus as it personifies the selection criteria. We would rate it number 2, right behind the Apple ][. Here is the PC World article. [Dana Baggett]

[8/12] Brief Hands-On Report--Adobe Flash Player 9.0.20 (Universal)

Adobe released Adobe Flash Player 9.0.20 and it is a Universal application. This version replaces the beta version of Flash Player 9 released in late June and is available for download via You can go to this Adobe Web page and it will display what version of Flash Player you have installed.

We downloaded and installed Adobe Flash Player 9.0.20 on an iMac Core Duo, 15" MacBook Pro and Mac mini Core Duo, mostly without problems. Some time after installing it on our Mac mini Core Duo we noticed that our non-Universal applications, like Microsoft Office, would not launch. This may have been a coincidence because we had no problems after installing it on our iMac and MacBook Pro. The launch issue on our Mac mini was resolved by re-applying the 10.4.7 Combo Updater. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

[8/11] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple ExpressCard Update 1.0

Apple released ExpressCard Update 1.0. It is available via Software Update on a MacBook Pro or as a stand-alone updater from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,

This update resolves an issue that prevented the system from sleeping when some cards are inserted in the ExpressCard/34 slot.

This explains why it is only available for a MacBook Pro although Apple doesn't explicitly say so, why we don't know. We tried downloading and installing the updater on our Mac mini Core Duo but when the installer launches a message pops up saying the Mac mini doesn't need the update.

We downloaded the ExpressCard Update 1.0 via Software Update on our MacBook Pro and installed it with no problem. After the requisite restart, we used the MacBook Pro for several hours with AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth devices with no problems. However, we can not do the acid test since we do not have an ExpressCard 34 device yet. We'll be getting a Verizon wireless internet ExpressCard 34 in the near future. [Bill Fox]

[8/11] Wireless Keyboard and Mouse No Longer a BTO Option with the iMac Core Duo

Another silent change in pricing structure in the Apple Store online includes dropping the wireless keyboard and mouse as a BTO option. We ordered a set with our first 20" iMac Core Duo for a small savings over buying them separately as accessories. When we returned to the store yesterday to get another iMac Core Duo, we found that the BTO option had been deleted. It's not a BTO option for the Intel-based Mac mini either, nor the MacBook or MacBook Pro but they may never have been. Now they're only a BTO option on the Mac Pro for $60.

As separate accessories they are $128 together plus one also has a wired keyboard and mouse to store somewhere. [Dana Baggett]

[8/11] After 22+ Years the Single Button Mac Mouse is History

We chronicle the passing of the Mac's single button mouse. After first appearing with the original 1984 Mac, they are no longer available from the Apple Store, a not uncontroversial run of slightly over 22 years. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

[8/10] Apple Posted Security Update 2006-004 for Mac Pro and Mac OS X Server 10.4.7 (Universal)

The Mac Pro was just announced on Monday and there is already a security update for it to bring it into line with others running Mac OS X 10.4.7 with Security Update 2006-004 released August 1st. It has all of the security features released in Security Update 2006-004 except two. They are:

CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3459, CVE-2006-3461, CVE-2006-3462, CVE-2006-3465
Available for: Mac OS X v10.4.7 Build 8K1079, Mac OS X Server
v10.4.7 Build 8K1079
Impact: Viewing a maliciously-crafted TIFF image may lead to an
application crash or arbitrary code execution
Description: Buffer overflows were discovered in TIFF tag handling
(CVE-2006-3459, CVE-2006-3465), the TIFF PixarLog decoder
(CVE-2006-3461), and the TIFF NeXT RLE decoder (CVE-2006-3462). By
carefully crafting a corrupt TIFF image, an attacker can trigger a
buffer overflow which may lead to an application crash or arbitrary
code execution. This update addresses the issue by performing
additional validation of TIFF images. Systems prior to Mac OS X v10.4
are affected only by the TIFF NeXT RLE decoder issue (CVE-2006-3462).
Credit to Tavis Ormandy, Google Security Team for reporting this
issue. Note: A fifth issue discovered by Tavis Ormandy,
CVE-2006-3460, does not affect Mac OS X.

CVE-ID: CVE-2006-0393
Available for: Mac OS X v10.4.7 Build 8K1079, Mac OS X Server
v10.4.7 Build 8K1079
Impact: When remote login is enabled, remote attackers may cause a
denial of service or determine whether an account exists
Description: Attempting to log in to an OpenSSH server ("Remote
Login") using a nonexistent account causes the authentication process
to hang. An attacker can exploit this behavior to detect the
existence of a particular account. A large number of such attempts
may lead to a denial of service. This update addresses the issue by
properly handling attempted logins by nonexistent users. This issue
does not affect systems prior to Mac OS X v10.4. Credit to Rob
Middleton of the Centenary Institute (Sydney, Australia) for
reporting this issue.

Security Update 2006-004 for Mac Pro is provided only for systems running Mac OS X v10.4.7 Build 8K1079 or Mac OS X Server v10.4.7 Build 8K1079 to reach the full security level provided with Security Update 2006-004 (August 1 release).

Security Update 2006-004 for Mac Pro is available via the Software Update application or from this Apple Web page. [Bill Fox]

[8/10] Apple Xcode 2.4 is Out

Apple released Xcode v2.4 and it is available for download via or from the developers' web site (ID/password needed). Here are the changes in v2.4:

  • Xcode 2.4 adds support for 64-bit Intel development, with support for creating four-architecture Universal applications (32 and 64 bit for both Intel and PwerPC).
  • Selected fixes were made in the Xcode IDE, cctools, debugger, and compiler.
  • Xcode 2.4 also fixes bugs and enhances performance in several areas over Xcode 2.3. Most notably, stepping behavior when debugging DWARF binaries has been made more precise, and Dedicated Network Builds (DNB) has received several usability fixes.
  • The 10.4u SDK has been updated for development with Mac OS 10.4.7
  • CHUD has been updated to version 4.4.0.

We downloaded and installed 2.4 with no problems. [Bill Fox]

[8/10] Base 2.66GHz Quad Mac Pro--How Fast Is It?

We haven't decided yet whether we will get a Mac Pro to replace our Power Mac G5 Quad. We sold our G5 Quad when we got our 2.16GHz MacBook Pro and surprisingly discovered that it fast enough to do everything we need to do as fast as we need to do it--even our favorite 3D games. Well, nothing is ever really as fast as we think we need but for right now we are satisfied. This is partly because the graphics card that we want, the ATI Radeon X1900, is still 3-5 weeks away from shipping. We could order the X1900 as an aftermarket kit from the Apple Store, we were pleasantly surprised to find, but that means shelling out an additional $150.

To help us consider the matter, we compared some published speed marks for a base 2.66GHz Quad Mac Pro posted by with those from our former 2.5GHz Power Mac G5 Quad. Our G5 Quad had the standard Nvidia GeForce 6600 XT graphics card. Much to our chagrin, Apple never made the graphics card we wanted available as an aftermarket kit, the Nvidia GeForce 7800. MacInTouch's Mac Pro also has the now standard Nvidia GeForce 7300 GT graphics.

Here are the speed tests:

2.66GHz Mac Pro vs 2.5GHz Power Mac G5 Quad
2.5GHz Power Mac G5 Quad*
2.66GHz Quad Mac Pro**
Chg. %
Cinebench 2003 (9.5) - Rendering
- OpenGL Hardware Lighting
Xbench 1.2 - CPU
- Threading
- Memory
- Quartz Graphics
- OpenGL Graphics
*Average of 3 runs. ** Red is much faster. Blue is much slower.

The Mac Pro is clearly the faster machine but not as much faster on these tests as we had expected. The 2.66GHz Mac Pro even tested slower on Quartz graphics and memory tests, despite having faster memory and a faster memory bus. If we got the 3GHz Mac Pro with ATI Radeon X1900 graphics card that we have our eye on, it would probably be much faster on all tests but one never really knows for sure.

So for now, we'll sit on the fence. After all, Apple will upgrade the MacBook Pros in the near future and in the mean time we're actually enjoying not having to keep two Macs in perfect sync. [Bill Fox]

[8/10] Apple Posted Winners of Apple Design Awards 2006

Apple's Design Awards are handed out each year during an evening session at the Worldwide Developers Conference. The Apple Design Awards recognize technical excellence and outstanding achievement in applications designed for Mac OS X in eight categories.

Apple posted the 2006 winners recognized Tuesday night at WWDC 2006. They are:

  • Best Mac OS X Developer Tool--TextMate 1.5.2 (Runner Up F-Script 1.3.3)
  • Best Use of Mac OS X Graphics--modo 201 (RU Unity 1.5)
  • Best Mac OS X Widget--iClip Lite 2.0 (RU WeatherBug
  • Best Mac OS X Automator--Real Estate Catalog 1.0 (RU Lecture Recording)
  • Best Mac OS X User Experience--iSale 3.1 (RU Boinx FotoMagico 1.7)
  • Best Mac OS X Game--The Sims 2, 1.0revE (RU WingNuts 2)
  • Best Mac OS X Scientific Computing Solution--EnzymeX 3.1 (RU FuzzMeasure Pro 2.0.2)
  • Best Mac OS X Student Product--Lineform 1.1 (RU PhotoPresenter 2.5.5)

[Bill Fox]

[8/10] Charles Gaba Updated System Shootouts with Mac Pro

The new stuff on System Shootouts according to Charles is:

  • New: $3,200 Workstation Shootout: Apple Mac Pro w/20" Cinema Display vs. Dell Precision 690 (tower only) Yes, that's right—the Mac Pro costs $700 less than the Precision 690, enough to add a 20" ACD!
  • Updated: Complete Apple Desktop Lineup

[Bill Fox]

[8/10] Coolest Bandwidth Test

We found a new Web site for testing your bandwidth for It has the coolest graphics of any we've tried. We got a modest 5.4mbps download and 429kbps upload from our nearest server. Check it out. [Dana Baggett]

[8/10] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl Live--WWDC Announcements, WiredNews, Industry Analyst and Script Software

Tonight host Gene Steinberg and his irreverent son and co-host Grayson explore Apple's WWDC, the introduction of the Mac Pro and the first preview of the next version of Mac OS X, Leopard. You'll hear from Macworld Senior Editor Rob Griffiths about his reactions to the these announcements. Returning from last week's episode will be Managing Editor Leander Kahney, and industry analyst Ross Rubin from the NPD Group. In addition, Julian Miller, from Script Software, will talk about the close resemblance between one of his company's applications, ChatFX, and the special features promised in iChat for Leopard. Now that Microsoft has given up on Virtual PC for the Mac, Benjamin Rudolph, from Parallels, will talk about the newest version of the Parallels Desktop virtual machine application and some surprising plans for the future.You can t You can tune in the internet broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern. [Bill Fox]

[8/9] Hands-On Report--Beta Update for Parallels Desktop for Mac--Don't Update Yet

Parallels released a beta update of Parallels Desktop for Mac (PDM), the solution that enables users to run Windows and other OSes at the same time as Mac OS X on any Intel-based Mac without rebooting. The update, which is free for all Parallels Desktop users, includes several important upgrades, including:

  • USB improvement, including USB support for Windows Mobile 5 and a much broader list of supported devices.
  • The Mac hard disk cache can be now switched off for a virtual machine, which can substantially improve OS X performance while using Parallels Desktop.
  • Improved graphic performance
  • Complete keyboard support, including the “eject CD” button and right & left shift mapping for non-English layouts
  • Unicode path support lets users name files and paths in any language
  • Improved shared folders performance
  • Minor bug fixes

Users can download the beta update of Parallels Desktop for Mac from this Parallels Web page and install it manually. The auto-update and "Check for Updates" in the Help menu do not work with the beta update.

According to Parallels, the final release of the update is expected in the next few weeks. Users who have Parallels Desktop auto-update enabled will receive the final update automatically. Users who do not have auto-update enabled will be able to manually download the update by clicking "Check for Updates" in the "Help" tab of the Parallels menu bar.

We have auto-update enabled in our copy of Parallels Desktop for Mac (v2.1 Build 1848) but it said our copy is up to date when PDM was launched. We tried the manual "Check for Updates" and it also said our copy is up to date, confirming that the beta update needs to be downloaded and manually installed. We downloaded a copy of Build 1862 from Parallels update Web page.

We opened the disk image (.dmg) file and it contained a PDF of the Guide, a Parallels-Desktop.pkg file and an Uninstall file. We noted that the Guide has a more recent date and is slightly larger so we replaced our old Guide PDF. Then, we double-clicked the .pkg file which opened the installer and clicked though it to "Update" and our copy was updated to v2.2 Build 1862 with an August 7, 2006, date.

When we tried to launch Windows XP, we got an error message--"Unable to allocate virtual machine memory!"--and the launch quit. The error message says this error is due to there not being enough disk space but we've got over 20GB and PDM Build 1848 ran fine just before the update to Build 1862. We have filed a bug report with Parallels on the error message. Parallels responded that they are looking at it.

Fortunately, we have no mission critical need to run Windows XP at this time. But we were in the middle of what has been a mostly highly positive review of PDM when we applied the beta update.

We recommend against applying the beta update at this time. [Bill Fox]

[8/9] Hands-On Report--Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.2.6 Update

Microsoft released a security update for Office 2004 for Mac 11.2.6. It is available for download via

According to Microsoft,

Version 11.2.6 fixes vulnerabilities in Office 2004 that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer's memory with malicious code.

The ReadMe file states that these files are updated:

Microsoft Component Plugin 11.2.6
Microsoft Office 11.2.6

We downloaded and applied the 11.2.6 update to our copy of Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac with no problems. Only the two file noted were updated with the new version number--the applications carry 11.2.3 for Word, 11.2.4 for PowerPoint and 11.2.5 for Excel and Entourage. After several hours standard use of Word, PowerPoint and Excel, we found no new problems. We don't use Entourage. [Bill Fox]

[8/9] Microsoft Office v.X for Mac Security Update (2006-08-08) is Out

A new security update for Microsoft Office v.X for Mac is out and available for download from this Microsoft Web page. According to Microsoft,

This update fixes product vulnerabilities in Office v. X that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer's memory with malicious code.

This appears to be the same fix noted above for Office 2004. The only file updated is:

Microsoft Office X 10.0.0 (060718)

[Bill Fox]

[8/9] Consumer Reports gives Clean Sweep to Apple MacBook and MacBook Pros

The September 2006 issue of Consumer Reports (CR) rates 21 laptops, just in time for off-to-college shopping. CR notes that it has revised the way laptops are tested "to reflect new capabilities and uses." The "New tests and new scores" it trumpets are in bold type.

Whatever the reason, for the first time in memory Apple laptops were tops in every category in which they were rated by CR staff. The Apple MacBook Pro 15" headed a field of five PC laptops in the "15.4 Workhorse Models" category. Not to be outdone, the 17" Apple MacBook Pro out-scored six PC laptops in the 17" portables workhorse group. And, among the "12 to 13.3-inch Slim and Light Models" the Apple MacBook 13.3" model took the honors, besting three PC brands.

A clean sweep. The only category Mac didn't win was the one in which it wasn't entered--the "15.4-Inch Budget Models."

That's not all. While CR notes that feedback from over 49,000 laptop users show minor differences in brand reliability, it reports that "Apple's laptop support has been by far the best" as judged by 5,000 of its subscribers. [Dana Baggett]

[8/9] Quicken 2007 for Mac is Available--We'll Pass For Now

We have used Quicken for financial management for many years and currently use Quicken 2006. Since Quicken 2007 is now out, we've been bombarded with ads, paper and email, from Intuit offering us a $10 off deal to order the upgrade right away making the purchase $59.99 plus tax and shipping. We can also get a free Encyclopaedia Britannica CD with some offers.

Since we upgrade every couple of years or so, we took a look at what's new in Quicken 2007 for Mac. The first thing that popped out at us was something it lacked--it is not a Universal Application! How can that be? Intuit has had over a year to create a universal binary so that Quicken runs native on Intel-based Macs and their main Mac application is labelled "2007" and it is not Universal? Unbelievable! Well, as disappointing as this is, especially since we primarily use a MacBook Pro, it is not really a show-stopper since Quicken 2006 runs just fine under Rosetta. But, c'mon Intuit!

Okay, the big five new features and our comments are:

1. Download and track 401(k) data. We suppose this is useful to those who have a large and complex 401(k) plan, do not get adequate reports on it, want to jiggle it frequently and can actually get the data via Quicken for Mac running on a Mac. We have a 403(b) account from our university faculty days and several IRA accounts. It's not clear that these accounts can not be tracked by Quicken 2007 but Intuit's literature doesn't say they can so we'll pass on this feature. Anyway, quarterly reports are fine with us and except when the stock market was in full bull prior to 2001, our jiggling has cost us money.

2. Track all paycheck information. This is a no-brainer for us. We have no use at all for it. Most people who get regular paychecks from businesses they work for probably also get a nice neat summary at the end of the year. We don't see this feature being particularly attractive to many people.

3. A QuickEntry Dashboard widget. You don't have to launch Quicken to make entries but you have to launch Dashboard instead, i.e. if you are running Mac OS X 10.4.x "Tiger" and you should be really. QuickEntry claims to encrypt the data entered and make it ready for import the next time you open Quicken--hmmm, even more steps. Well, does anyone else see this as a real time saver? We don't. In fact, now that its novelty has worn off on us we hardly ever use the Dashboard environment despite there being lots of really cool widgets available. But, of course, that's just us and YMMV.

4. Customize names of downloaded payees. We suppose this is helpful if you get a consistent set of nonsense names of payees from your bank's or credit cards' transactions and can't remember them. But if you get a lot of new ones with every monthly download, it seems to us that it would be a real chore to look up who the real payees are and create the translations only to likely be never used again. We usually get a couple here and there, mostly online purchases from web sites, and its not worth our time and effort to track them down and get the name exactly right in the data.

5. More options for scheduled transactions. Well, this is probably good but the literature doesn't say exactly what the new ones are nor are we currently confronted with limitations we can't live with.

So, we'll pass on the upgrade, at least for now. Since we now use TurboTax again instead of TaxCut, around tax time Intuit usually has a special for TurboTax that gets you Quicken for free or very close to it. We'll wait and re-evaluate our position then.

However, if you need a consumer to small business level financial management application, by all means look at Quicken 2007. We highly recommend Quicken. [Bill Fox]

[8/8] Leopard's iChat Theater Duplicates Script Software's iChatFX

iChatFX is a terrific utility that greatly expands the capability of iChat. According to Script Software,

Effects like bluescreen (which is capable of showing any movie, tv, video, or animation in the background of a video chat), twirl, comic book, alien, interrogation, pencil, vortex, dent, bump, bodyart, facepaint, fisheye, waking life, bubbles, mercury, on fire, ogre, sepia, sobel, xray, and many more, are included and any kind of special video effect can be created. Anything is now possible in iChat.

Sounds pretty similar to what Steve Jobs described yesterday as iChat Theater with Photo Booth. Of course, iChat Theater also will allow Keynote presentations and iPhoto slide shows over iChat as well.

Still, Script Software is very sanguine about the development that won't see daylight for another 6-9 month. Their response is:

Is it another case of Watson/Sherlock or Konfabulator/Dashboard or Windows/Mac?

Naw, we don’t think so. These aren't the days of Doug Engelbart inventing the mouse and desktop metaphors totally on his own. We are all connected by the net, articles, journals, sample code, and chat. Lots of brilliant minds all exchanging concepts. Like the independent creation of similar songs at the same time it is often hard to say where an idea originated. We are all connected, we stand on each others shoulders. In our case we had a leg up in creating what we did through the use of numerous Apple technologies that we put together in a creative way. ChatFX relies on Quartz Composer which is brilliant and created by Pierre-Olivier Latour, Apple gives it out free to developers. Also iChat was necessary and is free from Apple and part of the OS. We may have inspired Apple but Apple definitely inspired us.

Leopard from Apple is a good thing. We are Mac developers. We think the development and advancement of iChat and OS X is great for developers and users. We hope this note will clarify things from our point of view.

Leopard is not available till sometime next year but people can get ChatFX and use it right now. Apple’s future iChat Theatre will only work in iChat but we are working on making ChatFX work in Skype, Yahoo Messenger and any video app for more versatility then iChat Theatre which only works in iChat. More is coming, some things we can’t mention yet. Download and try it here: ChatFX

Apple’s attention on this area verifies and validates the usefulness of ChatFX to the future of video conferencing. We thank Apple and all the developers who are pushing back the frontier of knowledge in the area of telepresence.

As they wrote, iChatFX is available today. Check it out. [Bill Fox]

[8/8] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple Mac OS X Server Admin Tools 10.4.7

Apple released Mac OS X Server Admin Tools 10.4.7 for Mac OS X Server and Client. The Server Admin Tools can be installed on and used from server or another Mac to get information on or control a Mac OS X Server. The update is available from this Apple Web page.

We downloaded and installed the update on our Mac OS X Server 10.4.7 installation. Apparently, the only tool updated was the Server Administration tool that went from v10.4.4 to 10.4.7. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

[8/8] Apple Reduced the Prices of its Cinema Displays by $100-500

We missed a tidbit of good news in yesterday's Apple press release on the Mac Pro. Apple also reduced the prices of its Cinema Displays. The 30" Cinema display dropped to a very reasonable $1999 from $2499, the 23" Cinema dropped to $999 from $1299 and the 20" Cinema dropped to $699 from $799. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

[8/8] Apple Released QuickTime Video of Steve Jobs' WWDC 2006 Keynote Address

Here is Steve Jobs WWDC 2006 keynote address as a QuickTime movie. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[8/8] TidBits Electronic Publishing Released Take Control of Syncing in Tiger

Take Control of Syncing in Tiger by long-time Mac expert Michael E. Cohen provides help synchronizing data between Macs, and with devices such as cell phones, Palm OS handhelds, and iPods. Readers will find a detailed explanation of how syncing works in Mac OS X, along with practical advice on how to best set up, configure, and use synchronization software from Apple and other Macintosh developers.

The ebook helps readers with tasks like syncing phone numbers between a Mac and a mobile phone, iPod, or PDA; syncing files between desktop and laptop Macs; and syncing Safari bookmarks, keychains, and other data via .Mac. The ebook covers what hardware and software readers need to move data between devices; explains how to connect devices via Bluetooth, USB, FireWire, and Ethernet; and offers the best strategies for successful syncing. Finally, a troubleshooting section offers reassurance and practical advice for anyone who has experienced a syncing feeling upon realizing that the wrong data was overwritten.

The 135-page PDF format Take Control of Syncing in Tiger, available for $10 since August 3, 2006, is the first full-length publication to look in depth at syncing on the Macintosh, covering everything from iSync to the kitchen sync. [Bill Fox]

[8/7] Apple's WWDC 2006 Keynote Announcements--3GHz Mac Pro Quad, Intel-based Xserve and Leopard

The Intel transition is over with today's announcement of the Mac Pro, the replacement for the Power Mac, and the Intel-based Xserve. It took only 210 days for the transition, far faster than originally planned.

The Mac Pro (all images courtesy of Apple Computer, Inc.) uses the same case as the Power Mac G5, except for two optical drive slots. It runs on the top-end "Woodcrest" Core 2 Duo Intel CPU at clock speeds of up to 3GHz--finally. The Mac Pro is up to two times faster than the Power Mac G5 that it replaces.

All Mac Pros have two dual core CPUs so even the Mac Pro base configuration is a quad with two 2.6GHz CPUs, 1GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce 7300GT graphics with 256MB VRAM, 250MB hard drive and a 16x SuperDrive for $2499. A similarly configured Dell goes for $1000 more, according to Apple's Phil Schiller who demoed the Mac Pro.

The inside of the Mac Pro case has been re-designed because less cooling is needed. Apple has designed the Mac Pro with four hard drive bays. The hard drives "snap in" without the use of cables. The Mac Pro has three PCI Express slots and a double-width PCI Express graphics slot.

There are nearly 5 million build to order combinations as Apple drops its three-level standard configurations. A Mac Pro with two 2GHz CPUs is $300 less and the top-end configuration with two 3GHz dual core CPUs is $800 more. Up to three additional Nvidia GeForce 7300GT graphics cards with 256MB VRAM can be added for $150 each. An ATI Radeon X1900 or Nvidia FX4500 graphics card can be added for $350 and $1,650 respectively. A second SuperDrive can be added for $100. Bluetooth and AirPort Extreme can be added for $79.

The base 2.6GHz Mac Pro is shipping today (1-3 business days) with most BTO's, including the 3GHz CPU, showing 3-5 business days so get your orders in now! However, a BTO with ATI Radeon X1900 graphics is showing 3-5 weeks for shipping.

The new Xserve server runs on two dual core 2.6GHz CPUs and retails for $2999. The Xserve will ship in October.

Some features of Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" were announced and demoed. Some secret new features are being kept secret from Microsoft to save them from Microsoft's copy machine.

  • Leopard will be 64-bit in the Carbon and Cocoa layers so applications can run 64-bit all the way to the user interface rather than just 32-bit.
  • Front Row, Apple's Home Media application, will become a standard application with Leopard.
  • "Time Machine" is an automatic backup system that keeps everything backed up immediately. If your hard drive fails, just replace it and it will be restored to the place where the old one failed automatically. It also allows one to restore selectively to earlier versions of software if the lastest update causes a problem.
  • "Spaces" is a means to select of set of applications and associate them in a "space" and move rapidly among them.
  • Spotlight will be able to search computers on a network and use Boolean expressions and file types for more accurate searches.
  • "Core Animation" allows developers to create animation at the core OS level in layers using text, images, video or OpenGL.
  • "Universal Access" with be improved with support for Braille and closed-captioning in QuickTime. VoiceOver is being improved.
  • Mail will get new features like stationary (HTML templates) and To-Do lists, a system-wide service available to any Cocoa native application.
  • Dashboard and its Widgets will be improved. Web Clip is a new tool that allows a user to capture any part of a Web page into a Widget and display real-time content.
  • iChat will get the capability to use Photo Booth and show presentations from iPhoto or Keynote while video conferencing via iChat Theater. Backdrops will provide video "blue screening" so that the background can show anything the user desires.
  • Leopard will also include substantially improved parental controls.

Xcode 3.0's current development build along with the current build of Leopard was made available to developers attending WWDC 2006. The target for the release of Leopard and Xcode 3.0 is Spring 2007.

There was no announcement of upgraded MacBook Pros as we had expected.

WWDC 2006 has over 4200 attendees--a record. This is up from over 3800 attendees at WWDC 2005 despite the lack of a strong Web advertising campaign as in previous years. Readers may remember our splash screen ad last year as we vied for click-throughs to win new Apple products. We received more than a few complaints about the ad but we ended up fourth best, way ahead of many popular Mac Web sites with much higher traffic. [Bill Fox]

[8/7] Steve Jobs Headlines Keynote Address and Leopard Preview Today at WWDC 2006--Our View

This morning, Pacific time, Steve Jobs will take the stage at San Francisco's Moscone Center West and deliver the keynote address to Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference 2006. He will provide a preview of Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard"--that much we know but what else will be divulged?

Now that Intel has released its second generation 64-bit Core 2 Duo line of CPUs, we expect that Steve Jobs will announce the Power Mac replacement, probably called the "Mac Pro" running the top-end Core 2 Duo CPU, possibly two of them, called "Woodcrest." We also believe that Apple will keep its Pro equipment at the cutting edge so we expect that the MacBook Pro will get the upgraded notebook version of the Core 2 Duo CPU called "Merom."

It will be interesting to see if Apple follows the same strategy with its consumer line, i.e. the iMac, MacBook and Mac mini. It would seem that finances might dictate that they stay a step behind the pro line. There is room to boost their speeds with Core Duo CPUs without them jumping to the Core 2 Duo CPUs right now. And in 6 months or so, Intel will release another set of CPUs that will best the just-released Core 2 Duo line with quad cores.

We'll post the news as it is released today. [Bill Fox]

[8/7] Apple Posted Advance Aperture Online Seminar--It's Free

Apple released its list of free online seminars for August. There is one new seminar and one was dropped.

Seminar added:

Aperture Advanced--Join Apple Product Manager Martin Gisborne for an in-depth look at the first all-in-one post-production tool for photographers. This 28-minute QuickTime presentation is packed with demonstrations of key Aperture features designed with advanced photographers in mind.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Advanced photo management
  • RAW adjustment controls
  • Keywords and metadata
  • On-screen proofing
  • Color-managed printing

Seminar dropped:

Desktop Management Made Easy with Apple Remote Desktop 2

All online seminars can be located from this Apple Web page. Apple's free online seminars 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. Topics cover solutions using Apple and partner products and technologies. [Bill Fox]

[8/7] Monday Humor--Checking In at the Old Longhorn Saloon

Cartoon by Jean-Paul Buquet

[8/7] Seagate Momentus 160GB SATA 2.5" Drive Available from Trans International

Trans International is now shipping the 160GB Seagate Momentus 2.5" SATA drive as internal and external storage solution for the MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacMini Core Duo & Solo. The Seagate Momentus hard drive is a perfect combination of value and performance. It features high shock tolerance, low power consumption and whisper-quiet load/unload acoustics. The Seagate Momentus 2.5-inch 160GB SATA drive runs at 5400RPM and has 8MB cache and a 5-year warranty.

Trans International is offering Seagate Momentus internal SATA 160GB drive for $269.00 and the external storage solution with miniXpress enclosure is also available for an additional $99.00 This affordable storage solution is ideal for upgrading MacBooks, MacBooks Pro and MacMinis as well as other computers and devices that use 2.5 inch, SATA hard drives. [Bill Fox]

[8/7] Handy Tool--Merriam-Webster Dictionary Lookup Tool for Firefox

Would you like to be able to instantly look up words in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as you surf the net using the Firefox Web browser? If so, this is where to look. The lookup button is easy to install and use. [Dana Baggett]

[8/7] USB "Thumb" Drives Get Smaller--Sony Released Micro Vault Tiny USB Flash Drives

Sony Micro Vault Tiny USB Flash Drives come in capacities of 256MB, 512MB, 1GB and 2GB and are about 1/2" by 1" by 1/16" thick. A 4GB model is due out soon. They use USB 2.0 and are backward compatible to USB 1.1 and have a compression application to hold more data. They range in price from $25 for 256MB to $100 for the 2GB model, shipping included, with a $5-10 price drop until August 17. Check them out on this Sony Web page. [Dana Baggett]

[8/7] Peachpit Published Designer's Guide to Mac OS X Tiger

Designer's Guide to Mac OS X Tiger by Jeff Gamet (Peachpit, ISBN: 0-321-41246-X, $29.99) is especially geared toward designers who've become comfortable working under Mac OS X and are ready now to make the Tiger transition. Designer and prepress pro Jeff Gamet focuses on the Mac OS X Tiger features that matter most to illustrators, designers, and other graphic professionals. He explains not only how things work in Mac OS X Tiger, but how Tiger enables users to work efficiently and effectively. [Bill Fox]

[8/7] O'Reilly Published Photoshop Workflow Setups: Eddie Tapp on Digital Photography

In Photoshop Workflow Setups (O'Reilly, US $29.99), Eddie Tapp shows why nothing is more critical than setting up an efficient Photoshop workspace, optimized for the way you work as a photographer. The book is the first volume in the Experts' Studio "Eddie Tap on Digital Photography" series from O'Reilly. It lays out a step-by-step approach to creating an uncluttered and efficient workspace in the midst of Photoshop's vast collection of menus, palettes, and tools. An award-winning photographer and Photoshop Hall of Fame nominee, Tapp is acknowledged as one of the premier trainers of digital imaging in the world, a highly sought-after expert who educates many corporations, studios, and agencies. [Bill Fox]

[8/7] Launched by Freeverse, the Mac Game House, and Amy Torres is the first casual game site devoted entirely to Mac users. According to MacFun, the site was created to provide a community where Mac gamers worldwide can find high-quality, highly entertaining, and highly addictive games for their Macs, all in one place. Offering an impressive range of family-friendly puzzle, strategy, word, arcade, and card games, offers downloadable fun for every taste, with an eye toward emerging Mac games.

As the name implies, is focused solely on the needs and interests of Mac users of every age and skill level. Offering the best casual games from the top developers, MacFun will be the destination of choice for quick, clever and affordable entertainment. Dozens of the best casual Mac games are available today on, with plans for a regular stream of new games to be added. In the coming weeks, will also be introducing community-building features.

MacFun is the brainchild of Freeverse, Inc., a New York City–based developer and publisher of Macintosh entertainment software since 1994, and Amy Torres, an Austin, Texas–based veteran of the Mac gaming industry.

"Our goal is to build MacFun into a great resource for the entire Mac community," says Amy Torres, editor-in-chief of MacFun. "Most other sites treat Mac users as an afterthought, if they consider them at all. But finally there is a place where they can trust that every game works on the Mac, where Safari is the browser of choice, and where the support staff--editor, webmaster, and everyone else--are all Mac users themselves."

In addition, MacFun is providing Mac development services for third-party and original casual games, a unique Mac-specific DRM solution for license, and distribution opportunities for independent developers. [Bill Fox]

[8/4] Apple Revised the Offerings from Three Hot Deals Retailers

PowerMax has deals on a wide variety Mac compatible hardware and software products including: Griffin EarJams - washable earbud attachments for your iPod for only $9.99!; get beautiful photos and documents right at home with the Canon PIXMA IP1600 photo printer for only $54.88!; get Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0 free w/purchase of the Adesso 12"x9" Graphics Tablet (w/wireless scroll mouse and pressure sensitive pen) for only $157.88!; Quickbooks Pro 2006 for only $182.00!; don't get caught without a backup plan - get the 500GB LaCie Big Disk Extreme external hard drive w/FireWire 400/800/USB 2.0 for only $268.88!; get a great little digital projector at a really nice price with the Hewlett Packard VP6310 SVGA 1600 Lumens projector for only $779.88; and much more.

Publishing Perfection has deals on a wide variety Mac compatible hardware and software products including: the Cruzer Micro 2GB USB Flash Drive new from SanDisk for only $85.95; get 14 more phenomenal effects for Web desiginers in Xenofex 2 from Alien Skin for only $128.95; get the Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Pro upgrade for only $134.95!; get power and speed with the Epson Stylus Photo R800 w/FireWire and USB 2.0 connectivity for only $399.95 - and it prints directly on CD/DVD's!; get live viewing with the Olympus EVOLT E-330 7.5-megapixel digital SLR for only $1099.95!; digitize your 35mm film with he ArtixScan 400TF 35mm film scanner from Microtek for only $699.95!; and much more.

Ramjet has Hot Deals exclusive prices on a wide variety Mac compatible RAM upgrades including: give your new MacBook Pro room to work with a 2GB RAM upgrade (2x 1GB RAM modules) for only $244.00!; give that PowerMac G4 DDR (Mirror Drive Door) new life by adding another 1GB (2x 512MB RAM modules) of memory for only $104.00!; 512MB DIMM for the iBook G4 for only $63.00; take your iMac G5 w/iSight to the max with 2GB RAM module for only $237.00!; upgrade your original iMac G5 with a 2GB (2x 1GB modules) RAM upgrade kit for only $234.00!; and much more.

[Bill Fox]

[8/4] Hands-On Review--TechTool Pro 4.5.1 (Universal) DVD

We just received our paid for TechTool Pro 4.5.1 (Upgrade $25. + $7.50 shipping/handling) which is on a DVD, a first for MicroMat (MM). The company says the DVD format was needed to accommodate dual booting of Macs with Intel as well as Power PC chips. This version of TechTool Pro is the first release that is compatible with the Intel Macs. The company notes that it is not just a port of the prior PPC version.

Unlike most application software, more than a simple re-compile of the program was required to support the new Intel-based Macs. Because TechTool Pro 4 works with the computer hardware at the lowest levels, it was necessary for Micromat to completely re-engineer the software from the ground up. In order to support the new models, Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) is required to run the program.

The DVD identifies the Tiger boot versions as 10.4.5 for Intel Macs and 10.4.4 for Power PC Macs.

We used the beta versions of TTP 4.5.1 on our 20" Dual Core Intel iMac without problems and we were interested to see whether the final release was any different. It is at least in size. As installed, TTP 4.5.1 is 58.7 MB. The Beta 2 version was 54 MB. We popped the DVD into our iMac SuperDrive and installed TTP 4.5.1 without incident. Unlike the beta versions which were only available as downloads, the DVD enabled us to install the unique eDrive by booting from it. That process is transparent. The DVD detects the presence of the Intel chip and boots accordingly. Although the DVD label advises patience in the boot process with a possible five minutes needed, it booted normally for us. After booting back into the internal hard drive we repaired permissions without incident.

Now we were ready to try out TTP 4.5.1. MM has over the years repeatedly advised against using any boot media other than a hard drive - internal or external - to run TTP for directory maintenance and volume optimization routines. We reprint the latest (updated Friday, 24 March 2006) advice below as posted on this MM Web page:

We do not recommend that you boot from the TechTool Pro 4 CD to optimize. Mac OS X is designed to be run from a read/write volume (i.e. a hard drive) for proper memory management. When booted from the CD there is no swap space for Mac OS X's virtual memory. In that case, if Mac OS X gets low on memory, the computer will run more slowly. If it runs out of physical memory, it will crash. Any unexpected quit during optimization could potentially cause serious volume corruption and data loss. (This is the reason we always recommend having current backups before optimizing. You never know when something might go wrong--a power failure, bad block, etc.). Since there is no way to know in advance how much memory will be required during optimization, it is best to be safe and only run optimization from a hard drive. We highly recommend creating an eDrive for this purpose. You can then boot the computer and run TechTool Pro 4 from the eDrive to optimize (or repair) your normal startup hard drive volume.

When we ran the TTP 4.5.1 beta applications, we booted from an external hard drive so as to safely perform directory maintenance and volume optimization. This time we used the eDrive. There is no obvious difference to the user between the beta versions and the TTP 4.5.1 release. We ran the Intermediate Suite of tests, which includes everything except a scan of our hard drive. Everything passed with flying colors, in this case green. We ran the directory maintenance routine and found that only benign changes were needed. Then we ran volume optimization. Since we'd performed this procedure with the Beta 2 version on July 10, as previously reported, and eliminated over 2000 frags, there were fewer to resolve this time around--1206 to be exact. That procedure went without a hitch. We quit the application which initiates an automatic reboot into the internal hard drive. Done.

About the only significant difference in the performance of TTP 4.5.1 over our experience with prior editions of the application going back years is its speed. This version is F-A-S-T. We completed all tests and procedures in under an hour! Our test run of the same routines using the Beta 2 edition took about twice as long. But, some variables are different. The Beta 2 had to resolve twice as many frags on our hard drive. And of necessity, we ran the Beta 2 optimization routine on the iMac from an external FW hard drive which is slower than the iMac internal drive. Nonetheless, this version seems peppy.

Overall, we welcome the availability of TTP 4.5.1 as a Universal disk maintenance and repair utility for Intel (and Power PC) Macs. It worked well for us. [Dana Baggett]

[8/4] Brief Hands-On Report--Mozilla Firefox (Universal) and Sea Monkey 1.0.4 (Universal)

Mozilla updated its stand-alone Web browser, Firefox, and Web suite, Sea Monkey.


  • Fixed an issue with playing Windows Media content

Sea Monkey 1.0.4 --

  • A bug introduced in SeaMonkey 1.0.3, which caused problems with plug-ins has been fixed (Bug 346167)

We downloaded and installed both updates without a problem. We have been using both for awhile now with noting any issues. [Dana Baggett and Bill Fox]

[8/4] Opera 9.0.1 (Universal) is Out

Opera 9.0.1 Web browser has been released and is available for download via There are many revisions to Opera in 9.0.1 so see the Web page for a list. Opera is and excellent Web browser and it is free. [Dana Baggett]

[8/4] Seiko Announced New Smart Label Printer 440 with Universal Software

Seiko Instruments USA is expanding its flagship line with a new model, the SLP 440, a small footprint, affordable Smart Label Printer (SLP) offering simple set-up, 300 dpi high resolution thermal printing, 2D barcoding and enhanced networking and graphics capabilities for office use or integration with vertical market applications. The SLP 440 sports new software, engineered using Mac Universal binaries that allow it to run natively on both Power PC and Intel-based Macintosh systems.

2D barcoding software is supported in the new SLP 440. The barcode feature is particularly useful in medical, education and government environments because it allows users to generate labels quickly for applications such as inventory control, shipping, or marking confidential records or patient history.

The SLP 440 is available this month at an estimated street price (ESP) of $159. [Bill Fox]

[8/4] OpenGL 2.1 Specification Approved

The OpenGL 2.1 Specification has been approved by the OpenGL ARB (Architecture Review Board) and publicly released on Wednesday. Originally introduced in 1992, OpenGL is the industry's most widely used and supported cross-platform 3D and 2D graphics API. OpenGL 2.1 adds backwards compatible enhancements to OpenGL's advanced programmable pipeline including: Pixel Buffer Objects for fast texture and pixel copies between frame buffer and buffer objects in GPU memory; texture images specified in standard sRGB color space for enhanced application color management flexibility; and numerous additions to increase the flexibility of shader programming including non-square matrix support, support for arrays as first-class objects, a fragment position query in shaders using Point Sprites and an invariant attribute for variables to enhance shader code reliability. The OpenGL 2.1 specification may be downloaded at from this Web page.

OpenGL 2.1 maintains OpenGL's consistent backwards compatibility to ensure that any application that has been coded to use any previous version of OpenGL will continue to run on an OpenGL 2.1 implementation. The OpenGL ARB is also developing an OpenGL 2.1 SDK complete with reference documentation, sample code, tutorials, tools and utilities for release in 2006.

Apple supports OpenGL in Mac OS X and most Mac games use this technology. [Bill Fox]

[8/2] Brief Hands-On Report--Installing Mac OS X Security Update 2006-004

Apple released Security Update 2006-004 for Mac OS X 10.4.7 and 10.3.9, client and server editions, for PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs. The update is available via the Software Update application or as a stand-alone file (except 10.4.7 Server for some unknown reason) from this Apple Web page.

According to Apple,

Security Update 2006-004 is recommended for all users and improves the security of the following components.

AFP Server

Here are the details:

AFP Server--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-1472--Impact: When file sharing is enabled, file and folder items may be disclosed to unauthorized users

AFP Server--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-1473--Impact: When file sharing is enabled, authenticated users may cause a crash or arbitrary code execution. Credit to Dino Dai Zovi of Matasano Security for reporting this issue.

AFP Server--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3495--Impact: When file sharing is enabled, authenticated local users may be able to access files or folders of other users through AFP

AFP Server--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3496--Impact: When file sharing is enabled, a maliciously-crafted AFP request may cause the AFP server to crash

AppKit, ImageIO--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3459, CVE-2006-3461, CVE-2006-3462,CVE-2006-3465--Impact: Viewing a maliciously-crafted TIFF image may lead to an application crash or arbitrary code execution. Credit to Tavis Ormandy, Google Security Team for reporting this issue.

Bluetooth Setup Assistant--Impact: Passkey length increased for Bluetooth pairing

Bom--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3497--Impact: Opening a maliciously-crafted archive may lead to an application crash or arbitrary code execution. Credit to Tom Ferris of for reporting this issue.

DHCP--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3498--Impact: When bootpd is enabled, a maliciously-crafted BOOTP request may cause arbitrary code execution

dyld--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3499--Impact: Malicious local users may influence dynamic linker output with undesirable consequences. Credit to Neil Archibald of Suresec LTD for reporting this issue.

dyld--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3500--Impact: Malicious local users may influence the loading of dynamic libraries in order to gain elevated privileges. Credit to Neil Archibald of Suresec LTD for reporting this issue.

fetchmail--CVE-ID: CVE-2005-2335, CVE-2005-3088, CVE-2005-4348, CVE-2006-0321--Impact: Multiple issues in the fetchmail utility may lead to denial of service or arbitrary code execution.

gunzip--CVE-ID: CVE-2005-0988--Impact: Malicious local users may be able to modify permissions of files owned by another user when the command line tool gunzip is run

gunzip--CVE-ID: CVE-2005-1228--Impact: Decompressing maliciously-crafted files with "gunzip -N" may lead to arbitrary file replacement or creation

Image RAW--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-0392--Impact: Viewing a maliciously-crafted Canon RAW image may lead to an application crash or arbitrary code execution

ImageIO--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3501--Impact: Viewing a maliciously-crafted Radiance image may lead to an application crash or arbitrary code execution

ImageIO--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3502--Impact: Viewing a maliciously-crafted GIF image may lead to an application crash or arbitrary code execution

ImageIO--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3503--Impact: Viewing a maliciously-crafted GIF image may lead to an application crash or arbitrary code execution. Credit to Tom Ferris of for reporting this issue.

LaunchServices--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3504--Impact: Visiting a malicious web site could cause JavaScript to execute in the local domain

OpenSSH--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-0393--Impact: When remote login is enabled, remote attackers may cause a denial of service or determine whether an account exists. Credit to Rob Middleton of the Centenary Institute
(Sydney, Australia) for reporting this issue.

telnet--CVE-ID: CVE-2005-0488--Impact: When the command line tool telnet is used to connect to a malicious TELNET server, environmental variables may be disclosed. Credit to Gael Delalleau and iDEFENSE for reporting this issue.

WebKit--CVE-ID: CVE-2006-3505--Impact: Visiting a malicious web site may lead to arbitrary code execution. Credit to Jesse Ruderman of Mozilla Corporation for reporting this issue.

We downloaded Security Update 2006-004 via Software Update and installed it on Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs: MacBook Pro, Mac mini, iMac Core Duo, PowerBook G4, Power Mac G4 Cube and iMac G5, all running 10.4.7 and one running 10.4.7 Server. We did not repair permissions in most cases and did not disconnect FireWire or USB devices. We encountered no problems in several hours of general use on any updated Mac. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[8/2] Aspyr Media Games Update--More Gamerhood Details, Coming Patches

The Gamerhood application will allow a user to purchase and download a game directly to their Macintosh using a standard Internet connection. A wide range of Mac games, from very casual titles to some of Aspyr's AAA titles, will be made available through The Gamerhood.

Over the next few months, Aspyr Media will be releasing more specific information on The Gamerhood's capabilities and a list of the titles, which will be immediately available upon the application's launch. A broad range of features already being implemented in The Gamerhood include:

  • Purchase games and download them online
  • Play games without physical CD/DVD media
  • Check user compatibility by comparing machine's hardware against a game's minimum system requirements before purchase
  • Alert users to current Aspyr projects and new games
  • Allow users to register games online
  • Alert users to game updates and provide installs for updates
  • Provide a user-friendly interface and convenient way to organize personal gaming catalogue
  • Allow parents to restrict game play and online game store material based on ESRB ratings
  • Provide users opportunity to take advantage of special offers

Downloading The Gamerhood will be free to all Mac users and will be available to North American customers only at launch.

Aspyr has been busily working on a large group of patches that should be released by the end of August. These include a Civilization IV Mac patch to address performance and sound issues, a Civ 3 Mac patch that adds Universal support for Intel and several bug fixes, Universal Mac versions of Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, Jedi Knight 2, and Jedi Academy, an update for Tiger Woods 2005 Mac that fixes a conflict with the latest version of QuickTime, and an update for Call of Duty 2 Mac to bring it up to the latest PC version 1.3.

Unfortunately, a universal binary for Call of Duty appears to have been abandoned. We have seen nothing from Aspyr regarding this patch since its initial mention in a monthly Aspyr report. Counter-balancing that is the 1.3 patch for Call of Duty 2, which has easily supplanted Call of Duty as our overall favorite first person shooter. Still, the original Call of Duty has some terrific multi-player maps not reproduced in Call of Duty 2. [Bill Fox]

[8/2] Peachpit Published Real World Aperture by Ben Long

Apple's Aperture is designed around a camera raw-based workflow, so users can import, edit, catalog, organize, retouch, publish, and archive images more effectively and efficiently than ever before. In Real World Aperture (Peachpit, $34.99), best-selling author Ben Long takes Aperture users inside the application to provide an in-depth understanding of its tools. He also offers a slew of tips and workarounds for creating a custom Aperture workflow. Long's coverage of the fundamental theory and practice of working with raw image files will help users master the program's high-end editing features.

In Real World Aperture readers will learn how to:

  • Navigate the Aperture interface
  • Import, organize, compare, and sort your images using metadata, smart
    folders, and stacks
  • Understand and build an image library, including building multiple
    libraries and spanning a single library across multiple drives
  • Implement raw-specific strategies for sharpening, reducing noise,
    improving tone, and making other enhancements and corrections to raw images
  • Understand how to shoot with an eye toward editing raw files in
  • Integrate Adobe Photoshop CS2 into your workflow by defining it as an
    external editor
  • Export and print Web galleries, books, and archives and create a back
    up for your image library

Ben Long is a professional photographer and videographer. He's the author of numerous magazine articles and books, including Getting Started with Camera Raw, and writes a regular photography column for [Bill Fox]

[8/2] Aaland Initiates Adobe Lightroom Adventure 2006 in Iceland

Photographer and author Mikkel Aaland has invited eleven acclaimed photographers to join him in Iceland, where the long midsummer days are suffused in some of the most spectacular light on the planet. From July 28 to August 5, 2006, this intrepid crew--joined by three top Icelandic photographers--is shooting by day and using Adobe Lightroom beta to import, select, develop, and showcase their large volume of digital images each night.

The journey and a sampling of the resulting photographs are chronicled in the Lightroom Adventure blog. And Aaland is capturing the lessons learned in the field for his book on Adobe Lightroom, to be published by O'Reilly Media in early 2007. [Bill Fox]

[8/1] Brief Hands-On Report--Adobe Updated InDesign and InCopy to v4.0.4

The updates were not available via the "Help" menu in the applications at publication time but are available download via this Web page. According to Adobe,

This update for Adobe InDesign CS2 software provides key fixes in the areas of indexing, launch issues, transparency, shortcuts, text and fonts, scripting, inline graphics, InDesign Interchange (INX) files, German hyphenation, XML, library files, performance, QuickTime 7.x support, printing, SING glyphlets, EPS export, text import, and others.

A long list of bug fixes is included in the Read Me file. v4.0.4 is a cumulative updater, carrying all previous fixes except one in v4.0.3 that was problematic for many users:

#1273452--After enlarging the canvas size of an image in Adobe Photoshop, the linked image does not enlarge or scale correctly in Adobe InDesign CS2. The edited file with the new canvas size fills the content frame rather than the graphic frame of the placed image, making the image look smaller rather than larger.

We installed v4.0.4 with no problem. In brief use of InDesign 4.0.4, we found no issues.

InDesign CS2 is still not a Universal Application. [Bill Fox]

[8/1] Apple Launched 15-inch MacBook Pro Battery Exchange Program

Apple initiated a battery exchange program for some batteries that shipped in 15" MacBook Pros from February to May 2006 or were sold as additional batteries during the same time period. Apple stated that some of these batteries do not meet Apple's performance standards and they will be replaced for free in an exchange program.

The batteries in question are Model No. A1175 and their serial numbers end in the characters U7SA, U7SB or U7SC. One may exchange up to three such batteries by filling in the information on this Apple Web page.

We checked the battery in our 2.16GHz 15" MacBook Pro that we ordered in early April. The battery has the same model number as those being replaced but its serial number ends in UADA so it is not part of the exchange program. So far, we have gotten very good performance from our MacBook Pro with it, though not quite as good as we got with our 17" 1.67GHz PowerBook G4. [Bill Fox]

[8/1] ATI Technologies' Graphics Market Share Declined in June Quarter, Intel's and Nvidia's Increased

According to Jon Peddie Research (JPR), the market share of Apple's major supplier of graphics cards, ATI, decreased in the second quarter of 2006. This decline is on the heals of the purchase of ATI by Advanced Micro Devices, Intel's major CPU competitor. Apple's other suppliers, Intel and Nvidia, increased their market share during the same period.

JPR estimated that graphics shipments for the second calendar quarter of 2006 were approximately 71.4 million personal computer graphics devices shipped from major suppliers in Q2'06, a 4.6% decline from the prior quarter and a 16.6% increase over the same period the previous year. The desktop graphics segment saw shipments fall 7.0% from Q1'06 to Q2'06 but shipments grew 11.6% year-over-year. Integrated desktop shipments dropped 7.1% sequentially but increased 14.7% annually. Discrete desktop shipments fell 6.8% on a quarterly basis and grew 7.0% year-over-year.

JPR also estimated that the mobile graphics segment saw quarterly shipments rise 2.2% and grow 31.9% year-over year. IGC shipments drove growth in the mobile market in the second quarter and integrated mobile was the only graphics segment to exhibit sequential growth during the period. Integrated mobile shipments rose 4.2% sequentially and grew 47.1% annually. Discrete mobile shipments fell 3.5% during the quarter and grew just 0.8% compared to the same period the previous year.

JPR estimated that a record 19.6 million mobile graphics devices shipped in Q2'06, 14.7 million of which were integrated chipsets for notebooks. Mobile IGCs claimed share of 75.0% in the mobile graphics market, up from 73.5% share in the prior quarter and up from 67.3% share in the same period a year ago. Intel led the mobile graphics market with 54.9% share, ATI held 31.0% share, and Nvidia followed with 10.9% market share. In the discrete mobile segment, ATI saw shipments decline on a quarterly basis while Nvidia saw shipments increase sequentially. Nvidia grew discrete mobile segment share from 25.0% in Q1'06 to 36.7% in Q2'06. ATI's segment share fell from 74.6% in Q1'06 to 63.1% in Q2'06.

JPR estimated that approximately 51.7 million desktop graphics devices shipped in Q2'06, 32.1 million or 62.1% of which were integrated parts. Overall, Intel claimed 34.8% of the desktop graphics market, ATI held 26.3%, and Nvidia followed with 23.9% market share. In the discrete desktop segment, Nvidia held 51.5% share and ATI claimed 47.9% share during the period.

Intel saw a 1.5% sequential decline in graphics shipments in Q2'06, was the largest supplier of PC graphics devices worldwide, and claimed an increased share of the total graphics market during the quarter. ATI remained the second largest supplier in Q2'06 but with an 8.4% sequential decline in shipments and decreased market share. Nvidia was the third largest supplier in Q2'06, with a 2.0% sequential increase in shipments and increased market share.

The following table lists the ranking and relative market share, based on unit shipments in Q1'06 and Q2'06, of the major graphics suppliers to the personal computer industry.

2006 Market Share (%)
ATI Technologies
VIA Technologies
Silicon Integrated Systems
Matrox Graphics

A complete, detailed report is available for sale from JPR. [Bill Fox]

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