October 2006 News Archive

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

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[10/31] iFixit released Internal Photos of New MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo

iFixit has posted the first internal photos of Apple's Core 2 Duo 'Merom' MacBook Pro, a 15" 2.16GHz model. The 15" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo disassembly is available at this iFixit Web page.

The disassembly features high resolution images of the redesigned logic board and Intel's new Merom CPU chip. Also included are the first photos of Apple's 802.11n protocol draft Wi-Fi board for the MacBook Pro and Apple's new 6x dual-layer 9.7mm SuperDrive.

Fixit Guides for every iPod and Mac laptop are available free from We used their Fixit Guide for the 12" PowerBook G4 to install a new hard drive and found it to be excellent. [Bill Fox]

[10/31] Apple Revised the Offerings from Two Hot Deals Retailers

MacMall - has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: a Hot Deals exclusive instant $30 rebate on SoundStudio 3 from Freeverse for only $49.99!; Olympus SP-510 Ultra Zoom 7.1-megapixel compact digital camera for only $329.99!; two hard drives from Western Digital - 60GB Passport USB 2.0 portable for only $99.99!; and the 400GB My Book Essential USB 2.0 external hard drive for only $214.99!; Microsoft Office 2004 Professional Edition and FileMaker Pro 8.5 productivity bundle for only $699.99!; MacCase Stealth Black Sleeve for the 13" MacBook for only $46.95!; Spyder2Pro the professional's choice for monitor calibration for only $168.99 after mail-in rebate!; Pitstop Professional pre-flight software for only $556.99!; TurboCAD 3D from IMSI for only $205.99!; and much more.

PowerMax - has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Kensington PilotBoard Wireless Desktop for the Mac for only $37.88!; Macally iPod Cassette Tape Adapter for only $9.88!; iHome iH5 Alarm Clock Radio (Black) made for iPod for only $89.88!; Timbuk2 Laptop Messenger bag (Navy/blue) for the 15" MacBook Pro/PowerBook for only $52.88!; iLap laptop stand for the 13" MacBook from Rain Design for only $45.88!; Toast 7 Titanium CD/DVD burning software and more from Roxio for only $82.88 - run natively on the new Intel-based Mac's!; CanoScan LiDE 600F 48-bit USB 2.0 flatbed scanner with film adapter for only $139.88!; 2GB (2x1GB modules) RAM upgrade kit for the Mac Pro from Netlist, Inc. for only $579.00!; and much more.

[Bill Fox]

[10/31] O'Reilly published Practical Color Management

With the assistance of contributing color-management consultant Rick Lucas, author Eddie Tapp ably takes readers from the history and science to setting up a color management-friendly workflow in his new book Practical Color Management (O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-52768-3, 168 pages, $29.99). The 150-page workbook, the second in a five-book series, comes with clearly presented images to illustrate and clarify the concepts.

Readers learn how to:

  • Apply consistent color management theory
  • Establish a color management-friendly workflow
  • Chose color spaces
  • Calibrate and profile hardware

According to O'Reilly, Tapp's easy-to-implement, color-management methods put the fun and simplicity back into digital processing. Frequent MySpace posters, dedicated family vacation bloggers, photojournalists, eBay sellers, graphic artists, conceptual artists, portrait professionals, travel writers, newbies, and enthusiasts will find this book highly useful. [Bill Fox]

[10/31] Divine Fiat released the Compute Theme Set for Keynote

Divine Fiat released Compute, their latest theme set for Apple's Keynote presentation software. Compute consists of three themes, Workstation, iTheme-Black and iTheme-White.

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. Both iTheme-Black and iTheme-White incorporate the sleek, polished look and feel of the iPod and the new MacBooks providing the same professional quality to your presentations.

Workstation, iTheme-Black and iTheme-White can be purchased individually for $19.95 or as part of the Compute collection for $44.85, a $15 savings. [Bill Fox]

[10/31] Nisus provides $20 Halloween Discount on Nisus Writer Express v2.7

From now until November 1 Nisus Writer Express is on sale for the low price of $50.00, $20.00 off the regular price for the downloaded version. Add $10.00 plus shipping for CD versions. A printed manual is available for only $18.00.

Nisus Writer Express 2.7 can be purchased from their special Halloween sale Web page. Remember, this sale ends on November 1. [Bill Fox]

[10/31] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released Boot Camp 1.1.2 Beta

Apple released a new version of Boot Camp, its preview release software for installing Windows XP SP2 on an Intel-based Mac. Apple Boot Camp 1.1.2 beta can be downloaded from this Apple Web page.

According to Apple, v1.1.2 supports the new Core 2 Duo Macs, the Apple USB modem and some trackpad and keyboard enhancements.

We downloaded and installed the new Mac drivers in v1.1.2 of Boot Camp on our Intel-based Mac mini running Windows XP SP2 under Boot Camp. No issues were encountered. [Bill Fox]


[10/30] Apple posted New Articles on Leopard Technologies and Cocoa Accessibility

Leopard Technology Series for Developers: Overview--New technologies in Mac OS X Leopard offer developers amazing opportunities for innovation. This article explains how to get ready for the next big thing.

Adding Accessibility to Custom Views in Cocoa--You've already access enabled your application, now you can read how to access enable a custom control from scratch. This article is the second in a two-part series on enabling accessibility in your Cocoa application.

[Bill Fox]

[10/30] Brief Hands-On Report--Webmail Interface for .Mac Members Updated

If you are a .Mac member, you probably already know that Apple updated the .Mac webmail interface on Friday. The new interface is nearly identical to that of Mac OS X's Mail application. One can choose a 2-pane or 3-pane interface with the latter including a preview pane.

The .Mac webmail one-ups Mail by including the beginning of every message in the subject line space. One can choose "Short" or "Long" message previews--the latter takes up two lines.

The .Mac webmail also contains an Address Book that can be sync'd with Mac OS X's Address Book.

We extensively used .Mac webmail over the weekend and found it to be as easy to use as Apple Mail and very quick on our cable internet connection. When we first used the Address Book we had to choose one of three options:

Reset will remove .Mac Address Book contacts and replace them with contacts in your desktop Address Book. (Your Quick Address and nicknames will be lost.)

Sync will leave your .Mac Address Book data intact and add any new data from your desktop address book. (It will also change your desktop Address Book data to include any .Mac Address Book contact information next time you sync using Sync.)

Turn off syncing will leave your .Mac Address Book data intact, and .Mac Address Book will not be kept up-to-date with the desktop Address Book. Syncing can be turned back on from .Mac Address Book Preferences.

We chose "Sync" and all of our Mac OS X Address Book contacts were added to .Mac webmail's Address Book. Somehow, we ended up with many duplicate entries though. One drawback is the entries can not be sorted by last name unless one also chooses to list entries by last name first. And if one does the latter, a comma is not placed after the last name. A second drawback is that only one email address and phone number is shown, i.e. either the work or home address/number.

Despite a couple of shortcomings, .Mac webmail is much better than it was. [Bill Fox]

[10/30] TidBITS Electronic Publishing posted New "Take Control" eBooks on Digital Cameras and Macs

Take Control of Buying a Digital Camera, now in its third edition, helps readers sort out the latest camera trends and marketing jargon in order to find a camera that matches their budget, needs, and style, whether they want an inexpensive snapshot camera or a professional digital SLR camera system. Written by professional photographer and instructor Larry Chen, the book includes a printable, customizable shopping checklist, specific model suggestions for different types of cameras, 25 color photos illustrating important concepts, and tips for taking better photos.

Adam C. Engst's Take Control of Buying a Mac helps readers decide which Mac is right for their needs and provides carefully researched advice about exactly when to buy, based on historical trends. The ebook, now in its second edition, has been thoroughly updated to cover Apple's new Intel-based Macs and current product line. Also new is a detailed section that explains how to transfer user data - documents, applications, and settings - from an old Mac to a new Mac.

Each book in PDF format is $10. [Bill Fox]

[10/27] Apple released MacBook SMC Firmware Update 1.1 with Unexpected Shutdown Fix

Apple released a MacBook SMC Firmware Update 1.1 and it is available from download from this Apple Web page. The Web page also includes step-by-step instructions.

According to Apple,

The SMC Update improves the MacBook's internal monitoring system and addresses issues with unexpected shutdowns. This update is recommended for all MacBook systems, including those that received warranty repair.

MacBooks running 10.4.6 must update to 10.4.8 before installing the firmware update. Those running 10.4.7 can install the firmware update but it is recommended that they also update to 10.4.8.

[10/27] Apple released DVD Studio Pro 4.1.1

DVD Studio Pro 4.1.1 is available for download from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,

DVD Studio Pro 4.1.1 addresses an issue with disc layout for DDP and CMF images on Intel-based Macintosh computers.

This update is recommended for all users of DVD Studio Pro 4.1 and later.

We do not have DVD Studio Pro so we can not test this update for you. [Bill Fox]

[10/27] Apple's iPod spawns Fashion Accessories--15 New Kenpo Jackets for iPod

The ultimate iPod accessory, Kenpo’s all new styles provide wearers with a warm, secure and stylish way to listen to and change their tunes, beats or tracks using the fully integrated and seamless iPod control panel located on the lower portion of each jacket's sleeve. From snowboarding to a night on the town, wearers can pause, skip tracks and adjust volume, without fumbling with awkward zippers and gloves, or hard to get to pockets, all the while leaving one’s iPod tucked away in the jacket's inner padded pouch. And, the new locking feature prevents the settings from being changed due to accidental bumping.

From earthly browns, cool grays and lustrous blacks to electric green, dazzling winter white and icy blue, Kenpo’s 2006 line-up of iPod enabled jackets come in a vibrant array of colors and new signature styles including: fluffy bubble jackets (some with cozy fur-lined hoods), sleek sprinter’s jackets, show-stopping snowboarding jackets and wind resisting windbreakers. Their cost? $89 to $189. [Bill Fox]

[10/27] Aspyr Game Development Report--Two New Mac Games, Sims 2: Pets and Civ 4: Warlords, Coming in Early November

In the latest game development report, Aspyr Studios noted that it recently wrapped up development of Sims 2 Pets for Mac, the latest Sims 2 expansion. The Mac version of Sims 2 Pets for Mac will ship soon, within a couple weeks of the PC version.

According to, Sims 2: Pets for Mac will ship November 1st.

Work on the Warlords addition to the Civ IV franchise is also being finished up. According to Aspyr, it's a great expansion for what has been their best selling Mac game of 2006, Civilization IV. Warlords adds new scenarios, new civilizations and more to the game. They've also spent the time while working on Warlords to continue to polish the Civ IV Mac base game, and are working on future updates that will add optimizations to Civ IV.

Warlords is expected to ship November 6th--see this Web page.

Both games are available for pre-order at this time. [Bill Fox]

[10/27] System Shootouts Updated for new MacBook Pro Core 2 Duos and More

Charles Gaba wrote us that updated his System Shootouts Web site with the following:

  • $2,000 Laptops (Apple 15” MacBook Pro vs. Dell Inspiron E1505)
  • $2,800 Laptops (Apple 17” MacBook Pro vs. Dell XPS M1710)
  • Complete Apple Laptop Lineup
  • Quarterly Mac/iPod Sales Charts

[Bill Fox]

[10/26] Apple released iPod shuffle Reset Utility 1.0 for Mac and Windows

The iPod shuffle Reset Utility 1.0 for Mac is available for download from this Apple Web page (for Windows here). This Utility is for use on only first generation 512MB and 1GB white "gum pack" iPod shuffles. According to Apple,

The iPod shuffle Reset Utility restores First Generation iPod shuffle. The restore process completely erases all music and data on iPod shuffle and reinstalls software version 1.1.4.

Use the iPod shuffle Reset Utility to fix the following issues:

  • With the iPod shuffle switched on, pressing the Play button will cause amber and green LEDs to flash for a few seconds, and the unit will not play any music, nor can you sync music to it from iTunes.
  • On a Windows PC, iPod shuffle will appear in My Computer as a "Removable Disk," however the iPod shuffle volume will not mount correctly. The unit is listed in Device Manager under "Disk Drives" as "Apple iPod USB Device."
  • On a Mac, the unit will only be recognized in Apple System Profiler under Hardware -> USB and will not appear or mount in the Finder.
  • When attempting to restore, the unit may not be recognized at all. However, if it is recognized, the restore may fail with an error dialog "Firmware update failure. Disk write error" or another error. It may take 3 restore attempts before the error appears. Note: iPod shuffle may take several minutes to be recognized.

More details on the Utility are available from this Apple Web page.

We do not have any of these issues with our original 512MB iPod shuffle that we use every day so we have not applied the Utility. [Bill Fox]

[10/26] Apple released Final Cut Express 3.5.1 Update

The update is available for download from this Apple Web page. Its curt description is:

Final Cut Express HD 3.5.1 addresses compatibility on specific hardware.

We don't have v3.5 of Final Cut Express so we can't test this update for you. [Bill Fox]

[10/26] Two Security Flaws Claimed in Firefox 2.0 Disputed by Mozilla

Firefox 2.0 was released late Tuesday and already those combing the release for security holes have claimed two. However, in a CNet article Mozilla spokesperson Winslow Snyder disputed the claims but expressed satisfaction that the latest open source Web browser from Mozilla is getting a good going over by security experts. Snyder stated that the first claim was fixed in Firefox 2.0 but that a related issue causes a crash. Mozilla is looking at the crash to ensure it causes no security exposure. The second claim is not backed up with enough information to determine its validity. More... [Dana Baggett]

[10/26] Inqtana.d Bluetooth Exploit for Mac OS X--Proof of Concept revealed by Intego

According to a security memo from Intego,

This proof-of-concept exploit, which has not yet been seen in the wild, is installed on a Mac OS X computer via Bluetooth from a computer or PDA running a Linux system. This can affect Macs running Mac OS X 10.3 and 10.4 that have not been updated with all available security updates or system updates. Bluetooth must be active, but Bluetooth file transfer does not need to be turned on. The attacking computer must be within Bluetooth range, which, by default is 10 m or 30 ft, but can be extended with repeaters and/or antennas.

This exploit is installed from a Linux system, and exploits an rfcomm security hole in Bluetooth software. Unlike previous versions of Inqtana malware, no user interaction is required. It installs a user account (named “bluetooth”), with no password, which grants root access to malicious users logging into this account. This account is available immediately, and the Mac OS X 10.4 computers do not need to be restarted (Macs running OS X 10.3 do need to be restarted).

The exploit installs a number of files on computers it attacks, and the user account it installs contains a backdoor that allows malicious users to log into that account by any network means (Ethernet or AirPort). Once the exploit has been installed, Bluetooth is no longer needed to take advantage of it. Users with updated Mac OS X systems will already have installed a security update that protects against this vulnerability.

Intego claims that its VirusBarrier X and X4 with virus definitions dated October 25, 2006 or later, protect against this exploit. But Intego also points out in its memo that "Users with updated Mac OS X systems will already have installed a security update that protects against this vulnerability." So be sure to apply all Mac OS X security updates issued by Apple. [Bill Fox]

[10/26] WAPi October Meeting this Saturday features detailed Vectorworks 12 Demo

Washington Apple Pi (WAPi), the metro Washington DC AMUG, will hold its October meeting this Saturday at 9 am at the Microsoft Innovation & Technology Center in Reston, VA. Michael Pacylowski, president of Kickpoint Solutions Inc., will present a general overview of VectorWorks 12 in the first portion of the meeting. During the second portion he will give a more detailed technical demonstration of key version 12 features in one of three break-out rooms. This is an opportunity to see the number one selling CAD program on the Macintosh in action. More... [Bill Fox]

[10/26] From the Dark Side: Alienware Claims First 400GB Hard Drive Capacity in Notebooks--Not! MacBook Pro was First

While Apple's latest MacBook Pros announced Tuesday have an optional 200GB, 4200rpm hard drive, Alienware's Wintel notebooks can carry two of them for a total of 400GB of storage according to Wednesday's press release. In this day of massive collections of music, videos and photos, the extra storage capacity will be highly attractive to some. But wait...! You can already get dual hard drives for a MacBook Pro with the OptiBay from MCE Technologies , i.e. provided you can do without an internal optical drive, and 400GB of storage when the 200GB drives become available. So, it appears that the Apple-MCE combo was first.... [Bill Fox]

[10/25] New Core 2 Duo MacBook Pros with other Upgrades Released

Apple announced upgraded 15" and 17" MacBook Pros for the same price points of $1999, $2499 and $2799. The upgraded features include:

  • Core 2 Duo CPUs at 2.16-2.33GHz (vs 2-2.16), 4MB L2 cache (vs 2MB) and processing 32/64 bits (vs just 32 bits)
  • RAM at 1-2GB (vs 512MB-1GB)
  • 6x-8x Double Layer SuperDrives (vs Single Layer in the 15" models)
  • A FireWire 800 port on all models (vs only on the 17" model)
  • Standard hard drives at 120-160GB (vs 80-100GB) with a 200GB option

Everything else from case design and size to weight remain the same. Apple claims that the new Core 2 Duo MacBook Pros run up to 39 percent faster on some applications than the previous Core Duo models.

Apple's press release states that the 15" models are shipping as of yesterday and the 17" models next week. We called our local retail Apple Stores in San Diego to check on availability and they both expect to have the 15" models in stock late this week. The Apple Store online is showing 2-4 business days for shipping. [Bill Fox]

[10/25] Mac OS X 10.4.8 tuned for Intel's Core 2 Duo Processors

Apple's press release on the new Core 2 Duo MacBook Pros contains the following statement:

Apple has enhanced Mac OS® X to take advantage of the technology advances from Intel's Core 2 Duo processors, resulting in increased performance in professional applications like Aperture™ 1.5, Final Cut Pro® 5 and Logic Pro 7.

The new MacBook Pros ship with Mac OS X 10.4.8 but it is unclear if it is the same build as released as Mac OS X 10.4.8 at the end of September or a special build.

Our speed tests of Mac OS X 10.4.8 on our 24" iMac Core 2 Duo, which did not use Aperture 1.5, Final Cut Pro 5 or Logic Pro 7, showed a significant speed up on the Altivec Fractal and Xbench OpenGL graphics tests but no others. [Bill Fox]

[10/25] Apple Released Magsafe Airline Power Adapter for MacBook and MacBook Pro

Finally, road warriors will be able to use the power outlets in some airline seats with their MacBook or MacBook Pro. Apple released the new Magsafe Airline Power Adaptor for $59 along with the new MacBook Pro Core 2 Duos. It has an EmPower connector and 20mm adapter and Apple's Magsafe DC plug. To locate it, enter Magsafe Airline Power Adapter in the Search box on the Apple Store. [Bill Fox]

[10/25] TurboTax Federal + State Deluxe Deduction Maximizer 2006 Win/Mac out Nov. 21

According to, TurboTax for the Mac 2006 will be released on November 21st. Note that the Windows and Mac versions for the 2006 tax year will be packaged together for $44.95 in the deluxe edition with the federal and state returns. If you don't have to file your taxes early, TurboTax is usually discounted or offered with Quicken at a discount later on. In the past it has paid to wait, if one can. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

[10/24] [Updated] Two New Universal Version 2.0's, Firefox and Skype

Firefox 2.0 Final, the Mozilla Project's cross-platform Web browser, should be available today in final form after three release candidates, either via the Check for Updates selection in the Help menu or from Version 2.0 has many new features added since version 1.5.0.x. Here are the release notes for the third release candidate (RC3) of v2.0 that lists all of the new features. The date of RC3 is 10/11/06.

We have been using the release candidates of Firefox 2.0 frequently and have not run into any problems with RC3. Fortunately, an update to our favorite theme, Nautipolis 1.7.0, is also available for Firefox 2.0. We will use Firefox 2.0 Final as our backup Web browser to Safari until Camino, the Mozilla Project Web browser native to Mac OS X, is updated again. Camino currently stands at v1.0.3.

[Update] Here is the official Mozilla Web page for Firefox 2.0 Final. The file is dated 10/11/06, the same as RC3.

Skype is available from Skype or via Version 2.0 adds video capability to its "telephone calling" capability using peer-to-peer technology rather than using a central server. It works among Mac and PCs.

We use Skype a lot for long distance calls but unfortunately we are out of Skype-Out minutes at the moment. Skype is having some difficulty processing our credit card so we have been unable to test v2.0.0.6.

[Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[10/24] Use Nike+iPod Sport Kit with any Shoe--The Shoe Pouch to ship November 1

The Shoe Pouch was designed by Grantwood Technology, LLC, to allow runners and walkers to use the Nike+iPod Sport Kit with shoes other than the Nike+ shoes. The Shoe Pouch attaches through the laces to secure it to the shoe.

"The Shoe Pouch gives me the ability to use any type of shoe with my Nike+iPod Sport Kit®," explained Michael Banks, MD, co-founder and CEO of Grantwood Technology, LLC. "The sensor fits snugly in the Shoe Pouch™ and attaches securely through the laces of my shoe, so there is essentially no worry about losing the sensor, and it retains the full accuracy of the device."

The Shoe Pouch is compatible with any lace up shoe and is priced at $5.99 per unit. It is available from [Bill Fox]

[10/24] Cool Mac Software--PangeaVR 3.0.1 (Universal) is Out

PangeaVR 3.0.1, a free Web browser plug-in from Pangea Software, is out and available via Pangea Software makes some of the coolest Mac 3D games. Version 3.0.1 is a Universal Binary for Mac OS X 10.4.x. Here is what PangeaVR is:

  • Pangea VR is a FREE web browser plug-in for Mac OS X that allows you to view VR panoramas with unprecedented quality and speed.
  • You can view full-screen panoramas at frame rates typically in the 150 to 350 fps range!
  • PangeaVR has no Java memory limitation, therefore, full-resolution panoramas can be viewed.
  • It works with both QuickTime-VR panoramas (cubic) and equirectangular JPEG panoramas (spherical).

We use it. After installing PangeaVR, try the sample Web pages to see how cool it is. [Bill Fox]

[10/24] "See.Thru" Hard Shell for the 15" MacBook Pro

Speck Products is selling a transparent shell made of polycarbonate plastic that snaps on the outside of a 15" MacBook Pro. The 2-piece shell has all the cutouts necessary to access the ports and latch. The "See.Thru" comes in red and clear for $39.95. A hard shell that fits the 13" MacBook will be out soon according to the Speck Products Web site. [Bill Fox]

[10/23] Fairbanks, AK, 6th Graders get Apple 'Books

Sixty sixth graders in Fairbanks, AK, North Pole Middle School just received Apple notebooks to use in class and at home. We don't know if they are iBooks or the newer MacBooks but the 'Books are part of a One-to-One initiative to improve learning. While they can be used at home as well as at school, the Apple 'Books are set to access the internet only through the school system's server to prevent improper use. If successful, the program could be expanded to every classroom in the school system. More... [Dana Baggett]

[10/23] PowerMail 5.5 (Universal) is Out

PowerMail 5.5, an alternative to Apple Mail, is available for download and it updates v5.2.3.

Here are the principal changes:

  • PowerMail is now a Universal application running natively on Intel and PowerPC Macs, working on Mac OS X 10.3.9 and 10.4.x (10.4.8 or greater recommended).
  • Implemented Zip compression/decompression, which replaces the prior requirement to have a 3rd-party product installed in order to stuff files.
  • Applications - as well as other file packages - can now be attached to a message from the "add attachment" button or menu.
  • Copying an e-mail address from an address book contact window could fail.
  • If a message contains an incorrectly encoded attachment (which appears encoded in the message body), the message is no longer indexed, as it could hang the indexer for a bit of time.
  • A crash could occur when scrolling certain HTML messages using the mouse wheel.
  • The connection to a POP server could previously hang in some circumstances, especially with many simultaneous networking threads.
  • An error could occur when importing some PowerMail Exchange files containing garbled attachment names.
  • Changing the character set encoding of a received message being displayed produced unamiable results.
  • Fixed a 5.5b2 bug in the license displayed in the about box.
  • Copying text and pasting it in Tex-Edit Plus did not work correctly on an Intel-based Mac.

Version 5.5 is free for registered owners of PowerMail 5. [Bill Fox]

[10/23] ClipDoubler 1.1 (Universal) is Out

ClipDoubler 1.1 from Northern Softworks is designed as an easy to use application that gives you unlimited clipboards. Double click, and you can have all the clipboards your heart desires. Quit and you're back to one. Simple as that. ClipDoubler supports text, pictures, sounds, movies, and many other resources.

Feature list:

  • Simple and easy to use.
  • Handy shortcuts to copy time, date, ip address to clipboards.
  • Drag and drop to copy file pathnames to the clipboard.
  • Create clippings files and internet shortcuts.
  • Edit the text on the clipboard.
  • Handy shortcuts to process text on the clipboard.
  • Number of clipboards is limited only by available memory.
  • Thumbnail gallery allows simultaneous viewing of all clipboards.
  • Search across all clipboards to find specific data,
  • Clipboard contents can be saved to disk for later reuse.
  • Clipboards can be automatically saved and restored.
  • Support for user defined hot keys.
  • Supports styled text, graphics, movies, sounds, and much more.
  • ClipDoubler is an application and can be opened and quit as needed.
  • Universal Binary for PPC or Intel Macs.
  • Illustrated Documentation.

ClipDoubler is US $8.95 shareware, and is available now from the Northern Softworks Web site. For a limited time, new users may buy ClipDoubler and the award winning Tiger Cache Cleaner together and save eight bucks! Get them both for just $9.90. [Bill Fox]

[10/20] Brief Hands-On Report--Adobe posted Photoshop Lightroom beta 4.1

Adobe just posted Photoshop Lightroom beta 4.1, an update to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom that is undergoing an extensive public preview period.

Photoshop Lightroom beta 4.1 includes the following updates not previously available in Lightroom beta 4:

  • Resolves external editor conflict
  • Corrects export orientation for constrained portrait images
  • Resolves missing image error with large web galleries
  • Provides Photo Binder platform compatibility on optical media

Those with Lightroom beta 4 should have received an in-product notification of the availability of the download as we did. Photoshop Lightroom beta 4.1 is also available for download from this Adobe Labs Web page. Registration or login is required to get the update at 14MB or the update with sample images at 121MB.

We downloaded Photoshop Lightroom beta 4.1 with sample images and worked with it for awhile. If you are not a photographer but use other Adobe products, consider downloading Photoshop Lightroom and checking it out to see how well Adobe's applications run as Unversal applications. [Bill Fox].

[10/20] CNet rated Computers--Macs rated Tops in Three Categories, Second in Two Others

CNET posted computer ratings with a link on the front page entitled "Best desktop PCs we've ever seen." It leads to ratings in five categories, three of which Apple took top honors:

Mainstream PCs - 17" iMac

Media Center - 24" iMac

Business - 17" iMac

In "Budget PCs" the Mac Mini came in second but with a caveat that "... if you want a small, innocuous computer for sending or receiving media or other files between rooms, no other computer offers the deal that Apple has with this one."

In "Performance PCs" the Apple Mac Pro tied for second place with an "Excellent" rating at 8.0, with a Dell costing $1,500 more grading out at 8.1.

Not bad. [Dana Baggett]

[10/20] Apple Revised the Offerings from Three Hot Deals Retailers

CDW Macwarehouse has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Epson PowerLite S3 ultra-bright, ultra-light LCD projector for only $599.99!; Oki C3200n Color LED Printer from Okidata for only $299.99!; Pentax Optio T10 6-megapixel compact digital camera for only $299.99!; Spyder2PRO complete professional monitor calibration system from ColorVision for only $259.00!; Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT Kit w/18-55mm Lens and free 256MB Sandisk Compact Flash (CF) Card for only $999.00; Sony DCR-DVD405 surround sound Handycam Camcorder w/high capacity battery and free Sony case for only $782.99!; SimpleTech 400GB SimpleDrive external USB 2.0 hard drive w/free 512MB USB 2.0 Flash Drive for only $232.99!; and much more.

J&R Computerworld has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Sony ECM-CS10 Tie Clip style omni-directional stereo microphone for only $39.99!; Kensington PilotMouse Laser Wireless Mini USB mouse for only $29.99!; Samsung 940W Widescreen analog/digital LCD Monitor for only $189.99 after $50.00 exclusive J&R rebate!; 2GB Kingston DTI-2GB USB Flash Drive for only $34.99!; Canon Canoscan 8400F Color Flatbed Scanner (w/film guides for negatives, mounted slides and roll film strip) for only $99.99!; Pro Tools M-Powered w/integrated MIDI sequencing and supports many popular interfaces from M-Audio for only $214.99!; Final Draft 7 the word processor for movie, TV scripts & stage plays from Final Draft for only $169.99!; Bluetooth enabled HP Photosmart C3310 Multi-function All-In-One Printer - print, copy, scan, fax - for only $399.99!; JBL Duet Multimedia Stereo Speakers (Aluminum) from Harman Multimedia for only $39.99!; and much more.

Sweetwater Sound has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Mbox 2 Pro Factory 6-in, 8-out 24bit FireWire Audio/MIDI interface with Pro Tools LE and additional plug-ins from Digidesign for only $799.97!; TASCAM US-144 USB Audio Interface w/2 mic preamps, 2 line inputs, MIDI I/O & 24-bit converters for only $199.97!; Pro Tools Clinic book and CD-ROM demystifying LE by Mitch Gallagher from Music Sales for only $24.95!; ReMOTE ZeRO SL keyless USB MIDI control surface that automaps to Reason 3, Cubase SL/SX3, Logic 7 and more from Novation for only $299.99!; Korg Legacy Collection - Digital Edition for only $149.97!; and much more.

[Bill Fox]

[10/19] Apple's Q4 1.61 Million Mac Sales Best Ever, Earnings Blow By Analysts' Estimate by 22 Percent

Following another huge increase in sales from notebooks (MacBook and MacBook Pro), Apple posted a $546 million net profit for the fourth quarter ending September 30 of its 2006 fiscal year, the second highest in Apple's history right behind the 2006 first quarter net profit of $565 million. Earnings per share came in at $0.62 on revenue of $4.84 billion, leaping over the analysts' consensus estimate announced by Thomson First Call of $0.51 by nearly 22 percent. Gross margin was 29.2 percent and cash and short term investments now total $10.1 billion, up from $9.2 billion last quarter.

Compared with last year's fourth quarter, the 2006 Q4 is up 30 percent in net profit, up 32 percent in revenue, up 24 percent in earnings per share and up 4 percent in gross margin. Overall, the fourth quarter was an outstanding result, the second best quarter in Apple's history.

This terrific financial performance was driven largely by increased sales of Apple notebooks, the MacBook and MacBook Pro. Notebook sales were 986,000 out of a record total Mac sales of 1,610,000. The notebook sales were up 56 percent from Q4 2005 and 24 percent from the third quarter this year due largely to Apple's "Back-to-School" Program.

Desktop (iMac, Mac mini, Mac Pro and Xserve) sales at 624,000 were up breaking their recent downward trend, i.e. up 4 percent from the 2005 Q4 and 18 percent from 2006 Q3. Apple executives reported positive acceptance of the new Intel-based Mac Pro that replaced the Power PC-based Power Mac during this past quarter.

iPod sales at 8.7 million were up 35 percent over last year's Q4 up 8 percent from the third quarter.

Sales revenue was up over the 2005 Q4 in all three geographical areas (Americas, Europe and Japan) by 27 to 30 percent up sequentially from last quarter by 5 to 11 percent. But unit sales continued down in Japan even though revenue is up.

The Apple retail stores, now at 165, are doing extremely well. Sales revenue increased 41 percent over the 2005 Q4 and 31 percent over the third quarter. For the first time over 50 percent of their sales are new-to-Mac sales.

With regard to education, that channel saw 49 percent growth in Mac portable sales to make it the best quarter ever for Apple's education channel, according to Apple's executives.

In response to a question about Boot Camp, Apple COO Tim Cook responded by saying that downloads of Boot Camp software are now over 1 million. Apple's Boot Camp allows an Intel-based Mac to boot and run Windows XP.

Apple expects its first 2007 quarter, usually the best quarter in a fiscal year, to yield some $6 to 6.2 billion in revenue and some $0.70-0.73 earnings per share.

"This strong quarter caps an extraordinary year for Apple. Selling more than 39 million iPods and 5.3 million Macs while performing an incredibly complex architecture transition is something we are all very proud of," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Looking forward, 2007 is likely to be one of the most exciting new product years in Apple’s history."

The financial results and projections were revealed in an Apple press release and a webcast conference call. [Bill Fox]

[10/19] Peachpit released Real World Mac Maintenance and Backups

Too few Mac users take the time to make reliable backups and perform regular maintenance on their Mac. Of course, they regret it when something goes wrong. That's where Macintosh expert Joe Kissell can help. In his new book Real World Mac Maintenance and Backups (Peachpit Press, ISBN: 0-321-49218-8, $29.99) you'll learn how to keep your Mac running smoothly with a set of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks, plus get advice on preparing for Mac OS X updates. You'll also find out how to monitor your Mac to detect problems early and where to turn if trouble raises its ugly head.

But the most important aspect of maintenance is a rock-solid backup strategy that protects all your important data in the event of catastrophe. To that end, Joe provides an at-a-glance comparison of different strategies,
explains the pros and cons of each type of media, and helps you pick the best backup program for your needs. You'll find time-tested recommendations that help you set up, test, and maintain your backups, complete with instructions on how to restore after a crash. Important lessons you'll learn along the way include the utility of having both a duplicate and an archive, the necessity of testing backups, and the importance of offsite backups. [Bill Fox]

[10/19] Tonight on the Tech Night Owl LIVE--Wilcox, MacCompanion, Maxsimum News and BareFeats Benchmarks

Tonight host Gene Steinberg explores the prospects for Apple and Microsoft in the near future with Joe Wilcox, a senior industry analyst for Jupiter Research. MacCompanion's Robert Pritchett will be on hand to talk of the future of his online publication, and of Mac publications in general. You'll hear an update on the state of the Mac from Dennis Sellers of Macsimum News, and Rob-ART Morgan of BareFeats will detail the latest benchmarks of new Mac systems.You can tune in the Web broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern.

[10/18] Apple to Release Q4 Financial Report Later Today--Likely to Beat Analysts' Estimates

After the close of the NYSE today, Apple will release the financial report for the fourth quarter (ended September 30th) of its 2006 fiscal year. Apple will also hold an audio webcast conference call with financial analysts to present its Q4 report, including a 2007 Q1 projection, and answer questions. The webcast will occur at 2pm PT (5pm ET) and may be listened to with QuickTime from this Apple Web page.

The consensus analysts' estimate of Apple's 2006 Q4 financial performance provided by Thomson First Call is $0.51 earnings per share (ref.), lower than Apple's remarkable 2006 Q3 results of $0.54 per share. However, it is rare under CEO Steve Jobs that Apple does not beat the analysts' consensus, sometimes very significantly. We expect this to happen again today and will provide a full report subsequently. [Bill Fox]

[10/18] Brief Hands-On Report--Cool Mac Software: FanControl 1.1

Yesterday we highlighted smcFanControl, an application for controlling the minimum speed of fans in some Intel-based Macs: MacBook Pro, MacBook and Mac mini. A number of readers (Maarten Hazewinkel was first) pointed us to FanControl 1.1 as an alternative.

FanControl 1.1 also controls the minimum speed of fans in those same Intel-based Macs but instead of being an application, it is a preference pane that installs system-level code requiring a restart. Another difference is that FanControl does not control the minimum fan speed of two-fanned Macs independently as does smcFanControl. However, FanControl controls the temperature end points for the ramp up in fan speed and shows the relationship in an image. Like smcFanControl, FanControl has a temperature read-out.

We downloaded, installed and tried FanControl 1.1 with our 2.16GHz 15" MacBook Pro, getting results similar to those with smcFanControl at the lower end of the minimum fan speed range. One drawback for those who want to really cool their MacBook Pro is that the highest minimum fan speed setting is 3500rpm versus 6000rpm. This setting resulted in the temperature as measured by CoreDuoTemp being lowered only to the 45-50oC range as compared to the lower 40-44oC range attained by revving the fans up to 6000rpm using smcFanControl. The latter can be accomplished indirectly in FanControl by lowering the maximum temperature end point.

Both work as advertised with no problems. We prefer smcFanControl 1.2 largely because it is an application and not system code but also because we have the option of controlling each fan independently and directly setting them at the desired minimum speed up to the maximum 6000rpm. Don't forget that the use of either software may void your warranty if you have fan problems or fan-related problems. [Bill Fox]

[10/18] Cool Mac Software: Mactracker 4.1b1 (Universal) is Out

Mactracker is an indispensable utility for macophiles. With this release, Mactracker is now available as a Universal Binary so it runs natively on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. Mactracker 4.1b1 is available for download from this Mactracker Web page or by selecting "Check for Updates" within Mactracker.

One of the new features is called "My Mac models" in the Notes section of "This Mac". It allows one to append details about their own models, such as serial number, purchase date, and warranty end date, to an info window. The developer, Ian Page, is specifically looking for feedback on this feature.

Other changes include the addition of Apple's latest hardware updates, model icon previews in the main window, info on whether a Power Mac G5 model uses a built-in or external AirPort antenna, and the current iPod software version.

A complete list of changes, including some known issues with the beta, can be found by choosing "Mactracker Help" from the Help menu.To download visit or select Please note that v Version 4.1 currently requires Mac OS X v10.3.9 or later. [Dana Baggett]

[10/18] Some 5G iPods with Video shipped with Windows Virus

According to this Apple Support Note, less than 1 percent of video iPods shipped after September 12, 2006, shipped with the Windows virus called "RavMon.exe." This Windows virus propagates via mass storage devices like hard drives, digital devices with removable media and flash drives so they should be scanned with Windows anti-virus software to remove the virus. Neither Macs nor iPods are affected. An iPod restored using iTunes 7 on a Mac will be free of the virus and can be used on a Windows PC. [Bill Fox]

[10/17] Brief Hands-On Report--Cool Mac Software: smcFanControl 1.2 for MacBook Pros, MacBooks and Intel-based Mac minis

smcFanControl 1.12 from Hendrik Holtmann of eidac software allows one to set individually the minimum speed for each of two fans in a MacBook Pro, MacBook and Intel-based Mac mini. There is also an auto mode that resets the fans' minimum speeds to one's selection after a restart and a temperature read-out. smcFanControl 1.2 is donationware.

We downloaded and installed smcFanControl 1.2 on our 2.16GHz 15" MacBook Pro. The fans are set at 1000rpm by default and our MacBook Pro is very quiet at this setting but it runs 55-63oC doing general work according to the CoreDuoTemp 1.0 utility.

We raised the minimum speed of Fan #1 to 4000rpm and Fan#2 to 5000rpm. The fans are clearly perceptible but the general working temperature dropped to 43-47oC, some 12-16oC cooler.

Then we tried raising the minimum fan speed of both fans to 6000rpm, the highest allowed by smcFanControl 1.2. This further reduced the CPU temperature reported by the CoreDuoTemp utility to 40-44oC but greatly increased the fan noise.

Version 1.2 has a built-in temperature read-out but it generally provided a temperature 5-10oC higher than CoreDuoTemp.

smcFanControl is still under active development--here is the FAQ. It's version changed from 1.12 to 1.2 while we were preparing this article. But those seeking to lower the temperature of their MacBook Pro, MacBook or Intel-based Mac mini at the expense of fan noise should try this cool Mac software from Hendrik Holtmann (eidac software). If you like it and continue to use it, please remember it is donationware. [Bill Fox]

[10/17] Turn your Car into a Rolling Wi-Fi Hotspot

More people are commuting further and longer in their cars according to a recent report that just hit the news nationwide (e.g. Commuting in America). Well, KVH has developed systems for bringing live TV and the internet to your car. KVH's TracNet 100 Mobile Internet Receiver with MSN TV service brings MSN TV Internet connectivity and services to in-vehicle screens and turns your car into a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot using Verizon's EVDO, the high speed cell phone wireless internet service. The TracNet 100 will set you back a cool $1995 for hardware plus $70-90 per month for MSN TV and the Verizon unlimited internet service for everyone in the car with a notebook in addition the the screen(s) in the car. [Bill Fox]

[10/16] Brief Hands-On Report--Quake 4 v1.3, How Fast is It?

Aspyr Media re-released the v1.3 patch for the Mac version of Quake 4. The new patch (available for download via brings Mac comparability with the Windows multiplayer version and a lot of changes.

According to Aspyr, the new features and fixes are:

New Multiplayer Game Mode - DeadZone

DeadZone is a brand new team-based multiplayer gametype where players fight over a limited number of DeadZone artifacts, then race to maintain control of a central scoring zone designated by a scrolling white border.

New Multiplayer Weapon - Napalm Gun

Propels an incendiary plasma projectile that explodes and spreads on impact. The dispersed plasma causes damage to any that touch it and continues to burn for a short time.

New Multiplayer Maps

Cavernous Cryonics (q4xctf6)--These ice caverns were once home to the Makron, and facilitated the preservation of barely living humans awaiting Stroggification. Now it is a fast-paced proving ground that allows for skilled players to take advantage of the many paths to either team's base. Cavernous Cryonics is designed for small to medium CTF, Arena CTF, and DeadZone matches.

Central Industrial (q4xdm10)--This tall and narrow structure has a central elliptical chamber that runs the height of the building. Those who dare can take up sniping positions along the chamber - but remember, if you can see one opponent, all your opponents can probably see you. DeadZone adds a small platform to the center of the map as its scoring area, but the map can also be played in DM or TDM.

Warforged (q4xdm11)--Built into a Stroggos crater wall, this open three-level structure requires quick reflexes and constant movement. Use the jump pads and teleporters to gain an advantage, and try to avoid falling into a predictable path. Warforged is ideal for larger DM, TDM, and DeadZone battles.

Stroyent Red (q4xdm13)--This abandoned outpost is surrounded by the empty void of space. Be prepared for harrowing chases, and watch your step as the narrow paths and exposed jump pads can lead to certain death. Stroyent Red is best for DM, TDM, and DeadZone matches.

Retrophobopolis (q4xdm14)--This QUAKE(r) classic has been updated and rebuilt for QUAKE 4 multiplayer, but it maintains its claustrophobic corridors and trap filled rooms. There are moving floors, lava pits, and hidden portals all around - if you're not careful, you'll be the next victim. Retrophobopolis is suitable for Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and DeadZone gameplay.

Firewall (q4xdm15)--Red sand and rust set the tone within this former Strogg vehicle construction facility. A multi-level structure, you'll have to look high and low for your enemies - there are tons of ways to get around and plenty of places to hide. DeadZone focuses your efforts on the central platform, but DM and TDM will have you moving through the many paths to stay alive.

Stroggenomenon (q4xtourney1)--A small, tourney focused level, Stroggenomenon funnels you through a series of hallways and passages that will keep you guessing where your opponent is. Steer clear of the dead end if you're being followed, and utilize the jump pad for a quicker path through the arena. This map is ideal for Tourney, DM and TDM matches.

Verticon (q4xtourney2)--Verticon will have you seeking higher ground. The Railgun and armor positions force players to sharpen their vertical combat skills, as these key items leave you exposed and without much room to dodge enemy fire. Verticon is designed for DM and TDM matches but is particularly suited for fast-paced Tourney matches.

Buy Mode

The QUAKE 4 "Buy Mode" is a server option that can be enabled with any gametype and any arena where instead of picking up weapons, ammo or armor placed in the map, all items will need to be purchased with credits.

Fixes & Updates in 1.3

  • Added a single ambient light option. Use r_forceAmbient with a value ranging from 0 to 1.
  • Multiplayer weapon damage and movement values have been adjusted.
  • The player will now respawn based on his/her last combatant's location.
  • Shotgun hit sounds will no longer drop.
  • The game no longer has to be relaunched to access more than 4 netdemos.
  • The wrong icon will no longer appear for certain clients after a team shuffle.
  • Spawn auto-complete in the RCON window will no longer crash.
  • Voting for Team DM and certain maps will no longer load the wrong map.
  • The Apply Changes button in the Options menu has been removed.
  • A crash will no longer occur in Tourney if a finalist disconnects.
  • A player's name will no longer change to that of the player in the demo if a NetDemo is played.
  • Time Limit Hit will no longer be displayed in the wrong circumstances.

We downloaded and installed the v1.3 patch after re-running the benchmarks with the built-in id_demo001 in Quake 4 v1.2. We ran the benchmarks on our 2.16 GHz 15" MacBook Pro and 2.33GHz 24" iMac Core 2 Duo with upgraded Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT graphics. We made the runs according to our standard settings but then we increased the Video Quality to "High" and finally increased the resolution to 1600x1000 because of the excellent graphics capability of the 24" iMac Core 2 Duo.

One of the drawbacks of the v1.3 patch is that one has to exit and re-launch the game after changing some of the video settings like the screen resolution. This was the case with the original release version of Quake 4 for the Mac but v1.2 added an "Apply Changes" button that precluded the need to exit and re-launch.

More importantly, benchmarking is partially broken in v1.3. It doesn't work at all on our MacBook Pro. Trying to run the id_demo001 benchmark gives the error message,

ERROR: Failed to spawn entity with classname 'char_marinehead_helmet_bright_client' of type 'rvClientAFAttachment'

We reinstalled Quake 4 and successively updated it to v1.2 and 1.3 to no avail.

Benchmarking in v1.3 partially works on our 24" iMac Core 2 Duo. The first run produces an error but the second attempt works. The third attempt produces the same error as the first but the fourth also runs like the second and so on in alternation. But this was sufficient to allow us to benchmark v1.3.

Here are the results:

Speed Tests of Quake 4 v1.3 (frames per second)
Quake 4
MacBook Pro
- Standard settings
- High Quality Video
- HQ + 1600x1000
iMac Core 2 Duo
- Standard settings
- High Quality Video
- HQ + 1600x1000
*Average of three runs. nr = Not run due to Quake 4 v1.3 error.

From the iMac speed tests, there is no change in performance with the 1.3 patch. Quake 4 v1.3 runs well in single player mode on both our MacBook Pro and 24" iMac Core 2 Duo. However, we have not been able to connect and play in multiplayer mode. We get various error messages including not having Punkbuster enabled when in fact it is. The 1.3 patch is very disappointing. Hopefully, Aspyr will fix the multiplayer mode and benchmarking in a near-future update to Quake 4.

On the positive side, we are quite pleased with how well our 2.33GHz 24" iMac Core 2 Duo handles Quake 4 at high video quality and the higher 1600x1000 resolution. If you want an excellent game machine from Apple that costs much less than a Mac Pro and provides a terrific 24" display, check out the 24" iMac with upgraded Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT graphics. [Bill Fox]

[10/16] Apple Posted Growing Your Business: Developer Opportunities with the Apple Store

Apple Retail Stores can help qualified developers showcase their applications through Business Workshops. The article covers how two developers, Salon Transcripts and POS•IM, used this program to reach their target markets. [Bill Fox]

[10/16] Apple Posted Mindjet Enhances MindManager 6 Mac: More Than Just Porting an Application

Mindjet created a Mac feature-rich version of their Windows product by designing it as a Mac app from scratch. The article describes how this makes for a much better Mac user experience. [Bill Fox]

[10/13] [Updated] Red iPod nano out Today? Yes, says The Chicago Tribune--It's True!

The Chicago Tribune reported that Apple will introduce a special edition red iPod nano today via Bono on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Below is the Tribune's photo apparently taken during taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show in an Apple Store, showing the red iPod nanos with Bono and Oprah. Apple announced it this morning in this press release.

The red iPod nano is a part of the (PRODUCT)RED initiative helping the fight against AIDS. The (PRODUCT)RED Web site has an event time line for 2006 with the October 13 entry stating "(RED) appears on Oprah Winfrey for US launch." It is the only entry that does not mention a company name or product in keeping with Apple's tight-lipped policy on new product announcements.

The capacity of the red iPod nano is 4GB, its battery life is uo to 24hr and it is selling for $199, like the other colored iPod nanos but with $10 going to (PRODUCT)RED. [Bill Fox]

[10/13] Redux: Microsoft Office for Mac Delay or When is a Delay not a Delay?

In its blog mac mojo, the Microsoft Office for Mac Team responded to a report carried by The Courier Mail that the next (Universal) version of Office for Mac has been delayed 6 to 8 months to the second half of 2007. We commented on the delay. The Microsoft response to reports of the delay is:

Office Delay? Ya Don't Say.

No, seriously, you don't say (or shouldn't), because it isn't true. Over the last few days, some Mac sites have been reporting that the Universal Binary version of Office for Mac (officially unnamed, but currently code-named Office 12) has been delayed, but there is no delay or deviation from our development schedule. We're hitting our milestones, checking in our features, and making the move to Intel as planned. We've totally moved from Code Warrior to Xcode, so we've crested that hill. We usually ship 6 - 8 months after the availability of Office for Windows so we can do compatibility testing. This has been our shipping cycle for ages, and we're right on track. In fact, for Office 12, we've not even officially announced a launch date (but when we do, we should do it here first).

Apparently, the answer is a delay isn't a delay when it is a planned delay. The next Office for Mac (Universal), officially still Office 12, has a planned delay of 6-8 months after the Windows version hits the market so it will come out in the second half of 2007, as reported by The Courier Mail. That is provided, of course, that the Windows version of Office 2007 actually ships early in the first half of 2007. Will the official name of Office 12 be Office 2008 for Mac?

As we stated, we really don't care personally but we shouldn't have been so self-centered. Why? First, the Microsoft Mac Business Unit makes excellent Mac software within the confines that Microsoft dictates to it. And second, there are Mac users who do care, especially if real parity with the Windows version is achieved, i.e. it includes a Mac version of Access and Outlook. [Bill Fox]

[10/13] From the Dark Side--M$'s "iPod Killer" Zune MP3 Player to sell below Cost

In order to compete with Apple's iPod, Microsoft will sell its new Zune MP3 player below cost at $250 a piece to gain a toehold in the market according to a Reuters report. Microsoft is hoping that the additional features of its Zune with a larger 3" screen and wireless file sharing will attract buyers away from the iPod. Reuters states that Microsoft will invest hundreds of millions of dollars for many years to get a stake in the market.

Selling below cost? Well, at least the economic geniuses at Microsoft know they won't make it up on volume. We wonder what the ultimate "final" price will be to recover the marketing losses and to make a profit. And, oh, songs will cost $0.99 each just like from iTunes but there will also be an alternative monthly subscription for $14.99. More... [Dana Baggett]

[10/12] Brief Hands-On Report--Parallels Desktop for Mac Build 1940

Parallels posted Build 1940 of Desktop for Mac, replacing Build 1922 released September 28. Build 1940 can be downloaded from this Parallels Web page.

This build has improved support for Mac Pro memory--up to 16GB, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard."

We downloaded Build 1940 and installed it over the copy of Build 1922 on our 15" 2.16GHz MacBook Pro. Then we launched Parallels Desktop for Mac, opened our Windows XP virtual machine and installed the latest version of Parallel Tools from the VM pull-down menu. We don't have much use for Windows these days so we don't use it much. We updated XP with 7 security updates that have come out in the past two weeks, did some web browsing with Firefox and checked email using Thunderbird. No problems were encountered.

Then we created a new virtual machine and installed Windows Vista RC1. Vista seems to work as well as XP but it does run just a bit slower. The only problem that we encountered is that the caps lock key is reversed from normal, i.e. the light is on when typing small characters and off when typing caps. [Bill Fox]

[10/12] Consumer Reports November Issue Rates Macs--Notebooks Tops Again!

The November 2006 issue of Consumer Reports (CR) just hit our mail box. It's the annual electronics issues and computers are rated - again. Never mind that computers were also in the March, June and September issues. The way desktops are rated changed with this month's issue to conform with the way notebooks were rated in the September issue so the ratings don't compare with the earlier issues.

No matter the changes, Apple's Macs still shine. Here are some highlights.

  • Apple notebooks were rated tops in all three categories - 15.4-inch workhorse, 17-inch workhorse and 12.1 to 12.3-inch slim and light models - in which they were compared with other brands.
  • Apple desktops didn't fare so well, according to CR. But, we think the deck was stacked. The Mac mini was included with PC budget models that have a 160GB hard drive, a DVD burner and stereo speakers. CR footnoted that the Mac mini had a 60GB hard drive, integrated speakers and a CD-RW/DVD combo drive and then downgraded its features, speakers, 3D gaming and expansion. If it didn't meet the basic specs of the competition, why include it? Likewise, the 17" iMac was compared with "workhorse" PCs that all have speakers with subwoofers. CR noted that the iMac had integrated speakers - and then downrated its speaker performance. It also rated the 17" iMac 3D gaming performance "Good" while three PCs were rated "Very good." But, we wonder were they were running the same games? Not likely. CR doesn't say.

We think CR's most valuable ratings are those involving feedback from its readers because of the large data base. Here are the latest.

  • Based on a survey of about 12,300 CR subscribers, Apple hits a home run on tech support, the only brand getting top ratings for desktops and notebooks across the board.
  • In Brand Repair History involving nearly 128,000 computers, Apple's desktops had fewer repairs than seven top PC brands by a significant difference. Apple laptop repair history was typical of other laptop brands - no significant difference.
  • Computer stores were rated in nearly 82,000 responses from CR subscribers, including manufacturer direct by web or phone, and brick and mortar stores. Apple scored in the 90s in both categories unlike any of its competitors.

Some things never change. Macs Rule! [Dana Baggett]

[10/12] Additional Mac OS X 10.4.8 AirPort Connection Problem with Fix

We previously noted that we (and others) are having a problem reconnecting to hidden AirPort networks after a restart on our new 24" iMac Core 2 Duo. We do not have this problem with any other Mac using AirPort to connect to the network: a 15" MacBook Pro, a 17" PowerBook G4 and a 12" PowerBook G4.

Reader Joe Gudac wrote us about another problem:

In my case, the following has been consistent after trying all the suggested repairs. I have 2 wireless networks I use daily. At both locations I have Linksys WRT54G wireless routers. At work I have the router named "Bowl" and the router at home named "Airport". When going to the Network Preferences in checking my Preferred Networks, which ever one I have listed first reconnects after sleep and restarts every time, but the second one will not. Reversing the order just changes which network will reconnect automatically and which I have to reconnect manually.

To solve this problem until a real fix appears is that I renamed both routers to the same name. Now I am connecting automatically again.

With all the problems reported on other Web sites with AirPort after updating to Mac OS X 10.4.8, we hope that Apple finds the problems soon and issues an update.

[10/12] First Mac Support for Wireless HSDPA ExpressCard Modem

nova media unveiled launch2net 1.4.9 with support of the Novatel Merlin XU870 wireless ExpressCard modem. This ExpressCard allows mobile Internet connections with up to 3.6 Mbit/s in all HSPDA networks around the world as well as 3G UMTS, EDGE and GPRS connections.

"MacBook Pro users can finally use a wireless HSDPA ExpressCard modem", stated Jan Fuellemann, PR spokesperson at nova media. "It is the most convenient way to establish a mobile internet connection and MacBook Pro users are not left in the dark any more."

launch2net is available today for 75,- Euro plus VAT (US$94) at nova media's Web site. The update to version 1.4.9 is free for current owners of a valid launch2net license. [Bill Fox]

[10/12] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Mac OS X 10.4.8 Issues, Norton Confidential, MacAddict Future and The David Biedny Zone

Host Gene Steinberg talks presents the down and dirty details about Mac OS 10.4.8, including both problems and solutions, with MacFixIt editor Ben Wilson. Symantec's new Mac security software, Norton Confidential, will be introduced by product manager Mike Romo. The future of Mac magazines will be discussed by Rik Myslewski, Editor-in-Chief of MacAddict, and you'll get a decidedly different point of view from our Special Correspondent, David Biedny, as we enter "The David Biedny Zone." You may tune in the Web broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern. [Bill Fox]

[10/11] Brief Hands-On Report--Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.3.0 Update

The 11.3.0 Update for Office:mac 2004 may be downloaded from this Microsoft Web site. This update is a combo that includes all of the improvements released in all previous Office 2004 updates. According to Microsoft,

This update contains several updates to enhance security and stability, including fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer's memory with malicious code. It applies to: Office 2004 Standard Edition, Office 2004 Student and Teacher Edition, Office 2004 Professional Edition, Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac, Microsoft Excel 2004 for Mac, Microsoft PowerPoint 2004 for Mac, Microsoft Entourage 2004 for Mac

The improvement details are:

All Office 2004 Applications:

Security is improved--This update fixes vulnerabilities in Office 2004 that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer's memory with malicious code.

Hyphenation is applied correctly to Swiss German content--This update fixes an issue that prevented Office 2004 applications from applying proper hyphenation to Swiss German content. Users designate content as Swiss German by using the Language command on the Tools menu.

Word 2004:

Properties are retained in large documents--This update fixes an issue that causes some document properties to be lost if you open and save a document that contains a large number of document properties, such as documents that contains more than 55 headings. This issue affects only users who have installed the Office 2004 11.2.5 Update.

Font does not change to Times New Roman after using a non-breaking space--This update fixes an issue that causes text typed after a non-breaking space to change unexpectedly to Times New Roman font.

PowerPoint 2004: Hyperlinks and Action Settings are retained3.3.1 --This update fixes an issue for users who created presentations in PowerPoint 2004 version 11.2.5. Hyperlinks and action settings are lost when the presentation is opened in PowerPoint after installing the Office 2004 11.2.6 Update.

We downloaded the 11.3.0 Update and updated our copy of Office 2004. While we don't use Office 2004 much anymore, last evening we used the updated Word, PowerPoint and Excel for various tasks and encountered no problems. We haven't used Entourage at all since Mac OS X 10.1 came out and we switched to Apple Mail. [Bill Fox]

[10/11] Brief Hands-On Report--Microsoft Office v.X for Mac 10.1.8 Update

This 10.1.8 update for Office:mac v.X can be downloaded from this Microsoft Web site. This update is a combo that includes all previous updates. According to Microsoft,

This update contains several updates to enhance security and stability, including fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer's memory with malicious code. It applies to: Office v. X, Microsoft Word X for Mac, Microsoft Excel X for Mac, Microsoft PowerPoint X for Mac, Microsoft Entourage X for Mac.

The improvement details are:

All Office X Applications: Security is improved--This update fixes vulnerabilities in Office v. X that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer's memory with malicious code.

Word X: Properties are retained in large documents--This update fixes an issue that causes some document properties to be lost when you open and save a document that contains a large number of document properties, such as documents that contains more than 55 headings. This issue affects only users who have installed the Office v. X 10.1.7 Update.

Entourage X: Japanese postal code dictionary is updated--The Japanese postal code dictionary is updated with the latest information as of June 2006.

We downloaded the 10.1.8 Update and updated our copy of Office v.X. Much of the day yesterday we used the updated Word X, PowerPoint X and Excel X for various tasks and encountered no problems. We haven't used Entourage X since Mac OS X 10.1 came out. [Bill Fox]

[10/11] Commentary: Microsoft Office 2007 for Mac delayed until Late 2007--Does Anyone Care?

The significant delay of eight months after the Windows version was confirmed by The Courier Mail, an Australian news site. It will be tailored to Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard," be written in XML and run natively on Intel-based Macs. We don't care at all but does anyone?

We don't care because Microsoft Office is not that essential to our work any longer. We mostly use Apple's Pages or TextEdit for word processing and Keynote for presentations. We use Office when we need Excel or to spiff up a PowerPoint exported from Keynote because we must submit the presentation in advance and it must be in PowerPoint. But then we mostly use Office:mac v.X which still runs fine and is fast enough under Rosetta.

Our guess is that only those who use very large models in Excel on an Intel-based Mac will feel much of a pinch from the Office 2007 delay. Perhaps, Apple will relieve their discomfort by including an Apple-built spreadsheet in iWork '07 that is compatible with Excel. [Bill Fox]

[10/11] Apple Revised the Offerings from Three Hot Deals Retailers

B&H Photo Video has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: the new Canon EOS Digital Rebel 10.1-megapixel SLR Black Body Kit for only $799.00!; Sony DCR-SR100 Handycam 30GB Hard Drive Camcorder for only $849.00!; Jamo i300 2.1 Channel iPod Speakers w/Dock for only $399.00!; Bose SoundDock Speaker System for iPod for only $399.00!; JBL On Time Alarm Clock/Radio for iPod for only $189.00!; Hewlett Packard L1940T 19" LCD Display for only $209.95!; Microtek Scanmaker i800 Legal-size Flatbed Scanner for only $479.95!; HP Photosmart A716 Photo Quality 5x7" Compact Inkjet Printer for only $249.95!; Canon Pixma iP90 Letter-size Photo Quality Inkjet Printer for only $214.95!; Epson Picturemate 4x6" Photo Quality Inkjet Printer for only $149.95!; Klipsch ProMedia Ultra 5.1 470 watt Surround Sound Speaker System for only $348.95!; and much more.

Ramjet has Hot Deals exclusive pricing on Mac compatible memory upgrades including: 1GB RAM Module for MacBook Pro for only $134.00!; 1GB RAM Upgrade Kit for Intel-based iMac for only $134.00!; 1GB DDR RAM Upgrade Kit for PowerMac G4 (Mirror Drive Doors) for only $141.00!; 1GB DDR2 DIMM RAM Module for the iMac G5 w/iSight for only $137.00!; 2GB RAM Upgrade Kit for Intel-based Mac Mini for only $268.00!; and much more.

Sweetwater Sound has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Oxygen 61 USB MIDI controller w/35 knobs, buttons and sliders from M-Audio for only $199.97!; Helix Board 12 mixer w/built-in FireWire interface from Phonic for only $299.99!; Konnekt 24D audio interface w/on board effects from TC Electronic for only $499.97!; Micro Cube-R batter-powered practice amp with DSP effects from Roland for only $125.97; iControl GarageBand controller w/assignable encoders and transport buttons from M-Audio for only $99.97!; Drumkit from Hell 2 2.4GB plug-in drum sample library from ToonTrack for only $79.97!; and much more.

[Bill Fox]

[10/11] From the Dark Side--What the Windoz Salesman didn't mention

According to James Coates' Computers column in the Chicago Tribune, a reader wrote that they bought a new HP Windows Media Center Edition computer and the salesman talked them into also buying a wireless keyboard and mouse. The reader's plan was to use their new digital TV as a monitor for the Wintel box and to record TV shows and view them later. The wireless keyboard and mouse were to allow controlling things on the computer from across the room, including Web surfing and dealing with email.

What the salesman didn't tell them was that the RF-style Wintel wireless keyboard and mouse have a range of about 6 feet, not nearly far enough for the intended job.

"It's a shame that most Windows computer owners have those 6-foot-range wireless keyboards and laptops while folks in the Apple orbit now can order iMacs and Mac mini-computers with Bluetooth keyboards and mice that work from up to 30 feet away." Coates wrote in response. "For years now, specialty Windows keyboard makers have used a version of weak radio signals that, as you note, have a range of only about 6 feet. But while Windows users wait for a generation of Apple-type Bluetooth keyboards and mice, there are a few workarounds, including somewhat costly souped-up radio keyboards and several strategies that are inexpensive but not ideal."

Macs rule! More... [Dana Baggett]

[10/10] Commentary: What's in a Name? MacAddict to become MacLife

According to a MacAddict job announcement for a new editor and a post by current MacAddict editor Rik Myslewski to the MacAddict forum, the magazine will be changing its name to MacLife "...early next year." We really like MacAddict as the name for an irreverent Mac-centric publication, especially for one that has helped defend the "cause" since 1996. We will miss it. Our own moniker "Macs Only!" and motto "We don't do Windows." were chosen to reflect a similar attitude.

But the times have changed--radically. Apple is no longer on the verge of extinction. It has been on the rise with Mac OS X, its computer lineup has never been better, its switch to Intel CPUs has opened new opportunities and the incredible success of its iPod and iTunes has given it a huge consumer base and status again among the electronic cognocenti. Does that make "MacLife" much more consistent with the current situation? Apparently, the owners of MacAddict think so. We are not so sure.

Unfortunately, the name "MacLife" is not so unique in Macdom. There is (or was) a Japanese Mac-centric magazine called "MacLife." There's a German Web publication called MacLife and a Web site in Canada, too, that claims to be owned by a MacLife Network, Inc. How about France and Austria? The Maryland Athletic Club's publication is called MAC Life. Then, there is Shawn King's brash internet radio show called Your Mac Life. And there was even a copyrighted column at written by Jason Walsh called Mac Life. Going to, reveals the Web page of a Boise, ID, Mac store. And there's a Mac Life Security Products Web site. And so on...we just listed what we found via Google in the first 10 pages of "Mac Life" and "www.maclife." Mac Addict may have a tough time making the switch. We hope they don't.

As far as we can tell Mac marginalization is still a force to be reckoned with. We continue to read where school districts convert from Macs to Wintels for unfounded reasons, costing school systems a lot of scarce resources and depriving many students of the easier route to learning to use computing systems and the features that make learning more fun and productive. We also continue to read about huge security problems with Windows-based systems and wonder why governments continue to choose them. We wonder why governments continue to support a monopoly when such is not necessary for lower costs, better security and better performance.

There's still room for "attitude" and we hope that MacAddict will find a way to stay in it and with it. [Bill Fox]

[10/10] Quark released QuarkXPress 7.0.2 Update--Improved License Agreement

Quark Inc. released QuarkXPress 7.02, the latest update to QuarkXPress 7, and it is available via this Web page. This release provides new, up-to-date functionality, including license-transfer features and typographic support for new languages as well as resolution of the most important issues reported by customers since the product shipped.

The new License Transfer functionality allows customers to deactivate and activate the software without relying on external resources, making it easier and more accessible for customers to transfer their licenses without calling Quark Technical Support. This new functionality will make the transition particularly easy for Mac users who upgrade their Macs to take advantage of the performance increase offered by the Universal version of QuarkXPress 7.

In addition, the new license agreement allows customers to run previous versions of QuarkXPress in parallel to QuarkXPress 7 on the same machine. Customers can maintain existing workflows created in previous versions of QuarkXPress and adapt to the latest release of QuarkXPress in a step-by-step process without any risks. [Bill Fox]

[10/9] Brief Hands-On Report--Firefox 2.0 Coming Soon, RC2 is Out

Release Candidate 2 (RC2) of the next generation of the Firefox Web browser from Mozilla is available for download from this Mozilla Web page.

There's a long list of new features in Firefox 2.0:

Visual Refresh: Firefox 2's theme and user interface have been updated to improve usability without altering the familiarity of the browsing experience. For instance, toolbar buttons now glow when you hover over them. We will continue to improve the look and feel throughout the release candidate process.

Built-in phishing protection: Phishing Protection warns users when they encounter suspected Web forgeries, and offers to return the user to their home page. Phishing Protection is turned on by default, and works by checking sites against either a local or online list of known phishing sites. This list is automatically downloaded and regularly updated when the Phishing Protection feature is enabled.

Enhanced search capabilities: Search term suggestions will now appear as users type in the integrated search box when using the Google, Yahoo! or search engines. A new search engine manager makes it easier to add, remove and re-order search engines, and users will be alerted when Firefox encounters a website that offers new search engines that the user may wish to install.

Improved tabbed browsing: By default, Firefox will open links in new tabs instead of new windows, and each tab will now have a close tab button. Power users who open more tabs than can fit in a single window will see arrows on the left and right side of the tab strip that let them scroll back and forth between their tabs. The History menu will keep a list of recently closed tabs, and a shortcut lets users quickly re-open an accidentally closed tab.

Resuming your browsing session: The Session Restore feature restores windows, tabs, text typed in forms, and in-progress downloads from the last user session. It will be activated automatically when installing an application update or extension, and users will be asked if they want to resume their previous session after a system crash.

Previewing and subscribing to Web feeds: Users can decide how to handle Web feeds (like this one), either subscribing to them via a Web service or in a standalone RSS reader, or adding them as Live Bookmarks. My Yahoo!, Bloglines and Google Reader come pre-loaded as Web service options, but users can add any Web service that handles RSS feeds.

Inline spell checking: A new built-in spell checker enables users to quickly check the spelling of text entered into Web forms (like this one) without having to use a separate application.

Live Titles: When a website offers a microsummary (a regularly updated summary of the most important information on a Web page), users can create a bookmark with a "Live Title". Compact enough to fit in the space available to a bookmark label, they provide more useful information about pages than static page titles, and are regularly updated with the latest information. There are several websites that can be bookmarked with Live Titles, and even more add-ons to generate Live Titles for other popular websites.

Improved Add-ons manager: The new Add-ons manager improves the user interface for managing extensions and themes, combining them both in a single tool.

JavaScript 1.7: JavaScript 1.7 is a language update introducing several new features such as generators, iterators, array comprehensions, let expressions, and destructuring assignments. It also includes all the features of JavaScript 1.6.

Extended search plugin format: The Firefox search engine format now supports search engine plugins written in Sherlock and OpenSearch formats and allows search engines to provide search term suggestions.

Updates to the extension system: The extension system has been updated to provide enhanced security and to allow for easier localization of extensions.

Client-side session and persistent storage: New support for storing structured data on the client side, to enable better handling of online transactions and improved performance when dealing with large amounts of data, such as documents and mailboxes. This is based on the WHATWG specification for client-side session and persistent storage.

SVG text: Support for the svg:textpath specification enables SVG text to follow a curve or shape.

Here are the release notes.

We downloaded and installed a copy. We used it for general Web browsing over the weekend without encountering any difficulties. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[10/9] PictureSync 1.6 (Universal) is Out

PictureSync is the missing link in your photography. A convenient utility that simplifies annotating and sharing your photographs and video clips. With a click upload to online galleries, photoblogs and print services whilst preserving your valuable metadata. You can use PictureSync with any picture file, in iPhoto, iView MediaPro, Aperture, or other applications such as Adobe Lightroom and Bridge. It's ideal for beginners and advanced photo-users alike having both easy functionality and advanced workflow customization.

PictureSync version 1.6 introduces reliability and functional enhancements including a fully Universal build, geocoding with Google Earth, support for Lightroom, and updated support for Aperture--here is the version history. As with prior versions its features may be used free or purchased for $14. [Bill Fox]

[10/6] [Updated] Our Mac OS X 10.4.8 AirPort/Internet Re-Connect Problem Fixed

After we tested the latest Mac OS X update, v10.4.8, on our 2.33GHz 24" iMac Core 2 Duo, we added another user account for the long-term tester. But after a restart or cold start, the iMac would reconnect to our AirPort network but it would get assigned an internal IP address rather than one from our router so it would not connect to the internet.

This problem could be temporarily solved by using the AirPort menu icon to turn off and then turn back on the AirPort card. This was frustrating because the original user account on our iMac continued to connect automatically to the network and internet after a restart or sleep as did all of our other Macs upgraded to 10.4.8.

We tried everything listed by Apple in its technical support articles (e.g. Article Number 304482) and provided on other Web sites, including deleting the preferred network in the System Preferences Network pane and re-adding it. We even tried deleting every AirPort-related preference ".plist" file including the "Networkinterface.plist" as recommended on another Web site yesterday. Nothing worked.

Then we tried a variation on Apple's suggestion and it worked. Here are the steps:

  1. Open System Preferences, select the Network pane and select AirPort in the "Show:" popup menu.
  2. Set the "By default, join:" popup menu to "Preferred networks."
  3. Delete the listed preferred networks using the "-" button but this time we did not add it back again with the "+" button as Apple recommends.
  4. Set the "By default, join:" popup menu to "Automatic."
  5. Restart.
  6. Manually rejoin the AirPort network using the AirPort menu icon, i.e. selecting the network (or selecting "Other" and typing in the network name if hidden) and typing in the WPA (or WEP) password.

Now every time we restart our iMac, it automatically connects again to the AirPort network and gets an IP address assigned by the router so that it also connects to the internet.

[Update: Reader Karl Warschau pointed out that his 24" iMac Core 2 Duo will not reconnect after a restart if his WiFi network's name (SSID) is hidden. However, if its name is broadcast, then it works. He confirmed this with an AppleCare tech. We have also confirmed this.] [Bill Fox]

[10/6] Starbucks Hear Music added to iTunes Store

The well-known Seattle-based coffee company, Starbucks, now has its own area in the iTunes Store. The new Starbucks Entertainment area provides iTunes users the ability to preview, buy and download a wide variety of Starbucks popular Hear Music titles.

The Starbucks Entertainment area within iTunes will feature a wide variety of playlists including unique music hand-picked by the same Starbucks Hear Music content team responsible for selecting the music played in Starbucks stores around the world. Playlists and content will be updated frequently and will also include digital versions of many of Hear Music’s popular CD series and co-releases such as the Marvin Gaye Opus Collection and Sonya Kitchell’s Words Came Back to Me, which was released as part of Starbucks ongoing Hear Music Debut CD series. Customers can purchase either the entire playlist or individual tracks from the Starbucks Hear Music playlists. [Bill Fox]

[10/6] Best Buy Digital Music Store to compete with Apple's iTunes Store

Best Buy has partnered with RealNetworks and SanDisk to open the Best Buy Digital Music Store to compete with Apple's iTunes Store. RealNetworks is powering the Best Buy store with its Rhapsody 4.0 music service. Both permanent song downloads and a subscription service are available. As part of the deal, Best Buy will carry and promote the SanDisk Sansa e200R Rhapsody MP3 players, which have been optimized to work seamlessly with the Best Buy Digital Music Store.

Best Buy has been carrying iPods and the announcement did not mention whether it would continue to do so in the face of the SanDisk deal. [Bill Fox]

[10/5] N-Charge Batteries offer up to 10 Hours Run Time

In light of the recent laptop battery recalls, users who are waiting for replacement batteries can turn to Valence Technology, Inc. to supply batteries. Valence's N-Charge Power System offers users up to 10 hours of battery runtime with the safety provided by Valence's patented Saphion phosphate technology.

Unlike traditional cobalt oxide Lithium-ion batteries, Valence's batteries are made using a patented phosphate-based cathode material. Phosphates are stable in overcharge or short circuit conditions and have the ability to withstand high temperatures without major incident. Using Saphion technology means Valence's batteries in normal use and conditions are unlikely to be subject to "thermal runaway" that can cause fires. As a result, Saphion technology possesses safety characteristics that are fundamentally superior to those of cobalt oxide Lithium-ion batteries.

Valence's N-Charge Power System is a universal, external battery that provides up to 10 hours of continuous runtime for notebook computers including many models from Apple (most iBooks and PowerBook G4's). Valence's VNC-130 battery offers up to 10 hours of runtime for $299 and can be used as the primary power source for the laptop instead of the internal battery. Laptop owners concerned about being restricted by airline carriers from carrying on their laptops can remove the restricted internal battery and carry on an N-Charge Power System to power their laptops in flight. The N-Charge Power System provides safety in a long lasting adjunct to traditional laptop batteries and easy-to-use, anytime, anywhere power.

The MacBook Pro is listed as compatible but the cable column has an "X" in it rather than a part number. [Bill Fox]

[10/5] Make a T-Shirt with your favorite Image with a Mac

It's easy to make a t-shirt with your favorite image or photo on it using your Mac, iPhoto, image transfer paper and a color inkjet printer. This CNet video shows you how--it requires the Adobe (formerly Macromedia) Flash plugin. [Dana Baggett]

[10/5] iTunes Downloads Taxed in New Jersey since October 1st

This week New Jersey joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia in taxing internet downloads of "media" according to published reports. iTunes music and videos will cost an additional 7 percent with the new sales tax in the Garden State. We wonder why this does not violate the federal internet tax prohibition. More... [Dana Baggett]

[10/5] Apple Issued Stock Option Irregularities Report and Former CFO Resigned from Board

Late yesterday, Apple issued a press release presenting the results of its independent internal investigation into stock option irregularities and noting that Fred Anderson, former Apple CFO 1996-2004, resigned from Apple's Board of Directors. The concise press release states:

Apple today announced that the special committee of its board of directors has reported its findings after a three month investigation into Apple's stock option practices. The special committee of outside directors, together with independent counsel and accountants, examined more than 650,000 emails and documents, and conducted interviews with more than 40 current and former employees, directors and advisors. Apple initiated this voluntary independent investigation after a management review discovered irregularities in past stock option grants.

The independent investigation's key findings are:

  • The investigation found no misconduct by any member of Apple's current management team.
  • The most recent evidence of irregularities relates to a January 2002 grant.
  • Stock option grants made on 15 dates between 1997 and 2002 appear to have grant dates that precede the approval of those grants.
  • In a few instances, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was aware that favorable grant dates had been selected, but he did not receive or otherwise benefit from these grants and was unaware of the accounting implications.
  • The investigation raised serious concerns regarding the actions of two former officers in connection with the accounting, recording and reporting of stock option grants. The company will provide all details regarding their actions to the SEC.

"I apologize to Apple's shareholders and employees for these problems, which happened on my watch. They are completely out of character for Apple," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We will now work to resolve the remaining issues as quickly as possible and to put the proper remedial measures in place to ensure that this never happens again."

The company also announced that Fred Anderson, Apple's former CFO, has resigned from its board of directors. Mr. Anderson, who served as CFO from 1996 until 2004, informed the company that he believes it is in Apple's best interests that he resign from the board at this time.

The company and its independent auditors are reviewing the findings of the independent investigation. Management continues to believe, and the audit committee agrees, that Apple will likely need to restate its historical financial statements to record non-cash charges for compensation expense relating to past stock option grants. The company and its independent auditors are reviewing recent accounting guidance published by the SEC, and have not yet determined the amount of such charges, the resulting tax and accounting impact, or which periods may require restatement. The company continues to proactively inform the SEC of its findings.

[Bill Fox]

[10/4] WARNING! Update your Skype Application to Fix High Risk Security Issue

If you use Skype VoIP software to make voice calls as we do, you are advised to immediately download and install the latest version of Skype 1.5.x.80 released yesterday. The new version fixes a high risk security hole that can allow a miscreant to execute arbitrary code on your Mac if you are tricked into following a malformed Skype URL. Here is the Skype advisory bulletin. [Dana Baggett]

[10/4] VisioVoice 1.0.1 (Universal) improves Access to Mac OS X for Vision Impaired Users

AssistiveWare released VisioVoice 1.0.1. VisioVoice is an award-winning product for blind and vision impaired Mac users providing a number of speech and vision related features to enhance access to Mac OS X. These include: (1) the conversion of Text, Word, HTML, PDF and RTF files to audio files or iPod-ready iTunes tracks; (2) a document and selection reader with fast forward and rewind functions; (3) Large cross-hair and target cursors; (4) Text and Image zoom windows; (5) Spoken interface elements as the user navigates across the screen; (6) Multilingual support to Apple's excellent VoiceOver technology (initially French and Dutch).

Version 1.0.1 contains the following enhancements:

  • The Document Reader now also works with encrypted PDFs
  • The Text Zoom and Talking Interface are now more responsive and more accurate
  • The Selection Reader now works more reliably with text selected in Safari
  • Voice volume and speech rate settings now work correctly [fix]
  • Highlighting of spoken words now also works correctly for accented characters [fix]
  • Several other fixes and improvements.

VisioVoice is bundled with Infovox iVox, which allows the naturally sounding, high quality voices of the Acapela Group to be used by any Speech Manager compliant application on Mac OS X, including Tiger's built-in VoiceOver screen reader. Infovox iVox includes all voices available for a language of choice. The following languages are available: US English, UK English, French, German, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, and Swedish.

Introductory suggested retail pricing (25% discount) for the bundle of VisioVoice + Infovox iVox until 31 December 2006, excluding VAT, is $185 for all languages except Scandinavian (Scandinavian languages $289). Additional languages are half the price of Infovox iVox for that language. Volume licenses are also available.

VisioVoice is a universal binary and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. For more information, a fully-functional downloadable demo and to listen to samples of the voices please consult the VisioVoice product page. [Bill Fox]

[10/4] Mozilla Firefox Zero-Day Exploit Not

One of the hackers who claimed that JavaScript can be used to gain control of a computer running the Mozilla Foundation's Firefox Web browser has retracted that claim according to published reports. He has admitted that he has only been able to crash a computer running Firefox by using JavaScript. However, this is still a problem that needs fixing. More... [Dana Baggett]

[10/4] 14th Annual Mac Computer Expo at Santa Rosa Junior College this Weekend

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. Exhibits, demonstrations, and raffle prizes will also be featured throughout the day. Free computer recycling dropoff to be provided by Computer Recycling Center.

The fun continues on Sunday, October 8, when Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) Community Education department will be presenting "Painting with Photoshop" by digital photo-realist artist, Bert Monroy and "Digital Photography Made Amazing" by author and professional photographer, Derrick Story.

Bert Monroy will give an in-depth look at some of the more intricate features of Adobe Photoshop usually overlooked by most users and will inspire you to explore the creative side of Photoshop usage. He will give you a fuller understanding of the intricacies of layers and channels and how to use them effectively in the creation of images as well as demonstrate how to use filters in ways you never thought possible. Mr. Monroy, an accomplished teacher and lecturer, was inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame in 2004. His roster of clients include Pixar, Apple Computers and Adobe Systems.

Derrick Story will show how to apply techniques to your consumer digital camera that professionals have been using for years. First you'll master all of those buttons and dials. Then you'll learn how to use those controls to tame your flash, capture action, and get close-ups. You'll even see how easy it is to take studio quality portraits at home and capture National Geographic-like photos on the road. Mr. Story is a photographer and writer. He has authored "Digital Photography Hacks," "Digital Photography Pocket Guide" and co-authored the popular series, "iPhoto: The Missing manual" with David Pogue. He is a podcaster and a managing editor at O'Reilly Media.

SRJC is located on Mendocino Avenue in Santa Rosa between the College Avenue and Steel Lane exits east of Highway 101. Admission to the Expo is free but SRJC charges a $3.00 fee for on campus parking. Further information is available at [Bill Fox]

[10/3] Apple Adds Logic Pro 7 to Free Online Seminars for October

Apple added a new title to its October list of free online seminars:

Logic Pro 7: The Power of 7--Audio Specialist Phil Jackson demonstrates the power and creativity of this world-class composing, sound generation, sculpting, and editing solution.

This FREE online seminar is perfect for the musician, producer, or audio engineer who wants to learn about the powerful audio production tools in Apple's Logic Pro 7.

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]

[10/3] Apple Revised the Offerings from Three Hot Deals Retailers

PowerMax has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Kensington RDS FM Transmitter/car charger for iPod for only $68.88!; IOGear MiniHub 7-Port USB 2.0 hub for only $28.88!; Xitel Audio Ground Loop Isolator for only $29.88!; Altec iM3C inMotion iPod Speaker System (Black) for only $109.88; Griffin Radioshark USB AM/FM Radio and timeshift recorder for only $47.88!; IRISPen Executive pen scanner for only $178.88; Logitech Cordless Desktop S 530 Laser for Mac w/one-touch controls for iTunes and iPhoto for only $78.88; Canon Powershot S2 IS 5-megapixel digital camera for only $319.88!; FrameForge 3D Studio 2 digital film studio for only $279.88!; and much more.

Ramjet has Hot Deals exclusive pricing on Mac compatible memory upgrades including: 2GB RAM Upgrade Kit (2x 1GB modules) for MacBook Pro for only $273.00!; 2GB RAM Upgrade Kit (2x 1GB modules) for the Intel-based iMac for only $273.00!; 512MB RAM module for the Mirror Drive Door PowerMac G4 for only $71.00!; 1GB RAM Upgrade Kit (2x 1GB modules) for the Intel-based Mac Mini for only $140.00!; 1GB DIMM module upgrade for the original iMac G5 for only $127.00!; and much more.

Small Dog Electronics has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Ultimate Ears 3 Studio Earphones- a Hot Deals Exclusive price of $89.00!; Miglia TVMicro USB TV tuner and DVR w/remote for a Hot Deals Exclusive $79.00!; Wacom Intuos3 6x11" USB Tablet w/pen and wireless mouse for a Hot Deals Exclusive $314.00!; LaCie 250GB Mini Hard Drive and USB Hub w/FireWire for a Hot Deals exclusive $159.00!; M-Audio Podcast Factory podcast recording kit for only $139.00!; BenQ FP92G+ 19" LCD Display (Black) for only $233.00!; Kingston Data Traveler 2 USB Flash Drive for only $49.00!; and much more.

[Bill Fox]

[10/2] Hands-On Report--Mac OS X 10.4.8, How Fast is It?

Apple released Mac OS X 10.4.8 update on Friday (see 9/30 edition) and we had a chance to test it extensively over the weekend. The update has many fixes and improvements, including new ATI and Nvidia graphics drivers. Have the changes improved Mac OS X's performance?

We ran our standard set of speed tests to test the performance of Mac OS X 10.4.8 relative to that of Mac OS X 10.4.7 using our two Intel-based Macs--a 2.16GHz 15" MacBook Pro with 2GB RAM and a 2.33GHz 24" iMac Core 2 Duo with 1GB RAM and an Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT graphics card. The tests consist of four canned benchmark applications, four so-called real world tests and five 3D games. We dropped the Adobe Reader scrolling test due to significant inconsistencies in results using the latest versions of Adobe Reader.

Here are the results from our 2.16 GHz 15" MacBook Pro:

2.16GHz 15" MacBook Pro Speed Tests (average* scores or secs).
Test Mac OS X
Perf. Chg. %
Altivec Fractal 1.3+ (GFLOPS)
Cinebench 9.6 - Rendering (2X)
- OpenGL Hardware Lighting
Let1kWindowsBloom 1.0+ (sec)
Xbench 1.3 - CPU
- Threading
- Memory
- Quartz Graphics
- OpenGL Graphics
- User Interface Graphics
"Real World" Tests:
Startup (sec)
Shutdown (sec)
Dup. 500 MB Folder of Files (sec)
Export QT FQDV in iMovie HD 6.0.3 (sec)
3D Game Tests
Quake III Arena 1.32-Intel (frames/sec)
Halo 2.0 (frames/sec)
Call of Duty 1.5+ (frames/sec)
Doom 3 1.3A MQ (frames/sec)
Quake 4 MQ (frames/sec)
*Average of 3 runs. +Non-Universal. Red is much faster. Blue is much slower.

There are few changes worth mentioning:

Let1kWindowsBloom is much faster (27 percent) in 10.4.8. It measures the speed of opening an closing windows in the finder.

The startup time is also faster (11 percent) in 10.4.8 but it had slowed in 10.4.7 so it is about the same in 10.4.8 as it was in 10.4.6.

Duplicating a folder is much slower (18 percent) but we believe that this is due to our drive becoming nearly full after setting up Windows in Parallels and in a separate partition under Apple's Boot Camp.

Quake 4 is much slower in 10.4.8 while all other test games show slight but insignificant increases in performance. Curiously, Quake 4 improved significantly with the ATI drivers in 10.4.7 versus those in 10.4.6 (66 fps vs 56 fps) but the decrease in performance in 10.4.8 slows the games well below the speed under 10.4.6 (50 fps vs 56 fps).

Altivec Fractal is slightly faster in Mac OS X 10.4.8. It measures the performance of the vector math library in PowerPC CPUs and its running in Rosetta so we are not sure why there is a change for the better but it is very small anyway.

Here are the results from our 24" 2.33GHz iMac Core 2 Duo:

2.33GHz 24" iMac Core 2 Duo Speed Tests (average* scores or secs).
Test Mac OS X
Perf. Chg. %
Altivec Fractal 1.3+ (GFLOPS)
Cinebench 9.6 - Rendering (2X)
- OpenGL Hardware Lighting
Let1kWindowsBloom 1.0+ (sec)
Xbench 1.3 - CPU
- Threading
- Memory
- Quartz Graphics
- OpenGL Graphics
- User Interface Graphics
"Real World" Tests:
Startup (sec)
Shutdown (sec)
Dup. 500 MB Folder of Files (sec)
Export QT FQDV in iMovie HD 6.0.3 (sec)
3D Game Tests
Quake III Arena 1.32-Intel (frames/sec)
Halo 2.0 (frames/sec)
Call of Duty 1.5+ (frames/sec)
Doom 3 1.3A MQ (frames/sec)
Quake 4 MQ (frames/sec)
*Average of 3 runs. +Non-Universal. Red is much faster. Blue is much slower.

There are even fewer changes in the iMac Core 2 Duo's performance worth mentioning:

Altivec Fractal is much faster (13 percent) under 10.4.8 than 10.4.7. This is consistent with the small speed increase that we saw in the MacBook Pro.

The Xbench OpenGL graphics test is much faster (17 percent) in 10.4.8 but other tests using OpenGL (Cinebench and the 3D games) show no improvement.

In summary, the most remarkable change is the decrease in the speed of Quake 4 in the MacBook Pro which uses ATI graphics. This result is puzzling because the significant change between Mac OS X 10.4.6 and 10.4.7 was a general improvement in OpenGL performance, including Quake 4. There must be some issues in the new drivers that selectively affect Quake 4 because no other games appear affected. Also, the game performance of the iMac, which uses Nvidia graphics, did not change significantly.

We have benchmarked virtually every publicly-released version of Mac OS X--see the archives.[Bill Fox]

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