November 2006 News Archive

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Copyright 2006 by Bill Fox All rights reserved.
Last Updated: November 30, 2006

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[11/30] Mac Users are Older, More Mobile and Have Newer Computers than PC Users

According to MetaFacts 2006 Home PC Brand Profile Report, a whopping 46 percent of Mac users are age 55 and older. This compares with only 25 percent for PC users. However, you would never know it from Apple's penchant for marketing their products to the very young. Apparently, us geezers have already been sold on Macs. Of course, younger computer users and MP3 player users make up the population segment with the greatest sales growth potential--Gateway leads with the highest percentage of 18-24 year olds.

Other interesting factoids are that 52 percent of the computers in Mac users homes are notebooks while HP/Compaq households stand at 16 percent notebooks. Dells approach Macs at 46 percent notebooks.

Mac users tend to have newer computers than PC users. Two-thirds of Mac households have Macs that are 2.5 years old or newer while only half of the Dell/HP/Compaq households do. [Dana Baggett]

[11/30] Florence, SC, School District 1 Gets New iMacs

The School Foundation provided funding through a grant that allowed the Florence, SC, School District 1 to obtain 27 iMacs, one for each school, and 24 iPods. The purchase will enhance the students' opportunity to prepare for a future in the fields of arts, audio-visuals, technology and/or communications. The grant resulted from a proposal by Laura Greenway, the district's music coordinator, entitled The Creative Economy: Choice for Arts Centered Education in Florence School District 1.

Apple assisted by donating 11 percent of the district's purchase. More... [Dana Baggett]

[11/30] Software Special of the Day: Versomatic 1.0 (Universal) for 40% Off Today Only

Versomatic (Universal) is a powerful extension to Mac OS X that catalogs and archives all file changes automatically in real-time without you even noticing. It then allows you to go back in time and view or restore any earlier version of a file instantly. Versomatic can even recover previously deleted files regardless of when they were deleted (unlike traditional undelete utilities that only work well soon after the deletion takes place).

Normally $49.99, Versomatic 1.0 is offered for $29.99--that's 40% off as Today's Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/30] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Best Tech Products for the Holidays, New Products and Zune

Tonight host Gene Steinberg talks about the best tech products for the holidays, from music players and computers, to input devices and HDTV, with Steve "Mr. Gadget" Kruschen. You will also get a new product update from Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus. In addition, even Mac users will appreciate a special update on how Microsoft's Zune player is faring from digital music columnist Eliot Van Buskirk. The Web broadcast can be tuned in tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern. [Bill Fox]

[11/30] Smart Scroll X 2.0 (Universal) is Out

Marc Moini released Smart Scroll X 2.0 (Universal). It brings new scrolling options and enhancements to Mac OS X:

  • Super Wheel - smoother, faster, more comfortable scroll wheel action. Try it!
  • Grab Scroll - a "hand" tool to easily move any window's contents. Now with coasting.
  • Universal Scroll Keys - fast and dependable scrolling, without reaching for the mouse.
  • FileMaker Pro and AppleWorks live scrolling and scroll wheel support, and more.

Smart Scroll X 2.0 is shareware ($19 single user license) and runs on Mac OS X 10.3.9 or newer (universal). [Bill Fox]

[11/30] Griffin iTalk Pro Now Shipping for $49.99

iTalk Pro combines simplicity with versatility to allow iPod users to faithfully record under real-world conditions. The iTalk Pro plugs directly into the iPod's dock connector. It's the most compact configuration possible, eliminating the need for extra cables and adapters. Easy, one-touch operation allows users to concentrate on what they're hearing, instead of how to operate the equipment.

iTalk Pro can record in stereo or mono. Built-in twin microphones record in stereo at 44.1 kHz to yield professional, CD-quality recordings. But iTalk Pro also features a stereo 1/8" (3.5 mm) input jack to accommodate external microphones for greater stereo separation. iTalk Pro captures quality audio on iPod with video and iPod nano 2G. Priced at $49.99, it is now available from Griffin Technology and wherever quality iPod accessories are sold.

[11/29] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple Security Update 2006-007 is Out

Apple released Security Update 2006-007 and it is available for download via Software Update or as a stand-alone updater from this Apple Web page. The update is for Mac OS X 10.4.8 or 10.3.9 running on Intel-based Macs or PowerPC-based Macs and as client or server editions.

According to Apple,

Security Update 2006-007 is recommended for all users and improves the security of the following components [Intel-based client version]:

Font Book
Font Importer
Security Framework

The details are extensive and are listed on this Apple Web page. It is unclear if the recent adware, AppleTalk and disk image vulnerabilities are corrected by this update--we hope so.

We downloaded the Security Update 2006-007 via Software Update and applied it to a number of Macs, including: Intel-based Mac mini, MacBook Pro C2D, 24" iMac C2D and 20" iMac CD plus PowerPC-based PowerMac G4 Cube and 12" PowerBook G4--all run Mac OS X 10.4.8 and one runs the server edition. Except for the restart taking somewhat longer than normal, we encountered no negative effects from the update. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[11/29] Software Special of the Day: Cocktail 3.7.4 for 47% Off Today Only

Cocktail is a general purpose utility for Mac OS X. The application simplifies the use of advanced UNIX functions, gives access to hidden Mac OS X settings and lets you easily optimize your system. It is a smooth, powerful and simple to use utility with all major features arranged in five basic categories and a "Pilot" that lets you maintain your system with one click of the button.

Normally $14.95, Cocktail 3.7.4 is offered for $7.95--that's 47% off as Today's Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/29] Mac Users with Disabilities Share Experiences via Podcasts, Videos, and Articles

AssistiveWare released a new video podcast series, new videos, and a new edition of the AssistiveWare Newsletter. In these podcasts, videos and articles, Mac users with disabilities share their experiences on the Mac and explain how the Mac makes a real difference for them.

New video podcast series: Exploring the Frontiers of Assistive Technology

  • Episode 1: A pivotal role in the household
  • Episode 2: Everything I can't do in the real world I can do with my Mac

New videos show:

  • How Joe Barnick is able to do everything with his Mac that he cannot do in the real world.
  • How Ian Wolstenholme uses a MacBook Pro, Parallels Desktop, and SwitchXS to access Windows XP, while using nothing more than a sip and puff switch to access his computer.
  • How Mike Phillips with just a single switch and SwitchXS plays Age Of Empires 3 to review it for Inside Mac Games.

A new issue of the AssistiveWare Newsletter, which is written, edited and designed by Mac OS X users who cannot use a keyboard and/or mouse. [Bill Fox]

[11/29] Disney's Toontown Online (Universal) Now Available for the Mac

Disney's Toontown Online is now available for Macintosh computers, according to Disney Online, plus there are additions of new "gags" to keep players on their toon-toes. The first massively multiplayer online game designed for kids and their families, Toontown invites players to live life as a cartoon character, along with thousands of other players in a continually growing online world. Now both PowerPC-based and Intel-based Mac players can join the more than 15 million Windows-based 'Toon' characters created in the game by downloading Toontown.

Players can unlock a new arsenal of gags, including a Wedding Cake throw gag, an Ocean Liner drop gag, an Opera Voice sound gag, and more, by reaching the highest skill level on each of their gag tracks. Players have the option of using these new gags either in battle against the Cogs or planting them using the new Estate Gardening feature that was recently added to the game.

Toontown for both Mac and Windows is available for download for $9.95 per month, with extended membership packages available at special rates. Each membership includes six separate "Toons," so multiple family members can play as their own character. A free 3-day trial and additional information is available on the Web site. [Bill Fox]

[11/28] Adware Bug in Mac OS X Revealed

Adware can be placed in Mac OS X by an attacker without needing an administrator password or privileges, according to a CNet article. The adware launches when a regular application is run. A company called F-Secure revealed the bug using a program that it had been sent as an example.

This bug joins the disk image flaw revealed last week and the AppleTalk protocol bug as recent examples of security holes in Mac OS X. More... [Dana Baggett]

[11/28] MacUpdate offers BeeCells3D 1.2 for 38% Off Today Only

BeeCells3D is a game where the goal is to arrange six or more balls of the same color together in a group. After balls are arranged they disappear. After each turn, the computer puts more balls on the board and your task becomes more difficult.

Normally $7.95, BeeCells3D 1.2 is offered for $4.95--that's 38% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/28] Expand Use of the Apple Remote Control with Mira (Universal)

Mira is a shareware application that allows one to use the Apple Remote Control with many applications. It installs as a preference pane and has profiles for over 55 different applications. The user can create more profiles or use Mira to run custom AppleScripts. There is a review on this APC Web page.

Mira uses the Apple Remote Control with the built-in IR receiver on recent Macs. It also works with any USB Mac running Mac OS X 10.4.x using an available USB IR receiver, the Manta TR1. Mira sells for $15.95. The demo version runs 6 applications. [Dana Baggett]

[11/28] 19" ViewSonic Q19wb Black Flat Panel Monitor for $149 After Rebate

Here are some incredible 19" monitor bargains:

A 19" ViewSonic Q19wb black flat panel monitor is only $149.31 after rebate from via Google Checkout.

A 19" Samsung SyncMaster 941BW flat panel monitor is only $165.38 after rebate from via Google Checkout.

Offers valid through 11/30. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

[11/27] [Updated] TaxCut for Mac (Universal) is Back for 2006 Returns

After a one-year hiatus, H&R Block is again offering TaxCut for the Mac and it is a Universal Application, running natively on both Intel-based and PowerPC-based. There are three 2006 versions: Federal for 19.95, Federal+State for $29.95 and Federal+State+E-file for $59.95. The latter includes e-filing both federal and state returns, a total savings of nearly $2 over the $16 e-file fees for each return with the other two TaxCut versions. Each version is offered as a download or on a CD.

For many years some of the staff used TaxCut, while others used TurboTax for Mac (formerly MacInTax), for our tax returns. TaxCut was less expensive, was first to run natively on Mac OS X, had a better interview interface in the opinion of some and had better reviews. This year TaxCut is Universal while apparently TurboTax runs on Rosetta emulation on Intel-based Macs.[Correction: TurboTax 2006 is a Universal Application. Thanks, Bill George.] TaxCut 2006 is also less expensive by $15 in list price for the federal and a state return ($29.95 vs $44.95). We could not find how much TurboTax charges to e-file tax returns for 2006.

However, after switching back to TurboTax for 2005 it will be a difficult decision to go back to TaxCut, especially since TurboTax is now offered as a great deal with Quicken or other Mac software like Norton Internet Security 3.0 for Mac, Norton Confidential for Mac software or Norton AntiVirus 10.0 for Mac. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[11/27] MacUpdate offers accessTunes 1.5 for 43% Off Today Only

accessTunes allows you to play your iTunes music through any web browser like Internet Explorer, Safari, or Firefox. You can even play your music through media players like iTunes or Windows Media Player on other computers.

Normally $34.99, accessTunes 1.5 is offered for $19.99--that's 43% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/27] Web Traffic Growth for Retailing on Black Friday Less Than for 2004/2005

According to CNet, the Web traffic growth for online retailing was only 12% over 2005 using the Nielsen/Net Ratings Holiday eShopping Index that tracks more than 120 online retailers. In comparison, the growth was 29% for 2004/2005 and 11% for 2003/2004. eBay was first in Web traffic, followed by and More... [Bill Fox]

[11/27] XtremeMac Unveils Luna Alarm Clock and Audio System for iPod

XtremeMac announced the Luna alarm clock and audio system for iPod. The only alarm clock for iPod to integrate an on-screen menu system, Luna lets you sleep and wake to your iPod or the radio, and also serves as a complete speaker system for home or office.

Luna features two independent alarms that offer customized source (iPod, radio or buzzer), volume, dimmer, and snooze time options. You can even select gradually increasing and decreasing volume for the alarms and sleep timer. The easy-to-read display features variable brightness control that can be turned completely off at night, unlike most alarm clocks that can keep you awake with their bright displays.

In addition to being a customizable alarm clock, Luna is a complete audio system powered by two full-range speakers and a powerful two-channel amplifier. The AM/FM radio features four station presets. The built-in Universal dock well accommodates any iPod with a dock connector, and the unit ships with three dock well inserts that fit the most current iPod models. There is also an AUX-IN port for connecting audio devices without a dock connector such as the iPod shuffle, older iPod models or other MP3 players.

Luna is available for pre-order at $149.95 via the XtremeMac website and will begin shipping to Internet customers in early December. The product will also be sold at retail exclusively in Apple retail stores beginning in early December. [Bill Fox]

[11/22] Apple Stores Having Special Shopping Event on Friday, November 24th

We received a note from Apple that announced a special shopping event at Apple Stores on the day after Thanksgiving Day, i.e. Friday, November 24th. That day is normally called Black Friday by retailers because with good sales from that day forward they will be profitable for the year or in the black.

The Apple note states in part,

"Joy to the wallet. This Friday is our one-day shopping event. For ONE DAY ONLY, this Friday November 24th, the Apple Store will have a special Black Friday shopping event. Historically Black Friday has been a big day for us here at The Apple Store.... Shopping event is available only at the online Apple Store on November 24 from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. PST and at Apple retail stores. Check your local Apple Store for special hours. Sale prices are limited to stock on hand and while supplies last."

Look for Apple Store Black Friday ad banners on Macs Only! this Friday and click through to find out what it's all about. [Bill Fox]

Apple Store

[11/22] MacUpdate offers MenuCalendarClock for Entourage for 31% Off Today Only

MenuCalendarClock gives you instant access to your Entourage calendars and tasks from a menu bar icon. A monthly calendar view with your Entourage schedule is just a click away. A configurable clock is included as a free add-on.

Normally $18.95, MenuCalendarClock for Entourage is offered for $12.99--that's 31% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/22] Pando Software--Share Large Files via Email for Free with Mac OS X

Many email services limit email attachments to 10MB or less which is hardly enough to share a folder full of holiday photos or video clips with distant family members or friends. If you are running Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, Pando Networks, Inc., offers free software and their servers for sharing image and video clip files. The software is available from this Pando Web page. Here is the Pando FAQ.

Pando allows one to:

  • Send files of ANY size.
  • Attach and send whole folders.
  • Send files directly to someone's computer rather than make them go fetch on some Web site.
  • Send files to friends even if they're away from their computer or offline at the time.
  • Use it with both my Mac and Windows-based friends.
  • Send large files quickly and easily without having to install a bloated program with lots of features I don't even need.

The latest version is 0.9 and here's what's new:

  • No more registration. Just click and send!
  • New HTML emails let you preview packages before downloading
  • Much faster transfer connection times
  • Expired package management – Pando searches for peers, you decide whether to download
  • Enhanced email security - emails encrypted between Pando client and server
  • Fixes to bugs you helped find

The free service is limited and includes some advertising but should prove useful to virtually all home uses. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

[11/21] Apple-Supported Blu-ray Disc Technology in Promo riding HDTV Ad Campaign

Blu-ray Disc, supported by Apple Computer, is a next-generation optical disc format developed for high-definition video and high-capacity software applications. A single layer Blu-ray Disc will hold up to 25 gigabytes of data and a double-layer Blu-ray Disc will hold up to 50 gigabytes of data. It supports 1080p resolution, the highest of HDTV. Other supporters of this new format written with a blue laser include Twentieth Century Fox, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Sony, Warner Bros. and others.

Find out what they are saying about Blu-ray Disc. The print ad can be viewed on this SicolaMartin Web page and here is the video ad. SicolaMartin is the ad agency. [Bill Fox]

[11/21] The Road to Innovation--Apple Shows How It's Done

In an article entitled "Mistakes Made On The Road To Innovation," BusinessWeek online cites Apple as the example of how to not to make them.

"Apple Computer (AAPL ) shows how it's done. Here's a company that was trapped in an ever-dwindling niche of the PC business. Then came the iPod, a must-have device for music fans, and iTunes, an online music shop that turned music downloading into a profit-making business. By making iPod and iTunes work with Windows PCs, Apple broke out of selling only to its niche of loyal fans. But its transformation is even more profound than that: In essence, it switched from being a great designer of computer products into a great designer of consumer experiences delivered via devices and services. Now music represents 44% of Apple's revenues, and an even larger share of profits."

More... [Dana Baggett]

[11/21] MacUpdate offers iClock 3.0.5 for 25% Off Today Only

iClock is a menu bar replacement clock for Apple's default clock. It allows you to have the day, date and time in different fonts and colors in the menubar. iClock is also a kind of centrally-located time hub from which many time related functions can be controlled. iClock is an essential time utility for pilots, business people, travelers, and anyone who communicates with people in other time zones.

Normally $20.00, iClock 3.0.5 is offered for $15.00--that's 25% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/21] Mac Users: Get Tacos for Life in Trade for your Sony PlayStation 3

Real Mac news is very slow this week so we thought you might like to know that a Sony PlayStation 3 game console is worth more than what you can get on eBay, i.e. if you really like tacos. Taco Bell is offering tacos for life (actually $12,500 worth of taco coupons) to the owner of a PlayStation 3 who wants to trade. Taco Bell, in turn, will donate the PlayStation 3 to the Stanton Teen Center of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Interested parties should send their name, email address and phone number to Taco Bell. [Bill Fox]

[11/20] Micromat posted DiskStudio 1.5.2 Updater for v1.5.1 Only

Micromat released DiskStudio 1.5.2 and it is available for download from this Micromat Web page. DiskStudio allows the create and deletion of partitions on a hard drive without destroying the data. According to Micromat,

This updater will ONLY update DiskStudio 1.5.1 to version 1.5.2. If you are an owner of version 1.1.1 or earlier of DiskStudio, you will need to purchase the DiskStudio 1.5.2 DVD Update .

This is a minor update from version 1.5.1. The version 1.5.2 DVD will boot the Mac Pro and the 24" iMac as well as previous Intel and Tiger compatible PowerPC Macs. Current owners of DiskStudio can purchase the DiskStudio 1.5.2 DVD Update for $25. Micromat also offers an Annual Subscription Service for $99. This is geared to owners of DiskStudio who wish to receive each update or upgrade automatically on DVD as soon as it is released.

There are several changes in v1.5.2:

  • Added ability to remove Boot Camp created partitions.
  • Additional support for GUID created hard drives.
  • Other minor changes and feature enhancements.

Here are more details (PDF file).

We favorably reviewed version 1.0.1. [Bill Fox]

[11/20] MacUpdate offers Pronto Survey 1.1.11 for 33% Off Today Only

Create slick, professional, multipage surveys on your website which you can use for market research or any other activity that could benefit from more user input, without any programming knowledge to implement them.

Surveys are created in PHP and hosted in your website. They can handle several question types (open response, single and multiple response, and evaluation/matrix) and save survey results in your choice of database, MySQL or PostgreSQL.

With Pronto Survey, you can add rules and create dynamic surveys based on survey responses; analyze survey results with multicolor charts and tables; and create filters for extended analysis and export survey data to your favorite analysis software.

Normally $60.00, Pronto Survey 1.1.11 is offered for $39.99--that's 33% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/20] Quicky Wireless Antenna from QuickerTek doubles Wireless Performance

QuickerTek released the Quicky Transceiver that doubles wireless networking for Apple MacBook Pro and MacBooks models with 500 milliwatts of RF (wireless) power--that's ten times more than a stock MacBook. This additional RF power means two things: greater operating distances from the AirPort Base Station or wireless access point, and more available networks to choose from.

Quicky temporarily clips to the top of the open MacBook case and connects through the MacBook's USB port, eliminating the need to disassemble the computer for installation. Quicky boosts wireless networking distance as well as networking speeds once connected. Quicky is available directly from QuickerTek or from its dealers for a SRP of $225.

[11/17] Micromat posted TechTool Pro 4.5.2 Update as a Download

Previously only available on a bootable DVD (as we noted here), MM quietlyMicromat has posted a download to update v.4.5.1 of TechTool Pro to the latest v.4.5.2. This version is for Core 2 Duo Macs. The new features include:

  • Fixed Video Memory issue for specific Intel Macs.
  • Fixed Main Memory RAM calculation size issue for Intel Macs.
  • Fixed Wipe Data issue for GUID partitioned volumes.
  • Fixed Data Recovery issue for GUID partitioned volumes.
  • Updated Volume Structures test.
  • Addressed eDrive free space capacity issue.
  • Other minor changes and feature enhancements.

We downloaded it and updated both the application on the hard drive and on the eDrive. Then, we booted into the eDrive and ran all tests and procedures except a hard drive surface scan. All went well.

BTW, we're still waiting for the bootable DVD with v4.5.2 ordered nearly two weeks ago. [Dana Baggett]

[11/17] Apple released Remote Desktop 3.1 Update, Admin and Client

Apple Remote Desktop 3.1 Update is available for download via Software Update if you have ARD 3.x installed or as stand-alone updaters for the Admin and Client applications. According to Apple,

The 3.1 update is recommended for all users and addresses numerous issues related to overall reliability, usability and compatibility. It includes specific fixes for:

- remote lights out management of Xserve
- scanning computers on the local network
- installation of software meta-packages
- authentication when using directory services
- execution of AppleScript and Automator workflows
- compatibility with third party VNC viewers and servers

More details, including compatibility issues, are provided on this Apple Web page.

The security improvement is:

CVE-ID: CVE-2006-4413
Available for: Apple Remote Desktop 3.0
Impact: Malicious local users may be able to modify packages used to install or upgrade client systems
Description: Apple Remote Desktop includes built-in packages used to install and upgrade client systems. The permissions on these packages could allow them to be altered by malicious local users on Apple Remote Desktop admin systems. This could lead to the execution of arbitrary commands with root privileges on client systems when Apple Remote Desktop client software is installed or upgraded. This issue has been addressed by applying more restrictive permissions on the built-in installation packages. Credit to Andrew Mortensen of the University of Michigan for reporting this issue.

[Bill Fox]

[11/17] MacUpdate offers Screenography 1.010 for 37% Off Today Only

Screenography can capture your screen to various image, movie and Flash formats. Very useful for creating tutorials, training videos/CDs and demonstrations. Features include:

  • Capture any area of the screen to an image, or Flash file instantly or in a timed screenshot.
  • Record any area of the screen to a movie or Flash file.(This feature is not available in Screenography Lite)
  • Capture objects on the screen, such as windows, dialog boxes, menus, and icons.
  • Save screen captures to BMP, GIF, JPEG, PDF, Photoshop, PICT, PNG, SWF, Targa, and TIFF. Save movie captures to AVI, DV, FLC, Image Sequence, MPEG-4, MOV, SWF, FLV, and Flash Projector files (self-executable). (This feature is not available in Screenography Lite)
  • Automatically overlay your captures with a watermark/copyright notice.
  • Automatically generate thumbnails for your screen captures.
  • Add Drop Shadow and Color Fades to the border of your captures.
    Output Macromedia Flash movie files (SWF).Over 97% of all browsers already have the Flash Player installed, so you won't have to worry about your audience being able to view your captures.
  • Add Flash preloaders to your Flash movie files with the built-in preloader option, or add even more customized preloaders with SWF, Lock & Load.

Normally $39.95, Screenography 1.010 is offered for $24.99--that's 37% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/17] Apple posted New Developer Articles

Since the last time we updated you, Apple has posted three new developer articles:

Leopard Technology Series for Developers: Leopard Developer Tools Overview--Leopard is bringing powerful new tools to Mac OS X. Read how Leopard developer tools will make it easier than ever to create exciting applications.

OpenEye and Mac OS X: Opening a Door to the Pharmaceutical Industry--OpenEye has seen huge performance gains for their applications on Intel-based Macs. Read how this increases interest in the Mac platform in the pharmaceutical industry.

Working with the WebKit Nightly Builds--You can download builds of the WebKit open source project to keep track of changes in the framework that may affect your Web-based content or application.

[Bill Fox]

[11/17] eSATA-EC, a 2-Port SATA2 ExpressCard 34 for the MacBook Pro--$99.95

The Firewire Depot now has a 2-port SATA2 ExpressCard 34 for the MacBook Pro, the eSATA-EC. One can connect up to 10 drives (using port multiplier based 5 drive enclosures) for high-performance applications, such as Apple's Final Cut Pro. With Firewire Depot's qBox-P or sBOX-P attached in a RAID 0 array, they claim that the eSATA-EC can typically achieve sustained disk write and read speeds of 130 and 140 MB/sec, respectively, which is about five times as fast as USB 2.0 or three times as fast as FireWire connections to the same drive setup. With the eSATA-EC PC Express Card installed, you can connect your notebook to SATA peripherals such as the SATA HUB, an External RAID, and eSATA storage Devices (CDROM, CD/RW, MO, HDD, ZIP etc.).

The eSATA-EC retails for $99.95, $20 less than the superfast FirmTek 2MS2-E eSATA ExpressCard 34 that we previously reviewed. [Bill Fox]

[11/17] 200GB miniXpress 2.5" Drive is Out

Trans International released the 200 GB drive addition to it's miniXpress SATA to FireWire portable external storage solutions. This affordable miniXpress ($369.00) is the largest capacity SATA to FireWire portable drive, utilizing the Toshiba 2.5" 4200RPM 8MB cache SATA drive. The miniXpress enclosure has FireWire 800, FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 ports. Backup and disk utility software is also included. 

We favorably reviewed the 160GB version of the miniXpress. [Bill Fox]

[11/16] Brief Hands-On Report--Adobe Flash Player (Universal) is Out

Adobe released Flash Player and it is available for download free via You can check the version of your Flash Player at this Adobe Web page and check whether it's functioning correctly by visiting the Web sites listed in the Adobe Flash Showcase.

We downloaded v9.0.28.0 and installed it on a Mac mini Core Duo, iMac Core Duo, iMac Core 2 Duo and MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo with no problems. We also visited many of the Web sites in the Showcase with Safari and all worked well. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[11/16] MacUpdate offers QiPo 2.1 for 35% Off Today Only

QiPo stands for QuickTime in - Preview out. QiPo processes a QuickTime movie and creates an image containing sequential frames that conform a preview of the movie. QiPo can process any movie format that QuickTime understands, such as MPEG, some AVIs, and even QuickTime VR objects.

Normally $20, QiPo 2.1 is offered for $12.95--that's 35% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/16] Apple Revised the Offerings from Two Hot Deals Retailers

Macconnection has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Speck Products iPod case 3-pack for 60GB/80GB 5th gen. iPods FREE with iPod purchase!; LaCie d2 Extreme 500GB hard drive w/FireWire and USB 2.0 for only $264.95!; Acrobat 8 Pro w/FREE Logitech wireless notebook mouse for only $419.95!; TuneTalk stereo iPod voice recorder for 5G iPods w/FREE Kickstand case from Belkin for only $59.95!; 3-D Sound Docking station w/free retractable cable kit from Cables To Go for only $88.95!; capture holiday memories with the Canon HV 1080p HD MiniDV camcorder for only $1,099!; Olympus Stylus digital camera w/FREE Epson Stylus C88 color inkjet photo printer for only $379.95; Quark Interactive Designer software for only $94.99!; and much more.

Sweetwater Sound has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Axiom 25 USB MIDI controller from M-Audio for only $179.97!; UM-1EX USB MIDI interface cable from Edirol for only $39.97! Acoustic Design for the Home Studio from Course Technology for only $19.99!; Tracktion 2 from Mackie for only $149.99!; FaderPort single channel USB MIDI fader from PreSonus for only $199.97!; MOTU 8pre 16-channel, 8-preamps and FireWire audio interface form Mark Of The Unicorn for only $549.97!; and much more.

[Bill Fox]

[11/16] SidewinderX (Universal) released for Mac OS X--Trace/Report Spam

Hendrickson Software Components (hsc) released SidewinderX, an AppleScriptable Universal Binary built on the company's popular Sidewinder Rating Engine, for Mac OS X and Apple Mail. SidewinderX enables everyone from novice end users to IT professionals working in complex networked environments to effectively reduce spam in their e-mail Inbox and on their network. SidewinderX works by automatically tracing the source of spam and embedded links and reporting offenders to their respective Internet Service Providers. SidewinderX users typically see their spam levels drop dramatically within a few weeks according to hsc.

SidewinderX is currently available for Mac OS X and Apple Mail. The client edition is priced at $19.95 directly from hsc. [Bill Fox]

[11/16] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--PlayStation 3, Zune, Jim Heid and The Lame Show

Tonight host Gene Steinberg talks about the PlayStation 3, the Microsoft Zune player and lots of other stuff with Special Correspondent David Biedny in The David Biedny Zone. You'll also hear from multimedia expert and prolific author Jim Heid, author of The Macintosh iLife '06. And, prepare to meet Eddie Hargreaves and Noah Brimhall, the outspoken hosts of a new and different Podcast, known as The Lame Show.You can You can tune in the Web broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern. [Bill Fox]

[11/15] Intel Keeps Pumping Out New CPUs--Quad Cores are Out Already

Just after Apple finished releasing its notebooks (MacBook Pro and MacBook) with Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs, Intel introduced the Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5300 and Intel Core 2 Extreme quad-core processor families. The quad-core CPUs deliver immense speed and responsiveness for general purpose servers and workstations and for digital media creation, high-end gaming and other market segments that crave absolute performance.

"Today's announcement ushers in another new era in computing," said Paul Otellini, Intel's president and CEO. "The capabilities of quad-core microprocessors will bring new possibilities for science, entertainment and business. I'm incredibly proud of what Intel's employees have achieved with these new products."

Quad-core Intel Xeon Processor 5300 series CPUs deliver up to 50 percent faster performance within the same thermal envelope and at the same cost as the previous generation Dual-Core Intel Xeon processor 5100 series launched less than 5 months ago.

Four Intel Xeon processors were launched at clock speeds ranging from 1.60GHz to 2.66GHz, with front side bus (FSB) speeds ranging from 1066MHz to 1333MHz, a thermal design power (TDP) of either 80 watts or a performance-optimized 120 watt option and costing $455 to $1172. In the first quarter next year, Intel will launch two more quad-core Xeon processors – a low-voltage version for ultra-dense deployments with a TDP of only 50 watts and a processor designed for single-socket workstations and servers.

Intel touts the Core 2 Extreme quad-core processor QX6700 as the world's best desktop processor for multimedia applications since it is up to 80 percent faster than the company's current Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor X6800. This is the world’s first quad-core desktop processor available for unmatched, highly threaded performance. Ideal for today's games with incredible performance for tomorrow's highly threaded games; the Intel Core 2 Extreme quad-core processor QX6700 is available at 2.66GHz with a 1066MHz FSB and costs $999. The processor runs on Intel’s existing 975X Express chipset family.

Intel plans to offer a mainstream quad-core processor starting in the first quarter next year under the Intel Core 2 Quad processor brand name. The processor will be an ideal choice for processor-intensive, highly threaded programs such as entertainment, gaming and multimedia activities.

Simultaneously, Alienware and Dell announced Wintels with the new Core 2 Extreme quad-core CPU. The Dell starts at $3700. Will we see a Mac Pro with the new quad-core CPU soon? The days of Macs with long speed plateaus appear to be gone. Intel's speed in creating speed is also creating expectations that we hope Apple will meet. Don't you just love it? [Bill Fox]

[11/15] MacUpdate offers NovaMind 3.2.4 for 39% Off Today Only

NovaMind is a key tool used to conduct and record the outcomes of brainstorming sessions to generate ideas for marketing, KPI's, goals and problem resolution. Having employees involved in brainstorming sessions encourages creativity, initiative, communication and improved employer/employee relationships.

Presentations: Use NovaMind during presentations as a prompt so that all points detailed on your Mind Map are covered--you can print a whole Mind Map on one page! This is a great help so information is not forgotten and discussions stay focused on the topic at hand.

Motivating People: Business owners and managers often find it difficult to motivate people. Using Mind Mapping techniques they can quickly assess the different options available for motivating their staff and put them into effect.

Normally $99, NovaMind 3.2.4 is offered for $59.99--that's 39% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/15] From the Dark Side--Initial M$ Zune Sales are Tepid

According to a variety of reports, Microsoft's Zune hit the market yesterday with a thud. The MP3 player that is aimed at dethroning Apple's iPod was met with relatively slow sales (e.g. this CNET report). Although, at our publication time, listed the black Zune as 7th on its list of top 100 consumer electronics items. Numbers 2, 3, and 4 were iPods--the black 30GB iPod, silver 2GB iPod nano and black 80GB iPod. Then there were 7 more iPods before getting to #40, a brown Zune. After 2 more iPods and a large number of other MP3 players, the white Zune was #70. [Bill Fox]

[11/15] Road Warriors with iPods to get Airline Seat Connections

Apple has teamed up with Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM and United to deliver the first seamless integration between iPod and in-flight entertainment systems. These six airlines will begin offering their passengers iPod seat connections which power and charge their iPods during flight and allow the video content on their iPods to be viewed on the their seat back displays.

"There is no better traveling companion than an iPod, and now travelers can power their iPods during flight and even watch their iPod movies and TV shows on their seat back displays," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of Worldwide iPod Product Marketing. "We're excited to work with Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM and United to offer iPod users an even better in-flight experience."

In-flight iPod connectivity will be available to Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM and United passengers beginning in mid 2007. Additionally, Apple is working with Panasonic Avionics Corporation to bring even more leading airlines in-flight iPod connectivity in the future. [Bill Fox]

[11/14] [Updated] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released EFI Firmware Updates for Intel-Based Macs--One Warning!

Apple released EFI Firmware Updates for Intel-Based Macs and they are available for download via Software Update or as stand-alone updaters from these Apple Web pages:

According to Apple,

This EFI Firmware Update fixes several Boot Camp, start up, and wake-from-sleep issues on [Intel-based] computers.

Before downloading and installing the EFI Firmware Update on two iMacs (a 20" 2GHz Core Duo and a 24" 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo) we downloaded

Firmware Restoration CD 1.2,

also just out, and burned the CD. This CD will restore the original firmware should the update process be inadvertently interrupted.

We downloaded and installed the new EFI Firmware Update on the two iMacs no problems. Our Intel-based iMacs were both updated to Boot ROM Version ...B01. They run fine and sleep and wake well after the update.

WARNING: Apparently, the MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.2 is NOT for the new 15" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo. The update does not appear in Software Update using our new 15" 2.33GHz MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo. Its firmware Boot ROM Version is already MBP22.00A5.B00 and the updater would install MBP11.0055.B08, seemingly for the original 15" MacBook Pro Core Duo. We did not try to install the 1.2 update from the stand-alone updater and do not recommend doing so until Apple clarifies this issue.

Update: Readers note that the MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.2 launched from the stand-alone file on a MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo presents a message that the update is not needed. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[11/14] Apple released X11 Update 2006 1.1.3

X11 is Apple's software that allows X11 applications to be run on Macs. The new version can be downloaded from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,

This update addresses several issues in the X11 for Mac OS X package, enabling it to better handle:

- GLX stereo visuals
- offscreen rendering to GLX Pbuffers and Pixmaps

To tell X11 to take advantage of stereo visuals, enter:
$ defaults write enable_stereo -bool true

This update also addresses font issues present in X11 1.1.2, and is recommended for all users.

We do not have any X11 applications to test this update for you. [Bill Fox]

[11/14] Apple Store Online posted Holiday Gift Guide

Everything iPod and everything Mac is laid out in Apple's Holiday Gift Guide available at this Apple Store Web page.

Add gift wrapping and free engraving to any iPod. Plus get free shipping on any purchase of $50 or more at the Apple Store. [Bill Fox]

[11/14] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released Digital Camera RAW Support Update 1.0.1 for Mac OS X 10.4.8

Mac OS X 10.4.x Tiger provides support for a variety of popular digital camera and image file formats. Applications such as Aperture, iPhoto and Preview utilize this support to work with digital camera RAW files. A separate update is available for Intel-based Macs and PowerPC-based Macs. According to Apple,

This update improves RAW file format compatibility for the following digital SLR cameras:

-Canon Digital Rebel XTi / 400D / Kiss X Digital
-Nikon D80
-Pentax *ist DS

Other issues addressed:

-Handling of large Canon RAW files (.CRW)
-DNG compatibility on Intel-based Macs
-Lines sometimes appearing in images exported from Aperture

We downloaded and installed the update on our 2.33GHz 15" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo and our 2.33GHz 24" iMac Core 2 Duo. We had no problem with the iMac but when we restarted the MacBook Pro we got a white screen and the fans revved up to full. We pressed the power button until the MacBook Pro shut down. It then restarted normally and we have not had any problems since. We do not have the cameras for which the fix is intended so we can not test them for you. [Bill Fox]

[11/14] MacUpdate offers WebcamTweaker 1.2.2 for 37% Off Today Only

WebcamTweaker can record video messages or shoot pictures to be seen with an iPod or sent by email to your friends.

A lot of dynamic and static effects are included with WebcamTweaker: Bump, Glass, Pinch, Black & White, Bloom, Crystallize, Dots, Halftone, Pixel, Pointilize, Thermal, TV, Warhol, XRay, Balls, Christmas, Crazy Heart, Cube, Love, Moving Glass, SpaceWrap, Teapot. You can even develop your own effects: WebcamTweaker load standards Quartz Composer composition.

Normally $15.95, WebcamTweaker 1.2.2 is offered for $9.99--that's 37% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/14] Adding Music To Macintosh iLife Projects--WAPi General Meeting this Saturday

Mr. Raul de Arriz, Absolute Mac, will present Music and iLife this Saturday, November 18, at the Washington Apple Pi (WAPi) General Meeting. Raul will demonstrate how to enhance the Macintosh iLife products with music, using both iLife methods and hardware available for sale at Absolute Mac. The iLife software suite has five applications for creating polished art from simple beginnings: iPhoto edits digital camera images, producing albums and photo cards; iMovie edits video to create great cinema; iWeb for Internet photo albums, blogs and podcasts; you use GarageBand to compose and edits your own music; and with iDvD, you can save your creations for perpetuity on CD and DVD media.

"With a bit of practice, everyday people generate out-of-this-work art with Apple's iLife application suite on the Macintosh," stated Pat Fauquet, Washington Apple Pi's VP for Programs. She continued, "Adding music to photo albums, videos, web photo albums or by adding podcast theme music takes your production a giant step closer to professional-quality products. Some professionals avoid studio expense by finishing their CDs using iLife."

The traditional Mac user meeting question and answer session starts at 8:30 am as members and guests gather. The formal meeting opens at 9 am with three concurrent special interest group sessions. These breakout sessions end at 10:00 for Raul's Music and iLife presentation. Members, visitors and guests are invited to continue their discussions over lunch at Reston Town Square's Panera Bread store three blocks away.

The November/December Pi Fillings CD, which helps defray meeting costs, is for sale at meeting for $10. It includes Apple software updates, shareware, Macintosh news items and URL for news too large to fit on CD. Others can purchase the $12 CD from The Pi Store--use the "Pi Fillings" CD link. [Bill Fox]

[11/13] PhoneDirector 1.2.1 (Universal) for Nokia Cell Phones is Out

MacMedia released version 1.2.1 of PhoneDirector for Mac OS X, the complete solution for Nokia 6230, 6230i, 6233, 6234, 7280, 7380, 8800 mobile phone. This version is a Universal Application that runs natively on Intel-based and PowerPC-based Macs.

PhoneDirector is a tool for Phonebook, SMS, Gallery and Calendar management of Nokia phones.

Main features:

  • Phonebook editing, uploading, deleting, backup, export (extended phonebook with more numbers and texts is supported).
  • SMS reading from the phone, sending, replying, forwarding, deleting, archiving.
  • Downloading and uploading pictures, sounds and videos from/to the phone.
  • Adding, editing, export and import of calendar events.
  • Uploading Java applications to the phone.
  • Creating and editing own themes and uploading them to the phone.
  • Setting phone radio channels from the computer.
  • Uploading bookmarks from Safari to the phone.
  • Adding and editing notes in the phone.
  • Bluetooth connection.

PhoneDirector 1.2.1 is 29.95 EUR shareware, upgrade fee from the 1.1 and previous versions is 14.95 EUR. Registration is within the application. MacMedia also makes PhoneAgent for Sony-Ericsson cell phones and PhoneManager for other Nokia cell phones. [Bill Fox]

[11/13] MacUpdate offers Digital Alarm Clock 2.7 for 50% Off Today Only

Digital Alarm Clock is a small desktop application that tells time the 1970s way. Its authentic-looking LED display illuminates your desktop in reassuring shades of Nixon red - just like you remember from your old bedside table.

Normally $19.99, Digital Alarm Clock 2.7 is offered for $9.99--that's 50% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/13] Freeverse's "Big Week" Starts Today--Free Games and $1000 Contest

Freeverse, a Mac developer/publisher, starts a "Big Week" of new software announcements and free games. Each day this week, starting today, Freeverse will release a new title, give away a free Mac game or make an announcement. One of the announcements will be a contest with a $1,000 grand prize.

Ian Lynch Smith, President of Freeverse, said; "We've been working on lots of stuff and we're very excited to share some news and give folks some games to play."

Check each morning this week for that day's announcement. [Bill Fox]

[11/13] WAPi General Meeting "Something Old, Something New" this Saturday

Music on the Mac and iLife '06. These are the topics for The Washington Apple Pi's (WAPi) monthly meeting next Saturday, November 18, 2006. If you are in the metropolitan Washington DC area, come on by, listen and learn!

Just like old times, Lawrence Charters will be there to answer your questions when the doors open at 8:30. Come early to get your question answered.

And a new wrinkle, WAPi will hold its first Pi Auction for door prizes. A couple of iLife-related prizes that will be "sold to the highest bidder." The currency won't be real money though; WAPi will be using Pi Dollars.

The door prizes are:

  • iLife 'O6 application
  • "The Macintosh iLife '06" by Jim Held
  • 512MB iPod shuffle
  • One or two more new books on photography

[Bill Fox]

[11/13] Five Neat Things to do with iTunes

You can do more with iTunes than just download, rip and play music and fill an iPod. There are also things like:

1. Mass De-Authorization when the limit of 5 computers is reached.

2. Reverse Sync by transferring music from an iPod to a computer.

3. Share Music with others on a network.

4. Parental Controls for music downloaded and loaded on an iPod.

5. Smart Playlists made automatically from user set criteria.

More... [Dana Baggett]

[11/10] Online has Mac TurboTax for 2006 and Quicken 2007 for $79.94

As we approach 2007 and federal income tax time, Intuit usually offers good deals on purchases of TurboTax and Quicken together. is now offering both for $79.94, a savings of about $30 or nearly the cost of TurboTax alone. [Dana Baggett]

[11/10] MacUpdate offers Gallery Designer 1.0.2 for 50% Off Today Only

Gallery Designer helps you publish a web photo album when you don't have the know-how or time to manually code it. Gallery Designer allows you to feed in your photos, videos, stories, and audio files to instantly compile a web-ready gallery.

Customize numerous options to perfect the design--you get full range of control over how your end product looks. Change colors, thumbnail/full image size, titles, gallery style, you name it! Even borrow template documents from other authors, or design your own.

Normally $19.95, Gallery Designer 1.0.2 is offered for $9.95--that's 50% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/10] Cool Mac Software (Literally!)--smcFanControl 1.2.2 is Out

The latest version of this utility to control the fans in Intel-based Macs adds compatibility with the MacBook Core 2 Duos released on Tuesday plus Dutch and Korean languages. It is available via [Bill Fox]

[11/10] Marketcircle released Billings 2 Public Beta (Universal) for Time & Expense Tracking--Try It for Free

Marketcircle Inc. released a free public beta for Billings 2, its latest software designed for the unique needs of Mac-based business and creative professionals. Easy-to-use Billings 2 tracks time and expenses. In minutes, Billings 2 creates detailed and attractive customized invoices, project estimates, and reports. It's a Universal application that runs natively on Intel-based and PowerPC-based Macs.

According to Marketcircle, Mac-based professionals using Billings 2 benefit from a host of practical, convenient, timesaving features, including:

  • A built in set-up assistant and an intuitive, clearly labeled user interface that ensure Billings 2 is easy to get up and running
  • Appealing, fully-customizable PDF templates for estimates, invoices, and labels that allow your business to present itself more professionally
  • A convenient menu-bar timer that accurately tracks billable time without interrupting work, leaving more time in the day for billable work
  • A slip template mechanism that reduces repetitive data entry, saving time and reducing errors
  • A choice of over 120 predefined sales tax/VAT rates applicable in regions around the globe allowing Billings 2 to perform otherwise time-consuming, mind-numbing tax calculations quickly and conveniently
  • Imports Projects, Opportunities and Activities from Daylite 3.1.3 or higher
  • Easy data export to integrate Billings 2 data with accounting and bookkeeping software
  • And additional time-saving functions that manage retainers, print reports, set prefixes for auto-numbering of estimates and invoices, and more

The free public beta of Billings 2 is available now at this Web page. Available as a final production version by the end of this year, Billings 2 can be purchased for US $49 during the month of Nov. and US $59 starting Dec. 1. [Bill Fox]

[11/9] Brief Hands-On Report--Mozilla SeaMonkey 1.0.6 and 1.1beta are Out

SeaMonkey is Mozilla's all-in-one internet suite. SeaMonkey 1.0.6 was just released and it is available from this Mozilla Web page. The changes include:

  • Splash screen no longer fades when using Remote Desktop. (Bug 316150)
  • Numerous stability improvements
  • Several security fixes:
    • MFSA 2006-67 Running Script can be recompiled
    • MFSA 2006-66 RSA signature forgery (variant)
    • MFSA 2006-65 Crashes with evidence of memory corruption (rv:

SeaMonkey 1.1beta, which includes new features, was also released.

We downloaded and installed both versions and used them for Web surfing and emailing without encountering any issues. [Dana Baggett]

[11/9] Mozilla released Firefox Update

A security update for the Firefox 1.5.0.x Web browser was released by Mozilla. Firefox is available for download from this Mozila Web page--just choose the correct language folder. We assume v1.5.0.8 includes the same security fixes as SeaMonkey 1.0.6 (see above) and Thunderbird (see below).

We no longer use Firefox v1.5.x.x but the newer v2.0 instead. [Dana Baggett and Bill Fox]

[11/9] Apple Revised the Offerings from Three Hot Deals Retailers

Apple Special Deals has exclusive deals on Apple Certified Refurbished products including: Apple Certified Refurbished 15" 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo MacBook Pro w/built-in iSight and Apple Remote for only $1,449.00!; Apple Certified Refurbished 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo MacBook (White) for only $1,099!; Apple Certified Refurbished 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo MacBook (Black) for only $1,449!; Apple Certified Refurbished 4GB iPod nano for $149.00!; Apple Certified Refurbished 1GB iPod shuffle for only $59.00!; and much more.

MacGameStore has Hot Deals exclusive 5% off at checkout on the following games: Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood from Virtual Programming for only $29.95 (Digital download); Solitaire Antics Ultimate Plus from Masque Publishing for only $19.99!; Airline Tycoon Deluxe from RuneSoft for only $29.95 (Digital download); Music Challenge from Ohana Games for only $10.00! (Digital download); Diner Dash 2: Restaurant Rescue from PlayFirst for only $19.95! (Digital download); Pop-A-Tronic from Big Blue Bubble for only $19.95! (Digital download); Around The World from Frozax Games for only $19.95! (Digital download); Dominions 3: The Awakening from Shrapnel Games for only $49.95!; and much more.

Publishing Perfection has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Stylus Photo R1800 color inkjet printer from Epson for only $549.95!; ScanMaker i800 Pro flatbed scanner from MicroTek for only $349.95!; Nikon D-50 kit w/18-55mm lens for only $679.95!; 2GB Cruzer Micro USB flash drive from SanDisk for only $76.95!; Dreamweaver 8 from Adobe for only $398.95!; QuarkXPress 7.0 for only $748.95!; Genuine Fractals 4.1 from onOne Software for only$157.95!; Mystical Tint Tone & Color for photography from AutoFX for only $178.95!; Logo Spruce hyper-drawing and editing tools from Comnet for only $189.95; and much more.

[Bill Fox]

[11/9] MacUpdate offers Forms to Go 3.0.4 for 33% Off Today Only

Forms To Go 3.0.4 lets you create custom PHP, ASP and Perl scripts for HTML forms and send the field values thru email, in text, html or multipart, with file uploaded in the forms, or dump the field values to a text file, MySQL or MS-Access database. Validate your user input for correct values, like correct email, length, number range, credit card number, missing value and more. Send confirmation email, with file attach and field values.

The script is created and customized for your HTML form, which means is very secure against spammers, but includes the ability for HTTP referer and IP address filter.

Normally $60.00, Forms to Go 3.0.4 is offered for $39.99--that's 33% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/9] Apple Upgraded MacBooks with New Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs

Following suit after upgrading Mac Pros, iMacs and MacBook Pros with Intel's latest Core 2 Duo CPUs, Apple released upgraded MacBooks with the Core 2 Duo CPUs running at 1.83GHz and 2.0GHz. Apple claims that MacBooks with the latest CPUs out-perform the original MacBooks with Intel Core Duo CPUs by up to 25 percent even though the clock speed is identical. The Core 2 Duo CPUs have twice the cache at 4MB, better vector math capability and can process 64-bit instructions rather than just 32-bit.

The price points and color remain identical at $1099 for the low-end 1.83GHz white MacBook, $1299 for the high-end 2GHz white MacBook and $1499 for the high-end 2GHz black MacBook. Only this time the black color of the high-end MacBook is only $50 extra rather than $150 extra of the previous MacBook models, a more reasonable premium, with a 120GB hard drive vs the 80GB drive in the high-end white model. The included hard drives are larger than in the previous MacBook models and the options go up to the latest 200GB 4200rpm drive.

The high-end MacBooks get upgraded with the same 6x double-layer SuperDrive as the latest MacBook Pros released two weeks ago.

Everything else is the same, including the Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics system. [Bill Fox]

[11/9] Hands-On Report--Mozilla Thunderbird Email Client is Out

Thunderbird is available for download via It may be downloaded by the "Check for Updates" Help menu item within the application but if you have an Intel-based Mac and an early version of Thunderbird (1.5-, it is better to use to ensure you get the Universal version and not the PowerPC version.

According to Mozilla, the changes from to are:

  • Improvements to product stability.
    • Crashes: (1)
      • Fixed: 323531 - crash when deleting all attachments after detaching all of them from one mail
    • Address book: (1)
      • Fixed: 230580 - ldap_2 "user_directory"/"_nonascii_" preferences proliferating unnecessarily
    • Functionality: (1)
      • Fixed: 351685 - Total email count is set to 0 after compacting an Inbox
    • Networking: (1)
      • Fixed: 249240 - Password dialog for POP/IMAP server does not reprompt when password is changed externally.
    • UI improvements: (1)
      • Fixed: 332883 - Thunderbird freezes while searching in a folder with lots of messages ( search bar )
    • Miscellaneous fixes: (1)
      • Fixed: 352801 - keeps asking for password
  • Several security fixes.
    • MFSA 2006-67 Running Script can be recompiled
    • MFSA 2006-66 RSA signature forgery (variant)
    • MFSA 2006-65 Crashes with evidence of memory corruption (rv:

Thunderbird is the Mozilla Foundation's open source, stand-alone email client. We use it as a backup to Apple Mail and as the primary email client on non-Mac computers when we have to use them.

We downloaded Thunderbird and instlled it without any issues. No problems were encountered in using it as our email client for a few hours. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[11/8] Cool Mac Software--Mactracker 4.1b2 (Universal) is Out

Mactracker is one of the most indispensible utilities for a true Macophile. It provides detailed information on almost every piece of hardware that Apple has ever made, including all of the Macs. Version 4.1b2 is a Universal Application and adds the new 15" and 17" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duos to its database along with a few other changes. Mactracker 4.1b2 is available for download from within the application or via MacUdate. [Dana Baggett]

[11/8] O'Reilly published CSS: The Definitive Guide -- Third Edition

CSS: The Definitive Guide by Eric A. Meyer (O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-52733-0, 518 pages, $44.99) is a complete sourcebook for web designers and webmasters working with the Cascading Style Sheets language. While only a guide, Meyer wants readers to know that the book covers what is relevant now. According to the author, he didn't spend much time on CSS features that nobody supports.

Here are the book's features:

  • This classic guide shows readers how to put every aspect of cascading style sheets into practice according to the latest specifications, CSS2 and CSS2.1.
  • Updated to cover Internet Explorer 7, Firefox, and other browsers, including the new CSS3 selectors they support.
  • Meyer uses his trademark wit and breadth of experience to explore properties, tags, attributes, and implementations.
  • Covers real-life issues such as browser support and design knowledge.
  • Written for web developers and designers who code; only requires knowledge of HTML 4.0.

[Bill Fox]

[11/8] MacUpdate offers MenuCalendarClock for iCal 2.6.1 for 31% Off Today Only

MenuCalendarClock for iCal gives you instant access to your iCal calendars from a menu bar icon. A monthly calendar view with your iCal schedule is just a click away. A configurable clock is included as a free add-on.

Normally $18.95, MenuCalendarClock for iCal 2.6.1 is offered for $12.99--that's 31% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/8] Micromat released TechTool Pro v4.5.2 (Universal) on DVD for Core 2 Duo Macs

Vesion 4.5.2 is available from Micromat for $25 on a bootable DVD if one already owns TechTool Pro 4.x.x or as an upgrade from previous versions for $97. The minor upgrade ensures that all Macs, including the Mac Pro and 24" iMac can boot off a TechTool Pro CD and perform tests correctly. If you do not have one of these new Macs, you can stick with v4.5.1. [Dana Baggett]

[11/8] O'Reilly published iPod: The Missing Manual -- Fifth Edition

With 68 million iPods out there, they're without a doubt one of the most popular and defining devices of a generation. Yet many folks don't know that iPods can do so much more than play music. Fortunately New York Times columnist J.D. Biersdofer reveals all their secret features, tips, and tricks in a handy new book--iPod: The Missing Manual (O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-52978-3, 239 pages, $19.99). The book covers the tiny clip-on Shuffles, Nanos, and the new video iPods along with their best software friend, iTunes.

In her new book, J.D. helps iPodders of all ages and skill levels squeeze more enjoyment from their new devices. She covers the basics--downloading and listening to music. She also shows readers how to download and watch Hollywood movies or TV shows, and download contact files, calendars, photo albums, audio books, text files, games, and more. This user-friendly, redesigned edition is sure to please readers. [Bill Fox]

[11/8] UL getting involved in New Notebook Lithium Ion Battery Safety Standards

Underwriters Laboratory (UL), an independent product safety standards outfit, is getting involved in a review of lithium ion batteries following the huge safety recall of nearly 10 million notebook batteries using Sony cells like those from Apple Computer.

ISC and IEEE are also reviewing safety standards. The IEEE will revise its laptop battery standard, IEEE 1625, "IEEE Standard for Rechargeable Batteries for Portable Computing", which was approved in 2004. This update targets an improvement in the overall performance of laptop battery systems and seeks to address recent calls to make these systems more reliable and robust. The IEEE project is expected to be completed within 18 months.

Hopefully, the three groups will agree on a set of standards with battery manufacturers that will preclude safety problems in the future. More... [Dana Baggett and Bill Fox]

[11/7] Too Much Fan Noise from your New MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo? A Fix

We noted in the speed test of our new 2.33GHz 15" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo (C2D) that its fans run more, run faster and run noisier than our original 2.16GHz 15" MacBook Pro. This perplexed us because we thought Apple should have worked out this aspect of the Intel-based notebooks in its third generation offerings. By now we've read many accounts online of how much quieter other C2D's were running and thought we'd have to take ours to an Apple tech to have a look at it.

But before we did so, we tried one last thing. We reset the System Management Controller (SMC) by disconnecting the AC adapter, removing the battery and holding down the power button for 5 seconds. This should have been the first thing we tried because after reassembling our C2D, it runs another 2-3oC cooler during "normal" use and the fans run nearly whisper quiet up to at least 59oC (CoreDuoTemp reading) rather than immediately revving up to 3800-4200rpm when exceeding the 55oC reading--"normal" use being defined as anything that doesn't excessively use the hard drive or graphics card.

We also noticed that our C2D runs up to 5oC cooler if there are no applications open that use Rosetta. Our biggest problem in this regard is Adobe GoLive CS2 so we longingly look forward to the Universal Binary version which is far, far away, spring.

Apple's Technical Article #303319 covers resetting the SMC. [Bill Fox]

[11/7] Apple conducting Live Leopard Tech Talks with Developers 12/1-1/26/07

The Leopard Tech Talks will be live, in-depth presentations and demonstrations with Q&A. Apple considers them to be an ideal way to explore the technology behind the exciting new features in the next major release of Mac OS X, 10.5 "Leopard.". The Leopard Tech Talks are perfect for commercial developers, in-house developers, scripters, and web developers since they will provide essential information to help plan Leopard development.

The Leopard Tech Talks are free for Apple Developer Connection members. One may sign up to become an ADC member on this Apple Web page.

The Leopard Tech Talks begin December 1, 2006, in San Francisco and finish January 26, 2007, in Atlanta. Other cities in between those dates are Portland (OR), Seattle, Chicago, Toronto, Los Angeles, Boston and New York. Here is the agenda. One needs to register for the Leopard Tech Talks. [Bill Fox]

[11/7] OWC taking Orders for New ATI Radeon X1900 G5 Mac Edition (PCIe)

Last Friday, we noted that ATI's Web site contained a Web page describing a new Radeon X1900 graphics card for the last generation of Power Mac G5's, Dual and Quad, with PCI Express slots. Yesterday, ATI formally announced the new graphics card.

Better yet, a note from OWC stated that they are taking orders for the card for $348.95 with shipping in about 3 days. [Bill Fox]

[11/7] PocketMac SecureNotes (Universal) is Out

Information Appliance Associates released a new application called PocketMac SecureNotes, claiming that it is the first ever software tool to act as a safe deposit box for Macintosh users' data.

"Whether it's a credit card, a banana bread recipe, a home movie, a web page or an industry secret, PocketMac SecureNotes will make sure no one sees your data unless you want it seen," said Terence Goggin, CTO of Information Appliance Associates. "This product uses 448-bit encryption to make sure no data gets out of this safe deposit box."

PocketMac SecureNotes is a database-driven tool which allows Mac users to store all types of data from bank account numbers, movies, pictures, code snippets and much more. The program is an airtight lockbox where Mac users' data will be stored safely without an issue. It was tested for over 9 months.

PocketMac SecureNotes retails for $29.95 and is available as a Universal Binary for both Power PC and Intel Macs. It is also available as a 15 day free trial. [Bill Fox]

[11/7] Apple issued Repair Extension Program for Some Power Mac G5 Power Supplies

According to this Apple Web page,

The Power Mac G5 Repair Extension Program for Power Supply Issues applies to Power Mac G5 systems that have power-related issues as a result of a specific component failure within the computer's power supply. If your Power Mac G5 fails to start up after the power button has been pressed and your computer's serial number is within the noted ranges, your computer may be eligible for repair, free of charge. There are no known safety issues caused by this component failure.

The affected Power Mac G5 models were sold between approximately October 2005 and August 2006 and feature Dual 2GHz, Dual 2.3GHz or Quad 2.5GHz PowerPC G5 processors.

The affected Power Mac G5 computers have serial numbers where the first 5 digits fall into the ranges noted below. The Power Mac G5 computer's serial number is located inside the case directly below the air deflector, along with other configuration information.

Serial Number Ranges

CK539xxxxxx - CK608xxxxxx
G8539xxxxxx - G8608xxxxxx
YM539xxxxxx - YM608xxxxxx
RM539xxxxxx - RM608xxxxxx

[Bill Fox]

[11/7] MacUpdate offers Business Card Composer 4.0 for 40% Off Today

The complete Mac OS X kit to create and print business cards, calling cards and badges. The package contains 23,000+ high-quality clipart images, 600+ professional designs and powerful image editing tools (opacity, masks, shadows, tiling, color graded fills and more).

Full integration with the Mac OS X system lets you use data for cards from Apple Address Book and images from iPhoto. Advanced printing delivers you a choice of printing methods. The program supports duplex printers for printing double-sided cards. Around 700 card stock layouts from leading manufacturers are supported.

We have favorably reviewed previous versions of Business Car Composer.

Normally $39.95, Business Card Composer 4.0 is offered for $24--that's 40% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/6] New 2G iPod shuffle Fixit Guide is Available posted a Fixit Guide for the new 2G iPod shuffle. The Fixit Guide clearly illustrates how to get inside, access, and replace any component in the new iPod shuffle.

Fixit Guides for every iPod and Mac laptop are available free online from this iFixit Web page. In addition, thousands of parts and upgrades for every iPod and Mac laptop are also available from [Bill Fox]

[11/6] MacUpdate Offers Intaglio 2.9.2 for 33% Off Today

Intaglio is a traditional Macintosh drawing & illustration application exclusively for Mac OS X. Patterned after the original Macintosh drawing applications, Intaglio is intuitive to beginners and familiar to traditional Macintosh users. Intaglio builds on the 2D graphics, text, color, and scripting capabilities of Mac OS X to provide unprecedented power and flexibility in an inexpensive drawing program.

Intaglio isn't just compatible with with Mac OS X, it was designed from the ground up to fully exploit the capabilities that make this platform ideal for graphics work. Naturally Intaglio is great for casual users, but it is also an ideal tool for experienced graphics experts who need special features or want a simpler experience than what is provided by the usual multi-platform graphic franchises.

Normally $89.00, Intaglio 2.9.2 is offered for $59.99--that's 33% off as Today's MacUpdate Promo. [Bill Fox]

[11/6] Apple's 30th Birthday celebrated at 9th Annual Vintage Computer Festival

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, and three former employees conducted a reminiscing panel session on Apple this past weekend at the 9th Annual Vintage Computer Festival according to CNET. The three employees with Woz were Randy Wiggington (#6), Chris Espinosa (#8) and Daniel Kottke. They spoke about the early days and the Apple I and Apple II computers in a panel session at the Computer History Museum celebrating Apple's 30th birthday which was actually last April. More... [Bill Fox]

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

J&R Computerworld has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Plantronics .Audio 500 USB computer headset for only $37.99; Viewsonic OptiSync VA721 17" analog LCD display for only $189.99! USB Hanukah bush from AddLogix for only $7.99!; Spyder2 Suite monitor calibration system from ColorVision for only $139.99; EvolutionTV analog-digital video capture and recorder from Miglia for only $79.99!; TVMini HD high definition TV on your Mac for only $189.99!; Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB AGP graphics card from ATI for only $239.99!; and much more.

Ramjet has Hot Deals exclusive pricing on Mac compatible memory upgrades including: 2GB RAM upgrade kit for the MacBook Pro for only $256.00!; 2GB RAM upgrade kit for the Intel-based iMac for only $256.00!; 512MB RAM module for the PowerMac G4 (Mirror Drive Door) for only $71.00!; 2GB RAM upgrade kit for the iMac G5 w/iSight for only $282.00!; 2GB RAM upgrade kit for the original iMac G5 for only $257.00!; and much more.

Small Dog Electronics has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Hot Deals exclusive pricing on the following four products - Audioengine5 speaker system (white) for only $319.00!; AppleSauce polish & scratch removal kit for the iPod for only $12.00!; Mueva Wraptor clear Lexan case for the new iPod Shuffle from Mophie for only $8.50!; leather sports case w/armband for the 4G iPod from Belkin for only $10.00!; S530 Cordless Desktop Keyboard and Laser Mouse from Logitech for only $69.00; LaCie 250GB d2 Extreme external hard drive for only $149.00!; LaCie 500GB d2 Extreme external hard drive for only $269.00!; Olympus Stylus 750 7.1-megapixel compact digital camera for only $399.00!; 2GB (2x1GB modules) RAM upgrade kit from Crucial for the MacBook, MacBook Pro, the Intel-based iMac and the Intel-based Mac Mini PLUS a FREE Kingston 256MB USB Flash Drive for only $389.00!; and much more.

[Bill Fox]

[11/4] Apple released 8GB Model of (PRODUCT) RED iPod nano

Apple released an 8GB model of the (PRODUCT) RED iPod nano for $249. Previously, Apple released a 4GB model for $199. $10 of each sale goes to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS in Africa.

"Customer response to the iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition has been off the charts," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of Worldwide iPod Product Marketing. "We're thrilled to add a second model with 8GB of capacity, enough for 2,000 songs, so customers have yet another choice in supporting this important cause."

[Bill Fox]

[11/3] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released Aperture 1.5.1 Update and 30-day Trial Version

Aperture 1.5.1 Update is available for download via a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page (requires Aperture serial number). According to Apple,

Aperture 1.5.1 addresses numerous issues related to overall reliability and performance in all areas of the application, including:

- Keywords
- Loupe
- Cropping
- Previews
- Metadata presets
- Versions
- File renaming
- iPhoto Library import
- Watermarks

Finally, Apple has released a 30-day trial version of Aperture. Prospective buyers, mostly serious amateur and professional photographers, have had access to public betas of Adobe's similar product, Lightroom, for many months and it's great that now they will also be able to try out Apple's product. According to Apple, the trial version can not be updated with Aperture 1.5.1 Update.

We downloaded and installed the trial version of Aperture 1.5 after Apple sent us the serial number. Despite Apple's note, after an unrelated restart Software Update presented the Aperture 1.5.1 Update and we installed it. Unfortunately, doing so invalidated the trial version so just dismiss Software Update if presented with Aperture 1.5.1. We reinstalled the trial version and all was well.

We imported our iPhoto collection of 78 rolls and 1202 saved images. That took nearly 10 minutes but Aperture kept on working in the backgound producing thumbnails and previews of all 1202 images, taking another 20 minutes. During that time Aperture hogged the CPU, even with Aperture placed in the background--this slowed everything down. The fans in our MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo ran at full tilt.

We tried retouching few photos. The Red Eye tool works great. We'll have to work with Aperture for awhile to become proficient at it. [Bill Fox]

[11/3] Apple released Digital Camera RAW Support Update for Mac OS X 10.4.8

Apple released Digital Camera RAW Support Update as stand-alone files for Intel-based and PowerPC-based Macs running Mac OS X 10.4.8. According to Apple,

Mac OS X Tiger provides support for a variety of popular digital camera and image file formats. Applications such as Aperture, iPhoto and Preview utilize this support to work with digital camera RAW files. This update improves RAW file format compatibility for the following digital SLR cameras:

-Canon Digital Rebel XTi / 400D / Kiss X Digital
-Nikon D80
-Pentax *ist DS

Other issues addressed:

-Handling of large Canon RAW files (.CRW)
-DNG compatibility on Intel-based Macs
-Lines sometimes appearing in images exported from Aperture

We downloaded and installed the update on our 2.33GHz MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo with no problem. The update required a restart. [Bill Fox]

[11/3] Apple released X11 Update 2006

X11 Update 2006 is available as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,

This update addresses several issues in the X11 for Mac OS X package, enabling it to better handle:

- GLX stereo visuals
- offscreen rendering to GLX Pbuffers and Pixmaps

To tell X11 to take advantage of stereo visuals, enter:
$ defaults write enable_stereo -bool true

Apple's X11 is an implementation of the X Window System that makes it possible to run X11-based applications in Mac OS X. Based on the open source XFree86 project — the most common implementation of X11 — X11 for Mac OS X is compatible, fast, and fully integrated with Mac OS X. It includes the full X11R6.6 technology including an X11 window server, Quartz window manager, libraries, and basic utilities such as xterm.

Apple's X11 is available from this Apple Web page for Mac OS X 10.3.x "Panther" or on the Mac OS X 10.4.x "Tiger" installer DVD. [Bill Fox]

[11/3] New iPod shuffle (2G) due out Today--Reviewed

The second generation iPod shuffle which looks like the new iPod nano cut in half and without a screen should be available in stores today according to news accounts. CNET provided an editor's review with photos and a video clip on this Web page. They rated it good at 6.3 out of 10 and criticized its lack of a screen, small size and non-standard USB 2.0 interface. [Dana Baggett]

[11/3] ATI plans Radeon X1900 Graphics Card for Power Mac G5 (PCI-E)

The last Power Mac G5s had PCI-Express expansion slots and a special 16-channel graphics slot but no after-market graphics cards to improve their graphics performance from the base Nvidia GeForce 6600. One could get a faster Nvidia GeForce 7800 GT but only if one ordered it CTO with the Power Mac G5 since Apple never sold them separately as an after-market kit. We had a Power Mac G5 Quad (PCI-E) but we ordered it before the Nvidia GeForce 7800 GT was available thinking, of course, that we could always buy one later as a kit--wrong. So when we got our first MacBook Pro and it nearly matched our Power Mac G5 Quad's graphics performance we sold the Quad.

Soon owners of Power Mac G5 (PCI-E)'s will be able to buy a near top-of-the-line ATI Radeon X1900 G5 Mac Edition according to a new ATI Web page. The specs appear to be the same as those for the ATI Radeon X1900 offered with the Mac Pro except that it will have 256MB vs 512MB of video RAM. [Bill Fox]

[11/2] Hands-On Report--New 2.33GHz 15" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo, How Fast is It?

We ordered a new 2.33GHz 15" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo last Thursday evening and it arrived Tuesday morning by FedEx from Shanghai, China. It was ordered stock except for a 160GB hard drive, an upgrade from the stock 120GB model. The larger drive was ordered because with Boot Camp or Parallels Desktop for Mac with Windows Vista and a lot more music and photos, the 100GB drive on our original 2.16GHz 15" MacBook Pro was filing up. It took about 1:45 to transfer our Home folder and applications, about 55GB, using FireWire 800 between the two MacBook Pros. The new MacBook Pro has a FireWire 800 port and our older one has a FireWire 800 ExpressCard 34.

At this point, we have used the new MacBook Pro for just two days so our impressions are just initial but, after waiting for Spotlight to finish indexing, we ran it through its paces to see how much faster the new top-end Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro is relative to the former top-end Core Duo MacBook Pro.

It's much faster

To test the speed of the two Intel-based MacBook Pros, we used our standard suite of speed tests. Here are the results:

15" MacBook Pro Speed Tests (average* scores or secs).
Test 15" MacBook Pro
Core 2 Duo
Core Duo
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)
Scroll 144p Document+ (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 more than 8% faster.

The new MacBook Pro with a 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo CPU is faster in every test but one as expected, if for no other reason than its CPU is 8% faster. However, for 15 of 20 tests the new 2.33GHz MacBook Pro is much more than 8% faster, up to 133% faster. Particularly pleasing is the greatly improved graphics performance, especially in 3D games of 22-45%. This performance is partly due to the faster CPU, partly due to the ATI Radeon X1600 graphics chip possibly being revved up a bit and partly due to the Core 2 Duo's better OpenGL performance.

For those interested in the new optional 160GB 5400rpm drive in our MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo, it is a Hitachi with perpendicular data recording. It seems quieter than the 100GB 7200rpm Seagate as might be expected. It also lacks the bouncing ball bearing sound of the Seagate when it parks the head. Our tests above indicate it is generally just as fast as the faster spinning Seagate.

It's a bit cooler

The new MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo seems to run about 5oC cooler with the AC adapter plugged in than the previous Core Duo model according to the CoreDuoTemp 1.0 and TemperatureMonitor 3.6 utilities. However, neither the bottom area near the back nor the top area above the F-keys feel really cooler.

It's a bit noisier

We can hear the new MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo's fans in a quiet room even when it is basically at idle while plugged into the AC adapter. According to smcFanControl, the minimum fan speeds are both 2000rpm while Core Duo model's are 1000rpm. This may account for the temperature difference during "normal" usage. Both rev to a 6000rpm maximum but the Core 2 Duo's fans seem to rev up sooner to 3000-4000rpm when doing heavy graphical work. It may be just our new MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo but its fans seem to have a more high-pitched whine that makes its fans somewhat more annoying at mid-range speeds (3700-4200rpm) than those in the Core Duo MacBook Pro. We are sure that there is some variation among individual machines and ours is not so annoying as to be a deal killer anyway.

In summary

The new 15" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo has real value over its predecessor with a faster, higher performing Core 2 Duo CPU, 2GB RAM vs 1GB, a FireWire 800 port, a larger capacity hard drive and a 6x SuperDrive that will burn double-layer DVDs at the same price point. Its performance is significantly improved. It certainly runs no hotter than its predecessor and it probably runs a bit cooler. We will provide an update on the features of the new 15" MacBook Pro, other than performance, when we've had more of a chance to use it. [Bill Fox]

[11/2] Brief Hands-On Report--Parallels Desktop for Mac Update 1970

Parallels updated Desktop for Mac to Build 1970 from Build 1940. The latest build has several new features:

Parallels Shared Networking. Running Windows in Parallels Desktop for Mac is now more secure than if you run Windows on a PC. Shared Networking enables multiple IP addresses to appear as one IP address on a network and effectively hides virtual machines from the outside world, making them far less likely to be the victim of a hacker attack. You can now connect both of your Mac and Windows to the Internet & computer network that only allow you to connect one computer.

Parallels Installation Assistant. We improved Parallels Desktop for Mac with a powerful new tool that helps you to install Windows XP or Windows Vista in a secure, stable virtual machine with a single click! Now your Windows installation on a Mac easier than on a PC!

We downloaded and installed Build 1970 and the new Parallels Tools with no problem. Then we launched and ran Windows Vista RC1. There were 6 updates to Vista available but we only installed one--the others were additional language packages. [Bill Fox]

[11/2] Tonight on The Mac Night Owl LIVE--Movie Downloads, iTunes DRM and Passwords

Tonight host Gene Steinberg explores movie downloads, iTunes digital rights management and other hot topics with Macworld Senior Editor Christopher Breen. You'll also hear from Joe Kissell, the author of one of the most important books you'll ever want to read about your Mac, "Take Control of Passwords in Mac OS X." Another guest will be announced. 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]

[11/1] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released iTunes 7.0.2

iTunes 7.0.2 Update is available for download via Software Update or as a stand-alone updater from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,

iTunes 7.0.2 adds support for the Second Generation iPod shuffle and addresses a variety of stability and performance issues found in iTunes 7 and 7.0.1.

We downloaded iTunes 7.0.2 via Software Update and installed it with no problems on numerous Macs: Power Mac G4 Cube, 12" PowerBook G4, Mac mini Core Duo, 15" MacBook Pro, 20" iMac Core Duo and 24" iMac Core 2 Duo. We used iTunes 7.0.2 to play music, videos and a movie from our library and to "purchase" this week's free iTunes song, all without incident. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[11/1] Apple released Xcode Tools 2.4.1 with Security Fix

The developer kit Xcode Tools 2.4.1 is available for download from this Apple Web page (requires Apple developer ID and password). According to Apple,

Xcode 2.4.1 addresses several issues in DWARF debugging and improves overall stability and security. It is recommended that all Xcode users install this update.

The details are

  • Selected fixes were made in the Xcode IDE, cctools, debugger, and compiler.
  • CHUD has been updated to version 4.4.3.
  • The 10.3.9 and 10.4u SDK’s have been updated.

Along with functionality improvements (see release notes), it also fixes the following security issue:

CVE-ID: CVE-2006-4146
Available for: Mac OS X v10.4 and later
Impact: Opening a maliciously-crafted DWARF binary with GDB may
lead to arbitrary code execution
Description: GDB, the GNU Debugger, is susceptible to multiple
vulnerabilities that may lead to arbitrary code execution when
loading maliciously-crafted DWARF binaries. This update
addresses the issues by performing additional validation while
handling DWARF binaries. Credit to Will Drewry and Tavis Ormandy
of the Google Security Team for reporting this issue.

[Bill Fox]

[11/1] Adobe released Camera Raw 3.6 and DNG Converter 3.6

Adobe updated their Camera Raw plug-in for Adobe Photoshop CS2, extending raw file support to 13 additional camera models. Camera Raw and DNG Converter 3.6 now support more than 140 different cameras from 14 manufacturers. New cameras supported include Canon EOS 400D (Rebel XTi/EOS Kiss Digital X), Fuji FinePix S6000fd, Fuji FinePix S9100/9600, Leica D-LUX 3, Leica Digilux 3, Leica V-LUX 1, Nikon D80, Olympus E400, Olympus SP-510 UZ, Panasonic DMC-LX2, Pentax K100D, Pentax K110D and Samsung GX-1L.

The Adobe Camera Raw 3.6 plug-in requires either Photoshop CS2, Photoshop Elements 3.0, Photoshop Elements 4.0 or Photoshop Elements 5.0. The plug-in is available as a free download from this Adobe Web page. The updated Adobe DNG Converter is also available as a free download from this Adobe Web page. [Bill Fox]

[11/1] Pangea Software released Nanosaur 2 v2.0.1 (Universal) Update

Nanosaur is one of our all-time favorite Mac games. Pangea Software has updated Nanosaur 2 (Universal) to v2.0.1. The updater is available for download from this Pangea Software Web page. The Revision History file does not mention what's fixed in v2.0.1. [Bill Fox]

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