December 2006 News Archive

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

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[12/29] Apple Issues Press Release, Files SEC Forms 10-Q and 10-K Restates 1997-2006 Earnings by $84M

Today, Apple issued a press release on its internal investigation of back-dating stock options for some executives and filed with the SEC Form 10-Q for the third quarter of 2006 and Form 10-K for the 2006 fiscal year ending September 30. Both SEC forms had been delayed due to the investigation. The total effect of the issue is to understate compensation by $84M for the period beginning in 1997 though 2006, a seemingly mere drop in the bucket.

Here is the full text of Apple's press release:

Apple® today filed its Form 10-Q for the quarter ended July 1, 2006 and its Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2006 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Both filings had been delayed pending the conclusion of an independent investigation by the special committee of the board of directors into past stock option practices and the resulting restatement of the Company’s financial results. Apple undertook this investigation on its own initiative and has informed the SEC and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the results.

Based on an analysis of the findings of the independent investigation, the Company has recognized total additional non-cash stock-based compensation expense of $84 million after tax, including $4 million and $7 million in fiscal years 2006 and 2005, respectively. The restatement arises solely from certain stock option grants made between 1997 and 2002; the investigation found no grants after December 31, 2002 that required accounting adjustments.

“The special committee, its independent counsel and forensic accountants have performed an exhaustive investigation of Apple’s stock option granting practices,” in a joint statement said Al Gore, chair of the special committee, and Jerome York, chair of Apple’s Audit and Finance Committee. “The board of directors is confident that the Company has corrected the problems that led to the restatement, and it has complete confidence in Steve Jobs and the senior management team.”

Other reports have indicated that Apple CEO Steve Jobs did not personally profit from the the stock option back-dating issue. He knew about them but was unaware that they were illegal.

[12/29] Graphics Board Sales Increase in Q3 as Does Nvidia's Market Share

The latest report from Jon Peddie Research estimates that shipments of add-in graphics boards (vs integrated chipsets) increased nearly 11 percent in the third quarter of 2006 over the second quarter and nearly 8 percent over the 2005 third quarter. However, the total value continued to decline and was 12 percent less that the 2005 third quarter, reflecting a significant 20 percent decrease in price per board year over year.

Add-in graphics boards continued to be used predominantly in the performance sector (75%). The mainstream sector stood at 13 percent, workstations at 5 percent, enthusiasts at 4 percent and the value sector at 3 percent.

Nvidia at 59 percent continued to gain market share from ATI/AMD at 40 percent. All others were only 0.6 percent. [Bill Fox]

[12/29] Software Special of the Day: iTunify 1.5.1 (Universal) for 33% Off Today Only--$9.99

iTunify lets you:

  • Find duplicate tracks
  • Find & Replace in ID3 tags with support for Regular Expressions
  • Change the case of ID3 tags (upper, lower, word, sentence)
  • Exchange ID3 tags
  • Number ID3 tags sequentially
  • Run add/subtract operations in ID3 tags
  • Import & Export artwork with advanced options
  • Import & Export ID3 tags with advanced options
  • Convert ordinary AAC tracks to Audiobooka & vice versa
  • Remove dead tracks from library
  • Remove artwork from tracks
  • Remove tracks from playlists or the library and trash them
  • Remove checked tracks from library
  • Reset Bookmark Position
  • Toogle track's mode "Skip when shuffling"
  • Toogle track's mode "Remember playback position"
  • Toogle track's mode "Part of gapless album"
  • Remove unchecked tracks from library
  • Invert Check Marks

And all within iTunes!

Normally $15.00, iTunify 1.5.1 (Universal) is offered for $9.99--that's 33% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/29] begins 12th Year on the Web

Yesterday was the eleventh anniversary of our publishing relevant information for the vast majority of Mac users. In 1995 we started out calling ourselves "Everything Macintosh" as an adjunct to being a volunteer assisting the monitor of CompuServe's Mac forum. We wrote simple guides for CompuServe on how to get on CompuServe when using Classic Mac OS and helped other Mac users with their problems. We transferred our information to the Web and kept a growing list of Mac- and Apple-related Web links.

When we discovered another Web site with the same name that claimed to pre-date us by a few weeks, we changed our name to "For Mac Users Only." That name was soon contracted to just Macs Only! when we began accepting advertising.

Back in 1995 there were only a handful of Mac Web sites that did anything more than simply post Web links. Several of them, like MacCentral (now Macworld), became large commercial successes. Others, like the venerable MacInTouch dating back a year earlier to 1994 and O'Grady's PowerPage have continued to provide valuable news and information in much the same mode as in 1995. Some bit the dust. But today there are dozens, if not hundreds, of Mac Web sites. To help deal with this, MacSurfer has continued to be the pre-eminent Mac Web site indexer since 1995.

As we enter our 12th year, we look forward to Macworld 2007 in a little under two weeks. We'll be there and report on Steve Jobs keynote, provide hands-on reports on the new Apple products and walk the show floor for several days, reporting on new products for the Mac world. Until then, news will be light as it has been for the past week but we will continue to post following New Years Day on Monday. [Bill Fox]

[12/28] Free Golf Strategies, Tough Shots and Around the Green Video from iTunes Store

The iTunes Store now offers a free instructional video Golf Strategies, Tough Shots and Around the Green as well as The 2006 PGA Grand Slam of Golf for $1.99. The free instructional video stars PGA of America Director of Instruction Rick Martino, 2005 Teacher of the year Peter Krause and PGA Professional Michael Reed and is 23min 41sec in length.

The free "Golf Strategies..." instructional video is available from this iTunes Store link The 2006 PGA Grand Slam of Golf . [Bill Fox]

[12/28] Software Special of the Day: SmartBackup 2.0 (Universal) for 49% Off Today Only--$9.99

SmartBackup is the ideal application for lightweight daily backups. Here are some of its features:

  • very fast and easy to use
  • backup presets
  • backup saved search results
  • exclude saved search results
  • archiving of changed files
  • archiving of deleted files
  • preserves labels, custom icons
  • handles multiple backup sets
  • one-click restore
  • automate with iCal
  • included automator action
  • headless (commandline) mode

Normally $19.50, SmartBackup 2.0 (Universal) is offered for $9.99--that's 49% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/28] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Top 2006 Tech, New 2007 Tech and M$

Tonight on the last new episode of The Tech Night Owl LIVE for 2006, host Gene Steinberg presents a look back at the top tech achievements of the year and what may come in 2007 from Apple and other companies with Macworld's Dan Frakes and ace troubleshooter Ted Landau. In addition, Ted will talk about the great gadgets that somehow never get used much after the box is opened. On the other side of the tracks, Joe Wilcox, new editor of Microsoft Watch, will talk about the past year and the year ahead for the world's largest software company.

You can tune in the Web broadcast Thursday night from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern. [Bill Fox]

[12/28] Free Macworld 2007 Expo Exhibit Passes from Peachpit Press

Peachpit is offering free passes to the upcoming Macworld Conference & Expo taking place at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, January 9-12, 2007. To request a pair of passes (exhibit-only passes, a combined $90 value), send an email message to Peachpit with your name and postal address, and Peachpit will mail out the passes. If you prefer to register online and obtain your own free passes, simply go to this Macworld Web page and use the Priority Code: PC0249.

All free passes from Peachpit are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and Peachpit must receive requests by January 3, 2007. [Bill Fox]

[12/27] TopxNotes and TopXNotes iPod v1.2 from Tropical Software

TopXNotes is a modern note organizer with many useful features. Perhaps TopXNotes' most unique feature is MultiView, the ability to view many notes at once and the accompanying MultiView Sliding Toolbar that keeps text buttons always over where you type. TopXNotes also features the NoteOrganizer, an advanced table of contents with categories and groups you define based on your information. TopXNotes' most popular benefit is QuickNotes that gives you instant access to your key notes from the desktop. TopXNotes also features automatic backups, unlimited Undo, Find, and note encryption to keep sensitive information safe.

The TopXNotes iPod version allows a select set of notes to be exported to an iPod.

TopXNotes is $30 (a Classic Mac OS version is available for $25) and TopXNotes iPod is $35. Free trial versions are available. [Bill Fox]

[12/27] Software Special of the Day: iota-calc X 1.7 (Universal) for 50% Off Today Only--$9.99

iota-calc is a programmer's calculator. Its key features are:

  • Supports a rich expression format, which is in most cases identical to what you would type in your programming language.
  • Support for adding unlimited numbers of variables or variable expressions.
  • Built-in debugger that lets you see the expression simplified step by step.
  • Debugger Back-step lets you backup as many steps as you like so that you can replay critical operations.
  • C/C++ operator precedence.
  • Mouse optional, all calculator commands and functions can be done using the keyboard alone.
  • Mini-Calc Mode lets your calculator take up very little screen real estate, and yet remain entirely usable.
  • Running paper tape(s) (1 per calculator) for calculations, allows annotations, and is stored between runs.
  • Built-in ASCII chart makes it easy to look up even invisible characters.
  • View results in big endian (default) or little endian.
  • Numerous built-in unit conversions (memory sizes, lengths, areas, volumes, temperatures etc.)
  • Built-in great circle route and straight line distance calculator.

Normally $19.95, iota-calc X 1.7 (Universal) is offered for $9.99--that's 50% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/27] Redux--docXConverter 1.0 works All the Time

In our hands-on review of docXConverter by Panergy, we lauded it for beating Microsoft's Mac BU "to market" with a Mac converter for Word 2007 documents in their new default XML format. But we also noted that docXConverter 1.0 failed to convert two widely available sample Word 2007 XML (or .docx) documents (.doc 1 and .docx 2). However, docXConverter converted a dozen or so other .docx documents just fine.

Daniel Pohoryles of Panergy wrote us with an explanation:

"The reason why some docx files could not be opened by docXConverter is because the sample.docx file available from was done with Word 2007 beta 1 TR. This file cannot be opened by the Word 2007 released version because the docx format has changed between beta 1 TR (March 2006) and the final release. About the file from from OSNews it is certainly a similar problem as Word 2007 detects it as a corrupted file. In both cases the Word 2007 released version (the one of 30 November 2006 that Microsoft is selling) does not open these files."

We confirmed that our copy, a trial copy, of the shipping version of Word 2007 can not open either sample .docx document that stumped docXConverter 1.0. Therefore, we are unaware of any instance where docXConverter 1.0, $20 shareware, has failed to convert a Word 2007 .docx document so it can be read on a Mac. Daniel told us that a v1.0.1 would be out soon with improved error messages. [Bill Fox]

[12/26] Software Special of the Day: Mailings 1.9.3 (Universal) for 40% Off Today Only

Mailings is a full featured application for batch emailing that delivers any web page or plain text document with attachments to multiple recipients for marketing, news announcements, product updates etc.

Mailings facilitates the task of delivering regular bulk email distributions with such features as logging, progress monitoring, scheduling, error recovery, throttling, personalization and much more. Integrates with your mail client, browser and Address Book to simplify its functionality. The one window user interface makes the program a breeze to learn and fun to use.

Normally $39.00, Mailings 1.9.3 (Universal) is offered for $19.99--that's 40% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/22] Apple released iPod shuffle Reset Utility 1.0.1 Update

The iPod shuffle Reset Utility 1.0.1 is available for download from this Apple Web page. It restores the first generation white "gum pack" iPod shuffle. Restoring an iPod deletes all music and data and reinstalls the latest software, v1.1.5 in the case of the white iPod shuffle.

According to Apple, the Reset Utility is used to fix the following problems:

  • 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 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 are available on this Apple Web page.

Our white iPod shuffle continues to work great, including getting excellent battery life, so we have not applied this updated utility to it. [Bill Fox]

[12/22] Apple Number 2 in BusinessWeek's "Hot Growth 50" rated companies for growth in 2006 measuring by growth in sales, total return to shareholders, return on equity and overall sales. Apple Computer ranked #2 behind Amkor Technology. Apple beat out other high growth well-known tech firms like Google at #4 and Oracle at #8.

BusinessWeek had this to say about Apple:

Apple Computer (AAPL), No. 2 on the Tech Hot Growth ranking, is the prime example of a company that has created its own opportunities. Its breakthrough innovation in digital music has made it an international icon and propelled sales up 39% over the past 12 months, to $19.3 billion. The company sold 39 million iPods in the 2006 fiscal year, as well as 5 million Macintosh computers.

Amkor Technology cuts individual chips from silicon wafers made by companies like Intel and packages the chip for insertion into computers. More... [Dana Baggett]

[12/22] Software Special of the Day: Money 2.1 (Universal) for 49% Off Today Only

Money helps people organize and manage their personal finances quickly and easily. It supports all the features required for personal or small-business accounting needs.

Normally $39.00, Money 2.1 (Universal) is offered for $19.99--that's 49% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/22] Brief Hands-On Report--Parallels released Desktop for Mac 2.5 Build 3094 Beta 2

Parallels released the second beta of version 2.5 of its Desktop for Mac (DfM), a way to run other OS's in a window in Mac OS X, much like but much better than the defunct Virtual PC software. It is available for download via Note that Build 3094 is a beta. The current stable release is version 2.0 Build 1970.

Parallels lists these improvements for DfM Build 3094:

  • USB 2.0 support - "Plug and play" popular USB devices like external hard drives, printers, and scanners, and use them at full native speed.
  • Current Build 3094 doesn't support isochronous devices such as web cameras, microphones, etc.
  • Full-feature virtual CD/DVD drive - Burn CDs and DVDs directly in virtual machines, and play any copy-protected CD or DVD just like you would on a real PC
  • Improved Coherence mode - The ground-breaking feature that lets you run Windows applications without seeing Windows just got better! Now you can:
    • Place Windows applications on your Mac desktop or in your application dock. Just click to launch them directly from OS X!
    • Use Command+tab to cycle through Windows and Mac applications simultaneously, and "hide and show" Windows applications just like you would with Mac applications
    • View the Windows Command Console in Coherence mode
    • Use Coherence in Windows 2000, Windows 2003, Windows XP and Windows Vista!
  • Better Boot Camp support - Using your Boot Camp partition in Parallels Desktop is now easier than ever. Beta2's Boot Camp support includes:
    • Full support for FAT32 and NTFS partitions
    • Easy offline configuration. Simply tell Parallels Desktop that you want to create a virtual machine from a Boot Camp Partition and click start. No complicated set up required!
    • No need to re-activate Windows each time you switch between Boot Camp and Parallels. Activate Windows only once inside Parallels and work in both environments

We previously reported on DfM beta 1 of version 2.5 (Build 3036) and that is the version that we had installed and it was working very well. We have Windows XP-SP2 and Windows Vista RC1 virtual machines. First, we installed Build 3094 over Build 3036 as an upgrade. This was a mistake. Our monitor's video went wonky on our XP-SP2 virtual machine with a full screen slide, not just in the Parallels window but our entire monitor, from left to right whenever we shut down XP-SP2. The Vista RC1 virtual machine fared worse in that we could not install the new Parallels Tools. Vista just hung.

We uninstalled Parallels DfM and reinstalled Dfm Build 3094. This time we were able to install the new version of Parallels Tools in Vista just fine but the wonky video now happens with Vista as well as XP-SP2.

We updated both OSs, 21 updates for XP-SP2 and 1 for Vista RC1 We also updated Firefox, Thunderbird and Adobe Reader. Then we were able to download and install the Office 2007 for Windows trial in XP-SP2. The latter will allow us to make documents in the new default XML format to check converters for the Mac version of Office 2004 and v.X. All went off without a hitch.

We worked for awhile to see a USB 2.0 hard drive attached to our MacBook Pro to no avail with XP-SP2 or Vista RC1. We downloaded and installed iTunes 7.0.2 in XP-SP2 to see if it would see our iPod with video attached but it did not. However, if we clicked the USB icon in the lower right corner of DfM, the list of USB devices included the hard drive and iPod. If selected, the device was ejected. Apparently, we have some more learning to do to use the new USB 2.0 capability in DfM.

As a side note, neither virtual machine can find our HP Laserjet 3030 multifunction machine attached by USB to our AirPort Extreme Base Station. Vista RC1 found our HP Color Laserjet 2605n connected directly to our network but XP-SP2 did not. Thankfully, we use Macs and Mac OS X that instantly find both printers using Bonjour technology.

That's enough Windows frustration for one day. [Bill Fox]

[12/21] [Updated] Hands-On Report--docXConverter 1.0, a Microsoft Word 2007 .docx File Converter

The Mac developer community has beaten the pants off Microsoft's Mac BU in already providing a converter for the new default XML format of Microsoft Word 2007. As we noted in several articles, the Mac BU has promised to provide file converters for Office:Mac 2004 and v.X in the spring of 2007, several months behind the official release of Office 2007 even though file converters for the previous Windows version of Office are already available. The Mac BU even explained in detail why it will take several months after the official release of Office 2007 to produce the Mac converters. It didn't take Panergy that long.

Yesterday, Panergy released docXConverter 1.0 for converting Word 2007 .docx files to .rtf (rich text file) files that the Mac version of Word 2004 and Word v.X can read. docXConverter 1.0 is $20 shareware. Panergy has addressed a huge problem for some since the default format of the new Office 2007 is the new XML-based .docx and Office 2007 is already in use in the enterprise and through free trial downloads from Microsoft's Web site. The .docx files are not compatible with any Mac version of Microsoft Office.

Does it work? We downloaded docXConverter 1.0 which has a trial mode. The trial allows one to convert up to 20 documents for free. Three sample .docx documents of varying complexity are included. All three were converted to an .rtf file and opened in Word 2004 by docXConverter 1.0 with no apparent problem. We even saved the .rtf as .doc files with no problem except for a font substitution required since our copy of Word 2004 does not have the Calibri font.

docXConverter 1.0 failed to convert the sample.docx file available from and provided an error message that it only works on .docx and .doc files. Same with the Office 12 file from OSNews. However, these two files are NOT in the final Word 2007 format. Even our trial copy of Microsoft Word 2007 couldn't open them. docXConverter 1.0 converted the ten .docx files in EuroLook-DOCX-Sample-Documents available from

Unfortunately, as of review publication time we do not have a copy of Word 2007 to compare the original .docx sample files and converted .rtf files side by side or to generate independently a .docx file. We tried to download a trial copy of Office 2007 from Microsoft using Parallels running Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7 but were thwarted by the registration page claiming that we hadn't filled in all the required fields when in fact we had--we even filled in all of the optional fields but no joy. We ran into the same exact problem trying to register for the download using Safari and Camino under Mac OS X 10.4.8. We finally gave up when ironically the online version of Office 2007 trial failed to run stating that the Citrix server didn't work yet with Windows Vista. Later we were able to download a trial copy of Office 2007 when we set up Parallels with Windows XP.

In summary, docXConverter 1.0 works well. Those who need to convert Word 2007 .docx files to run on Word 2004 and v.X should check out Panergy's offering. There's also but it loses images and formatting and a docx Automator Script that requires one to unzip a .docx file.

Panergy has beaten Microsoft's Mac BU by over three months. But to be fair, docXConverter only converts Word 2007 files and not Excel 2007 or PowerPoint 2007 files. The Mac BU will produce all three converters and they will be free. [Updated: we added comments on the two errant .docx files and edited this review accordingly.] [Bill Fox]

[12/21] Software Special of the Day: iGet 2.5.3 (Universal) for 50% Off Today Only

iGet is an inventive file transfer tool designed specifically for the Mac. It allows you to log into your account on any remote Mac and browse, find, and get the files you need. As easy to use as the best FTP clients, iGet is much more Mac-oriented: you can stop and resume file and folder transfers, and you see the real Mac icons and Finder labels for all your files as you browse. iGet can even put files into the Trash remotely.

With Spotlight searches that execute on the remote Mac, you can find anything quickly. Always-on strong SSH encryption keeps your data secure, and you never have to think about details like HFS metadata, resource forks, or unusual characters in your file names. With iGet, it just works. It's designed to work well over virtually any kind of network connection, not just a fast LAN. This makes iGet a great tool for accessing your Macs over the Internet. And with it's innovative "zero-setup" design, you don't have to install any special software (not even iGet) on the remote Mac before connecting.

Normally $49.95, iGet 2.5.3 (Universal) is offered for $24.95--that's 50% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/21] Brief Hands-On Report--Mozilla released SeaMonkey 1.0.7 and Thunderbird Security Updates

On the heals of Firefox, Mozilla released SeaMonkey 1.0.7, its integrated internet suite and Thunderbird, its stand-alone email client.

According to the Release Notes, Sea Monkey 1.0.7 and Thunderbird contain stability fixes and the same security fixes. The security fixes are:

MFSA 2006-74 Mail header processing heap overflows
MFSA 2006-73 Mozilla SVG Processing Remote Code Execution
MFSA 2006-72 XSS by setting img.src to javascript: URI
MFSA 2006-71 LiveConnect crash finalizing JS objects
MFSA 2006-70 Privilege escalation using watch point
MFSA 2006-69 CSS cursor image buffer overflow (Windows only)
MFSA 2006-68 Crashes with evidence of memory corruption (rv:

two less than Firefox

We downloaded both updates and used each for awhile. SeaMonkey is the primary Web application of one of our staff members and we ran into not problems. Thunderbird is our backup email client to Apple Mail and primary email client whenever we have to use a Windows machine. It worked fine as well. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

[12/21] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Top Tech in 2006, New Tech in 2007, Glass Writer Pro and Redstone Software

Tonight host Gene Steinberg presents a look back at the top tech achievements of 2006 and what may come in 2007 from Apple and other companies with industry analyst Ross Rubin of the NPD Group. You'll also meet Glen Bledsoe, author of Glass Writer Pro, an application that reinvents the look and feel of a word processor. In addition, Christopher Young, managing director of Redstone Software, will talk about their low-cost remote access networking solutions, known as Vine Viewer and Vine Server. 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]

[12/21] Montage 1.1 Public Beta (Universal)--Scriptwriter for Mac OS X

Mariner Software released the public beta version of Montage 1.1, the only screenwriting software developed exclusively for Mac OS X. This is the product's first significant update since its initial release earlier in the year. Version 1.1 introduces several feature additions, such as:

* New! Production style scene numbering.
* New! .mac integration.
* Significant improvements in importing Final Draft® and text scripts.
* Improved SmartType system.
* New! Assignable Keywords.

The Mac community is invited to download the public beta Montage 1.1 and make suggestions or submit bug reports. A full description of the 1.1 feature list and current outstanding issues can also be found on the beta page above.

Montage makes it easy to create, edit, and manage screenplays on a Macintosh. From the ability to import Final Draft or text documents, to using custom, pre-formatted templates for film, TV, and theater, to the time-saving Smart Views, Montage guides both the first time screenwriter or the seasoned veteran, from start to finish.

Once a script is complete, Montage allows the user the ability to submit, track, and send a query, synopsis, and scripts to hundreds of included industry contacts through Montage's integration with Apple's Address Book.

The shipping version of Montage 1.1 will sell for $139.95 but will be a free upgrade for all 1.0 customers. Montage 1.1 is expected to ship next month at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. [Bill Fox]

[12/21] Password Wallet 4.0 (Universal) for Mac OS X is Out

PasswordWallet is a convenient, easy to use, secure place to store all your usernames, passwords, PIN numbers, or combinations. PasswordWallet 4.0 and its Palm OS Conduit were completely rewritten from the ground-up with Cocoa. Both the application and conduit are Universal and run natively on Intel and PowerPC Macintoshes. They've kept the same tight and unobtrusive appearance and added some incredible new features to help you get your work done faster. Here are some of the features:

  • PasswordWallet has a tight user interface that allows you to use your passwords as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
  • The unique Auto-typing technology is more secure than copying your password to the clipboard.
  • Use Auto-typing to enter multiple usernames and passwords across multiple web pages.
  • For security, PasswordWallet uses the BlowFish encryption algorithm with 448-bit keys to protect your data. For safety, PasswordWallet can copy your password to the clipboard and clear it automatically after you paste.
  • Keep your master password in the Mac OS X keychain.
  • Easy to use mult-file synchronization.
  • Synchronize with your Palm compatible PDA! (With purchase of PasswordWallet™ for PalmOS)

PasswordWallet is $20 shareware. [Bill Fox]

[12/20] Brief Hands-On Report--Mozilla released Firefox Security Update

The Firefox Web browser from Mozilla has been updated to v2.0.0.1. It is available via Check for Updates in the Help menu, or this Mozilla Web page.

According to the Release Notes the following security issues were fixed in this update:

MFSA 2006-76 XSS using outer window's Function object
MFSA 2006-75 RSS Feed-preview referrer leak
MFSA 2006-73 Mozilla SVG Processing Remote Code Execution
MFSA 2006-72 XSS by setting img.src to javascript: URI
MFSA 2006-71 LiveConnect crash finalizing JS objects
MFSA 2006-70 Privilege escalation using watch point
MFSA 2006-69 CSS cursor image buffer overflow (Windows only)
MFSA 2006-68 Crashes with evidence of memory corruption (rv:

Five of the last six are listed as critical.

We downloaded a copy from and installed it with no problems. Fortunately, our favorite Firefox theme Nautipolis 1.7.0 by Alfred Kayser is still good but there is an update to 1.7.03 so we installed it. We surfed to a number of pages with java applets for making payments, etc. and found no problems. Firefox 2 is remarkably fast. [Bill Fox]

[12/20] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released Security Update 2006-008

Apple released Security Update 2006-008. It is available for download via Software Update or as stand-alone files from either of these Apple Web pages (Universal edition or PowerPC edition). According to the ReadMe file,

Security Update 2006-008 is recommended for all users and improves the security of the following components:

Quartz Composer
QuickTime for Java

The security details are as follows:

CVE-ID: CVE-2006-5681

Available for: Mac OS X v10.4.8, Mac OS X Server v10.4.8

Impact: Visiting a malicious web site may lead to information disclosure

Description: Java applets may use QuickTime for Java to obtain the images rendered on screen by embedded QuickTime objects and upload them to the originating web site. When this facility is used in conjunction with Quartz Composer, it becomes possible to capture images that may contain local information. This update addresses the issue by disallowing Quartz Composer compositions in unsigned Java applets. Quartz Composer compositions continue to function locally. Applications and signed Java applets that utilize QuickTime and QuickTime for Java are unaffected. This issue does not affect systems prior to Mac OS X v10.4. It also does not affect the Windows platform. Credit to Geoff Beier for reporting this issue.

We downloaded and installed the security patch on a number of Macs: PowerBook G4, Power Mac G4 Cube, 2GHz iMac Core Duo, 2.33GHz iMac Core 2 Duo and a 15" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo. All went well with the installations and no issues were discovered while briefly using the updated computers running Mac OS X 10.4.8 client and server. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[12/20] Software Special of the Day: InPreflight 1.0.5 (Universal) for 40% Off Today Only

InPreflight is a comprehensive quality control solution for Adobe InDesign. It gathers information about document fonts, colors and links and lets you instantly locate potential problems according to user-defined settings. It also serves as a powerful information tool that conveniently concentrates all necessary info in one place and reveals some link attributes otherwise unavailable in InDesign. Users can also generate detailed preflight report, open links in default application and show them in InDesign document, and reveal links/fonts in Finder.

Normally $24.95, InPreflight 1.0.5 (Universal) is offered for $14.95--that's 40% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/20] Brief Hands-On Report--Microsoft's Mac BU released Revised Patch for Office 2004 for Mac (11.3.2)

Microsoft's Mac Business Unit (Mac BU) released a revised patch for Office 2004 ahead of schedule (late in week). The patch (11.3.2) is available for download via the Microsoft AutoUpdate application, the "Check for updates" menu item of any Office 2004 application or as a stand-alone file from this Microsoft Web page.

Last week an errant patch was released and quickly pulled. The Mac BU promised a revised update that would remove the errant update (11.3.1) and reinstall the stability fixes. The Mac BU has done so already. According to the ReadMe file,

This update contains several improvements for PowerPoint and Entourage.

The details of the improvements are:

3.1 Improvements for PowerPoint 2004

3.1.1 Stability is improved
This update fixes an issue that causes PowerPoint to quit unexpectedly when you open a presentation.

3.2 Improvements for Entourage 2004

3.2.1 Contact names that contain special characters are handled correctly
This update fixes an issue that causes meeting requests to display incorrectly when sent to contacts with names that contain single quotation marks ('), double quotation marks ("), and parentheses.

3.2.2 Public folder messages are not duplicated
This update fixes an issue that causes duplicate messages to appear in public folders.

3.2.3 Compatibility with Mirapoint Message Server™ is improved
This update fixes an issue that causes Entourage to quit unexpectedly when accessing mail folders on a Mirapoint Message Server.

The updated files are:

Database Utility 11.3.2
Microsoft Component Plugin 11.3.2
Microsoft Database Daemon 11.3.2
Microsoft Entourage 11.3.2
Microsoft Framework 11.3.2
Microsoft OLE 11.3.2
Microsoft PowerPoint 11.3.2

These are the same files that were updated by errant updater 11.3.1.

We updated Office 2004 on our Macs using AutoUpdate. They included Macs that had been updated with the errant patch 11.3.1 and those that hadn't. All Macs and backup FireWire drives took the patch with no trouble. In several hours use, no Office 2004 for Mac application has had an issue following the update. [Bill Fox]

[12/20] Microsoft's Mac BU released Revised Patch for Office v.X for Mac (2006-12-19)

The patch (2006-12-19) is available for download via the "Check for updates" menu item of any Office v.X application or as a stand-alone file from this Microsoft Web page. Here is the ReadMe file on Update (2006-12-19),

This update contains several improvements to enhance stability in PowerPoint.

The improvements for PowerPoint X is:

3.1.1 Stability is improved--This update fixes an issue that causes PowerPoint to quit unexpectedly when you open a presentation.

The updated files are:

Microsoft PowerPoint 10.1.9 (061018)
MS OLE Library (Carbon) 10.1.9 (061213)
MS Structured Storage (Carbon) 10.1.9 (061213)

Again, these are the same files that were updated by the errant 10.1.9 updater. [Bill Fox]

[12/20] Month of Apple Bugs Coming January 1

Two security researchers plan to issue a bug a day report on Mac OS X for a whole month starting January 1, 2007 in a so-called Month of Bugs according to this InfoWorld article. They claim they re doing it to help push Apple into fixing bugs in the Mac OS X kernel, QuickTime, iPhoto, Safari and iTunes. Apple just released Security Update 2006-008 that fixed a well-know QuickTime vulnerability. [Dana Baggett]

[12/20] Lithium Ion Batteries with Reduced Risk Coming

A CNET article mentions Boston-Power, a small startup company founded by battery executives, as being on the verge of signing up a major notebook company to use their revised and less risky lithium ion batteries. Other firms are improving lithium ion batteries by changing the chemistry of the anode or cathode (i.e. contact ends). Boston-Power claims to have made improvements in 30 areas of manufacturing lithium ion batteries and has a patent for a lithium nickel cathode to replace the standard lithium cobalt cathode. Companies are still focussing on lithium ion batteries because lithium provides the best energy density and battery life of any other material. [Dana Baggett]

[12/19] Photoshop CS3 Beta One-on-One Preview, a Free Video by Photoshop Expert Deke McClelland

Deke McClelland, the bestselling author of Adobe Photoshop CS2 One-on-One (O'Reilly, $39.95) and Photoshop trainer extraordinaire, released a training video that covers Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta's terrific new features. Called "Photoshop CS3 Beta One-on-One Preview," this large-format 90-minute video series is available for free from Deke's online media partner,

According to Deke, "Photoshop CS3 Beta is something very new, a free upgrade that'll work until the fully developed program ships next year. The day Adobe's download link went live, posted my Photoshop CS3 Beta One-on-One Preview video series. These aren't demonstrational videos--they're the very first full training package on all the new features, big and small, complete with a live-action introduction and step-by-step exercise files. And it's totally free, to members and non-members alike. Combined with my Adobe Photoshop CS2 One-on-One book from O'Reilly, you have everything you need to know about Photoshop CS3."

To watch Deke's CS3 video, just go to this Web page. There are 19 pop-up QuickTime video files (about 90 minutes) and an exercise files download. [Bill Fox]

[12/19] Software Special of the Day: Bookdog 3.11.21 (Universal) for 33% Off Today Only

Bookdog is the premier Shepherd and Guardian of bookmarks for your Macintosh. After you install Bookdog, you spend a few minutes adjusting how you want your bookmarks sorted, click 'Sort' and within seconds your bookmarks are all in order! Click 'Analyze' to find duplicates and then fix them. Open the Preferences, activate Bookwatchdog, and your bookmarks be re-sorted after you make changes. Automatically. Do you seem to have alot of bookmarks that don't work anymore? Tell Bookdog to Verify. He'll go to all your websites, fetch their data, present a report, give you some options on how he can automatically fix bookmarks that have been "redirected", and finally present a handy tool which allows you to quickly review and fix the remainder. When you tell him to Migrate your bookmarks between browsers (Safari, Camino, Firefox) he finds the right folder and, if you want him to, avoids creating duplicates. Atta boy! Finally, you see the intelligence you knew your Mac was capable of.

Normally $14.95, Bookdog 3.11.21 (Universal) is offered for $9.95--that's 33% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/19] Use Priority/Coupon Code MACSANTA for Discounts on Mac Software from their Developers

From now through December 25th, customers can save 20% on great Macintosh software from great Macintosh software companies. By using the simple coupon code MACSANTA at each vendor's store, customers will save on software from:

  • A-Sharp, including their outliner Opal
  • Bare Bones, including their world-renowned text editor BBEdit
  • C-Command, including SpamSieve, the Eddy-award winning spam blocking tool
  • Flying Meat, including VoodooPad, the brain organizing wiki-based notebook
  • Potion Factory, including the podcast creation tool Podcast Maker
  • Red Sweater, including the personal productivity timer FlexTime
  • Rogue Amoeba, including the record-any-audio tool Audio Hijack Pro

MacSanta is here, and he brings great savings with coupon code MACSANTA! [Bill Fox]

[12/19] New Office:Mac Updates Coming Soon from the Mac BU at Microsoft

As we noted last week, Microsoft inadvertently released updaters for Office v.X and Office 2004 for Mac that weren't ready for release. Then, the updaters were pulled by Microsoft with the advice to uninstall them if one already had installed them but with no advice on how to do so. We advised to sit tight since the updaters appeared to cause no difficulties for us.

Now Erik Schwiebert of the Mac BU at Microsoft on its Mac Mojo blog has advised not to worry since the errant updates are benign, an expert echoing of our empirical advice. They contained tested stability fixes plus some untested "security bits." Schwiebert mentioned that new updaters (10.1.9 new build and 11.3.2) will be issued probably later this week that will remove any untested security bits from the errant updates and retain the stability fixes. This advisory was repeated on the Microsoft Security Response Center Blog.

We laud the Mac BU for being open about what is going on, something that does not always happen with Apple. And remember, the Mac BU makes great Mac software and they, as a unit, are not responsible per se for policies dictated by their parent, Microsoft. [Bill Fox]

[12/19] From the Dark Side--Technology Director Ousting Macs in Suburban Chicago School District

As you well know, there are people in the computer technology field in K-12 education who think they know better than anyone else and dictate what tool educators must use despite the programmatic and fiscal consequences. Armed with such irrelevant tripe as "most people use Microsoft Windows in the real world," they decide to eliminate Apple's Macintosh computers in favor of Windows systems with no real factual studies of educational program requirements, educational effectiveness of computing platforms or the actual total cost of ownership. Most do not appear to have the slightest understanding of computing systems as educational tools or instruments nor any real technical computing knowledge beyond the Windows world. They run roughshod over experienced educators who do have intimate knowledge about the effectiveness of their teaching tools by branding them in a derogatory manner as emotional fanatics either directly or by implication.

From a CourierNewsOnline article it appears that this very process may be playing out in a suburban Chicago school district with a 2:1 Mac vs. Windows ratio among its computing systems. We hope not. But according to the article the new technology director has ordered a study of how to phase out most Macs rather than a study of which computing platform is best for the school district's primary business--education--or which system has the lowest REAL total cost of ownership. And, yes, education IS the part of real world. In our opinion, the technology director should conduct the appropriate studies before embarking on a program of ous ting Macs. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[12/18] Hands-On Report--Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta (Universal), How Fast Is It?

We own a copy of Adobe Creative Studio CS2 so we downloaded and installed the beta version of Adobe Photoshop CS3. We extensively use Adobe GoLive CS2 so we were anxious to get an idea of how fast Adobe's new creative software will be when released in Intel-native form as Adobe Creative Suite 3 (CS3). The CS2 serial number is needed to get a CS3 beta serial number good until the final product ships in the spring of 2007. A CS2 serial number is not needed to try out the CS3 beta for up to two days.

We timed 15 actions in both Photoshop CS2 (9.0.2) and CS3 (beta) using the action set (PS Bench) available for benchmarking since Photoshop 6 and the built-in timing feature of Photoshop. We also recorded the launch times of both versions. Our 15" 2.33GHz MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo was the test computer.

Here are the launch time results:

Launch Times in Seconds*
First Launch
Additional Launches
*Average of 3 runs.

Here are the results from applying the 15 actions:

Action Times in Seconds*
90o Rotation
85p Gaussian Blur
10p Unsharp Mask
60% Reduction
Lens Flare
NTSC Colors
Accented Edge
Polar Coordinates
Radial Blur
Lighting Effect
*Average of 3 runs.

The Photoshop CS3 beta is substantially faster running natively on our Intel-based MacBook Pro than Photoshop CS2 (9.0.2) running under Rosetta emulation. The first launch of the application is 52 percent faster and subsequent launches are 71 percent faster. Our results compare favorably with the 60 percent improvement claimed by Adobe.

Overall, the 15 filter actions were 40 percent faster in Photoshop CS3 than CS2. This is exactly the same improvement claimed by Adobe for 250 actions. But, curiously, not all of actions applying various filters tested faster in CS3--three were slower (Despeckle, Halftone and Polar Coordinates).

In summary, we have independently confirmed the speed improvement claims by Adobe for the Photoshop CS3 beta (Universal) on our MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo. [Bill Fox]

[12/18] Software Special of the Day: FinKit 2.7.5 for 40% Off Today Only

FinKit is a financial calculator that solves all sorts of problems involving the time value of money. Provides 50 financial calculations:

  • Assets: capitalized cost - classic and MACRS depreciation
  • Bonds: bond book value, price and yield - zero-coupon bond price and yield
  • Dates: term date - date series - year fraction - time between dates
  • Interest: interest between dates - compound interest factors
  • Life: probability - pure endowment - whole life annuity - temporary life annuity - whole life insurance - temporary life insurance - temporary endowment insurance
  • Loans & Leases: installment loan - rule of 78 - balloon payment loan - interest only loan - fixed principal loan - sinking fund loan - prepaid interest loan - extra principal payments - credit cards - equipment lease
  • Options: option price - implied volatility
  • Payments: single and periodic payments
  • Rates: effective and equivalent rates - periodic to annual rates - inflation and taxes - find rate
  • Miscellaneous: annuity - perpetuity - savings - sinking fund - withdrawals - investments - Black Scholes

Performs currency conversions between 182 currencies and includes 159 life tables for 28 countries from all over the world.

Normally $25.00, FinKit 2.7.5 is offered for $14.95--that's 40% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/18] More Apples for Students--Springfield, IL, and Anchorage, AK

The Springfield, IL, School District is giving 800 MacBooks to sixth graders for use in class and to take home for homework. The lease with Apple Computer is for three years and provided through a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education favoring middle schools with below-average test scores, teacher shortages, low resources and feed high schools with low graduation rates. The MacBooks will be loaded with security software from Absolute Software that allows on to track a particular computer.

Over 60 students and four teachers at Wendler Middle School in Anchorage, AK, received MacBooks through a grant from the Alaska State Board of Eduction and Apple Computer. The students will also be able to use them at home as well as at school. It's a pilot program to test if the computers will improve learning.

[Dana Baggett]

[12/18] QuickerTek Now has Carry Handles for MacBooks

QuickerTek Carry Handles for the latest Apple MacBooks are now shipping. MacBook Carry Handles are sturdy and provide an easy means of transporting your MacBook. The QuickerTek Carry Handle line extends back several years and has always been the leader in handle design and appeal. Aluminum construction is strong, light weight and assists in dissipating heat. The patent-pending design allows for more possible angles, improving desktop ergonomics. The handle padding also prevents scratches to the MacBook case and when used on a desk. The padding also prevents the MacBook from sliding around on a desk surface. Slot mounting holes ensures a snag-free installation.

MacBook Carry Handles are available for $50.00 from QuickerTek and its dealers. And, orders from QuickerTek will be shipped free of charge until the end of December 2006. Like most QuickerTek products, Carry Handles are backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.

We use a QuickerTek Carry Handle with our 12" PowerBook G4 which get a lot of mobile use and it is terrific.

[12/15] Adobe Photoshop CS3 (Universal) Beta Available Today

As we announced yesterday, early this morning Pacific Time Adobe will release a beta of Photoshop CS3 (Universal). It can be downloaded after registering at this Adobe Web page [link changed] if you have a license for Photoshop CS2.

There will be no official support for the beta but look for details about the beta on the Adobe Photoshop CS3 beta forum and the Blog of Adobe's John Nack.

The key features are running native on Intel-based Macs, a new streamlined interface, integration with Lightroom and Adobe's Device Central with built-in mobile device profiles for mobile device designers. [Bill Fox]

[12/15] Adobe released CSS Advisor and Spry framework for Ajax in Beta

Adobe released two new web tools as beta releases.

Adobe CSS Advisor is a new web-based community site to easily identify and resolve browser compatibility issues. Web designers and developers can contribute their own issues, comment on existing issues, or become an editor to participate in driving the site's future.

Also introduced is a beta release of Adobe Spry framework for Ajax. It is a designer-focused solution for adding the interactive power of Ajax when developing rich, dynamic web-sites.

[Bill Fox]

[12/15] Software Special of the Day: Mori 1.4 (Universal) for 38% Off Today Only

For Mac users with lots to do. Mori is a digital notebook that makes it easy to record and organize your thoughts. Unlike the alternatives, Mori doesn't box you into one way of thinking. Instead Mori's simple and flexible design puts you in charge of your information.

Normally $39.95, Mori 1.4 (Universal) is offered for $24.95--that's 38% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/15] TaxCut 2006 Basic for Free to Some via Mail, Not Exactly Free

Yesterday, we received a copy of the TaxCut 2006 Basic edition tax preparation software in the mail from H&R Block. Perhaps we received it because we previously used TaxCut since it's not a typical NFR review copy often sent to journalists. The CD contains the Mac version as well as the Windows version. The CD also came with a $25 off coupon for tax preparation advice.

We it installed on our 15" MacBook Pro C2D just fine by copying the Mac folder from the CD to our Applications folder. A check with "Get Info" showed TaxCut 2006 to be a Universal Application so it runs natively on our MacBook Pro.

We launched TaxCut 2006 and imported our 2005 return completed last year with TurboTax for Mac since there was no TaxCut 2005 for Mac. We were pleasantly surprised that the import from TurboTax seems to be perfect.

The federal tax return forms will not be available until December 28 so we couldn't check out TaxCut 2006 further. The state forms will be out later than that.

The catch, of course, with the free TaxCut 2006 Basic edition is that one needs to pay for the state return and the eFile components separately. One state form is $24.95. Since TaxCut 2006 Premium+State edition is $29.95, the free software is essentially just a $5 discount unless one lives in a state with no income tax and does not plan to eFile.

Then, eFiling costs $15.95 per return separately for a total with the state return of about $57. Since TaxCut Premium+State+eFile costs $59.95, the free TaxCut 2006 Basic shrinks to a $3 discount if one eFiles. But the $19.95 Deduction Pro software is not included with the free Basic edition as it is with the Premium edition so its not really a discount after all. In addition, there may be even better deals for most people as the tax season proceeds, especially if one is traditionally a late filer.

Here is a preview review of TaxCut 2006 on CNET. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[12/15] MacBooks for Students at Holton High in Topeka, KS

In January, students at Holton High School in Topeka, KS, will be getting white MacBooks according to ABC News. They will be allowed to take them home to study and work on projects. The MacBooks come with filtering software accessible only by school techs to prevent them from using the MacBooks inappropriately on the internet. The MacBooks were obtained through a 3-year lease from Apple Computer. More (w/video)... [Dana Baggett]

[12/15] Apple-History--Google Patent Search Service finds Woz' 1979 Color Video Patent

Google has a new patent search button and a reasonably nice interface for looking at patents. If you put "apple wozniak" in the search box and click the search button up comes patent number 4136359 entitled "Microcomputer for use with video display" issued January 23, 1979, to Stephen G. (Woz) Wozniak as inventor and Apple Computer, Inc., as the assignee.

Here is the abstract:

A microcomputer including a video generator and timing means which provides color and high resolution graphics on a standard, raster scanned, cathode ray tube is disclosed. A horizontal synchronization counter is synchronized at an odd-submultiple of the color subcarrier reference frequency. A "delayed" count is employed in the horizontal synchronization counter to compensate for color subcarrier phase reversals between lines for the non-interlaced fields. This permits vertically aligned color graphics without substantially altering the standard horizontal synchronization frequency. Video color signals are generated directly from digital signals by employing a recirculating shift register.

The patent application was filed April 11, 1977. [Dana Baggett]

[12/14][4:30p] Adobe will release Beta of Photoshop CS3 (Universal) for CS2 Owners Tomorrow

On Friday, December 15, Adobe will release a beta of its Photoshop CS3 (Universal) as a download from this Adobe Web site. Due out in final in the Spring of 2007, Adobe Photoshop CS3 is the next version of Phtoshop and it will run natively on Intel-based Macs as well as PowerPC-based Macs. The beta will be available to all users who have a valid Photoshop CS2 serial number.

Unlike the Lightroom public beta program, Photoshop CS3 is more of an unfinished version, i.e. it will have bugs and things may not work perfectly. However, the idea of the public beta is still the same. Adobe wants to hear from users about the new interface and other features of Photoshop CS3 and how it could work better as a result of their experience. The early public beta will also ease the transition of Mac Photoshop users to Apple's Intel-based Macs.

Obtaining a downloaded copy of the Photoshop CS3 public beta is simple. Just go to this Adobe Web page, register or use an existing Adobe membership, enter your serial number from almost any source of Adobe Photoshop CS2, receive a Photoshop CS3 beta serial number and download, install and activate it via an internet connection. The download will be about 750MB so a good internet connection is required. There will be a 2-day grace period to activate the CS3 beta.

The system requirements are easy: a G4, G5 or Intel CPU; Mac OS X 10.4.8; 512MB of RAM; 1.5GB of hard disk space; a 1024x768 monitor and a 16-bit graphics card with 64MB of video RAM.

The beta will be only in English but it will install on non-English Mac OS X 10.4.8 systems. There will be no official technical support except for a forum, release notes and information posted to John Nack's Blog. John Nack is Adobe's senior project manager for things like Photoshop. Still, like the Lightroom public beta program, Adobe is encouraging feedback whether ideas or issues on the Adobe Photoshop CS3 beta forum. However, Adobe does not plan on issuing any updates to the beta until the final release in the Spring of 2007.

Here are the main features in Photoshop CS3:

The key ones to us are running native on Intel-based Macs (of course), a new streamlined interface, integration with Lightroom and Adobe's Device Central with built-in mobile device profiles for mobile device designers (see Bill Perry's Blog).

Photoshop CS3 is also fast, much faster on Intel-based Macs running natively rather than with Rosetta emulation. For example, Photoshop CS3 launches 60 percent faster than CS2 on Intel-based Macs (20 percent faster on PowerPC-based Macs) and is 40 percent faster in 250 common Photoshop operations.

The Photoshop CS3 beta will expire on release of the final product. Adobe will have a narrowed upgrade policy for Photoshop CS3--only upgrades to the three previous versions will be available.

This is great news for Photoshop professionals who need all the speed that they can get out of their Intel-based Mac. [Bill Fox]

[12/14] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released AirPort Update 2006-002 for Intel-based 'Books

AirPort Update 2006-002 is available for download via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to the ReadMe file,

AirPort Update 2006-002 improves AirPort compatibility in the following computers:

- MacBook Pro (15-inch Core 2 Duo)
- MacBook Pro (17-inch Core 2 Duo)
- MacBook (13-inch Core 2 Duo)

We downloaded and installed AirPort Update 2006-002 via Software Update on our 15" MacBook Pro C2D with no problem. We haven't had any troubles connecting to our office AirPort network consisting of AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express base stations. Our AirPort network is "g-only", hidden, requires a pre-specified MAC address to connect and uses the WPA security protocol. After applying AirPort Update 2006-002 we still connect just as easily. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[12/14] Apple Revised the Offerings from Three Hot Deals Retailers

MacMall has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: The Sims 2 Pets expansion pack from Aspyr for only $35.99!; Viewsonic ViewDock 19" LCD display with built-n iPod dock for only $299.99!; iF2 portable speakers for the iPod from Sonic Impact for only $139.99!; MacCase Silver Sling laptop backpack for only $64.95!; Canon PowerShot SD900 10-megapixel compact digital camera for only $499.99!; Canon EOS Digital Rebel SLR black body kit for only $799.00!; EyeTV 250 digital TV recorder for the Mac from Elgato for only $189.99!; Toshiba GigaShot GSC-R60 60 GB hard disc drive camcorder for only $484.99; and much more.

O'Reilly Media, Inc. has Hot Deals exclusive pricing on Mac related books including: AppleScript: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Ed. for only $27
99!; Adobe Creative Suite 2 Workflow for only $34.97!;; Photoshop Workflow Setups for only $20.99; Inside .Mac for only $13.97!; Learning Cocoa with Objective-C for only $24.97! Mac OS X Tiger Server Administration for only $13.99!; GarageBand2: The Missing Manual for only $17.47!; and much more.

PowerMax has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Dr. Bodelin's Silicon cover for the 60GB iPod for only $5.77!; USB wired optical mouse from Dr. Bodelin for only $9.99!; Blogger laptop bag from Timbuk2 for only $45.88; TuneTalk Stereo for 5th gen. iPod from Belkin for only $54.88!; EyeTV-Hybrid 2-in-1 TV for your Mac for only $134.88!; Shure E4c Sound Isolating Earphones for only $228.88!; Fantom Network Disk 500GB Ethernet/USB 2.0 network hard drive for only $264.88!; Inuos 6"8" USB tablet with wireless pen and mouse from Wacom for only $284.88!; and much more.

[Bill Fox]

[12/14] Software Special of the Day: MailSteward 7.6.2 (Universal) for 40% Off Today Only

MailSteward will archive all of your email in a database for easy retrieval. Click on the Store Email button and MailSteward will go to work storing copies of all your email text, HTML, attachments, and raw source, into a relational database file. MailSteward has a wealth of features for importing, tagging, saving, and exporting, including the ability to export your vital email information to a number of standard data formats.

  • Safely archive your large volume of vital email information.
  • Easily access your email database with fast, sophisticated searching.
  • Protect your precious email data from data format obsolescence.

If you are running Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or greater, and you are using the Mac OS X Mail program, or can export mbox files from Microsoft Entourage, Eudora, or other email clients, and you have thousands of emails to keep track of, then MailSteward is exactly what you need.

Normally $49.95, MailSteward 7.6.2 (Universal) is offered for $29.99--that's 40% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/14] Microsoft pulled latest Office:Mac Updates

Yesterday, we noted that Microsoft had posted updates for Office v.X for Mac and Office 2004 for Mac. We also noted that we had installed each and with brief testing found that no problems were encountered. Still, very early in the morning after publication time Microsoft pulled both updates.

This Microsoft Security Response Center blog post attempts to explain why the updaters were pulled. Essentially, they state that the release was a human error and if one used them that they should be uninstalled. Unfortunately, there are no instructions on how best to uninstall the errant updates.

To uninstall, one might simply delete the files that Microsoft noted were changed as we listed below and re-apply either the 11.3.0 (for Office 2004) or 10.1.8 (for Office v.X) updaters. However, we are not sure this would actually work.

We suggest doing nothing at present since both sets of Office v.X and Office 2004 applications continued to work fine for us all day after the updaters had been applied. The only risk to this that we can see is that Microsoft may stupidly re-issue the updaters with the same version numbers and they may not run, thinking the applications have already been updated. If this happens, then one can try the direct file removal method. [Bill Fox]

[12/14] 300GB Fujitsu 2.5" SATA Notebook Drive May Not Fit Apple's 'Books

Earlier this week several Web sites noted that Fujitsu announced a 300GB 2.5" notebook drive that will be available in February 2007. Apple currently offers a 200GB drive as a BTO option on its MacBooks and MacBook Pros so the Fujitsu drive should increase capacity by 50 percent, right? Unfortunately, Fujitsu's fine print says that the upcoming MHX2300BT SATA drive and its cheaper 250GB cousin may be too tall for Apple's 'Books which use 9.5mm high drives. The new drives are 12.5mm tall according to Fujitsu's specifications. Of course, with the drives at only 0.5" Apple could modify the 'Books' internals so that they would fit in a 1" thick 'Book. [Bill Fox].

[12/14] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Macworld Staff and TidBITS

Tonight host Gene Steinberg welcomes a trio of heavy-hitters in the tech universe. Macworld's Jason Snell will speak about the prospects for an iPhone, a true Video iPod and other developments from Apple in 2007. Rob Griffiths, also from Macworld, will talk about the possible impact of Microsoft's decision to eliminate Visual Basic from the next Mac version of Office. You'll also hear from Adam Engst, the publisher of TidBITS, who will tell you how you can take control of your domain names. Tune in the Web broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern.

[12/13] [Updated]Brief Hands-On Report--Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.3.1 Update

Microsoft released a patch for Office 2004 for Mac. It is available using AutoUpdate via "Check for Updates" under the Help menu in one of the applications or as a stand-alone updater from this Web page. [Update: Microsoft pulled the updater very early this morning.]

According to the ReadMe file, the improvements are:

3.1 Improvements for all Office 2004 applications

3.1.1 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.

3.2 Improvements for PowerPoint 2004

3.2.1 Stability is improved
This update fixes an issue that causes PowerPoint to quit unexpectedly when you open a presentation.

3.3 Improvements for Entourage 2004

3.3.1 Contact names that contain special characters are handled correctly
This update fixes an issue that causes meeting requests to display incorrectly when sent to contacts with names that contain single quotation marks ('), double quotation marks ("), and parentheses.

3.3.2 Public folder messages are not duplicated
This update fixes an issue that causes duplicate messages to appear in public folders.

3.3.3 Compatibility with Mirapoint Message Server™ is improved
This update fixes an issue that causes Entourage to quit unexpectedly when accessing mail folders on a Mirapoint Message Server.

Here is a list of files updated with 11.3.1:

Database Utility 11.3.1
Microsoft Component Plugin 11.3.1
Microsoft Database Daemon 11.3.1
Microsoft Entourage 11.3.1
Microsoft Framework 11.3.1
Microsoft OLE 11.3.1
Microsoft PowerPoint 11.3.1

The application versions are now: Word 11.3.0, Excel 11.3.0, PowerPoint 11.3.1 and Entourage 11.3.1.

We downloaded the stand-alone updater and ran it on our copy of Office 2004 for Mac. No problems were encountered during the updating nor during brief use of each application. [Bill Fox]

[12/13] [Updated]Brief Hands-On Report--Microsoft Office v.X for Mac 10.1.9 Update

Microsoft released a patch for Office v.X for Mac. It is available using AutoUpdate via "Check for Updates" under the Help menu in one of the applications or as a stand-alone updater from this Web page. [Update: Microsoft pulled the updater very early this morning.]

According to the ReadMe file, the improvements are:

3.1 Improvements for all Office v. X applications

3.1.1 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.

3.2 Improvements for PowerPoint X

3.2.1 Stability is improved
This update fixes an issue that causes PowerPoint to quit unexpectedly when you open a presentation.

The updated files are:

Microsoft PowerPoint 10.1.9
MS OLE Library (Carbon) 10.1.9
MS Structured Storage (Carbon) 10.1.9

The application versions are now: Word 10.1.8, Excel 10.1.8, PowerPoint 10.1.9 and Entourage 10.1.6.

We downloaded the stand-alone updater and ran it on our copy of Office v.X for Mac. No problems were encountered during the updating nor during brief use of each application. [Bill Fox]

[12/13] Software Special of the Day: Lifeboat 1.3.2 (Universal) for 50% Off Today Only

Lifeboat is a reliable, easy-to-use backup utility. Pick where, what, and when and Lifeboat will handle all the dirty work of backing up your files. With incremental backups and compression, your backups will take up as little time and space as possible. Backups can be saved locally on your computer, a CD or DVD, an external hard drive, or sent over a network to a .Mac account, a shared folder on another Mac, or a shared folder on a windows computer. Wherever you choose to backup, Lifeboat will copy your files, compress them, and write out a digest of what it did for restoring later.

Lifeboat is designed to make restoration as possible as it can. Restore directly from a backup task, from any backup digest, or if all else fails, restore from the backup manually. Lifeboat creates a human-readable digest at each backup location that you can use to locate each file and place it in its original location.

Normally $30.00, Lifeboat 1.3.2 (Universal) is offered for $14.99--that's 50% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/13] AssistiveWare introduced Convenienceware--TextParrot 1.0 (Universal) is First Application

"ConvenienceWare" is a new family of innovative and affordable products from AssistiveWare that makes the advanced technologies developed by AssistiveWare available in cool and convenient applications that can make the life of Mac users easier.

The first product is TextParrot 1.0 (Universal), a multilingual speech solution for Mac OS X that allows users to listen to their documents with naturally sounding voices in a language of choice. It also allows users to create their own personal podcasts or audio books by exporting to iPod-ready iTunes tracks. Or, users can just use it to speak selected text in a handy reader window with play, fast forward and rewind functionality. It even allows users to listen to text by just pointing the cursor at the text and sit back and relax while TextParrot reads the text under the cursor.

TextParrot was developed in collaboration with the Acapela Group and includes their naturally sounding, high quality voices in one or two languages of choice. Voices are currently available for the following languages: US English, UK English, French, German, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, and Swedish. Other languages will be made available in the coming months. Note that these special ConvenienceWare voices will not work in other applications.Suggested retail pricing excluding VAT (for download only): SRP is

Monolingual licenses:

Single User US$/Euro 39.95
Household (3 Macs) US$/Euro 79.90

Bilingual licenses:

Single User US$/Euro 59.95
Household (3 Macs) US$/Euro 119.90

Initially the software will be available for download only. A CD version is expected later at a slightly higher price. Teachers visiting the AssistiveWare booth (SN17) at BETT 2007 in January can get a 10% discount. [Bill Fox]

[12/13] From the Dark Side--Enlightenment at the Top of M$, the Mac OS X is Best

If you saw the Web news yesterday, you probably read that James Allchin, the Microsoft Executive in charge of Windows Vista development, stated in a 2004 internal email to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer that "...he himself would buy a Mac if he didn't work at Microsoft." Maybe he would really buy a Mac or maybe he wouldn't but he'll soon retire from Microsoft so we'll see.

In his Vista Blog, yesterday Allchin explained the context for the remark, i.e. he was admitting that Vista development needed to change to be more Mac-like. This attempt to back-pedal from a strict literal interpretation of his remark simply lands him further from the Dark Side since he is basically admitting that the Mac OS X is much more what people really want in a computer operating system than Windows. Whether Vista achieves that, and we certainly don't think so from our use, time will tell once again.

When Allchin retires from Microsoft after Vista's release, we hope that Steve Jobs will give him a well-deserved retirement present, a fabulous 24" iMac Core 2 Duo running the equally or more fabulous Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" for the candor that he is known for. [Bill Fox]

[12/12] Hands-On Report--DiskWarrior 4.0 (Universal)

Our copy of DiskWarrior (DW) 4.0 upgrade ($49.95 + $8.95 S&H) arrived in the mail today. It shipped from Alsoft in Spring, Texas, by Priority Mail on Dec. 7, a day after we ordered it! Not bad considering that our personalized serial number is printed on the disk itself and that Alsoft's Web site mentions a 3-4 week wait as we previously noted.

For those who aren't familiar with it--and Intel Mac owners have not had a DW version that would run on their Macs until v.4.0 was issued as a Universal application late last week--DW is essentially a one trick pony. It repairs and optimizes hard drive disk directories by building a new one and then, once you have had an opportunity to compare the before and after directories, you can replace the old with the new. Past versions of DW have repaired our PPC hard drives when other utilities could not, a for-real life-saver.

We popped the DW CD in our Early 2006 20 inch iMac Intel Core Duo disk drive. Besides the application, the CD contains a Read Me file, a Quick Start guide, and a 52 page detailed DiskWarrior Manual in PDF format. There's also an Installation Instructions file which notes among other things that "You must be running Max OS X version 10.3.9 or later to install DiskWarrior 4.0." We read all the documents except for the 52 pager. We urge that others do, too.

To install the application on your hard drive, you drag and drop it. Alsoft recommends that DiskWarrior reside in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder. However, DW cannot repair or replace a directory on the same hard drive on which it resides. Installing the app on an internal hard drive does permit one to optimize a external hard drive, like the FW drive one we regularly use to backup our internal hard drive. (We hope you do, too.) It also permits repair of disk permissions and a scan of all files and folders on the resident hard drive for damage and potential compatibility problems.

But, to create a new, optimized hard drive directory you must boot from another drive. Hence, the CD has a limited version of Mac OS 10.4.8 on it. So, we booted from the CD. About seven minutes later--after lots and lots of clunking and whirring--the app splash screen finally appeared! Fortunately, the Mac OS on the CD does support our Apple Bluetooth wireless mouse.

While we did not have a damaged disk directory, we went ahead to rebuild it. But first, we clicked on the button to have DW graph the present state of our directory. It reported that about 10,000 of 900,000 items on our hard drive were out of order, or 1%. But, just to keep us humble, it also noted that "Optimized directories have 0% items out of order." Right. DW then analyzed our hard drive and reported several problems in disconcerting red type. And we thought our hard drive was in very good condition. More humble pie. We proceeded to have DW produce a new, optimized directory. We opted for a side by side comparison new vs. old. Then we opted to replace the old one with the new. Done. We rebooted into the hard drive and all is well.

To test the use of DW running on a hard drive rather than from the CD, we switched on our Minimate external 80 gig FireWire hard drive. Using the DW application we installed on our internal iMac hard drive, we proceeded to create a new, optimized directory on our external FW drive. No clunky boot up process this time. The app appeared immediately on the desktop and after entering our administrator password, we proceeded to optimize the FW hard drive. 30,000 items out of order out of about 900,000 total. (Since it is a clone of our internal hard drive, the overall size is identical.) And, of course the ever present reminder that the goal is 0% out of order. An analysis of the external FW drive produced more red advisory comments. Optimizing the directory made them go away. Finally. we installed DW on the external drive. That way, we can run DW in the future to optimize our iMac hard drive without the slow, kludgey bootup from the CD.

DW works as well as it ever has and now it is a Universal app ready to respond when an emergency arises on our Intel iMac. We'll sleep better tonight. [Dana Baggett]

[12/12] Apple released Aperture 1.5.2 Update

Aperture 1.5.2 Update should be available for download via Software Update if one has Aperture installed or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,

Aperture 1.5.2 addresses issues related to overall reliability and performance in a number of areas, including:

• Contact sheet printing
• Smart Albums
• Watermarks
• Lift and stamp
• Image export
• Versions created using an external editor

This update is recommended for all Aperture users.

We don't have Aperture to test this update for you. [Bill Fox]

[12/12] Software Special of the Day: Typinator 1.6 (Universal) for 50% Off Today Only

Typinator types repeating texts and pictures for you. Have you ever resent having to type your name, e-mail address, home page URL or other words or phrases again and again? Or do you frequently need quick access to images like your signature, location plan, or company logo? Save your time and annoyance and let Typinator type repeating texts and pictures for you.


  • Quickly type greeting phrases
  • Set up a list of standard text fragments to be used in e-mail replies
  • Insert the current date and/or time in arbitrary formats with a few keystrokes
  • Auto-correct your most frequent typos in all applications system-wide
    "type" pictures, such as smilies or bullets
  • Insert Unicode symbols by typing a few special regular characters (e.g., type "->" to insert an arrow symbol)
  • Define shorthands for frequently used Unix commands
  • Quickly create templates for code fragments, if you are a programmer
  • and much more...

Normally $19.99, Typinator 1.6 (Universal) is offered for $9.99--that's 50% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/12] Hack Available for Intel-Based Macs to use Grants.Gov

Last Friday, we noted that the IBM beta Pure Edge grants software for the Mac can not be used on Intel-based Macs. However, reader and chemist Chris Swain (Macs in Chemistry) pointed us to a hack that will allow the beta Pure Edge Mac software to be installed and run on Intel-based Macs under Rosetta emulation. The hack is being distributed by MacResearch which bills itself as the "Online Community and Resource for Mac OS X in Science." They note,

"MacResearch has modified the installer for the MacViewer application (Pure Edge application for Macs from IBM) to enable it to install on Intel based Macs. The installed application will run via translation through Rosetta. No modifications have been made to the actual application. Therefore this installer CAN also be used on PowerPC Macs."

Neither MacResearch nor IBM nor us accept any responsibility for any problems encountered when using this hack, i.e. it is completely unsupported. [Bill Fox]

[12/12] Intuit released Quicken 2007 R2 Update

Quicken 2007 R2 Update is available for download via or this Intuit Web page. According to Intuit,

This update offers many improvements, including:

  • Compatibility with Pocket Quicken has been improved.
  • In some cases Quicken online banking transmissions failed with an OL-293 error. This issue has been resolved.
  • The QuickEntry Dashboard widget now maintains account settings after rebooting your computer.
  • When downloading investment transactions Quicken now also considers hidden securities. Any previously hidden securities with new downloaded transactions will no longer be hidden.
  • There was an issue when hiding columns in reports where an incorrect column may be hidden. This issue has been resolved.
  • When downloading investment transactions involving approximately 430,000 shares or more, security prices were sometimes incorrectly calculated. This issue has been resolved.
  • In some cases the account type was changed when editing the attributes of an online-enabled line of credit account. This issue has been resolved.
  • Tax rates used in the Tax Planner have been updated.

[Bill Fox]

[12/12] Apple posted Leopard Developer Application Technologies Overview

Apple posted a new developer article entitled "Leopard Developer Application Technologies Overview". The article covers working with Time Machine, integrating with iChat, using the Calendar Store framework, Cocoa development, animating user interfaces effortlessly with Core Animation, and taking advantage of hardware technologies like 64-bit processing.

The article mentions that Leopard is still scheduled to ship in the Spring of 2007. [Bill Fox]

[12/12] OWC's Free Macworld 2007 Expo Show Pass Availability Extended

Want to get into Macworld 2007 Expo free? Other World Computing (OWC) announced that it has arranged to continue offering Free Exhibit Hall Guest Passes (valued at $45 each) for Macworld Conference & Expo 2007 through OWC's Web site past the original December 11 deadline.

Download the Free Pass PDF and use the priority code printed on it when registering for Macworld 2007 at this Macworld 2007 Web page. Attendees who register after December 11, 2006 will be able to pick up their Attendees doing so after December 11 need to print their Free Pass and e-mail confirmation and present it at the Macworld registration area to get a badge. [Bill Fox]

[12/11] TurboTax 2006 (Universal) Updates released by Intuit

Intuit released five update files (2006.00.01) for TurboTax 2006 for Mac. They are available from this Intuit Web page. The updates include the following:

  • Data entry and worksheet corrections in TurboTax Premier Investments
  • Navigation and display modifications in the EasyStep Interview
  • Instructions and guidance clarifications
  • Many forms have been finalized

[Dana Baggett]

[12/11] Intuit posted Availability Dates for State Income Tax Forms for TurboTax 2006

Intuit posted a listing of the dates that State income tax preparation forms for TurboTax 2006 for Mac will be available. The dates range from 12/27/06 to 1/31/07. The list is updated frequently. [Dana Baggett]

[12/11] Software Special of the Day: Zooom 1.4.4 (Universal) for 50% Off Today Only

Zooom makes moving, resizing and zooming your application windows an almost effortless process. It's how Mac OS X windows should have been made. Although these three operations don't sound like much, once you get used to using Zooom, you'll be wondering how you ever managed to live without it.

Zooom is very easy to use - you only need to know two key combinations and you're fully trained!

To use Zooom, the general rule is that you hold down a set of modifier keys (which you can of course change if you wish) and then click somewhere within a window to initiate a drag or resize action.

Normally $9.95, Zooom 1.4.4 (Universal) is offered for $4.95--that's 50% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/11] PowerMail 5.5.2 (Universal) is Out

PowerMail is an alternative email client for Mac OS X. Version 5.5.2 has many fixes and enhancements including a search performance increase and compatibility with developer releases of Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard." Here are the Release Notes. [Bill Fox]

[12/8] Lag in Mac Office 2007 Converters Delivery--Redux

Yesterday, we noted that the Mac converters for Windows Office 2007 XML files, the default format for Office 2007's Word, Excel and PowerPoint, will be produced by Microsoft's Mac BU but they will be about 3 months after the official release of Office 2007 to the general public even though there are Windows converters of the same file formats already, albeit beta versions. We stated that with all the explanations so far we still couldn't understand why the lag.

Microsoft Mac BU's Rick Schaut has written in his blog the definitive explanation of why the Mac converters for the Office 2007 XML files lag the Windows converters. Okay, it does make sense although we have to take his word for many factors in the explanation because we haven't done any real heavy software development since FORTRAN IV was the language--dates us pretty badly, no? Anyway, a 3-month lag isn't that bad.

That said, given some feedback that we received from yesterday's article, it seems the real sin here is that Microsoft made the new XML file format for Office 2007 applications the default format. We heard from people in academia where they are already using Office 2007 that the new XML file format is causing havoc in their Windows world with files showing up all over the place that people can not open because they are still using Office 2003 or earlier, don't know that there are converters and the converters are not bug free. Fortunately for Microsoft they have a monopoly with Office so while Office 2007 is a disaster in some places, it's not a fatal one.

The default file format selection probably has nothing to do with the Mac BU so we're ready to cut them the necessary slack. Anyway, a 3-month lag isn't that bad. And we wonder how fast Apple's Pages and Keynote will get Word 2007 and PowerPoint 2007 converters. [Bill Fox]

[12/8] WARNING--Adobe Download/Reader Download Manager v2.1 has Security Flaw

According to this Adobe Security Bulletin,

A critical vulnerability has been identified in Adobe Download Manager 2.1 and earlier versions that could allow an attacker who successfully exploits this vulnerability to take control of the affected system. This issue is remotely exploitable. A malicious file must be loaded by the end user, via a web browser or e-mail client for instance, for an attacker to exploit this vulnerability. It is recommended that users uninstall Adobe Download Manager 2.1 and earlier using the instructions provided below.

Adobe Download Manager is a stand-alone application that improves the process of downloading files from Adobe. Customers who have downloaded software from Adobe, including Adobe Reader, may have Adobe Download Manager installed.

As of December 5, 2006, software distributed from is using Adobe Download Manager 2.2, which is not affected by this issue.

So if you have downloaded any Adobe software, like Adobe Reader 8, before 12/5/06, you probably need to uninstall Adobe Download Manager v2.1 or Adobe Reader Download Manager v2.1 or earlier using an Adobe uninstaller available from this Adobe Web page. But check the version to make sure using Get Info. Most of our Macs had v2.2 but our Intel-based Mac mini had v2.1.

We downloaded and used the uninstaller on our Intel-based Mac mini with no problem. [Bill Fox]

[12/8] Software Special of the Day: Default Folder X 3.0.2 (Universal) for 43% Off Today Only

Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application (both Carbon and Cocoa). The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click on the buttons to go to your favorite and recently used folders, manage the folders and files shown in the list, and make changes to your settings.

Default Folder also fixes a number of problems in Open and Save dialogs, "rebounding" back to the last selected file, putting the path listing back in the top menu, and correcting bugs in scrolling column views.

Normally $34.95, Default Folder X 3.0.2 (Universal) is offered for $19.99--that's 43% off as Today's Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/8] From the Dark Side--M$ Happy with Expected 1M Sales by June 2007--Sales at Still Poor

According to CNet, Microsoft is quoted as:

"We're forecasting just over 1 million units for the fiscal year," said Jason Reindorp, marketing director for Zune at Microsoft. "We feel pretty good about that number."

Maybe this will happen but checking for Zune sales confirms that they are still very sub-par. The black Zune's sales stand at #73 out of 100 in consumer electronics, far behind all iPods and many competitors from Creative and SanDisk, not to mention Apple's iPod AC/DC adapter at #59. Four out of the top 5 sales items are iPods.

Microsoft claims the brown Zune is doing well but it's not even on's Top-100 chart. [Bill Fox]

[12/8] Grants.Gov Mac Compatible But NOT for Intel-Based Macs

We are correcting our earlier post that Grants.Gov is finally Mac compatible without a Citrix server. Unfortunately, as one proceeds through the windows to download IBM's beta Pure-Edge software one finds a note that it is not yet compatible with Intel-based Macs. Reportedly, IBM is working on this issue. [Bill Fox]

[12/8] Apple updated its Xsan Software

Xsan 1.4.1 Admin Update

The Xsan 1.4.1 update delivers overall improved reliability for remotely administering, configuring and maintaining Xsan deployments. It includes fixes for:

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

Xsan 1.4.1 Filesystem Update

The Xsan 1.4.1 update addresses numerous issues related to overall reliability, usability and compatibility. It includes specific fixes for:

  • metadata controller failovers during power outages and network disconnects
  • memory related errors that can result in slow system performance or hangs
  • reducing fragmentation of large files and frame drops during ingest
  • preventing file system metadata corruption
  • hosting Xsan volumes on Intel-based metadata controllers
  • defragmenting files after a volume bandwidth expansion
  • compatibility with Apple and third party applications

[Bill Fox]

[12/7] WARNING--Microsoft Word 2004 and Word v.X for the Mac Contain Exploited Vulnerability

Microsoft issued a Security Advisory for a number of its Word products including Word 2004 for the Mac and Word v.X for the Mac. The advisory summary states:

Microsoft is investigating a new report of limited "zero-day" attacks using a vulnerability in Microsoft Word 2000, Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Word Viewer 2003, Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac, and Microsoft Word 2004 v. X for Mac, as well as Microsoft Works 2004, 2005, and 2006.

In order for this attack to be carried out, a user must first open a malicious Word file attached to an e-mail or otherwise provided to them by an attacker.

As a best practice, users should always exercise extreme caution when opening unsolicited attachments from both known and unknown sources.

We occasionally use Word 2004 and Word v.X and have not encountered a problem yet. While we never open a file from an unknown source, it is still possible to get a problem document from a known source and off the web from a known Web site.

Hopefully, Microsoft will issue a patch soon. [Bill Fox]

[12/7] Microsoft to Issue Office 2007 File Converters for Mac--3 Months Late

While we are on the topic of Microsoft Word, the new Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows produces documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) that are in Microsoft's new XML format by default. Until Microsoft issues Mac read and write converters, and its Mac Business Unit promises to do so within about 3 months of the official release of Office 2007 in January, the default files will be problematic for users of Office 2004 for Mac and earlier.

Even after reading a well-written explanation, we really don't understand why Microsoft couldn't have issued Mac converters simultaneously with Office 2007, especially since they already have issued beta converters for Office 2003 for Windows which uses the same formats as Mac Office 2004 and v.X.

The specifications of the new XML files are open and available here for an enterprising Mac developer. [Bill Fox]

[12/7] Software Special of the Day: Shoebox Pro 1.6.1 (Universal) for 50% Off Today Only

Shoebox Pro is a Mac OS X application for organizing digital photos by content. It uses Knowledge Base technology to learn what's in each of your photos. Shoebox allows you to organize your photos by date, people, places and things. With Shoebox you can quickly find exactly the photo you want, even if you have a very large collection. Shoebox also lets you surf your photo collection like a web browser. If you already use iPhoto, importing your photo collection is easy.

Normally $79.99, Shoebox Pro 1.6.1 (Universal) is offered for $39.99--that's 50% off as Today's Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/7] Cool Mac Software--Alsoft released DiskWarrior 4 (Universal)

Finally, Alsoft completed its work on a new version of DiskWarrior that will work on Intel-based Macs. DiskWarrior 4 (Universal) includes these new features:

  • Universal Binary
  • Significantly faster than previous versions
  • Repairs invalid file permissions
  • Includes an additional suite of file and folder tests, to find problems before they cause you trouble
  • Identifies corrupted Preference (.plist) files
  • Recovers more data from drives with hardware malfunctions
  • Detects and repairs more disk problems than ever
  • Repairs and rebuilds FileVaults
  • Fully supports case-sensitive file names
  • Repairs and rebuilds Attribute B-trees
  • Repairs Access Control Lists (ACLs)
  • Plus a lot more!

DiskWarrior 4 is available as a download or on a bootable CD for $99.95. An upgrade from the previous version of DiskWarrior is available only on a bootable CD for $49.95 plus $8.95 S&H--ordering requires the entry of your existing copy's serial number. DiskWarrior only works on Mac OS X 10.3.9 and 10.4.x and on Macs shipping up to 11/28/06..

We ordered a copy of the upgrade CD since DiskWarrior has saved our files several times. Since we use FileVault on our 'Books, we are especially pleased that DiskWarrior 4 will repair and rebuild FileVault files. Unfortunately, Alsoft estimates that it will take 3-4 weeks to receive the CD, an extraordinary amount of time for a shipping product but usual for Alsoft. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

[12/7] Take Control of Your Domain Names published by TidBITS

Custom domain names are fun for individuals and essential for organizations, but registering and managing a domain name remains a topic that can perplex even long-time computer users. The necessary advice is now available in Take Control of Your Domain Names, a 103-page $10 ebook by networking expert Glenn Fleishman that covers domain names for those who want to register their first domain name and those who already have a domain name.

Fleishman draws upon 12 years of experience with domain names gathered while running numerous Internet sites, including one of the first Web-hosting companies. For those who have never registered a domain name, the ebook discusses how domain names work behind the scenes and the best ways to decide upon and find an available domain name. It then walks readers through the necessary steps to register a domain name, configure it with a DNS host, and connect it with a Web site and email presence. For those who already have their own domains, Fleishman covers how to change registrars, DNS hosts, Web hosts, and email providers; explains how to use dynamic DNS; and offers troubleshooting tips for common DNS-related problems. Additional sections include advice for buying and selling domain names, instructions for using DNS lookup tools, and a glossary to define DNS-related jargon.

The ebook includes a $10-off coupon for registering or transferring a domain to easyDNS, a recommended registrar and DNS-hosting company. [Bill Fox]

[12/7] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Zune, Roughly Drafted Mag, Parliant Telephony and Kensington Products

Tonight host Gene Steinberg continues the great debate over the worth of Microsoft's Zune digital music player with Macworld's Christopher Breen. You hear cutting edge conversation about the platform crises faced over the years by both Apple and Microsoft with Daniel Eran of Roughly Drafted Magazine. Kevin Ford, CEO of Parliant Corporation, will discuss the latest version of the company's telephone management software. And, in honor of the 25th anniversary of Kensington, product manager Rob Humphreys will talk about the company's history and highlight some of their latest products for the Mac.

You can tune into the Web broadcast tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern. [Bill Fox]

[12/6] Brief Hands-On Report--Adobe Reader 8.0 is Out

The free Adobe PDF file reader as Version 8.0 is now available for download via this Adobe Web page.

Download and installation is a 3-step process. First, Adobe Reader Download Manager is downloaded and installed. Then, it downloads the Adobe Reader Installer. Finally, Adobe Reader 8.0 is installed by launching the Installer. We had to authenticate twice during this procedure.

Adobe Reader 8.0 has a new interface. During launch it displays the usual dialog box to set Adobe Reader as the default PDF reader plus a new dialog box. The new one is entitled "Beyond Adobe Reader" and clicking the button connects your computer to Adobe's Web site and displays a tutorial start window. One of the sections of the window displays what's new in Adobe Reader 8:

New User Interface

  • Organized, simplified, optimized
  • Customizable toolbars, combined search/find

New Viewing Options

  • Reading mode, pan & zoom, loupe tools, hide page gaps

Working with PDF files

  • PDF Packages, new markup tools


  • Start meeting with Acrobat Connect, RSS review tracker


  • New Adobe Document Center, consolidated security/permissions view

Digital Signatures

  • One-click signing, roaming ID's


  • 2D GPU acceleration


  • Better read out loud experience


  • New booklet printing

New Deployment Tool

  • Adobe Customization Wizard

There are also four panes taking one to details on how to create a PDF and collaborate, using Reader Enabled PDFs and Help Resources.

Adobe lists three ways to create a PDF file with Adobe Reader 8, other than using Mac OS X's print driver: create a PDF online, use Acrobat and use an enterprise server solution called Adobe LiveCycle. None of Adobe's solutions are free like using Mac OS X.

One of our speed tests involves scrolling the length of a 144-page document in Acrobat Reader. The document is the VirtualPC 4.0 Manual. It took our 2.33GHz 15" MacBook Pro C2D 46 seconds to scroll page-by-page through the document with Adobe Reader 7.0.8. With Adobe Reader 8.0, it took only 11 seconds.

We like the new interface, features and speed of Adobe Reader 8. [Bill Fox]

[12/6] Software Special of the Day: World Clock Deluxe 4.4 (Universal) for 38% Off Today Only

World Clock Deluxe can display multiple clocks in a horizontal or vertical palette, in the menu bar and in the Dock, show Coordinated Universal Time and Internet Time, assign labels and colors to clocks, calculate date and time conversions across different time zones and show the current weather all over the world.

Normally $16.00, World Clock Deluxe 4.4 (Universal) is offered for $9.99--that's 38% off as Today's Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/6] Cool Mac Software--smcFanControl 1.2.3 is Out

smcFanControl allows one to manually set minimum fan speeds in MacBooks, MacBook Pros and Intel-based Mac minis. Version 1.2.3 adds support for the new 17" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo and provides some fixes related to authentication. It's available via

We used smcFanControl on our our 15" MacBook Pro because the fans could be set separately. However, we use FanControl, a different application, on our Intel-based Mac mini. Both work well to keep our computers cooler. [Bill Fox]

[12/6] More Cool Mac Software--Mactracker X 4.1 (Universal) is Out

Mactracker contains all you ever wanted to know and then some about Macs and the Mac OS plus most of the rest of Apple's hardware products over the years. Version 4.1 is final after a beta release and it is available via "Check for updates" menu item or via Version 4.1 contains these updates and fixes:

  • Adds MacBook Pro (15-inch Core 2 Duo), MacBook Pro (17-inch Core 2 Duo)
  • Adds MacBook (13-inch Late 2006)
  • Adds iMac (17-inch Late 2006 CD), iMac (17-inch Late 2006), iMac (20-inch Late 2006), and iMac (24-inch Late 2006)
  • Adds Mac mini (Late 2006)
  • Adds iPod shuffle (2nd Generation), iPod nano (2nd Generation), iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition, iPod 5th Generation (Late 2006), and iPod 5th Generation U2 (Late 2006)
  • MacBook models have been moved into their own category
  • Now compiled as a Universal Binary for native operation on PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs
  • Adds "My Mac models" list to "Notes" tab of Mac info windows
  • Adds "My Mac models" category in the main window which shows models with entries in their "My Mac models" list
  • Adds option to show a model's icon in the main window
  • Adds information on whether a Power Mac G5 model uses a built-in or external AirPort antenna
  • Adds information on the current iPod software version
  • Adds Motion Sensor as separate entry rather than as an addition to Hard Drive entry
  • Adds ability to link to info windows using the "mactracker://" URI scheme
  • Update functionality now respects system proxy settings
  • Fixes an issue where Mactracker would crash if the startup disk was formatted with "Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive)" or "Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled)"
  • Other minor changes and additions

All true Macophiles will want this application. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[12/6] Divine Fiat released the Show Time Theme Set for Keynote

Divine Fiat released Show Time, their latest theme set for Apple's Keynote presentation software. Show Time consists of two themes, One More Thing... and Lights...Camera...

The Show Time theme set marks the release of their first set of pro themes. Until now, Divine Fiat has only released themes in the standard aspect ratios (800 x 600 & 1024 x 768), but the Show Time collection is also available in a pro version, which includes the HD aspect ratios (800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1280 x 720, 1680 x 1050 & 1920 x 1080).

One More Thing... features a red curtain which has been animated to bring life to the theme. The curtain both opens and closes which is great for creating an atmosphere of anticipation. Lights...Camera.. uses animated search lights to provide a sense of thrill. Both themes feature 4:3 and 16:9 photo cutouts to give Hollywood scope and scale to your next presentation.

The themes can be purchased from Divine Fiat in standard format for $19.95 each or in professional format for $28.95 each. The Show Time collection can be purchased in standard format for $31.95 or in professional format for $52.00. [Bill Fox]

[12/6] ATI loses Graphics Market Share to Nvidia, Others during Q3 of 2006

Jon Peddie Research (JPR) estimates that approximately 76 million graphics devices for personal computers shipped from major suppliers in Q3 2006, a 5.2% increase from the prior quarter and an 11.2% increase over the same period the previous year.

The desktop graphics segment saw shipments increased 2% from Q2'06 to Q3'06 and shipments grew 4.7% year-over-year. Integrated desktop shipments dropped 3% sequentially (the second consecutive quarter of decline) but increased 3.3% annually. Discrete desktop shipments jumped 10.2% on a quarterly basis and grew 6.8% year-over-year.

The mobile graphics segment saw quarterly shipments rise a dramatic 13.8%% and grow 30.2% year-over year. IGC shipments drove growth in the mobile market in the second quarter with a stunning 15.8% growth during the period, and discrete mobile shipments grew 7.5% during the quarter and jumped 9.3% compared to the same period the previous year.

JPR estimates that a record 22.7 million mobile graphics devices shipped in Q3'06, 17.4 million of which were integrated chipsets for notebooks. Mobile IGCs claimed a share of 76.8% in the mobile graphics market, up from 75.4% in the prior quarter and up from 72.3% in the same period a year ago. Intel led the mobile graphics market with a 51% share (down from 54%), ATI dropped to a 24% share, and Nvidia jumped with a 8% market share gain to 19% for the quarter.

In the discrete mobile segment, ATI saw shipments decline dramatically on a quarterly basis while Nvidia saw shipments increase sequentially. Nvidia grew discrete mobile segment share from 37% in Q1'06 to 53% in Q3'06. ATI's segment share fell from 63% in Q2'06 to 47% in Q3'06.

JPR estimates that approximately 53 million desktop graphics devices shipped in Q3'06, 31.7 million or 59.5% of which were integrated parts. Overall, Intel held at 35% of the desktop graphics market, ATI dropped to 22%, and Nvidia grew to 25% market share. In the discrete desktop segment, Nvidia also grew, to 57% share and ATI claimed 43% share during the period.

Intel saw a flat quarter in graphics shipments in Q3'06, but was still the largest supplier of PC graphics devices worldwide. ATI remained the second largest supplier in Q3'06 but with a 5% sequential decline in shipments and decreased market share. Nvidia, the third largest supplier in Q3'06, closed the gap with ATI with a 2.0% sequential increase in shipments and increased market share. The following table lists the ranking and relative market share, based on unit shipments in Q2'06 and Q3'06, of the major graphics suppliers to the personal computer industry:

Q2'06 Share
Q3'06 Share
VIA Tech

Could the decline in ATI's share relative to all other manufacturers except Intel be related to their acquisition by AMD? [Bill Fox]

[12/5] Grants.Gov Now Mac Compatible with Beta Pure-Edge Viewer

There is good news for Mac users applying for federal grants. Now they can without using a Citrix server by using a beta version of Pure-Edge Viewer for the Mac. According to Grants.Gov,

Support for Non-Windows Users, working closely with the grant community, continually seeks to improve the grant application process. To that end, we have been working to identify solutions to provide better cross-platform support for Macintosh, Unix, and Windows users. This currently includes three solutions:

  • We are implementing Adobe forms with support for Macintosh, Unix, and Windows with a target of April 2007.
  • We have made available a Citrix server to enable Macintosh and Unix users to work with the Windows version of IBM Workplace Forms (PureEdge).
  • We are tracking vendor efforts to implement a cross-platform version of the IBM Workplace Forms.

The use of the beta Pure-Edge Viewer is qualified by Grants.Gov as:

The Contact Center is not in a position to support questions specific to the Mac Viewer because this is an IBM product. Software limitations may include:

  • Occasional crashes and subsequent loss of any unsaved data
  • Inability to submit large applications (greater than 20-40 MB depending on your system and network)
  • Inability to run on Intel-based Macs or any Mac OS version prior to 10.4.6
  • No support for screen readers for visually impaired users

Please consider these limitations and read the attached release notes carefully before using this software. We will provide additional information on commercial releases of this product as they become available. Currently, we expect the vendor to release a version for Intel-based Macs within the next few months.

Still, the situation is much better today for Mac users using Grants.Gov. The beta Pure-Edge Viewer for the Mac works well according to postings to a listserve we belong to. It will be even better when Grants.Gov completes its conversion to using PDF's in April 2007, a solution it should have considered using in the first place. [Bill Fox]

[12/5] Software Special of the Day: Toon Boom Studio 3.5 (Universal) for 38% Off Today Only

Toon Boom Studio 3.5 is the leading animation software solution for individuals to easily create rich, eye-catching animations for video, websites, television, film, games, mobile devices, e-learning applications, and more. Users can easily build animations digitally, traditionally or the cut-out way by selecting artworks from existing libraries and animating them using motion paths. Toon Boom Studio's intuitive user interface and advanced animation keyframing, asset reuse and lip synchronization empower animators to make high quality animations faster.

Normally $399.00, Toon Boom Studio 3.5 (Universal) is offered for $249.00--that's 38% off as Today's Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/5] WiebeTECH is Offering Super Special Pricing on Some of Its Hot Products

For example, SATA II drives in eSATA cases are currently the rage in fast, inexpensive storage solutions. WiebeTECH has priced its attractive ToughTech eSATA case with 250GB SATA drive at just $129.95 and with the addition of an eSATA ExpressCard 34 for the MacBook Pro it is only $199.95. The drive, case and card when sold separately usually run around $300 in total.

We have reviewed several of WiebeTECH's products, e.g. the BayDock 400 and the mini USB 2.0 Dock. Here's WiebeTECH's Super Specials Web page--Super Specials are in orange. [Bill Fox]

[12/5] PNY Released 4GB SDHC Flash Memory Card--Special Pricing on 1GB and 2GB Cards

PNY now has 4GB secure digital high capacity flash memory cards. The 4GB SDHC cards are based on the SD Association Specification Version 2.00. The new SD memory card allows users to select a memory card according to the performance needs of their storage-intensive applications, such as high-resolution digital images and HD video recording and playback. The 4GB SDHC model costs $119.99.

PNY has reduced the price of the 1GB SDHC model to $24.99 and the 2GB SDHC model to $49.99. [Bill Fox]

[12/4] Apple Posted Five New Free Online Seminars--Accounting, Podcasting, QuarkXPress 7 and Apple Remote Desktop

Apple added five new titles to its December list of free online seminars:

Accounting on the Mac: Managing Mac Clients--Join Apple and Terri Zeh Jacobson, President of Resources for Small Business as she describes how she supports Mac clients using MYOB and QuickBooks.

The Podcast Recipe: Producing a successful show--Find out what it takes to perform a great-sounding podcast, produce a professional show, and promote a podcast to reach as many people as possible.

Design at full speed. Breakthrough design and productivity with QuarkXPress 7 Universal--View a hands-on demonstration of the improved user interface and see how advanced new capabilities can take your productivity to the highest level yet.

Experience the power of Automator and Apple Remote Desktop 3--With Automator actions available with ARD 3, you can automate a wide range of workgroup administration tasks such as configuration, setup, cleanup, and support.

Manage creative workgroups easily with Apple Remote Desktop 3--See some of the more than 50 new features that speed up and simplify software distribution, asset management, remote administration, and remote assistance.

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]

[12/4] Software Special of the Day: MacBreakZ! X 4.0 (Universal) for 50% Off Today Only

MacBreakZ is a sophisticated Personal Ergonomic Assistant designed to promote healthy and productive computer use. According to the developer, it offers a unique way of acquiring ergonomic skills that can save you a lot of discomfort and shield you from serious health and career-threatening disorders.

Based on your actual keyboard and mouse use and the time you have spent in front of the screen, MacBreakZ suggests rest and microbreaks at appropriate intervals. MacBreakZ includes a set of 30 fully illustrated stretching exercises that are designed to reduce muscular tension, improve posture and strengthen appropriate muscle groups. It also features dozens of great ergonomic tips.

Normally $29.95, MacBreakZ! X 4.0 (Universal) is offered for $14.95--that's 50% off as Today's Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/4] Keyspan ships TuneView Remote for Apple iPod

Keyspan is now shipping TuneView for iPod, a powerful remote with color LCD screen and 2-way RF connectivity that provides a new wireless way to manage your iPod. TuneView for iPod consists of a 2-way RF remote with color LCD screen, a universal iPod dock, a USB power adapter, audio and USB cables, and selected dock inserts. Together these components allow you to:

  • Connect the iPod to a stereo or powered speakers using the line out jack
  • Connect the iPod to a TV using the S-Video jack
  • Charge the iPod from an AC outlet using the USB Power Adapter
  • Browse and control the iPod from around the house with LCD remote

Available now in North America, with an MSRP of just $179. [Bill Fox]

[12/4] Em@ilCRX 1.5.1 (Universal) is Out with New Forwarding Capability

Hendrickson Software Components (hsc) released Em@ilCRX version 1.5.1, an automated tool to filter e-mail, forward filtered e-mail, and trace and report spam. The cross-platform application is built on the company's popular Sidewinder Rating Engine, and designed to work with any e-mail client software to filter e-mail, forward filtered e-mail, and trace and report spam.

Em@ilCRX is priced at $29.95 US. Quantity discounts are available; contact the company for details. [Bill Fox]

[12/4] FinanceToGo 1.0.1 (Universal) is Out--$34.95 Special Price until 12/18/06

Fastforward released the first update for their finance software, FinanceToGo 1.0.1. The update solves issues relating to the Quicken Import feature and is recommended for all registered users. FinanceToGo is a finance manager for Mac OS X which seamlessly integrates dozens of intuitive financial management features into one affordable software package. Ideal for individuals and small businesses, FinanceToGo is based on the standard double-entry accounting system.

FinanceToGo allows users to track multiple accounts and thousands of transactions simultaneously. Transactions can be categorized, and graphs are automatically generated displaying where your money is being spent and on what. Reports and budgets can also be produced from the financial data you enter. International currencies and banking systems are supported, as well as the ability to import Quicken Interchangeable Format (QIF) format files for existing Quicken® for Mac users.

FinanceToGo is available immediately worldwide from the Fastforward website for $34.95 as part of a special three-week introduction offer, which ends on December 18, 2006, after-which the price will be $44.95. [Bill Fox]

[12/1] Apple Gained Control of Contois "iTunes" Patent in Recent Settlement, Lawyer Claims

In June 2005, David C. Contois sued Apple over the design and implementation of iTunes and the iTunes Music Store claiming that he had been issued a patent for it in 1999 from a 1996 application as we previously noted. Apple and Contois settled the suit late this past summer but its terms were not disclosed.

Now Michael Starkweather, the attorney who originally wrote the patent for Mr. Contois, is claiming in his own press release that the settlement will affect

"...the future of the whole cell phone, iPod and PDA industry. That's the billion dollar patent." Starkweather said. "I believe that, with this patent in hand, Apple will eventually be after every phone company, film maker, computer maker and video producer to pay royalties on every download of not just music but also movies and videos."

Here is the interface design from Mr. Contois' patent.

It looks very similar to iTunes. However, the patent is broader than just the design. It consists of three components: remote music storage, selecting music to download and playing music on a music device. Here is the abstracted description of his patent 5,864,868:

A computer system and method for controlling a media playing device. The system provides a user interface for allowing a user access to media pieces stored in a media database. The interface is also for controlling a media playing device, like a player piano or movie playing video device, that is coupled to the computer to play the accessed or selected piece of media. In one embodiment there is a computer interface that allows a user to display only music that relates to a selected category, like jazz or classical music. Another embodiment allows the user to direct the media playing device to automatically play selected music pieces that are related to a selected music category. Another embodiment allows a user to direct the media playing device to automatically play selected music pieces that are related to the selected music composer or artist.

Apple has not commented on whether or not it will seek royalties from other digital music services or digital music player manufacturers, not to mention manufacturers of cell phones and PDAs as referenced by Mr. Starkweather. [Bill Fox]

[12/1] Software Special of the Day: Keyword Manager 1.0.2 (Universal) for 47% Off Today Only

Keyword Manager 1.0.2 (Universal) introduces a brand new way of assigning keywords to your photos in a simple and efficient way. Keyword Manager expands the functionality of your familiar iPhoto setup, and will greatly enhance your photo management experience.

  • Hierarchical keyword grouping--For example, you can have the keyword Paris as a subkeyword to France. Every time you assign Paris to a photo, France will also be assigned to that photo.
  • Much faster than any AppleScript based solution--AppleScript based solutions become excruciatingly slow when assigning and removing keywords from a large amount of photos. Keyword Manager taps directly into iPhoto's own keywording system, for optimal performance.
  • Intelligent solutions for fast keywording--Smart auto-completion helps you increase the rate at which you keyword your photos. Non-obtrusive auto-correction suggestions helps you avoid creating similar duplicate keywords.
  • Assign keywords while in full-screen mode--With Keyword Manager you can still assign keywords to your photos, even when viewing them in full-screen mode.

Normally $19.00, Keyword Manager 1.0.2 (Universal) is offered for $9.99--that's 47% off as Today's Software Promo. [Bill Fox]

[12/1] Aspyr Mac Game Report--Civ 4: Warlords, Star Wars: Empire at War and Prey

Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Warlords is in stores. It is the first expansion pack for the Firaxis Games' award-winning title, Civilization IV. Paying homage to some of history's greatest military leaders, the expansion delivers eight unique and interesting scenarios, giving players the chance to change the course of history with the help of their new powerful "warlord" unit.

Work on Star Wars: Empire at War for Mac is moving along nicely. As December approaches they are entering full testing, and one of their main areas of focus has been to make sure the game runs well on the entire lineup of Intel Macs, including the Mac Book and Mac mini. Brad Oliver, their chief Star Wars expert and veteran of games such as Jedi Knight 2, Jedi Academy and Knights of the Old Republic, is the lead programmer on Empire at War Mac.

Aspyr is also working on their latest Mac game, Prey. Based on an enhanced Doom 3 engine, Prey adds portals and the ability walk on walls and flip gravity to completely change what you expect in a first person shooter. The game is up and running well on the Mac, and is in the final stages of testing. Aspyr's previous experience with the Doom 3 engine on the Mac has made the transition of Prey to OS X very smooth, and if all continues to go well it will be hitting store shelves in early 2007. [Bill Fox]

[12/1] From the Dark Side: M$ Zune Sales Drop Precipitously from their Tepid Start

At least at which publicly displays its list of the top 100 in consumer electronics sales, the sales of the Microsoft Zune have dropped like a rock since their introduction in mid November. We reported the day after their introduction that the black Zune ( lists colors as separate products) was #7th while while iPods took numbers 2, 3 and 4.

Now the disparity is huge. Last night at publication time the black Zune stood at #68, beaten by several SanDisk Sansas and Creative Zens. No other Zune was even in the top 100. While out of the first 10 places, the iPods took numbers 1, 2, 4, 5 ,7 and 8--all colors/models were higher than the Zune. Even an iPod AC/DC adapter beat the Zune at #51.

David Eran posted an iPod vs Zune Buyers Guide which explains the reasons for the Zune's marketplace flop. He also just posted a treatise on M$'s marketing dirty tricks that may be used to try to reverse the flop. [Bill Fox]

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