[1/31] Brief Hands-On Report--AirPort Extreme 802.11n Enabler for Mac
Apple released the AirPort Extreme 802.11n Enabler for most Macs with Intel Core 2 Duo processors. It costs $1.99 plus tax as a download via the Apple Store at this Apple Web page found under "Mac Accessories, AirPort & Wireless." The enabler allows Core 2 Duo Macs to run the new super fast draft WiFi protocol dubbed 802.11n.
We bought a copy of the enabler to see how the Apple Store's purchase process works and to confirm that the enabler does not cause issues with our 15" MacBook Pro C2D or our 24" iMac C2D and our AirPort Express and AirPort Extreme 802.11g Base Stations. We have a new AirPort Extreme 802.11n Base Station on order which includes the $1.99 enabler but it is not scheduled to ship until February 28th.
The purchase process at the Apple Store was straightforward, just like buying software from any other online vendor. We believe this is the first time that Apple has sold software as a download from the Apple Store. [Nope! Reader Gilbert Breen reminded us that Apple's QuickTime MPEG2 playback component was first.] After buying it for $2.14 including CA sales tax, its receipt has a download link to click to obtain the enabler.
The 802.11n enabler downloaded and installed fine on both Macs. It is not a firmware upgrade but new code that is added to Mac OS X 10.4.x "Tiger" which explains the $1.99 charge. In fact, Apple is adding a significant new feature to Mac OS X, not just enabling the hardware already installed and disabled, a significant difference to accounting rules.
This License allows you to install and use one copy of the Apple Software on all computers under your ownership or control, so only needs one legitimate copy of the enabler making the $1.99 charge truly trivial.
To determine if 802.11n is enabled, open Network Utility and under the Info tab select the Network Interface (en1) from the popup menu and look at the last entry of the left panel. It should read "Model Wireless Network Adapter (802.11 a/b/g/n)." Ours was missing the "/n" before installing the enabler.
On both of our Macs, AirPort's menu bar icon displays four arcs and Internet Connect displays 15 dots so we get the same strong signal from our 802.11g Base Stations. Our 15" MacBook Pro CSD is about a yard from the Base Station and the 24" iMac C2D is about 10 yards away. In several hours of use, we encountered no problems with our AirPort wireless network.
We look forward to receiving a new AirPort Extreme 802.11n Base Station and testing the faster speed that 802.11n WiFi protocol provides. [Bill Fox]
[1/31] Apple released Four New Colors for the 2G iPod shuffle
Apple's second generation (2G) iPod shuffle was originally released in just one color, silver. Now, Apple has added pink, green, blue and orange colors to the line. The price is still $79. [Bill Fox]
[1/31] Software Special of the Day: LaunchBar 4.2b2 (Universal) for 40% Off Today Only--$11.95
LaunchBar is an award winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the web. It provides instant access to your applications, documents, contacts and bookmarks, to your music library, to search engines and more, just by entering short abbreviations of the searched item's name.
You just hit Command-Space to bring LaunchBar's input window to front, enter an arbitrary abbreviation, and as soon as you start typing LaunchBar displays the best matching choices, ready to be opened immediately.
Start applications, open documents, invoke system services, compose emails or navigate the web - LaunchBar will be your essential servant.
[1/31] TextParrot 1.0.1 (Universal) released by AssistiveWare
AssistiveWare/ConvenienceWare released TextParrot 1.0.1 for Mac OS X as well as a number of new value bundles and new educational licenses.
TextParrot is a Universal Binary, 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.
Starting today, TextParrot is now available with naturally sounding voices of up to three different languages. Voices are currently available for the following languages: US English, UK English, French, German, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, and Swedish. TextParrot itself is localized in English and French, other localizations are in preparation.
Version 1.0.1 contains the following enhancements:
Now also available in a trilingual version
Now also available as a bundle with Infovox iVox for even better voices (less compression) that can be used in any application. The standard TextParrot voices can only be used with TextParrot.
Now also available with special educational licenses.
Some fixes in the voices that affected a small number of users
Removed an annoying trial reminder
New pricing and licensing information is available from this ConvenienceWare web site. [Bill Fox]
[1/31] Super Bowl Highlights to be carried on iTunes Store
While video highlights from the NFL's regular-season and playoff games have been available from the iTunes Store since September, football fans will be able to download video highlights of the Super Bowl exclusively through Apple's online iTunes Store according to an AP article.
The National Football League stated that it will make highlights from Sunday's game available for purchase online Monday for $1.99. The download will be available in English or Spanish and will be viewable on computers or iPods.
A 90-minute video of the NFL's coverage of the Super Bowl will also be sold for $1.99. [Dana Baggett]
[1/31] Cool Mac Freeware--SMARTReporter 2.2 (Universal) is Out
SMARTReporter is an application that can warn you of some ATA hard disk failures before they actually happen! It does so by periodically polling the S.M.A.R.T.-status of your hard disk.
S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a technology built into most modern hard disks that acts as an "early warning system" for pending drive problems. Because SMARTReporter relies on the S.M.A.R.T. implementation of Mac OS X, it only supports ATA or S-ATA hard disks, if you want S.M.A.R.T. support for your FireWire hard disk, send feedback to Apple. SMARTReporter can notify you of impending hard disk failures by sending e-mails, displaying a warning dialog or executing an application. The current status of your hard disks is always displayed through the customizable menu item.
What's New in Version 2.2:
Added option to refrain from checking the disks when on battery power
Added option to limit the maximal size of the logfile
Added option to configure the path and name of the logfile
Added a new menu-icon-set named "Grey & Red"
Fixed detection of hard disks in Intel-Macs if an additional hard disk is connected to the optical drive bay
Fixed French translation again
Improved User Interface by splitting it into three tabs
Improved folder icon for the SMARTReporter folder (thanks to merv)
Improved visual display of the disk-checking-interval to make it more clear that it is editable
Improved detection of the IP-address
Modified default text of the "test-e-mail" so it can't be confused with a real "disk-failure-notification e-mail"
Expanded the FAQ
We have used this utility for years, fortunately without a hard drive failure. SMARTReporter 2.2 is available free as a download via MacUpdate.com. [Dana Baggett]
[1/31] Lithium Ion Batteries with Longer Life, Shorter Charge Time from Boston-Power
Boston-Power's Sonata product line is a drop-in technology that can be used in existing notebook computers. Significantly, it requires no design changes on the part of the notebook computer OEM. Sonata features enhancements in both performance and safety; its proprietary safety features include slower chemical kinetics, novel current interrupt devices, new thermal fuses, unique pressure relief vents and safer pack configuration.
Sonata provides on-the-go notebook computer users with the industry's fastest recharge time -- recharging to 80 percent capacity in just 30 minutes. This represents approximately half the time required by other batteries according to Boston-Power.
Additionally, Sonata is the only battery designed to match the lifespan of a notebook computer. Boston-Power claims that most users find that they need to buy at least three batteries in the first three years of use of a new notebook computer. Sonata is designed so these users should only need one battery during this same time frame.
The first notebook computers to use Sonata batteries are expected to ship this summer. [Bill Fox]
[1/30] Former Apple Marketer Ed Prasek Opens Mac-Exclusive Strategic Marketing and Business Services Firm
Mac industry veteran Ed Prasek launched Spin Studio, LLC, a company specializing in providing world-class marketing, merchandising, channel, and business strategy and consultation services exclusively to developers and companies in the Macintosh industry.
"The Mac industry is famously unique. Its customers, the way the channel works, everything, is very different from the standard PC industry," says Spin Studio founder and Mac industry veteran, Ed Prasek. "And it takes real Mac industry know-how in order to provide effective, well received marketing programs and initiatives. And now with Spin Studio, developers and companies in the Mac industry can take advantage of just that: marketing and business services designed especially for them."
Spin Studio's services for developers and companies in the Mac industry include strategic, guerilla, blend, and viral marketing; business strategy consulting; relationship building and networking; merchandising and channel penetration; product planning; website layout and presentation; go to market initiatives; and more.
We have known Ed for a long time. Prior to founding Spin Studio, he was an integral member of Apple's Worldwide Developer Relations organization and also served as Publisher & Editor in Chief of MacHome Journal magazine. He is a great guy personally as well as professionally. We wish him success in his new venture. [Bill Fox]
[1/30] Software Special of the Day: 3D Data Visualizer Pro 1.0.7 (Universal) for 49% Off Today Only--$19.95
3D Data Visualizer Pro quickly creates and animates great 3D line, surface, and scatter plots from table based data. Choose your delimiter type(s), and select the type of plot desired. Specify your desired colors, lighting, and rotation, and animation.
[1/30] Warning--Intuit is ending Online Services for Quicken 2004
In a not-so-thinly-veiled effort to sell Quicken 2007, Intuit has sent out notices that it is discontinuing online services for Quicken 2004. It's not just that Intuit will no longer provide support for Quicken 2004, it's that the services will apparently no longer actually work. The note from Intuit states:
Online Services are being discontinued for Quicken 2004 users.
Discontinuing online support for older versions helps us provide you with high service levels, while still delivering leading-edge financial solutions at a low cost. Discontinued services will include:
Downloading financial data from your bank, credit union, credit card, brokerage, 401(K), or mutual fund accounts
Online bill pay
Downloading stock quotes, news headlines, and other financial information into Quicken
Uploading portfolio information from Quicken to Quicken.com
Access to the investing features on Quicken.com, including portfolio tracking, any watch lists you have created, One-Click Scorecard, Stock Evaluator, and Mutual Fund Evaluator
For more information about the Quicken Service Discontinuation Plan, click here.
Maintaining uninterrupted service is easy and affordable.
To make this transition as simple as possible for you, we're offering a $20 savings on Quicken Mac 2007. We'll also provide free installation assistance, shipping, and bonus software. You'll pay only $49.99 for Quicken Mac 2007and get the tools to optimize your investments and maximize your return.
Act today to ensure continued access to Online Services.
To avoid service interruption, upgrade and install Quicken 2007 before April 30, 2007. Upgrade online today or call 1-800-811-8766. Make sure to reference the priority code at the top of this e-mail to receive your savings.
Fortunately, we are using Quicken 2006 because we determined that the few improvements in Quicken 2007 do not justify the upgrade cost for us. The online services discontinuation date for Quicken 2004 is April 30, 2007. [Bill Fox]
[1/30] From the Dark Side--RESCUECOM Urges Not Upgrading to Windows Vista
At the public release of Microsoft's long-awaited Windows Vista operating system, in a note to us David A. Milman, founder and CEO of RESCUECOM, an independent national computer repair and technology company, is urging computer users NOT to buy Vista,
"While the hype surrounding Vista is in many ways justified, we are urging the tens of thousands of businesses and home computer users we service to take a wait and see approach. Sometimes the latest is not necessarily the greatest and we'd hate some minor glitch to result in major headaches for our customers or anyone else. We suggest waiting six months before purchasing Vista. Allow the early users to discover the flaws and weaknesses and allow Microsoft to perfect this exciting product before blindly and enthusiastically placing your computers and your data in its care."
Actually, it may be years before large businesses and governmental agencies migrate to Windows Vista while they test it. For the more intrepid, Vista won't really be ready for prime time until later this year when the first service pack will be released according to Digit.
Aren't you glad you use a Mac and Mac OS X? [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[1/29] [Updated]Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 (Universal) Available for Pre-Order at $199
After a year of public betas, Adobe will ship Photoshop Lightroom on February 19, 2007, but it can be pre-ordered today at a special introductory price of $199. A free trial download will be available on the February 19th date as well.
Photoshop Lightroom is Adobe's software product built especially for digital photographers who shoot and work with large volumes of images. It streamlines the photographer's workflow from importing RAW images directly from digital cameras to managing the collection of those images to applying most re-touching effects non-destructively to presenting the results or to exporting to Photoshop for further work on those few special images that require it.
Adobe says that over 500,000 photographers participated actively in the public beta program through beta 4.1, the last one. There were over 1 million downloads altogether. So, the final 1.0 version of Photoshop Lightroom has many new features and changes from the public betas.
New Features in the Final Version
Since the last beta there are significant changes to the Library and Develop modules complementing improvements to the Slideshow, Print and Web components. Here is the final interface (click on it or here to see five large images of the component interfaces):
While in the Library module, new advanced keywording tools help photographers filter through large collections, and an improved import dialogue with more flexible file handling allows more choice when determining file location.
The new Key Metadata Browser provides quick access to key information tags with an improved ranking and rating system that now incorporates color labels and a pick/reject system that sorts and locates photographs faster than ever.
New to the Develop module, Virtual Copies and Snapshot tools help present multiple versions of the same image, providing the most choice to clients without the confusion of saving separate physical versions.
Additional tools added include a Hue, Saturation and Luminance targeted adjustment tool for precise and intuitive image edits. Clone and Healing features provide non-destructive edits to eliminate sensor dust across one or many images.
Photoshop Lightroom supports over 150 raw file formats in addition to JPEG and TIFF. The latest camera models supported include the Nikon D 40 and 80, and Pentax K10D. Upon import, files can be converted to the Digital Negative specification (DNG) or renamed and segmented by folder or date. DNG is an industry-wide initiative to create a universal file format for solving workflow and archiving issues. It aims to eliminate barriers to new camera adoption while giving professional photographers the confidence that their digital body of work is securely archived and will remain accessible as digital imaging technology evolves.
The requirements are Mac OS X 10.4 or later; a G4, G5 or Intel Core Duo CPU; 768MB RAM (1GB recommended); 1GB of free hard disk space; a monitor with 1024x768 resolution; and a CD-ROM drive. We have been using the beta versions on a 1.66GHz Mac mini Core Duo and a 2.33GHz 15" MacBook Pro C2D.
Photoshop Lightroom has been tested with beta versions of Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" due out this Spring. If needed in order to run on Leopard when it comes out, Adobe plans to provide a free update.
Adobe has also tested to ensure that the final version of Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 is compatible with the files or databases made by the final Beta 4.1. Files from earlier betas may not be compatible. This will not affect original digital photograph images and they may simply need to be re-imported into Photoshop Lightroom 1.0.
Pricing and Availability
The special introductory price of $199 is good through April 30, 2007, at the Adobe Storeor resellers like Amazon.com. Thereafter, Photoshop Lightroom will sell for an estimated street price of $299. Photoshop Lightroom beta 4.1 will expire on February 28, 2007. A trial edition will be available for download on February 19.
We will post a review when Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 becomes available. [Update: Added Amazon.com as another source per a note from reader Mark Gipson.] [Bill Fox]
[1/29] [Updated]Faster Macs Coming--Intel Using Technology Breakthrough Similar to IBM's for Faster, Smaller and More Efficient CPU's
The speed of CPUs has been "stuck" near 3GHz for awhile but IBM working with AMD, Sony and Toshiba have developed a new way to construct the tiny transistors with a new material, clearing a path toward chip circuitry that is smaller, faster and more power-efficient than previously thought possible. The technology, called "high-k metal gate," substitutes a new material into a critical portion of the transistor that controls its primary on/off switching function. The material provides superior electrical properties compared to its predecessor, enhancing the transistor’s function while also allowing the size of the transistor to be shrunk beyond limits being reached today.
The new technology allows the industry to again get on the path of "Moore's Law" of doubling the number of transistors on a processor every 12-18 months. Only minimal retooling of manufacturing plants is required to use the new material.
Subsequently, Intel announced that it was using high-k material and metal gate technology in its 45nm process to build faster, smaller and more power efficient CPUs later this year. The new CPUs are called the Penryn family and are targeted at computer applications, including Apple's Macs running Mac OS X.
According to Intel,
"With more than 400 million transistors for dual-core processors and more than 800 million for quad-core, the Penryn family of 45nm processors includes new microarchitecture features for greater performance and power management capabilities, as well as higher core speeds and up to 12 megabytes of cache."
Intel explained that silicon dioxide has been used to make the transistor gate dielectric for more than 40 years because of its manufacturability and ability to deliver continued transistor performance improvements as it has been made ever thinner. Intel has successfully shrunk the silicon dioxide gate dielectric to as little as 1.2nm thick equal to five atomic layers on our previous 65nm process technology, but the continued shrinking has led to increased current leakage through the gate dielectric, resulting in wasted electric current and unnecessary heat.
Transistor gate leakage associated with the ever-thinning silicon dioxide gate dielectric is recognized by the industry as one of the most formidable technical challenges facing Moore’s Law. To solve this critical issue, Intel replaced the silicon dioxide with a thicker hafnium-based high-k material in the gate dielectric, reducing leakage by more than 10 times compared to the silicon dioxide used for more than four decades.
Because the high-k gate dielectric is not compatible with today’s silicon gate electrode, the second part of Intel’s 45nm transistor material recipe is the development of new metal gate materials. While the specific metals that Intel uses remains secret, the company will use a combination of different metal materials for the transistor gate electrodes.
The combination of the high-k gate dielectric with the metal gate for Intel’s 45nm process technology provides more than a 20 percent increase in drive current, or higher transistor performance. Conversely it reduces source-drain leakage by more than five times, thus improving the energy efficiency of the transistor.
Intel's 45nm process technology also improves transistor density by approximately two times that of the previous generation, allowing the company to either increase the overall transistor count or to make processors smaller. Because the 45nm transistors are smaller than the previous generation, they take less energy to switch on and off, reducing active switching power by approximately 30 percent. Intel will use copper wires with a low-k dielectric for its 45nm interconnects for increased performance and lower power consumption. It will also use innovative design rules and advanced mask techniques to extend the use of 193nm dry lithography to manufacture its 45nm processors because of the cost advantages and high manufacturability it affords. [Update: Clarified headline.] [Bill Fox]
[1/29] Software Special of the Day: Studiometry 4.1 (Universal) for 44% Off Today Only--$105.95
Studiometry can store information about clients, contacts, projects, to-do's, payments, timers, invoices, reports, employees and more.
It features networking, multiple employee support (with permissions and hour tracking), simultaneous search of all data, multiple currencies (with automatic exchange rate updating), multiple contacts per client, project and client statuses and categories, modifiable taxes, and many more features.
[1/29] Mac Version of TurningPoint Released--Audience Response Software
Turning Technologies, LLC, released the new Mac-compatible version of their interactive PowerPoint software, TurningPoint. TurningPoint for Mac provides an audience response system for any presentation-focused environment.
TurningPoint audience response systems create a fully interactive experience in the classroom, the lecture hall, the meeting room or even the conference auditorium. With seamless PowerPoint integration and detailed reporting via Excel, TurningPoint transforms any PowerPoint presentation into an engaging hands-on discussion and assessment tool. Teachers, professors, and presenters can collect real-time data from students or meeting participants through the easy-to-use TurningPoint software and ResponseCard keypads. Immediately evaluate participant comprehension and alter presentation material to meet particular needs and/or integrate additional feedback into your presentation. TurningPoint is a global leader in a variety of markets including K-12, Higher Education, Government and Corporate settings.
"We've been listening to the feedback of our customers. The Mac release of our TurningPoint software has been a frequent request in the marketplace. We're extremely pleased to now offer the premier capabilities and usability of TurningPoint to Mac users around the world." stated Mike Broderick, Turning Technologies' CEO.
TurningPoint for Mac is 100% native to Microsoft PowerPoint 2004. [Bill Fox]
[1/29] Smart Scroll x 2.1 (Universal) Released
Smart Scroll X makes scrolling more convenient:
Super Wheel makes your scroll wheel smoother, faster and more comfortable.
Grab Scroll gives you a Hand tool to easily move any window's contents. It features coasting, just like on the iPhone.
Other features include Universal Scroll Keys that let you scroll from the keyboard, FileMaker Pro and AppleWorks enhancements, and more.
New in version 2.1:
Super Wheel improvements for the Finder, Firefox and other Carbon applications.
Smoother horizontal scrolling for Super Wheel and Grab Scroll, in Carbon applications.
Various other fixes and improvements.
Smart Scroll X 2.1 is shareware ($19 single user license) and runs on Mac OS X 10.3.9 or newer (universal). [Bill Fox]
[1/29] Cool Mac Software--AppleJack 1.4.3 (Universal)--Free (Donationware)
Reader John Esser recommends AppleJack 1.4.3, a free (donationware) application from The Apotek available for download via MacUpdate.com.
AppleJack is a user friendly troubleshooting assistant for Mac OS X. With AppleJack you can troubleshoot a computer even if you can't load the GUI, or don't have a startup CD handy. AppleJack runs in Single User Mode and is menu-based for ease of use.
Using AppleJack, you can repair your disk, repair permissions, validate the system's preference files, and get rid of possibly corrupted cache files. In most cases, these operations can help get your machine back on track. The important thing is that you don't need another startup disk with you. All you need to do is restart in Single User Mode (SUM), by holding down the command and s keys at startup, and then typing applejack, or applejack auto (which will run through all the tasks automatically), or applejack auto restart (which will also restart the computer automatically at the end of the process). [Bill Fox]
AirPort Extreme Update 2007-001 is available via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page.
According to Apple,
This update is recommended for all Intel-based Macintosh computers and provides compatibility with AirPort Extreme base stations and networks.
Here are the security details:
AirPort CVE-ID: CVE-2006-6292 Available for: Mac OS X v10.4.8, Mac OS X Server v10.4.8
Impact: Attackers on the wireless network may cause system
crashes Description: An out-of-bounds memory read may occur while
handling wireless frames. An attacker in local proximity may be
able to trigger a system crash by sending a maliciously-crafted
frame to an affected system. This issue affects the Core Duo
version of Mac mini, MacBook, and MacBook Pro computers equipped
with wireless. Other systems, including the Core 2 Duo versions
are not affected. This update addresses the issue by performing
additional validation of wireless frames. Credit to LMH for
reporting this issue.
We downloaded the update and installed it on a MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo and an iMac Core Duo with no difficulty. Our brief use before publication time did not reveal any problems. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[1/26] Software Special of the Day: Tribal Trouble 1.6 (Universal) for 33% Off Today Only--$19.95
Tribal Trouble is a fast-paced, humorous, real-time strategy game where your job is to lead your cartoonish and somewhat clueless kinsmen (be they Vikings or Natives) to new discoveries and victories as tribal clashes rage across tropical and northern islands.
Unlike most other RTS games, Tribal Trouble is quite easy to grasp and offers single player skirmish and campaign games as well as online multi player battles on a near infinite number of maps.
While Tribal Trouble is quite simple to grasp, planning successful strategies and utilizing the complex and varying terrain to your advantage, is the real challenge. The game features:
A single player mode where you can play against computer controlled opponents of three difficulty levels.
A single player campaign mode.
A multi player mode where you can challenge other players online and enter The League.
An endless supply of computer generated islands (up to one square kilometer) with varying terrain.
Massive battles with up to six players and 900 tribesmen at the same time.
Resource gathering and weapon production.
Three types of buildings for each tribe: Quarters, armories, and watchtowers.
[1/26] OWC reduced the Price of its On-The-Go 2.5" Mobile Hard Drives
The new reduced prices for OWC's Mercury On-The-Go 2.5" FireWire 400+USB2 line are as follows:
- 40GB 5400RPM w/ 8MB Buffer remains $114.99
- 60GB 5400RPM w/ 8MB Buffer was $129.99, now $124.99 - a $5 Drop
- 60GB 7200RPM w/ 8MB Buffer was $159.99, now $149.99 - a $10 Drop
- 80GB 5400RPM w/ 8MB Buffer was $139.99, now $129.99 - a $10 Drop
- 80GB 7200RPM w/ 8MB Buffer was $179.99, now $169.99 - a $10 Drop
-100GB 5400RPM w/ 8MB Buffer was $159.99, now $147.99 - a $12 Drop
-100GB 7200RPM w/ 8MB Buffer was $209.99, now $199.99 - a $10 Drop
-120GB 5400RPM w/ 8MB Buffer was $169.99, now $149.99 - a $20 Drop
-160GB 5400RPM w/ 8MB Buffer was $237.99, now $219.99 - an $18 Drop
If a USB 2.0 interface is not needed, Mercury On-The-Go 2.5" FireWire-only
models of the above On-The-Go capacities are also available, and are priced $5 - $10 less than the combo FW+USB 2.0 version. Check them out on OWC's Web site.
We have several of the 5400RPM FireWire 400-only versions and can highly recommend them. [Bill Fox]
[1/25] Apple Month of Bugs Update
Three weeks ago we noted that hackers LMH and Kevin Finisterre planned to provide a security bug a day during January for Apple's Mac OS X. As of publication time, they have provided 24 security flaws and are right on their projected pace. The 25th is due out today.
Meanwhile, Landon Fuller has provided fixes for the first 20 bugs. [Bill Fox]
[1/25] Software Special of the Day: Dejal Simon 2.2 (Universal) for 50% Off Today Only--$14.95
Dejal Simon is the essential site monitoring tool for Mac OS X. It checks web pages, FTP and DNS servers, local or remote ports, and other services for changes or failures, and notifies you via e-mail, sound, speech, or HTML reports.
Add tests to Simon to track updated sites, to alert you when an important server goes down or recovers, check on Samba SMB, take periodic screenshots of the system, track posts and new comments on your or friends' blogs, check for web mail, make sure a key application is running, get notifications of updates to favorite news and entertainment websites, keep an eye on auctions, and many other uses.
Services include Web (HTTP) to check web pages (including secure ones, and supporting POST and cookies), FTP files and directory listings, DNS, Ping servers, watch a local Application, capture periodic Screenshots, watch for System Log Errors, and more. Plus, you can easily add your own services via custom port connections, AppleScripts, shell scripts, or Perl, PHP, Python, etc.
Receive notification of changes, failures, and/or recoveries via various Actions, auto-generated E-mail messages (including to your pager or cellphone), Growl notifications, an audible Sound, or customizable Speech.
HTML reports allow remote viewing of a summary and/or details of Simon monitoring. Reports can be saved to a local web server, or uploaded remotely. Customizable templates (with several examples provided) allow embedding in a web page, using a compact format suitable for viewing on PDAs and cellphones, creating a RSS feed, and more.
[1/25] Apple Revised the Offerings from Five Hot Deals Retailers
CDW Macwarehouse has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: BookEndz Docking Station for the MacBook Pro for only $299.95; Microsoft Office 2004 Pro for only $469!; Nikon Coolpix S7c 7.1-megapixel compact digital camera for only $349.95!; NEC MultiSync 20-inch LCD display for only $489.99!; Lexmark C522 color laser printer for only $299.99!; Epson GT 2500 document imaging color scanner for only $599.99!; TechTool Protege complete package from MicroMat for only $246.99; TurboTax Deluxe Deduction Maximizer 2006 complete package from Intuit for only $43.99; EMC Retrospect Desktop back-up software for only $95.99; and much more.
ClubMac has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: AudioStation for iPod from Logitech for only $299.99!; iStopMotion 2D animation software from Graphic Sim for only $37.99; USB-powered notebook cooler from Micropac for only $14.99; Inspire T3030 2.1 multimedia speaker system from Creative for only $51!; VG730m 17-inch LCD display from Viewsonic for only $209.99!; ScanMaker S400 high-resolution flatbed slide/film scanner from Microtek for only $99.99 after mail-in rebate!; Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Warlords expansion pack from Asypr for only $29.99!; Pixma MP810 Photo All-in-One wireless BlueTooth printer w/color display from Canon for only $299!; and much more.
J&R Computerworld has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: CanoScan LiDE 600F flatbed color image scanner from Canon for only $138.99!; Slingbox AV SB240-100 (yes, it works with Mac OS X!) from Sling Media only $178.99!; 40GB Porsche Design external hard drive from LaCie for only $19.99!; Podcast Factory kit - everything you need to create professional podcasts only from M-Audio for only $129!; Harmony Audio lets you record real instruments, or any analog source, to your Mac from Migila Tech for only $139.97!; left-handed Vertical Mouse from Evoluent for only $79.99!; and much more.
MacMall has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: EOS 30D Digital SLR kit w/17-85mm lens from Canon for only $1,472.99 after mail-in rebate! 120GB Titanium II external hard drive from Fantom w/FireWire/USB 2.0 interface for only $49.99!; Video-55 protable audio/video player w/7-inch screen for iPod w/video from Sonic Impact for only $189.99!; My Book Essential external hard drive w/FireWire/USB 2.0 interface from Western Digital for only $89.99; iGroove HG all-in-one speaker solution for iPod from Klipsch for only $194.99!; Perfection V350 flatbed photo scanner from Espon for only $149.99!; Toast Titanium 8 w/Blu-ray support from Roxio for only $58.48!; and much more.
Ramjet has Hot Deals exclusive pricing on Mac compatible memory upgrades including: 2GB memory upgrade kit for the (Intel-based) iMac for only $248!; 2GB memory upgrade kit for the original iMac G5 w/iSight for only$282!; 1GB memory upgrade kit for (Intel-based) Mac mini for only $256!; 1GB memory upgrade kit for the PowerMac G4 (w/Mirror Drive Doors) for only $71!; 2GB memory upgrade kit for the PowerMac G5 for only $257! ; and much more.
[1/25] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Photoshop CS3, MacFixIt and Parallels Desktop for Mac
Tonight, host Gene Steinberg calls upon famous Adobe Photoshop guru David Biedny, in "The David Biedny Zone," to deliver a full analysis of the new features of Photoshop CS3. This is the public beta of the upcoming Universal version that'll run native on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. You'll also receive the latest Mac troubleshooting news and views from MacFixIt editor Ben Wilson. In addition, with a spanking new version of Parallels Desktop coming, Product Manager Benjamin Rudolph tells you about all its great features and plans for the future of this popular "virtual machine" application. 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]
[1/25] From the Dark Side--CNet gives Windows Vista Home Premium a Tepid Review
According to CNet,
"The bottom line: Windows Vista Home Premium is essentially warmed-over Windows XP Home Edition. If you're currently happy with Windows XP SP2, we see no compelling reason to upgrade."
With Mac OS X 1.5 "Leopard" coming soon, aren't you glad you use a Mac? [Dana Baggett]
[1/24] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released Security Update 2007-001
Security Update 2007-001 is available for download via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. There are separate Intel-based and PowerPC-based updaters. According to Apple, the update fixes a QuickTime security issue. Here are the details:
QuickTime CVE-ID: CVE-2007-0015 Available for: QuickTime 7.1.3 on Mac OS X v10.3.9, Mac OS X Server
v10.3.9, Mac OS X v10.4.8, Mac OS X Server v10.4.8, Windows XP/2000
Impact: Visiting malicious websites may lead to arbitrary code
execution Description: A buffer overflow exists in QuickTime's handling of RTSP
URLs. By enticing a user to access a maliciously-crafted RTSP URL, an
attacker can trigger the buffer overflow, which may lead to arbitrary
code execution. A QTL file that triggers this issue has been
published on the Month of Apple Bugs web site (MOAB-01-01-2007). This
update addresses the issue by performing additional validation of
We downloaded Security Update 2007-001 and installed it on several Macs, including a MacBook Pro C2D and iMac Core Duo without a problem. We also used QuickTime to view various videos and QuickTime content on the Web with no problems. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[1/24] Software Special of the Day: SRS iWOW 1.1.3 (Universal) for 40% Off Today Only--$12
iWOW is an audio enhancement plug-in for iTunes from SRS Labs. It will provide amazing audio immersion and maximum thump for a personalized audio experience!
The advanced audio enhancement features so you can tune and customize your music, movie or video include:
SRS® 3D - 3D stereo enhancement for moro or stereo content SRS 3D Center Control - a 'virtual' zoom lens that dynamically extracts and positions the dialog in the foreground or background of the audio mix
SRS TruBass® - bass maximization
SRS FOCUS - optimize speaker output to compensate and reposition audio placement
SRS Definition - delivers a more lively and brilliant sound by highlightly the high frequency details originally presented in the audio source
Version 1.1.3, just released, will make iWOW process iTunes audio even when it is in the closed state. That feature was added due to popular demand. Additionally, it has audio improvements for bass enhancement.
[1/24] Phone plugins 1.1 for Address Book (Universal) adds Support for Nokia Phones
A free update supports sending SMS messages and dialing phone numbers directly from the Address Book of Mac OS X with mobile phones from Nokia. Address Book phone plugins Version 1.1 from nova media support Nokia mobile phones Series 40, 60 and 80, covering nearly all existing Nokia phone models available today. Until now, these plugins have been made available for Sony Ericsson phones only.
"These plugins support incoming call actions as well, e.g. to answer a call or send the caller to the mobile´s voice mail." states Jan Fuellemann, PR spokesperson at nova media. "Nobody should have to wait for the next Mac OS system update to use their latest mobile phone with iSync."
Address Book phone plugins are Universal Binary, require Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher and are available immediately from the Nova Media Web site for Euro 6.50 ($8.50). [Bill Fox]
[1/24] Open Door Networks Updated All of Its Security Products
Open Door Networks Inc. released major upgrades to its comprehensive line of Internet security products. The upgrades, available immediately, provide significant new functionality and enhanced integration, along with addressing new and evolving security issues. Open Door also announced special pricing on the products through February 14.
Each of Open Door's security products is receiving an upgrade:
The DoorStop X Firewall, version 2.0, adds "Location sets," which specify different protection for different network environments, automated log archiving, service-specific logging options, direct integration with Open Door's isfym.com security blog and other new features and fixes.
The Who's There? Firewall Advisor, version 2.1, includes new filtering and searching features, enhanced real-time scrolling, direct integration with Open Door's security blog, new service definitions and bug fixes.
The eBook "Internet Security for Your Macintosh: A Guide for the Rest of Us" has been updated to discuss the latest issues and concerns, in particular security for Intel Macs running Mac OS X and/or Windows. The eBook, and its associated blog, isfym.com, are integrated into Open Door's other security products, and the book is also available as a standalone PDF file.
The DoorStop X Security Suite, version 2.0, includes all of the above updated products. The Suite continues to represent the most comprehensive approach to Macintosh Internet security available today.
Through February 14, 2007, special pricing for the products is:
* DoorStop X Firewall 2.0: $39
* Who's There? 2.1: $29
* "Internet Security for Your Macintosh": $9
* DoorStop X Security Suite 2.0: $69
Through the same period, upgrade pricing includes:
* Any version of DoorStop X Firewall to 2.0: $29
* Any version of Who's There? to 2.1: $19
* "Internet Security for Your Macintosh": Free
* DoorStop X Security Suite 1.0 to 2.0: $39
Free 30-day evaluation versions of the updated products are available from Open Door's Web site. Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later is required. [Bill Fox]
[1/24] From the Dark Side--Microsoft tries to pay for Wikipedia Edits
Microsoft offered to pay blogger Rick Jelliffe to try to edit certain entries on an open source document standard in the community based online encyclopedia Wikipedia to be more favorable to Microsoft according to this AP article. The unethical event never happened and Microsoft claims it was just trying to set the record straight. Maybe, but a more ethical approach would have been to write and post a white paper on the topic and have it linked from Wikipedia's discussion of the article according to its founder, Jimmy Wales. Hmmm...well, just remember that the CEO of the world's biggest convicted illegal monopolist once stated publicly that he didn't know what a monopoly is. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]
[1/23] Almost Two-Thirds of Print/Prepress Workstations are Macs
The Industry Measure released its 2007 Graphic Arts Market Demographic Profiles report, an update to the Demographic Profiles report published in February 2006. The report provides snapshots of each of the graphic arts markets The Industry Measure regularly surveyscommercial printers and prepress shops, graphic design and production firms, and publishing companies. These snapshots include top-line demographic data (establishments, graphic production desktops, shipments/revenues, and capital expenditures), industry trends (business conditions and the forces that are causing those conditions), market outlook for 2007 and beyond, and guidance for industry firms, vendors, investors, researchers, and analysts.
Some key findings are:
There are fewer than 26,000 commercial printing and prepress establishments in the U.S., a decline of 6.5% from the previous year;
There are nearly 98,000 production workstations in print and prepress firms, almost two-thirds of which are Apple Macintosh computers.
48% of U.S. printing and prepress establishments are small commercial and quick printers, and yet small commercial and quick printers only account for 16% of all shipments in the industry;
Ad agencies account for only 16% of U.S. design and production establishments, but account for 35% of the revenues;
Book publishers account for 19% of U.S. publishing establishments, and account for 44% of the revenues;
Magazine publishers' capital expenditures are up 7.7% over last year;
U.S. graphic design firms plan to spend an estimated $44+ million on new software this year, down 6.2% from last year.
The Industry Measure reports are available for online purchase at the Industry Measure eStore in PDF format. [Bill Fox]
[1/23] Software Special of the Day: The Quiz Press 1.6.2 (Universal) for 40% Off Today Only--$29.95
The Quiz Press makes it painless to create tests and quizzes, and distribute them over the web and in print. Quizzes can include five different question types (Multiple Choice, Fill in the Blanks, Short Answer, True or False, and Cloze), and also allows for fully customizable titles. Web quizzes are delivered in Flash, so they are fun to use and cross-platform. They can be easily published as stand-alone pages or embedded within other web content, and on any website, including .Mac. The quizzes can also be printed for conventional testing.
The Quiz Press was designed to be easy to use from the ground up. For example, to add a fill in the blank question simply type a sentence or paragraph, click the word(s) you want to make blank and press a button. Don't want to use the mouse? No problem, we've designed The Quiz Press so that you can do all of the steps needed to create a test with your hands firmly planted on the keyboard. Experiment to your heart's content; you can't make a mistake, with our unlimited Undo and Redo system, we've got you covered.
Making a web based quiz is as easy as pressing a button. The Quiz Press automatically commands your web browser to let you experiment with your quiz. When you are ready to publish to the web it's just as easy. Just pick a name and place to save on your hard drive and then drag your quiz to your FTP site or .Mac iDisk.
[1/23] Lights Out 2.3 Update (Universal)--More Control Over Mac OS X's Energy Saver
Lights Out, now a Universal application, is designed to give users more control over Apple's Energy Saver. It helps solve the problem of Energy Saver insomnia. Many software packages, scanners, and other peripherals interfere with the Mac's normal sleeping patterns. Lights Out offers a secondary idle timer to put your Mac to sleep even when Energy Saver fails to do so. The application also offers hot corners to instantly put your Mac to sleep, or keep your Mac awake. Lights Out offers the ability to customize Energy Saver settings for individual applications. This can be useful for long downloads, iTunes streams, CD or DVD playback, etc. Lights Out can even logout or shutdown your Macintosh after a specified idle period.
Version 2.3 of Lights Out is now a Universal Binary. This release adds the ability to toggle Safe Sleep on and off. It adds the ability to delete the sleepimage file to free up disk space. This release adds the ability to toggle the Wake When Lid is Opened setting on portables. This release also includes other minor bug fixes and improvements.
Lights Out is US $8.95 shareware. It is available for immediate download from the Northern Softworks Web site. [Bill fox]
[1/23] EarthDesk 4.0 is Out--Now Cocoa Native
Xeric Design, Ltd. is pleased to announce the release of EarthDesk 4.0, its award-winning, real-time dynamic desktop map, for Mac OS X. EarthDesk 4.0 has been rebuilt from the ground up as a modern Cocoa product. The application has been moved from the dock to the System Preferences Panel and an optional menu item has been added for easy access to the most common settings.
EarthDesk replaces your static desktop with a photo-realistic image of the Earth showing current sun, moon and city illumination as well as real-time global cloud coverage (hurricanes, storms, and worldwide weather systems) on your Mac desktop. EarthDesk is the only application of its kind to support accurate moonlight, multiple monitors, eleven different map projections, as well as political and satellite views.
Single user copies may be purchased online for $19.95. Upgrades are available for $9.95 or $12.95 depending on the status of your pre-existing license. For more information and to download an evaluation version, go to the Xeric Design Web site. [Bill Fox]
[1/23] From the Dark Side--CompUSA Guarantees Great Windows Vista Experience or Money Back
Windows Vista is coming up on its general public release in a week, January 30th. Do you think interest needs to be stirred up? Yes? Us, too. It seems that CompUSA also agrees with us so it is offering to take back Vista, reinstall your old OS and refund your money if you do not "...enjoy the overall performance and features of Windows Vista," according to their press release.
The rub, of course, is that you have to bring your computer in to a CompUSA store for an "evaluation" and installation. The installation will cost $19.99 if the computer is brought in on the 29th and $49.99 thereafter. We are also sure that the "evaluation" will result in the store pushing RAM and graphics card sales because CompUSA states that, "Some upgrades may be required to properly install Windows Vista...."
Aren't you glad you own a Mac?
[1/22] [Updated]Apple's New 802.11n Super-Fast WiFi for Macs Already Purchased to cost $1.99--Our Take
During Macworld Week, Apple announced Apple TV and a new AirPort Extreme Base Station that will use the super-fast WiFi 802.11n protocol, technically still in draft. The 802.11n protocol implementation in all shipping Core 2 Duo Macs was one nearly correct guess we made about Steve Jobs keynote announcements. While Steve Jobs mentioned that Apple TV will run on 802.11n, the release of the new AirPort Extreme Base Station and the fact that all shipping Macs with Core 2 Duo CPUs (except the cheapest 17" iMac model) can run the 802.11n protocol was announced in a press release, not in the keynote.
Even though virtually all Core 2 Duo Macs shipped already have WiFi chips that run the 802.11n protocol, the feature was disabled by Apple and needs to be enabled with software. The enabling software will be bundled with the new AirPort Extreme Base Station but others who want it will have to download the software from Apple and pay a fee, now set at $1.99 according to an Apple representative quoted in this CNet article. Apple claims this charge is required "to comply with generally accepted accounting rules for revenue recognition, which generally require that we charge for significant feature enhancements, such as 802.11n, when added to previously purchased products."
Well, $1.99 is a token payment. While we wonder exactly how Apple is going to charge for it (iTunes Store?), we are not going to quibble with the minor charge. However, we find the explanation rather strange because the feature actually already exists in the purchased product, disabled by Apple, and the software just enables it. GM never charged us for implementing the capability for MP3 playing in our navigation system when GM updated its firmware--the feature was there, just disabled until the firmware update. Perhaps, GM will eventually get into trouble for the free significant feature enhancement.
[Update: This ZDNet article "explains" the technicalities of the accounting issue. However, like most such technicalities they make sense to the technocracy that created them but make little common sense. Just be happy that Apple is going to charge only $1.99.]
Anyway, we ordered a new AirPort Extreme Base Station the day they were announced. It has a projected shipping date of February 28 so the announcement of them being available in February is correct but just barely. We look forward to trying this new super-fast WiFi with our MacBook Pro C2D and iMac C2D. [Bill Fox]
[1/22] Intaglio Interest Group established in Yahoo Groups
Dr. Phil Hendry started a Yahoo group for Purgatory Designs' Intaglio drawing application. It is aimed at any and all users or people thinking of trying it out. For anyone wanting more information or to join, here the link.
"The aim is to provide some support for users and to share techniques and different ways of using the tools in the application," wrote Dr. Hendry. "I hope it'll be fun too!"
[1/22] Software Special of the Day: Billings 2.0 (Universal) for 32% Off Today Only--$39.95
Billings 2 - Create invoices, track time and expenses with ease. Free yourself from slow, mundane tasks and say goodbye to being held captive by expense spreadsheets and unappealing Word or HTML based invoices. The simple design and speed-tuned performance of Billings 2 gives you the power to create professional looking invoices from eye-catching templates, which can be fully customized to match your image. Use template slips to streamline regular item invoicing. Billings 2 is designed to save you time and help you prosper straight away.
We saw Billings 2.0 at Macworld and were impressed with it. We highlighted Billings 2.0 in our show floor report.
[1/22] FinanceToGo 1.1 Update (Universal) is Out--Personal Finance Manager for Mac OS X
FinanceToGo from FastForward Software 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.
If you are tired of Quicken for Mac's limitations, you might want to try FinanceToGo. 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.
This update is the most significant yet, bringing stability and performance improvements, enhanced Quicken Import, an autosaving feature, a new Export Transactions feature, as well as several bug fixes and more. FinanceToGo 1.1 can be downloaded from this FastForward Web page.
The update is free to registered owners. FinanceToGo is $44.95, available in English and Dutch with a User Guide PDF and several example files. [Bill Fox]
[1/22] QuickerTek upgrades Quicky Wi-Fi Transceiver for iMacs
The QuickerTek Quicky USB Transceiver for wireless iMac networking provides up to ten times the wireless performance of any USB iMac with 500 milliwatts of RF power, according to the manufacturer. Other wireless networking enhancements require the disassembly of the computer to attach to the AirPort card or other connection inside. Quicky easily attaches to the USB port and can even be powered from USB. Of course, an AC adapter is included for maximum flexibility.
The new updates to Quicky's design include four high-visibility LEDs for transmit, receive, power and link. The new external case design also distinguishes this new Quicky USB Transceiver. In addition to the 500mW of RF power, Quicky includes a 5dBi antenna which is not only more powerful than the internal antenna, but it also is positioned up and out of the confines of the iMac case. Quicky temporarily clips to the top of the iMac case.
Quicky works with all 802.11b/g Wi-Fi equipment including Apple AirPort and AirPort Extreme--even the new one just announced at Macworld Expo since it is backward compatible with the 802.11b/g protocols. Quicky works with all AirPort-equipped iMacs and requires no software drivers.
Like most QuickerTek products, Quicky is backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor. Its SRP is $225. [Bill Fox]
[1/19] Apple's iPod and iTunes Store win 21st Annual Shoppers' Choice Awards--Apple also gets Six Runner-Up Awards
Apple's iPod with video and iTunes Store won in the categories of Best Digital Audio Player and Best Online Music Store in Computer Shopper magazine's 21st Annual Shoppers' Awards.
Apple also received Runner-Up Awards for the iPod nano (Best Digital Audio Player), Mac mini Core Duo (Best Small Form Factor Desktop), MacBook (Best Thin-and-Light Notebook), iTunes (Best Media-Player Software), Boot Camp (Most Innovative Product or Service) and AppleCare (Best Service and Support).
Best Buy won the awards for the Best Place to Buy Desktop and Laptops and the Best Place to Buy (Retail). Newegg.com beat Amazom.com for the Best Place to Buy (Online) award.
The awards stem from Computer Shopper readers' picks for the year's best technology products, companies, and services in 47 categories. The complete story will appear in the February 2007 issue of Computer Shopper magazine. [Bill Fox]
[1/19] Brief Hands-On Report--Mozilla released Sea Monkey 1.1
SeaMonkey is Mozilla's internet suite. The new version 1.1 is available for download via MacUpdate.com. According to Mozilla,
SeaMonkey 1.1 includes numerous enhancements including more visible security indicators in the browser and enhanced phishing detection for e-mail, a new tagging system for e-mail that supersedes labels, support for multi-line tooltips in web pages, and previews images in tab tooltips. Other changes include inline spell checking in the browser and an updated version of ChatZilla....
One of our staff members uses SeaMonkey as their primary Web browser and email client because it is easy to forward stories with them. He has been using the beta of v1.1 for quite awhile with no problems and he experienced no problems with the final version. [Dana Baggett]
[1/19] Software Special of the Day: MacGizmo 1.0.4 (Universal) for 45% Off Today Only--$10.95
MacGizmo is an application that allows you to see the content and other useful information of any selected items in the Finder and of other participating software programs. It is very easy to use: select an item and see the content.
MacGizmo currently fully supports most of the common kinds of items that populate a disk, like: images, sounds, music, video, text, pdfs, web files, fonts, folders, applications and many more.
MacGizmo does not just provide a preview, it also allows you to navigate as a web browser, have full access to pdf and text files, read help and the recent items opened by an application simply by selecting it, hear music, see videos and, where applicable, print and search content.
[1/19] Broadband Internet over Power Lines outpacing Cable and DSL Growth
According to a new report from the market research firm Parks Associates, the growth of broadband internet service over standard power lines (BPL) is outpacing that of both Cable and DSL. Parks Associates estimates that the use of power lines to get broadband internet will grow from 400,000 households in 2007 to 2.5 million by 2011.
"Both consumer demand and business factors will drive this growth," said Chris Roden, research analyst at Parks Associates. "On the consumer side, many rural residents don't have access to DSL or cable, but every house in the U.S. has access to power lines. This technology is often the only option for these residents to receive broadband service. On the business side, utility companies will also drive BPL's growth. BPL gives utilities more information to better manage power demand and troubleshoot line issues."
[1/19] From the Dark Side--M$ CEO Steve Ballmer laughs at Apple's iPhone and Dvorak Blathers
What does Microsoft head honcho think of Apple's iPhone now that its been introduced? In a video posted to YouTube, CEO Steve Ballmer laughed at it saying "$500!...it's the most expensive phone in the world...it won't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard." Ballmer also claimed that "we're" selling "millions and millions and millions and millions" of phones per year--interesting since Microsoft doesn't make cell phones. Check out Steve Ballmer's credibility in another entertaining YouTube video.
In another YouTube video, John Dvorak claims Apple's iPhone trends against what people like in a cell phone--no keypad. [Bill Fox via Al Feldzamen]
[1/18] Apple's Q1 Profit hits Record $1B--Blows Away Analysts Earnings Estimate by Over 46%
Apple had a monster first quarter of their 2007 fiscal year (Q1 2007) posting a $1 billion net profit, its highest quarterly profit ever. Earnings per share (EPS) came in at $1.14 on revenue of $7.1 billion, leaping over the analysts' consensus estimate announced by Thomson First Call of 78 cents by over 46 percent (see chart at right). Gross margin was up to a remarkable 31.2 percent and cash and short term investments now total $11.9 billion, up from $10.1 billion last quarter.
Compared with last year's super first quarter (Q1 2006), Q1 2007 is up 77 per cent in net profit, up 25 per cent in revenue, up 79 percent in earnings per share and up 15 per cent in gross margin. To put things in perspective, Q1 2006 was previously Apple's best ever fiscal quarter.
This terrific financial performance was driven largely by increased sales of iPods, increased sales of Macs (over Q1 2006), decreased component prices and a more profitable mix of products sold, i.e. more higher end products.
iPod sales at 21.1 million were up 50 percent over last year's record Q1 and up a whopping 141 percent from the previous quarter.
Sales of Apple notebooks, the MacBook and MacBook Pro, were 969,000 out of a near record total Mac sales of 1,606,000. The notebook sales were up 65 percent from Q1 2006 but down 2 percent from the previous quarter which had benefitted from Apple's "Back-to-School" Program.
Desktop (iMac, Mac mini, Mac Pro and Xserve) sales at 637,000 were down slightly by 4 percent from the Q1 2006 but up 2 percent from the previous quarter. Apple executives still reported positive acceptance of the new Intel-based Mac Pro but also still expected delayed purchases due to the lack of Intel-based Adobe applications due in Q2 2007.
Sales revenue was up over Q1 2006 in two geographical areas (Americas and Europe) by 30 and 38 percent and up sequentially from the previous quarter by 52 and 73 percent. Sales were down in Japan compared with Q1 2006 but up sequentially.
The Apple retail stores, now at 177, are still doing well. Sales revenue increased 6 percent over Q1 2006 and 22 percent sequentially. New-to-Mac sales continue to be over 50 percent of their sales.
Other interesting tidbits from Apple's late afternoon conference call (replay it here), with Apple CFO Peter Openheimer and COO Tim Cook answering questions, include:
It's too early to factor in expected effects of the iPhone on total sales and iPod sales. Perhaps next quarter.
The major effect for the very high gross margin is exceptional iPod sales.
Mac sales were higher than expected.
Worldwide there are 40,000 iPod points of sale and 7,500 Mac points of sale.
There have been 1.5 million downloads of Boot Camp and it is still planned to be included in Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard". Apple considers Parallels, maker of Desktop for Mac for running Windows on an Intel-based Mac, to be a "key partner."
Regarding iLife '07, "stay tuned."
The key factors in the high profit are lower component prices across the board and product mix in sales, meaning more sales of higher priced products--"Very strong MacBook Pro sales in the mix."
Apple expects its second 2007 quarter results to decline, as is usual, to yield some $4.8 to 4.9 billion in revenue and earnings per share of some 54 to 56 cents. The second quarter is traditionally Apple's lowest. Here is Apple's press release.
[1/18] Software Special of the Day: Hawkeye 1.0.9v12 (Universal) for 50% Off Today Only--$14.95
Hawkeye makes it easy for you to create DVD's with custom playlists. With one application you can rip your favorite episodes or moments from your DVD collection and create a new custom DVD with a menu you design. Hawkeye also has the ability to import avi, wmv, flv, dv, mov and more. Also support to create iPod (H.264 baseline low complexity supported up to 640x480), PSP, SVCD, DV, FCP and Cell phone media.
[1/18] Apple Revised the Offerings from Two Hot Deals Retailers
Apple Store Special Deals has exclusive deals on a variety of Apple Certified Refurbished products including: Apple Certified Refurbished 15-inch PowerBook G4 w/1.67GHz processor and SuperDrive for only $1,299!; Apple Certified Refurbished 14-inch iBook G4 w/1.42GHz processor and SuperDrive for only $999!; Apple Certified Refurbished Mac mini w/1.83GHz Intel Core Duo processor with SuperDrive for only $699!; and much more.
Small Dog Electronics has deals on a variety of Mac compatible products including: Hot Deals Exclusive pricing on the following four products - Shure E2c Sound Isolating earphones for only $79!; Canon HV10 HDV high-def video camcorder for only $1,089!; Epson Perfection V100 flatbed photo scanner for only $89!; LaCie 160GB Extreme Triple Interface (FW 800/400/USB 2.0) external hard drive for only $124!; and much more.
[1/18] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Apple's iPhone, Amadeus Pro and Dreamhost
Tonight, host Gene Steinberg talks to Macworld's Jason Snell, who will report on his actual hands-on experience with Apple's iPhone and whether he, too, is lusting after this flashy gadget. You'll hear about the latest version of Amadeus, the audio-editing application, now called Amadeus Pro, from Martin Hairer of HairerSoft. And if you ever wondered about the folks who run those Web hosting services, you'll be fascinated by Gene's interview with Dallas Kashuba, one of the founders of DreamHost. 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]
[1/17] Apple to report Q1 2007 Financials Today
Late this afternoon Apple will provide a financial statement for its first fiscal quarter (Q1) that ended December 31, 2006. Q1 is usually Apple's best quarter due to holidays sales, especially now with iPod sales figuring so prominently in Apple's financial picture. Apple will hold a webcast conference call with financial analysts to discuss its Q1 report and answer questions starting at 5pm ET (2pm PT).
Last quarter (Q4 2006), Apple forecast that its Q1 2007 earnings would fall in the range of 70-73 cents per share. Many financial analysts believe Apple has performed better than expected and have forecast earnings of 78 cents per share (Thomson's First Call consensus estimate). Apple usually beats the consensus estimate, sometimes by a considerable amount (see Macs Only!'s chart above), so we expect Apple to report an excellent Q1.
"Apple notebook sales are expected to hit 1.15 million, or a 96 percent increase from a year ago, JP Morgan analyst Bill Shope said Tuesday in a research note. He forecasts Mac growth overall will increase 52 percent to 1.9 million units. Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi was a tad more conservative, expecting overall Mac unit shipments of 1.68 million, a 30 percent Mac revenue increase to $2.24 billion."
This is consistent our expectations of a great Q1 for Apple.
Stay tuned for our summary report following the conference call. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[1/17] Software Special of the Day Meander 1.3 (Universal) for 50% Off Today Only--$9.99
Meander is a Mac application that plots points, plans routes and measures distances using any map, including maps you've scanned or those you've found on the web. Save your routes for later. Export or print and share them with others.
Meander includes these key features:
Plot Anything: Plot on top of any map - be it from software, a website, or scanned.
Plot Routes, Measure Distances: Plot routes and then manipulate them - move points around to plan the best route. Meander tells you length of your route in real-time.
Save/Load/Export/Print Routes: Plan routes and save them for later, or print and share them with others. Export to JPEG or print as a PDF.
[1/17] Kinemac 1.5.1 (Universal) Update is Out--Macworld 30% Discount Extended
Kinemac is a 3D Real Time Animation application for Mac OS X. It is a Universal application that runs natively on Intel-based and PowerPC-based Macs. Version 1.5.1 fixes some minor bugs that came with the previous version 1.5.0. It can be downloaded from this Kinemac Web page.
We were really impressed with Kinemac during our Macworld 2007 walk through the show floor.
Due to a lot of requests after Macworld in San Francisco, the developers decided to extend the 30% off promotion for few days more and sell Kinemac for only $174 instead of $249. Just go to the Kinemac online store and enter the code "macworld2007" on the second page of the order form. [Bill Fox]
[1/17] Stripes, a New Premium Theme Set for Keynote Users
Stripes is Divine Fiat's latest theme set for Apple’s Keynote presentation software. Stripes consists of two themes, Pinstripes and Red Stripe.
Pinstripes features an elegant business style while Red Stripe is a visually bold theme. Both themes feature special into and exit animations that bring a "wow factor" to your next Keynote presentation, helping it stand out from the crowd.
Each theme has 44 different text and photo layouts, amazing color schemes, customized charts and graphs and custom Kiosk button objects. All the master slides and a sample presentation can be viewed at Divine Fiat's Web site.
The themes can be purchased in standard format for $19.95 each or in professional format for $28.95 each. The Stripes collection can be purchased in standard format for $31.95 or in professional format for $52.00. [Bill Fox]
[1/17] Pangea released Pangea Payroll 1.0.2 Update--A Free and Absolutely Useful Application
If you run a small business that needs to calculate payroll taxes for your employees and you are tired of paying ridiculous amounts of money to buy tax table subscriptions every year, then download the free "Pangea Payroll" application via MacUpdate.com! This is a very simple application from Pangea Software that lets you track payroll data for your employees. Pangea Payroll calculates the federal taxes to deduct from the wages and keeps track of each payment you enter. It is nothing fancy, but it does the job for those of us who have very simple employee bookkeeping to do.
This application started as Pangea's in-house tool (which it still uses to this day for all of their payroll tracking), but they wanted to share it with the world. Pangea Payroll is 100% free! When you download it you even get the full Xcode source code project so you can make your own tweaks to the program (assuming you know how to program). The instruction manual that comes with the download has much more detailed information. [Bill Fox]
[1/17] CNET awarded LG Blu-ray/HD-DVD Combo Player Best of Show at CES--not even close to Apple's iPhone
The Consumer Electronics Show 2007 (CES) was held in Las Vegas the same week as Macworld 2007. By all accounts, Macworld had the greater impact on consumers, at least in the press, for Apple's Apple TV and iPhone announcements. Of course, we think so in reality as well.
If you went to Macworld instead of CES, you didn't miss nuthin'. Perhaps this will cause CES to be shifted to a date slot prior to Macworld. Anyway, CNET awarded LG its Best of Show for LG's BH100, the first DVD player with the capability of playing both Blu-ray and HD-DVD formatted high definition DVDs. Here is CNET's at-show review.
LG's catchily-named BH100 is expected to be available in U.S. consumer electronics stores next month for $1,199. [Bill Fox]
[1/17] From the Dark Side--Problems with Windows Increasingly Top Complaint of Computer Users
Problems with Windows continues to be the number one complaint among computer users, according to the second annual RESCUECOM Top Five Computer Problems Report, an annual study determining the most frequently identified computer problems of home and business users. Hardware problems, slow computer, Internet connectivity problems and data recovery/backup rounded out the top five problems reported to the company's call center.
"This year, we're continuing to see Windows-related issues with great regularity, with an increase of 12 percent from last year and now accounting for more than 22 percent of calls to our call center," said David A. Milman, founder and CEO of RESCUECOM, an independent national computer repair and technology services company.
Aren't you glad you're a Mac user! [Bill Fox]
[1/16] Apple's iPhone--Our Take
We have been thinking about the iPhone for awhile, not wanting to provide a knee-jerk reaction. First, how do we evaluate it? As principally a cell phone? An iPod? An Internet device? It will rate differently depending on how we measure it. Apple portrays the iPhone first and foremost as a phone with the other two principal features as enhancements so we decided to look at it as marketed by Apple.
Views are generally biased somewhat by personal experience so we need to reveal ours in order for our views to make the most sense. We have a cell phone (Moto RAZR), two iPods (30GB with video and a 1G iPod shuffle) and a MacBook Pro C2D. Actually, we have more iPods and 'Books but they have been relegated to backup positions. We always carry our cell phone even though we use it relatively sparingly. We carry our iPod shuffle locally when exercising or going someplace that is likely to involve a long wait. Our iPod with video is used only when traveling. We carry our MacBook Pro when out on business locally or when traveling.
Apple's iPhone can do anything our RAZR does for us and then some. The main benefit of the iPhone as a phone is it's ease of use. The RAZR is cool, as current cell phones go, but it is relatively difficult to use. The menus are difficult to navigate and the keys are difficult to press so we usually use two hands. There are three buttons on the side of the RAZR that do different things depending on whether it is open or closed or on a call. All we really need is a simple way to change the volume when on a call and to switch between silent mode and ring mode. There is no question that the iPhone wins hands down in ease of use as just a phone.
The iPhone at about 4.5"x2.5"x0.5" is larger than our RAZR at 3.8"x2"x0.5" when closed but smaller than the RAZR at 6.6"x2"x0.5" when open. The iPhone's weight is the same as our iPod with video even if it is nearly a half-inch taller. Our iPod with video is clearly heavier than our RAZR but still relatively light. We carry our RAZR in a belt case and would do the same with the iPhone.
Our RAZR has a camera but we almost never use it. The iPhone has a camera, too, and we are unlikely to use it much as well.
The only potential issue we see is battery life. With a new battery and our use pattern, the RAZR easily lasts a couple of days between charges. However, we usually charge it each night anyway. If we can get through a normal day without recharging the iPhone, then we are not concerned. When we use the iPhone as our iPod we will likely have to change our behavior pattern to include periods for charging it. We would also prefer an easily changeable battery to ensure we never lack phone capability.
With 4GB or 8GB of memory the iPhone could easily replace our 512K iPod shuffle completely since we are never without our cell phone when we are using our iPod shuffle. Given the actual use of our iPod with video and a small adjustment to plan what to place on the iPhone, the iPhone could replace it too. All of our music, photos, podcasts and videos on our iPod with video weigh in at 15GB but they are all on our MacBook Pro, too, and we usually carry both together. It's just much more convenient to use the iPod in an airport and on a plane. The iPhone would likely allow us to dispense with both of our iPods, resulting in two less devices for us to carry and maintain. We aren't sure that is what Apple wants hear.
At this point we are pretty much sold on the iPhone but if it can free us from having to carry our MacBook Pro locally, at least occasionally, it's a slam dunk. We carry our MacBook Pro locally mostly for constant email access and electronic document access. We also do an occasional info search of the Web, usually for directions. It appears that all of these functions can be handled reasonably well by the iPhone.
So, our analysis supports our initial gut reaction. We'll be one of the first to order an Apple iPhone when it is possible to do so, assuming the monthly service cost from Cingular is not outrageous.
Still, we are nagged by a couple of deficiencies. First, many cell phones today include a GPS locator. This feature would go great with Google maps and the Apple Maps application. Second, rather than a still camera, we'd much prefer to have an iSight camera for iChat video conferences when within range of a Wi-Fi hotspot. Of course, both of these features would add to the battery drain and we are already mostly concerned about battery time. We'll probably have to wait for a major advance in battery technology before these features could be enabled. [Bill Fox]
[1/16] Brief Hands-On Report--Aspyr Media posted Demo of Prey
Prey is the latest first person shooter (FPS) for the Mac from Aspyr Media. It won a Macworld 2007 Best of Show Award as we noted in our Macworld report. Prey is officially shipping for $49.99 according to an Aspyr press release but Amazon.com shows an estimated ship date of 1/24-30/07 ($44.99 from Amazon.com).
Aspyr posted a demo that is available for download via MacUpdate.com (465MB) to try out. Here is the story line:
Tommy is a Cherokee garage mechanic, refuting his heritage and undecided about his next step in life. His world comes to a halt when an extraterrestrial crisis forces him to awaken spiritual powers from his long-forgotten birthright. Abducted with his people to a menacing mothership orbiting Earth, he sets out to save himself, his girlfriend, and eventually, the entire planet.
We played the game for some time Thursday morning at Macworld with little pressure from the small crowd. It's graphics are outstanding and the actions are fairly complex for a FPS. We liked it so much that we downloaded the demo. According to Aspyr,
This demo contains the first five levels of the first mission of the single player campaign and two multiplayer levels.
We played the first three single-player levels with no problem. The graphics are great but there is little action through the first part of the fourth level where, so far, we haven't been able to find a way forward.
The two levels of multi-player (Multiprey) action are reminiscent of the rooms in Quake 4 with one major difference. In Prey, one can run up the walls and on the ceilings for a truly 3D experience. [Bill Fox]
[1/16] Software Special of the Day Amadeus Pro 1.0 (Universal) for 38% Off Today Only--$24.95
Amadeus Pro lets you use your Macintosh computer for any audio-related task, such as live audio recording, digitizing tapes and records, converting between a variety of sound formats, etc. Thanks to its outstanding direct-to-disk abilities and waveform caching, edits on arbitrarily large sounds (even beyond the usual 2GB limit) are performed at lightning speed. The handling of large sounds is furthermore facilitated by the extensive support of markers. Its outstanding sound repairing and denoising abilities make Amadeus Pro particularly suitable for transferring vinyl records on CD.
Some of the most noteworthy features of Amadeus Pro include:
Simple and elegant MacOS X - like user interface
Multitrack editing an recording.
Batch processing and conversion.
Sound denoising and repairing.
Supports a variety of sound formats, including AIFF, Multichannel Wave, Mp3, Mp4, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, SoundDesigner II, QuickTime, Apple CAF, etc.
Support for VST and Audio Unit plug-ins.
A "favourite actions" palette allows to have your most commonly used effects only a mouse click away.
A wide range of powerful audio analysis tools.
Audio CDs with CD-TEXT data can be burned directly from within Amadeus Pro.
[1/16] Washington Apple Pi's (Pi) Monthly General Meeting moves and includes a Macworld Review
The Pi general meeting location has moved to Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church, VA, and the officers are planning a full event for January 27th. The Q&A will start off at 9:30am ET with a mini-training session on how to enhance your photos to prepare you for the Pi Photo Contest following. The Pi will have another training session with the tentative subject of OS X Fundamentals. The main event will feature some of the other good stuff that came out of Macworld 2007. The meeting will close with the second auction for prizes which includes a copy of iLife '06, a couple new edition books and an XtremeMac, FM iPod transmitter.
Washington Apple Pi is the metro Washington DC AMUG, one of the oldest in the nation. [Bill Fox]
[1/16] PCI Express 2.0 Specification Doubles PCI Express I/O Speed for Future Mac Pro
The Mac Pro uses PCI Express (PCIe) expansion slots. Now, PCI-SIG, the Special Interest Group responsible for PCI Express industry-standard I/O technology, has announced the availability of the PCI Express Base 2.0 specification. After a 60-day review of revision 0.9 of the specification in Fall 2006, members of the PCI-SIG finalized and released PCI Express 2.0, which doubles the interconnect bit rate from 2.5GT/s to 5GT/s to support high-bandwidth applications.
The specification seamlessly extends the data rate to 5GT/s in a manner compatible with all existing PCIe 1.1 products currently supporting 2.5GT/s signaling. The key benefit of PCIe 2.0 is its faster signaling, effectively increasing the aggregate bandwidth of a 16-lane link to approximately 16 GB/s. The higher bandwidth will allow product designers to implement narrower interconnect links to achieve high performance while reducing cost.
"In today’s world, applications are becoming more advanced and are requiring more bandwidth," said Al Yanes, PCI-SIG chairman and president. "This is the perfect time to release PCIe 2.0, which not only supports high-bandwidth applications such as high-end graphics, but also adds many new architectural enhancements."
In addition to the faster signaling rate, PCI-SIG working groups also added several new protocol layer improvements to the PCIe Base 2.0 specification which will allow developers to design more intelligent devices to optimize platform performance and power consumption while maintaining interoperability, low cost and fast market introduction. These architecture improvements include:
Dynamic link speed management allows developers to control the speed at which the link is operating
Link bandwidth notification alerts platform software (operating system, device drivers, etc) of changes in link speed and width
Capability structure expansion increases control registers to better manage devices, slots and the interconnect
Access control services allows for optional controls to manage peer-to-peer transactions
Completion timeout control allows developers to define a required disable mechanism for transaction timeouts
Function-level reset provides an optional mechanism to reset functions within a multi-function device
Power limit redefinition enables slot power limit values to accommodate devices that consume higher power
Hopefully, the next generation Mac Pros will come with the speedier PCIe 2.0 slots. The PCIe Base 2.0 specification is available from this PCI-SIG Web page. [Bill Fox]
[1/12] Walking the Macworld 2007 Expo Show Floor--Part II
There are a plethora of accessory manufacturers at Macworld 2007. We never imagined that there could be so many iPod cases. But what caught our eye in this sea of cases was a new form-fitting case for the MacBook Pro and MacBook.
Case-Mate makes premium leather cases for iPods, cell phones, the Sony PSP and smart phones as well as Apple's Intel-based 'Books. Their Signature Suits for the MacBook Pro and MacBook are new. They are molded out of a form-fitting hard plastic shell, covered inside with a soft interior lining and covered outside with a rich pebbled leather. The currently available colors are solid black or red for the MacBook Pro and solid white, black or red or with a contrasting stripe for the MacBook. Other colors are under consideration. For the MacBook Pro, we would favor an aluminum silver or a dark brown leather.
The Signature Suit fits the form of the MacBook Pro or MacBook and is held in place by clear plastic straps on the inside cover that stretch in order to put the Signature Suit on and then shrink back to keep it firmly attached. It has a cut-out on the top to show the Apple logo and a larger one on the bottom to allow for heat dissipation. All of the ports are uncovered via side cut-outs as are the rear fan vents. The Signature Suit in premium pebbled leather is a premium $159 for the MacBook Pro and $149 for the MacBook.
Kinemac is a prime example of terrific Mac software, i.e. it does complex and interesting things with a simple and elegant interface. Kinemac is 3D real-time animation and presentation software. With it one can easily create 3D and 2D animations and export them to QuickTime.
We watched Lorenzo Puleo, Kinemac's CEO, in utter amazement as he quickly and easily brought objects to life on his Cinema Display canvas. Granted, he is an expert in his software but we were still impressed with how easy it was to set up and make animations. Here is a gallery of examples.
Kinemac is available at Macworld as a show special $174.
Among the booths drawing big crowds were those showing the three OS emulation applications by Parallels, VMware and CrossOver.
Parallels Desktop for Mac [Macworld 2007 Best of Show Award] lets you run Windows as a virtual machine on a Mac without rebooting and is the most advanced of the three applications in their respective development phases. There is already a stable version 2.0 (Build 1970) and a more advanced Beta 4 (Build 3120) of version 2.5 nearing release. It kind of reminds you of Virtual PC, running in a window or full screen, but it is much faster. Version 2.5 adds USB 2.0 support and implements the really cool coherence mode where Windows applications run on the Mac OS X desktop rather than on the Windows desktop--the Windows desktop is hidden. You can even keep Windows application icons in the dock and launch them from there as if they were regular Mac applications.
We have used Parallels instead of Virtual PC since its early stable version 1.0.
VMware Fusion for Mac is still in beta but it runs x86-based operating systems like Windows, Linux, Netware and Solaris as virtual machines in Mac OS X. It supports USB 2.0, 64-bit hardware and takes advantage of dual core Intel processors with multiple virtual processors.
VMware has downloadable virtual appliances. What are they? VMware writes,
A virtual appliance is a pre-built, pre-configured and ready-to-run software application packaged with the operating system inside a virtual machine. Virtual appliances are changing the software distribution paradigm because they allow application builders to choose the best operating system for their application and deliver a turnkey software service to the end user.
We saw Fusion running at VMware's booth and it looked very promising. We have a copy of VMware's beta and will be trying it out.
CodeWeavers CrossOver Mac is the only one of the three that does not require a licensed version of Windows to run certain Windows applications on Mac OS X. CodeWeavers officially supports the following Windows applications using CrossOver Mac:
and here is their compatibility list. After launching CrossOver Mac, one simply uses the application's CD or CrossOver Mac's installer to install it as if it were being installed on a Windows machine. Then clicking an application's icon or a document for it launches and runs the application just as if it were a Mac application.
The demo at CodeWeavers' booth worked as advertised. A trial version is available for download so we intend to try it directly.
The Games Pavilion is located in North Moscone Hall. However, the gaming area is reduced in size, function and participation from recent years. There are only two major game houses with booths, Freeverse and Aspyr Media, rather than the usual four or more. Missing are the aisles of iMacs and PowerMacs for trying out the game offerings from many game houses. They are replaced by four, four-sided stands. Also missing are the game competitions with their own aisles of PowerMacs driving large screen monitors. Coupled with the lack of the major graphics chip and card makers, Nvidia and ATI, and a relatively sparser crowd in North Moscone the Gaming Pavilion is a bit disappointing this year.
On the positive side, there is a new aisle of iPod games. And both Freeverse and Aspyr Media have their new games on display--Lego Star Wars II and The Movies from Freeverse and Prey [Macworld 2007 Best of Show Award] from Aspyr. It was easy to try them out and to play for some time without feeling pressured to give way to another Macworld attendee.
We always enjoy walking the Macworld show floor and talking to people who are actually developing and delivering Mac and Mac-related products and 2007 was no different. Despite the hour or number of demos given, they are always eager to do it enthusiastically once more and again and again.... We talked to a number of people from far away places who attended the concurrent conferences and all were very positive. The keynote, while not presenting new Mac features per se may well have, in fact, shown us the beginning of the coming revolution in mobile computing in the guise of Apple's iPhone.
As for attendance? It looked pretty good to us but not appreciably larger than last year--it's really hard to tell if there is not a huge difference. Talking to vendors yielded mixed opinions.
The weather has been great all week, if a bit cold for those from warmer climes like Florida or even San Diego. Today, we'd ordinarily be on the road early but we're taking off to visit George Lucas' new studio on the grounds of the Presidio while still contemplating the iPhone's possibilities. [Bill Fox]
[1/12] Software Special of the TvTube 1.12 (Universal) for 40% Off Today Only--$8.99
TvTube allows you to browse YouTube, Google Video and Yahoo Videos, for movie clips that people upload, choose your favorite clips and add them to your shared library.
[1/12] Brief Hands-On Report--Intuit released TurboTax 2006 for Mac Update 2006.0.03
Intuit released the third update to TurboTax 2006 for Mac, v.2006.00.03. It is available for download via the TurboTax application or as a stand-alone updater from this Intuit Web page. The third update has many fixes as well as 19 revised forms.
We updated TurboTax 2006 from within the application and encountered no problems. In addition, the Maine state form was available so we downloaded it too, again without any problems. [Dana Baggett]
[1/12] Brief Hands-On Report--Parallels released Desktop for Mac 2.5 Beta 4 (Build 3120)
Parallels released Beta 4 (Build 3120) of it's 2.5 version of Desktop for Mac. It is available for download via MacUpdate.com. The improvements listed for this update are the same as those listed for Beta 2 (Build 3094).
After downloading Beta 4, we uninstalled Beta 3 (Build 3106) and then installed Beta 4. Doing this had eliminated problems we had previously encountered by just installing over the previous version. Our Windows XP virtual machine started fine and we updated the Parallels Tools with no problem.
Unfortunately, our Windows Vista RC1 virtual machine failed to boot, hanging part way during startup. We restarted in safe mode and it hung again after loading many drivers. We uninstalled Beta 4 and reinstalled Beta 3 but we still had the same problem. Either our virtual machine is damaged or perhaps RC1 has expired. Our backup copy of the Vista RC1 virtual machine is not with us at Macworld.
Windows XP works great in Beta 4. Coherence mode works very well as does the automatic resizing of virtual machine's window. [Bill Fox]
[1/11] Cisco has sued Apple over use of iPhone Name
As noted previously, we were surprised that Steve Jobs called Apple's new phone the iPhone because that name appears to be trademarked by Linksys, now owned by Cisco. Furthermore, Cisco just released a VoIP handset called the iPhone. In rapid-fire sequence came reports that Apple had licensed the iPhone name from Cisco after long negotiations. Then, it was reported that the negotiations had not been completed before Steve Jobs' keynote on Tuesday. Now Cisco has filed a lawsuit and, according to CNet, Apple has responded:
"We think Cisco's trademark suit is silly...We believe (their) trademark registration is tenuous at best," said Natalie Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman. "There are already several companies using the iPhone name for VoIP (voice over IP) products. We're the first company ever to use iPhone for a cell phone. If Cisco wants to challenge us on it, we're confident we'll prevail," Kerris said.
So it's a legal battle now. It will be interesting to see more details on how Cisco claims it is damaged by Apple's use of the name regardless of whether there is a trademark infringement or not. It seems to us, that Cisco will actually benefit from Apple using the iPhone name rather than the reverse. Since Apple's iPhone is not a real product yet, Apple always has the option of using another name. If it weren't used so ubiquitously without defense, Apple might have been able to claim that its trademark is the small "i" in from of a product's common description, first used for the iMac. [Bill Fox]
[1/11] Software Special of the Day: BurnAgain 2.5.2 (Universal) for 44% Off Today Only--$10.95
BurnAgain allows you to easily add files to CDRs several times without creating multiple volumes. Instead all files will always appear in one CDR volume. If you burn items twice, they will be compared to the versions already burned automatically and only new or changed files will be added, overwriting the previous versions if required.
The title of your CDR can be changed at each burn. At any time you can decide to start over and hide the files of previous sessions. During content collection, BurnAgain is capable of resolving aliases and supports using Burnable Folders in Tiger.
[1/11] Walking the Macworld 2007 Expo Show Floor--Part I
Where to start. During Macworld the media is literally deluged with emails and brochures about new and improved products for Apple's products, all beckoning one to their respective booths. Picking out a few to highlight here is always a difficult job.
We rarely make appointments and choose to walk the floor, usually starting at the high booth numbers in South Moscone and working our way down to the passageway under Howard Street leading to North Moscone. The exceptions are usually press conferences, some requiring an Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), discussing really new things. This year we went to two, the Axiotron/OWC press conference on their ModBook (reported on yesterday) and an NDA-covered (secret) presentation from Adobe. If one stops and talks with people at even a fraction of the booths, it takes a couple of days to cover the show floor completely.
First, Apple's booth
The first place we headed after filing yesterday's article on Steve Jobs' keynote address was to Apple's huge central booth to get our hands on the new stuff. Because the doors to the Expo show floor had opened, lot's of people beat us to it and the crowd was thick.
Apple TV units were on display in a large bank across the front section and one could actually touch one and play with it's video, image and music playing capabilities to a large flat-panel TV screen. Despite the crowd, it was easy to get to up close and personal with the Apple TV. The crowd's main interest was the iPhone.
Apple's TV is just as it appears, a Mac mini form factor that is a little larger in area and about half as high. It looks every bit as good as a Mac mini and would look great wherever one keeps a large screen TV. It worked well with the Apple Remote as one might expect. There's really not much more to it.
Those who download or rip movies to their computers will love it, as will those who want to show slides or DVDs they make on their large screen TV. Of course, we can already stream music with our AirPort Express or hook up our MacBook Pro via DVI to show video and images but its more of a hassle than having a dedicated box that we can stream to wirelessly from a distance or another room.
iPhone, there was exactly one on a circular black pedestal encased in clear plastic just over average eye height on each side of Apple's booth area. Each also came with two security guards who kept people at least a foot away from the pedestal as if it were the Hope diamond. Perhaps, it is possible to topple the pedestal if pushed and the security was there to prevent that. There was also a continuous live large screen demo going on. Both attracted the huge crowd. We had to wait until Wednesday morning to get close enough to have a real look.
The iPhone is gorgeous. It looks even better in person than it does on a large screen or on Apple's Web site. The circumference is polished silver and the back is a brushed silver with a lower black section that is not a removable battery. Unfortunately, there is no easily-changed battery according to an Apple employee--it has an iPod-like lithium polymer battery full encased. The iPhone looks about the size and thickness of our video iPod but with a full-length screen. It's interface is terrific and even though we couldn't get our hands on it, the iPhone is starting to grow on us already, probably becoming a definite crave by June. But more on the iPhone later.
Then, taking care of business
We wrote that we'd talk to Garmin about their slip in Mac support timing and to Intuit about Quicken for the Mac at banks. We did both next:
Garmin has some great new products and we can't find boo while driving unless we have a navigator of some sorts, human or machine. So we used a Street Pilot III for several years and still use an eTrex Vista on occasion. Neither compare at all to Garmin's new Nuvi personal travel assistants, GPS navigators, the 360 and 660. We're still trying to decide whether or not to spend an extra $300 or so for the very nice 4.3" screen of the 660--we're leaning toward saving the difference for an iPhone.
In the mean time, we spoke with a couple of different Garmin booth people at a couple of different times. They've been well-schooled because both told us exactly the same thing. There is Mac compatibility with their fitness products already (well, mostly), by the end of Q1 2007 one will be able to update the firmware of any recent Garmin product on a Mac and there should be virtually compete Mac compatibility across the Garmin lines by the end of the year. The problem, of course, is that is pretty much what they said last year. Why? Well, both booth people professed to not know the details but said the problem turned out to be harder than they thought. We didn't have a stack of bibles handy but both Garmin booth people said it would definitely happen this year, i.e. we could count on it.
Our eye in on the Nuvi 360, some $400+ street price, but we think we'll wait for the firmware update compatibility to happen as a sign that things will go well, although it is likely that we can do everything we need to do today via Parallel's Desktop for Mac running Windows XP. If Apple's iPhone just had a GPS like some cell phones already have, we'd pass on the Nuvi altogether.
Intuit's booth was mostly staffed by demo people, i.e. they really know the products but not the reasons behind the company's policies. What we eked out of several people was to the effect that competition on price was tough for the Windows software and it couldn't subsidize the Mac software, hence the dual bank license for Quicken for Windows and Quicken for Mac. They said the difference is something like 3000 financial institutions license the Windows version and some 2000 of them license the Mac version too, about 2/3rds, so its not like 10:1, they claimed, as many people seem to say and our mail ran after we posted on the issue last week. Their solution, of course, was for Mac users to demand their banks support Quicken for the Mac. I mentioned multiple currencies on Quicken for Mac and they said they'd take that under advisement.
By the way, QuickBooks 2007 for Mac is now a Universal application, running natively on Intel-based and PowerPC-based Macs. Quicken 2007 for Mac is not.
Now we're off and walking
Micromat announced a new product called Protogo so we stopped and saw it. Protogo basically installs a trimmed but bootable Mac OS X and TechTool Pro 4.x on a device of your choice like an older FireWire iPod or a very large flash drive since the installation takes 2GB of space. The advantage of a FireWire device is that it can boot PowerPC-based Macs as well as Intel-based Macs. You can also add other maintenance software of your choice to the device. It worked like a charm.
The advantage of Protogo over TechTool Pro 4.x is that it boots a Mac much faster than off a CD and could be easier to carry around than a CD. Micromat also has a ready-built solution with TechTool 4.x and Disk Studio installed called Protege which is a flash-RAM sized FireWire device. Micromat's products are available for a special show price.
Glance.Net has a great product in Glance, a one-button method for showing your screen to another Mac or set of Macs or PCs or a mixture of both. The possibilities are endless and range from giving proprietary presentations to teaching lessons to working interactively with a client on an image or manuscript or layout or...whatever is on your screen. Glance has been around for six years on Windows and a Mac has always been able to be the client but now a Mac can be the host or the entity showing its screen to others.
One sets up Glance on the host Mac with a domain name of choice for your Mac and password and by providing them to the clients who use their Web browser--any Web browser--to view your screen when you launch Glance by clicking its icon. This works great. It is so simple that it's hard to believe. I can't imagine an easier way of actively collaborating among Macs.
Glance is sold by subscription using Glance.net's servers starting at $499 per year for allowing up to 15 clients to connect per session.
SeeFile.com's SeeFile v3.0 is a totally different way of collaborating than Glance. SeeFile makes folders of images available to clients for their review and approval. The image's in the folders are updated when the original is updated. The interface itself can be changed from a collection of folders to a lightbox of images. It works with all RAW image formats that Mac OS X 10.4.8 supports. SeeFile uploads a thumbnail and preview image for each original. The preview can be easily watermarked as an option. A client can mark up an image and leave notes attached to the marks explaining what changes are desired. The client interface can also be branded with any logo.
SeeFile is more complicated for the end user than Glance because one has to setup a MySQL server to run SeeFile on top of. But from what we saw, this is an excellent image collaboration tool. SeeFile also has a different business model. It's a one-time purchase rather than a subscription and it starts at $399 for 4 clients and the administrator.
H&R Block was handing out free copies of their 2006 Federal Premium version of TaxCut, a $19.95 value.
Marketcircle, known for Daylite, has a billing application called Billings 2. It is designed for someone who bills numerous clients hourly for the time put into their projects. However, the interface is easily modified for periodic billing or university grant effort reporting.
The invoices that Billings 2 produces are simply terrific. There are a variety of invoice templates that may be customized completely.
Billings 2 is very easy to use. We set up projects in a way that mimics our business and prepared terrific invoices the Mac way. We just did it without reading anything and it just worked.
Billings 2 costs just $59 but Marketcircle is running an on-site show special of $45 for a limited number of copies. If you bill hourly by project, you can't go wrong with this application in our opinion.
That's it for today. Look for our wrap up tomorrow. [Bill Fox]
[1/11] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Macworld Perspectives and the iPhone
Tonight host Gene Steinberg has on-site reports on Macworld from cutting edge commentator Daniel Eran of Roughly Drafted Magazine, and Eddie Hargreaves of MacCompanion and "The Lame Show." You'll also hear why the iPhone is the next Mac from David Biedny, as we enter "The David Biedny Zone." 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]
[1/10] Microsoft released Office v.X 10.1.9 Update in Final
The 10.1.9 Update to Office:mac v.X is available for download via the "Check for Updates" menu item or as a stand-alone file from this Microsoft Web page. Earlier, Microsoft inadvertantly released an incomplete 10.1.9 so, apparently, this 10.1.9 Update is the final version including all the security fixes. According to the Read Me file,
This update contains several improvements to enhance security and stability, including fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer's memory with malicious code. In addition, this update includes all of the improvements released in all previous Office v. X updates.
The list of updated files is very long. After the updates, the version numbers of Excel and PowerPoint are 10.1.9, Word is 10.1.8 and Entourage is 10.1.6. [Bill Fox]
[1/10] Macworld 2007 became Appleworld 2007?
The new Apple TV and Apple iPhone are both terrific but we were surprised that there were no new announcements directly involving Macs during Steve Jobs' Macworld keynote address. Not even the revised Apple Extreme Base Station was mentioned. Hey, this is Macworld! At least we thought so.
I guess we should have expected a departure at some point. After all, Apple's revenue from iPod sales has approached that of Macs in recent quarters. In fact, Apple appears to have changed its official name from Apple Computer, Inc., to Apple, Inc. You can see this wherever Apple claims a 2007 copyright.
We also noticed that this year was the first time in some years that no Apple product was announced that is actually shipping, although a month is not really significant.
Fortunately, Steve Jobs also said that 2007 would be a great year for the Mac so the best is yet to come even if it won't be at Macworld. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[1/10] [Updated] Axiotron and OWC demoed ModBook, a Tablet Mac
The top Mac hardware announcement of Macworld 2007 may well be the ModBook, a tablet Mac. The ModBook is a MacBook with a special screen modification. While Steve Jobs is reported to have concluded that a Tablet Mac is not financially feasible for Apple, US and German engineers of Axiotron have designed one and it will be marketed by Other World Computing (OWC).
The 13.3" tablet screen made from ForceGlass is fitted to a white MacBook in place of its regular screen. The screen only faces outward and is etched to provide a paper-like textured surface and to minimize scratching. The ModBook uses a WACOM Penabled hardware to write or draw or paint on the screen or to select things on the screen. It has a built-in iSight camera and an optional GPS unit, the only portable Mac to include one.
We attended a packed press conference and demonstration of the ModBook. The slideshow presentation was originated on a ModBook and its handwriting and GPS mapping capabilities were shown. We were impressed with the ModBook's fit and finish. It was remarkably well-done for a pre-production model.
Those of you waiting for a tablet Mac should check out the ModBook. We think you will be pleased with it. Ranging in price from $2279 to $2849, it compares very favorably in price with tablet PCs on the market. It is scheduled to ship about April and carries a one-year limited warranty from OWC. The warranty can be extended to three years.
OWC has special pre-release pricing of $2199-$2699 which includes the GPS unit. [Update: The ModBook won a Macworld Best of Show Award!] [Bill Fox]
[1/10] Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station upgraded to Super-Fast Wi-Fi 802.11n Protocol
It wasn't announced during the Steve Jobs' Macworld keynote but Apple has upgraded the AirPort Extreme Base Station to the new draft super-fast Wi-Fi protocol termed 802.11n. According to Apple, the protocol is up to 5 times faster that the older 802.11g AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi and with twice the range. It is backward compatible with 802.11g and the original 802.11b protocols. The new AirPort Extreme Base Station drops the flying saucer design in favor of the Mac mini design like the Apple TV box.
The good news is that all Intel Core 2 Duo and Intel Xeon Macs except the entry 17-inch iMac with 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor support the 802.11n technology but they have to be updated with 802.11n Enabler software, which ships with the AirPort Extreme Base Station.
The bad news is that the AirPort Express protocol remains at the slower 802.11g protocol, at least for now.
The cost of the new AirPort Extreme Base Station is $179 and it will be available in February. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[1/10] Apple posted Steve Jobs' Keynote and iPhone Intro via QuickTime Streaming
Both are available from this Apple Web page. Apple's QuickTime player is needed to view the videos. [Elias Savada & Dana Baggett]
[1/10] Software Special of the Day: Crossword Forge X 5.0.1 (Universal) for 50% Off Today Only--$24.95
Crossword Forge is an easy to use classroom style crossword and word search puzzle maker. It quickly generates puzzles from your words for the web, print, and PDF.
[1/10] Microsoft's Mac BU announced Office 2008 for Mac in Second Half of 2007
Microsoft's Mac Business Unit announced its intent to deliver the first Universal version of Office for Mac for PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs -- Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is scheduled to be available in the second half of 2007.Microsoft They conducted extensive customer research to determine which enhancements to make to its Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage applications. As a result, Office 2008 for Mac is packed with new tools to help Mac users better manage the business of life.
Microsoft will deliver new Mac-first, Mac-only features aimed at providing customers with a unique, engaging and definitively Mac experience. Office 2008 for Mac will carry on the tradition of Mac BU's productivity software, helping users get organized and work smarter through these features:
Publishing Layout View lets users create incredibly layout-rich documents
such as newsletters, fliers and brochures by uncovering desktop publishing
layout tools and providing text box entry.
Ledger Sheets enable anyone to use Excel to handle common financial
management tasks. Home and small-business users can balance checkbooks,
track accounts or manage investment portfolios more easily than ever.
My Day allows users to track priorities and stay on top of daily
activities no matter what application they're currently working in. My Day
is a stand-alone application that doesn't take up much screen space, offers
at-a-glance schedule and task viewing without launching Entourage, and lets
users color-code everything for visualizing daily priorities.
[1/10] Brief Hands-On Report--Microsoft released Office 2004 for Mac 11.3.3 Update
The 11.3.3 Update for Office 2004 is available for download via "Check for Updates" under the Help menu or as a stand-alone file from this Microsoft Web page. According Microsoft,
This update contains several improvements to enhance security and stability, including fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer's memory with malicious code. In addition, this update includes all of the improvements released in all previous Office 2004 updates.
The details 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 Word 2004
3.2.1 Compatibility with RTF documents is improved
This update improves compatibility with recent changes to the way Rich Text Format (RTF) documents are created by Microsoft Office Word 2003 for Windows.
3.3 Improvements for Excel 2004
3.3.1 Standard deviation is calculated correctly in PivotTable reports
This update fixes an issue that causes standard deviation calculations to produce inaccurate results when the calculations are used in PivotTable reports.
3.4 Improvements for Entourage 2004
3.4.1 Calendar events scheduled on or after March 11, 2007 display correctly in all calendar views
This update fixes an issue for users of Mac OS X 10.4.5 or later that causes any calendar event scheduled on or after March 11, 2007 to display on a time slot that is one hour ahead of its original start time. This issue affects all meetings that occur on or after March 11, 2007, including recurring meetings.
3.4.2 Japanese postal code dictionary is updated
The Japanese postal code dictionary is updated with the latest information as of June 2006.
We downloaded the 11.3.3 Update as a stand-alone file and updated our copy of Office 2004. In brief use, we found no problems with each application in Office 2004. [Bill Fox]
[1/9] Steve Jobs Macworld Keynote--Apple TV and iPhone
The venue for Steve Jobs' keynote was changed from prior years, i.e. West Moscone Hall rather than South Moscone. West Moscone is where the Worldwide developers Conference is held and is much larger, better accommodating the huge media overflow. The downside is that West Moscone is a very long block away creating stampede conditions for getting back to South Moscone for the opening of the Expo at 11am.
Steve Jobs started off by saying that half of all Mac buyers are now new to the Mac and that 2007 will be a terrific year for the Mac. But, he then announced that was all he would say about Macs in this year's keynote.
Apple TV it is
After running through some gee whiz data on iTunes, including announcing that Paramount Pictures has come onboard offering great new movies through iTunes, he announced Apple TV, the device formerly known as iTV. It has all of the ports revealed in September's sneak peek and provides 720p high definition video. As we and others surmised, Apple TV uses the new (actually draft) super-speed Wi-Fi standard 802.11n to stream media from up to five computers to a TV.
Apple TV syncs with one computer just like an iPod and with a 40GB hard drive it stores up to 50 hours of video. It costs $299 and will ship in February. It can be ordered today.
The iPhone lives as the iPhone
Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone and it is named iPhone instead of some dorky name like iChat Mobile. Apple may have cut a deal with Cisco/Linksys to use their iPhone trademark.
The iPhone is three devices in one. It is a widescreen iPod, a "revolutionary" mobile phone and a "breakthrough" internet communications device. It runs on Mac OS X and is controlled with an Apple-patented 3.5" revolutionary touchscreen that accommodates multiple fingers and gestures as well as a simple touch. The screen has 160dpi resolution and the iPhone is about a half-inch thick.
The iPhone syncs automatically through iTunes. It can sync contacts, calendars, images, notes, songs, bookmarks and even e-mail. Jobs called it a smarter smart phone.
It operates on GSM and EDGE networks so it doesn't yet have the broadband capability of EVDO but Jobs said that was coming in the future. The iPhone has Bluetooth 2.0 and Wi-Fi capability so it can switch to Wi-Fi when a network is near. It has HTML email, a Safari web browser and Dashboard Widgets. Jobs quipped that it is the Internet in your pocket.
The CEO of Google, Yahoo and Cingular all came on stage and fawned over the iPhone and Apple's relationship with them. Google map use was demoed.
The battery will last up to 5 hours while using video or talk and 16 hours while listening to audio.
The iPhone is $499 for a 4GB model and $599 for an 8GB model with a 2-year Cingular contract and it will ship in June.
More later, we're stampeding to South Moscone to get our hands on the new AppleTV and iPhone. [Bill Fox]
[1/9] [Updated] Macworld Expo 2007 Begins Today following Steve Jobs' Keynote at 9am PT--The Prelims
Macworld Conference & Expo 2007 began yesterday with the Power Tools Conference Series 1 and on-site registration. Steve Jobs' keynote address is today at 9am PT and the Expo show floor opens right after the keynote at 11am PT.
Yesterday, we picked up our badge and a copy of the Event Guide with the latest insert. We are pleased to see that the Macworld Expo for 2007 has expanded from recent years to use a good part of the show floor in the North Moscone Hall. Most of the Expo, including Apple's huge presence, is still contained in South Moscone Hall. We saw reports that IDG, Macworld's owner, announced that pre-registrations are up some 28 percent--excellent! We found that media registrations are way up, too. In fact, there are so many that even the overflow media room, with a televised but real-time presentation of the keynote, is full. Media representatives not pre-registered are being told with a pleasant smile to come back during the keynote or later for media credentials.
Thumbing through the Event Guide to see who's here and where they are to plan our show floor walks, we immediately noticed a major absence. Neither ATI/AMD nor Nvidia, the graphics card giants, are listed. ATI, now owned by chipmaker AMD, has been present nearly every year that we can recall. The one exception we remember was when an ATI news release faux pas revealed a new Mac product before Steve Jobs' keynote. ATI spent a year in the penalty box as a result. Nvidia has been present a couple of times but our memory of the New York, Boston and San Francisco events is rapidly fusing. Only the San Francisco Macworld still exists. Apple still uses ATI and Nvidia graphics chips along with those from Intel. Intel has a booth so we wonder what ATI's absence may signify, if anything, beyond the mundane. Fortunately, there is still a major gaming area and it has been located this year in North Moscone.
Also in the newly reclaimed North Moscone Hall are large sections devoted to Enterprise IT, Enterprise & Business Solutions, Digital Photo (HP-sponsored), Digital Media & Multimedia, the Special Interest Pavilion and the cool Berklee Dream Studio John Lennon Educational Bus Tour.
One thing that we noticed in the Event Guide that we haven't noticed before is that there are guided tours of the Macworld Conference & Expo. Now, maybe they have been there before and we overlooked them but they look like a neat idea to us. Staffed by volunteers from Apple User Groups, they will help anyone find anything at Macworld, including getting seats at show floor demonstrations. [Update: Mike Henigan, President of the Atlanta Macintosh User Group wrote us that the volunteer guides from Apple user groups have been available for several very successful years. He reminded me that there is a User Group Lounge where speakers make presentations and talk about their products and, also, how they can help User Groups. So poke your head in and find out what's going on. The User Group Lounge is Room 250 of South Moscone Hall according to the Event Guide.]
We plan to file a report on Steve Jobs keynote and then a quick hands-on report on the new Apple products...uh, if any...before heading off to some appointments with the likes of Adobe and to begin our 2007 show floor walk. Stay tuned! This will be a great week. [Bill Fox]
[1/9] Apple-Backed Blu-ray HD Disc Leads in HD Format Race
So far consumers have chosen Blu-ray HD Disc format over the rival HD-DVD format in the marketplace for high definition DVDs. Blu-ray got a huge boost from being packaged with 1 million Sony Playstation 3 (PS3) game machines sold in the US. The Blu-ray format is supported by Apple and Sony and others, including 7 of 8 major movie studios. Blu-ray uses a blue laser with a shorter wave length that the common red laser so it can pack more information in a given space. [Dana Baggett]
[1/9] Software Special of the Day: Blue Crab 4.7.7 (Universal) for 40% Off Today Only--$14.95
Blue Crab is a program that you use to copy the contents of a website to your computer, in whole or in part.
Conduct fast offline browsing and searching without an internet connection.
Create a snapshot of a website for historical archiving.
Collect specific types of resources such as images or email addresses.
Search current content more thoroughly than a search engine right on your own computer.
Check a site for broken links, or generate an HTML sitemap
Blue Crab is always gentle on the server, processing only one URL at a time. (You can even make it pause between successive downloads so as to not overwhelm the server.)
[1/9] One-Button Screen Sharing for Macs from Glance
The Mac version of Glance, a one-button screen sharing tool that lets people instantly show their live computer screens to anyone online, was announced today by Glance Networks. Now Mac and Windows users can deliver product demonstrations, sales presentations, web tours, training, creative reviews and technical support with Glance's one-button simplicity. While Mac users have always been able to view Glance sessions, now they can host sessions as well.
Glance, for both Mac and PC users, is available immediately with flat-rate pricing that starts at $49.95/month (or $499/year). Each session can host up to 15 guests, who all connect for free. Users can sign up for a free trial.
We will be seeing a demo of this product at Macworld and will report on our hands-on experience. [Bill Fox]
[1/9] Nanosaur II v2.0.2 (Universal) Update is Out from Pangea
The original Nanosaur is one of our all-time favorite Mac games and Nanosaur II comes in close behind. Pangea Software has released a minor update that is available via MacUpdate.com. Version 2.0.2 Update provides minor code tweaks and incorporates a conflict warning. [Bill Fox]
[1/9] From the Dark Side--Gates Exits CES Forever, Probably
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and the world's richest man, will no longer provide his "visionary" keynote addresses at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. According to this Dow Jones report, Gates to told the audience after his keynote at this year's CES running concurrently with Macworld:
"I've already warned them that if I do come back, I'll be talking about infectious diseases."
He might have been talking about computer viruses given the history of Windows but he meant health problems in developing countries where his foundation spends much of its endowment. [Dana Baggett]
[1/9] Quark Released QuarkXpress v7.1 Update
QuarkXpress v7.1 Update is available for download via MacUpdate.com. Here are the issues resolved:
Actions involving text selection such as scrolling, spell checking, and Find/Change are substantially faster in this version than in version 7.02.
General layout manipulation is substantially faster in this version than it was in version 7.02 for layouts that use images with clipping paths.
Flattening of layouts that use transparency is faster than it was in version 7.02.
Layouts that include the following things could take a long time to print, export as PDF, or save as an EPS: tables that use opacity, numerous or highly blurred drop shadows, and drop shadows over lines of text. This issue has been resolved.
Text editing was sometimes slow, especially in multi-column text boxes. This issue has been resolved.
Zooming and scrolling were slow when displaying a clipping path with a large number of points or a layout with a large quantity of selected text. This issue has been resolved.
Low-resolution drop shadows sometimes printed with a slightly different resolution when they occurred over high-resolution images than they did when they occurred over a plain background. This issue has been resolved.
Mac OS only: If one person had a project open, another person could also open that file and save changes. The second person is now notified that they are opening the project in read-only mode.
If you printed a layout to a non-PostScript printer, clipping-path runarounds in that layout were not honored. This issue has been resolved.
QuarkXPress now properly honors the Accents for All Caps preference setting (QuarkXPress/Edit > Preferences > Character pane).
"Ukraine" is now spelled correctly in spell check.
Various cosmetic issues having to do with control placement, text truncation, and stylistic inconsistencies have been corrected.
[1/8] Apple's Macworld Announcements--Our Take
What will Apple announce in Steve Jobs Macworld keynote address tomorrow? First, a disclaimer--we have no inside information. Our views are entirely our own, concocted from our perspective of demand and the availability of new technology.
Okay, here is the "low hanging fruit:"
iLife '07 and iWork '07. These are no brainers since Apple has updated these two application suites the past couple of years. In addition, it has been reported that Amazon.com inadvertently posted box shots. The real intrigue is what will Apple add, if anything, to each suite. Things that we think are high on the list of possibilities are a home media application for iLife '07 and a spreadsheet/charting application for iWork '07. These are natural evolutionary additions and, perhaps, just enough to entice people to buy the 2007 upgrades.
Public Demo of Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard." Steve Jobs demoed a very early version of the next Mac OS X last summer at the Worldwide Developers Conference 2006, Apple has made Leopard updates available to developers and Apple has set up a Leopard-specific Web page. Since there has been no real public demo of Leopard and its due out this spring, we think it is virtually certain that Steve Jobs will demo Leopard and all of its major features. At WWDC 2006, Jobs claimed that he was saving some of Leopard's features for later to prevent them from being copied ostensibly by Microsoft in its Windows Vista. With Vista already released to enterprise customers and ready to be released to the rest of the world in a few weeks, probably nothing could be copied from Leopard that Microsoft doesn't already know about.
iTV by its final name. Apple is very secretive about future products so it was very unusual last September when Steve Jobs gave the world a sneak peek at Apple's future home media product code-named iTV at a special event. The iTV looked like a half-height Mac mini, connects to a flat panel TV and accepts video streamed by Wi-Fi from a Mac. Jobs said it will sell for $299 and be available in the first quarter of 2007. Given all this, we think it is highly likely that Steve Jobs will reveal the product's final name and demo it. The one thing that we can think of that could hold it back is if Apple believes that the new super high speed Wi-Fi protocol 802.11n is not ready for prime time. But Apple is known for pushing back frontiers and the new MacBook Pros, at least, already have 802.11n capability built in so....
Moving to the next level of speculation, here the items that we think have a some chance of seeing daylight:
Wi-Fi 802.11n in all new Macs and AirPort Base Stations. It makes sense to us that all new Macs should be able to use "iTV" if it is announced as a final product. If so, then Apple may use the opportunity to further speed/feature-bump the consumer Mac lines (Mac mini, iMac and MacBook).
Quad-core Mac Pros. We think Apple wants to keep its Intel-based pro desktop computers on the cutting edge of Intel's CPUs. Since Intel is beginning to produce the new quad-core CPUs, Apple could announce new quad-core Mac Pros with delivery beginning in a month or so. There could even be a high-end dual quad-core Mac Pro, i.e. one with two quad-core chips or eight processors. As a corollary, we hope that Leopard will be able to scale to any number of processors. If Apple does this, then we would expect a quad-core MacBook Pro in early summer with a faster Core 2 Duo in between.
New Monitors/Sight/Curvability. Samsung (Apple's major LCD partner) is announcing commercial LCD TV screens up to 70" at CES this week, 30" LCD monitors have been introduced by several other computer vendors and Apple has dropped the iSight camera. These events lead us to believe that Apple will likely introduce a new line of monitors. The new monitors will likely sport the same small built-in iSight cameras that are included currently with all Mac portables and iMacs. It's also possible that Apple will instead introduce a new tiny external iSight to keep its monitors free of cameras that are forbidden in many computing environments. With regard to size, our bet is on a new larger professional monitor with the 30", 23" (or 24" given competitors offerings) and 20" moving downscale rather than re-introducing a smaller 17" display as some have speculated. With thinner, cheaper and LED-backlit LCD panels, the new larger (mostly wider) monitor will be adjustable to permit curving for truer 3D visualization. Okay, the curvability feature is a bit of a high flyer and it may need a special and expensive graphics card but wouldn't it be really cool for science and gaming and even helpful for general use with a very large monitor?
iPhone (or iChat Mobile?). We'll go along with the pack and agree that it's time for Apple's "iPhone" to come out. There is so much buzz about it, including from flash memory manufacturers. However, if it does, we believe that it won't be just a cool cell phone that also plays music because that has already been done (well, maybe not the "cool" part) and it's already nearly a commodity product. Apple's cell phone product will likely take a revolutionary step or in some way define a new space for cell phones. Even adding complex text messaging or emailing like a Blackberry may not cut it. Could the revolutionary step be to add two-way video via Wi-Fi or EVDO like iChat or the long-rumored touchscreen or both?
That's it from us. We'd love to see a Mac ultra-portable using a flash memory hard drive like this new Samsung product but we don't believe that Apple thinks it's a financially sound product. Tomorrow, we'll know for sure. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[1/8] Software Special of the Day: Alarm Clock Pro, Font Pilot, Slideshow Magic, Mac Pilot, Track Destroyer, E-Mail Commander, Gallery Designer, Data Guardian, File Sleuth (Universal) for 83% Off Today Only--$29.95
Nine applications for Koingo Software in a discount package: Alarm Clock Pro, Font Pilot, Slideshow Magic, Mac Pilot, Track Destroyer, E-Mail Commander, Gallery Designer, Data Guardian, File Sleuth.
Normally $171.55, Alarm Clock Pro, Font Pilot, Slideshow Magic, Mac Pilot, Track Destroyer, E-Mail Commander, Gallery Designer, Data Guardian, File Sleuth (Universal) is offered for $29.95--that's 83% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]
[1/8] Firefox, Safari and Opera Web Browsers gained Share on Internet Explorer in 2006
Firefox's share grew from 9.6% to 14%, Safari grew from 3.1% to 4.2% and Opera grew from 0.6% to 0.9% during 2006. Microsoft's Internet Explorer share dropped from 85.1% to 79.6%. The residual is Netscape whose share dropped from 1.2% to 0.9%. More... [Dana Baggett]
[1/8] Many New Products for the Mac and iPod to debut at Macworld 2007
Scores of companies are expected to debut or feature a wide range of new products at Macworld Conference & Expo 2007 this week at San Francisco's Moscone Center. Almost 400 companies will be exhibiting at Macworld according to IDG World Expo. Some of the new products expected to be launched or featured at Macworld, include the following:
eMedia Music Corp. (Booth# S2606) will showcase the new Guitar Pro 5.1 CD-ROM, the new Windows/Macintosh hybrid version of the best selling multi-track tablature editor software for guitar, banjo and bass from Arobas Music. Guitar Pro 5.1 is a complete tool for beginner and accomplished guitarists alike.
GelaSkins (Booth# S2721). GelaSkins are artist designed skins for the iPod that are a stylish and low profile alternative to bulky cases. From classic masters to contemporary street artists, there’s a style to suit every taste. GelaSkins use 3M adhesive technology to provide the best scratch protection for the iPod, and are easy to apply and remove.
Glance Networks (Booth# 2543) Glance Networks is launching a Mac version of Glance, the one-button screen sharing tool that lets people instantly show their live computer screens to anyone online. Now both Mac and PC users can deliver product demonstrations, sales presentations, web tours, training, creative reviews and technical support, with Glance's one-button simplicity. Visit the Glance booth for a full demo.
Intego (Booth# S2338) Intego will be unveiling the world's first antivirus protection for both Mac OS X and Windows running on an Intel-based Mac. Intego has joined forces with BitDefender, a top PC security vendor, to offer Intego Dual Protection. Intego VirusBarrier X4 DP protects both Mac OS X and Windows from all known viruses. Intego Security Barrier X4 Antispam Edition DP keeps Mac OS X and Windows safe from hackers, vandals, spyware, spam and phishing.
IntelliScanner (Booth# S437) IntelliScanner mini, the smart, ultra-portable barcode scanner for Mac OS X that organizes everything in your home. The plug-and-play IntelliScanner barcode readers deliver comprehensive, easy-to-use solutions for organizing personal media collections, groceries, wine, comics, home assets, educational lending, inventory, and more.
NEC Display Solutions Of America (Booth# S2602) NEC Display Solutions of America will introduce the extension of its popular NEC MultiSync 90-series with the 24-inch MultiSync LCD2490WUXi and 26-inch LCD2690WUXi wide-screen monitors, the latter being the first 26-inch wide-screen offering in the marketplace. Created to address the demanding medical, graphics, pre-production film, financial, gaming and broadcast industries, the new displays use the most advanced technologies available, including in-plane switching (IPS) module technology.
Portable Sound Laboratories, Inc. (Booth# N4321) Small system. HUGE SOUND! The “Walkman of the 21st. century,” as quoted by Blog Do iPod. Portable Sound Laboratories, Inc. introduces the iMainGo, an innovative, high quality portable stereo speaker device for the iPod. The iMainGo is unique in that it incorporates very high quality stereo sound, full iPod protection (fits all iPods), complete iPod accessibility and viewability, in a self powered, hand held unit weighing only nine ounces.
RhinoSkin (Booth# N4319) RhinoSkin will debut its line of hardcases to protect Apple MacBooks and MacBook Pros. The MacBook HardCases are the first in a new line of unique cases designed exclusively for laptops, providing users with a reliable and trendy solution for their MacBook travel and protection needs.
TursiogearTM LLC (Booth# N3108) Tursiogear will introduce Portago, a stylishly designed, multifunction case made especially for the video iPod. The Portago case allows the fifth-generation iPod to connect with a broad range of output devices, freeing the player’s video, photo and music content to be shared with others. Portago’s included infrared remote controls the player remotely, and stores right in the case. Portago also contains a built-in power adapter to connect the case to an electrical outlet, allowing the player to be recharged easily without the need for a computer.
Vakaadoo (Booth: N3321) A new, invisible case for the iPod- the iVak iPod case is a thinly contoured, precisely molded protective case designed for the iPod Nano, featuring a scratch resistant body and screen.
Wing Products LLC (Booth# N4014-03) Wing Products introduces Cordgo, a durable and lightweight cord winder that brings cord control to the palm of your hand. Cordgo’s design provides users with the ability to adjust the length of the cord while in use, allowing listeners to enjoy “music to go” without the headphone cord interfering in their activity.
Xsilva Systems (Booth# S2638) Xsilva Systems Inc. unveils LightSpeed 2.0, the Next-Generation Point of Sale System for Mac OS X. Xsilva LightSpeed is a ground breaking, feature-rich new multi-user POS system designed expressly to accelerate small business.
We will be checking out these products and more during our on-scene reporting from the Macworld show floor later this week. [Bill Fox]
[1/5] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released iChat Update 1.0
Apple's iChat Update 1.0 is available for download via Software Update or as a stand-alone updater (PPC version or Universal version). According to Apple,
This update renews the .Mac certificate required by iChat for encrypting text, audio and video conferences.
We downloaded iChat Update 1.0 and installed it in a variety of Macs, both Intel-based and PowerPC-based, such as: 2.33GHz 15" MacBook Pro C2D, 24" iMac C2D, 20" iMac CD, 1.66GHz Mac mini CD, Power Mac G4 Cube and 12" PowerBook G4. Only one Mac had a problem, a gray screen on restarting but a second restart was problem free and thereafter--our 15" MacBook Pro C2D.
The update installed iChat 3.1.6 (Build 441) on our both our Intel-based and PowerPC-based Macs. We used both built-in and FireWire iSight cameras afterward on several of the Macs with no problems. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[1/5] Hybrid Storage Alliance Formed to support Hard Drives with Flash Memory
In a move to give the growing number of notebook users faster, more durable systems that run longer on a battery charge, Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate Technology and Toshiba have formed the Hybrid Storage Alliance. The goals of the industry group are two-fold: (1) illustrate how flash memory/hard drive hybrid technology can extend the capabilities of today's notebook computers and (2) accelerate market adoption of the technology.
Hybrid hard drive technology is the industry's answer to growing demand for notebooks that deliver the speed and durability of desktops. Hybrid technology, which can be deployed in other mobile devices and computing systems, combines the unmatched capacity and cost-effectiveness of hard drives with the responsiveness, power-efficiency and durability of flash memory.
Reportedly, Windows Vista will support this technology. We will have to wait at least until Macworld next week to find out if hybrid drive technology will be supported by Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard).
Market research firm IDC predicts hybrid hard disk drives will constitute 35 percent of all hard disk drives shipped with notebooks by 2010. [Bill Fox]
[1/5] SanDisk released 32GB Flash Memory Drive for Notebooks
Hard drives made from flash memory chips rather than spinning magnetic disks offer more speed and significant energy savings in notebooks. A 32GB model is being released by SanDisk in a 1.8" case but it can be shrunk further or expanded to 2.5" to fit the normal notebook drive space.
The 32GB flash memory disks will cost $600 more than a standard 80GB hard disk but are only being made available to manufacturers at this time according to CNet.
Hopefully, we will hear about this technology being used in Apple's notebooks next week at Macworld. [Bill Fox]
[1/5] Software Special of the Day: HoudahSpot 1.3.2 (Universal) for 50% Off Today Only--$9.95
HoudahSpot is a desktop search tool based on Apple's Spotlight technology. It enables users to quickly create and store powerful search queries and has been designed from the ground up with ease of use and convenience in mind. HoudahSpot leverages Apple's powerful and fast Spotlight engine. It improves in many ways over the default interface in Mac OS X 10.4:
Ability to express complex queries
Flexible browsing of results
It does not waste this engine's horsepower to run searches before the user is done entering criteria
User definable templates
Hot key access to saved searches: Recent Documents, Applications
O'Reilly will hold numerous events at Macworld 2006 starting Jan. 9, 2007. The highlights include:
David Pogue, O'Reilly author, New York Times technology columnist, and Mac industry luminary. He returns to Macworld to host the conference talk show and speak at the O'Reilly booth.
Andy Hertzfeld a core member of the team that built the Mac, wrote a bestselling book about his experiences, "Revolution in The Valley" (O'Reilly, $24.95). He is scheduled to talk and sign books at 12 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 9 at the O'Reilly Macworld booth #2112 in the South Hall.
Popular O'Reilly authors Mikkel Aaland, Stephen Johnson, Julieanne Kost, Ken Milburn, Derrick Story, and Eddie Tapp are appearing at the conference's exciting new Digital Lifestyle Experience booth, centrally located at North Hall. It's dedicated to hands-on demonstrations, training, and tips and techniques on everything from cameras, to printers, to hosting services, to asset management, and more.
At the O'Reilly Macworld booth, the digital media authors plan to stop by and give scheduled talks throughout the week. Schedules are posted at O'Reilly Booth #2112, South Hall.
O'Reilly is also offering a 25 percent discount on the hottest titles from all our cool conference instructors, plus other must-have titles. [Bill Fox]
[1/5] A Tablet Mac After All But from Axiotron and Other Word Computing--Macworld Unveiling on Tuesday, January 9th
Axiotron, Inc. and Other World Computing (OWC) announced that they will unveil the ModBook, the first ever Mac tablet computer solution, on January 9th, at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco at 2:30 PM at the Other World Computing Booth #S2218. The ModBook is a high-end slate-style notebook computer solution, which was designed in California by Axiotron's team of German and American engineers and will be available in the U.S. through an exclusive joint-venture arrangement between Axiotron and Other World Computing.
The Axiotron ModBook features WACOM hardware for true pen input and is fully compatible with Apple's Inkwell, a Mac OS X Tiger feature that provides system level handwriting and gesture recognition to all Mac applications. Drawing and writing directly on the screen provides for a uniquely intuitive user experience and its slim, slate-style form factor makes the ModBook the ultimate companion for mobile users, artists, professionals and students.
The ModBook is also the only portable Mac solution that features an optional built-in Global Positioning System (GPS). The Axiotron ModBook GPS Module was developed in cooperation with GlobalSat Technologies Corporation utilizing the industry leading SiRFstar III chipset for shorter first location fix times and improved tracking capabilities.
Look for our hands-on report on the ModBook. [Bill Fox]
[1/5] Adobe Announced Premier Back on the Mac in Adobe Production Studio (Universal)--Macworld Demo
Adobe announced that the next version of Adobe Production Studio, the integrated video and audio post-production tool set that is part of the Creative Suite family, will be available for the Macintosh. Film, video and web professionals currently using Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator on the Mac will soon be able to harness the power of completely new Macintosh releases of Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Encore DVD and Adobe Soundbooth -- all key components of an upcoming milestone revision to Adobe Production Studio. The software will have its first public demonstration during the Macworld 2007 Conference and Exhibition at The Moscone Center in San Francisco, January 9 - 12 (Booth 901).
The next release of Adobe Production Studio is expected to ship in mid-2007. Adobe Production Studio as well as Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Encore DVD, and Adobe Soundbooth will be available for Intel-based Macintosh computers. [Bill Fox]
[1/5] Gonna run Vista on Boot Camp or Parallels or...O'Reilly has Two New Books for You
If you are running Windows XP or any other version of Windows on your Mac, you may want to consider upgrading to Vista. While it's not very close to Mac OS X in ease of use, we think it's several large steps closer than XP, particularly in networking. Here's a couple of books from O'Reilly to help with the transition:
David Pogue's Windows Vista: The Missing Manual (O'Reilly, $34.99) will be right there when Vista hits the streets--an up-to-the-nanosecond single book that offers complete, comprehensive coverage of all five Vista versions.
Then, after all the hype and attention paid to the Vista revolution--with its 50 million lines of code soon to be running on 400 million computers--Preston Gralla's Windows Vista in a Nutshell (O'Reilly, $34.99), stands ready to answer the questions of power users, enthusiasts, small business owners, and IT professionals.
Even with Vista, you will definitely need a manual if only to find out how to turn off many of the maddening security blocks to your use of the operating system. [Bill Fox]
[1/5] From the Dark Side--M$ Zune Sales Still Dismal
In a study by Current Analysis of top consumer electronics stores (Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Staples and RadioShack), Microsoft's Zune failed to break into the top 10 music players, according to CNet. Apple's iPods took 8 of top 10 and the other two are made by SanDisk. More...
The Current Analysis study also reflects the Zune's sales performance at Amazon.com that we have quoted several times since its introduction. At publication time, Apple's iPod held onto the top spot in consumer electronics sales as well as 4 of the top 10 consumer electronic products. The black Zune was in 81st place behind all of Apple's iPods but the blue 2G nano (#87) and behind numerous SanDisk and Creative MP3 players. The Apple iPod USB Power Adapter also still beat the Zune's sales at #68. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]
[1/4] Brief Hands-On Report--StuffIt Expander v11.0.2 is Out
The free StuffIt Expander v11.0.2 is available for download from this SmithMicro Web page. Here are the v11.0.2 changes listed in the Read Me file:
Fixed a StuffIt Engine issue that prevented some Windows self-extracting Zip archives (.exe) from being recognized as Zip archives.
Fixed some StuffIt Engine issues that prevented some Zip archives from being expanded.
Fixed a StuffIt Engine issue that prevented some tar archives from from being recognized.
Fixed an issue that was causing StuffIt Expander to crash when opening the Preferences on some machines.
Fixed an issue with StuffIt Expander and DropStuff's progress bar that would occasionally cause the application to crash.
Other changes to allow for localization.
We download and installed and ran our copies without incident. [Dana Baggett]
[1/4] Software Special of the Day: XHub 1.1 (Universal) for 50% Off Today Only--$9.99
XHub is a stylish, fast and fully customizable media center. With XHub you can listen to music, podcasts and internet radio, view photo slideshows, play DVDs, read news feeds, watch digital TV, internet movie trailers and subtitled movies of most formats (DivX, 3ivX, VIDEO_TS, etc) from the comfort of your sofa. Your Apple Remote, cell phone or PDA serves as a remote control. XHub ships with a variety of interfaces and sound sets, plug-ins for Salling Clicker and Romeo, and pre-configured HID files for more than 20 phones from Sony Ericsson.
[1/4] Quark's Major Presence at Macworld to Include Booth, Theater and Lab
The Quark booth will be buzzing once again at Macworld with the latest and greatest information about QuarkXPress 7 and more. Show attendees can learn about recently announced products, including Quark Print Collection for imposition and prepress tools, plus Quark Interactive Designer for creating standard Macromedia Flash (SWF) output. Here is the theater presentation schedule.
In the Quark hands-on lab at Macworld, participants will learn how to create and deliver content for print, web, and even interactive Macromedia Flash (SWF) using QuarkXPress 7. Plus, they will learn why Quark Print Collection and Quark Interactive Designer make QuarkXPress 7 the most ground-breaking page layout solution in the industry. The hands-on lab will focus on content reuse, collaboration, and simple content conversion tools.Quark will have a and a Here are the QuarkXPress 7 hands-on lab times. On-site registration required. [Bill Fox]
[1/4] Ask Intuit at Macworld about Bank Support of Quicken for Mac
Our bank supports Quicken for Mac as well as the Windows version but apparently some (many?) banks do not. Allegedly, this is because Intuit charges a separate and additional significant license fee for Mac support. In addition, this is allegedly totally unfair because there is no real difference in the data and support software except Mac recognition. We do not know if either of the allegations are true but we intend to ask Intuit at Macworld about its license for bank support of Macs using Quicken. Hopefully, we will find someone able to comment.
In the past, we have found Intuit to be very forthcoming and positive about improving its Mac support. Maybe if many people asked about this, Intuit would get the message and do something positive.
Does your bank support Quicken for Mac?
are welcome! [Bill Fox]
[1/4] Peachpit Press Announced Author Line-up at Macworld
Peachpit Press invites Macworld attendees to come by booth S1001 to meet their authors and hone your skill set!
Macworld Author Demonstrations
Moscone Center, San Francisco
January 9-12, 2007 Here is the schedule:
Tuesday, January 9, 11-6pm
11-11:45 Larry Jordan, Final Cut Pro 5 Hands-On Training
12-12:45 Ryanne Hodson, Secrets of Videoblogging
1-1:45 Peter Kirn, Real World Digital Audio
2-2:45 Bert Monroy, Commercial Photoshop
4-4:45 John Deubert, Adobe Acrobat 8: Visual QuickStart Guide
5-5:45 Bob Connolly, Music, Video, Animation, and the Web in Adobe PDF
Wednesday, January 10, 11-6pm
11-11:45 Christopher Breen, The iPod & iTunes Pocket Guide
12-12:45 Stu Maschwitz, The DV Rebel's Guide
1-1:45 Colin Smith, How to Wow with Flash
2-2:45 Brian Connor, Apple Pro Training Series: Encyclopedia of Visual Effects
3-3:45 Graham Nash and R. Mac Holbert, Nash Editions: Photography and the Art of Digital Printing
4-4:45 Sandee Cohen, Real World Adobe Creative Suite 2
5-5:45 Brian Gary, Apple Pro Training Series: Compressor
Thursday, January 11, 10-5pm
10-10:45 Michael Ninness, lynda.com
11-11:45 Adam Engst, iPhoto 6 for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide
1-1:45 Richard Harrington, Understanding Adobe Photoshop
2-2:45 Steve Martin, Ripple Training
3-3:45 Jeff Carlson, iMovie HD 6 and iDVD 6 for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide
4-4:45 Ted Landau, Mac OS X Help Line
Friday, January 12, 10-5pm
10-10:45 Jeff Gamet, Designer's Guide to Mac OS X Tiger
11-11:45 Chris Breen, The iPod & iTunes Pocket Guide
12-12:45 Richard Harrington, Understanding Adobe Photoshop
1-1:45 Scott Neal, Mac OS X Automation: Visual QuickPro Guide
[1/4] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--If the Machine Stops, Backdating Stock Options and MindManager
On The Tech Night Owl LIVE's very first episode for 2007, host Gene Steinberg will talk to noted author and commentator Kirk McElhearn about what to do if the "machine" stops? You'll have to listen to the show to learn what that's all about. In addition, Macworld's Philip Michaels will be on hand to talk about the meaning behind the stock options "scandal" that Apple has confronted in recent weeks. You'll also hear from Brook Stein, Senior Product Manager for MindJet, publishers of MindManager. 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]
[1/3] Apple Welcomes All to 2007 with Forward-Looking Statement
The statement contained in an image on Apple's home page (see right) is "The first 30 years were just the beginning." Some think this message may portend a significant departure in Apple's direction specifically set off by new product launches next week at Macworld. We hope so, at least the new products part, but we don't think so. This is not to say that we know anything much about what will be announced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs next week, that is aside from the iTV that we already got an unusual sneak peek at and, of course, Leopard, the next insanely great version of Mac OS X. We'll have more on our views on Apple's likely Macworld product announcements later, just before the Macworld keynote.
We think the statement is what it is. Apple has been one of the most innovative companies for the past three decades and, with the last 30 years as a beginning, Apple is just proclaiming that it will continue. Of course, Apple's innovations are traditionally announced at Macworld and the WWDC so we expect some next week in order to continue on the path that Apple has set. They may even broaden that path some. [Bill Fox]
[1/3] Month of Apple Bugs Begins--Web Site Established and First Two Bugs Announced--Fixes Coming
As we noted two weeks ago, hackers named LMH and Kevin Finisterre began a Month of Apple Bugs on January 1st by listing a QuickTime vulnerability. Their Web site is located here for those who want to follow along. It contains a FAQ, and a listing of the bugs with a link to a proof of concept page. Their FAQ lists their purpose:
Is this an attack, revenge, conspiracy or some kind of evil plot against Apple and the users of Apple products?
Not at all, some of us use OS X on a daily basis. Getting problems solved makes that use a bit more safe each day, for everyone else. Flaws exist, with and without people disclosing them. If we wanted to make business out of this we would be selling the issues and the proper exploit for each one. Thus, business-wise, we are wasting a good cake with this project (although software by Apple isn't really of interest in these terms, except iTunes and other applications).
Their first bug announcement, dated January 1, is a vulnerability called "QuickTime rtsp URL Handler Stack-based Buffer Overflow" with the description:
A vulnerability in the handling of the rtsp:// URL handler [in QuickTime 7.1.3] allows remote arbitrary code execution.
The bug is under review by the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) Editorial Board.
The second bug announcement, dated January 2, is a vulnerability called "VLC Media Player udp:// Format String Vulnerability" with the description:
A vulnerability in the handling of the udp:// URL handler allows remote arbitrary code execution.
This bug was not yet under review by CVE Editorial Board at publication time.
In response, Landon Fuller will try to issue a fix per day. In Fuller's blog, he states:
So, part brain exercise, part public service, I've created a runtime fix for the first issue using Application Enhancer. If I have time (or assistance), I'll attempt to patch the other vulnerabilities, one a day, until the month is out.
That's a constructive response but we think we'll pass until Apple issues a fix. Look for a new bug to be listed for January 3rd. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[1/3] Software Special of the Day: Savvy Clipboard 2.1 (Universal) for 58% Off Today Only--$4.99
Savvy Clipboard is a handy tool that adds multiple Clipboard capability to Mac OS X. Do you often copy things and paste them to other locations? Would you like to retain what you copied before and be able to use those items again, or save them to disk? Savvy Clipboard will remember what you copied and store those data items for you.
[1/3] Faster 16Gb NAND Flash Memory Coming Soon from Samsung
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. announced that it is now sampling its 16Gb NAND flash memory with customers--the first NAND flash using a 50 nanometer (nm) process technology. The first samples of this high density NAND flash memory have a multi-level cell (MLC) design with a 4Kbyte (KB) page size to enhance both its read and write features. The new 4KB page function improves the conventional 2KB paging system for MLC NAND flash to double the read speed, while increasing write performance 150%.
Early market introduction of 16Gb and higher density NAND flash memories also is expected to accelerate the adoption of non-volatile memory applications such as flash-based solid state disks. Samsung plans to begin mass producing its 16Gb NAND flash memory in the first quarter of 2007. [Bill Fox]
[1/3] Micromat Announced TechTool Protogo, a Bootable Diagnostic Tool
Micromat, Inc., announced the pending release of a new product, TechTool Protogo. It is a Mac OS X application that lets a Macintosh user turn an old iPod, a flash drive or other similar device into a bootable diagnostic tool that contains several of Micromat's utilities. Users may also install other utilities if desired. This device can then be used to boot, check, maintain and repair Macintosh computers. TechTool Protogo allows a customer to create a tool similar to Micromat's TechTool Protege on a device they already own.
TechTool Protogo will begin shipping at Macworld Expo on January 9th, 2007. The suggested retail price will be $199.00 with an estimated street price of $135.00. An upgrade will be available as well to those who currently own TechTool Pro 4. The price seems relatively steep but we will check it out at Macworld next week and provide a hands-on report. [Bill Fox]
[1/3] Prosoft Announced Data Backup 3--To be Demoed at Macworld
Prosoft Engineering will introduce Data Backup 3, a major release for their award-winning backup software, at the upcoming Macworld San Francisco, January 9-12 in booth S637. They will be giving demonstrations of the new improved interface and its several added new features at the show. We will be sure to stop by their booth at Macworld and provide a hands-on report.
[1/3] CNet's Year in Review 2006--Apple
CNet posted a nice Year in Review 2006 summary covering many major happenings with Apple during the past year. Of course, you can read our archives as an alternative! [Dana Baggett]
[1/2] [Updated] Garmin's Macworld 2006 Promises of Mac Compatibility Fall Short, Way Short
At last year's Macworld 2006 we were surprised to see a fairly large presence by Garmin, the maker of GPS navigation and fitness training units. Garmin has been steadfastly Windows-only forever. We've always had to use Virtual PC with our Garmin Street Pilots and eTrex Vista GPS navigation systems to install firmware and map updates. But Garmin issued a press release on January 10, 2006, declaring Mac compatibility would start immediately and be finished by the end of 2006.
Several Garmin representatives we spoke to at Macworld 2006 confirmed this move to Mac compatibility. So we then heralded Garmin's move in our Macworld 2006 show floor report and lauded them for finally doing the right thing.
Fast forward to the start of 2007 and we find that Garmin's blog reported on December 29th that they plan to have Mac-compatible Garmin Training Center software available at Macworld 2007 or one can download it in late January 2007--huh? That was in the "immediately" part of their January 10, 2006, press release with a target release of spring 2006:
"Beginning in spring 2006 [emphasis added], Garmin will offer a Mac version of its popular Training Center software. Used with Garmin’s line of Forerunner and Edge series of fitness products, the Training Center software lets users plan and analyze workouts. Fitness enthusiasts can create their own workouts or use workout templates that can be downloaded into the unit for any level of personal training. The software also offers interactive analysis tools that will now allow Mac users to chart their performance information like speed, heart rate, cadence, elevation, and pace."
The GTC software for the Mac is some 9 months late.
What about their MotionBased Web application? Garmin's January 2006 press release stated:
"Also in spring 2006 [emphasis added], Garmin will make the www.MotionBased.com upload interface Mac compatible. MotionBased.com translates GPS data into performance analysis, online mapping, and route sharing for endurance and outdoor athletes."
At this time, the MotionBased web application will only run on a Windows PC with the following software requirements:
- Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
- Internet Browser (supported)
- Adobe SVG Viewer
We plan to fully support the Mac operating system by the end of 2006.
Well, fully Mac-compatible MotionBased software will not be out even at the end of 2006. Apparently, MotionBased Mac compatibility is still planned according to Garmin's wiki but for mid-2007 to early Q4 of 2007, a delay of at least 15 months.
[Update: Reader Rainer J. pointed out that Garmin released the Mac-compatible MotionBased Web Agent, a Safari plugin, back in March but it is just one of several MotionBased applications that is Mac compatible. Rainer wrote that he has been using MotionBased Web Agent for months.]
Finally, what about MapSource and Garmin's navigational GPS hardware? Garmin's January 2006 press release stated:
"By the end of 2006 [emphasis added], Garmin intends to have made all its popular hardware and software applications Mac OS X compatible. This includes the ability to load MapSource map data to Garmin units via a Mac, as well as waypoint and trip planning applications. Additionally, the Garmin nRoute application will allow Powerbook and iBook users to turn their laptop into a powerful street navigation tool with Garmin’s GPS 10 or GPS 18 sensors."
This is what we were waiting for but a search of the MapSource FAQs for "Mac compatibility," "Macintosh," "Apple" or just "Mac" produced no results.
The MapSource specifications PDF states that to run it one needs a Pentium processor and Windows 98, NT 4.0, 2000, XP or ME. Mac OS X is not even mentioned.
"While our MapSource products don't support Macs at this time, we have provided the tutorial in both Mac and PC formats."
Okay, they are not very late yet on MapSource and the Mac OS X compatible tutorial is somewhat helpful. But given the long delays in the other Garmin software, we are not optimistic on MapSource.
Finally, the specifications for Garmin's latest GPS navigation product, the Nuvi 660, doesn't mention Mac compatibility or Windows either for that matter except to note that it is not compatible with Windows 95, 98 or ME.
Hopefully, we'll find out next week from Garmin representatives what's in store for MapSource and why there have been such long delays in releasing Mac-compatible software. [Bill Fox]
[1/2] Brief Hands-On Report--Parallels released Desktop for Mac 2.5 Beta 3 (Build 3106)
Late Friday, Parallels released Desktop for Mac 2.5 Beta 3 (Build 3106). It can be downloaded via MacUpdate.com. The currently shipping stable version is still 2.0 (Build 1970).
The list of features/fixes appears to be the same as for Builds 3036 and 3094. As main new features, the version 2.5 betas have USB 2.0 support, CD/DVD burning, coherence mode, Boot Camp support, true drag and drop between Windows and Mac OS X and a new interface.
We downloaded a copy of v2.5 Beta 3 (Build 3106). This time we ran the Uninstaller to remove Beta 2 (Build 3094) and then ran the installer for Beta 3. The we successively launched Windows XP and Vista RC1 and installed the new version of Parallels Tools, clicking through a number of alert boxes regarding the drivers and restarted. We updated both OS's and installed iTunes and QuickTime on our Windows Vista virtual machine. We encountered no problems.
Unfortunately, our iPod attached to our MacBook Pro C2D is still not recognized in Widows XP or Vista, at least not automatically. But this build of Desktop for Mac fixes the video issue that we had with Build 3094, i.e. a full screen slide to the right when shutting down a virtual machine. [Bill Fox]
[1/2] Software Special of the Day: Liberer 4.1b (Universal) for 33% Off Today Only--$4.99
Liberer is a huge helper for everyone wanting to maintain their computer. It has many features designed to cover all possible maintenance:
Library Related Features:
Icon-illustrated /Library and ~/Library browser with explanation what the folders are for.
Library Searcher finds files related to the searched text.
Font Browser for browsing your fonts, printing a list of them.
Extract music (iTunes), pictures (iPhoto) and movies (iTunes & iPhoto) from the iTunes and iPhoto libraries.
Backup stuff from your library.
Install stuff to your library with one click only!
Preferences Related Features:
Preferences Cleaner for finding old and empty preferences files.
Delete .DS_Store Files deletes all .DS_Store files in a selected folder.
[1/2] Don't Look Back Now, PowerPC to Seize Megahertz Lead
So IBM couldn't hit 3GHz with the PowerPC G5 CPU and Apple switched to Intel. How about 5GHz? Just after Apple drops IBM's CPU and adopts Intel's, the IBM PowerPC may well surge ahead of Intel in processor clock speed. The next generation IBM Power6 CPU is slated to run at 4-5GHz with those for the performance market exceeding 5GHz. They will consume less than 100 watts which is compatible with the high-end CPUs from Intel and AMD.
And then there is the Cell Broadband Engine processor made by IBM, Sony and Toshiba in collaboration. The CEB is slated to run at 6GHz.
Intel, along with AMD, have taken a different tack into multi-core processors with speeds around 3GHz. However, applications that do not take advantage of multiple processors generally, though not always, run faster on CPUs with higher GHz. Hopefully, more general applications and 3D games will take advantage of multi-core and multiple processors in 2007. More... [Bill Fox]
[1/2] Mac Pro and MacBook Pro win InfoWorld 2007 Technology of the Year Awards
"Apple's 64-bit Mac Pro workstation leverages Apple's in-house hardware and software engineering to create a system that stands well apart from the crowded Woodcrest field. Mac Pro is designed for expandability, long life, and quiet operation, and it's completely compatible with Apple's system management software."
"[Apple's] MacBook Pro is both elegant and powerful, thanks to a 2.66GHz 64-bit Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 3GB of RAM, an AMD/ATI X1600 GPU, dual-layer DVD burner, long-life battery, and plethora of ports. And with OS X Tiger, every iota of that power is focused on your work."
Well, they missed on the MacBook Pro's CPU speed--it's 2.33GHz max not 2.66GHz--but we certainly won't hold that against them. [Bill Fox]
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