September 2007 News Archive

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Copyright 2007 by Bill Fox All rights reserved.
Last Updated: September 30, 2007

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[9/29] AppleExpo07-1Hands-On Report 2--Apple Expo 2007 Paris: Apple means Business (w/Photos)

Note: The following report with photos is the final in a series of two reports (Report 1 is here) provided exclusively to Macs Only! by Thierry Lorthioir of Sparemac. Thierry is attending Apple Expo 2007 in Paris, one of our most favorite cities.

Apple Expo Paris 2007--Show Floor Part 2

Epson introduced a new printer, the D120 (above), targeted for business with claimed speeds of 37ppm for B&W and 20ppm for color.

Also new are the MultiFunction Dx7450 and Dx8450 (above). The 8650 features a 2.5 LCD and prints at 32ppm or a letter size full-bleed photo in 26 sec.

The V500 (above) is Epson's latest consumer scanner with a basic 6400DPI resolution and USB2.

Also new in the business printer line is the Aculaser CX21NF, a heavy duty network printer with details yet to be released.

Hewlett-Packard launched nine new cameras with prices from 79 to 299 Euros--HP Photosmart E337, E427, M447 qui M547, M637, HP Photosmart M737, HP Photosmart Mz67, HP Photosmart R742, HP Photosmart R847 and HP Photosmart R937.

The least expensive has 5 megapixels at about $100 while the top of the line R937 (pictured above) features a large touch screen reminiscent of the iPod touch and a Fuji 3X zoom in an ultra flat footprint. All HP Cameras come with 90 days of phone support.

Also of note are new compact photo printers at very competitive prices starting at $120 like the HP Photosmart A526 (above).

The HP Photosmart A626 (above left) and A826 (above right) come with a touchscreen and a stylus allowing customization of photos on the fly. You can write directly on your photos before printing them. HP claims 200 modes of customization. For the A826, HP Claims "Lab Quality" and a drawer that can accept 100 pages of photo paper. HP emphasize the portability of these printers and offers custom carrying bags.

HP also introduced letter size office photo printers with HP Photosmart D7260 and HP Photosmart D7460 (above). The latter includes both WI-FI and Bluetooth and allows printing from a cell phone.

At the Apple Business Innovation Pavilion a number of new solutions were introduced including 4D v11 SQL featuring over 100 new enhancements and the versatile 8 Sens, a POS application available in French and Spanish but easily adapted to English via a text module.

Aquafadas, known for its iDive digital Media Management software, introduced three new products: the VideoPier, BannerZest and PulpMotion PRO. Watch MacsOnly! for details coming soon.

Atempo, a leading data protection and archiving software company demonstrated the latest version of Time Navigator for Mac OS X.

Balao and Agena offers aquatic photography and outdoor/indoor panoramic photography for creative publishing /advertising all edited on the Mac.

The Swiss company Ewo.SA showed their latest iPod remote solution (above).

eXcinder creates cocoa base multimedia software for pros and consumers in the fields of morphing, special effects and 3D. They demonstrated Morph Age (an application for morphing/warping images and movies on Mac OS X, such as faces, and save the result to a Quick Time movie) and the impressive Magnet to customize your digital movies with a wide variety of effects.

Mark/Space, Inc. showed a demo of their new MissingSync for Symbian and introduced their new MissingSync for iPhone.

Resources SI provides a very popular booking software used widely in Museums, Parks, theater etc. It's currently available in French so we can't wait for an English version.

SmartCom showcased its new mobility and wireless connection solution WellPhone Mac. For all people, like this reporter, who often use their phone as a broadband modem on a roaming network while traveling in a car or a train, keeping up with the different scripts for each phone and network is real difficult, an understatement. For them, Wellphone identifies the phone and its network from the computer via Bluetooth and with Bonjour zero configuration. Wellphone definitely deserves an award for Best of Show.
This gem stores all phone profiles as well as over 200 network configurations. The developer claims worldwide use with a US release coming in early 2008. [Thierry Lorthioir]

[9/28] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released iWeb Update 2.0.2

Apple released iWeb Update 2.0.2 and it is available for download via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,

This update to iWeb addresses issues with upgrading iWeb 1.x websites, and fixes some common publishing problems, and supports general compatibility issues.

Important Note: To install this update, you also need to install iLife Support 8.1 that we reported on yesterday.

We downloaded and installed the iWeb Update 2.0.2 on a MacBook Pro C2D (LED), an aluminum imac C2D and a white iMac C2D using Software Update. During brief use of iWeb, we encountered no difficulties. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[9/28] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released iWork '08 Updates

Apple released iWork '08 Updates and they are available for download via Software Update or as stand-alone files from these Apple Web pages:

We downloaded and installed them on a MacBook Pro C2D (LED) and an aluminum iMac C2D using Software Update. During brief use of each application we encountered no difficulties. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[9/28] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released Firmware Updates

Apple released Firmware Updates for Macs running Intel Core 2 Duo processors. However, the updates are apparently not for the latest aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo nor the latest MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo (LED).

If you need the firmware update, it should show up in Software Update. If not, you probably don't need it. But first check the list of Macs on this Apple Web page:

Firmware Restoration CD 1.4 - The Firmware Restoration CD can restore the firmware of an Intel-based Macintosh computer.

If it's listed, then make a restoration CD just in case something goes wrong.

Individual updaters can be downloaded as stand-alone files from these Apple Web pages:

  • iMac EFI Firmware Update 1.2 - This update improves the performance and reliability of Intel Core 2 Duo processors and fixes issues with Boot Camp for iMac computers.
  • Mac Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.2 - This EFI Firmware Update fixes several fan behavior and Boot Camp issues on Mac Pro computers.
  • MacBook EFI Firmware Update 1.1 - This update improves the performance and reliability of Intel Core 2 Duo processors and fixes issues with Boot Camp for MacBook computers.
  • MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.4 - This update improves the performance and reliability of Intel Core 2 Duo processors and fixes issues with Boot Camp for MacBook Pro computers.
  • Xserve EFI Firmware Update 1.0 - This update is recommended for all Xserve users and improves the performance and reliability of Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors.

We tried them on our aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo and MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo (LED) but the update said we did not need this firmware.

We downloaded and installed the firmware update 1.2 on a white iMac C2D via Software Update. During brief use of iMac, we encountered no difficulties. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[9/28] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple iPhone Software Update 1.1.1, Problems and a Fix

Apple released iPhone Software Update 1.1.1 after warning that iPhones using software or hardware changes not approved by Apple may have difficulties including becoming inoperable. Apple also noted that this issue would not be fixed under warranty. It would be smart to restore your your iPhone's software using v1.0.2 of the iPhone Software in iTunes if you have made any such changes, before you download and install the new version 1.1.1. We had problems and so have others. Fortunately, we found a simple fix to our problem.

iPhone Software Update 1.1.1 is obtained and installed via iTunes with your iPhone in its dock. The Update has many new features, including:

    1. iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store
    2. Louder speakerphone and receiver volume
    3. Home Button double-click shortcut to phone favorites or music controls
    4. Space bar double-tap shortcut to intelligently insert period and space
    5. Mail attachments are viewable in portrait and landscape
    6. Stocks and cities in Stocks and Weather can be re-ordered
    7. Apple Bluetooth headset battery status in the Status Bar
    8. Support for TV Out
    9. Preference to turn off EDGE/GPRS when roaming internationally
    10. New Passcode lock time intervals
    11. Adjustable alert volume

Apple's online iPhone manual had not been updated for these new features at publication time but there is a video that explains them on this Apple Web page. We point to #2, #7 and #9 as particularly welcome changes.

In addition, iPhone Software Update 1.1.1 provides security fixes. Here are the details:

Bluetooth--CVE-2007-3753--An attacker within Bluetooth range may be able to cause an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution

Mail--CVE-2007-3754--Checking email over untrusted networks may lead to
information disclosure via a man-in-the-middle attack

Mail--CVE-2007-3755--Following a telephone ("tel:") link in Mail will dial a
phone number without confirmation

Safari--CVE-2007-3756--Visiting a malicious website may lead to the disclosure of URL contents

Safari--CVE-2007-3757--Visiting a malicious website may lead to unintended dialing or dialing a different number than expected

Safari--CVE-2007-3758--Visiting a malicious website may lead to cross-site

Safari--CVE-2007-3759--Disabling JavaScript does not take effect until Safari is restarted

Safari--CVE-2007-3760--Visiting a malicious website may result in cross-site

Safari--CVE-2007-3761--Visiting a malicious website may result in cross-site

Safari--CVE-2007-4671--JavaScript on websites may access or manipulate the contents of documents served over HTTPS

We downloaded and installed iPhone Software Update 1.1.1 on our iPhone without first restoring it with the previous version 1.0.2 despite the warnings from Apple. This proved to be a mistake because we had added custom ringtones via iToner 1.0.2 from Ambrosia Software, at least we think this could have been the source of our problems.

When we checked to see if our iToner-added custom ringtones were still there, they were no longer on the ringtones list. However, our main ringtone and those of our contacts that we had assigned custom ringtones to still listed the custom name. And, indeed the main ringtone that played when we called our iPhone was the custom one.

Then, we noticed that our Apple Bluetooth Headset no longer paired with our iPhone when we turned it on. We deleted it from the paired list but could not pair it again. No matter what we did we could not get it to pair or work. The Bluetooth icon would not light or turn blue and the new headset battery indicator did not show up next to the iPhone battery indicator.

So, we bit the bullet and clicked the Restore button in iTunes and restored iPhone Software Update 1.1.1. Then, we had to reinstall all of our music, videos, contacts and iCal entries. When done, our headset paired and its battery icon appeared when the headset was turned on. Of course, there was no sign of our custom ringtones.

It is possible that we just had a hiccup during installation of the software update and needed to restore anyway. But, we think it could be because we had the custom ringtones installed by iToner 1.0.2. We are going to wait until Ambrosia posts a note or a new version before trying it again.

Our recommendation is that if you have installed anything non-Apple on your iPhone, it may be wise to run Restore before installing iPhone Software Update 1.1.1. [Bill Fox]


[9/27] Hands-On Report 1--Apple Expo 2007 Paris: Apple means Business (w/Photos)AppleExpo07-1

Note: The following report with photos is the first in a series of two reports provided exclusively to Macs Only! by Thierry Lorthioir of Sparemac. Thierry is attending Apple Expo 2007 in Paris, one of our most favorite cities.

No glamorous announcements from Apple at Apple Expo 2007 in Paris but a well-structured show greeted Mac fans who came early and lined up in front of the exhibition hall. Nearly half of the floor is taken up by Apple with distinct sections that include: Music , Education, Games, Graphics, Developers and Business.

At the center of the show is a large demo theater lined on each side with counters showcasing Apple products. Another theater is near the developer/business area and a third is in the education section. While past shows often favored only certain areas, the message is clear this time that regardless our your area of interest there is an Apple solution.

The developer and business areas exemplify this best as you will find solutions for independent medical practices, full-fledged clinics, dentists, X-ray techs, booking agents and hotels. A record amount of business management software including client management and point of sale applications are being displayed.

Bose introduced a new set of computer speakers with built in volume adjustment and impressive sound.

Bose also showed a new speaker dock station with lithium ion battery and a base that rotates out of sight when not in use. It's available in black or white.

Three car manufacturers participated. Audi was most visible with its famous R8 in the VIP lounge, the A5 coupe and the new A3 4 door sportback. Along with the iPod Ready feature came some Audi branded iPod accessories such as this soft leather case.

Microsoft provided an exact date for its release of Office for Mac 2008--January 15, 2008, as we noted previously in detail on Tuesday.

Wacom showcased its Bamboo line of tablets starting at 49 Euros and a new extra-large Intuos 3 Special Edition to celebrate its 25th year.

Ovolab released Geophoto, software that associates photos with their geographical locations and an updated version of their phone management software (Phlink v.3.4) which "provides better integration with iChat, by adding a buddy availability column to the call log, and improves voicemail retrieval over the phone."

Miglia introduced 2 new TV tuner/decoders and their own software which allows a lower price point. TVMini Express DV3 (HD for US) provides a simple solution to get digital TV on your Mac via a USB port and now starts at 79 euros.

elgato showed EyeTV Diversity, a USB tuner supporting two input sources at the the the same time, one digital (TNT or HD) and one analog.

Griffin introduced " iTrip Auto with SmartScan" an iPod FM transmitter that automatically finds the best three FM channels on your radio. The Nashville outfit also showcased its complete line of products including new iPhone cases and accessories.

Belkin presented new iPod "Powerdocks," iPhones cases; a mouse that can be hand-washed under tap water; TuneStudio (above), a personal Four-channel digital mixer for iPod;

and three new USB Hubs including the Flex Hub (2-way flex connector; rotates 180 degrees), Clip-On Hub (Grips to the edge of a surface or a bundle of cables), 2-in-1 Hub (above) with four ports that detach from the base to act as a travel hub while the 3-port base/tray stays on your desk.

Belkin also introduced a number of new cases for the new line of iPods. Among them we note the Sport armband for iPod nano and the Remix acrylic case for iPod touch. Also on display are a new series of sleeves and bags for the full range of portable Macs as well as a mouse sleeve "the Mouse Trap." Of note is a new set of laptop cushions, Belkin CushTop and PocketTop, that make it more comfortable to use your laptop anywhere in your home" .

New SQL-based communication software for small/medium business, BillJobs, emphasizes stability and versatility. Supporting both Windows and Mac, currently only in French with the possible release of an English version in 2008.

Seefile from Boston picked Apple Expo Paris to introduce is media software that can transform any Mac into a media server.

Also of note is a new version of EasyDraw. This versatile OS X drawing tool also imports and edit Claris Draw, Mac Draw II and Mac Draw Pro drawing files.

Back to hardware, Iomega announced a new line of Mac hard drives as we previously noted in detail on Tuesday.

Stay tuned for our final report directly from Apple Expo 2007 in Paris. [Thierry Lorthioir]

[9/27] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple iLife '08 Updates

Apple released five updates for its iLife '08 applications. They are available via Software Update if one has iLife '08 installed. They are also available as stand-alone updaters from the Apple Web pages linked below. If one uses the stand-alone updaters, iLife Support 8.1 should be installed first as noted by Apple in the following note that accompanies the individual application updates:

In order to install this update you will need to download the iLife Support 8.1 update first. The iLife update supports system software components used by all iLife application(sic), improves overall stability, addresses a number of other minor issues and supports general compatibility issues.

Here are the stand-alone updates:

iLife Support 8.1--This update supports system software components shared by all iLife ’08 applications, improves overall stability, addresses a number of other minor issues, and supports general compatibility issues. It is recommended for all users of iLife ’08.

GarageBand Update 4.1--This update addresses isolated graphic display issues, compatibility with 3rd party audio software, fixes minor problems with Magic GarageBand, and supports general compatibility issues.

iDVD Update 7.0.1--This update improves overall stability, supports general compatibility issues, and addresses a number of other minor issues.

iMovie Update 7.1--This update addresses several areas including video and audio editing capabilities, and performance associated with opening and switching iMovie Events and Projects. This update also supports general compatibility issues, improves overall stability, and addresses a number of other minor issues.

iMovie 7.1 features include:

  • Multiple Clip Selection--Select multiple clips in order to assign keywords, paste adjustments or reorganize clips in your project faster than ever.
  • Fine Tuning--Quickly refine the start or end frame for any clip without leaving the Project view.
  • Still Frame Creation--Freeze the action for creating a dramatic ending or applying the "Ken Burns" effect on any frame of your video clip.
  • Frame-by-Frame trimming--Adjust each clip to the perfect start or end frame using frame-by-frame precision trimming.
  • Audio Ducking level control--Dip music tracks and background tracks to the perfect level as voice over or other audio comes in and out of your movie.
  • Manual Audio Fades--Make smoother sounding audio transitions by manually adjusting the fade duration.
  • Performance Improvements--Enjoy you video more quickly by switching between any of your Events.
  • Set Duration for Transitions and Stills--Change the duration of photos or length of your transitions without accessing Preferences.
  • Show Current Playhead Time--Get duration or timing information at a glance as you skim through your Events or movie.

iPhoto Update 7.1--This update addresses issues encountered when moving photos between Events, plus new greeting card themes, including holiday card designs. It also supports general compatibility issues, improves overall stability, and addresses a number of other minor issues.

We downloaded and installed all five updates via Software Update on several Macs, including a MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo (LED), aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo and white iMac Core 2 Duo. No problems were encountered during installation no with brief use of each updated application. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]


[9/26] Adobe sets Approximate Delivery Date for Next Mac Version of Photoshop Elements

Earlier this week, Adobe released Photoshop Elements 6.0 (and Premiere Elements 4.0) for Windows while the Mac version of Photoshop Elements languishes at 4.0, a version that must run in Rosetta emulation on Intel-based Macs. Photoshop Elements is Adobe's consumer version of Photoshop for digital image editing. We have been anticipating the next Mac version of Photoshop Elements because it is our primary image editing tool and we would like to run it natively on our MacBook Pro.

Enclosed with Adobe's announcement was a note about the next Mac version,

"...we just issued press releases about our consumer digital imaging and digital video products. These are updates to our Windows versions of Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements. Currently, our Photoshop Elements Windows and Mac versions are on different product development tracks. Photoshop Elements for the Mac customers continue to be very important to us and we want to bring them the best solutions possible for their platform. A Mac version of Photoshop Elements is expected in early 2008."

So the good news is that there will be a new Mac version and it will arrive early in 2008. [Bill Fox]

[9/26] Apple films Documentary on Technology in Education

apple/samsApple has chosen four schools across the nation to be the subjects in a film documentary on technology in education. Last week, Apple filmed at Skowhegan Area Middle School (right) in Skowhegan, Maine, the home town of the late Sen. Margaret Chase Smith.

Since the teachers at Skowhegan Area Middle School have long been at the forefront of integrating technology in the classroom and the State of Maine has chosen Apple iBooks and MacBooks as the hardware for the now famous Maine Learning Technology Initiative, it is only fitting that Apple chose that school to be one of four for the documentary project.

Apple's film crew toured the school. Then, they filmed two teachers and two students while they worked at school, at home, and at different places in the community.

According to Macs Only!'s sources,

"The Skowhegan Area Middle School has a long tradition of involving students in community-based history projects. In recent years they have worked in partnership with the Maine Historical Society and their local historical society as students learned more about local history and they've created web pages and movies to share what they've learned. This year they are entering a new phase of their work which will involve the Skowhegan Area High School."

Through the Department of Education's Maine Learning Technology Initiative, the state bought over 30,000 iBooks for all of the state's seventh and eighth graders and their teachers plus support and AirPort networking from Apple as first reported on Macs Only! four years ago. This year the initiative was extended to all teachers and administrators in the state's high schools, again as first reported by Macs Only! [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox--Image courtesy of MLTI]

[9/26] NVIDIA's New Outstanding Motherboard GPU Coming to Macs?

We certainly hope so since NVIDIA has just extended its family of GeForce 7-Series motherboard graphics processing units (mGPUs) to Intel processor-based computers. Perhaps, the NVIDIA mGPUs will find their way into upcoming updates to the MacBook and Mac mini that are saddled with Intel's rather pedestrian GMA 950 integrated graphics.

"Integrated graphics are no longer 'good enough' for mainstream applications," said Drew Henry, general manager of MCP business at NVIDIA. "We are ecstatic that our customers will now be able to harness the power of NVIDIA graphics and application compatibility and have an exceptional [computing] experience no matter what their price budget or intended application usage is."

According to NVIDIA, the GeForce 7150 mGPU delivers the performance of an entry-level discrete GPU and leading graphics compatibility when compared against traditional integrated graphics solutions. The GeForce 7150, 7100, and 7050 mGPUs are designed to support a full range of Intel CPUs (Core 2 Duo and upcoming 45nm Intel "Penryn") processors and other new features, such as 1333MHz frontside bus technology. The GeForce 7-Series mGPUs also support optional HDMI or DVI digital output capability to enable the playback of protected digital content directly to high-definition televisions and other displays.

"The use of powerful graphics is not limited to just games anymore. Many of today's most popular business and consumer applications, including Adobe Acrobat...and Apple iTunes are optimized for the power of a modern GPU," said Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research.

A video on the NVIDIA GeForce 7 Series mGPU versus "the competition" (read Intel Integrated Graphics) running Adobe Reader 8, Google Earth, Call of Duty 2 and Sims 2 is available on this NVIDIA Web page (free Flip4Mac WMV Player for QuickTime needed). NVIDIA's GeForce 7 Series mGPU looks outstanding! [Bill Fox]

[9/25] Apple Expo 2007 Paris--Iomega introduced New Mac Hard Drives (Photos)

UltraMaxIomega is making a big play for Mac users with its dramatically expanded line of external storage products for the Mac community that was unveiled today at the annual Apple Expo trade show in Paris.

Those who visit the Iomega booth at Apple Expo 2007 in Paris from today through Saturday will see demonstrations of Iomega's new and existing single- and dual-drive products for Mac users in capacities of up to 1.5TB. With Mac-friendly features like the HFS+ file system, elegant designs, and an array of leading-edge interfaces to choose from, the new Iomega UltraMax and UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive models represent Iomega's biggest advance to date in external storage for the Mac user.UltraMax-S

"Our new lineup of external storage products on display at Apple Expo strike just the right balance between ease-of-use and functionality and attractive Mac-friendly designs that look great on the desktop," said Romain Cholat, vice president of international sales for Iomega Corporation.

The new hard drive line includes:

  • the dual-drive RAID 1.5TB UltraMax Pro with four ports in a triple interface (2-FW800, 1-FW400, 1-USB2) for $599.95--now;
  • the dual-drive RAID 1.5TB UltraMax Pro with a dual interface (eSATA and USB2) for for $599.95--now;
  • the single-drive UltraMax with five ports in a quad interface (1-eSATA, 2-FW800, 1-FW400, 1-USB2) and two sizes of 750GB for $319.95 and 500GB for $219.95--both October; MiniMax
  • the single-drive 500GB UltraMax with a dual interface (1-FW400, 1-USB2) for $189.95--October;
  • the 750GB MiniMax with six ports in two interfaces (3-FW400, 3-USB2) and the 500GB MiniMax with three ports and a single interface (3-USB2) for $179.95--now;
  • the eGo portable with a dual interface (FW400, USB2) in 160GB ($159.95--now) and 250GB capacities--Late Q4; and eGo
  • the eGo portable with USB2 interface and 250GB capacity for $259.95--now.

Iomega's drives come with cables for each interface.

Some of the drives are available today while others will be available in October. One drive, the dual interface 250GB eGo portable, will be available late in the fourth quarter of 2007. [Bill Fox]

[9/25] Apple Expo 2007 Paris--Microsoft revealed Office 2008 for Mac Details

Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU) today announced its product lineup for the upcoming Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac release at Apple Expo 2007 in Paris. Office 2008 for Mac, is the core suite that includes Word 2008, Excel 2008, PowerPoint 2008 and Entourage 2008. A new combination for Mac users is Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition which features the Office 2008 applications together with the Microsoft Expression Media digital asset management system. Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition is geared toward professional users who need Microsoft Exchange Server support and Automator tools and are looking for one product to meet their productivity and digital asset management needs. Completing the product lineup is Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition, a specially priced version for users with basic productivity needs.

All versions of Office 2008 for Mac support the new Open XML file format and are Universal applications that will perform natively on Power PC- and Intel-based Macs. Each version will be available in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Swedish, and, for the first time, in the Nordic languages (Danish, Finnish and Norwegian).

As showcased at Macworld Expo 2007, Office 2008 for Mac is designed to help users get more from their Macs by making key functions accessible through a more intuitive design and by introducing smart features such as Ledger Sheets in Excel 2008, My Day with Entourage 2008, Publishing Layout View in Word 2008 and SmartArt graphics in PowerPoint 2008 that are simple to use and yield powerful results. Entourage 2008 also features improved Windows Exchange Server support, with enhanced reliability and functionality.

The Mac BU will offer two versions in addition to Office 2008 for Mac that meet distinct user needs:

  • Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition features the complete Office 2008 for Mac productivity suite specially packaged with a full version of Microsoft Expression Media for Mac to empower the media-savvy Mac user with smart digital asset management tools. Expression Media is a powerful and customizable image management software application for importing, annotating, organizing, archiving, searching and distributing users' ever growing collections of digital files.
  • Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition provides the basics of Office 2008 for Mac for home and school users. This version includes three user licenses for use by consumers and students but does not include connectivity to Microsoft Exchange Server or support for automated workflows.

Pricing will be as follows:

  • Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, $399.95 for the full retail version; $239.95 for the upgrade version
  • Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Home and Student Edition, $149.95 for the full retail version
  • Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition, $499.95 for the full retail version; $299.95 for the upgrade version

Today also marks the start of the technology guarantee program that allows customers in select regions who purchase qualifying Office 2004 for Mac product(s) to upgrade to a version of Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac for only the cost of shipping, handling and applicable taxes. More information about the program specifics in various regions is available at local Office for Mac Web sites.

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac will be available in the United States beginning Jan. 15, 2008, with global general availability in the first quarter of 2008. [Bill Fox]

[9/25] Brief Hands-On Report--MacBook, MacBook Pro Software Update 1.0 plus Additional Instructions

Apple released the MacBook, MacBook Pro Software Update 1.0 and it is available via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to the Read Me file,

This update enables file system journaling on MacBook and MacBook Pro notebook computers. Some MacBook and MacBook Pro systems were shipped with file system journaling turned off. Journaling is recommended on all Mac computers as a preventative measure against file corruption.

The MacBook, MacBook Pro Software Update 1.0 supports the following products:

  • MacBook (13-inch Mid 2007)
  • MacBook Pro (2.4/2.2GHz Mid 2007)

and requires Mac OS X 10.4.10. Apple's note requires one to follow explicitly these steps following installation of the update:

  1. Insert the Mac OS X Install disc that came with your computer then restart the computer while holding the "C" key.
  2. When your computer finishes starting up from the disc, choose Disk Utility from the Installer menu. (You must select your language first.)
    Important: Do not click Continue in the first screen of the Installer. If you do, you must restart from the disc again to access Disk Utility.
  3. Click the First Aid tab.
  4. Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the hard drive icon to display the names of your hard disk volumes and partitions.
  5. Select your internal hard disk drive volume. This is usually Macintosh HD but your internal hard disk drive may have a different name.
  6. Click Repair.

We downloaded the update via Software Update and installed it on our 15" 2.4GHz MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo (LED). Then we followed Apple's directions with some modifications:

  • Step 2. Disk Utility is found under the "Utilities" menu.
  • Step 3. We had to choose our internal startup hard disk volume (Step 5) before the "First Aid" tab appeared.
  • Step 4. There was no triangle.
  • Step 5. This had to be performed before Step 3.

After we performed the the repair, our disk was fine and needed no repairs. Perhaps, this was because we repair our hard drives routinely. Then we performed the following steps:

  • Step 7. (New) Quit Disk Utility.
  • Step 8. (New) Choose "Startup Disk" under the Utilities menu, check to see that the internal hard drive is selected and click the Restart button.

After several hours use, no issues cropped up. [Bill Fox]

[9/24] Apple Expo 2007 begins Tomorrow in Paris--Watch for our Reports

Thierry Lorthioir of Sparemac will be attending Apple Expo 2007 in Paris this week and reporting for Macs Only! So, stay tuned for Macs Only! exclusive reports later this week after Thierry has had a good chance to see most things at least once. [Bill Fox]

[9/24] Macworld 2008 Registration Opened with Special Deals

Macworld is the coolest technology conference, of course, because it features all things Mac, not just from Apple but also from 100's of vendors of third party products for Apple's products. Macworld 2008 will happen January 14-18 in San Francisco's Moscone Center. Learn from some of the most successful leaders in the industry and discover what's possible with the latest technology and tools. Registration is now open with special deals.

Conference Registration Special Offer--Register by December 14, 2007 with Priority Code: 08-E-VF01 to take advantage of the following special savings:

  • Platinum Pass, a $4,227 value, for only $1,1695 - Now includes full access to Macworld Encore to download all sessions at home after the event
  • Early Bird Pricing on all Conference Programs, a savings of $100
  • Access to the Conference Attendee Networking Lounge

Exhibits Only Special Offers--Register by October 5, 2007 to take advantage of these exclusive savings with Priority Code: 08-E-VF01!

NEW! Exhibit Only Enhanced Pass for $20 (a $60 value). For just $20, you can upgrade your Exhibit Hall pass to an Enhanced Exhibit Hall Pass, which gives you exclusive access to the following benefits:

  • Attendee lounge featuring complimentary wireless access
  • Limited edition Macworld t-shirt
  • 10% off at the Macworld Store onsite
  • Meet and greet opportunities with featured speakers

Limited Offer: FREE Exhibit Hall Pass--Register for the Exhibit Hall pass by Friday, October 5th and it's FREE (a $45 value)! Don't miss out on your chance to test drive the latest products and services from the most innovative companies in the business! When registering, be sure to enter Priority Code: 08-E-VF01 to take advantage of this limited time offer.

To receive the complimentary Exhibit Only or discounted Exhibit Only Enhanced registration, you must have attended Macworld Conference & Expo within the past 3 years, and register for your Exhibit Hall Pass before October 5, 2007 to attend the upcoming January event. [Bill Fox]

[9/24] TransIntl shipping New Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.0TB SATA Hard Drive

Trans International is now shipping the newly-released 1.0 TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 SATA drive for $399.00.  

The Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 hard drive is a perfect combination of value and performance and the only second-generation perpendicular recording technology in the industry, the Barracuda 7200.11 drive offers the ideal balance of world-class technology and value, providing customers with an optimal overall solution. The capacity, reliability and performance of this drive, along with its 5-year limited warranty, ensure the longevity of digital content for years to come. [Bill Fox]

[9/24] WAPi September Meeting this Saturday--Sandvox and Dreamweaver Demos

Washington Apple Pi (WAPi), the metro Washington DC AMUG, will hold its September General Meeting on Saturday, September 29th beginning at 9:30 a.m.

This month's meeting is going to pick up where the July meeting ended. As you may recall, a capacity crowd was introduced to Web basics and how to publish to the Web using iWeb and Easy iWeb Publisher applications. We want to show you more!

Dick Rucker is going to demonstrate another Web publishing application called Sandvox. He swears by it and will show you why. Another Pi member, Mindy Nash, will lead a short presentation on the Mother-Of-All Web design apps, Dreamweaver. Prepared to be Wowed!

The full agenda will go something like this:

09:30 - 10:00 Questions & Answers - Lawrence Charters
10:00 - 10:20 Welcome, By-Laws vote – the Prez
10:20 - 11:00 Sandvox - Dick Rucker
11:00 - 11:20 Coffee Break with unConferences
11:20 - 12:00 Dreamweaver - Mindy Nash
12:00 - End Club items, Special Announcement (??) and Pi Dollars Raffle (3 prizes)

Meeting After the Meeting - lunch at Chevy's. [Bill Fox]

[9/24] WeSquare launched Internet-based Time Management Tool

WeSquare recently launched its online application for firms and individuals selling their expertise based on time. According to WeSquare, their service gives America's more than 25 million small businesses a secure, cost-effective and easy to use tool to facilitate delivering services and billing clients.

WeSquare's timer monitors the period during which a service is provided, calculates the fees, and automatically bills through PayPal. The service provider and client maintain equal control of the transaction, having agreed to terms and fees before starting the service. WeSquare works with services that are delivered by telephone or using instant message systems such as GoogleTalk, AIM, or Skype. The client or seller can stop the transaction at any time during the session, with no penalties.

"WeSquare is designed for companies and individuals selling services such as translation, tutoring, legal advice or even fortune telling," said WeSquare founder and CEO Kin-Tai Chan. "As the software is Web-based, anyone with a computer can utilize WeSquare’s services."

WeSquare has numerous advantages for buyers and sellers of timed services, including instant refunds and commission that is a one-time fee of 10 percent, with no Value Added Tax or additional charges. WeSquare requires no downloads, installations or software upgrades and works on Macs and PCs.

WeSquare is entirely secure; PayPal manages and facilitates all billing. WeSquare does not maintain any customer financial data to ensure user safety and data security. [Bill Fox]

[9/21] Brief Hands-On Report--iToner 1.0.2 is Out

Ambrosia Software released iToner 1.0.2. It is available for download and installation within the application ("Check for Updates" under the iToner menu) or as a stand-alone file from this Ambrosia Web page. According to the Read Me file, the changes to iToner 1.0.2 are:

-- More robust iTunes 7.4.x support
-- Fixes an issue where iTunes ringtones might not properly sync
-- Improved handling of playlists, again
-- GUI improvements
-- Other bug fixes and enhancements

iToner adds your custom ringtones to the iPhone very simply. We favorably reviewed iToner on September 4.

We updated iToner 1.0.1 to 1.0.2 within the application with no issues. We've had no problems with iToner 1.0.1 and none so far with v1.0.2. [Bill Fox]

[9/21] 1,000 Free PocketDock FW iPod Adapters from SendStation

SendStation Systems is giving away 1,000 of its PocketDock FW iPod adapters, which allow you to charge the iPod or iPhone using any standard 6-pin FireWire cable. Offer available while supplies last or until October 1, 2007, limited to one PocketDock per person.

SendStation Systems is also offering its PocketDock AV for a limited time 33% off, that's $24.75, compared to the regular USD 36.95. The ultra-compact, thumb-sized iPod adapter provides connections for USB, line out audio, as well a both composite and S-Video, allowing you to sync & charge, attach your iPod to your home stereo and output iPod videos in supreme quality on TVs or projectors. [Bill Fox]

[9/20] The :-) Emoticon turned 25 Yesterday

Professor Scott E. Fahlman of Carnegie Mellon University is credited with the invention of text-based emoticons some 25 years ago when the Internet was in its infancy. The first was the :-) smiley face emoticon to signal sarcasm or cynicism in a comment in order to prevent an inappropriate direct response, usually an off-base diatribe instead of amore appropriate ROFL or a more recent LMAO. More... [Dana Baggett]

[9/20] T-Mobile is Apple's iPhone Service Partner in Germany starting November 9

Apple's iPhone will also debut November 9 in Germany as well as in the UK. The 8GB iPhone will sell for $558 when converted from 399 euros, slightly more than the $537 converted from 269 UK pounds sterling.

Like O2 via Cloud in the UK, T-Mobile will provide free Wi-Fi access to iPhone owners at its 8600 hot spots in Germany. T-Mobile has 20,000 Wi-Fi hot spots world wide, including U.S. locations. We use T-Mobile at airports that do not provide free Wi-Fi access and most we visit don't.

T-Mobile will be the only German cell phone network to have EDGE throughout its GSM network. T-Mobile claims its EDGE network has a transfer rate of 220 Kbps, roughly 4X ISDN. Remember ISDN? It was the expensive and faster alternative to dial-up used by businesses before cable and DSL networks were available. No monthly service plan rates were posted with Apple's press release.

Apple's French partner may be divulged today. [Bill Fox]

[9/19] It's O2 Yes and 3G No for UK iPhone due out November 9

Apple announced that the UK subsidiary of Telefonica, O2, will provide service for Apple's iPhone in the UK and the iPhone will be available November 9. O2 claims to be the leading provider of mobile services to consumers and businesses in the UK.

The first European iPhone will be identical to the current U.S. 8GB version, ending speculation that it would be a "more advanced model" and work with faster, broadband cell phone networks labeled 3G. The UK iPhone will work with 2G EDGE technology supplied by O2 and Wi-Fi just like the U.S. model. It will sell for about $536 at yesterday's exchange rate, with most of the difference from the U.S. model ($137) being due to Britain's VAT (value added tax).

Activating the iPhone will be very similar, if not identical, to the U.S. process.

O2's service will differ significantly from AT&T's in that it will include unlimited Wi-Fi at 7,500 Cloud hotspots but otherwise it's very similar covering 200-1200 minutes, 200-500 text messages and unlimited data with visual voicemail. O2's monthly rates of $70 (200 min), $90 (600 min) and $110 (1200 min), are similar to the U.S. rates that do not include Wi-Fi but include more calling minutes.

We'd gladly give up 250 minutes for free Wi-Fi at, say, Starbucks. [Bill Fox]

[9/19] Brief Hands-On Report--Mozilla released Firefox

Mozilla updated their Firefox Web browser to v2.0.0.7. It's available within Firefox via "Check for Updates..." under the Help menu or as a stand-alone file from this Mozilla Web page.

Firefox is just a security update that fixes this issue:

MFSA 2007-28 Code execution via QuickTime Media-link files

We downloaded and installed v2.0.0.7 using "Check for Updates...", the quickest and easiest way to update Firefox. We used Firefox for several hours without encountering a problem. [Bill Fox]

[9/19] Apple Stores get Exclusive Ultra-Compact Laser Printers from Samsung

Samsung announced that its ultra-compact monochrome laser printer, the ML-1630, and multifunction printer, the SCX-4500, will be available exclusively at Apple Retail Stores nationwide and at the Apple Store online.

These two new printers are for consumers who value both style and functionality. The devices--which are two-thirds the size of traditional laser printers--feature high-glossy and seamless exteriors that create a truly ultra-minimalist design. The ML-1630 and the SCX-4500 include button-less touch-sensor panels that reduce the user interface. Plus audible alerts and blue LED scan-process indicators ensure that the devices are extremely user-friendly.

The Samsung ML-1630 and the SCX-4500 will be sold exclusively at Apple Retail Stores until they are widely released in January 2008. The MSRP is $299 for the SCX-4500 and $199 for the ML-1630. [Bill Fox]

[9/19] Alaska Airlines to test Satellite Wi-Fi Next Year

According to AP, Alaska Airlines announced that it will be the first U.S. airline to test satellite-based Wi-Fi on one flight this coming spring. If it works, the service may be added to all of its flights. The Wi-Fi service will be available for notebooks as well as smartphones.

Alaska Airlines will test Row 44 Inc.'s technology and no pricing was released. [Dana Baggett]

[9/19] Mozilla to spin off Thunderbird Email Client as Separate Company

According to Mitchell Baker's blog, an entry posted Monday stated that Mozilla will create a separate company funded with $3 million to pursue the development of Mozilla's stand-alone email client called Thunderbird.

"...Mozilla is launching a new effort to improve email and internet communications. We will increase our investment and focus on our current email client -- Thunderbird -- and on innovations in the email and communications areas. We are doing so by creating a new organization with this as its sole focus and committing resources to this organization. The new organization doesn't have a name yet, so I'll call it MailCo here. MailCo will be part of the Mozilla Foundation and will serve the public benefit mission of the Mozilla Foundation. (Technically, it will be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, just like the Mozilla Corporation.)"

Baker's blog also posted four goal for the new company:

  • Take care of Thunderbird users
  • Move Thunderbird forward to provide better, deeper email solutions
  • Create a better user experience for a range of Internet communications -- how does / should email work with IM, RSS, VoIP, SMS, site-specific email, etc?
  • Spark the types of community involvement and innovation that we've seen around web "browsing" and Firefox.

Baker is CEO of Mozilla.

We use Thunderbird as our general backup for Apple Mail and for one email account that uses a proprietary custom security certificate that Apple Mail does not work with. We like Thunderbird as an alternative to Apple Mail. [Bill Fox]

[9/19] GhostReader 1.1.1 is ready for Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard"

ConvenienceWare/AssistiveWare announced the release of GhostReader 1.1.1 text-to-speech software for Mac OS X. GhostReader 1.1.1 is Leopard-ready, now creates true bookmarkable audiobook files from text, offers better PDF import and enhanced performance on large documents. Through a partnership with Application Systems Heidelberg, a boxed version of GhostReader will be introduced next week at the Apple Expo in Paris and will be available shortly throughout Europe in Apple Stores and other retail channels.

GhostReader is a Universal Binary, multilingual speech solution for Mac OS X that allows users to listen to their Word, PDF, RTF and text documents with naturally sounding voices in a language of choice. It also allows users to create their own personal podcasts or audiobooks by exporting to iPhone and iPod-ready iTunes tracks. Or, users can just use GhostReader to speak selected text in a handy reader window with play, fast forward, rewind, skip sentence/paragraph and re-listen to sentence/paragraph functionality. In some applications, such as Safari, GhostReader enables users to listen to text by just pointing the cursor at the text. Sit back and relax while GhostReader reads for you!

GhostReader 1.1.1 new and improved features:

  • Now creates a true, bookmarkable audiobook file when exporting to iTunes 7 AAC format, ready to load onto an iPhone or iPod
  • Now Leopard-ready
  • Improved PDF import with smart-stripping of end-of-line hyphens
  • Improved performance when speaking long texts
  • Various other improvements and fixes

Pricing for GhostReader starts at 39.95 Euro/USD excluding VAT for a single-user monolingual version. [Bill Fox]

[9/18] Hands-On Report--Apple released iTunes 7.4.2

Apple released iTunes 7.4.2 and it is available for download via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to the Read Me file,

iTunes 7.4.2 addresses an issue with creating ringtones using iTunes Plus song purchases and includes bug fixes to improve stability and performance.

We downloaded and installed iTunes 7.4.2 via Software Update on a number of Macs: aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo, white iMac Core 2 Duo, MacBook Pro (LED), Power Mac G4 and PowerBook G4. No problems were encountered. Then, we sync'd our iPhone with a problem. Thankfully, our custom ringtones installed by iToner were not erased.

Finally, we briefly used iTunes to play some of our music, download some podcasts and check out music on the iTunes Store, all without encountering any issues. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[9/17] Hands-On Review--Morpheus Photo Animation Suite for Mac

morpheusIf you like to have fun with your digital photos, the new Morpheus Photo Animation Suite for the Mac may be just your cup of tea. Morpheus Photo Animation Suite, now in V3.0.1, was released last month and is a universal binary so it runs natively on Intel-based and PowerPC-based Macs. It was created by Morpheus Software and is distributed by SmithMicro Software.

The suite comes with three fun applications: Photo Morpher, Photo Warper and Photo Mixer. The three applications are merged as one in the Suite edition of this popular set of programs and one simply switches among them without having to open separate applications. Included are 15 sample morphs, warps and mixes.

Photo Morpher uses two photos. It starts with one photo and with animation morphs into the second one. We primarily used this application to check out how easy Morpheus Photo Animation Suite for the Mac is to set up and use.

Photo Warper uses one photo. It starts with the original photo and with animation morphs into a distorted version of the original that you have created. With this, one can easily make a person in a photo look slimmer or distorted in any way that you choose.

Photo Mixer is a compositing application. Using two photos, one can mix up or blend parts of the two photos into one composite photo.

Morpheus Photo Animation Studio allows one to email the result to someone or post it to the Morpheus Web site just by selecting from the Share menu. One can also save the result using Render Timeline under the File menu as an animated gif, Flash SWF, QuickTime movie or uncompressed .avi file for morphs or warps or as a .jpg, .png, .tiff or .bmp file for mixes. There are other file formats as well.


Morpheus Photo Animation Suite comes on a CD as a .pkg file. Just double-click on it and the standard Mac OS X installer opens to install Morpheus Photo Animation Suite in your Applications folder. Our copy installed without a hitch.

We launched the application and entered the software key located on the back of the CD jacket. We were presented with the Morpheus Photo Animation Suite wizard that asked us what we wanted to do so we selected create a new morph. Then a window popped up where we select the starting and ending digital image or photo. One slight knock is that one can not simply drag and drop the images, one has to use the picture button and navigate to the images on your hard drive.

After the two images were loaded, Morpheus Photo Animation Suite opens the user interface, displaying large images of the start and finish images side-by-side, a Preview window and a Wizard window listing the three simple steps with instructions to create the morph: Place Dots, Adjust Dots and Viewing Your Morph. We discovered that you really can't go wrong and once you get the hang of it, you can turn the wizard off.

First, you simply place dots on the starting image by choosing the Place Dots tool and clicking on places in the starting image. Dots are placed on and around the main features of the starting image and corresponding dots show up on the ending image. The more dots you place, the smoother will be the morph.

Second, you adjust the dots on the ending image by selecting the Move Dots tool so that they correspond to its main features. One can also zoom in/out and pan to place the dots precisely.

Third, you view the morph by clicking on the play button (green triangle) in the Preview window or by selecting Play in the Preview menu. You can go back an add more dots or adjust them as needed until you have a cool-looking and smooth morph.

We found Morpheus Animation Suite to be very easy to use and made a couple of quick morphs, saving one as an animated .gif (pirate flag to Macs Only!'s original logo) and another as a QuickTime movie (aluminum iMac to Macs Only!'s original logo) displayed below.


Don't take our quick attempts as examples of how good one can do with Morpheus Photo Animation Suite. Morpheus has many terrific examples on their Web site. We just wanted to determine how easy it is to make a morph using the application and, indeed, it is very simple.

As you get better at making morphs, warps and mixes, Morpheus Photo Animation Suite has options that give you much greater control over the animation for tweaks beyond the default values. We used the options to slow down the morphs above and the include a slight start and finish delay in the QuickTime movie example.

In Summary

Morpheus Photo Animation Suite is much easier to use than we had expected. It is really so simple to use that anyone should be able to have loads of fun with their digital images and photos. Morpheus Photo Animation Suite, while amazingly simple, is also quite powerful with a number of options for advanced users and professionals alike. It is also inexpensive at an SRP of $59.95 from Morpheus Software but SmithMicro is currently offering a $20 discount to $39.99. [Bill Fox]

[9/17] iMac Software Update 1.1--How Fast Is It?

On Friday, we noted that Apple had released iMac Software Update 1.1 for the new aluminum iMacs and that it contained new ATI Radeon X2000 graphics drivers. One of the things we noted in our review of the 24" 2.8GHz aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo, was that its OpenGL graphics performance, especially using the game Doom3, was not on par with its predecessor 24" 2.33GHz white iMac Core 2 Duo with CTO Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT graphics.

We speculated that the Open GL 3D game performance issue might be due to immature graphics drivers for the new iMac's ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO graphics. So, we re-ran several of our graphics speed tests to find out if the new drivers in the iMac Software Update 1.1 improved the game performance. Here are the results with iMac Software Update 1.1 installed are in the first column:

Speed Comparisons of 2.8 GHz Aluminum iMac C2D
Test 2.80GHz
Aluminum 24"
iMac C2D
Aluminum 24"
iMac C2D
White 24"
iMac C2D
w/ 1.1 Update
Cinebench 9.5 Rendering (2x)
-- OpenGL Hardware Lighting
Xbench 1.3
-- Quartz Graphics
-- OpenGL Graphics
-- User Interface Graphics
Doom 3 (frames/sec)

There are only two significant differences with and without the update. The main difference is that the framerate of Doom3 increased by 20 percent (128 vs 107) and the aluminum iMac tested on par with the framerate of the white iMac. The User Interface Graphics score in Xbench 1.3 dropped almost 13 percent but still is 15 percent higher than that of the previous iMac. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]

[9/15] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple posted iPhone $100 Store Credit Details

Apple posted the details on how to get a $100 store credit for iPhone early adopters. To qualify, you must have bought an iPhone (a 4GB or 8GB model is not specified) at full price, i.e. without a discount of any kind, before August 22, after which Apple's price protection policy applies. The price protection claim for $200 must be made at the exact place of purchase by September 19, after which you may still file for the $100 store credit.

The $100 store credit claim must be filed by November 30 or you will get nothing.

We followed the three steps listed on the store credit Web page and received the $100 store credit for our 8GB iPhone.

In step one, you enter your iPhone's 10-digit number and serial number. The latter is found under Settings->General->About. After doing this, you will get a text message with an access code. Our text message arrived within seconds of entering the serial number.

In Step 2, you enter the access code from the text message.

In Step 3, a store credit number and PIN number are displayed in Safari following Step 2. You can print out the credit number and PIN and make a screen shot of it using the shift-command-4 keys.

The $100 store credit can be used to purchase any Apple product from an Apple Store, retail or online, and it appears to be good forever until expended. [Bill Fox]

[9/15] Brief Hands-On Report--Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.2 and Camera Raw 4.2 Updates

Adobe posted Photoshop Lightroom 1.2 and Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in 4.2 updates. Both updates are available immediately for download (Lightroom 1.2 and Camera Raw 4.2).

Lightroom 1.2 and the new Camera Raw 4.2 plug-in support 14 additional digital cameras including the Canon EOS 40D; Fuji FinePix IS-1; Leaf Aptus 17, 54s and 75s; Olympus EVOLT E-510; Panasonic DMC-FZ18; Pentax K100D Super; Phase One P 20+, P 21+, P 25+, P 30+ and P 45+; and Sony A700. Both updates also include improved noise reduction for Bayer patterned sensors, providing better image detail at default noise reduction values.

We downloaded both updates and installed them with no problem. We don't any of the new cameras that the updates support but we encountered no problems with Lightroom 1.2 [Bill Fox]

[9/15] iFixit posted iPod touch Disassembly Guide

iFixit's disassembly of the iPod touch examines Apple's hardware design in detail, reveals their choice in component manufacturers, and clearly shows their elegant industrial design.

Some information from iFixit's disassembly revealed:

  • Apple made the display more easily removable than the iPhone, and
    attached it with Phillips screws instead of strong adhesive. This will
    significantly enhance the maintainability of the iPod Touch by
    reducing the cost of LCD repairs.
  • The new iPod's battery is 81% of the volume of the iPhone.
  • The iPod Touch has a Wolfson audio chip.
  • The multi-touch display uses glass, just like the iPhone.

iFixit plans to sell parts for the iPod touch, just as they sell parts
for iPods, iPhones, and Apple portables. This first look at Apple's
new iPod continues their commitment to enable anyone to disassemble and
repair their mobile devices. [Bill Fox]

[9/14] iPhone seen as Consumer Precursor to 95 million Ultra Mobile Device Market

A whole new class of "always-on" Internet-connected products, collectively termed "Ultra-Mobile Devices" (UMDs), will become popular over the next five years, according to a new report from ABI Research (Mobile Inernet Devices and UMPCs). By appealing to a wide range of buyers they will reach shipments of nearly 95 million units by 2012, and should prove extremely profitable for their makers.

"UMDs are a very exciting, potentially very lucrative area," says ABI Research vice president Stan Schatt. "What makes this market so intriguing is that products will assume so many different forms. That product differentiation will be an integral part of the ultra mobile device marketing plan."

UMDs are of two types, Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), which target consumers, and Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs), which run Windows and business applications and are aimed at business users. The former, with their lower prices and wider appeal, will make up by far the majority of the devices shipped. Apple's iPhone may be seen as a precursor of the MID. Both UMPCs and MIDs will feature multiple wireless connectivity technologies – Wi-Fi, WiMAX, and cellular – to maintain "any time, anywhere" Internet connectivity.

This diversity is also reflected in the range of applications that will be offered: Web browsing, music, navigation, voice, and data communications including email and IM, photo/video, and vertical commercial applications will all be popular. Apple's iPhone has applications in all of these categories.

ABI Research identified several user-types who will find varying combinations of these applications appealing. These include "Frugal Generalists", "Lifestyle Boomers", "Soccer Moms", "Gen Y Social Networkers", and "Multimedia Enthusiasts." ABI Research also believes the ultra mobile device ecosystem will ultimately contain hundreds of vendors – chipmakers, display and device manufacturers, application developers and service providers – and the new report offers strategic recommendations for all of them. But maybe not, if Apple can help it.

Apple has a real head start with the iPhone and the iPod touch. We may now be seeing the real reason for the iPhone's early price drop to $399, i.e. an all-out attempt to make the iPhone (and iPod touch) in the consumer end of the 95-million UMD market what the iPod is in the music player market rather than a reaction to flagging initial sales as we surmised from the iSuppli sales reports. Of course, it is also consistent Apple's official statements on the price drop. This may also mean that we will see more rapidly the iPhone 2.0 as Apple fights to dominate the UMD consumer market.

Apple has already scheduled a press event in the UK for next Tuesday with an invitation inscribed with "Mum is no longer the word." according to Macworld. The big question is whether the initial European iPhone will support 3G cell phone network technology which is much faster than the 2G EDGE network technology used in the U.S. model. Unless there have been some significant advances in battery technology or power efficiency, we would suspect not. As we have stated before, EDGE is perfectly good for all iPhone services except for extensive Web surfing and the iPhone's W-Fi is best for that. If battery life is to be sacrificed at all, we'd much prefer to see GPS technology incorporated in the iPhone. But it is best that battery life not be sacrificed at all. [Bill Fox]

[9/14] [Updated]Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released iMac Software Update 1.1 for Aluminum iMacs

Apple released iMac Software Update 1.1 Thursday night and it is available for download via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to the Read Me file,

This update provides important bug fixes and is recommended for 20-inch and 24-inch iMac models with 2.0, 2.4, or 2.8GHz processors.

We downloaded and installed it. Bluetooth is currently turned off and after the restart our aluminum iMac kept searching for Bluetooth devices. Another restart fixed that. We note that many of the new files are ATI Radeon X2000 drivers so we'll check to see if they sped up the graphics any. [Update: added "Hands-On" results.] [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[9/14] NFL Game Day and Team Season Passes for 2007-2008 added to iTunes Store

With the National Football League 2007-2008 season under way, Apple has added NFL features to its iTunes Store again this year. You can buy NFL Follow Your Team, individual games ($1.99 per game or $24.99 for the season) or NFL Game Day, a summary of the week's games ($1.99 per week or $24.99 for the season). [Bill Fox]

[9/13] Apple released Logic Express 8 for $199

Along with the professional Logic Studio with Logic Pro 8 noted below, Apple released its prosumer audio software, Logic Express 8.

The new areas in version 8 are: single-window design; multitake recording is easier; there are new tools like snap-to-transient selection, graphical time stretching and sample-accurate editing in the Arrange window; new instruments like Ultrabeat, ES2, and the complete EXS24 Sampler; setup is simplified with production-ready templates, a streamlined track setup window, and dynamic channel strip creation get you up and running fast. Improved ReWire support provides easy integration with other music applications; quick swipe comping; settings saved via .Mac; and new effects like Guitar Amp Pro, Ringshifter, and full-featured Pitch Correction.

Logic Express ships in 3-5 days from the Apple Store online for $199 or $99 with upgrade pricing. [Bill Fox]

[9/13] Apple's Logic Studio, including Logic Pro 8, debuted for $499

logic studioApple unveiled Logic Studio, a comprehensive suite of professional tools that gives musicians everything they need to create, produce and perform in the studio and on the stage for just $499. Logic Studio features Logic Pro 8, a major upgrade that combines an intuitive new interface with Logic's renowned sound quality and rock-solid timing, and introduces MainStage, an innovative new live performance application that turns the Mac into a streamlined live rig. Logic Studio also includes Soundtrack Pro 2, Apple's professional audio post production software; Studio Instruments, made up of 40 pristine quality instruments; Studio Effects, with 80 professional effect plug-ins; a vast Studio Sound Library; and a powerful set of production utilities.

"From the fun and intuitive GarageBand to the all new Logic Studio, there’s never been a better time to be a musician on the Mac," said Rob Schoeben, Apple’s vice president of Applications Product Marketing. "For less than $500, Logic Studio transforms the Mac into the most powerful musical instrument in the world."

logic pro 8At the heart of Logic Studio is Logic Pro 8, now with an intuitive single-window interface for instant access to powerful music creation and production functions, including snap-to-transient selection and sample accurate editing directly in the Arrange window. New audio production tools such as Quick Swipe Comping and dynamic channel strip creation speed up common tasks. Logic Pro 8 also includes end-to-end surround production capabilities with innovative surround panning controls, multichannel tracks and busses, and support for True Surround software instruments and effects.

MainStage turns the Mac into a powerful live performance rig that produces reliable, consistent sound—whether music is being made at home, in a rehearsal space, or in front of an audience. Screen controls link software plug-ins to hardware knobs, faders and buttons, so musicians can use their favorite gear while performing live. An easy-to-read interactive display, designed for distant viewing in dim light, shows exactly the information needed on stage. Professional templates simplify set-up giving musicians more time to explore and create their own unique sounds.

mainstageSoundtrack Pro 2 is the musician’s bridge to sound for picture with professional editing tools and seamless film and video integration that simplifies every aspect of the audio post production process. Musicians can compose their score in Logic Pro 8 then use Soundtrack Pro 2 to edit dialog, design sound effects and complete the mix in cinematic sound.

Studio Instruments with 40 instrument plug-ins enable musicians to access and play almost any sound imaginable, including enhanced versions of Ultrabeat, Sculpture and ES2 synthesizers, and the EXS24 sampler. Studio Effects include a new Delay Designer plug-in that offers in-depth control over individual delay taps, and Space Designer, now with True Surround enhancements for multichannel audio processing. Logic Studio gives musicians a vast Studio Sound Library, featuring content from the five Jam Pack collections and Final Cut Studio 2, for a total of 18,000 Apple Loops, 1,300 EXS instruments and 5,000 sound effects that span a huge variety of genres and styles. Production utilities include WaveBurner for CD mastering, Compressor 3 for surround encoding, an Apple Loops utility and a new Impulse Response utility for capturing the acoustics of real performance spaces.

Logic Studio is now available for a suggested retail price of $499. Upgrade pricing from Logic Pro 7 is available. (Images courtesy of Apple.) [Bill Fox]

[9/13] Apple Pro Training Series: Soundtrack Pro 2 by Martin Sitter is Out

Peachpit announced Apple Pro Training Series: Soundtrack Pro 2 by Martin Sitter (ISBN 0-321-50266-3, $49.99), the only Apple-authorized guide to the digital audio tool designed specifically for Final Cut Pro editors.

Audio producer Martin Sitter created all-new projects and revised this best-selling book to take advantage of the software's new streamlined interface, surround mixing features, new dialogue track tools, and ability to synchronize changes between picture and sound. After introducing the Soundtrack workspace and showing how to work with audio clips and tracks, Sitter moves to the essential tasks of audio restoration and clean up, including instruction on arranging, editing, and mixing multi-track audio projects; recording and editing voiceovers and narration; and experimenting with advanced mixing and effects. Each chapter presents a complete lesson in an aspect of sound design or editing, with step-by-step projects to complete as you go. [Bill Fox]

[9/13] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--David Biedny, Adam Engst and Denis Motova

Tonight, host Gene Steinberg chats with his outspoken Special Correspondent, David Biedny, who appears for an encore discussion of the new Apple announcements, focusing on this week's surprise release of Logic Studio, and wondering why it didn't happen last week.

Adam Engst, of TidBITS, talks about his upgraded site, the new beta of the Eudora e-mail client, and, of course, the iPhone, a product he says he'll probably never buy.

In this week's Web Tips segment, HostICan's Denis Motova explains the ins and outs of DNS and how you can take control of its power for your site.

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

[9/12] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released Keyboard Software Update 1.2

Apple's Keyboard Software Update 1.2 is available for download as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to the Read Me file,

Install this software to take advantage of your aluminum Apple Keyboard's special features.

We downloaded and installed the update on a dual 2GHz Power Mac G5 using the new Apple aluminum wired keyboard and mouse that came with an aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo. No problems were encountered. [Dana Baggett]

[9/12] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released Compatibility Update for QuickTime 7.2

Apple's Compatibility Update for QuickTime 7.2 is available for download via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to the Read Me file,

This update delivers increased compatibility with iLife.

We downloaded the update via Software Update and installed it on several Macs, including an aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo and a MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo (LED). We used QuickTime to view movies and trailers, including WMA files via Flip4Mac, without encountering any issues. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[9/12] Brief Hands-On Report--Parallels released Desktop for Mac 3.0 Build 5160 Final Feature Update

We have been reporting on the beta builds of Parallels Desktop for Mac 3.0 for some time now. Parallels just released Build 5160, the final build of the feature update to version 3.0. It is available within the application's "Check for Updates" under the Help menu or as a stand-alone file via MacUpdate.

There are many improvements from the first stable build 4560 of Desktop for Mac v3.0. See the PDF enclosed with Build 5160 for a complete list.

We uninstalled Build 5158 beta, downloaded Build 5160 and installed Build 5160 with no problems. When we launched our Windows XP SP2 virtual machine to install the new Parallels Tools, we got an error message and had to reboot our MacBook Pro. After rebooting we installed the new Parallels Tools and restarted XP with no problem. We're on travel and don't have our Vista Ultimate virtual machine to test.

We used Windows XP SP2 extensively with Office 2007 applications and encountered no problems. Build 5160 seems to be much faster than previous versions of Desktop for Mac--it is very fast. [Bill Fox]

[9/12] Samsung introduced Faster, More Efficient 60nm Process 2GB DDR2 Memory

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., announced that it has developed the industry's first 60 nanometer (nm)-class 2 gigabit DDR2 DRAM and will begin mass producing it later this year.

Compared with 80nm 2Gb DDR2 memory, the 60 nanometer (nm)-class with a speed of 800 megabits per second has improved DRAM performance up to 20 percent. Moreover, production efficiency for the new 2Gb DDR2 will be enhanced by about 40 percent using the finer 60nm-class process technology.

The new high-performance, high-capacity DRAM is well-suited for applications in servers, workstations and notebooks where operating speed is a major concern.

The 2Gb DDR2 device cuts in half the number of components used in a 1Gb-based 8GB (four-rank) module, which consists of 72 1Gb chips. The new solution consumes approximately 30% less power than a module of the same capacity using 1Gb chips. The lower power level generates less heat, improving reliability and minimizing cooling requirements.

Samsung can supply the 2Gb DDR2 in four types of modules: 8GB fully-buffered, dual inline memory modules (FBDIMMs); 8GB registered, dual inline memory modules (RDIMMs); 4GB unbuffered, dual inline memory modules (UDIMMs); and 4GB small outline, dual inline memory modules (SODIMMs) for notebooks.

With mass production of the 2Gb DDR2 scheduled to begin by year end, Samsung will have its complete DDR2 product line-up in production at the 60nm–class from 512Mb to 2Gb. Samsung’s 1Gb and 512Mb are already being produced using 60nm–class process technology.

Industry research firm Gartner Dataquest expects the 2Gb DRAM market to reach $14billion--accounting for up to 47 percent of the total DRAM market--by 2011. [Bill Fox]

[9/11] Hands-On Review--Kensington Ci70 Wireless Desktop SetKKBM


We're fans of wireless devices. We started using Apple's white wireless keyboard and white wireless mouse not long after they were first introduced in September 2003. Except for the tendency of our wireless mouse (not a Mighty Mouse) to burn out its AA batteries every month, we liked them a lot. If we had turned them off every night, we might have gotten longer service but we eventually bought rechargeable batteries to feed its insatiable appetite.

We automatically included the optional sleek wireless keyboard and wireless Mighty Mouse when we ordered our 24" Aluminum 2.8 GHz CTO iMac Core 2 Duo on the day they were introduced, August 7. But the new wireless keyboard would have delayed shipment of the entire order by three to four weeks so we switched back to the wired version of both. While that saved us $50 on our initial order and allowed it to be shipped right away, obtaining the new wireless keyboard and wireless Mighty Mouse subsequently through The Apple Store would cost $148. So, we decided to explore other alternatives that might be compatible with our latest and greatest iMac (see our Hands-On Review).

Preferably, we wanted a wireless keyboard with a numbers keypad. We haven't used a keyboard with a desktop Mac without one since our original 512K Mac circa 1984 which came with a keyboard that intentionally mimicked the touch and feel of the IBM Selectric, then the gold standard for commercial electric typewriters. The number keys ran across the top of the keyboard as they do now on laptops.

Our search for an alternative wireless keyboard and mouse didn't include an exhaustive review of every one on the market. The new (released in June 2007) Kensington Ci70 Wireless Desktop Set caught our eye, perhaps because of its silver motif. At a SRP of $80 for both keyboard and mouse (street price is typically less), the set meets our budget.


The Kensington Ci70 keyboard and the new Apple aluminum USB keyboard are the same thickness. Measuring from the top of the key caps to the desk on which they sit, both are 3/4" thin. Both are also about the same size. The Ci70 keyboard is 16" wide while the new Apple USB aluminum keyboard is 17" wide. The Ci70 keyboard is 5" deep, front to back (excluding a 2" raised ledge with a mouse dock and "secondary function keys," about which more below) while the new Apple USB aluminum keyboard is 4.5 inches deep front to back. The Ci70 keyboard can sit flat on the desk or optionally tilted up one half inch with two flip-down feet. The new Apple USB aluminum keyboard is tilted up to accommodate the two USB terminals, one on either side underneath it.

The Kensington Ci70 mouse measures 4.5" long x 1 1/8" high x 2.5" wide and weighs 4 oz with two AA batteries while the wireless Mighty Mouse measures 4 3/8" long x 1 1/4" high x 2 3/8" wide and weighs 8 oz with two AA batteries. The silver-colored Kensington wireless mouse has two buttons and a scroll wheel.

The keyboard and mouse communicate with the iMac on the 27 MHz radio frequency via a USB receiver 2.5 inches long and 3/4" wide, about the size and shape of a few sticks of chewing gum, that slips into any USB slot on our iMac. For storage, the receiver fits into a slot on the underside of the Ci70 mouse. The mouse and slim keyboard can be easily tucked into a brief case or backpack for transport. Kensington includes a 5ft USB extension cable to facilitate moving the receiver to an optimum location but we don't need it.

The color of the keyboard is called "Titanium" by Kensington. While it is not a perfect match with the new iMac aluminum color, neither is the new Apple USB aluminum keyboard. The keyboard accent color is gray blue and the keys are a matte putty color with dark gray blue characters. It's easy on the eyes and is without reflections.

Keyboard layout.

The layout of the keyboard includes a numbers keypad on the right. Across the top of the keyboard at the top left is an Escape key followed by function keys F1 through F12 and Print Screen, Scroll Lock, Insert and Delete keys.

On the bottom left, there's an Apple logo/Command key, a Control key, a Windows logo/Command key (which functions as a duplicate of the Apple logo key when running Mac OS X 10.4.10) and an Alt/Option key. On the right side of the space bar is another Alt/Option key, a Menu key (that didn't work for us), and a Control key. At the lower right corner are four directional keys.

On the right edge of the keyboard from top to bottom are the Home, Page Up, Page Down, and End keys.

Above the numeric keypad are five small, round pencil eraser sized rubber audio/video keys: Back, Play/Pause, Forward, Decrease and Increase Volume keys running left to right. They work! Cool!

The keyboard's back ledge includes a dock for the mouse. When placed in the dock, the mouse goes into sleep mode, saving battery juice. The dock for the Ci70 mouse is covered by a sliding door when not in use. To the left of the dock are five dedicated "secondary function keys": Eject (a Mac-only key that ejects media such as CDs), Spotlight, E-Mail, Web (opens to the start page in a separate browser window) and a Music key that opens iTunes. These special function keys are activated by downloading and installing the special Ci70 Mac keyboard software from this Kensington Web page. The dock's door slides to the left and covers the "secondary function keys" when the mouse dock is in use.

The keyboard and mouse each take two AA batteries which come with the set. There's also a LED low battery indicator light on the keyboard back ledge and another on the mouse scroll wheel. Kensington estimates battery life at "up to six months," a huge difference from our experience with Apple's Bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse.

Hands-On Use.

The Ci70 keyboard and mouse became active when the USB receiver was plugged into our new 24" iMac. Well, as soon as the iMac went through a recognition sequence to determine that the keyboard was a North American format. The Kensington download was installed later so we could use the special function keys. Kensington claims up to a 5ft radius for use of the USB wireless receiver. Our keyboard and mouse were closer than that and worked without a hitch. Line of sight to the receiver is not needed.

In use, the Ci70 keyboard keys have a short stroke, not unlike the new Apple USB aluminum keyboard. But the Kensington key caps are concave and fit the shape of our finger tips better than the flat key caps of the new Apple keyboard. The Kensington keyboard action is light and fast. It's compact size fits nicely in front of the iMac.

The Ci70 mouse is terrific. It has a rubber band on its lower half that our fingers can grip perfectly. The location is narrower than its width at its widest point. It has two Teflon type pads on its underside that enable it to slip across our mouse pad effortlessly, perhaps because it is shorter in height and lighter in weight than the Apple white wireless mouse. And our wrist can lie flat on the desk while using it. Click the scroll wheel and Dashboard opens. Groovy! The Ci70 mouse goes to sleep quickly when it isn't in use and it immediately awakens if you depress one of its two buttons.

After becoming accustomed to the Kensington Ci70, we used our Apple white wireless keyboard and wireless white mouse on the same keyboard mouse pad. The Apple duo felt kludgey. Longer throw keyboard keys and a heavy, thick-feeling not-so-slippery mouse. Sorry, Steve, there's no comparison--you can't go home again (with apologies to Thomas Wolfe).

Finally, Kensington offers a 90 day satisfaction guaranteed, no-questions-asked return policy and a five year warranty.

In Summary.

We think Kensington has a clear winner in its Ci70 Desktop Set keyboard and mouse and it's available now. The set is a great companion in looks and function for the new aluminum iMacs at less than half the price of Apple's wireless counterparts, i.e. when both are eventually available. [Dana Baggett]

[9/11] iPhone Unintended Non-U.S. Data Usage--A Second Solution

Yesterday we noted that AT&T will turn off International Roaming on an iPhone so that one does not accrue those huge unintended data charges from non-U.S. telecoms when traveling outside the U.S. or when near the border with Canada or Mexico. All you have to do is call 1-800-335-4685 and ask that International Roaming be turned off for your iPhone's number.

Of course, doing this also renders your iPhone unusable for making calls using International Roaming, essentially making it into an iPod touch for the the duration. For those of you who want to make expensive AT&T International Roaming calls but without the fear of getting a multithousand dollar bill for data usage there is another solution.

Reader Mark Farley wrote that before traveling abroad he calls AT&T and asks that data streaming be turned off for his iPhone. Then, he calls again upon return to the U.S. and has AT&T turn it on again. Doing this also kills visual voice mail but he can still make and receive calls. His voicemail messages are waiting for him when he returns. And his iPhone is susceptible to hijacking if he travels near Canada or Mexico but for some this may be a better solution.

A combination of the two may be better for those of us who live very near the U.S. border, i.e. keep International Roaming off while in the U.S. and have it turned on but data streaming turned off when traveling internationally.

Perhaps, this problem will go away when Apple has network partners in other countries but it is a real nuisance today, potentially a very expensive nuisance. [Bill Fox]

[9/11] Apple sold One-Millionth iPhone--Already!

An Apple press release noted that 1 million iPhones have been sold in 74 days.

Either a significant fraction of the country's populace suddenly rushed to an AT&T or Apple Store to buy an 8GB iPhone at $399 (or a remaining 4GB model at $299) since last Wednesday's $200 price reduction or we were dead wrong in our speculation that Apple dropped the price because it would not make its goal of 1 million iPhones by the end of September without the dramatic price reduction to stimulate flagging sales.

Our speculation was based on iSuppli's announced data showing only 220,000 iPhones were sold in all of July following the 270,000 sold the first day and a half.

We have no way of knowing which is right but it doesn't really matter. Either way, it is very good news that Apple has exceeded its fourth quarter sales goal with three weeks left to go and that it apparently placated early adopters with a $100 store credit--we're satisfied. [Bill Fox]

[9/10] AT&T waiving Some Errant Non-U.S. Data Usage by iPhones--Also a Fix for this Horror

AT&T has something called International Roaming for its cell phone accounts. AT&T has agreements with certain non-U.S. cell phone networks, especially in Canada and Mexico, that allow one to make calls over those networks. It is very expensive, especially when it comes to data usage.

AT&T International Roaming used to be turned off by default, i.e. one had to specifically activate it. Now, or at least with the iPhone, the default is on and even if you make no calls while in say Canada or Mexico, the iPhone pulls down data via the non-U.S. telco's Edge network if the iPhone is on, even if you just use the Wi-Fi function. This has led to some iPhone users getting truely shocking bills, like over $5,000.

What happens if you live in a border area with Canada and Mexico? Well, your iPhone could inadvertantly hook up with a non-U.S. tower and slam you with a huge bill.

These things have happened. In fact, it happened to us while on a cruise ship off Mexico and in Mexican ports while using the ship's expensive Wi-Fi network in mid-July. We received the bill just last week. Fortunately, our bill for inadvertant non-U.S. data usage was only a couple hundred dollars, largely because the ship's expensive Wi-Fi constrained our iPhone use. If it had been $10-15 per day instead of $22 per hour we might have gotten socked with a huge bill.

So we called AT&T, calmly explained to a customer service rep what had happened and asked that the charges be removed. The rep was very pleasant, asked a few confirming questions, put us on hold for a few minutes and came back on with the news that the charges would be waived.

Relieved and emboldened, we asked what would happen if we were in South San Diego and inadvertantly got hooked up to a Mexican cell phone tower. The customer rep said to watch the phone's network sevice logo to see if it is picking up a non-U.S. tower and then don't use it. But I reminded him that an iPhone is on all the time picking up data with out knowing it, not just when making a call. His solution was for us to talk to AT&T International Roaming and have our iPhone's number blocked.

We were transferred to an AT&T International Roaming agent who quickly blocked our iPhone's number. He said we should call again if we ever visited another country, wanted to use our iPhone there with International Roaming and needed it's number to be unblocked. It would be much better if AT&T could just block data usage and not the phone calling capability but at least we do not have to worry any more about getting a huge unexpected bill.

If you want your iPhone's number blocked from inadvertantly using AT&T International Roaming, call 1-800-335-4685. [Bill Fox]

[9/10] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released iTunes 7.4.1

Hot on the heels of iTunes 7.4 released Thursday, Apple released iTune 7.4.1 late Friday. It is available via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. Apple listed nothing specific that this update fixes.

We downloaded and installed it via Software Update on a number of Macs with no problems. Still, none of the new music tools, like making ones own ringtones, included in 7.4.x are working. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[9/10] Brief Hands-On Report--Parallels Desktop for Mac 3.0 Build 5158 Release Candidate 2

Parallels released a new build of Desktop for Mac 3.0, Release Candidate 2, and it is available for download from MacUpdate or from this Parallels Web page. This is still a beta. The last final release was build 4560.

What's new in Build 5158

  • Recycle Bin integration - Ability to drag and drop files from Windows to Mac OS X trash bin

Bugfixes and improvements in Build 5158

Stability and resources usage

  • Overall CPU and memory resources usage - optimized
  • Random kernel panics on virtual machine startup - fixed
  • Choppy sound in Windows Media Player 11 in Vista Ð fixed


  • "Show/Hide Windows Taskbar" option - improved
  • In some rare cases Vista Logoff/Login in Coherence may cause segmentation fault - fixed

Parallels Tools

  • 'Hi' window sometimes appeares on Windows shutdown - fixed
  • SIW program crashes Parallels Tools Center - fixed
  • Drag-n-drop sometimes works incorrectly - fixed
  • Parallels Tools Center CPU usage - optimized

Disks and folders sharing

  • Problem with Shared Profile synchronization after reverting to snapshot Ð fixed
  • Shared Profile - Windows Desktop and Explorer's windows refresh - improved

Video and 3D

  • Force Suspend for OpenGL Ð added (you can suspend virtual machine with running or crashed OpenGL applications)


  • F8 key added to virtual keyboard and Send Keys menu

Known issues in Build 5158

Stability and resources usage

  • Leopard may be frozen during guest OS installation
  • In some cases, fatal error E054.01.002 may occur on virtual machine startup
  • In specific case message about corrupted disk may be shown (just restart virtual machine and it will be OK)
  • Kernel panic may occur during suspending virtual machine with running OpenGL application


  • Visual Studio may become frozen in specific case
  • Windows desktop may show up when transparent windows are used
  • Start button in Vista may become blank (just move mouse pointer over it and it will be OK)
  • Transparent windows may be displayed incorrectly
  • Small artefacts in Expose may appear
  • Accidental artefacts after unminimizing windows from Dock may appear
  • Problems with VirtueDesktops
  • Leopard Spaces are not fully supported

Parallels Tools

  • Parallels Tools Center may use 100% CPU after drag-and-drop operation
  • In rare cases Coherence service may not be started

Disks and folders sharing

  • In some specific case Shared Profile may not be enabled
  • Some slowness may be noticed during logging off in Windows guest OS
  • Error may occur during Windows disk mounting to the Finder

Boot Camp

  • Dynamic OS detection isn't implemented yet


  • Segmentation fault may occur while reverting to specific snapshot

Parallels Explorer&Mounter

  • Some problems during drag-and-drop operations still may occur
  • Incorrect disk size may be displayed
  • Transmission between different columns with keyboard is not available yet

There seem to be a lot of known issues for a second release candidate.

We uninstalled Build 5144 and downloaded and installed Build 5158 on our Widows XP and Vista Ultimate virtual machines with no problems. Then, we updated iTunes, QuickTime, Windows XP and Windows Vista. We used both XP and Vista for several hours and did not encounter any issues. [Bill Fox]

[9/10] Brief Hands-On Report--iToner 1.0.1 fixes iTunes 7.4 Ringtone Issue

Ambrosia Software released iToner 1.0.1 and it is available for download from MacUpdate. According to Ambrosia, version 1.0.1 provides:

  • Compatibility with iTunes 7.4
  • Now supports file dragging from iTunes
  • Improved playlist handling
  • Other bug fixes and enhancements

We downloaded and installed iToner 1.0.1 on our MacBook Pro. iToner required that we launch iTunes 7.4. Then, we restored all of our custom ringtones to our iPhone that iTunes 7.4 deleted when it first "sync'd" our iPhone. Afterward, we re-sync'd our iPhone, updating our iCal events, and the custom ringtones installed via iToner 1.0.1 remained. The same with iTunes 7.4.1 released late Friday.

We favorably reviewed iToner, a $15 utility for installing custom ringtones on an iPhone, before Apple released iTunes 7.4 with the capability (but still not implemented) to make ringtones from songs on the iTunes Store for 99 cents each. [Bill Fox]

[9/7] Beatles John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison Songs available on iTunes Store

We are not sure when they first came to the iTunes Store but songs individually by members of the Beatles members are now available on the iTunes Store. There are 150 songs each by John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr plus one by George Harrison from a Bob Dylan album. There are still no songs by the Beatles as a group, however.

No announcement regarding the Beatles music was made during Wednesday's Apple Special Event but several individual Lennon and McCartney songs like John Lennon's "Imagine" were played during the event--a subtle hint? [Bill Fox]

[9/7] Apple to provide $100 Store Credit to iPhone Early Adopters

In an open letter to all iPhone customers posted yesterday to Apple's Web site, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that all iPhone customers who purchased an iPhone from Apple or AT&T and who are not getting "a rebate or any other consideration" will get a $100 store credit on any purchase from the Apple Store Online or any Apple Retail Store. "Other consideration" probably includes price protection offered by credit card companies.

"We want to do the right thing for our valued iPhone customers," wrote Jobs. "We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple."

This is more than we expected and it was announced swiftly. The details will be posted by Apple next week.

In addition, the remaining 4GB iPhones are being offered for $299 each until supplies run out (lower right ad on Apple Store). [Bill Fox]

[9/7] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released Pro Application Support 4.0.2

Apple released Pro Application Support 4.0.2 and it is available for download via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to the Read Me file,

This update addresses issues with keyboard interface reliability for Apple's professional applications and is recommended for all users of Final Cut Studio.

We downloaded and installed the update via Software Update. No problems were encountered. [Bill Fox]

[9/7] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released iTunes 7.4 with Security Fix, New Functionality and It removes Third-Party Ringtones from iPhone

Yesterday morning, Apple released iTunes 7.4 and it is available for download via Software Update or as a stand-alone updater from this Apple Web page. According to the Read Me file,

With iTunes 7.4, sync your favorite music and more with the new iPod nano (third generation), iPod classic, and iPod touch, plus create custom ringtones exclusively for iPhone with many of your favorite songs purchased from the iTunes Store. You can now also play purchased videos with closed captioning (when available), easily rate your favorite albums from one to five stars, and watch videos at a larger size inside the iTunes window.

iTunes 7.4 also includes a security update. Here are the details:

CVE-2007-3752--Opening a maliciously crafted music file may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution. A buffer overflow exists in iTunes when processing album cover art. By enticing a user to open a maliciously crafted music file, an attacker may trigger the overflow which may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution. This update addresses the issue by performing proper bounds checking. Credit to David Thiel of iSEC Partners for reporting this issue.

We downloaded and successfully installed iTunes 7.4 via Software Update on a variety of Macs, including: Mac mini Core Duo, aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo, white iMac Core 2 Duo, MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo (LED), Power Mac G4 Cube and PowerBook G4. When launched, iTunes 7.4 updated our iTunes libraries after dismissing the license agreement.

We used iTunes 7.4 extensively with several Macs and encountered no problems. Unfortunately, none of the new music tools (direct iPhone song purchase, Starbucks song purchase and ringtones) announced Wednesday work yet.

More unfortunately, however, if you use iTunes 7.4 to sync your iPhone, it will delete the ringtones installed by third-party applications like iToner 1.0.0 that we favorably reviewed last week. Hopefully, Ambrosia Software will come up with a fix real soon. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[9/7] Red Marble Games released Fairy Treasure for the Mac

Red Marble Games announced the release of Fairy Treasure, an addicting breakout-style game ported from the PC platform to the Mac. Fairy Treasure takes players on an adventure against an evil, greedy troll that has stolen great treasure from the Kingdom of Trollandia and has carefully guarded it in his cave ever since. As players work to recapture the treasure, they travel along the Fairy River on a magic raft, and in more than 120 exciting levels, struggle against hags, goblins and other evil wills that guard the river paths.

"Fairy Treasure is an exceedingly popular game on the PC platform," said Mark Batten, founder and CEO of Red Marble Games. "We're proud to be the publisher that's bringing such a compelling title to Mac game players around the world."

Priced at only $19.95, Fairy Treasure is a Universal Mac OS X application that requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or better, and is available for immediate download directly from Red Marble Games' Web site. [Bill Fox]

[9/7] Sneak Peek of Adobe Photoshop Express at Photoshop World 2007

Yesterday, thousands of attendees at Photoshop World 2007 got a sneak peek of Photoshop Express, a new application currently in development at Adobe. Following the release of its popular online video editor, Premiere Express, Adobe is leveraging its industry standard Photoshop technology and making it accessible to the masses with an online consumer-focused image editing solution called Adobe Photoshop Express.

Adobe Photoshop Express was previewed by John Loiacono, senior vice president of the Creative Solutions Business Unit at Adobe.

Earlier this year, Adobe introduced Premiere Express, its free, online video editor for creating mash-ups and remixes. Available to millions of Web users at Photobucket, and YouTube’s TestTube site, Adobe Premiere Express is a lightweight Flash-based Web application that's easy and fun to use. ps logo

The new Photoshop logo (right) was also revealed by Loiacono. The Photoshop logo on a product, service, or technology represents the rich legacy, technical quality, and attention to detail that has made Photoshop the gold standard in digital imaging. This logo will appear at a near future date on all Photoshop-related marketing.[Bill Fox]

[9/7] Adobe to offer $150 Off Photoshop CS3 and Lightroom Promo

Adobe will soon offer savings of up to $150 when Adobe Photoshop CS3 or Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended is purchased along with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Photoshop CS3 software offers new innovations in editing power and productivity for designers and photographers. Photoshop CS3 Extended gives creative professionals everything in Photoshop CS3 plus tools for 3-D, motion graphics, image measurement and analysis. Combined with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, the two work hand in hand to efficiently manage thousands of images—or perfect just one.

Savings will be offered through the Adobe Store and certain select resellers. Look out for it here. [Bill Fox]

[9/7] PANTONE Fashion Color Report Spring 2008 released

Pantone, Inc., released the PANTONE Fashion Color Report Spring 2008. The report features the top 10 colors for women's fashion for spring '08, designer sketches, quotes and headshots. The availability of the PANTONE Fashion Color Report coincides with the beginning of New York Fashion Week and is available free-of-charge from this Pantone Web page.

The colors featured in the PANTONE Fashion Color Report are culled from the PANTONE FASHION + HOME Color System, the most widely used and recognized color standard in the world. Each season, Pantone surveys the designers of New York Fashion Week to collect feedback on prominent collection colors, color inspiration and color philosophy. This information is used to create the PANTONE Fashion Color Report and serves as a reference tool throughout the year for fashion enthusiasts, reporters and retailers. [Bill Fox]

[9/6] [Updated twice]Apple's New $399 8GB iPhone Price a Low Blow to Early Adopters? Give Us a Break!

Along with the new iPods, new iTunes functionality and new iPhone functionality announced yesterday at Apple's Special Event, Apple drastically lowered the price of the 8GB iPhone from $599 to $399. Many early adopters of the iPhone are not too happy about the $200 price reduction just over 2 months after the iPhone hit the market. Those with the 4GB iPhone are even less enthralled that their $499 investment has been obsolesced. Is this a low blow to early adopters? We don't think so, at least not one delivered purposefully, but bear us out.

Technology gets cheaper and better as time marches on and everyone expected that this would also happen to the iPhone, right? Well, most would agree perhaps early next year but not in just two months on the market. Still, for $2.99-$18.18 per day we have had the use of an insanely great and still unmatched communication device at our beck and call for 11 to 67 days longer than anyone else in the world (Apple provides price protection for up to 10 days).

We thought the iPhones were worth $499 and $599 when we bought them, right? So what's the beef? The beef is really that Apple deviated from its customary practice with regard to pricing. Apple's general custom is that over time one gets more for the same price or a slightly lower one but not the same for a much lower price, especially not in a very short period of time. Apple's customary pricing has supported a pleasantly lucrative resale market for early adopters to continue to upgrade to the latest technology for relatively little cash beyond the initial investment. It also has allowed Apple to keep margins relatively high.

So why did Apple do this? Certainly not to deliver purposefully a low blow to early adopters, the very people that Apple needs to sustain its leading-edge technology introductions. We can only think that Apple did it out of desperation, i.e. iPhones have not been selling near as well as Apple believes it needs.

Is there any evidence of flagging iPhone sales? After all, didn't iSuppi just report that the iPhone had out-sold all other smartphones in July, a report that was ballyhooed virtually everywhere? That report followed Apple's third quarter financial report that 270,000 iPhones were sold in a day and a half at the end of June? And didn't Apple CEO Steve Jobs announce during the Special Event that Apple was on track to sell 1 million iPhones by the end of September? The answer is yes to all of these, of course. But iSuppli also reported that Apple sold only 220,000 iPhones in all of July indicating strongly slowing iPhone sales. If iSuppli's report is accurate, without some dramatic change, Apple would fall well short of its 1 million sales goal by the end of September and, worse for those of us who bought one, badly petering out sales might doom the iPhone altogether.

We think that the necessary dramatic change was the $200 price drop which Steve Jobs used to claim that Apple is on track to meet its 1 million goal. Apple had no other choice. It had miscalculated the market and was not yet ready to provide enough more in technology to keep the same price and to meet its goal.

So if you are feeling screwed by Apple and recently bought an iPhone, at least an 8GB model, within the last 10 days, go get your $200 refund in accordance with Apple's policy. If it was bought within the last 14 days you can return it with payment of a restocking fee under most circumstances. We are not sure what Apple might do for those who bought an obsolesced 4GB model in the same time frames but at least a $100 refund would be our guess.

If you bought your iPhone with a credit card that has a price protection benefit, you can get a refund from your credit card company.

For the rest of us (frequent readers know that we bought an 8GB model on June 30), buck up! Enjoy the fact that you thought your iPhone was worth the price when you bought it and that you have been using the communication device of the decade, if not the century, longer than anyone else for a relatively small amount of cash. Most of all, sigh with relief that Apple has taken decisive action to ensure that the fabulous iPhone technology not only does not wither but will flourish. At $399, we think Apple can't miss its iPhone sales goals. [Update: Revised our description of Apple's general return and price protection policy for clarity. Update 2: Apple today announced a $100 store credit for every iPhone customer who bought an iPhone before the price reduction.] [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]

[9/6] Apple introduced Fabulous New iPods and Music Tools at Yesterday's Special Event--Video

Apple introduced fabulous new iPods and music tools at yesterday's Special Event held in San Francisco's Moscone West Conference Center. A QuickTime streaming video of the Apple Special Event is now posted on this Apple Web page.

New iPods.

The iPod shuffle received new colors along with a RED-branded model that provides for a contribution to fight AIDS in Africa--their price remained at $79.

The iPod nano morphed into the "Fat nano" (or at least the "Wide nano" since it is very thin in depth) with a new all-metal case and all of the features of the 5G iPod with video except for a terrific 2" 320x240 pixel screen instead of 2.5" and 4GB and 8GB flash memory storage, mostly 8GB now, instead of a micro hard drive. They also received new interface software and new colors--their price is $149 for the 4GB model and $199 for the 8GB models.

The iPod with video became the iPod classic. It has a new all-metal case, new interface software, comes in silver or black and has an 80GB or a huge 160GB micro hard drive--its price is $249 and $349.

The battery capacity claims for all of them are outstanding.

The crowning glory of the iPod line is the new iPod touch, essentially an iPhone without the phone, SMS, camera and email features and without the stock, maps and notes applications. It does, however, have b/g Wi-Fi capability and Safari so that one can sign onto Wi-Fi hotspots and, of course, surf, watch YouTube with the same 3.5" multitouch screen as the iPhone and buy music directly, a new iPod feature. It is thinner, shorter and lighter than an iPhone but otherwise looks identical without the ear-piece slot and comes in 8GB and 16GB capacities for $299 and $399.


New Music Tools.

The new music tools include being able to buy music directly from iTunes with an iPod touch or an iPhone with a software update due later in September; instantly buy any song playing at Starbucks when one visits with an iPod touch or an iPhone through a new Starbucks partnership that will take over a year to build out; and make and purchase ringtones made from songs on a new version of iTunes for 99 cents.

The new version 7.4 of iTunes allowing purchase and downloading of songs via Wi-Fi with an iPhone or iPod touch and making, buying and downloading ringtones to an iPhone plus other improvements was supposed to be available Wednesday but it wasn't at publication time.

Our view is that Apple has hit a home run with the new iPod line and improved iTunes with its new tools. We'll test the new version of iTunes when it becomes available. [Bill Fox]

[9/6] Cool Mac Software--SMARTReporter 2.3 is Out

SMARTReporter 2.3 (donationware) is available for download from the MacUpdate Web page. SMARTReporter is an application that can warn you of some hard disk drive failures before they actually happen. It does so by periodically polling the S.M.A.R.T. status of your hard disk drive.

We downloaded and installed the new version and it has run without an difficulties. [Dana Baggett]

[9/6] MicroNet released Low Cost Fantom Drives G-Force MegaDisk Network Attached Storage in 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 Terabytes

We announced this on Tuesday per a press release embargo but afterward MicroNet delayed their official announcement of these new drives until today. [Bill Fox]

[9/6] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Biedny, Palmer and Rubin on New iPods and iPhone Price Drop plus Internet Trademark Infringement

Tonight, host Gene Steinberg will chat with their outspoken Special Correspondent, David Biedny, who returns to provide the "Monday morning quarterback" analysis of Apple's new iPods, and the unexpected price reduction of the iPhone.

You'll also hear commentary from one of those who attended the Apple briefing on the new gear, Bill Palmer, of iProng, a popular news and information site for iPod and iPhone owners. The industry reaction will come from Ross Rubin of the NPD Group.

In addition, HostICan's Denis Motova returns to explain the ins and outs of trademark infringement issues on the Internet.

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

[9/5] Apple Special Event Today--New iPods, Music, More...?

AppleEvent 9-5Apple invited members of the media to a special event today at San Francisco's Moscone West Conference Center where the Worldwide Developers Conference has been held in recent years. It begins at 10 am PT.

Since the email invitation contained an image of a person listening to an iPod with the phrase "The beat goes on." (see at right), most people think Apple will announce new iPods based on iPhone design and technology. However, some have pointed out that the phrase from a song by Sonny and Cher is also connected with the Beatles and as such it may indicate an announcement of the Beatles music debuting on the iTunes Store.

Maybe it be both iPods and Beatles, maybe even more because you never know with Apple. Stay tuned for our report. [Bill Fox]

[9/5] Hands-On Review--2.8GHz 24" Aluminum iMac Core 2 DuoAliMac

We ordered the 24" aluminum iMac from The Apple Store online on August 7, the day it was presented by Steve Jobs at a Special Event meeting at One Infinite Loop, Apple's headquarters. We opted for the 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme processor and the 500GB Serial ATA hard disk drive which The Apple Store online offers as a package including the ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB of GDDR3 memory standard. (Later we realized that we could have started with the 2.3GHz Core 2 Duo model and added options while leaving the hard drive at the 320GHz base and saved $80.) We also opted for 2 GB of Apple-installed memory.

Initially, we ordered the new wireless Aluminum keyboard as well until we realized later in the day that our entire order was being delayed three to five weeks because of it. (The Apple Store online now quotes a four to six week delay!) We called The Apple Store customer service line and a helpful representative substituted the new, thin aluminum USB keyboard for the wireless one which reduced the shipping quote to a more reasonable five to seven days. It actually shipped by FEDEX from Shanghai on August 11 and traveled via Subic Bay, Anchorage, Indianapolis and Portland, Maine, before being delivered to our New England office on August 15.

Moving our files from our 20" iMac 2GHz Intel Core Duo (Early 2006) to the new one proved to be a snap, thanks to Apple's Migration Assistant and a nifty Apple 1.8 meter thin FireWire 6 pin>6 pin cable. We lost a few dock aliases in the move but they were easily reconnected by opening the apps. It took all of half an hour.


The appearance of the new aluminum iMac is striking. Is it thinner than its white plastic predecessor? Technically, the answer is yes but not by much. The new iMac just looks a lot thinner because of it's flat black backside. Is the so-called "chin" shorter, i.e. referring to the space below the display? Our conclusion is no. The distance from the exposed edge of the display to the bottom of the new iMac is about the same as its plastic predecessor. But, the 3/4" black frame around the new display covers some of the chin, making the exposed aluminum portion appear shorter. And centering a black Apple logo on the exposed aluminum strip further conveys the impression that the chin is shorter. If the white plastic iMacs got their design cues from the original iPods, then this new iMac certainly inherits its appearance from the iPhone. Black and shiny. In a word. Gorgeous.

On to the subject of the glossy display. We relocated our work station about a month ago to a corner of a large room with a window wall behind it. We noticed glare immediately, light bouncing off the highly reflective glossy enclosure of our white plastic 20" iMac. We made some adjustments and lived with it. Does the new, glass "windshield" covering the actual display of the new 24" iMac reflect light? Yes it does. We've made further adjustments and will live with it because it is without a doubt the finest computer screen we're ever had the pleasure of using. Apple's advertising folks claim the "glossy display with glass cover ... makes graphics, photos, and videos come alive with richer colors and deeper blacks." For once, we think the ad writers have not indulged in hyperbole. In a word, the display is sensational.

This iMac has a Wow! factor unlike any other since the Bondi Blue iMac. That's literally the word everyone uses when they see it for the first time. Wow! indeed.

The new, thin Apple aluminum USB keyboard is just that - very thin and very flat. The keys have a very short stroke. We think touch typists - we're not in that league - will love it. The USB Mighty Mouse seems by contrast an anachronism. Very white, very plastic and not thin. However, we prefer to eliminate the USB cables altogether and we have found a very interesting, compatible wireless keyboard and mouse combo that we will be reviewing separately.


We tested our new top-end 24" 2.8GHz aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo against the former white iMac speed champion, a 24" 2.33GHz iMac Core 2 Duo with CTO Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT graphics that we reviewed September 2006. To do so, we ran many of our suite of speed tests on both iMacs. The tests we ran consisted of four benchmarking applications and four so-called "real world" tests

Speed of 2.8 GHz Aluminum iMac C2D vs 2.33GHz White iMac C2D
Test 2.80GHz
Aluminum 24"
iMac C2D
White 24"
iMac C2D
Performance Change
Altivec Fractal 1.3 (GFLOPS)
Cinebench 9.5 Rendering (2x)
-OpenGL Hardware Lighting
Let1kWindowsBloom 1.0+
Xbench 1.3 - CPU
- Threading
- Memory
- Quartz Graphics
- OpenGL Graphics
-User Interface Graphics
Startup (sec)
Shutdown (sec)
Dup. 500 MB Folder (sec)
Doom 3 (frames/sec)

Generally, the new aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo is on the order of 20 percent faster (8-32 percent) than the former fastest white iMac Core 2 Duo. This is not unexpected since the aluminum model's Intel CPU is 20 percent faster. However, like the new MacBook Pros, the new iMac scored slower in OpenGL performance than its predecessor in Xbench and in the 3D game Doom 3. Hopefully, this is just due to immature driver development for the new ATI Radeon 2600 Pro graphics in the aluminum iMac and we will see a boost after a future release of improved drivers.

In Summary.

The new aluminum iMac is very attractive and many will like it better than the white plastic iMac that it replaces. Like our MacBook Pro (LED), the glossy screen of the aluminum iMac takes some getting used to but it produces a much sharper image with richer colors than the previous matte finish screen. The reflective surface of the glossy screens didn't take long for us to not notice. A 24" screen is terrific compared with our previous 20" iMac Core Duo model. The performance of the new top-end iMac exceeds that of the previous top-end model in almost every way. The only performance glitch is a noticeable drop in OpenGL 3D game performance that may be overcome in a future driver release. But until then, the white 24" 2.33GHz iMac Core 2 Duo with CTO Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT graphics is still the iMac king of games. We'll keep tabs on this as Mac OS X updates arrive. [Dana Baggett]

[9/5] PANTONE Goe System for Mac OS X debuted--2058 New PANTONE ColorsGoe System

The PANTONE Goe System is the first all-new color inspiration and specification system for the graphics arts industry since the PANTONE Matching System was first released 45 years ago by Pantone, Inc. Goe doesn't replace the PANTONE Matching System, Goe augments and complements it.

There are several key features in the Goe System:

  • it has 2058 colors as opposed to 1114, nearly double
  • the colors are constructed from only 10 base colors
  • the colors are laid out chromatically for easier selection and specification
  • the colors include relatively more greens and blues and more neutrals used for skin tones.

Using just 10 PANTONE Mixing Base colors ensures global consistency and will over time reduce printing costs. They are readily available globally, have uniform ink film thickness and are compatible with aqueous and UV coatings.

The PANTONE Goe System includes the PANTONE GoeGuide, PANTONE GoeSticks and myPANTONE Palettes software. The GoeGuide is in fan format and has a new color numbering system with three parts to easily identify the color. It is printed on bright white #1 grade 100 lb coated offset text. The GoeSticks are adhesive-backed color chips that make it easier for designers to place colors where they want without staples or tape. Six chips are provided for each of the 2058 colors.

Goe system 2The myPANTONE Palettes software is a color picker tool for matching to PANTONE Goe colors. Aside for the color picker wheel, RGB and HTML inputs there's an eye-dropper tool to pick up colors from the desktop, a color blender, a color schemes selector and a image palette builder. Pantone has set up an online community at for palette sharing. The software works on Mac OS X 10.3 and higher.

The complete PANTONE Goe System will be available October 1 for $499. The GoeSticks and myPANTONE Palette software alone are $369. The GoeGuide and myPANTONE Palette software alone are $129.99. Additional PANTONE libraries can be purchased for $19.99 each. [Bill Fox]

[9/5] Brief Hands-On Report--Adobe released Illustrator CS3 13.0.2 Update

Adobe released Illustrator CS3 13.0.2 Update and it is available for download via Adobe's AutoUpdate from any application in CS3 or as a stand-alone patcher from this MacUpdate Web page. According to MacUpdate,

Illustrator 13.0.2, which is recommended for all Illustrator CS3 users, addresses issues related to importing native Freehand files into Illustrator. This includes fixes for retaining certain gradients on fills, some raster effects, as well as additional support for importing of text styles.

We had problems with Adobe AutoUpdater (No Internet connection.???) so we downloaded the patcher via MacUpdate and applied it to our copy of Illustrator CS3 13.0.1. No problems were encountered updating Illustrator nor during brief use following the update. [Bill Fox]

[9/4] Commentary--Our Readers 'Speak'

Last week we asked our readers to rank the features that we offer on Macs Only! to help us best meet our readers interests as we adjust to changing market conditions. That's marketing speak for surviving while we seek a replacement for our long-time major sponsor who decided to "think different" when it comes to Web site support.

We received 930 usable responses to last week's poll, a surprise in itself, and we thank all of you who took the time to respond. Here are the results in rank order--the average rankings by respondents are in parentheses.

    1. Daily News (2.49)
    2. Reviews (3.01)
    3. Commentary (3.24)
    4. Software Updates (3.59)
    5. Troubleshooting (3.86)
    6. Speed tests (4.76)

The results gave us two surprises. The first is that our daily news was ranked #1 despite many Mac news sites being out there these days with relatively large paid staffs that hit the Internet with news almost as it breaks during the day. When we first started offering news, most press releases came out at the end of the day and, as the Internet equivalent of a morning newspaper, that gave us a jump on the competition. We remain so with only occasional breaking news since most press releases now come out well after we have posted the day's edition--the U.S. Web reader peak is 10 am to noon ET. We have not had the financial means to make the change but maybe that has been good.

The second surprise is how low our "bleeding edge" software update reports were ranked (#4). While almost every Web site announces major software updates, we are the only site we are aware of that immediately applies each update to a variety of Macs and reports on whether or not we have any troubles. Those Web sites that do have reports on updates, usually post only negative reports from readers. We post both positive and negative experiences, though the latter are relatively rare.

We enjoy doing the speed tests that ended up a distant 6th. We expected this result because speed is no longer all that important generally with the Apple current hardware and Mac OS X 10.4.x. It's still important to gamers like us, mainly, but the tests take a lot of time to do right for a small audience.

A few respondents scolded us for our occasional anti-Microsoft rhetoric. But these days we mostly just poke fun at Microsoft or poke holes in its puffery. Despite the slogan that we adopted a decade ago ("We don't do Windows."), we have covered Windows on the Mac extensively using Apple's Boot Camp and emulation software like Parallels Desktop for Mac and VirtualPC, i.e. before it was ruined by Microsoft. We no longer feel that the Mac and Mac OS are seriously threatened with extinction by Microsoft but we still like to have fun with Steve "I-don't-know-what-a-monopoly-is" Ballmer, Microsoft's principal cheerleader and CEO.

Many respondents praised our efforts that now span nearly 12 years, over 10 years in its present format and content. They noted that we offer a different perspective than all other Mac Web sites. We appreciate the kind words.

We've had a long run, rarely missing a daily edition with our tiny but capable staff. We'll keep our standards and do our best on content but it is likely that there will be a few pot holes and gaps in it until we get a new major sponsor. [Bill Fox]

[9/4] Hands-On Review--iToner 1.0.0, Put Custom Ringtones on an iPhoneitoner

We have been waiting for a simple application that will easily place custom ringtones on an iPhone or for Apple to enable it in iTunes. Ambrosia Software won the race and released iToner 1.0.0 last Friday for $15.

We purchased downloaded iToner from Ambrosia's Web site and installed it on our MacBook Pro. No problems were encountered in the process.

iToner's interface looks like an iPhone. All you have to do is have your iPhone in its cradle attached to a USB port, then drag and drop a ringtone or ringtones onto iToner's interface and click on the sync button. That's it! iToner automatically adds the ringtones to the iPhone and they can be found in the same ringtone list as those that came with the iPhone.

iToner uses MP3 or AAC audio file formats so your ringtones have to be in either format.

We have a large number of MP3 ringtones that we either purchased or made with Apple's Garageband from songs ripped from our CD collection. Using iToner, we placed a dozen on our iPhone in a matter of seconds. All of them work great. Ambrosia claims that ringtones placed on the iPhone with iToner will survive iPhone software updates--time will tell.

At $15, iToner is on the expensive side for its simple functionality. But iToner works great and we are happy to finally have some of our custom ringtones available on our iPhone. [Bill Fox]

[9/4] Brief Hands-On Report--Parallels Desktop for Mac 3.0 Build 5144 Beta

Parallels released a new beta build of Desktop for Mac 3.0, Build 5144, and it is available for download from MacUpdate. Build 5144 replaces Build 5120 released just over a week ago. Note that Build 5144 is still a beta, even though Parallels is calling it a "release candidate," and as such has some bugs. The current "final" Build of v3.0 is 4560.

What's New in Parallels Desktop 3.0 for Mac Release Candidate (Build 5144):

Coherence 3.0

  • Bringing Windows notifications to front

The most important fixes and improvements include:

Primary OS support

  • Uninstaller doesn't work on Leopard 9a499 and 9a500n - fixed

Stability and resources usage

  • Overall CPU and memory resources usage - optimized
  • Memory subsystem initialization error when 2048 Mb allocated to virtual machine - fixed


  • "Show/Hide Windows Taskbar" option - improved

Parallels Tools

  • Virtual machine frozen after Parallels Tools update - fixed
  • Large resolutions support - added
  • "Hi" window on Windows shutdown problem - fixed
  • Mouse scrolling problem in Adobe Acrobat 8 - fixed
  • Parallels Tools Center CPU usage - optimized

Disks and folders sharing

  • Shared folders may become unavailable after resume - fixed
  • In some case Shared Profile can not be disabled - fixed
  • Disabling Shared Profile causes multiple error messages - fixed
  • Mac frozen during virtual machine startup when Shared Profile is enabled - fixed
  • Shared Profile in Boot Camp - disabled

Video and 3D

  • Autodesk Inventor Pro 2008 crashes - fixed
  • Inability to use ATI Radeon 2600 graphic card with iMac in some cases - fixed
  • DirectX and OpenGL performance - improved

Parallels Explorer&Mounter

  • Mounter as a default application for browsing HDD files
  • Command+Up & Command+Down support - added
  • Columns view: listing the same column items using the keyboard shortcuts - added

As a beta, there are still some known issues, a few more than in the previous build:

Stability and resources usage

  • In some cases, fatal error E054.01.002 may occur on virtual machine startup


  • In some rare cases Vista Logoff/Login in Coherence may cause segmentation fault
  • Windows desktop may show up when transparent windows are used
  • Start button in Vista may become blank (just move mouse pointer over it and it will be OK)
  • Transparent windows may be displayed incorrectly
  • Small artefacts in Expose may appear
  • Accidental artefacts after unminimizing windows from Dock may appear
  • Problems with VirtueDesktops
  • Leopard Spaces are not fully supported

Parallels Tools

  • Parallels Tools Center may use 100% CPU after drag-and-drop operation
  • In rare cases Coherence service may not be started

Disks and folders sharing

  • Some slowness may be noticed during logging off in Windows guest OS
  • Error may occur during Windows disk mounting to the Finder


  • Segmentation fault may occur while reverting to specific snapshot

Parallels Explorer&Mounter

  • Some problems during drag-and-drop operations still may occur
  • Incorrect disk size may be displayed
  • Transmission between different columns with keyboard is not available yet

We downloaded Build 5144, uninstalled Build 5120, installed Build 5144 and installed the new Parallels Tools in each of our virtual machines, Windows XP SP2 and Vista Ultimate. No problems were encountered during installation nor during fairly extensive use over the holiday weekend. [Bill Fox]

[9/4] MicroNet released Low Cost Fantom Drives G-Force MegaDisk Network Attached Storage in 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 Terabytes

MicroNet Technology unveiled a new network attached storage (NAS) solution for the masses. It combines multi-terabyte capacity, integrated print server, iTunes music server and zero-touch automated backup starting at $339.

MicroNet's new Fantom Drives G-Force MegaDisk NAS appliance is the latest addition to the G-Force MegaDisk family of storage products, and the first NAS RAID solution in the G-Force MegaDisk product line.  The MegaDisk NAS incorporates many of the features of MicroNet's higher-end Platinum NAS product line but with pricing and zero-touch backup technology that make the products ideally suited for home and SOHO customers.

The Fantom Drives G-Force MegaDisk NAS products are currently available in 1.0 TB, 1.5 TB and 2.0 TB configurations priced at $339, $579 and $999 respectively. [Bill Fox]

[9/4] New Apple Mini-Store in El Paso, TX, Best Buy

As we have noted before, Apple is expanding its business relationship with Best Buy. This is good news because Best Buy has a broader reach than CompUSA and CompUSA is in decline, closing lots of its stores.

Reader Tim Holt wrote that he saw the new Apple mini-store in his local Best Buy in El Paso, TX. According to Tim it fits in a space roughly 20' by 10'. There's a large black obelisk with Apple logos on either side and a 40" flat screen TV monitor showing Apple videos. In front, there is a wooden table with two new aluminum iMacs and all models of MacBooks running and a few software titles, mostly iLife '08 and iWork '08. He said its very nicely done, clean and sleek, and should give CompUSA a good run for its money. [Bill Fox]

[9/1] QuickerTek lowered Prices on Highest Speed "n" Wi-Fi Products

We recently favorably reviewed several of QuickerTek's "n" Wi-Fi products, including the nQuicky PCI Upgrade Card for Power Macs and the nQuicky PCMCIA/Cardbus Card for PowerBook G4s. At the time, each sold for $149.95. Now, QuickerTek's price is $99.95 and $59.95 respectively.

QuickerTek is also offering the nNano USB "n" Wi-Fi dongle that fits any Mac with a USB port for $59.95. [Bill Fox]

[9/1] Apple dropping NBC TV from iTunes in September due to Outrageous Price Demand

Late Friday, Apple announced that it will not be selling NBC television shows for the upcoming television season on its online iTunes Store. The move follows NBC's decision to not renew its agreement with iTunes after Apple declined to pay more than double the wholesale price for each NBC TV episode, which would have resulted in the retail price to consumers increasing to $4.99 per episode from the current $1.99. ABC, CBS, FOX and The CW, along with more than 50 cable networks, are signed up to sell TV shows from their upcoming season on iTunes at $1.99 per episode.

"We are disappointed to see NBC leave iTunes because we would not agree to their dramatic price increase," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of iTunes. "We hope they will change their minds and offer their TV shows to the tens of millions of iTunes customers."

Apple's agreement with NBC ends in December. Since NBC would withdraw their shows in the middle of the television season, Apple has decided to not offer NBC TV shows for the upcoming television season beginning in September. NBC supplied iTunes with three of its 10 best selling TV shows last season, accounting for 30 percent of iTunes TV show sales.

It's unclear that by losing NBC TV whether or not there will be a significant effect on Apple's iTunes service. Apple also lost Universal Music Group's annual agreement for its iTunes music service so Universal may not provide Apple all of its artists' tracks. [Bill Fox]

[9/1] Software Special of the Day: Lumen 1.2.1 (Universal) for 50% Off--$4.99 Today Only

Lumen is a simple and beautiful puzzle game. The objective is to light up checkpoints by bouncing, coloring, and maneuvering a laser beam through obstacles. Although puzzles may seem easy at first sight, they can be quite a challenge. The careful attention to detail and the colorful graphics make Lumen a joy to play. An online database of puzzles ensures that new puzzles are constantly added.

Normally $10, Lumen 1.2.1 (Universal) is offered for $4.99 today only--that's 50% off as Today's MacUpdate Software Promo. [Bill Fox]


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