October 2007 News Archive
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Copyright 2007 by Bill Fox All rights reserved.
Last Updated: October 31, 2007
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[10/31] Hands-On Review--Logitech diNovo Edge Keyboard, Aluminum iMac meets its Mate
So, we have this computer product. It features a laser-cut single sheet of high-gloss black Plexiglas acrylic with brushed aluminum trim. It is very thin. And it comes with its own black microfiber polishing cloth. Sound familiar?
Is it a knockoff of the mid-summer 2007 aluminum iMacs? No. This device appeared in October of 2006. Perhaps it influenced the design of the aluminum iMacs? Well, not likely but it certainly has a simpatico style.
It's the Logitech diNovo Edge keyboard. If you slip it into its display base aka charging station so it stands vertically (ahem...on Edge!) in front of a new aluminum iMac, its sleek distinctive resemblance to the aluminum 2007 iMacs - it has an aluminum "chin" across the bottom (aka wrist rest) and gloss black trim above - is immediately obvious and remarkable. Hey! Wait a minute! How many keyboards have you ever had where the manufacturer offered a "display stand?" None than I can recall.
Its appearance attracted us to it. A classy-looking keyboard that matches up well with the styling cues of our new 24" aluminum iMac. But does it work well with the new iMacs? And is it compatible with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard? While we'll elaborate further, the short answers are Yes and Yes!
The Logitech diNovo Edge Keyboard is a standard QWERTY 84 key Bluetooth keyboard that functions out of the box once the iMac on board Bluetooth technology discovers it and determines that it is an ANSI North American keyboard. The Logitech-provided USB Bluetooth dongle isn't needed.
Initially, we installed the Edge on our iMac while it was running Mac OS X 10.4.10 Tiger. All went well. A few minutes later, FedEx delivered Leopard! After we installed it using the diNovo Edge, Leopard needed to rediscover the keyboard once. Since then, it has worked flawlessly without any disconnections. Solid.
It has a Windows logo Command key that functions just like the Apple logo Command key on our Apple keyboards. If you know anything about the history of how Windows acquired the touch and feel of the Apple OS, then this key is a metaphor. (Ahem. Only the logo is different.) The Edge does not have a numerical key pad; we'd prefer a NumPad if only for the familiar location of the big Enter key but we'll survive. Road warriors with laptops have long since done so. The Edge includes a clever, round backlit TouchDisc with left and right mouse click buttons for those who prefer touch pads. We don't. But the Edge dimensions - about 16" long and 8 3/8" deep - do appeal.
It is remarkably thin. Logitech tells us it measures 13 mm (or just 0.51 inches) from the top of its Plexiglas housing to the desk. The top edge can be propped up with two little foldout feet to double the height for those who prefer an inclined keyboard.
One reason for its thinness is that - look Ma! - no replaceable flashlight batteries needed. The Edge keyboard is the first wireless rechargeable keyboard of our acquaintance. Logitech says the keyboard is equipped with lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries that never need replacement. And it appears to have remarkable endurance and recuperative powers. Out of the box, having traveled from its birthplace in China and sitting in storage for awhile, it was charged sufficiently to function for as long as we used it - several hours. Logitech claims that a five minute charge provides a day's use and a two hour charge gives the keyboard enough juice for up to a month!
While its initial appeal is its stunning appearance, this keyboard has been carefully engineered by a company that knows a lot about building computer keyboards to deliver the goods. Logitech's PerfectStroke key mechanism involves micro-scissor design. We're no judge of how it will perform with touch typing but it sure feels good to us. The key caps are concave, not flat, and matte black with white characters. Very legible and non-reflective. While the surrounding black Plexiglas is glossy, we got no reflection from it even using a keyboard light.
Here's a neat feature that works with Macs. A touch-sensitive vertical volume slider control with a sensor located entirely below the Plexiglas keyboard surface that we're told contains no moving parts. Slide a fingertip up or down to adjust volume, and feel only the smooth glossiness of the Plexiglas. A series of LEDs to the left of the volume slider glow and then fade, corresponding to the user’s fingertip motion. Cool.
A sleep button in the upper left corner with a crescent moon shape character invokes the familiar Mac Restart, Sleep, Cancel, Shut Down window. Yeah! F12 when pressed lightly brings up DashBoard and when held down, ejects media from the SuperDrive.
There are some other buttons that are intended to work with Windows that don't work out of the box with Macs, including some cool hot keys that glow a soft orange when the Fn key is pressed. And Logitech's Command Center software doesn't recognize the Edge as Mac-compatible to program them. Frankly, that's OK with us. We don't use F keys either. But, if you're of a mind to program any or all of them, you can do it with a $15 shareware program called ControllerMate. A Mac blogger, Derek Punsalan, has a video tutorial on his web site that shows you how. He also provides a video intro to the diNovo Edge that's worth watching. Just remember that the images don't do this keyboard justice.
We recently favorably reviewed the Kensington Ci70 Desktop Set, a wireless keyboard and mouse. We liked the keyboard (and loved the mouse). We'll hand off the Kensington set to someone else. We've bought another Kensington mouse, a black Kensington Ci75m Wireless one this time - to mate up with the diNovo Edge. Life is good.
Finally, let's talk price. When this ultra-thin, high-concept, minimalist design keyboard first came to our attention, we dismissed it as beyond our pocketbook at $200 MSRP. But street prices for the Logitech diNovo Edge keyboard are now much lower and Logitech has been offering significant rebates when purchased through third-party vendors. We hate rebates but we love this keyboard. [Dana Baggett]
[10/31] Brief Hands-On Report--Parallels Desktop for Mac 3.0 Beta Build 5540 for Leopard
Parallels released Build 5540 of Parallels Desktop for Mac 3.0, a beta version with Leopard compatibility. The update is available for download via MacUpdate.com or from this Parallels Web page.
We were unable to launch Parallels Desktop for Mac 3.0 Build 5160 so we downloaded the beta Build 5540, uninstalled Build 5160 and installed Build 5540. Then we launched our two virtual machines, Windows XP and Windows Vista Ultimate, updated the Parallels Tools for each and updated each operating system. The first time we launched Windows XP we got a kernel panic in Leopard and had to reboot. However, all subsequent launches occurred without incident. We encountered no other issues while updating and using both operating systems. [Bill Fox]
[10/30] Leopard Experience 4--Our General Experience So Far
We have been using Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard as our principal OS since Saturday and here are our initial observations:
1. The GUI is the first thing that meets the eye. Some don't like it, or parts of it, but we do. Overall, we like the fact that it is more unified than Tiger and that it shows off the graphics capabilities of Macs.
The shading contrast between the active window and the inactive windows is very helpful. One can pick out the active window quite easily in Leopard.
We think the dock is the coolest ever and, since we keep the dock on the right side, we're very disappointed that Apple yielded at the last minute to the gripers among developers. Apple changed the dock when on the sides to a shaded strip reminiscent of Windows Vista when the graphics card is not up to snuff--that sucks. We hope that someone will post a way to get the real Leopard dock back on the sides.
We also like the transparent menu bar but that is a very minor change. The transparent dropdown menus are back. Remember they (and other transparencies) were in the original release of Mac OS X 10.0 as part of the aqua theme. Apple killed them in 10.1 or 10.2 to increase the slow performance of Mac OS X that everyone complained about.
Finally, we like the iTunes design theme for the Finder and Mail. It's efficient and attractive.
2. Our favorite upgrade is Apple Mail. We haven't used its new stationery, notes and to-do features yet and may not ever but the speed increase in opening mailboxes and messages is terrific. Tiger Mail always bogged down to a crawl, requiring re-launching and rebuilding of mailboxes frequently to maintain a reasonable usage speed. Of course, we have numerous email accounts and mailboxes and get hundreds of messages a day, much more than an average user. Leopard Mail is quick and efficient and saving us a lot of time. Also, it does not choke on non-standard security certificates the way that Tiger Mail did, forcing us to use Thunderbird for one account's LDAP directory. We now just use Leopard Mail.
3. Our favorite new feature is Time Machine. Previously, we used the simple Apple Backup application, free for .Mac members. Time Machine is very simple, works automatically in the background and is really cool to use. We don't often need to recover a file but Time Machine will make it a pleasure when we do.
Time Machine is not without its issues. For example, unless the drive that Time Machine backs up to is excluded from Spotlight, it gets re-indexed very frequently, slowing down your Mac significantly. Another is that Time Machine backs up all volumes/drives attached to and open on your Mac and Parallels' virtual machines unless they are excluded. We had to make all of these exclusions to keep Time Machine from filling our 570GB external dual drive with just a days worth of data.
4. On the down side, stability is still somewhat of an issue with Leopard. Despite the apparent high software compatibility that we noted yesterday, we've had more application quits and kernel panics in the past three days with Leopard than we've had in the past year with Tiger. It doesn't happen incessantly and they haven't caused us any real problems, they are just annoying and it's time consuming to save more frequently and to have to reboot and re-launch occasionally. If this is a significant problem for you, we'd suggest you wait until your principal applications have been updated explicitly for Leopard and Apple releases 10.5.1.
Our other Leopard Experience articles:
1. Time Machine needs 2X Disk Space? Nope [Updated]
2. Older Mac Installations, 450MHz and 1.4GHz PowerMac G4 Cube
3. Amazing Software Compatibility, Only a Few Snags [Updated]
[10/30] SMU's Cox School of Business goes All Mac
The Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas has officially made the switch from PCs to Macs. More than 30 classroom podiums have been retrofitted with Mac minis, while around 100 lab computers have iMacs. All platforms dual-boot both Windows XP and Mac OS X Tiger.
"By installing Intel Macs, we're enhancing and diversifying our computer platforms by keeping Windows XP while adding OS X," said Allen Gwinn, senior director of technology for the Cox School. "Upgrading to Apple platforms is the only way to do this."
SMU Cox reported about 20 percent Mac use by its students and expects this number to increase, which could signal a trend reversal in desktop market share. The integration of Intel Mac platforms will allow the school to remain consistent with computing trends whichever direction the trend takes. [Bill Fox]
[10/29] Leopard Experience 2--Older Mac Installations, 450MHz and 1.4GHz PowerMac G4 Cube
We have two PowerMac G4 Cubes that we still use from time to time. One is a completely stock 450GHz PowerMac G4 Cube and the other is an upgraded 1.4GHz PowerMac G4 Cube with an Nvidia GeForce2 MX graphics card. We have used the stock Cube as our office server running Mac OS X Server 10.4.10.
We could not get Leopard to install from the installation DVD on either Cube. The installer stopped right away on the stock Cube displaying the message that Leopard can not be installed on this Mac. The installer got a bit farther on the upgraded Cube but quit early in the process stating that it could not validate the contents of the 'BaseSystem' package.
So, we formatted an 80GB external FireWire drive with the Apple Partition Map scheme, creating 10GB and 64GB partitions. Then we installed Leopard on the smaller 10GB partition using our 12" PowerBook G4 and updated it with Software Update. Finally, we booted the Cubes from the external FireWire drive and used Carbon Copy Cloner v3.0.1 to clone the Leopard installation from the external FireWire drive to the internal drives of the two Cubes. The stock Cube has only a 20GB drive, the reason for creating the small partition on the external FireWire drive. The upgraded Cube has an 80GB drive.
Both Cubes are now running off Leopard on their internal hard disk drives and they are running well, even the 450MHz Cube. It is obvious that the installer has been specifically designed to prevent the installation on Macs with CPUs slower than 867MHz even when they have been upgraded with a faster CPU, better graphics card, larger/faster hard drive and 1Gb of memory.
An alternative and shorter procedure would have been to boot both Cubes into target FireWire mode and then clone the drive of our PowerBook G4 onto each. However, we did not want everything already on our PowerBook G4 to be transferred to each Cube. [Bill Fox]
[10/29] [Updated] Leopard Experience 3--Amazing Software Compatibility, Only a Few Snags--A slight Retraction
All of our main applications work well, if not 100%, on Leopard: all recent Apple applications, of course, but also AppleWorks 6.2.9; Adobe Creative Suite 3 (Dreamweaver and Photoshop Extended) GoLive 8.0.1 and Photoshop Elements 4.0.1; Microsoft Office 2004 and v.X; SimpleFTP 3.1.2; NetNewsWire Lite 2.1.1; Mozilla's Camino, Firefox, SeaMonkey and Thunderbird; Pantone's hueyPRO 1.5; MUMenu 2.1.2; Opera 9.2.4; Oracle Calendar 10.1.2; Temperature Monitor 4.3; TypeIt4Me 3.1.1; and WeatherPop 2.6.1 plus many more.
There are only two applications/plugins we frequently use that have significant problems with Leopard: CoreDuoTemp 1.0 for keeping track of the Intel CPUs temperature, load and speed; and Aaron Harnly's Letterbox 0.16 that adds a side-by-side three-pane view to Apple Mail. Fortunately, Aaron Harnly's Web page says he's working on a Leopard version.
Update: Since posting this article, we've had a number unexpected quits in Dreamweaver CS3, several per day, so we now save very often while looking forward to an update from Adobe. We've also discovered that our iSight camera no longer works with iVisit 3.7.1--a new video framework is probably required as when we moved from Panther to Tiger. Parallels did not work either and the new "Leopard compatible" beta Build 5540 caused kernel panics. [Bill Fox]
[10/29] TidBIT Publishing released Leopard Editions of Five Take Control Books
In conjunction with the launch of Leopard, Take Control Books released Leopard editions of five of their most popular electronic books. Together, these ebooks help Mac users install Leopard successfully, customize its new and revamped features, share files more elegantly than was possible in Tiger, manage fonts effectively, and much more. The ebooks are available individually or in discounted bundles, and owners of previous editions receive a discount. Free samples and print versions are also available.
Take Control of Upgrading to Leopard, by Joe Kissell, shows readers the best ways to install, clean up after installation, troubleshoot problems, and even downgrade if necessary. 125 pages, $10.
Take Control of Customizing Leopard, by Matt Neuburg, provides a tour of new and revamped features in Leopard, including Time Machine, Spaces, Quick Look, Cover Flow, and the Path Bar. 138 pages, $10.
Take Control of Users & Accounts in Leopard, by Kirk McElhearn, explains different types of accounts in Leopard, how to share files between accounts, and what can be limited with new features in Leopard's parental controls. 88 pages, $10.
Take Control of Sharing Files in Leopard, by Glenn Fleishman, makes file sharing easy between two Macs, among a mixed-platform office workgroup, a home network, or between far-flung computers on the Internet. 89 pages, $10.
Take Control of Fonts in Leopard, by Sharon Zardetto, explains everything Mac users need to know about fonts in Mac OS X and what has changed with Leopard, with a focus on Leopard's new and updated fonts, font activation capabilities, font previewing, and font sample printing. 217 pages, $15.
"We've been working long hours with the pre-release versions of Leopard to ready these books for simultaneous release with Leopard because Mac users shouldn't have to wait for professional-quality documentation," Adam Engst, publisher of Take Control Books, said.
Customers can save 25% by purchasing Take Control of Upgrading to Leopard with Take Control of Customizing Leopard. All five ebooks may be purchased together at a 30% discount. [Bill Fox]
[10/27] Brief Hands-On Report--Login & Keychain Update 1.0 for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard
Apple released Login & Keychain Update 1.0 for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. It is available via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,
The Login & Keychain Update 1.0 for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard is recommended for all Leopard installations. It addresses issues you may encounter when:
- Logging in with an account originally created in Mac OS X 10.1 or earlier that has a password of 8 or more characters.
- Connecting to some 802.11b/g wireless networks.
- Changing the password of a FileVault-protected account.
We downloaded and installed the update via Software Update on several Macs--it required a restart. As our Macs were shutting down, a new dialog box popped up stating that the Boot Caches were being updated--it was dismissed with an OK button and after awhile shutdown finished and our Macs restarted. Our 12" PowerBook G4 uses a "g" Wi-Fi network and has its home folder protected with FileVault. No issues were encountered from installing the update. [Bill Fox]
[10/27] [Updated] Leopard Experience--Time Machine Needs 2X Disk Space? Nope
We've got Leopard up and running on our 15" 2.4GHz MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo (LED) and 24" 2.8GHz aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo. We used an Archive and Install installation option on the former and an Upgrade installation option on the latter. We've let Spotlight re-index our drives and set up Time Machine to work on external FireWire 800 drives, a 570GB dual drive for our MacBook Pro with about 150GB on its internal drive and a 320GB single drive for our iMac with about 35GB on its internal drive.
Time Machine took up 300GB of the external drive for our MacBook Pro and 70GB of the external drive for our iMac, two times the space on their respective internal drives but it's really cool! Update: Does this 2X use mean that Time Machine's overhead is 100 percent? Fortunately, the answer is no. We have discovered that Time Machine not only backs up your internal hard drive but also any device with data on it that is attached to your Mac. So the 300MB use by Time Machine on our MacBook Pro also included over 150GB of data on another external drive that we used for .Mac Back Up backups and manual backups of our Parallels Windows XP and Vista virtual machines.
Furthermore, if you don't want Time Machine to keep track of your entire hard disk drive, go to System Preferences->Time Machine->Options and highlight (select) the backup drive then click on the "+" sign button and you can exclude folders and files from Time Machine. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[10/27] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple updated Aperture to v1.5.6 for Leopard Compatibility
Apple released Aperture 1.5.6 Update for its digital photography workflow application. It is available via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,
Aperture 1.5.6 addresses issues related to performance, improves overall stability, and supports compatibility with Mac OS X v10.5. Other specific issues addressed in this release include:
- Resolves some minor compatibility issues with iPhoto 7.1, which organizes images by Event rather than Roll.
- Addresses issues related to metadata and sort order when sharing previews with iLife Media Browser.
- Improves reliability of queries based on Import Session.
- Addresses reliability when recovering an Aperture Library from a Vault.
This update is recommended for all Aperture users.
We downloaded and installed the update via Software Update. No issues were encountered. [Bill Fox]
[10/27] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released Backup 3.1.2 Update for Leopard Compatibility
Apple released Backup 3.1.2 Update for its .Mac backup and archiving application. It is available via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,
Backup 3.1.2 is highly recommended for all users of Backup 3. This update includes reliability improvements and improves compatibility with Leopard and iWork '08.
We downloaded and installed it via Software Update. We completed our evening backup with version 3.1.2 with no apparent issues. [Bill Fox]
[10/26] Leopard in the Wild Today--$99 at CompUSA with E-Rebate--Our Install Tips
Apple's Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" should be widely available today or tonight in retail stores and via courier for online orders. Apple's SRP is $129 for a single license or $199 for a family 5-pack.
A reader wrote that CompUSA will have Leopard for $99 single/$169 family with an e-rebate on Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately, all CompUSA's in San Diego have been closed in an economy move.
We have a retail box copy on order from Apple that should arrive early today.
Leopard's system requirements are lengthy:
1. An 867MHz G4 CPU or better
2. 512MB RAM
3. DVD drive for installation
4. 9GB of free hard disk drive space
5. Internet connection (some features)
6. .Mac service (some features)
7. Large external hard disk drive (for Time Machine)
8. iSight camera or equivalent (for Photo Booth and video iChat)
9. 300Kbps Internet (for Screen Sharing in iChat)
10. Built-in IR and Apple Remote (for Front Row)
11. 1.6GHz CPU for DVD Player
12. Intel processor (for Boot Camp and Backdrop effects)
Leopard will not normally install on a Mac with a slower than 867MHz G4 CPU although hacks may appear later. Will Leopard install on a Mac with an upgraded G4 CPU faster than 867MHz that originally had one slower than 867MHz? The developer releases would not install on our stock 450MHz G4 Cube nor when it was upgraded with a 1.4GHz PowerLogix G4 but we do not yet know about the final release.
Here are our installation tips:
1. Run a disk utility on your hard drive under your current version of Mac OS X to make sure that it is in top shape. Do not run any except Leopard's Disk Utility once Leopard is installed unless the manufacturer has explicitly stated that it is compatible.
2. Clone your current hard drive to an external FireWire (or USB2.0 if an Intel Mac) hard drive to use as a backup or to use for installing your current applications and files like a new computer. You will need a large external hard drive, preferably connecting by FireWire 800 or 400, for Leopard's Time Machine.
3. Disconnect all external devices.
4. Install Leopard. The methods below range from the lowest to highest risk of subsequent problems.
A. "Wipe" your computer's hard drive, install Leopard, re-install your applications from scratch and copy your files from the backup. This will give you the most problem-free installation in return for a bit of time, especially if you have lots of applications. Really consider this option if you have been having any instability problems.
B. "Wipe" your computer's hard drive, install Leopard and install your applications and home folder from the backup using Leopard's Migration Assistant.
C. Use Leopard's "Archive and Install" installation option on your internal hard drive. This may require some minor software re-installation.
D. Remove all haxies and other software that adds things to the system folders or modifies your system files in any way, then use Leopard's "Upgrade" installation option.
E. Use Leopard's "Upgrade" installation option on your internal hard drive. This is the simplest and quickest, especially if you have not been having any instability problems and have not installed any software that adds to or modifies your system folders.
Enjoy Apple's latest and greatest OS! [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[10/26] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released iMac MXM Update 1.0
Apple released iMac MXM Update 1.0 for the white late 2006 24" iMac. It is available for download via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,
The iMac MXM Update improves video compatibility with Boot Camp on certain 24" iMac models.
It fixes this issue:
Some iMac (Late 2006 24-inch) computers may display a black screen when booting from the Windows XP installer CD, instead of the standard blue installation screen. The computer will respond to the correct setup key presses and continue the installation even though the built-in display has no video.
We downloaded and installed the update from the stand-alone file. Software Update didn't find it, possibly because we do not have Boot Camp installed. No issues were noted otherwise during several hours use. [Bill Fox]
[10/26] Brief Hands-On Report--Apple released iLife Support 8.1.1
Apple released iLife Support 8.1.1 and it is available via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,
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.
We downloaded and installed the update via Software Update. No issues were encountered in brief use of each iLife '08 application. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[10/26] Apple released iLife '06 Updates for Leopard Compatibility
The iLife '06 updates are:
iDVD 6.0.4 -- This update improves overall stability and supports compatibility with Mac OS X 10.5.
GarageBand 3.0.5 -- This update supports compatibility with Mac OS X 10.5.
They are also available via Software Update if you have iLife '06 installed. [Bill Fox]
[10/26] Washington Apple Pi October General Meeting Tomorrow--Apple's iPhone and Investment Software Featured
Two topics, Apple iPhones and investment software, will be featured at the monthly meeting of Washington Apple Pi on Saturday Oct. 27 at 9:30 a.m. Apple Pi is the Metro Washington DC AMUG.
Members will talk about the Apple iPhone, the gadget that has revolutionized the cell phone experience and become the handheld away-from entertainment center. The presentation will include how the iPhone capabilities provide "neat solutions" to real life situations.
Etana Finkler, another Apple Pi member, will handle the second topic, investment software to help individuals and investment clubs make intelligent decision on when to buy, sell, of hold stocks using the National Association of Investor Corporation (NAIC) methodology. Finkler will discuss will discuss investing in general, different investment methodologies including the one created by NAIC in the fifties, and her experiences using Churr Software’s Stock Investment Guide.
Churr Software offers its Stock Investment Guide software on both Macintosh and PC platforms. Churr clients are about evenly split between individual investors and investment clubs. [Bill Fox]
[10/25] Seagate Hard Drive Owners--Proposed Class Action Settlement over Drive Size Claims
Reminiscent of the old lawsuit against Apple over imprecise claims of monitor size, a class action was filed against Seagate for overstating the capacity of its hard drives by some 7 percent. The proposed settlement gives up to nearly $1.8 million to the lawyers and, woohoo!, unspecified backup software (or its unspecified cash equivalent) to people who purchased Seagate drives from March 22, 2001, to September 26, 2007 (or January 1, 2006 for cash). Guess who really wins--again!
Here is the settlement Web site to file claims or to opt out of the class. [Bill Fox]
[10/24] Apple Stores plan Leopard Celebration "All Leopard. All night."
The Apple Stores will open at 6 pm on Friday for an "All Leopard. All night." celebration. The notice states that there will be "Live demos, free T-shirts, and a chance to be among the first to test-drive the most impressive Mac OS X version yet." However, rather than "all night," the celebration lasts only until 10 pm. See below. [Bill Fox]
[10/24] City-wide Wi-Fi boosted by iPhone
Demand for city-wide Wi-Fi and not just hot spots will be boosted by Apple's iPhone according to Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital. He gave his prognostication at the MuniWireless conference held early this week in Santa Clara, CA, as reported by CNet.
Apple has sold about 1.4 million iPhones through September 30th and plans to sell 10 million in 2008. Apple's iPhone uses Wi-Fi for high speed networking instead of 3G cell phone networks. Steve Jobs has repeatedly stated that Apple's strategy is to use Wi-Fi. Now other Wi-Fi enabled cell phones are hitting the market, the combined demand may finally be sufficient to make city-wide Wi-Fi economically feasible. [Dana Baggett & Bill Fox]
[10/24] Red Marble Games released Holiday Fun Pack for $34.42, 25% Off
Red Marble Games announced the immediate availability of its Holiday Fun Pack bundle for the 2007 holiday season. The Red Marble Games Holiday Fun Pack contains two wildly popular gaming titles, Democracy and Kudos. Democracy is an award-winning simulation game that lets players assume the role of president or prime minister in order to run the country.
The game's deep simulations let players control everything from tariffs on imports to marriage laws, and provides countless hours of entertainment. Kudos is another amazing simulation strategy game that's turn-based and allows players to completely control the lives of their game characters. The players decide where their simulated people work, whom they hang out with, what they do to relax, and so much more - just as in real life. Kudos is a Yahoo top-games download recipient, and a favorite among gamers on a wide variety of gaming platforms.
From October 22, 2007 through January 31, 2008, customers can purchase the Red Marble Games Holiday Fun Pack containing both Democracy and Kudos for only $34.42 (USD). That's a 25% discount over the price of each game purchased separately. Moreover, customers can chose to directly download the Holiday Fun Pack bundle from the Red Marble Games web site, have a Holiday Fun Pack gift certificate sent to the recipient of their choice, or have a custom Red Marble Games Holiday Fun Pack CD sent to their special someone complete with a custom message.
Both Kudos and Democracy are Universal Mac OS X applications that require Mac OS X 10.3 or better. For complete details and to purchase the Red Marble Games Holiday Fun Pack, visit the Red Marble Games web site. [Bill Fox]
[10/24] Samsung to make 128GB NAND Flash Memory Card in 2009
It's out there a bit still but flash memory continues to get larger and will eventually overtake the magnetic hard drive as a storage device. Samsung Electronics Co. has developed the world's first 64 Gigabit (Gb) multi level cell (MLC) NAND flash memory chip by using 30-nanometer (nm)-class process technology. A maximum of 16 64Gb flash devices can be combined to make a 128 Gigabyte (GB) memory card that can store 80 DVD resolution movies or 32,000 MP3 music files.
The 30nm-class 64Gb NAND flash marks the eighth consecutive year that the density of memory has doubled and the seventh straight year that the nanometer scale has improved for NAND flash since the 100nm 1Gb NAND chip was developed in 2001. The new flash device was successfully developed through the use of a new manufacturing process called self-aligned double patterning technology (SaDPT). SaDPT resolves a critical bottleneck to forming sub-30nm circuitry by expanding the role that conventional lithography technology plays in the manufacturing process.
Samsung expects to begin production of 30nm-class 64Gb flash devices in 2009. According to Gartner Dataquest, the accumulated sales for 64Gb NAND flash and higher density devices could reach up to $20 billion in just three years (2009-2011). [Bill Fox]
[10/24] Mobile e-learning on an iPod touch with dominKnow's new Touch Learning Center portal
dominKnow announced the beta version of its iPod touch and iPhone-optimized Touch Learning Center portal for the dominKnow Learning Content Management System (LCMS). With access to the dominKnow Learning Center through the iPod touch-optimized portal, learners can log in and take full online courses, access reference objects and open documents and Web links added as resources to any course. Learners can also access progress reports and their internal dominKnow LCMS e-mail inbox.
iPod Touch and iPhone users can try this experience for themselves since dominKnow has posted a short sample course online in the Touch Learning Center portal. [Bill Fox]
[10/24] PANTONE Color Cue 2 released for Graphics Designers
Pantone released its award-winning handheld color identification device, PANTONE Color Cue 2, now includes nearly 4,000 new colors for significantly increased color matching capabilities to empower designers across the graphic arts, fashion, home, architect and interior design industries. A portable, affordable, single device, Color Cue 2 allows users to toggle across multiple PANTONE Libraries to identify color inspirations and match them to PANTONE Colors wherever they go.
PANTONE Color Cue 2 is available immediately for $349 on the Pantone Web site and through select distribution partners. [Bill Fox]
[10/23] Apple reported most profitable Q4 and highest Mac sales ever, Earnings beat Analysts' Estimate by 17+ percent
Apple had an outstanding fourth quarter of their 2007 fiscal year (Q4 2007) posting a $904 million net profit, its highest fourth quarter profit ever. Earnings per share (EPS) came in at 101 cents on revenue of $6.22 billion, busting the Thomson Financial analysts' consensus estimate of 86 cents by over 17 percent (see chart at right). Gross margin was up to a very remarkable 33.6 percent and cash on hand and short term investments now total $15.4 billion, up from $13.8 billion last quarter. Compared with last year's fourth quarter (Q4 2006), Q4 2007 is up 67 per cent in net profit, up 29 per cent in revenue, up 63 percent in earnings per share and up 15 per cent in gross margin.
This terrific financial performance was driven largely by increased sales of Macs by 34 percent and increased sales of iPods by 17 percent over Q4 2006. The growth rate in Macs sales continued to exceed the industry average resulting in an increase in market share. The sales of Macs reached 2,164,000, the highest of any quarter on record by over 400,000 units.
Sales of Apple notebooks, the MacBook and MacBook Pro, were 1,347,000 or some 62 percent of total Mac sales. The notebook sales were up 37 percent from Q4 2006.
Desktop (iMac, Mac mini, Mac Pro and Xserve) sales at 817,000 were up 31 percent from Q4 2006. Apple executives ascribed the improved desktop performance to the recent introduction of the aluminum iMacs.
iPod sales reached 10,200,000, up 17 percent from Q4 2006. Apple TV sales are lumped in the "Other music" category which showed a 33 percent increase over Q4 2006.
iPhone sales for Q4 2007 were 1,119,000, up from 270,000 for the few days of Q3 2007.
Regionally, sales revenue was up over Q4 2006 in two geographical areas (Americas and Europe) by 25 and 36 percent but down 11 percent in Japan. The Apple retail stores are still doing well. Sales revenue increased 42 percent over Q4 2006. New-to-Mac sales continue to be over 50 percent of their sales according to Apple executives. Apple now has a total of 197 retail stores.
A few other interesting tidbits came out during Apple's late afternoon analysts' conference call (replay it here) with Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer and COO Tim Cook answering questions:
Apple's expanding relationship with Best Buy is continuing from 230 stores today to 270 by the end of the calendar year.
While last quarter Apple executives stated that there was "absolutely no evidence" so far that the iPhone is cannibalizing iPod sales, Cook's reply yesterday was was a feint in stating that more information would be forthcoming in Apple's report on Q1 2008.
Apple's pro products in video and audio are showing incredible growth.
Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" will run on some 21 million Macs shipped over the past four years. In comparison, Tiger ran on 15 million installed Macs when it shipped.
Apple's first quarter is typically its best because of the holiday season.
"Looking ahead to the first quarter of fiscal 2008, we expect revenue of about $9.2 billion and earnings per diluted share of about $1.42," said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO.
Here is Apple's press release. [Bill Fox]
[10/23] Brief Hands-On Report--Adobe Acrobat Professional 8.1.1 is Out
Adobe Acrobat Professional 8.1.1 is available for download from MacUpdate or this Adobe Web page. For some reason, "Check for Updates" under the Help menu in our application did not find this update.
According to Adobe, Version 8.1.1:
- Addresses several PDF forms-related issues
- Provides additional stability
We downloaded the stand-alone file from Adobe's We site and updated our copy of Acrobat Professional 8.1.0. Then we used it on several PDF files without encountering any problems. [Bill Fox]
[10/23] Brief Hands-On Report--Adobe Acrobat Reader 8.1.1 is Out
The free Adobe Acrobat Reader 8.1.1 is available for download from MacUpdate or this Adobe Web page. For some reason, "Check for Updates" under the Help menu in our application did not find this update.
According to Adobe, Version 8.1.1:
- Addresses several PDF forms-related issues
- Provides additional stability
We downloaded the stand-alone file from Adobe's We site and updated our copy of Acrobat Reader 8.1.0. Then we used it on several PDF files without encountering any problems. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[10/22] Apple to release its 2007 Fourth Quarter Financial Report Later Today
Apple will release its 2007 Q4 financial report later today. The consensus estimated earning per share (EPS) from analysts is $0.86 (range $0.72-0.98) on revenue of $6.07 billion (range $5.70-6.44 billion). Apple's 2006 Q4 EPS was $0.51 so a huge increase is expected. In addition, Apple almost always beats the consensus estimate.
We expect Apple to do far better than its Q4 guidance issued last July:
"Looking ahead to the fourth fiscal quarter of 2007, we expect revenue of about $5.7 billion and earnings per diluted share of about $.65," Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO.
There will be an audio webcast conference call with analysts at 2 pm PT (5 pm ET) today where Apple executives will answer questions about the report--tune in from this Apple Web page. [Bill Fox]
[10/22] Apple posted Mac OS X Leopard Up-to-Date Program Details
Macs purchased new or as an Apple certified refurb on or after October 1, 2007, that do not have Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" installed or on an enclosed disc can upgrade to Leopard for just $9.95. The details on Apple's Mac OS X Leopard Up-to-Date Program are posted on this Apple Web page.
The program ends on December 29, 2007, and the order must be postmarked or faxed to Apple no later than January 4, 2008. [Bill Fox]
[10/22] Brief Hands-On Report--iToner 1.0.4 for Custom iPhone Ringtones
Ambrosia Software released iToner 1.0.4. It improves compatibility with iPhone Software 1.1.1 and fixes a few minor bugs. iToner 1.0.4 can be downloaded via MacUpdate.
We downloaded iToner 1.0.4 and re-sync'd our custom ringtones on our iPhone. We also made a custom ringtone on iTunes and sync'd it with our iPhone as well to learn if that would affect our custom ringtones from iToner 1.0.4--it did not. So all is well, at least until the next iPhone software update or until Apple releases its iPhone applications SDK in February. [Bill Fox]
[10/20] [Updated] Apple upgrading .Mac Service for Leopard Release--Affects "Tiger" and possibly "Panther" Users
Apple posted the following note for .Mac members:
"Due to scheduled maintenance of the .Mac Sync service beginning on October 19, 2007, members are unable to sync Safari Bookmarks or Mac OS X Address Book contacts to the www.mac.com website. We apologize for any inconvenience. Normal service will be restored ASAP. Read more for interim solutions.
Due to scheduled maintenance of the .Mac Sync service beginning on October 19, 2007, you may receive a dialogue asking "What would you like to do for this first sync?"
If you have received this dialogue, and have not recently reset your data on .Mac or registered your computer for syncing with .Mac, you can safely select to Merge data on your computer and .Mac. You may have to perform this step once on each computer that is syncing with .Mac."
However, we have not yet received nor seen the note posted by MacFixit that some .Mac sync functions will no longer work with Mac OS X less than version 10.4.10.
"Apple says 'to ensure (.Mac) uninterrupted service,' users should be running Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later. If you are running a previous version of Mac OS X 10.4.x (Tiger), you may receive the message '.Mac Sync Client is out of date.'
If you are still running Mac OS X 10.3.9, you will no longer be able to sync calendars between a Mac OS X 10.3.x-based Mac and a Mac OS X 10.4.x-based Mac. Syncing calendars between two Mac OS X 10.3.x-based Macs will still be possible."
We have three .Mac accounts. [Update: The new .Mac limitations are contained in this Apple support article.] [Bill Fox]
[10/20] Apple posted Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" Guided Tour
The Leopard Guided Tour is an excellent video on the main new features in Mac OS X 10.5. [Bill Fox]
[10/20] Brief Hands-On Report--Mozilla updated Camino, Firefox and SeaMonkey Web Browsers
Mozilla released updates for its Web browsers:
Camino 1.5.2 -- Mac OS X native for both Intel-based and PowerPC-based Macs. Here are the changes:
- Upgraded to version 22.214.171.124 of the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine, which includes several critical security and stability fixes.
- Large download lists and corrupt site icons will no longer cause Camino to stop loading pages or opening windows.
- When viewing the source of a frame, Camino now uses cached data instead of requesting the frame again.
- Pages which perform actions when the tab or window is closed now function properly.
- Camino no longer adds site icons for local files to the site icon cache.
- Upgraded the “Block flash animations” code to use Flashblock 126.96.36.199.
- Upgraded the bundled Java Embedding Plugin to version 0.9.6.3.
- Improved ad-blocking.
Firefox 188.8.131.52 -- Stand-alone cross-platform Web browser. Here are the changes:
- The following security issues were fixed:
- MFSA 2007-36 URIs with invalid %-encoding mishandled by Windows
MFSA 2007-35 XPCNativeWrapper pollution using Script object
MFSA 2007-34 Possible file stealing through sftp protocol
MFSA 2007-33 XUL pages can hide the window titlebar
MFSA 2007-32 File input focus stealing vulnerability
MFSA 2007-31 Browser digest authentication request splitting
MFSA 2007-30 onUnload Tailgating
MFSA 2007-29 Crashes with evidence of memory corruption (rv:184.108.40.206)
- Firefox 220.127.116.11 is compatible with Mac OS X 10.5, although there are some known issues affecting some media plugins.
- New Languages: Official releases for Georgian (ka) and Romanian (ro) are now available. Beta release for Kurdish (ku) is also available for testing.
SeaMonkey 1.1.5 -- All-in-one internet suite. Here are the changes:
MFSA 2007-36 URIs with invalid %-encoding mishandled by Windows
MFSA 2007-35 XPCNativeWrapper pollution using Script object
MFSA 2007-34 Possible file stealing through sftp protocol
MFSA 2007-33 XUL pages can hide the window titlebar
MFSA 2007-32 File input focus stealing vulnerability
MFSA 2007-31 Browser digest authentication request splitting
MFSA 2007-30 onUnload Tailgating
MFSA 2007-29 Crashes with evidence of memory corruption (rv:18.104.22.168)
MFSA 2007-28 Code execution via QuickTime Media-link files
We downloaded and briefly used all three Web browsers. No issues were encountered. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[10/19] Brief Hands-On Report--Flip4Mac WMV Player 22.214.171.124 for QuickTime
Telestream's Flip4Mac WMV Player internet plugin and components for QuickTime allows one to play Windows video files, .wma and .wmv in a Web browser as well as QuickTime Player.
Flip4Mac WMV Player 126.96.36.199 is available for download via MacUpdate or from within the preference pane in System Preferences under the "Update" tab. According to Telestream, the new version 188.8.131.52 includes:
- Added support for URL Stream Scripting
- Major encoding optimizations for Intel Mac
- Improved video quality when encoding 2-pass VBR
- Added support for manual Deactivation/Reactivation
- Improved ASX handling
- Improved support for MMS servers and live streams
- Improved compatibility with many different web sites
- Fixed drawing problems with Firefox
- Removed the user enabled "Create Streaming Movies" preference
We downloaded the new version via MacUpdate because the "Update" tab in Flip4Mac's preference pane stated "Your software is up-to-date," possibly because Flip4Mac remains in beta. We have not had a problem with v184.108.40.206, also a beta.
During brief use of Flip4Mac WMV Player 220.127.116.11 we encountered no problems. [Bill Fox]
[10/19] PANTONE hueyPRO and Genuine Fractals 5.0 bundled for Improved Color Fidelity and Greater Image Control--30% Off
Pantone and onOne Software announced a new digital imaging bundle that improves the color fidelity and image control for design projects. Now available at a 30 percent cost savings, the bundle includes the PANTONE hueyPRO display calibration tool and onOne Software's Genuine Fractals 5, an Adobe Photoshop plug-in for image scaling. Together, the two solutions help photographers and creative professionals create superior digital imaging projects.
The PANTONE hueyPRO/Genuine Fractals 5 bundle is available immediately for $199 SRP from Pantone and onOne Software. We favorably reviewed the PANTONE hueyPRO earlier this month. [Bill Fox]
[10/19] Apple released Remote Desktop 3.2 Update
Apple released Remote Desktop 3.2 Update, Client and Administration software. Install the Admin software first.
Apple Remote Desktop allows one to manage the Mac computers on a network. One can distribute software, provide real-time online help to end users, create detailed software and hardware reports, and automate routine management tasks, all without leaving one's desk.
Apple Remote Desktop 3.2 offers numerous improvements, including:
- Improved reliability of Copy Item tasks
- Using relative dates in reporting windows now changes to exact dates
- Open Application task now launches applications on Intel based clients
- Accented European characters are now mapped correctly
- Control/Observe windows that are resized by users now retain their dimensions
- Includes Adaptive Quality CODEC to improve screen sharing performance when using slower network connections such as DSL.
- Improved reliability with slow responding DNS servers
- Restoring a minimized Apple Remote Desktop from the Dock now behaves correctly
- OS Version column in computer lists now correctly identifies computers running Mac OS X 10.4.10
- Support for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard's Remote Management settings in
- Create Client Installer and Change Client Settings task
- Support for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard's Remote Management settings in kickstart
- Stop button in task windows now prevents unintentional duplicate tasks from being launched
- Better performance with lists that contain a large number of client computers.
[10/19] Apple released Xsan 1.4.2 Update
Apple released Xsan 1.4.2 Update: Admin, Filesystem and Uninstaller. Xsan lets multiple computers concurrently access terabytes - even petabytes - of storage on Xserve RAID over high-speed Fibre Channel.
The Xsan 1.4.2 update addresses numerous issues related to overall reliability, usability and compatibility. It includes specific fixes for:
- mounting Fibre Channel LUNs on Mac OS X Leopard
- metadata controller failovers during power outages and network disconnects
- memory related errors that can result in slow system performance or hangs
- reducing fragmentation of large files and frame drops during ingest
- preventing file system metadata corruption
- hosting Xsan volumes on Intel-based metadata controllers
- defragmenting files after a volume bandwidth expansion
- compatibility with Apple and third party applications
[10/18] Apple to allow Third-Party Applications on iPhone in February
Apple posted a letter from CEO Steve Jobs on its Hot News Web page that announced Apple will open its iPhone and iPod touch to third-party applications in February. Here is the full text:
"Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers.
"It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task. Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones—this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous. And since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target.
"Some companies are already taking action. Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer. While this makes such a phone less than “totally open,” we believe it is a step in the right direction. We are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone’s amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs.
"We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.
"P.S.: The SDK will also allow developers to create applications for iPod touch."
This is very good news. [Bill Fox]
[10/18] Brief Hands-On Report--iToner 1.0.3 adds Custom Ringtones with iPhone Software 1.1.1
Ambrosia Software released a new version of iToner, v1.0.3, that works with iPhone Software v1.1.1. It is available via MacUpdate.com or from this Ambrosia Web page.
According to Ambrosia, Version 1.0.3 of iToner,
- Support for iPhone OS 1.1.1
- GUI improvements
- More robust iTunes 7.4.x support
- Other bug fixes and enhancements
We downloaded iToner 1.0.3 and updated our copy. Then we re-installed our custom ringtones made with Garageband from songs we ripped from our CDs. They were wiped out when we had to reset our 8GB iPhone following problems we encountered after updating it with iPhone Software 1.1.1. We assigned the custom ringtones and they seem to work fine again. Hopefully, iToner will become an officially sanctioned iPhone application per Apple's third-party software announcement above.
We previously favorably reviewed iToner. [Bill Fox]
[10/18] TidBITS published Take Control of Upgrading to Leopard: Early-Bird Edition
Cutting-edge Mac users can avail themselves of expert advice as they prepare for October 26th, the date that Apple has announced for the release of Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard." In the $10 Take Control of Upgrading to Leopard: Early-Bird Edition, author Joe Kissell walks readers through evaluating if their current Macs will run Leopard well, how to make a useful backup in case of installation problems, smart ways to clear disk clutter and unnecessary files, and whether they should rethink their partitioning scheme. Also included is a 5-page appendix loaded with direct links to backup programs, maintenance utilities, and hardware drivers.
Readers will have immediate access to the full version of Take Control of Upgrading to Leopard as soon as Apple begins selling Leopard. The full version will walk readers through the Leopard installation process, cover how to test a fresh Leopard installation, and explain how to clean up loose ends and troubleshoot problems after installation. [Bill Fox]
[10/17] Apple released ATI Radeon X1900 XT Firmware Update
Apple released ATI Radeon X1900 XT Firmware Update and it is available via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,
The ATI Radeon X1900 GT Firmware Update will update the firmware on all of the ATI Radeon X1900 GT graphics cards in the Mac Pro. The updater application will be installed in the /Applications/Utilities folder.
Unfortunately, we do not have a Mac Pro with ATI Radeon X1900 XT graphics to test the firmware update for you. [Bill Fox]
[10/17] Adobe Lightroom leads Apple Aperture among Professional Photographers according to Survey
Among Mac-based professional photographers, 26.6% use Adobe Lightroom and 14.3% use Apple Aperture to process raw files. These results were obtained in a survey of 1,026 professional photographers by InfoTrends and posted on the blog of Adobe's John Nack. [Bill Fox]
[10/17] Apple reduced iTunes Plus DRM-free Music to 99 cents per Song
Apple originally introduced digital music without its FairPlay digital rights management lock and at a higher quality (256-bit vs 128-bit) via iTunes Plus for $1.29 each. The music is largely from EMI. This price reduction will make iTunes' music competitive with other music services like Amazon.com that also offer DRM-free songs. [Bill Fox]
[10/17] Orange will provide iPhone Network in France
Finally, Apple announced that Orange will provide network services for the iPhone in France when it hits the French market on November 29. Orange is the leading wireless carrier in France.
The iPhone will be sold in France through Orange’s online and direct retail stores. It will be available in an 8GB model for 399 euros including VAT for any subscription to one of the dedicated rate plans and will work with either a PC or Mac.
This announcement completes the set of announcements for the European introduction of the iPhone in the UK, Germany and France.[Bill Fox]
[10/17] It's Official--Apple will release Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" on October 26th
The heavy betting on Leopard's release date has favored Friday, October 26. for some time. Yesterday, Apple confirmed the date with press releases on Leopard and Leopard Server and a banner on its Web site.
Leopard can be pre-ordered from the Apple Store for $129.
We have been using developer builds and plan to post our comments after Leopard is officially released so stay tuned. [Bill Fox]
[10/16] Twenty-eight Colleges and Universities now on iTunes U
The iTunes Store has a relatively new feature called iTunes U which can be found at the bottom of the list in the upper-left box entitled iTunes STORE. There are now 28 colleges and universities that have public sites on iTunes U and some 200 others that have a campus-specific version rather than a public presence.
Bowdoin College has a public presence with 9,000-10,000 users per week making some 3,000 downloads. Among its offerings are three courses: Sociology 291 - Integrating Identities; Visual Arts 310 - Narrative Structures; and Italian 314 - Italian Theater. Bowdoin College also has features on Academic Life, Athletics, Campus Life and Issues in Higher Education.
Launch iTunes and go to the iTunes Store to check iTunes U for offerings from your favorite college or university. [Dana Baggett]
[10/16] MacLive Expo UK 2007 starts Thursday, October 25, in London
Following Apple Expo Paris 2007 in September, MacLive Expo UK 2007 will be held in London from October 25-27. MacLive Expo UK will be held at the National Hall of the Olympia Exhibition Centre, Kensington, London in the UK. The show will focus on design & publishing, digital photography, digital video, digital audio, iLife and entertainment and business solutions.
There is a long list of prominent Mac product vendors exhibiting but, unfortunately, Apple is not among them.
Miglia will be showcasing:
- TVMax+ -- Content for iTunes, Apple TV and your iPod in 'no time at all'. TVMax+ will be demonstrated capturing content from a variety of input sources, including Freeview boxes, Cable boxes, VHS recorders and SKY TV showing that you can put on your iPod, your iPhone or your Apple TV any content you desire.
- VideoExpress -- Miglia VideoExpress frees up the processor on your Mac while video encoding into the right format for your iPod, iPhone or Apple TV is underway, leaving you free to carry on other tasks uninterrupted. VideoExpress will encode into h.264 video up to 5x faster than a real time export and the older your Mac, the bigger the speed improvement.
[10/15] Early Warning--Pi to Offer Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and Power User Training
Apple is set to release Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" later this month, with the heavy bets on October 26th. However, you never know for sure with Apple and Leopard's release has been delayed once already. Washington Apple Pi (Pi), the Metro Washington DC AMUG, plans to offer a super training course on Leopard after it is released.
Right now the plans are in wet concrete, but this is what Pi has so far.
Location – Marriott Hotel at Tysons Corner, VA
Dates – Thursday, Jan 24th and Friday, Jan 25th
Hours – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (one hour lunch break)
Cost - $99 per day with discounts for early registration or dual attendance. Lunches will be provided for an additional $15 per day.
Parking – Free
Registration and payment will be on the Pi Store, watch for it soon! The agenda for each day will be featured there as well. [Bill Fox]
[10/12] View, Save and Backup SMS Messages on your iPhone with the Free Syphone Utility
Micromat released a beta of the freeware utility Syphone for use with Apple's iPhone. The program installs on a user's Macintosh and does not alter the iPhone in any way. It allows the user to view, save, and back up their SMS messages. This utility will be welcomed by iPhone users who make frequent use of SMS messaging. They will now be able to archive and view SMS conversations, including those that have been deleted from the iPhone.
Syphone allows an iPhone user with a Macintosh computer to:
- View synced iPhone SMS messages
- Archive SMS messages
- Import/export SMS messages
- View SMS messages offline in an iChat-like interface with selectable
- Open Address Book contacts
- View the number of sent and received messages for each contact
- Support multiple iPhones
The iPhone has a limit on the number of SMS messages it can store at one time. If this limit is exceeded, existing conversations must be deleted in order to make room for new messages. Syphone allows the user to view and/or save any of these conversations, including those that have been deleted from the iPhone. It uses the familiar iChat format to display archived SMS messages. In addition, if multiple iPhones are synced to a computer, Syphone allows viewing and archiving of messages from any of the iPhones.
Syphone is a free utility that may be downloaded from the Micromat Downloads Web page. Syphone only works on Macintosh computers running Mac OS X 10.4 or above. [Bill Fox]
[10/12] Strategic Tips Series For Developers from Spin Studio
Mac-centric strategic marketing and business development company, Spin Studio LLC, has just unveiled SpinTips for Mac developers. SpinTips is a series of strategic and tactical business hints and tips articles exclusively for developers in the Mac industry. Topics covered include Mac application development, distribution and retail, marketing and go-to-market initiatives, and more. The first article in the SpinTips series, Creating a Successful Mac Product, is available immediately with subsequent series articles to be published on a monthly basis.
"When it comes to successfully creating and deploying a product in the Mac industry, developers need strategic information that gives them the upper hand in the marketplace," said Spin Studio founder and CEO, Ed Prasek. "The SpinTips series provides developers with this critical info so they can incorporate it into their creation of a strong, cohesive business path for their Mac compatible products."
To read the first SpinTips series article, visit the Spin Studio Web site. [Bill Fox]
[10/11] Free StuffIt Expander 12.0 is Out
StuffIt Expander 12.0 is available for download from this SmithMicro Web page. StuffIt Expander decodes the .sit and .sitx file formats. The Read Me file has important installation information but does not explain what's new in version 12.0.
We downloaded and installed StuffIt Expander 12.0 and deleted version 11.0.2. The new version seems to work fine. [Dana Baggett]
[10/11] AssistiveWare released VisioVoice 1.1 for Vision-Impaired Mac Users
VisioVoice enhances access to Mac OS X for people with vision impairments through a system-wide talking interface and typing echo, text and image zoom windows, large cursors as well as a document and selection reader. VisioVoice provides naturally sounding voices through the included license of Infovox iVox for one language of choice. VisioVoice can also convert text, Word, PDF, HTML and RTF documents to audio files and iPod and iPhone-ready audiobooks. The new version of VisioVoice will be demoed at the Closing The Gap conference next week.
VisioVoice 1.1 new and improved features:
- Now provides a typing echo as the user types into any application.
- The text zoom window now updates as the user types.
- Talking interface enhanced to work not only with the mouse but also with full keyboard access.
- Talking interface and typing echo support was added for Pages and Keynote (iWork '08 and later).
- Improved support for reading text in Safari with VisioVoice's talking interface.
- Improved PDF import with smart-stripping of end-of-line hyphens.
- Japanese localization was added as well as a Japanese translation for the Mac OS X 10.4 version of Apple's VoiceOver screen reader for blind users. Use with DTalker 3.0 Japanese voices (http://www.createsystem.co.jp/dtalkerMacOSX.html).
- Enhanced compatibility with VoiceOver: if the included Infovox iVox voices are used with VisioVoice, VoiceOver will no longer cut-off speech generation.
- Now Leopard-ready.
- Many other improvements and fixes.
While VisioVoice provides as much support as is technically possible for applications that do not support Apple's accessibility API, best results can be expected when using VisioVoice with accessible applications such as TextEdit, Safari, iChat and others.
VisioVoice is a Universal Binary and can be used on PowerPC and Intel Macs running Mac OS X 10.4 or later. VisioVoice is localized in English, French, Dutch and Japanese. VisioVoice includes a license for Infovox iVox for naturally sounding voices in one language of choice. Voices are currently available for the following languages: American English, British English, Finnish, French, Canadian French, German, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Flemish, Spanish, American Spanish, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Norwegian and Swedish.
Pricing for VisioVoice is 249 Euro/USD excluding VAT for non-Scandinavian languages. Version 1.1 is a free and recommended upgrade for existing users. [Bill Fox]
[10/11] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE--Radiohead, iPod Interface, Wacky Tech Calls and Wordpress
Tonight, host Gene Steinberg and David Biedny discuss whether the independent online release of a new Radiohead album marks the beginning of the end for the music industry's dominance.
Author and commentator Kirk McElhearn is on hand to explain why he is still unhappy with interface of the latest iPods, despite a pair of recent updates. He also talks about the touchy subject of the effect of technology on politics.
And, in this week's Web Tips segment, HostICan's Denis Motova discusses some of the wackiest tech support calls he's fielded and the latest upgrade and problems with WordPress, the popular open source blogging software.
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]
[10/10] Hands-On Review--Apple's New Aluminum Wireless Keyboard
Apple announced their new aluminum Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard the same day as the new aluminum iMacs, August 7th. We immediately ordered one with a 24" aluminum iMac but when that stretched the shipping date by 3-5 weeks, we deleted the keyboard from our iMac order and ordered it separately. The keyboard finally shipped September 25, some six weeks after our iMac, and arrived September 28 after being shipped by FedEx directly from China.
Apple's new Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard is small, thin and light. It is made from anodized aluminum with "chiclet-style" white plastic keys, like those that were introduced with the latest MacBook. The tops of the keys are slightly sculpted out rather then being flat. At the top, or distal end, of the keyboard is the battery cylinder which holds three AA-size batteries. The on-off switch in on the right end. The battery cylinder is about 11/16" in diameter and gives a slight slant to the keyboard when it is placed on a flat surface. The keyboard itself is about 1/4" thick, counting the height of the keys, and about 11" wide by 5.25" deep.
The aluminum Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard is laid out like a MacBook or MacBook Pro keyboard. It lacks the numeric keypad, the document navigation keys and F14-F16 keys of a full-size keyboard. But it has the special Mac feature keys integrated with the function keys: brightness, volume, eject, play/pause, Exposé and Dashboard. To use the features, one has to download and install Apple's Keyboard Software Update 1.2 and be running Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later.
Finally, the new aluminum Wireless Keyboard has a power management system that automatically shuts off when it's not in use and instantly turns on again when a key is struck. This is good because the four AA alkaline batteries in the original white plastic Wireless Keyboard lasted us only 4-6 weeks.
To give you some idea of how different the new aluminum one is from the previous white plastic Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard, here are before and after shots of our set up:
Typing on the new keyboard takes a little getting used to but, after getting used to it, we like it much better for several reasons:
- the short throw of the keys improves our typing speed,
- we almost never get double or triple letters from a single keystroke,
- we almost never get an inadvertent "caps lock" on because of a built-in delay, and
- consistency with the MacBook Pro's keyboard.
We use a MacBook Pro while traveling, so the latter positive is really welcome. There is almost no adjustment to make when going back and forth between them.
Since the new aluminum Wireless Keyboard is so small and light, some will take it along while traveling. We did that last week. It fits very nicely in our bag and its weight is negligible given what we already lug around. However, with our 15" MacBook Pro open on our travel stand, the simple Aviator (reviewed here), we found the Wireless Keyboard to be redundant. Others may prefer typing on it instead of a notebook's keyboard.
As for battery life, the aluminum Wireless Keyboard comes with three alkaline AA batteries. All of the battery life indicator bars in System Preferences are still green after two weeks' use.
We highly recommend Apple's new aluminum Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard with an SRP of $79. (The first two images courtesy of Apple, Inc.) [Bill Fox]
[10/10] Brief Hands-On Report--Microsoft Office 2004 11.3.8 Update
Microsoft released v11.3.8 of Office 2004 for Mac and it is available via "Check for Updates" under the Help menu or as a download from MacUpdate.com. According to Microsoft.
This update fixes a vulnerability in Word 2004 that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer's memory with malicious code.
We downloaded and installed the update via "Check for Updates" and briefly used each of the applications, except for Entourage. No issues were encountered. [Bill Fox]
[10/10] Adobe updated InDesign CS3 and InCopy CS3 to v5.0.1
Adobe updated InDesign CS3 and InCopy CS3 to v5.0.1. The updates are available via "Updates ..." under the Help menu or for download from these MacUpdate.com Web pages:
InDesign CS3 5.0.1 - This update for Adobe¨ InDesign¨ CS3 software provides key fixes in the areas of indexing and table of contents, text and fonts, dictionaries, color, scripting, import/export graphics, InDesign Interchange (INX) files, XML, library files, printing, and others.
InCopy CS3 5.0.1 - This update for Adobe InCopy CS3 provides key fixes in the areas of Text and Fonts, Dictionaries, and others.
[10/9] Something New--Apple 30" Cinema Display actually works with MacBook
On Friday we noted that Gateway is selling a 30" display that works without a dual-link graphics card, something Apple has led us to believe that its 30" Cinema Display does not. After all, the technical specs that Apple has posted more or less says so. They even have "N/A" listed in the column for those Macs without dual-link support--MacBook, iMac and Mac mini.
A reader says otherwise:
"Not so, I have a 30" Cinema Display and can connect it to a MacBook via a miniDVI to DVI adapter. Only get resolution that the MacBook graphics chip provides but it works fine," wrote Terry Gritton. "If you want the full 2560x1600 pixels then you need the dual link DVI. Perhaps that is what the N/A after the MacBook refers to. I have hooked up the 30" CD to both my wife's first generation MacBook and my niece's MacBook bought 4 months ago and they both display their native resolution on the 30" CD."
That's new to us. [Bill Fox]
[10/9] Brief Hands-On Report--Pangea Software released Nanosaur 2 v2.0.4 Update
Pangea Software released Nanosaur 2 v2.0.4 update for its popular game. It is available for download via MacUpdate. According to the Revision History file,
2.0.4 Minor maintenance update.
We downloaded and updated our copy of Nanosaur 2. Then, we played it several times without encountering any issues. [Bill Fox]
[10/5] FreshBattery has 15" MacBook Pro Battery for $99.95
FreshBattery, an online source for replacement batteries that support a wide range of notebooks, now offers replacement batteries for the Apple 15" MacBook Pro.
"Apple users are particular, and they will find FreshBattery's replacement battery for the MacBook Pro will exceed their expectations," said Bob Schaffer, FreshBattery VP of Business Development.
The FreshBattery Lithium Ion battery for the MacBook Pro provides 11.1V with a capacity of 5400mAh. FreshBattery is offering an introductory price of $99.95 and the battery comes with the FreshBattery one-year warranty.
In comparison, coconutBattery shows the original battery in our 15" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo (LED) to have a capacity of 5500 mAh, nearly 2% higher in capacity, but Apple sells them for for $129, 30% higher in price than FreshBattery's battery. We don't know if there is a quality difference.
Curiously, coconut Battery also shows our original battery's current capacity to be 5566 mAh, some 1.2% higher than original. [Bill Fox]
[10/5] Gateway debuted 30" LCD Flat-Panel Display with Single DVI and VGA Input--$1699
Gateway, Inc. has a new XHD3000 30-inch Extreme HD Display that will work with most any Mac, apparently. They say it's the world's first "Quad-HD" display, delivering more than four times the resolution of standard 720p high definition along with advanced display technology. However, its resolution is 2560x1600, the same as Apple's 30" Cinema Display that has been out for several years. At $1699, the Gateway is $100 lower in price.
Unlike other 30-inch displays available today, it can be easily connected to the many computer and entertainment devices consumers enjoy via its range of inputs including HDMI, single-link/dual-link DVI-D, VGA, component, s-video and composite interfaces. It is the only ultra-high resolution display which can be directly connected to virtually any laptop or desktop computer or any consumer electronics video device. Apple's 30" Cinema Display requires dual-link DVI output.
"The Gateway XHD3000 takes a dramatic step forward in expanding Gateway’s award winning line of HD displays and raising the bar for display technology," said Gary Elsasser, senior vice president of products, Gateway. "Its combination of leading-edge technology and usability features makes it the most advanced and versatile display on the market, and the only display available that is truly equipped to handle any PC or CE video device."
In addition to video, the Gateway includes audio. The XHD3000s high-performance DXP powered speaker system delivers rich, detailed sound using eight high-powered, low-profile neodymium transducers that contribute to the system's ability to generate clean and high-volume sound with exceptional dynamic range. The Gateway XHD3000 includes discrete audio inputs for each video input and allows for automatic audio switching. The XHD3000 also has separate analog and digital audio outputs for connection to home theater systems using the display as a high bandwidth audio and video switchbox. In addition, the display has dual headphone inputs, so it can be used in a classroom or training environment to support a multi-user audio experience. [Bill Fox]
[10/5] World's Fastest Memory (DRAM) coming in December
Elpida Memory, Inc. and Rambus Inc. revealed the industry's fastest dynamic random access memory (DRAM), the 512 Megabit (Mb), 4.8GHz XDR DRAM, based on Rambus XDR memory architecture. This latest addition to the XDR DRAM family provides an industry-leading data transfer rate of 9.6 Gigabytes per second (GB/s) with a single device, making it an ideal choice for high-performance, high-volume applications such as personal computers, gaming consoles, servers, workstations and HDTV. The new RAM will be available for sampling in December 2007 and will be shipping in quantities in April 2008.
"The industry’s demand for memory bandwidth in next-generation products is growing rapidly as high-definition image data becomes more popular," said Yoshitaka Kinoshita, officer for the Digital Consumer Division of Elpida Memory, Inc. "Working with Rambus on XDR DRAM, we can provide the most cost-effective, high-bandwidth memory solution to our customers."
Elpida Memory is one of Japan's leading suppliers of DRAM. Its 512Mb, 4.8GHz XDR DRAM device is organized in 8-banks (x16/x8/x4 programmable), and with a 9.6GB/s data transfer rate delivers six times the peak bandwidth of industry-standard DDR2-800 memory devices, i.e. it requires six DDR2-800 x16 devices to achieve an equivalent data rate. The 4.8GHz XDR device is manufactured using Elpida's 70 nm process technology. [Bill Fox]
[10/4] Brief Hands-On Report--Battery Update 1.3 for 15" MacBook Pro, Is Battery Life Shorter?
Apple released Battery Update 1.3 and it is available for download via Software Update or as a stand-alone file from this Apple Web page. According to Apple,
Battery Update 1.3 updates battery firmware and addresses battery performance issues with the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Your computer's power cord must be connected and plugged into a working power source while running this update.
After the Battery Update has been installed, any additional batteries you put in your 15-inch MacBook Pro are automatically updated.
We have not been having any problems with the battery in our 15" MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo (LED). In fact, it's usable life is longer by at least 30 minutes than any other PowerBook G4 or Mac Book Pro that we have ever used. But we downloaded and installed Battery Update 1.3 via Software Update anyway and encountered no problems. The update required a restart.
In our preliminary testing, after the update the battery menu icon shows a lower battery life with a fully charged battery. If we disconnect the AC adapter with the MacBook Pro CD (LED) set to full conservation (screen brightness at last notch and nor disk use), the battery icon showed approximately 4 hours of battery life before the update. It now shows less than 3.5 hours under the same conditions. However, we have not performed any long-term use tests to confirm an actual shorter battery life. [Bill Fox]
[10/4] Tonight on The Tech Night Owl LIVE-- iPhone 1.1.1 Update, Windows on Mac, Failure of HD DVD Formats and WordPress
Tonight, host Gene Steinberg discusses the ongoing controversy about the recent iPhone 1.1.1 update and its effects on modified iPhones with several guests. Author and columnist Ted Landau will explain why he's disappointed with the update.
You'll also hear from Macworld's Senior Editor Rob Griffiths, who will also reveal his findings after reviewing the popular methods to run Windows on an Intel-based Mac.
In addition, industry analyst Ross Rubin of the NPD Group will talk about the failure, at least so far, for the new high definition DVD formats to catch on. He'll also comment on the ongoing iPhone issues.
And, in this week's Web Tips segment, HostICan's Denis Motova discusses the latest upgrade and problems with WordPress, the popular open source blogging software.
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]
[10/3] Mac sales up 55% among Freshmen at Wesleyan University
Cardinal Technologies supports technology sales at Wesleyan University and this year some 85 percent of computers sold to freshmen were Macs. That's a 55 percent increase according to Cardinal Technologies management. The increase in sales was attributed to the fact that Macs can run Windows as well as Mac OS X and they tend to be less problematic when it comes to malware. More ... [Dana Baggett]
[10/3] Karelia announced Sandvox 1.2.3--Easy Web Site Creation
Karelia Software released version 1.2.3 of Sandvox, its award-winning Web site creation software for Max OS X. Sandvox features drag-and-drop Web site assembly, live editing without a preview mode, over forty stylish designs, and seventeen different pagelets. It's the easy, elegant Web site creation tool for people who want to spend time developing their lives, not their Web sites.
Version 1.2.3 offers many enhancements which include:
- Optimizations that greatly speed up performance when publishing large sites;
- Automatic support for PicLens, a Safari plugin that generates full-screen slideshows, in all photo albums and photo weblogs;
- Support for .Mac Personal Domains;
- Improved InternetExplorer 7 compatibility;
- Improved handling of embedded images; and
- Improvements to the iMedia Browser and help documentation.
Sandvox 1.2.3 is available for downloading and purchase from Karelia's Web site in both Regular and Pro editions. Single-user licenses are US$49.00 and US$79.00, respectively. Household licenses (allowing multiple users in one household) and site licenses are also available. [Bill Fox]
[10/3] WaterField Designs Cases to protect New Apple Wireless Keyboard shipping Next Week
WaterField Designs announces two new compact Keyboard Cases to protect Apple's new, ultra-thin, wireless keyboard. The minimalist Keyboard Sleeve safeguards just the keyboard, while the Travel Case protects the keyboard and additional laptop accessories. Both are available in six eye-catching colors. Slip the wireless keyboard into its own Sleeve or stash it in a Travel Case with other laptop gear.
The Keyboard Sleeve and Travel case will begin shipping next week from WaterField Designs. Both are available now for pre-order:
- The Keyboard Sleeve - Short (for the wireless): $37. Dimensions: 12" x 4.8". Weight: 5 oz.
- The Keyboard Sleeve - Long (for the wired): $39. Dimensions: 17.5" x 5.2". Weight: 7 oz.
- The Keyboard Travel Case: $49. Dimensions: 12.3" x 5.3" x 1.9". Weight: 7 oz.
[10/2] Brief Hands-On Report--Adobe updated Flash Player 9 to 18.104.22.168, Release Candidate
Adobe posted a Release Candidate of Flash Player 9 (9.0.64.) code-named Moviestar. According to Adobe, this Flash Player 9 Update contains several new features:
- Support for H.264 video and HE-AAC audio codecs (new Aug. 21).
- Enhancements to full-screen mode to use hardware scaling for improved video performance and quality on systems running ... Mac OS X 10.2 and newer.
- Faster rendering of vector graphics on multi-core CPUs.
- Higher quality and performance for downscaling large bitmaps (SWF 9 only).
- Support for caching common platform components, such as the Flex framework, to reduce average application sizes. This feature is enabled in the Flex 3 beta available on Adobe Labs.
Adobe Flash Player 9 Release Candidate (22.214.171.124) is available for download from this Adobe Web page. You can see what version you have installed by visiting this Adobe Flash Web page.
Note that Adobe recommends that you uninstall any previous version of Flash Player before installing the new beta version. Download the uninstaller from this Adobe Web page.
Adobe's release notes still include a few known issues but we encountered none with the previous beta of Flash Player 9. Its is not clear if any pertain to the Mac version:
- The Real Player 11 beta is known to cause issues with some Flash and Flex content. Content may fail to render, or the browser may crash. If you have Real Player 11 beta installed, please disable the add-on to ensure issues you encounter are with Flash Player and not the Real Player beta.
- In Firefox, go to Tools->Add-ons and disable the "Real Player Browser Record Add-on."
- In Internet Explorer, go to Tools->Internet Options->Programs->Manage Add-ons and disable the "RealPlayer Download and Record Plugin for Internet Explorer."
- Opera and Netscape do not allow recursive calls using the ExternalInterface API into the Flash Player. This issue has been reported to Opera and Netscape. (184777)
- If FlashPlayerTrust is mistakenly created as a file, the Flex profiler will crash. Please ensure FlashPlayerTrust is properly configured as a directory. (203879)
We had Flash Player 126.96.36.199, the previous beta of Flash Player 9, installed on our Macs so we uninstalled it on our 15" Mac Book Pro Core 2 Duo (LED) and PowerMac G4 Cube as recommended by Adobe. Then, we installed the beta (188.8.131.52) without any problems. And finally, we visited a number of Adobe Flash showcase sites to ensure it works well and it does.
We also installed the beta on our Mac mini Core Duo and aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo but without uninstalling the previous version first. It worked fine, too, when we visited showcase Web sites but we still suggest that you follow Adobe's recommendation to use the uninstaller first. [Bill Fox & Dana Baggett]
[10/1] Hands-On Review: PANTONE hueyPRO Colorimeter, a Monitor Calibration Tool for All
So you have a recent Mac and are managing all of your digital photographs with iPhoto and maybe even digital video with iMovie or iDVD. But are you neglecting one important part of the process, calibrating you monitor, because you think that calibration tools are expensive and only for professionals or that the Displays preference pane is adequate? Well, think again--Pantone makes a great set of colorimeters, the huey and hueyPRO, for just $89 and $129 MSRP with lower "street " prices (e.g. $66 and $102 on Amazon.com).
With a colorimeter to calibrate your monitor, LCD or CRT, your digital photos, videos and even 3D games can look more intense, vibrant, real and consistent over time and under varying light conditions. If you print your digital photos, they will be far more accurate and consistent with what you see on your monitor.
We got a copy of PANTONE's newest and most advanced model, the hueyPRO, and used it for a couple of weeks before writing this review. The reason for this "hands-on" period is to make sure that the device actually does something for the more or less average Mac user, one who deals with their own collection of digital photos and videos but is not a professional.
The difference between the huey and the hueyPRO is largely the hueyPRO's software which is offered by Pantone as a $39.99 upgrade for huey owners. The upgraded software allows multiple monitor calibration, a user-defined white point and gamma setting and an advanced help button.
What you get
In the PANTONE hueyPRO box is the small and light hueyPRO colorimeter (slightly shorter and fatter than a typical ballpoint pen), a desktop cradle for the hueyPRO, a USB extension cord, a 4"x4" micro-chamois cloth, two Klear Screen monitor cleaning packets, a hueyPRO software CD, a PANTONE color fan of 100 top colors, and a quickstart user guide.
The simple steps are: clean your monitor, plug the hueyPRO into an available USB port, place the hueyPRO in its desktop cradle near the monitor facing you, install the software and launch it. The software takes you through a couple of steps to balance your monitor's brightness and contrast. Then, you stick the hueyPRO to your monitor in the place designated by the software. The hueyPRO sticks to your monitor via six tiny suction cups that are kept clean in the cradle. Click Next and in about a minute, the hueyPRO creates a calibrated color profile that you name and save. Finally, the software asks if you want the hueyPRO to adjust the screen for changes in room light--we selected "Yes"-- then you click Quit and return the hueyPRO to its desktop cradle with its LEDs facing you. The preferences allow you to set the time period between room light adjustments--we picked 1 hour-- and number of days between reminders for re-calibration, up to 14--we set it for 1 day during the review period to see how it worked. They also allow you to select a white point (color temperature) setting and a gamma setting without re-calibrating in the PRO edition.
The software has a menu bar icon that allows you to turn off room light compensation (if turned on), start the software to re-calibrate your monitor, to immediately adjust for room light changes or to open the hueyPRO preference pane.
We used the hueyPRO with our 30" Apple Cinema Display attached to a 15" 2.4GHz MacBook Pro (LED) and found the calibration procedure to be as simple as one could make it. The hueyPRO automatically does virtually everything. The hueyPRO's calibration of our 30" Apple Cinema Display was significantly different (cooler) than the standard calibration that Apple supplied with the monitor. The light grays look gray without a very slight brown cast and the blues are much more vivid. It could be because our monitor is over two years old and its color has shifted some with age--all the more reason to use a calibration tool.
The automatic adjustment for room light level is also impressive. We never have to fiddle with the monitor from mid-day through night as we did before using the hueyPRO.
Re-calibration is simple. A reminder pops up and simply select Yes. In a couple of minutes you are done.
The only glitch we encountered during the review period was occasionally when we went to re-calibrate our monitor, the hueyPRO software said our hueyPRO was not plugged in despite its room light adjustment LEDs having just blinked for a room light check. To clear this error message, we had to unplug and re-plug the hueyPRO into a USB port on our MacBook Pro, a small annoyance that should be fixed with the next software update.
We highly recommend the PANTONE hueyPRO. It is simple to set up and use by the average Mac user. After two weeks hands-on use there is no question in our mind that the hueyPRO has a significant effect on the color fidelity shown by our 30" Apple Cinema Display. The hueyPRO will keep our colors consistent among uses and over time. It is inexpensive at about $100 "street" price and well worth the cost for the prosumer. We think the regular PANTONE huey at under $70 "street" price will work perfectly well for the average consumer. [Bill Fox]
[10/1] Sandlot Games' Cake Mania comes to the Mac
Popular Mac-only game publisher, Red Marble Games, in conjunction with Sandlot Games, a leading developer and publisher of casual and family-friendly games, announced the release of Sandlot Games' Cake Mania for the Macintosh. A wildly popular game on the PC and other gaming platforms, and winner of the prestigious iParenting Media Award, Cake Mania serves up countless delights that will have the whole family begging for more.
Jill, the heroine of Cake Mania, returns home from culinary school only to find that her family's bakery has gone out of business. In this fast-paced gaming favorite, players must help Jill rebuild the family bakery from scratch, baking custom cakes for a wide variety of customers in the process—some of which are hilarious—and earn enough money to reopen the bakery. Can you help Jill finish the cakes before her customers grow impatient and walk away? She's depending on your keen skills and culinary expertise to pull it all off.
"Sandlot Games' Cake Mania is a game that everyone in the family will absolutely love," said Mark Batten, founder and CEO of Red Marble Games. "All at once, Cake Mania is extremely funny, fast-playing, engaging, and an absolute thrill to play over and over again. Cake Mania is an award winning game for very good reason, and we're honored to have worked with Sandlot Games to bring Cake Mania to Mac users around the world."
The features of Cake Mania include:
- More than 45 levels of frenzied, fun baking excitement,
- Hilarious customers like Santa Claus, Cupid, and more,
- Get the customers to leave tips by serving up tasty cupcakes while they wait,
- Customize Jill's kitchen by purchasing state-of-the-art baking machines, and much more.
Priced at only $19.95, Cake Mania 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]
[10/1] Daystar Technology released XLR8 AnyDrive USB Adapter
Daystar Technology released the XLR8 AnyDrive USB Adapter. With large, colorful status lights, this self-contained unit supports up to 480 Mbps throughput, for full size or half-size IDE and SATA drives.
The XLR8 AnyDrive USB Adapter supports connections to any IDE 2.5" or 3.5 inch drive. It also supports all sizes of SATA drives. Users can connect the AnyDrive USB Adapter to any drive, then backup, copy or recover to their Mac or Windows based system. Any loose drive can be connected. No extra drivers are required for the Mac.
The device is fully USB 2.0 compatible and supports up to 480 Mbps transfer rates. The power supply is auto switching from 100v - 240v.
The XLR8 AnyDrive includes the AC Power Adapter, USB Drive Adapter, additional Flex connector cable (for hard to get to connectors). It also includes large status lights and instructions. Daystar's new USB 2.0 to IDE/SATA adapter allows users to connect any drive to their Mac or PC for $24.95. [Bill Fox]
[10/1] EyeTV 2.5 is Free Update to EyeTV 2 with New iPhone Features
EyeTV 2.5, a free update to Elgato's award-winning EyeTV 2 television software, includes many new features for viewing on the Mac, the iPhone, and iPod touch. With Wi-Fi Access, recorded television shows can be accessed for playback from an iPhone and iPod touch in a local Wi-Fi network.
Many EyeTV users have requested the ability to record content that has been temporarily stored via timeshifting. To create a new recording after watching a live television show for a while, simply navigate to the beginning of the show, and click the record button.
The iPhone has arrived in the USA, and will land in Europe starting November 9. EyeTV 2.5 offers a one-click button for easy export of recordings for Apple's mobile telephone as well as iPod touch. In France, EyeTV 2.5 supports IPTV for Freebox. [Bill Fox]
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