Mac News Review

Macs Bait in Chinese Scam, Time to Switch from OS 9, New U2 iPod, OmniDazzle Software, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.06.09

PowerBook, iBook, iPod, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. News about Apple's transition to Intel CPUs and other Intel developments is covered in The Macintel Report.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

Mac News & Opinion

iPod News & Opinion

Products

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

Mac News & Opinion

Macs Used as Bait by Chinese Scammers

The Inquirer's Nick Farrell reports:

"Apple Macinteltoshes are being used by Chinese eBay scammers to lure marks from their money.

"According to people who have contacted the INQ, a Chinese criminal ring has been luring punters with fake promises of cut-price Macinteltoshes.

"They can be spotted, we are told, because they ask for payment using Western Union in English pounds or Euro."

Link: Macintosh Becomes Latest Vehicle for Chinese Scam

Mac OS 9 Users, Time to Step Up to OS X

Gene Steinberg says:

"I know that, like all folks who have embraced the Apple Macintosh, you are an extremely smart, well-educated person with an above-average income. Or at least you aspire to one or all of these goals. Despite being surrounded by people who have urged you to join the 'Dark Side,' which is our little moniker for the Windows world, you have resisted....

"I feel your pain, but you have to understand that Mac OS 9, the last general release of the original Mac OS, was a creaky mess, almost collapsing under its own weight. By version 8.0, Apple grafted a few of the surface features of Copland, its failed project to bring the Mac into the 21st century, but it could be slow, and buggy, although I realize some of you tamed it sufficiently to work pretty reliably."

Editor's note: I basically agree with Gene's premise in this article, that It's really time to make the transition to OS X if you haven't already done so, but I do dispute the OS 9 is "a creaky mess, almost collapsing under its own weight" bit. Last year I got one stretch of more than three months without a reboot (daily use, albeit not heavy-duty) on my WallStreet PowerBook running OS 9.2.2, and even on that ancient 233 MHz G3 machine, OS 9.2.2 feels a lot livelier than Tiger for many tasks - especially Finder response - than any of my Macs running Tiger, including a 1.33 GHz G4 with 1.5 GB of RAM.

That said, for the reasons Gene outlines, and especially one he didn't - OS X browser support - there is no way I would ever want to go back to using OS 9 for production work. cm

Link: A Memo to Mac OS 9 Users

Switching from the Mac

Mark Pilgrim says:

"I've long been an advocate of Free Software. I've been a card-carrying associate member of the Free Software Foundation since 2002. I've been writing GPL software since 1993. The Mac is a thread woven through the tapestry of my life. For many years, Apple's combined offering has been impressive enough to keep me paying for both their hardware and their software. But lately their software has been getting weaker (and more restrictive), to the point where I've found myself researching alternatives, even on Mac OS X.

  • Safari? No thanks, I choose Firefox (and later Camino).
  • iChat? No thanks, Adium X talks to everyone, not just your business partners.
  • QuickTime? No thanks, VLC plays everything, and in full-screen.
  • Terminal? No thanks, iTerm has tabs.

"And so forth. In fact, I spend the vast majority of my time using these and other open source applications (Carbon Emacs, Colloquy, Audacity, Seashore, Python, and a variety of command-line tools). Why keep running them on an operating system that costs money and restricts my rights and my usage?

"(I would like to point out that it is entirely Apple's choice that their operating system does not run on my new Lenovo ThinkCentre. I'm not saying it was a bad business decision - they are a hardware company, after all - but it is particularly galling to realize that if I bought a new Mac, I would be subsidizing the development of an operating system that contains code whose sole purpose is to lock me into a specific hardware platform. I realize that most people don't look at it that way, but there it is.)"

"In many ways, the tale of my switch is more of the same old story. Mac OS X was 'free enough' to keep me using something that was not in my long-term best interest. But as I stood in the Apple store last weekend and drooled over the beautiful, beautiful hardware, all I could think was how much work it would take to twiddle with the default settings, install third-party software, and hide all the commercial tie-ins so I could pretend I was in control of my own computer. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to my eye Apple isn't beautiful anymore. I've worked around it or ignored it for a long time, but eventually the bough breaks."

Link: When the Bough Breaks

G5 Quad: Still So Much Power

Hardmac's Lionel says:

"Many readers are puzzled by the future replacement of PMG5 by Intel-based Mac (a.k.a. Mac Pro). What will happen to the current PMG5 regarding performance. To demonstrate how powerful the PMG5 Quad still is, we performed an experiment: open 3 TVHD streaming requiring on-the-fly decoding (French Tennis Open, Roland Garros)."

Link: PM Quad G5: Still So Much Power

Multimedia Mac mini

Macworld's Christopher Breen says:

"With the introduction of the [October 2005] iMac G5 and its accompanying remote control and Front Row media browser software, Apple hinted that the Macintosh was ready to add a new skill to its resume - serving as a multimedia center. I took a look at the multimedia capabilities of that G5-based iMac earlier this year, approaching the task with a challenging goal in mind: Switch off the stereo, TV, TiVo, DVD player, and radio and replace those devices and their functionality with the iMac and a select set of third-party peripherals.

"While the iMac proved to be an adequate multimedia center, it wasn't about to replace my dedicated media components. Its display was too small for a large room and television pictures displayed on its monitor lacked the clarity that you find on a real TV. Maybe the answer wasn't in replacing my media center, but rather using the Mac as an enhancement to my existing components. If only the computer was smaller, cheaper, and - when plugged into my TV - free of the redundant display.

"Apple released just such a computer in the Intel-based Mac mini. Unlike the original mini, this Mac supports infrared remote control, includes an updated version of Front Row that supports playing shared media, and offers 5.1 digital audio output, four USB ports rather than two, and, of course, a more powerful CPU. Could this Macintosh be the answer to my multimedia needs?"

Link: Multimedia Mac mini

Mac mini vs. Media Center Mini Edition

machtpc.com says:

"So S1Digital introduced a Windows MCE based 'mini' computer eh? I noticed quite a bit of buzz on this thing yesterday and wanted to look into it.

"The first thing I noticed is that the er I'm not typing out that long ass name every time, what should I call this thing, ok I got it.

"the S1 MCE Mini sells for $1200 smackers, a direct comparison to a Mac mini isn't really possible as the base price on the better mini is $799 but for kicks I'll add some extras to the mini to see if we can get one up that high.

"OK let's compare the Mac mini and S1 MCE Mini...."

Link: Mac mini vs. Media Center Mini Edition

Mac mini Owner Gets His DVR on

MacUser's Dan Moren reports:

"I have one reason for posting a picture of this guy's DVR setup: to make Derik envious. I know he's been in mourning ever since Steve announced the last mini without support for recording TV broadcasts.

"Jeff (last name withheld so that Derik won't track him down and attempt to steal his setup), has wall mounted an Intel Mac mini with a 1 GB of RAM, a 300 GB HD, Miglia TVMini HD tuner, and more...."

Link: Mac mini Owner Gets His DVR on

Man Installs Mac mini in His DeLorean

autospies.com says:

"I had to crack open the mini to do the RAM upgrade, so I used that opportunity to unscrew the CD-ROM and hard drive assembly from the motherboard. Inside, I ran two wires from the modem hole area to the boot button area. Thanks to MP3Car.com for providing me with the tiny Y-cable. This Y-cable goes between the built-in boot button and the motherboard, and provides a second set of wire leads, allowing you to add a second boot button to the Mac mini. I soldered the wires to the Boot Port, then used JB-Weld to mount the boot port jack in the modem hole. Now I have a semi-permanent boot port in the back of the mini that can plug and unplug with the rest of the cables seamlessly."

Link: Man Installs Mac mini in His DeLorean

WD Passport USB Drives Now in Sync with Macs

PR: Western Digital Corp. has announced that its WD Passport Portable and WD Passport Pocket USB Drives are now shipping with software that simplifies the synchronization of essential personal files and Microsoft Outlook data on a Macintosh computer or PC with the portable storage devices. The new WD Sync software enables users to securely access, edit and share Microsoft Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, MP3 files, e-mails, attachments and more from anywhere - in a cybercafé, on a friend's laptop or in a colleague's office.

WD Sync synchronization and encryption software secures owners' data with 128-bit encryption plus password protection ensuring that personal files and Outlook data remain on the WD Passport Portable Drive or WD Passport Pocket Drive and are not copied to any computers that owners use other than their primary ones. Owners of WD Passport Portable and WD Passport Pocket models sold previously without the WD Sync software now can download the software for free from WD's website.

WD Passport Portable and WD Passport Pocket USB Drives are powered by the USB bus with no need for a separate power supply (for most systems). Combined with the easy-to-set-up, customizable WD Sync software, the two devices are easy to use anywhere - simply plug in and store.

WD Passport Portable USB Drives feature sleek rounded corners and a black textured, non-slip rugged protective case. The drives are outfitted with high-performance, low power-consuming, cool and quiet-running WD Scorpio 2.5" EIDE hard drives, as well as Data Lifeguard protection, to provide maximum safeguard from data loss. Safety tests make WD Passport Portable USB Drives one of the few external drives certified to meet all applicable safety requirements.

WD Passport Portable USB Drives are offered in capacities of 60, 80 and 120 GB. Also available is an optional WD Passport carrying case for conveniently and stylishly transporting the portable hard drives. A product specification sheet and photos of WD Passport Portable USB Drives are available on the company's website.

The USB 2.0 WD Passport Pocket Drives, about the size of a matchbox, conveniently store 6 GB of digital content and can fit into the smallest of pockets and purses. Measuring 0.37 x 2.41 x 1.80 inches and housing a one-inch WD hard drive, the ultra-thin WD Passport Pocket Drives feature a unique flip-out, rotating USB 2.0 connector that allows use in tight spaces and is thin enough that two drives can be used at the same time in the tightly spaced USB ports found on notebook computers. A product specification sheet and photos of WD Passport Pocket Drives are available on the company's website.

"The addition of sync and encryption software to WD Passport Portable and WD Passport Pocket USB drives further secures and protects users' data," said Jim Welsh, vice president and general manager of WD's branded products group. "WD designs simplified external storage that implements the latest technological advancements providing users convenience and confidence in safe- keeping and sharing their digital content, giving them complete control of their data."

WD Passport Portable USB Drives, WD Passport carrying cases and WD Passport Pocket Drives are available at retail stores, online retailers and also may be purchased via the company's online store.

Estimated pricing is $199 for the WD Passport Portable USB Drive 120 GB capacity with WD Sync; $24.99 for the WD Passport carrying case; and $99 for the WD Passport Pocket Drive.

Link: Western Digital

iPod News & Opinion

Apple Introduces New U2 iPod

U2 video iPodPR: Apple this week introduced the new iPod U2 Special Edition as part of a continued partnership between Apple, U2, and Universal Music Group (UMG). The new U2 iPod is based on the fifth generation 30 GB iPod and holds up to 7,500 songs, 25,000 photos or over 75 hours of video and features a distinctive, all-black stainless steel enclosure, red Click Wheel and custom engraving of U2 band member signatures. U2 iPod customers will also receive 30 minutes of exclusive U2 video downloadable from the iTunes Music Store. The new U2 iPod is available immediately for $329.

"We're thrilled to continue working with one of the greatest bands in the world to bring U2 fans a special edition of the world's best digital music player," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of worldwide iPod Product Marketing. "With its distinctive new design, including an all-black stainless steel enclosure, the new U2 iPod is sure to be a hit."

Featuring seamless integration with the iTunes Music Store and the iTunes digital music jukebox, the new U2 iPod features Apple's patent pending Auto-Sync technology that automatically downloads digital music, podcasts, photos, audiobooks, home movies, music videos and popular television shows onto the iPod and keeps them up-to-date whenever the iPod is plugged into a Mac or Windows computer using USB 2.0. The new U2 iPod features up to 14 hours of battery life for music playback.*

The new 30 GB U2 iPod is available immediately for a suggested retail price of $329 (US) through the Apple Store, Apple's retail stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers. The new U2 iPod includes earbud headphones, USB 2.0 cable, a case and dock insert. U2 iPod customers will also receive a coupon for 30 minutes of exclusive U2 video content downloadable from the iTunes Music Store.**

System requirements:

iPod requires a Mac with a USB 2.0 port and Mac OS X version 10.3.9 or later and iTunes 6; or a Windows PC with a USB 2.0 port and Windows 2000, XP Home or Professional (SP2) and iTunes 6.

* Battery life and number of charge cycles vary by use and settings. See www.apple.com/batteries for more information. Music capacity is based on four minutes per song and 128-Kbps AAC encoding; video capacity is based on H.264 750-Kbps combined with 128-Kbps audio; and photo capacity is based on iPod-viewable photos transferred from iTunes.
** Not available in all countries.

U2 formed in their native Dublin in 1978 and remains intact with its four original band members: Bono, Larry Mullen, Adam Clayton, and The Edge. The band has sold more than 130 million records worldwide in an extraordinary career that has firmly established them as one of the world's greatest rock n' roll bands. Along the way, U2 has earned a phenomenal 22 Grammy Awards, eight of which were for their last studio album, 2004's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, including their second award for Album of the Year. As popular for their legendary live shows as for their groundbreaking albums, U2 continue to innovate and inspire while packing football stadiums and sweaty clubs around the world. Their record breaking Vertigo 2005-2006 Tour played to more than three million fans in 25 countries worldwide. Universal Music Group is the world's largest music company with wholly owned record operations or licensees in 75 countries. Its businesses also include Universal Music Publishing Group, one of the industry's largest global music publishing operations. Universal Music Group is a unit of Vivendi, a global media and communications company.

iLounge Releases Free iPod Book 2.0 for Immediate Download

PR: iLounge.com, a resource for iPod news, reviews, and tutorials, today released The Free iPod Book 2.0, the breakthrough second edition of its popular guide to All Things iPod and iTunes. Weighing in at over 190 pages, The Free iPod Book 2.0 has something for everyone: exclusive debuts of 20 new iPod accessories, tutorials spotlighting over 200 useful ways to make the most of Apple Computer's popular iPod and iTunes products, and ratings of more than 900 popular accessories and iPods.

"We created the 'All Things iPod' slogan back in 2001," explained Jeremy Horwitz, Editor of the Book and the iLounge.com website, "so nearly five years later, with 50 million iPods and thousands of accessories now out there, The Free iPod Book 2.0 redefines and expands upon that phrase." To that end, the Book is divided into three key sections - the comprehensive iPod hardware and accessory guide All Things iPod, the 80-page software tips section All Things iTunes, and additional pages for non-iPod products and reader contributions - each loaded with incredible information and photography.

Divided into 15 common sense steps that cover an iPod's life span from birth to death and even resuscitation, the All Things iPod Guide features more than 110 sections full of free, budget-conscious, or premium solutions to common iPod problems. Highlights include:

  • Sneak Peeks and Reviews: See 20 new iPod accessories debuted exclusively in the Book, including Atlantic's E Go Waterproof Speaker, Belkin's TuneDeck and TuneStage for iPod nano, Griffin's AirDock, Monitor Audio's i-deckcompact and i-deckplus, Oakley's O ROKR with naviPlay Combo, Sonic Impact's K1 AV system, and v-moda's golden NV Audio earphones. Get quick reviews of the best iPod products we've covered, and a ratings table for the over 900 total iPods and accessories we have reviewed.
  • The All Things iPod Guide: A massive 15-step update to last year's incredible cradle to grave and rebirth look at the iPod. Over 110 sections include these highlights:
  • The Porsche Boxster iPod Road Test: We tear apart a $50,000 2006 Porsche Boxster sports car to add a $3,000 premium iPod customization package, and offer tips on do-it-yourself auto integrations for budgets of all sizes.
  • iPod Video: Brand-new sections on iPod videos, including how to create iPod-ready home movies with the first-ever iPod-compatible video cameras, plus information on converting or buying other videos for iPod viewing, and video-friendly external battery packs.
  • Filling Your iPod: An extensive guide to filling your iPod with music, radio shows, games, travel help, books, and other types of content.
  • iPods Everywhere: At The Gym, On Campus, Out of Town, and More!: New sections for athletes, students, travelers, and expanded versions of earlier sections for At Home, In The Car, and On Your Own listening.
  • iPod Shopping, Maintenance and Expansion: Expert advice on iPod shopping, gifting, protection, customization, maintenance and repair, as well as using accessories to expand its features.
  • Selling and Replacing Your iPod: Learn the value of new and used iPods, including elaborate pricing tables with recent Amazon.com, eBay, and used iPod retailer and parts store purchasing prices, plus a full guide to picking the right iPod for you, with updated information on today's iPod models.
  • Beyond: Uncrate and Outblush: Our friends at shopping sites Uncrate and Outblush highlight major new toys for girls and guys who love iPods.
  • The All Things iTunes Guide: Now with over 125 tips covering everything from audio to video, pictures, widgets, AppleScripts and more, All Things iTunes help you learn the best features of iTunes without boring yourself to tears. Take one tip at a time or read a bunch - no matter how you read, you'll learn great ways to make iTunes perform.
  • New sections on iPod videos, including how to create iPod-ready home movies with the first-ever iPod-compatible video cameras, plus information on converting or buying other videos for iPod viewing, and video-friendly external battery packs.
  • New sections for athletes (At The Gym), students (On Campus), travelers (Out Of Town), and expanded versions of earlier sections for At Home, In The Car, and On Your Own listening.

A separate guide called All Things iTunes offers over 125 useful, bite-sized tips for Apple's increasingly powerful iTunes application, including advice on video downloads, music sharing, and the market-leading iTunes Music Store. Winners of over $3,500 in iLounge art and photography contest prizes are announced in two pictorial galleries inside the Book, and at the end, shopping websites Uncrate and Outblush highlight their top non-iPod gift and gadget picks for women and men who appreciate great design.

"Last year's Book was directly downloaded over 100,000 times in the first week alone," said Dennis Lloyd, Publisher of iLounge and The Free iPod Book 2.0. "This time, we've made everything better - cooler products, a wider array of tips, and even more fun trivia questions. Best of all, thanks to advertising support, there's no charge: all you need to do is click on a no-hassles download page. Save your money for a new iPod or accessories." iLounge continues to support the responsible use of file-sharing networks by encouraging readers to distribute and share the Book online. "Enjoy the new Book," continued Lloyd, "please tell your friends, and feel free to send them a copy."

Downloads of The Free iPod Book 2.0 are available today, alongside iLounge's other publications, the Buyers' Guide and The Free iPod Book 1.0, designed for users of older iPod models.

Link: The Free iPod Book 2.0

Products

Credit Card Sized USB Drive With Aluminum Alloy Casing

PR: The latest PQI portable storage device is available with a whopping 8 GB capacity and measures only 3mm thin. Imagine a credit card size device that requires no external power to function and stores any type of data you put to it. Sporting all the functions of a USB (2.0/1.1) compatible device, functional on Windows or Mac OS, it definitely packs more value into your wallet.

  • Retraction Connector
  • Multimedia or Data Storage
  • Hot swappable, USB Plug & Play compatible
  • LED indicator with three model: Busy, waiting, and off
  • Its small size marking it easy to carry and store
  • Built-in USB Notebook Professional software

Specifications

  • Interface High-speed USB 2.0 interface; backward compatible with USB 1.1
  • Capacity 1 GB/2 GB/4 GB/8 GB
  • OS Supported Windows ME, 2000, XP, Mac 10.1 or above
  • Power Supply DC 3.3/5V
  • Power Consumption Read <100mA, Write <100mA, Standby <70mA, Un-configuration <70mA, Suspend <0.5mA
  • Dimensions 54 x 85 x 3 mm (2.13 x 3.35 x 0.12 in)
  • Weight 20 g (0.04 lb)
Link: PQI U510

6-Port SATAStar PCI Host Adapter Supports OS X, Windows, and Linux

PR: NitroAV.com, a developer and manufacturer of Serial-ATA (SATA) hardware storage and RAID subsystems, announces an update to the SATAStar series PCI Host Adapter, in stock and ready to ship.

Another first in a large upcoming line of SATA adapters and peripherals, the SATAStar series brings its flexible and versatile ($59.95) 6-Port Serial-ATA PCI Host Adapter SATA adapter - which provides an easy and affordable way to add inexpensive, high-speed storage and peripherals. With four external shielded eSATA ports and two internal SATA ports, each offering 1.5 Gbits/sec performance, the SATAStar 6-Port provides the high bandwidth to meet the needs of performance-hungry applications.

The new SATAStar series 6-Port SATA PCI host adapter gives you the maximum ports available on one card, whether you need four external ports or two internal ports or any combination. All other vendors give you the option of either four external ports or internal ports, but the six port SATA card offers you all this in one card.

NitroAV products are sold through resellers; see website for a list of resellers or to become a reseller.

Link: 6-Port NitroAV SATAStar Series (External) SATA Professional PCI Host Adapter

Mac Mini Colocation

PR: Internet Hosting Services company Arogo.Net upgraded its Mac mini dedicated hosting packages that feature OS X Tiger to include the latest Intel-based Mac minis. Hosting packages featuring Mac Minis include 20 GB of dedicated space for backups, free IP addresses, 24/7 monitoring, web-based reboot and bandwidth control panel, 100 Mbit Ethernet port, and multi-homed Tier-1 bandwidth.

Mac Minis can be used for hosting websites as well as other services like mail servers, DNS, FTP, SSH, XGrid, MySQL, and more.

Monthly pricing starts at $74.95.95 for the 1.25 GHz G4 mini, which includes 512 MB RAM, a 40 GB hard drive, and 800 GB of data transfer per month. Intel-based minis start at $94.95 per month for the Intel Core Solo Mini with 1.5 GHz processor, 60 GB SATA hard drive, and 1 GB of DDR2 memory.

Link: Arogo.Net

Pacific Design GrandStand for iPod Video

PR: Pacific Design has announced the retail availability of the GrandStand; a unique case for protecting and styling your Apple iPod 5G Video. Pacific Design, known for being one of the world leaders for carrying cases, will ship the iPod Video GrandStand case to U.S. retailers including Circuit City and Ultimate Electronics beginning June 6th, 2006.

Online retailers will include BagsForMe, eBags, LuggagePoint, MobilePlanet, and ProVantage; preorders are being taken.

Retailing for $39.95, Pacific Design's intelligent, high quality GrandStand offers an integrated desk stand with full product protection for the iPod 5G Video. Pacific Design has once again shown their ability to merge stylish, fashion-forward design with cutting edge technology by utilizing GE LEXAN, commonly used in the aerospace industry. This creates a sheer, see-thru view and the ultimate in screen protection, while dramatically reducing glare so video images are viewed with increased clarity. Furthermore, LEXAN lies smoothly over the product, and integrates cleanly into the case, making the GrandStand a truly original product.

The GrandStand is constructed of rich Italian-sourced polyurethane (PU) material and full-grain leather, giving the case a soft feel and sleek look, without sacrificing durability. In addition, the GrandStand comes in striking color combinations including; black with a red stripe, rich brown with a tan stripe, leaf green with a white stripe, turquoise with a white stripe, and hot pink with a white stripe.

Case Features:

  • GE LEXAN see-thru screen with ultimate glare and scratch protection
  • Unique, integrated design that allows iPod Video to stand upright for easier and more ergonomic vertical video viewing and more
  • Full access to headphone and sync/power port without removing iPod Video from case
  • Attaches to briefcase, belt, or backpack via a snap-closure clip on the rear of the case
  • Rich high-end PU (polyurethane) and full-grain leather construction give case stylish looks without sacrificing durability; and
  • Five fashionable, contrasting color designs.

"The Pacific Design development team continues to outdo itself as evident in the availability of our most remarkable case to date," commented Donna Fox, president of Pacific Design. "Compared to current standing cases on the market, the GrandStand is by far the highest in quality, the most durable, the sharpest in style and overall, the one you will want to show off to friends. Customers can expect Pacific Design to relentlessly introduce high-quality and fashion-forward cases throughout 2006."

  • Model Numbers Carbon Black: PD0470
  • Rich Brown: PD0471
  • Precious Pink: PD0463
  • Leaf Green: PD0477
  • Turquoise: PD0478

Material:

  • Genuine leathers and faux leathers - material varies with model
  • Genuine LEXAN screen protection built-in

Features

  • Slim design fits your iPod 5G/Video like a glove
  • Case folds out to create stable tripod stand
  • Full access to all buttons and ports in the case including the sync port on the bottom of the player
  • Flip case style protects screen both in use and in idle
  • Multi-use soft clip on back snaps onto belt, backpack strap, or purse
  • Fits 30 GB 5G/Video iPod; 60 GB 5G/Video iPod
Link: GrandStand

Software

OmniDazzle Beta Released

PR: Lost your cursor? Hey, it happens - especially when you're navigating across the four-million-pixels-and-counting landscape of a 30" Cinema Display.

Even if you don't suffer from the dreaded Lost Cursor Syndrome (symptoms include batting wildly at your monitor and cursing under your breath), there are always times when it would be convenient to call attention to something on your screen ("...as you can all see, line 37 in this spreadsheet lists my proposed new salary: eleventy hojillion dollars. Any questions?").

Fret no more, friends, for we have a solution just for you. Introducing OmniDazzle, a set of fun and useful enhancements that help you track the location of your mouse pointer and provide options for highlighting certain areas of your screen.

OmniDazzle is designed to be both playful and practical; you can use a plugin to professionally emphasize a section of your screen, or you can turn your mouse movement into an area of focus that trails pixie dust (or footprints!) across your desktop. You can configure each plugin to suit your own particular preferences: change colors, make objects bigger or smaller, or change the way you activate the OmniDazzle plugin of your choice.

Call out your cursor or part of your screen real estate - or just add some visual bling to your display; either way, we think OmniDazzle's collection of tools and toys will put a smile on your face.

OmniDazzle Plugins (see Web page for screen shots)

Pixie DustPixie Dust - We have to be honest, this one might just eat your productivity for the entire day as you stare mesmerized at the, ahem, dazzling pixie dust cascading down your screen. Pixie Dust turns your mouse pointer into a virtual magic wand creating a spray of colorful sparkles wherever it goes. You can change your pixie dust to include only a few tiny sprinkles, or turn it into a giant firehose of awesomeness. The color range is up to you, too. Go forth and pixiefy!

Flashlight - Illuminate your screen with a virtual flashlight that follows your mouse pointer wherever you want it to go. When triggered, Flashlight dims your background and turns your pointer into a helpful, shining beacon that lights your way. You control the size and quality of the light, the color, and the background.

Cutout - This allows you to highlight areas of your screen using different shapes. Pick a shape (circle, ellipse, rectangle, or window border) to start, then move your mouse to control the size of the shape. Watch and be captivated as everything outside your selection dims. This one's great for guiding an audience during a presentation, or creating an awesomely instructive screen shot ("then click THIS button RIGHT HERE"). You can customize borders, dimness, and fill.

Sonar - "Y'know, I seen me a mermaid once. I even seen me a shark eat an octopus. But I ain't never seen no phantom Russian submarine." Ah, a great line from Hunt for Red October, and a fabulous segue into our description of the Sonar plugin! Sonar turns your monitor into a, um, radar screen, which sweeps on a Hunt for Your Mouse Pointer, almost like we got mixed up about the difference between sonar and radar when we created this plugin. (*cough*) You may not find a Russian sub, but your cursor location will show up loud and clear. You can change the ring radius, ping size, and speed of the sweep. Dive, dive, DIVE! Into the sky!

Focal Point - This one's similar to Cutout in that it helps you highlight part of your screen and dim everything else, but rather than drawing a shape around a window, Focal Point automatically selects whatever window you have active. If you set the plugin to "Focus Under Mouse" mode, Focal Point highlights individual user interface elements - very handy for doing software demos or presenting very specific areas of your screen.

Scribble - So you don't want to draw on your Cinema Display with crayons - this is the next best thing. Trigger the Scribble plugin to circle important thingies, draw arrows toward interesting doohickeys, or just satisfy your vandalistic tendencies. The configuration view allows you to change all kinds of settings like pen colors, outlines, and width.

Bullseye - Ready . . . aim . . . click! When you activate this plugin, a bullseye will follow your mouse pointer around the screen. You control the size, number of rings, and colors. Target your cursor, or vent your frustration on Bob's email by taking precise aim on that delete button.

Waves - Your screen gets liquefied with Waves, which creates a rippling radius around your cursor. Drop a rock in to watch your screen undulate and shimmer, without any nasty chemical aftereffects. You can rock the boat just a little, or hang ten until you're seasick with the wavelength options.

ComicComic - Turn your screen into vintage comic book pages with this admittedly silly plugin. When active, Comic creates visual sound effects that Pow! Biff! and Zot! their way onto your mouse pointer. Comic has a default list of onomatopoeias, but you can add your own zany words (such as Bleem! or Snuh!), and configure the shapes' sizes and shadows . . . for JUSTICE.

Footprints - Leave a trail wherever your mouse pointer goes with Footprints; this plugin generates footprints that follow your cursor, then fade away automatically. You can choose from several varieties of feet, or come up with your own bizarre combinations (dog foot/pegleg, anyone?). Change the size, color, and footstep audio in the configuration view.

Zoom - The Zoom plugin allows you to marquee around an area of your screen, then click to magnify that selection to the size of your screen. You can zoom in on documents, specific UI elements, text - whatever you'd like to see up close and personal. Great for presentations, screen shots, or just to help out that nosy coworker trying to read over your shoulder.

1.0 Beta 3:

General

  • Improved Pixie Dust description.
  • Cleaned up action type interfaces a bit.
  • Sounds now get positioned relative to all displays, as originally intended.
  • Creating a hojillion footprints should not cut out older sounds.
  • Mouse shake should no longer get stuck on with delay set to "now" in Bullseye (this may still be a problem in other plugins, but will be fixed soon).
  • Fixed some issues with the disk image packaging.

Stability

  • Fixed crash in toggling between field and window focus in Focal Point.
  • Fixed crash in configuring mouse button event source.

Plugins

  • Pixie Dust now works on the Intel GMA 950 (MacBooks & Mac minis).
  • Pixie Dust now works on the top row of the screen.
  • Focal Point no longer turns off immediately when using 'Highlight Under Pointer' with two displays.
  • Focal Point region is now correct when using 'Highlight Under Pointer' on non-main displays.
  • Focal Point works around an accessibility bug in WebKit/Safari that prevented it from noticing some focus changes in Safari.
  • Fixed slowness/hang when adding/editing strings in Comic.
  • Focal Point is vastly faster when focusing on large windows.
  • Zoom sizing is more predictable.

System requirements:

Mac OS X 10.4.6 or later.

System support:

PPC/Intel

$14.95 Shareware

Beta license expires on June 23rd, 2006. Without a license you'll be limited to one hour of use at a time.

Guest PC 1.9.3 Released

PR: Lismore Software Systems has announced the release and immediate availability of an updated version of Guest PC 1.9

Guest PC is another computer inside your Mac. That computer is an emulated x86 PC.

It is virtual, it has no separate monitor, mouse, keyboard or hard drive. It is just a Mac OS X program that allows you to install the Microsoft Windows operating system on your Mac and use the software developed only for Windows compatible computers.

Guest PC works just like a usual application and you can easily switch between Windows and Mac OS X desktops at will.

New in new in Guest PC 1.9.3?

The MMX instruction set has been added for better compatibility which has also resulted in Guest PC performance increase. FPU emulation bugs fixed and now Nokia PC Suite can be used fully. The support for Mac OS X printers has been greatly improved.

Bug Fixes

  • Crash in Nokia PC Suite
  • After Hibernate crash in Windows XP
  • Sound cripple/distortion in some applications
  • Some FPU emulation errors

Enhancements

  • MMX instruction set added
  • Up to 15% performance boost
  • Improved printing to Mac printers
  • Better stability and compatibility

Guest PC 1.9.3 is available immediately at $69.99 The price includes Family License and free support. Family License allows you to install Guest PC on all computers in your family.

All current customers get a new Guest PC 1.9.3 version at no charge.

For all registered users of any previous Blue Label PowerEmulator version, Guest PC is available at $34.99

System requirements

  • Hardware: Apple Macintosh with G3, G4 or G5 processor, upgrade card are also supported
  • Operating system: Mac OS X 10.3 or later

System support: PPC

Universal Binaries: The Universal Binaries are being developed. The release date has not been scheduled yet.

To learn more about Guest PC, visit Lismore Software Systems website.

Link: Guest PC

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