Mac News Review

Safari Share Up 50%, 8-core Mac Pro Benchmarked, DST Updates for OS X, $26 Bluetooth, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.02.23

PowerBook, iBook, MacBook, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Products

iPod Accessories

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Firefox Share Dips, Safari Up 50% in a Year

Computerworld's Gregg Keizer reports:

"Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox browser lost market share last month, Web metrics company Net Applications reported today. But Apple Inc.'s Safari continued to gain ground, an indicator of a slow but sure uptick in Macintosh sales.

"In January, Firefox accounted for 13.7% of the browser usage market, Aliso Viejo, Ca.-based Net Applications said, down slightly from 14% the month before. The dip was the first since May 2006. Since then, Firefox's share has risen continually month to month....

"More conspicuous than Firefox's slip, however, has been Safari's steady march. The Apple browser, which is based in part on the open-source Konqueror, boosted its share to 4.7% in January from 4.2% in December. A year ago, Safari held 3.1% of the browser market."

"Microsoft's Internet Explorer accounted for 79.8% of the browser market in January."

8-core Mac Pro Upgrade Worth the Cost?

Hardmac's Lionel reports:

"Thanks to Intel, we could install two Xeon 5355 in a Mac Pro - Is the 8 cores-based architecture faster than the 4 cores-based one?

"...This article is the second part of our test with the Quad Core Xeon X5355 initiated with the previous article: http://www.hardmac.com/articles/70/.

"Having set up a powerful Mac Pro based on two Quad Core Xeon X5355s, we ran some tests and benchmarks to evaluate if this 8 core-based machine would be useful with current software, applications and OS X settings. In other word, do 8 2.66 GHz cores make a big difference compared to 4 cores at 3.0 GHz?"

Hard Drive Heat Failure Analyzed

The BBC reports:

"The impact of heavy use and high temperatures on hard disk drive failure may be overstated, says a report by three Google engineers.

"The report examined 100,000 commercial hard drives, ranging from 80 GB to 400 GB in capacity, used at Google since 2001....

"There is a widely held belief that hard disks which are subject to heavy use are more likely to fail than those used intermittently. It was also thought that hard drives preferred cool temperatures to hotter environments....

"Hard drives less than three years old and used a lot are less likely to fail than similarly aged hard drives that are used infrequently, according to the report....

"The report said that there was a clear trend showing 'that lower temperatures are associated with higher failure rates'....

"But hard drives which are three years old and older were more likely to suffer a failure when used in warmer environments."

Google Hard Drive Study Find SMART Prediction 'Almost Ineffective'

Extreme Tech's Mark Hachman reports:

"A long-term study conducted by Google indicates that hard drives are not as susceptible to high temperatures as once thought.

"The study, presented at a storage conference last week, also found that the SMART predictive analysis used to calculate the likelihood of disk-drive errors is almost ineffective, although basic disk checks can signal that a drive is about to fail.

"The authors of the paper, Eduardo Pinheiro, Wolf-Dietrich Weber and Luiz Andre Barroso, indicated that their study was significantly larger than others, including studies that have examined over 3,000 server-class disk drives....

"While temperature has long been suspected to have an impact on PC components, including motherboards, CPUs and hard drives, the Google researchers concluded that the latter component is not as susceptible as once thought."

Apple Updates

Daylight Saving Time Updates for OS X 10.3 and 10.4

"The Daylight Saving Time Update for Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server addresses recent changes in the way Daylight Saving Time will be observed in the U.S. and Canada beginning in March 2007 and includes the latest time zone information for the rest of the world."

Products

OWC SuperDrive Upgrades for All Macs from $29.99

PR: Upgrade with newest, fastest, and quietest SuperDrive technology. Read/write DVDs & dual-layer DVDs at speeds up to 16x - CDs up to 40x.

Other World Computing (OWC) has announced SuperDrive optical drive upgrades for all Mac computers, including Mac Pro, PowerBook G4 Titanium 15", 12/15/17" Aluminum; iBook G4, PowerMac G3, G4, G5; iMac G4; and eMac.

Whether upgrading from a read-only drive, replacing an older SuperDrive, or for additional optical drives, OWC's options are priced right and plug n' play easy to install. OWC offers the newest, fastest, and quietest SuperDrive technology from Pioneer, including 16x DL SuperDrive DVR 111D to read and write DVDs, CDs, and Dual-Layer DVDs with an up to 8.5 GB capacity per DVD Dual Layer disc at speeds of 8x; Up to 4.7 GB capacity per DVD at 16x; and CDs of up to 700 MB at 40x. OWC makes it easy to upgrade to fast DVD/CD burners with the latest software, such as Apple iLife, Roxio Toast, NTI Dragonburn, and other CD/DVD authoring applications.

OWC offers professional installation services for internal installation for those not wishing to install on their own. For External FireWire and USB 2.0 drives, no installation is required, since they are plug Œn play ready. Just plug in the power cord and USB 2.0 or FireWire cable and go.

SuperDrives are available immediately from OWC priced starting at $29.99.

NewerTech Lowers Pricing on Award-Winning miniStack Hard Drives

miniStack V2PR: Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech), developer of performance upgrades, has announced new lower prices on its award-winning line of miniStack V2 FireWire/USB 2 external hard drive solutions. Available in capacities up to 750 GB, prices start at just $114.99 for 80 GB - $449 for 750 GB. The best value is the 400 GB drive, which is priced at only $199.99 (down from $239.99, a $40 price reduction).

Winner of "Top Product" Macworld Magazine, "Editor's Choice" MacAddict, and "Accessory of the Year" 123Macmini.com, the NewerTech miniStack drives now include the award-winning Prosoft DataBackup II for OS X (a $59.95 value) and award-winning NovaStor NovaBACKUP for Windows (a $49.95 value). Both software products include the same full technical and update support that comes with the stand-alone retail versions. "Add Your Own Hard Drive" utility/performance and backup software bundles are also available from $69 (a $200 value).

Perfect for audio/video, computer backup, music and photography storage, and more, the NewerTech miniStack drives are ultra-compact with dimensions of 6.5" x 6.5" x 1.5" and feature 3 USB 2.0 and 2 FireWire ports that function as hubs to connect other devices to the computer. The drives also have a unique cooling system, including a Smart Fan.

"The NewerTech miniStack V2 has it all - speed, easy access ports and award-winning engineering, all in an ergonomically compact footprint," said Grant Dahlke, NewerTech Marketing Manager. "More than just a hard drive, the miniStack V2 solution provides powered FireWire and USB 2.0 Hubs for two additional FireWire ports and three additional USB 2.0 ports, including one of each port conveniently located on the side for easy accessibility/use."

miniStack V2The NewerTech miniStack V2 drives come in capacities of 80 GB - 750 GB and include the FireWire connecting cable, USB 2.0 connecting cable, Intech HD Speedtools Utility Suite, intelligent thermal monitoring, Auto Power On/Off function with manual override, built-in 3 port USB 2.0, and 2 port FireWire powered hubs. All NewerTech storage solutions utilize an Oxford chipset on a custom bridge for optimum performance and are backed by a 2-year warranty with up to an additional 3-year drive-manufacturer warranty (for a total up to 5 years) on the hard drive mechanism. Drives are fully bootable on systems supporting FireWire and/or USB 2.0 boot.

Price List:

  • 250 GB, now $149.00 (7200 rpm w/16 MB buffer)
  • 400 GB, now $199.99 (7200 rpm w/16 MB buffer)
  • 500 GB, now $249.99 (7200 rpm w/16 MB buffer)
  • 750 GB, now $449.00 (7200 rpm w/16 MB buffer)

FastMac's $26 Internal Bluetooth Upgrade for Mac Pro

PR: FastMac has announced the availability of a 100% compatible plug and play internal Bluetooth upgrade for all Mac Pro systems. The upgrade adds Bluetooth wireless connectivity between the customer's Mac Pro and the growing array of Bluetooth-enabled personal digital assistants, mobile phones, cameras, printers, headsets, keyboards and computer mice.

The Bluetooth module fits directly into the system's main logic board, attaching to the built-in Apple antenna. No drivers or software are required. This upgrade is available now for an introductory price of $25.95. It comes with a 1-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee

Unlike other upgrades that attach externally, cost more and tie up USB ports, this upgrade connects directly into the systems main logic board freeing port space while adding functionality. The upgrade has an effective range up to 32 feet (10 meters) and can transfer data at up to 721 kbps. It is fully compatible with all versions of Mac OS X including 10.4 (Tiger). Video install and PDF instructions are also provided.

Compatibility: Mac Pro

Under-desk Mounting and Security Bracket for Mac Pro, Power Mac G5

MacCuff ProPR: Sonnet Technologies announces MacCuff Pro, the under-desk mounting and security bracket for Mac Pro and Power Mac G5 computers. MacCuff Pro enables users to hang their computer under a desk or table, secure it with the included steel cable (lock not included), and manage cables.

Mac Pro and Power Mac G5 computers can be physically imposing; on top of a desk they can take up too much space. Sitting on the floor, computers are exposed to excessive dust, accidental kicks, and vacuum cleaner strikes. Cables can present an unsightly safety hazard. Any computer can be subject to unauthorized removal. MacCuff Pro provides an elegant solution for all of these problems. MacCuff Pro gets a Mac Pro and its cables securely under the desktop and off the floor!

The MacCuff Pro bracket is constructed of heavy-gauge steel and has a refined platinum finish with a durable plastic coating that won't mar the computer's finish. The professional-grade steel security cable is also vinyl coated to prevent scratching. Installation is simple-tape the drill template to the surface, drill pilot holes, attach the bracket using the supplied screws, hang the Mac Pro, and plug in and route the cables through the strain-relief slot. MacCuff Pro frees your desktop and elevates your Mac to an aesthetic position!

MacCuff ProKey Features

  • Refined under-desk mounting
  • Professional-grade security
  • Under-desktop management of power and peripheral cables
  • Compatible with all models of Mac Pro and Power Mac G5

MacCuff Pro (part number CUFF-PRO) will be available February 23, 2007 for the suggested retail price of $129.95.

OWC Apple-qualified Mac Pro Memory, Hard Drive Upgrades

PR: Other World Computing (OWC), a leading after-market supplier of memory upgrades for the Mac Pro, today announced new lower pricing and immediate shipment of the OWC Apple-Qualified Memory Upgrade Modules for Mac Pro Quad Xeon computers. Priced as low as $166 per GB, OWC is offering these upgrades at a savings of 50% or more as compared to factory-installed and other competitors. The OWC DIMM (FB-DIMM) 667 MHz DDR2 72-Bit ECC fully-buffered Memory Upgrade Modules are available in matched sets of 512 MB, 1 GB, and 2 GB modules for up to 16 GB of total memory (see full pricing info below).

OWC has been providing memory to upgrade Apple computers for nearly 20 years. OWC was the first company to provide a true Apple-Qualified Mac Pro Quad Xeon memory upgrade kit at independent prices, shipping within five days of the release of the Mac Pro Quad Xeon. OWC Memory Upgrade Modules are premium quality, fully-tested modules that fully meet and/or exceed all Apple specifications. Utilizing superior components, including true Apple-Qualified heat spreaders, the modules provide a lifetime of high-performance, reliable operation backed by OWC's Lifetime Advance Replacement Warranty.

Cash Back Trade-in Rebate

A cash-back rebate of up to $250 per set is also available from OWC for the trade-in of Apple factory memory. Available immediately, the OWC Memory Upgrade Modules consist of matched pairs of FB-DIMM modules manufactured to Apple's stringent Mac Pro specifications, far exceeding JEDEC (the leading developer of solid-state industry standards) specifications.

OWC Memory Module New Pricing

Up to 16 GB of memory is supported by the Apple Mac Pro Quad Xeon:

  • 1 GB Matched Sets (512 MB Module x 2) for as low as $197.25/GB
  • 2 GB Matched Sets (1.0 GB Module x 2) for as low as $166.13/GB 4 GB Matched Sets (2.0 GB Module x 2) for as low as $168.69/GB

Hard Drive Upgrades for Mac Pro

In addition to Memory Modules, OWC also has Hard Drive Upgrades for the Mac Pro for up to 3.0 TB of internal storage. Pricing starts at $52.99 for an 80 GB Plug and Play hard drive for each of the Mac Pro's four HD Bays, with 500 GB drives available for as low as $139.

Software

Carbon Copy Cloner 3 Adds Automated Backups

PR: Carbon Copy Cloner version 3 is now available for beta testing.

In its simplest form, CCC will clone one hard drive to another, copying every single block or file to create an exact replica of your source hard drive. This is very useful if, for example, your laptop is damaged and you must send it in for repair.

CCC can also be used to perform regular backups of your data. When you select a source disk in CCC, you are presented with the contents of that disk (hidden items too). Simply uncheck the items that you do not want to backup, and CCC will provide ample indication what will and will not be copied. Select a target disk to which you would like to backup, then press the clone button.

The key to a successful backup plan is to actually do the backups regularly. When left to a human, the task often gets tacked on to the end of a very long list of other things to do. When you eventually have a catastrophe, the data is simply gone. You know that feeling - you just lost six years of family photos. Your kids being born, their first birthdays, their first everything. The answer to this is consistent and regular backups, placed on a schedule and handled automatically by your computer. CCC includes that functionality, and takes it even further.

Among the new features are:

  • Support for block-level disk-to-disk clones.
  • Support for backing up across the network.
  • The ability to drill down into folders to select exactly what gets copied and what doesn't (you can drill down indefinitely).
  • A more responsive interface and the ability to stop the clone.
  • More accurate feedback during the clone.
  • The ability to pick up where a previously aborted backup task left off.
  • More information about your disks are available within the CCC interface.
  • Advanced scheduling capabilities - choose what days to run your backups and how frequently they should run. You can also defer a backup if it starts at an inopportune time.
  • Now you can create a scheduled task that backs up your data whenever you attach a specific hard drive or iPod.

Intel-PowerPC Considerations

While CCC 2.3 is PowerPC binary, it does run via Rosetta on the new Intel Macs. A word of caution: Apple currently does not support booting an Intel Mac from an OS installation that came from a PowerPC Mac, and vice versa. Until Apple provides a Universal OS that is capable of booting both architectures, do not clone a PowerPC Mac to an Intel Mac or vice versa. User files, of course, can be copied between the two machines. If you get a new Intel Macintosh, consider using the Migration Assistant to transfer data from your PowerPC Macintosh to the new machine.

In its simplest form, CCC will clone one hard drive to another, copying every single block or file to create an exact replica of your source hard drive. This is very useful if, for example, your laptop is damaged and you must send it in for repair.

CCC can also be used to perform regular backups of your data. When you select a source disk in CCC, you are presented with the contents of that disk (hidden items too). Simply uncheck the items that you do not want to backup, and CCC will provide ample indication what will and will not be copied. Select a target disk to which you would like to backup, then press the clone button.

New in version 3.0b4:

  • Universal Binary
  • Support for block-level disk-to-disk clones.
  • Support for backing up across the network.
  • The ability to drill down into folders to select exactly what gets copied and what doesn't (you can drill down indefinitely).
  • A more responsive interface and the ability to stop the clone.
  • More accurate feedback during the clone.
  • The ability to pick up where a previously aborted backup task left off.
  • More information about your disks are available within the CCC interface.
  • Advanced scheduling capabilities - choose what days to run your backups and how frequently they should run. You can also defer a backup if it starts at an inopportune time.
  • Now you can create a scheduled task that backs up your data whenever you attach a specific hard drive or iPod.

System requirements: Mac OS 10.4.8 or later.

System support: PPC/Intel

Donationware

Free ClamXav Virus Checker for Mac OS X

PR: ClamXav is a free virus checker for Mac OS X. It uses the tried, tested, and very popular ClamAV open source antivirus engine as a back end.

Back in the days before OS X, the number of viruses which attacked Macintosh users totaled somewhere between about 60 and 80. Today, the number of viruses actively attacking OS X users is . . . none! However, this doesn't mean we should get complacent about checking incoming email attachments or web downloads, for two reasons. Firstly, there's no guarantee that we Mac users will continue to enjoy the status quo, but more importantly, the majority of the computing world use machines running MS Windows, for which an enormous quantity of viruses exist, so we must be vigilant in checking the files we pass on to our friends and colleagues etc. For example, if you're a wise person and you've turned MS Office's macro support off then you're not going to notice that virus which is hiding inside this month's edition of Extreme Ironing.doc which your friend sent you. If you then forward that document to a less wise person who has not turned off the macro support, then you have most likely just sent him a shiny new Pandora's Box with a sign saying "Open this end"!

Flippancy aside, I'm sure you get the idea: check the file before opening and/or sending it on to someone else. This gives you the opportunity to avoid the file altogether or at least copy and paste any vital information into a new document and send that instead.

Don't forget, if you run VirtualPC you can still become infected and lose valuable data on your Mac even though technically you're running Windows inside a sandbox. VPC will run any application you tell it to, virus or no virus, it doesn't know the difference. You can protect yourself slightly by not using VPC's "shared folders", but that's a useful feature which you shouldn't have to be without.

New in version 1.0.7:

  • Added support for ClamAV 0.90
  • Fixed issue where ClamXav would ask repeatedly for the engine to be installed if the virus definition files had been deleted.
  • Updates to Danish, Japanese and Taiwanese localisations.

System requirements:

  • PPC Mac or Intel Mac
  • Mac OS X 10.3 or later
  • Must not be used with Mac OS X Server!

System support: PPC/Intel

Free/Donationware

QuickVerse Mac White Box Edition Shipping

QuickVerse 2007PR: Findex, Inc. have now shipped a whole new, fully upgraded Macintosh version of their #1 selling Bible Study software program, QuickVerse 2007 for Macintosh. This is the $59.95 MSRP "White Box" version, which is being featured in all Apple Retail stores. (The $129 "Black Box" will be following shortly, in another week or two probably).

QV 2007 White Box is available to ship right now through our distribution partners at Visco Entertainment and Navarre Corporation. Please place your order today.

The amount of content in this new version of QuickVerse is truly staggering. For example, the $59.95 MSRP "White Box" version of QuickVerse 2007 contains 10 Bibles, 45 reference works, 2000 stunning photos and Holy Land maps, the most advanced Bible search and retrieval engine available, and more. In fact, all of this content has a combined retail value of over $1,300 if it were purchased separately. You can't argue with that kind of value.

QuickVerse Mac has been created from the ground up to be a truly native OS X application. Any Mac user interested in Bible reading, Bible study, sermon preparation or teaching will quickly discover how easy the program is to use. QuickVerse Mac is the most intuitive and Mac-embracing Bible study software on the market.

New Features

  • Word Form and Thesaurus Search - New advancements in word search technology will now allow you to find all forms of a given search word without embedding cryptic symbols like "*" or "?". Search for similar words including those hard-to-remember 16th century words like Forthwith (immediately), threescore (sixty) or fourscore (eighty)!
  • Near/Proximity Search - Now find multiple words near each other. Find God within 5 words of command! NEW! Book Download/Unlocking - Now drop and drag online books to your QuickVerse desktop, simply unlock any books, anytime with QuickVerse!
  • Prayer Journal - Now track all of your prayers and prayer requests on your Mac with QuickVerse! Keep track of your prayer requests and answers, add detailed descriptive prayer requests, categories and dates. The Prayer Journal Answer section allows entry for answered prayers, dates and even descriptions!
  • Book Notes - Note indicators now mark every position in the Table of Contents in all books - you'll always know note positions in every book! Autosave now saves notes automatically as you move through any/all books - even if you forget!

Additional Features:

  • Universally Compatible - QuickVerse Mac is universally compatible with PowerPC, G3, G4, G5 and Intel Core Duo processors! No need for emulators to run QV Mac on Intel Macs!
  • VerseFinder - With both abbreviated and full book names to expedite book/chapter/verse research. Reading Plans - Now including over 100 preconfigured reading plans or create your own and track your Bible reading progress daily.
  • Advanced Reading Plans and Devotionals - Save and apply up to 4 Bible segments in any daily reading plan. Choose from several preset Bible reading plans or create your own!
  • Parallel Gospels and Parallel Bibles - Show over 100 passage similarities in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. View any group of verses in several translations at once, in the same window!
  • Bookmarks - Bookmark your favorite positions in any book! Add categories and notes for instant recall.
  • Audio Pronunciations - Hear those difficult Bible references! Over 6,500 audio words are simply a click away. Interactive Study Workbooks - An all new interactive approach to digital workbook study! Read, answer and print your results without ever leaving QuickVerse!
  • Original Languages - Strong's Concordance with Greek and Hebrew Dictionary links every word in the Bible back to its original Greek and Hebrew root. Includes Greek and Hebrew spelling, pronunciation, and complete English definitions!
  • Book Synchronization and Linking - Scroll in one window pane and the others follow - automatically! Over 250,000 predefined hyperlinks between books and media.

System requirements:

  • Operating System: Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher.
  • Hardware: Macintosh G3 or Intel processor, 500 MHz or higher
  • RAM: 256 MB or greater
  • Hard Disk: 200 MB free space
  • Drives: CD-ROM or DVD-ROM

QuickVerse 2007 Macintosh White Box

Large Box (9.5" x 8" x 1.75")

UPC: 6-94680-11197-4

MSRP: $59.95

PortableOSX Reaches Beta

PR: PortableOSX installs a stripped down version of Mac OS X to a mobile device, such a USB 2.0 or FireWire drive. Note that this application has no graphical interface. It uses the command line in the Terminal app.

With the release 0.0.1b PortableOSX finally gets in the beta stage. If no Intel code is submitted before the final version, the code itself will not change.

This release includes some minor bug fixes, some textual interface improvements, and the new icon, made by Michael Scofield and AdN.

New in version n 0.1.1b2:

  • This new beta has a main new feature: finally we have Intel support! Also a new French localization has been added. Big thanks to our community, especially to LaMax and llee, which made possible booting the system on Intel Macs.

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.4 or later
  • Terminal app
  • a Mac OS X 10.4 Install Disk
  • a bootable disk with at least 1 GB (PPCs) or 2.8 GB (Intels) free

System support: PPC/Intel

Free

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