Mac News Review

Apple's 5% Market Share, 8-core Mac Pro Rocks when Multitasking, ScreenRecycler Speeds Up, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.04.27

Apple announces sales of over 1.5 million Macs and 10.5 million iPods during the past quarter. Gartner figures that gives Apple 5% of the US market.

On the Mac Pro front, Bare Feats shows how multitasking really benefits from 8 cores, Hardmac explains how to cool third-party RAM in the Mac Pro, and NewerTech has a clever extender cable that ports up to two SATA ports from the Mac Pro motherboard to the back of the computer for use with eSATA drives.

Intel has announced new Core 2 CPUs with twice-as-large caches while slashing prices on several of its existing CPUs. And ScreenRecycler, a program for using another computer to give your Mac an extended desktop, has been updated with fast VNC support.

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

Apple Corners 5% of US PC Market

ZD Net's Larry Dignan reports:

"Fueled by a 30 percent year-over-year growth rate, Apple shipments hit 741,000 units in the first quarter, up from 570,000 units from a year ago.

"And according to Gartner, that tally equates to 5 percent market share in the US PC market, up a percentage point from this time a year ago.

"As far as growth goes, Apple grew the fastest of the US PC makers in shipments with a 30 percent growth rate...."

Editor's note: Gartner reports their figures as estimates. Apple announced sales of over 1.5 million Macs worldwide during the quarter, which would indicate that over half of all Mac sales are taking place outside of the US. dk

8 Core Mac Pro Shows Its Stuff when Multitasking

Bare Feats' rob-ART Morgan reports:

"In some cases in our early testing, the 8 core (dual quad-core) Mac Pro was only barely faster than the 4 Core (dual dual-core) Mac Pro running at the same clock speed (3 GHz). But when we converted 6 movie clips simultaneously in QuickTime Player, we saw the 8 core surge ahead by 38%. You could call that 'muti-tasking.'

"In this test session, we constructed a 'multi-processing' scenario where four different MP 'aware' apps were simultaneously 'crunching' and fighting for CPU cycles. That included....

  • iDVD 6 encoding menu and HD video assets
  • Motion 2 rendering a RAM preview of a 1000 frame 1440 x 1080 project
  • Final Cut Pro 5 rendering a 20 second HD clip
  • Photoshop CS3 taking a 100 MB test file and running 3 lens flares and 3 radial blurs (with the aid of an action file).

"If your work flow means doing more than one thing at a time on your Mac Pro, then you will see significant gains if you spend extra to get the 8-core version."

How to Cool Third-party Memory Modules in Mac Pro

Hardmac's Lionel reports:

"As many Mac Pro owners, Christophe purchased non Apple-certified FB-DIMM modules for his Mac Pro 2.66 GHz. When checking temperature of his modules, he discovered that the temperature is in average 15°C higher than Apple-branded ones. So, he decided to improve the cooling system.

heatsink"He added some copper-based heatsink from ThermalTake. With such components glued to the chips, the overall temperature goes down to the same level than Apple-branded ones, dropping from 75°C to 60°C."

Will Leopard Usher in the Era of Blu-ray?

Ars Technica's Iljitsch van Beijnum says:

"Over at Spymac Michael Simon retells the story of high-definition video on the Mac, starting with Steve Jobs' proclamation that 2005 would be the 'year of HD.'

"Apple's video editing software, even at the low end in the form of iMovie, has had HD support for some years. DVD Player (mysteriously not updated a week ago along with the rest of the Final Cut Studio suite) will play HD content burned to regular DVD media, and DVD Studio Pro will even author HD DVD projects, but no Blu-ray so far, even though Apple is on the board of directors of the Blu-ray Disc Association. In the Spymac article, Michael Simon speculates that the delayed Leopard release could pave the way for Blu-ray compatible Macs by the end of the year...."

Intel Doubles Cache Size in New Core 2 Duos

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Intel has extended its line of desktop dual-core Core 2 Duo processors, adding an extra model to the set limited to an 800 MHz frontside bus and beefing up the cache size of a number of 1066 MHz FSB versions.

"So, in comes the 2 GHz Core 2 Duo E4400, fitted with 2 MB of L2 cache. The existing E6300 and E6400, clocked at 1.86 GHz and 2.13 GHz, respectively, also contain 2 MB of L2, but are now joined by versions at the same clock speed but with 4 MB of L2 as per the remainder of the Core 2 Duo E6xxx series.

"Earlier this week, Intel cut its desktop processor prices by up to 40 per cent."

Intel Chops Dual, Quad-Core Prices Almost 40 Percent

ExtremeTech reports:

"In the midst of a price war with AMD, Intel announced its own substantive price cuts for its high-end Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad microprocessors over the weekend.

"Intel also took the axe to the prices of its Xeon processors."

Mini CDs and Slot-loading Drives Don't Mix

Mac OS X Hints says:

"Here's a hint . . . don't put a mini CD in your MacBook! If you do, like I did, and it gets stuck, like mine did, well . . . I managed to get it out by turning my MacBook on its side and shaking it.

"[robg adds: Mini CDs (and any other non-standard CD size or shape, for that matter, should never be put into a slot-loading CD/DVD drive on any Mac that is thus equipped. If you have a tray-loading drive, I think the Mini CD format might work, but I haven't tested one myself]"

Editor's note: I have, and Mini CDs work just fine in my old QPS QueFire! 40x CD-burning drive, but keep 'em out of the slot-loaders. cm

Apple Updates

Apple Security Updater 2007-004

For the protection of our customers, Apple does not disclose, discuss, or confirm security issues until a full investigation has occurred and any necessary patches or releases are available.

Security Update 2007-004 is recommended for all users and improves the security of the following components:

  • AFP Client
  • AirPort
  • CarbonCore
  • diskdev_cmds
  • fetchmail
  • ftpd
  • gnutar
  • Help Viewer
  • HID Family
  • Installer
  • Kerberos
  • Libinfo
  • Login Window
  • network_cmds
  • SMB
  • System Configuration
  • URLMount
  • Video Conference
  • WebDAV

For explanation of what a SHA1 digest is, please see Mac OS X: How to Verify a SHA-1 Digest.

For detailed information on Security Updates, please see Apple Security Updates.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.4.9

System support: PPC/Intel

Free

Products

eSATA Extender Cable Routes Internal Mac Pro SATA Ports for External Use

PR: Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech), the leading developer of PC, Macintosh, and iPod performance upgrades and accessories, announced the NewerTech eSATA Extender Cable for Mac Pro computers. The NewerTech eSATA Extender Cable is the first extender cable available on the market that offers Mac Pro owners the ability to utilize the two unused internal SATA ports on the motherboard and add up to two external eSATA devices to run up to 6 hard drives or other devices on your Mac Pro.

"Perfect Fit Solution" Expands Mac Pro Capabilities

The NewerTech eSATA Extender Cable is specifically and thoroughly engineered to be a "Perfect Fit Solution" so it accurately and properly routes inside a Mac Pro case. Users can connect any two SATA-I or SATA-II devices to expand their data storage configuration. A step-by step illustrated installation manual is included to make setup easy.

Features:

  • First Mac Pro eSATA port expansion cable available on the market.
  • Provides ability to run external eSATA devices with Mac Pro 8-Core and Quad-Core models.
  • "Perfect Fit Solution" for proper and accurate cable routing.
  • Enables connection of any two SATA-I or SATA-II devices.
  • Full color, photo illustrated, step-by-step installation manual.

The NewerTech eSATA Extender Cable is priced at $24.95 MSRP and is available immediately from NewerTech's exclusive distributor, Other World Computing, as well as through the retail channel.

New Server Rack Designed for Noise Reduction

PR: GizMac Accessories, designer and manufacturer of the XRackPro2 server rack enclosure cabinets for noise reduction, begins shipping a new XRackPro2 model. GizMac began shipping their new 6U size XRackPro2 server rack today.

The 6U rack joins the current 25U, 12U and 4U XRackPro2 server racks in the battle to reduce noise from loud equipment. As with the current XRackPro2 server rack line, the new 6U model can reduce noise up to 80%.

"Servers, RAID systems, switches, routers, audio/video, and other rackmount units can be made significantly quieter with our XRackPro2 products." says Tim Cave, LOAHS for GizMac Accessories, "As the chassis size of rackmount equipment becomes smaller, the cooling fans inside the rackmount equipment also get smaller and ultimately louder to keep up with the larger cooling demands of new technology, that is why GizMac is seeing an increase in customers seeking noise reduction."

The noise reduction engineering of the XRackPro2 server rack allows computer, audio/video, and other systems to be placed in areas that require low noise. Post production for film, video and audio editing; television, cable and radio broadcasting; business and medical offices, schools or any other environment that requires low noise will benefit from the XRackPro.

Pricing for the new 6U XRackPro2 server rack is $749.99 US retail.

The 6U XRackPro2 can be purchased from authorized resellers or directly from the XRackPro website.

Software

StartupProfiler Automatically Gathers Data

PR: StartupProfiler is an application that will allow the user to gather Apple System Profiler information quickly and easily. The user can automatically or manually print, save, and display a wider range of options than System Profiler. StartupProfiler allows system information to be automatically gathered on launch. The results can be printed or saved without user interaction. This program can be used as a startup item, automating the gathering of system data.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.

System Support: PPC/Intel

Free

ScreenRecycler Adds Fast VNC Support

PR: Most Mac users have a spare computer sitting right next to their main computer on their desk including a nice display. ScreenRecycler now enables you to use this spare computer as second display for your Mac. You can even use an idle machine for that purpose.

It's like a dual monitor setup without the need to buy an additional monitor.

Just start ScreenRecycler on your Mac then connect to ScreenRecycler via VNC from your old machine.

Use any machine as additional monitor on your Mac

New in version 1.0rc1:

  • added trial mode and activation. Activation is free in this build.
  • added IPv6 support. This enables to use non setup connections via Bonjour.
  • JollysFastVNC v0.64 is now included.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 on the ScreenRecycler machine. A VNC client program on the client machine.

System support: PPC/Intel

Free

Smart Scroll X Extends Grab Scroll Support

PR: Smart Scroll X brings new scrolling options and enhancements to Mac OS X:

  • Super Wheel - smoother, more comfortable scroll wheel action.
  • Grab Scroll gives you a Hand tool to easily move any window's contents. It features coasting, just like on the iPhone.
  • A "High Gear" for your scroll wheel, so you can have super-fast scrolling when you need it.
  • Universal Scroll Keys to scroll without having to reach for the mouse. Scroll keys are the same in every application, giving you fast & dependable scrolling right from the keyboard.
  • Adds Scroll wheel support to FileMaker Pro 6 and 7 (as well as live scrolling).
  • Adds Live Scrolling and proportional thumbs to AppleWorks 6.

Grab Scroll

Grab scroll works with any mouse or pen or trackpad, etc. It is essentially the same feature as the hand tool available in many graphics programs, but now you can use it for scrolling in any Cocoa application (support for Carbon applications is forthcoming).

  • With a single-button mouse, a scroll key lets you turn the cursor into an open hand: hold the first key and tap the second one. To scroll, click and drag with the mouse. Grab scroll mode ends when you release the first key (the 2nd key is used to activate grab scroll, and also to scroll faster when you want).
  • With a multiple-button mouse, you just press one of the buttons (select one) to grab the page and slide it inside its window.
  • With a graphics pen, you'll probably want to setup the extra buttons so that the first one does a middle-click (so you can use it to grab scroll) and the 2nd one does a right-click. Since the pen lets you move the cursor farther with less effort and more precision than a mouse, you can keep the normal speed at 1x for maximum control and set the other speeds to some high value.

Two extra scrolling speeds are available, in addition to the normal speed. One by holding a user-selectable key while dragging, and the second by starting to drag near an edge of the area to scroll.

Faster Scroll Wheel

You can make your scroll wheel faster when you hold down a user-selectable key, up to 12 times faster. In addition, the speed multiplier you choose is applied on top of the acceleration already provided by the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane: this means you keep the same level of control as you have now, but you can scroll farther and without having to spin the wheel nearly as much.

Universal Scroll Keys

A welcome alternative to always having to reach for the mouse, Scroll Keys are a real time saver for anyone who types a lot!

With automatic scroll focusing, all you do is press a Scroll Key and Smart Scroll X automatically selects and scrolls the correct pane. Scroll Keys also feature their own adjustable scrolling speed, with optional progressive acceleration, so that you can easily scroll multiple pages simply by holding down a key.

Scroll Keys are the same across all applications: no need to remember different keys for each app. Because of this, and because Scroll Keys are conveniently located in the corner of the keyboard, you can even scroll without having to look at the keys.

Scroll Keys are made possible by the new kind of keyboard shortcut used in Smart Scroll X, which doesn't involve hitting letter keys (hence avoiding conflicts with existing key combinations). Instead, you hold down one of the four corner keys and you scroll by hitting one of the others (some keyboards have these keys on both sides, letting you scroll with either hand) :

FileMaker Pro & AppleWorks enhancements

Smart Scroll X brings scroll wheel support and live scrolling to FileMaker Pro 6 and 7. You can now use your scroll wheel mouse for scrolling FileMaker Pro documents. Note: With some layouts you may need to click one of the scroll bars once before the scroll wheel works. A fix will be available in the next version of Smart Scroll X.

AppleWorks 6 users get live scrolling and proportional thumbs, as well as scroll wheel support.

Live scrolling updates the document while you drag the scroll bar thumb. Proportional thumbs show how much of the document is being displayed, and they make it easier to see which part you are viewing. They are also easier to grab with the mouse.

Scroll Next

If a window has two or more scrollable panes, it is the one under the mouse pointer that scrolls. Automatic scroll focusing will select one of the panes for you when you press a Scroll Key to start scrolling, but chances are it won't be able to guess the correct pane every time. To let you scroll another pane without reaching for the mouse, Smart Scroll X adds the Scroll Next feature: hold down Control and hit Shift to select the next pane in the window for scrolling. The mouse pointer jumps to the selected pane too, providing visual feedback.

Scroll Next is quite useful in applications such as Mail for example, where one often wants to alternatively scroll the list of messages and the text of an email.

Note: In the current version of Smart Scroll X, scrolling in Carbon applications only works if the mouse pointer is above the pane to scroll. An upcoming version of Smart Scroll X will remove this limitation, and also enable the Scroll Next feature for Carbon applications.

Other features of Smart Scroll X

Finally, Smart Scroll X lets you select a comfortable scrolling speed for Scroll keys (including optional acceleration), and offers a larger selection of scrollbar arrows positions (still useful from time to time, although with Grab Scroll and Scroll Keys you won't need to click on arrows very often anymore). You do not need to restart applications for these changes to take effect.

New in version 2.2:

  • Grab Scroll support for Safari's RSS display.
  • Grab Scroll support for NetNewsWire (Thanks, Arnold Kid!)
  • Super Wheel and Grab Scroll support for Camino (Thanks, Thomas Meyer & Timothy James!)
  • By popular request, a "Scroll without moving cursor" option for Grab Scroll.
  • Fixes a problem in v2.1.2 where Smart Scroll X would sometimes stop working in Safari.
  • FileMaker Pro enhancements are now working again (broken since v2.1.1).
  • Various fixes and improvements.

New in version 2.0x:

  • New Super Wheel feature.
  • New Coasting feature for Grab Scroll.
  • New Grab Scroll feature for Carbon applications.
  • Universal binary.
  • Includes Rosetta TuneUp, a utility for preventing Rosetta-related crashes on Intel Macs.
  • Streamlined preference pane.
  • Various fixes and improvements.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.

System support: PPC/Intel

Smart Scroll X is shareware ($19 single user license)

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