Mac News Review

Vista Drives Hack to Mac, Back to Opera, Take Control of Backup, Odysseus Public Beta, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2008.07.11

PowerBook, iBook, MacBook, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Products

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Fed Up with Vista, Inquirer Hack Goes Mac

The Inquirer's Dean Pullen says:

"Hell has finally frozen over.

"This INQ hack has gone Mac. I'm now using a MacBook full-time and expect to be using a MacBook Pro when the (likely) August refresh occurs. I'm also buying a 3G iPhone in July. Nick won't be happy.

"I'm simply fed up. I'm fed up with the absolute turd that is Windows Vista. I've been using it since beta's were stable enough for day-to-day use, and I just can't take another five minute wait of constant disk thrashing, after another reboot forced upon me by yet another security patch from Microsoft....

"I can no longer stand the disk thrashing while I'm in the middle of my work - for apparently no good reason - which makes the system unusable for sometime, until I've gone and made a coffee or two....

"If (alleged) IT professionals, like myself, start making the switch and bemoaning the state of Microsoft's offerings, how long before the masses take heed? How long will it be before Microsoft's market share starts to falter at the burgeoning up-take of hassle-free operating systems and devices?

"Not long I hope."

Editor's note: The shift is already well underway, Dean. Welcome to the club. Maybe you'll even become a fanboy in spite of yourself. It's happened before. ;-) cm

Forget Firefox - I'm Going Back to Opera

The Guardian's Andrew Brown says:

"With the release of Firefox 3, I mounted a private celebration: I went back to using Opera 9.5 as my main browser. This wasn't just perversity. Firefox without its add-ons is clearly inferior to Opera. Firefox with enough add-ons to make it really useful is very much slower. And Opera has one advantage over all the competition which is enough to outweigh all its other faults to me . . . its mail program. I hated it at first, but I missed it for the whole year that I haven't used it. Opera's mail is unique - so far as I know - in that it indexes everything without fuss and finds it at once whenever you want it. It doesn't organise by folders (though it can) but by searches and by tags. Imagine a sort of instantaneous Gmail that works offline as well. All conversations can be automatically threaded and this suits the way I work much better than anything else...."

Another Power Management Option for Macs

ZD Net blogger Heather Clancy says:

"The marketing and communications types over at developer Faronics of San Ramon, Calif., very gently informed me a few weeks ago that they have a very well established power management utility for the Macintosh platform. I had despaired of the few choices for the Mac a few months back when I wrote a blog about BigFix , a patch manager gone power manager. 'What about Faronics?' they asked.

"Indeed, Faronics is on version 2.0 of the PowerSave software product line, which now supports Mac OS X Leopard 10.5...."

PCs for Dummies Author Releases Top 10 Tips to Extend Your Computer's Life

PR: Now more than ever, consumers are trying to make their dollar go further. The generally accepted practice of replacing PCs every 2-3 years is no longer the norm. Avoiding viruses, spyware, and popups are one of many ways consumers can extend the life of their PC into a fourth, fifth and even a sixth year.

PCLive.com, a provider of instant online computer support services for consumers, has released its top ten practical tips users can employ now to extend the life of their PC. The list was provided by Dan Gookin, author of the PCs for Dummies book series. Gookin regularly posts tips and topics surrounding consumers' common, everyday PC hassles on PCLive's blog For PC's Sake. Gookin's top ten list features the following tips:

  1. Clean out the case - Especially when you have pets, you may find lots of non-electronic things dwelling inside your PC's console. Clean it out; all that fuzz and dust helps trap heat, especially when it clogs the PC's fan and air vents. But do take care: unplug your PC before opening the case. Then use a vacuum or can of air to blast away years of crud.
  2. Clean up the digital detritus - As with cleaning out the inside of the computer case, you'll want to clean up the digital leftovers on your computer's hard drive. The Disk Cleanup tool that comes with Windows is ideal for this. For your own stuff, you should go through the things you've saved to disk and ensure that there aren't things lurking there taking up space that you no longer need. If so, delete 'em!
  3. Add more memory - Your computer must think that it's Christmas when you add more memory to the system. Unless the PC is already packed with RAM, buy more. Heck, if it's packed with RAM, remove it and add RAM to the maximum capacity. Your computer will love it. You will love it.
  4. Backup your files - As computers age, the hard drive goes. The hard drive is where you store all your stuff, and that stuff should be precious to you. To help keep that information around, run a backup program on a regular basis. That second, just-in-case copy, of your stuff will come in handy some day.
  5. Add a second hard drive - The hard drive in your old PC will die someday. Before then, add a second hard drive. For example, you can add an external hard drive and use it for backup. Or add an internal hard drive and start saving your stuff there for the big, sad day when the original hard drive bites the digital dust.
  6. Get a new mouse, keyboard, or both! - Like the hard drive, your PC's keyboard and mouse are mechanical things. They will suffer from wear and tear someday. Before then, do yourself a favor and buy replacements. A new mouse can add some happy zip to your computing day. A new keyboard, well, you can see the key tops again.
  7. Perform regular maintenance - The computer does have the ability to fix many of its own problems, but you must be an active participant. Regularly run disk utilities on the drive: defragment the drive to help improve speed and performance. Run a disk- checking utility to ensure that information can reliably be accessed on the disk.
  8. Upgrade the optical drive - Rather than live in the 20th Century with a plain CD-ROM drive, get yourself a DVD drive, or a recordable drive. Replacement optical drives are inexpensive and easy to install yourself. They also come with the software necessary to use the new drive, even if Windows lacks those features.
  9. Upgrade the video adapter - Video technology has come a long way since you bought your PC. A new video adapter, packed with abundant video RAM and a high-speed graphics processor, can make your PC look brand new. Well, on the screen at least. (Do ensure that you get an adapter that can plug into your old computer.)
  10. Buy a UPS - Your computer relies on power to keep it going. With an Uninterruptible Power Supply, you can ensure that the power is not only always there, but conditioned as well. The UPS will help keep your PC's aging bones from breaking during a snap outage.

Beyond these practical tips, consumers can also contact PCLive.com to instantly solve more complex user problems. PCLive.com offers a free PC Diagnostic and PC Health Report in the Resource Center to help you determine overall PC health and identify areas of potential risk. In addition, for $69.95 per incident, PCLive.com technicians will take over a user's computer (with the user's permission) and instantly solve problems that can harm a computer's performance.

PCLive.com offers 24-hour live computer support to help you, your family and your business enjoy the use of computers without having to become computer experts. For just $69.95 per session, PCLive.com remotely solves a wide range of computer problems from removing spyware, adware, or other malicious software to fixing problems with your Internet browser - all with one click or call. With PCLive.com, you don't have to choose from a complicated menu of services or even leave the comfort of home. Simply click on Fix It Now to chat instantly or call 888-PCLive-Now (888-725-4836) and a highly trained computer support specialist will work with you to immediately solve your computer problem.

PDF Format Becomes ISO Standard

PR: The Portable Document Format (PDF), undeniably one of the most commonly used formats for electronic documents (and the technology the Mac OS X Finder is based on), is now accessible as an ISO International Standard - ISO 32000-1. This move follows a decision by Adobe Systems Incorporated, original developer and copyright owner of the format, to relinquish control to ISO, who is now in charge of publishing the specifications for the current version (1.7) and for updating and developing future versions.

"By releasing the full PDF specification for ISO standardization, we are reinforcing our commitment to openness", says Kevin Lynch, Chief Technology Officer at Adobe. "As governments and organizations increasingly request open formats, maintenance of the PDF specification by an external and participatory organization will help continue to drive innovation and expand the rich PDF ecosystem that has evolved over the past 15 years."

PDF, a digital form used to represent electronic documents, allows users to exchange and view the documents easily and reliably, independent of the environments in which they are created, viewed and printed, while preserving their content and visual appearance.

With the explosive growth of the Internet, PDF has become one of the most common formats for document exchange, widely used in all professional and personal contexts. The format enables:

  • preservation of document fidelity independent of device or platform
  • merging of content from diverse sources
  • collaborative editing of documents using multiple platforms
  • digital signatures for authenticity
  • security and permissions to preserve control over content
  • accessibility of content to those with disabilities
  • extraction and reuse of content for use with other file formats, and
  • gathering data and integrating it with business systems using PDF forms.

Major corporations, government agencies and educational institutions use PDF to streamline their operations by replacing paper documentation with electronic exchange. Already, over 2 000 PDF product developers use this standard for their products and billions of PDF files are in existence today.

ISO Secretary-General Alan Bryden comments: "As an ISO standard, we can ensure that this useful and widely popular format is easily available to all interested stakeholders. The standard will benefit both software developers and users by encouraging the propagation and dissemination of a common technology that cuts across systems and is designed for long term survival."

The new standard, ISO 32000-1, Document management - Portable document format - Part 1: PDF 1.7, is based on the PDF version 1.7 developed by Adobe. This International Standard supplies the essential information needed by developers of software that create PDF files (conforming writers), software that reads existing PDF files and interprets their contents for display and interaction (conforming readers), and PDF products that read and/or write PDF files for a variety of other purposes (conforming products).

Future versions of the format will be published as subsequent parts of the standard by the ISO subcommittee in charge of its maintenance and development (SC 2, Application issues, of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 171, Document management applications).

ISO 32000-1, Document management - Portable document format - Part 1: PDF 1.7 costs 370 Swiss francs and is available from ISO national member institutes and from ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing & Communication department

Products

Macessity SlimKey V2 Stand with USB 2.0 Hub

PR: No matter which Mac you own, this SlimKey seems to be designed and made for it. While serving as a keyboard's tuckaway, its slim and flat profile is so surprisingly versatile, you can use it with any Mac

Macessity Slimkey V2This stand is Macessity's third addition to this category based on the feedbacks, wish lists, and "nice to haves" from the first two. Perfect in every way: slim, nice and flat, beautiful design, AND one of the most asked for features, a side access USB 2.0 powered hub.

No matter which Mac you own, this SlimKey seems to be designed and made for it. While serving as a keyboard's tuckaway, its slim and flat profile is so surprisingly versatile, you can use it with any Mac. On iMac and Apple Display, it provides better ergonomics for your back, neck, and eyes by raising the monitor up an additional inch. On MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air, this stand is a wonderful cooler. The laptop will up off the desk, and that should provide better air flow for the machine. On Mac Mini, it is a great accessory as well

The SlimKey Stand is constructed of 0.1085" thick steel, powder-coated in aluminum color matching that of the iMac or Apple Display. This stand spreads out the entire length of the slim keyboard and 9" deep, creating a sturdy structure, which can support any size of Apple Display or iMac, or any LCD up to 35 pounds.

Features

  • Slim keyboard's best accessory
  • Sturdy yet elegant and contemporary design
  • Support up to 35 pounds
  • Perfect for any size of iMac, or Apple Display
  • Includes a "must have" side access 4-port USB 2.0 hub
  • Compact power adapter
  • Powder coated in aluminum color to match iMac and Apple Display

Dimensions: 18.5"(W) x 9"(D) x 1.1"(H)

Package includes:

  • SlimKey V2 Stand
  • Power adapter
  • 9 USB 2.0 cable

Price: $64.99

Availability: Preorders will ship on July 21, 2008

Take Control of Backup - 2 New Ebooks from TidBITS

PR: Everyone knows backups are essential to protect against file corruption, hardware failure, and theft, but to go beyond the false security of turning on Time Machine or copying a few files to CD, Mac users can now turn to the third edition of, the best-selling Take Control ebook by backup guru Joe Kissell. Or, for those who find the field overwhelming, Kissell's small ancillary ebook, Take Control of Easy Backups in Leopard, covers the fastest and easiest way to create a complete Leopard backup system from which data can be restored after an accident or disaster.

Take Control of Easy Backups in LeopardIn Take Control of Mac OS X Backups, Kissell helps readers pick the best backup strategy for their particular needs, providing an at-a-glance comparison of different backup strategies (low-cost, easy, safest), along with extra advice for backing up digital photos and massive video projects. Readers learn the pros and cons of each type of backup media, including hard disk, Time Capsule, disc, Internet backup service, and more; discover how to pick the best backup software for their needs; and find time-tested recommendations for setting up, testing, and maintaining backups, complete with the essential instructions on how to restore after a crash. Free online appendixes compare features in almost 100 different backup products and give step-by-step directions for Retrospect.

Questions answered in the book include:

How can I maximize the benefits of using Time Machine? What's a hard link, and how does it relate to Time Machine? What are the important gotchas relating to Time Machine? How do I migrate an existing backup system to Time Capsule? I'm running Windows on my Mac - how do I back up my Windows files? How can I back up easily and safely while traveling? Should I use an online backup service to back up to a different location? What do I need to know to create my own command-line-based backups? How do I minimize the amount of downtime I might suffer if my boot drive fails?

Take Control of Easy Backups in Leopard aims at the heart of the matter to teach readers the fastest and easiest way to create a complete Leopard backup system that includes archives, an all-important bootable duplicate, and an offsite backup. Kissell helps readers identify the backup hardware that best matches their needs and budget (including a look at Time Capsule - Apple's new backup appliance), and he provides instructions for using Time Machine as well as alternatives for eight cases where Time Machine lacks crucial features. Kissell walks readers through every step of the way, from setting up a backup drive or Time Capsule to explaining how to recover precious data in case of a deleted or corrupted file, a dead drive, or a stolen laptop.

Questions answered in the book include:

How can I get the maximum benefit from Time Machine? Is Time Machine appropriate for backing up multiple Macs? What's an archive, and why should I care? Why is having a bootable duplicate important? How can I easily and effectively keep an offsite backup? What features should I look for in an external backup drive? Time Machine is acting strangely. What should I do? How do I migrate existing backups to a Time Capsule?

Take Control of Mac OS X Backups
186 pages,
free sample available
Publication date: June 25, 2008
PDF Price: $15
ISBN: 978-0975950-30-2
 
Take Control of Easy Backups in Leopard
PDF format,
96 pages,
free sample available
Publication date: June 25, 2008
PDF Price: $10
ISBN: 978-1933671-35-2

Software

Odysseus 0.9.0b Eudora Replacement Email Client Public Beta

The much-anticipated (at least by Eudora fans of which I'm one) Odysseus email client which is designed to be a real replacement for the classic Eudora application we know and love is out in another new beta, still looking great, and it works, although it's not quite quite ready for prime time yet, but for those of us who want a Eudora successor to be more than just a Eudora-themed clone of Thunderbird, Odysseus cometh.

Odysseus 0.9.0b

Infinity Data Systems has released another public beta build of the Odysseus for the Mac - version 0.9.0b, which offers a number of improvements and refinements over the previous public beta 0.8.2:

  • Resets the trial period for individuals who have previously installed and used Odysseus.
  • Adds Address Book menu
  • Fixes crash when Replying, Forwarding, or Redirecting a message that had been imported
  • Improved formatting of the Attachments list at bottom of messages
  • Fixed issue where menus disappear after deleting mailbox
  • Fixed issue where Stationery Name and Stationery Body would not be saved
  • Minor improvement to Signature and Stationery handling when creating new message

Odysseus will be commercial software (as Qualcomm's Eudora was) and not open source, and will sell for $39.95, about the same price point as classic Eudora. The program is being developed with support for Mac OS X and Windows, with Linux compatibility being looked at for the future. Version upgrade prices, anticipated roughly annually, are projected to be $19.95, and if a full version number upgrade occurs in under a year's time, it will be free for users of the previous version.

Flock 1.2.3 Web Browser Released

PR: Flock is a new web browser that makes it easier to share media and connect to other people online. Share photos, automatically stay up-to-date with new content from your favorite sites, and search the Web with the most advanced Search Toolbar available today.

Flock makes sure you don't miss a thing.

Be informed when:

  • Your friends post photos, videos or other updates
  • Your favorite sites update content
  • You have new messages and site notifications

Flock's features tell you when your favorite sites and people post new stuff.

Flock 2 with Firefox 3 inside = WOW!

Flock 2 incorporates all of the latest features found in Flock's recent public release, but it runs on the latest and greatest Firefox 3 technology from Mozilla. So now you don't have to abandon your love affair with your new favorite browser to check out the latest performance, security and feature enhancements from Mozilla. We've got them all right here for you!

Flock 2 is FAST. Manages memory better, and is more secure, thanks to Mozilla's Firefox 3 technology.

New in version 1.2.3:

  • Incorporated Mozilla's 2.0.0.15 patch for Firefox.
  • Several fixes for a better Digg experience
  • Several fixes for sharing media with Yahoo! Mail.
  • A fix for the Media Magic bar and YouTube videos.
  • A character encoding fix for importing Favorites.
  • A fix for displaying the YouTube avatar.

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.

System Support: PPC/Intel

Free

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