Mac News Review

Greens Accuse Apple of Lax Oversight, faceTop Puts Facebook on Your Mac's Desktop, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.01.21

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Software

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News & Opinion

Green Group Accuses Apple of Lax Oversight

Reuters' James Pomfret and Kelvin Soh report:

"iPhone maker Apple was criticized by Chinese green groups for lax corporate oversight of its suppliers in China, leading to poor environmental and work safety standards that poisoned dozens of factory workers.

"Apple, which announced blockbuster profits and a dazzling outlook for iPhone and iPad sales earlier this week, continues to be dogged by accusations of aggressive pricing and secretive supply chain management in Chinese factories where they now assemble most of their products.

"'We've found that Apple isn't honoring its commitment in ensuring its supply chain's work safety and environmental responsibility and giving dignity and respect to the workers,' said Ma Jun, of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) which published a detailed report on Apple supply chain malpractice Thursday, in conjunction with other green groups."

Editor's note: For my take on this story, see Chinese Greens Would Rather Point the Finger at Apple than at Their Own Countrymen. dk

Which Is Best: Safe Boot, Disk Utility, or fsck?

MacFixIt's Topher Kessler says a question he's hearing recently is which disk-checking method is best for performing maintenance on your system, noting that when a Mac has problems booting, seems to be experiencing slowdowns, or has just recovered from a crash or power outage, it's a good idea to at least verify that the file system structure has not been compromised, which can be done by booting to Safe Mode, booting into Single User mode and running "fsck", or booting from the installation DVD and running Disk Utility, all of which will accomplish pretty much the same thing.

Editor's note: My favorite solution is to have a separate "emergency" partition on your main hard drive if you don't have a second bootable hard drive available. Boot from that, run Disk Utility, and no need to dig up your install DVD, use Terminal, or boot into Safe Mode. A bootable backup of your main drive is another good option. dk

Software

faceTop Puts Facebook on Your Mac Desktop

PR: Display your Facebook page deep into your desktop without the need of your favorite browser. It's always there. It will update smoothly. It will be there if you want it or slowly be transparent when not using it.

faceTop by XinfiniteUse your Facebook page as desktop wallpaper without the need of your favorite browser. It's always there. It will update smoothly. It will appear when you need it and become transparent when doing other things. It's the best wallpaper add-on you can wish: it's all about your friends!

New in version 1.0.1

  • better behavior below/above desktop icons
  • active chatroom
  • manual moving/resizing of the page
  • optional scrollbars
  • optional titlebar

Version 1.1 should be available on the Mac App Store around January 30. faceTop is available exclusively through the Mac App Store.

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5 or later

$1.99

iClap: Control Your Mac by Clapping

PR: Kapeli announces iClap 1.0, its second Mac App Store-exclusive application. iClap is Kapeli's latest application, which allows Snow Leopard users to control their Mac by clapping. iClap tracks the input volume of user's computers and uses it to determine when someone claps their hands. When a clap is detected, a set of predefined actions is performed.

iClapThe following actions are supported:

  • Open Finder
  • Hide All Applications
  • Activate Screensaver
  • Get New Mail
  • Play iTunes
  • Play VLC
  • Play QuickTime
  • Open Any Application, File or Script

iClap was designed to bring convenience in any Mac user's life, during those times when you'd like to control your Mac from a small distance, when you want it to start playing your favorite playlist without having to walk all the way to your computer. With iClap installed, as soon as you enter your home, you can clap your hands twice and iClap will launch your favorite applications, start playing iTunes and check for any new emails. With iClap, you can also surprise and impress your friends.

System Requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later
  • 1.7 MB

iClap 1.0 is $1.99 (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the Mac App Store in the Entertainment category.

Imagerie Beta Image Editor for OS X

PR: App4mac's Imagerie 0.9.8 is another OS X image editor from App4Mac, currently downloadable in beta with a final version of Imagerie projected for release on January 25, 2011.

You can use the beta version for free, but note that it will expire on January 30, 2011. You can also purchase a license right now at a special introductory price of €29 offered only until end of January 2011.

NOTE: it will only be possible to enter your license.

The documentation is planned for the final version. In the meantime here are the main concepts:

Toolbar

The first 4 icons of the toolbar are used to choose your working mode:

  • Arrow icon: Selection mode = to move, select or edit any object
  • Pen icon: Drawing mode = to add vector objects (square, circle, text,..)
  • Hand icon: Moving mode = to move to a new position in the canvas (mostly useful when you use the zoom)
  • Crop icon: Cropping mode = to crop your image to a new format

The icons in the middle of the toolbar:

  • Flip vertical
  • Flip horizontal
  • Rotate to the left
  • Rotate to the right

The 5 icons on the right:

  • Quick Edit: allows you to change the levels of an image (select first an image with the arrow icon)
  • Filters: allows you to apply an amazing set of filters to an image (select first an image with the arrow icon)
  • History: not yet available. Planned for the final version.
  • Export: allows you to export to JPEG, TIFF, PNG or directly to a website with FTP connection.
  • Fullscreen: allows you to work in fullscreen mode

Layers

At the left of the canvas, you can see a list of items. Each item can be moved by a simple drag and drop to a new layer. For each layer, you can setup a level of transparency and an amazing set of composition effects.

Inspector

At the left and bottom part of the screen, you will see the inspector. It's where you can edit the basic settings of any object.

Imagerie is build for Snow Leopard, and the final version should be available on January 25.

OpenOffice.org 3.3.0 Release Candidate Posted

PR: OpenOffice.org is both an Open Source product and a project. The product is a multiplatform office productivity suite. It includes the key desktop applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, and drawing program, with a user interface and feature set similar to other office suites. Sophisticated and flexible, OpenOffice.org also works transparently with a variety of file formats, including those of Microsoft Office.

OpenOffice.org 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.

OpenOffice.org 3 is the result of over twenty years' software engineering. Designed from the start as a single piece of software, it has a consistency other products cannot match. A completely open development process means that anyone can report bugs, request new features, or enhance the software. The result: OpenOffice.org 3 does everything you want your office software to do, the way you want it to.

Easy To Use:

  • OpenOffice.org 3 is easy to learn, and if you're already using another office software package, you'll take to OpenOffice.org 3 straight away. Our worldwide native-language community means that OpenOffice.org 3 is probably available and supported in your own language.
  • If you already have files from another office package - OpenOffice.org 3 will probably read them with no difficulty.
  • It's free - Best of all, OpenOffice.org 3 can be downloaded and used entirely free of any licence fees. OpenOffice.org 3 is released under the LGPL licence. This means you may use it for any purpose - domestic, commercial, educational, public administration. You may install it on as many computers as you like. You may make copies and give them away to family, friends, students, employees - anyone you like.

New in version 3.3.0 Release Candidate 9:

System requirements: Intel, Mac OS X 10.4 or later

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