Mac News Review

Mac Market Growth Beats Windows, OS X Lion in July?, Matias Releases Dvorak Keyboard, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.02.18

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

Apple Updates

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Mac Market Growing Way Faster than Windows

The Street's James Rogers reports that Apple's Mac products are being boosted by "stellar enterprise sales", thus increasing the pressure on PCs running Microsoft's Windows software, citing Needham & Company analyst Charles Wolf, who notes, "At 23.5%, Mac shipment growth in December was a multiple of the PC market's growth rate of just 3.4%."

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on Track for Late July?

9 to 5 Mac's Mark Gurman reports that six Mac OS X 10.7 Lion manuals have already appeared on Amazon.UK, with most of them pointing to late July for Lion's release date, with one early August date and another late August release date, making it a fairly safe surmise that OS X 10.7 will reach consumer hands some time after the WWDC in June, but that wouldn't rule out a detailed exposition of what's coming with Lion being part of the WWDC agenda.

The Macintosh's Future? Think iOS Convergence

In his Monday Note Blog this week, former Apple exec and BeOS founder Jean-Louis Gassée ponders whether there is a future for the Macintosh, noting that with Apple's smartphones and tablets making so much money and taking up so much media bandwidth, one has to wonder how the Mac will hold up.

Gassée examines the significance of recent changes in the Mac ecosystem, such as the new MacBook Air and the Mac App Store, and predicts that the Mac's future will be predominantly portable.

Switching to Mac Buyer's Guide

AppStorm's Connor Turnbull says:

"There are many reasons you might want to switch to a Mac: design, software, sheer awesomeness. Whatever your reason, you might not yet have your heart set on a specific machine, but don't worry, I am here to fix that very issue.

"Apple have six main product lines for Mac OS X: MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, iMac and Mac Pro. That's a whole lotta Mac. But, whether you're a student wanting a notebook to write essays at Starbucks, or a hardcore, photo/editing user who wants a desktop, there's a Mac that's perfect for you.

"Today we'll take you through each of the six product lines and also tell you whether its the right time to buy, who each model is best suited for, and where you should purchase from...."

The Untold Story: How Jef Raskin Helped Invent the Mac and Apple's 'Walled Garden'

The late Jef Raskin is widely credited with being the true father of the Macintosh, and his son Aza, writing for Fast Company, relates how while recently sifting through some of his dad's old documents he came across a February 16, 1981 memo detailing the genesis of the Macintosh - written in reaction to Steve Jobs taking over management of Apple hardware development.

Raskin says that while reading through his father's notes, he was struck by how many of the core principals that Apple still holds were set in play three years before the Macintosh was released, noting that this is particularly important in understanding Apple's culture and why we have the "walled garden" experience of the iPhone, iPad, and the App Store, and Apple's core principle of innovation being prioritized over backwards compatibility - its willingness to ditch the old for innovation.

Apple Updates

Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update 3.6

The Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update 3.6 adds RAW image compatibility for the following cameras to Aperture 3 and iPhoto '11:

  • Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D / Kiss X50
  • Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D / Kiss X5
  • Olympus E-5
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100
  • Pentax K-r
  • Pentax K-5
  • It also addresses processing issues for the following cameras:
  • Nikon D7000
  • Nikon COOLPIX P7000
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

For more information on supported RAW formats, see https://support.apple.com/kb/HT3825

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5.8 or Mac OS X 10.6.5 or later

Products & Services

Whirl Laser Mouse with Anti-Gravity Comfort Pivot

Whirl Laser MousePR: Smartfish introduces anti-gravity comfort in a computer mouse - the Whirl Desktop's patented ErgoMotion pivot system makes your mouse feel like it's "floating on air". The only mouse with gravity defying comfort pivot technology

For laptop use, its time to get rid of that old-fashioned miniature mouse and upgrade to the comfort of the Whirl Mini Notebook Mouse with ErgoMotion - claimed to be the world's first truly ergonomic compact mouse. No other portable mouse offers the fluid, air-like comfort of the patented ErgoMotion pivot system, which the developers claim will let users say good-bye to aches and pains while using a computer mouse, whether right- or left-handed.

Whirl Laser MouseThe perfectly portable Whirl Mini Notebook Mouse with ErgoMotion combines the natural comfort of the patented ErgoMotion pivot system with three most sought-after computer mouse features: Up to 800-dpi hi-def laser sensitivity, 2.4 GHz wireless connectivity and extra long battery life.

The ErgoMotion pivot system designs to reduce risk of Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) by adding motion. The magic of the function is how it naturally adapts to your hand motion rather than the other way around. While other computer mice require your hand and wrist to remain in a fixed position, the Whirl Mini pivots naturally as you move, automatically changing its angle infinitely to match your wrist and hand. The mouse will lean, swivel or pivot with your movement so your hand and wrist are never in a fixed position, creating a comfortable and healthy mousing experience. This mouse rocks - literally.

Whirl Laser MouseThe Whirl Mini Notebook Mouse with ErgoMotion is intended to feel like its an extension of your arm, the patented innovation of ErgoMotion redefining comfort for a Computer Mouse by going well beyond merely providing an ergonomic grip while following your motion by creating a Dynamic Neutral Position no matter what direction or angle you are moving. This is claimed to virtually eliminate the possibility of static joint pain by allowing full circulation through your wrist and hands throughout the day.

Whirl Laser MouseThe 2.4 GHz nano-tranceiver lets you mouse around wirelessly, with a nano-tranceiver that can usually reman in a USB port when you go mobile.

The Whirl Mini features a laser tracking engine that's far more sensitive and responsive on more surfaces than traditional optical technology. That means it can track with precision on nearly every surface with no mousepad required.

Ambidextrous Design

Smartfish's Whirl Mini is designed for both left and right-handed users.

The Whirl mouse is available in six colors: metallic red, metallic black, metallic blue, silver, metallic white, and carbon fiber.

Whirl Laser MouseSystem Requirements

  • Mac
    • Mac OS X (10.2.8 or later)
    • USB port
  • PC
    • Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7
    • USB port

A portion of Whirl Mouse proceeds are donated to the Hospital for Special Surgery Rehabilitation Education Fund.

$49.95

Matias Releases Dvorak Keyboard for Mac and PC

PR: Matias released its new Dvorak Keyboard for PC and Mac - a USB keyboard with an onboard switch hardwired to the Dvorak layout.

Most famously used by Apple cofounder, Steve Wozniak, the Dvorak layout was scientifically designed by University of Washington Professor August Dvorak to reduce typing fatigue and increase typing speeds.

The world's fastest typist (Barbara Blackburn) used a Dvorak keyboard to reach peak speeds of 212 words per minute - more than 17 key presses each second.

"The nice thing about this new Matias Dvorak Keyboard is that it's easily switchable. You just push a button," says Matias CEO Edgar Matias. "This makes it easier for Dvorak and non-Dvorak typists to share the same equipment. If your spouse, coworkers, or lab mates do not share your love of Dvorak, this keyboard will keep everyone happy."

The Matias Dvorak Keyboard for PC & Mac sells for $99.95 and is available now from matias.ca and select Matias Authorized Resellers.

Software

AKVIS Sketch Converts Photos into Pencil Sketches and Watercolor Paintings

PR: AKVIS releases Version 12 of AKVIS Sketch for Windows and Macintosh. The software converts digital photos into amazing pencil sketches and watercolor, charcoal, and pastel drawings. It's a wonderful tool for those who have always wanted to draw but didn't know how.

Version 12 introduces the new Smudging parameter which creates the effect of smearing hatching in midtone areas without affecting the contour lines of the drawing. The algorithm handles semi-processed images more effectively. They are now simpler and more exact.

AKVIS Sketch is an award-winning program for conversion of photos into pencil sketches and watercolor paintings. The program has already won the recognition of professionals and delighted home users with its neat results. However, there is no end to perfection and the company released a new version of AKVIS Sketch with many improvements.

Now you don't need to be a pencil virtuoso to feel like an artist. All you need to create your original work of art is good taste and AKVIS Sketch.

Sketch's efficient method creates realistic color and B&W drawings that imitate the technique of graphite and color pencil, charcoal and watercolor painting.

In contrast to standard filters (like the built-in filters in Photoshop or PSP) that offer an approximate sketch, AKVIS Sketch comes very close to the hand-drawn works of a human artist. Getting a similar result with the standard tools would require expertise in image editing and extensive manipulation with layers, masks, brushes and applying filters.

AKVIS Sketch can add background effects to the resulting pencil drawing. Create a blend of a drawing and a photo; imitate motion or add a time machine effect by swirling the background. Put an accent to certain parts of the image by blurring the rest of it in an artistic way. It proves especially useful when the final drawing contains too many details on the background that divert attention.

You can personalize your work of art by adding an inscription (a signature or a greeting) to your pencil drawing. Also, the parameters on the Canvas let you add a rough surface to your image, as if it had been drawn on canvas, corrugated paper, brick wall, etc.

AKVIS Sketch has a neat interface with a few sliders. At first you can process the image with the default settings and then touch up the photo adding color, or trying different techniques - from pencil to charcoal or watercolor. You can make the hatching denser or finer and change the pitch angle of strokes, or add/remove the original colors.

Home users will no doubt like the neat result of the photo-to-sketch conversion. Using AKVIS Sketch can be fun. Make a pencil portraits as gifts for your relatives and friends, a watercolor drawing obtained from your last nature shooting can decorate your room, or you can convert any photo to an original drawing to print on a T-shirt.

The program can be helpful to designers who need to quickly bring images to one style for a website or an advertisement booklet - a wonderful tool for those who have always wanted to draw but didn't know how.

This photo to sketch software is available in two versions as an independent program (standalone) and as a plugin to a photo editor.

The plugin version is compatible with Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Paint Shop Pro etc.

Refer to Check the compatibility page for more details.

The plugin version of Sketch offers Batch Processing support that allows you to automatically convert a series of images. Just create an Action in Photoshop or a Script in Corel Paint Shop Pro and apply the plugin with the same settings to a folder full of images. You can even create comics from home videos in this way.

Try the software for 10 days free of charge. When the evaluation period is over, you must enter a registration key to continue.

System requirements:

  • Operating system:
    • Windows XP/Vista/Win 7 32/64 bit
    • Mac OS X 10.4-10.6 32/64 bit
  • Minimal and recommended system requirements:
  • Win
    • Minimal: Pentium III, 1 GB RAM, 100 Mb HDD; screen resolution 1024x768; video card Direct X8 compatible, 32 Mb, color depth 32 bits
    • Recommended: Core Duo, 2 GB RAM, 2 GB HDD; screen resolution 1280 x 1024; video card Direct X8 compatible, 128 Mb, color depth 32 bits
  • Mac
    • Minimal: Intel/G4, 1 GB RAM, 100 Mb HDD, screen resolution 1024 x 768
    • Recommended: Intel/G5, 2 GB RAM, 2 GB HDD; screen resolution 1280 x 1024

The plugin version of AKVIS Sketch is compatible with Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, Corel Painter, Corel Photo-Paint, Corel PaintShop Photo Pro, etc. AKVIS Sketch runs on Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7 and on Macintosh Mac OS X 10.4-10.6. To use the plugin you must have a photo editor supporting plugins installed on your computer.

You can order AKVIS software online via the stores: Plimus or Cleverbridge. Each offers different payment methods (credit card, bank transfer, PayPal, phone, etc.).

Choose the license type and currency to order the program. You can order the program in American Dollars, Euro or other currency. In the latter case the price will be recalculated into your preferred currency (will be converted from the EUR price as a basis).

When the payment is effected you will get a license key to your e-mail within minutes.

AKVIS Sketch Home License (plugin or standalone) sells for $72 or 55 Euro.

Users of versions 9-11 of Sketch can upgrade to v.12 for free.

AKVIS software is available on a DVD. To order the software on DVD (for an additional fee of $19.95 or 14.95) you should select the DVD option when you fill in the order form (next step, in your basket).

Home users can enjoy the full line of AKVIS plugins in the AKVIS Alchemy bundle (Retoucher, Chameleon, Multibrush, Enhancer, Refocus, Coloriage, Noise Buster, Sketch, Decorator, LightShop, ArtSuite, SmartMask, Magnifier, ArtWork, and NatureArt) for $325, huge savings over purchasing each separately.

The DVD "AKVIS Graphic Tools" contains trial versions of all AKVIS programs (so even if you buy several programs one DVD will suffice), tutorials in PDF and movies. All these materials are also available online for free.

Times for Fun Releases Red Pill 1.0.2 OS X Image Editor

Red PillPR: German software developer Times For Fun has announced Red Pill 1.0.2, a free update to its new image editor for Mac.

Red Pill is a simple, yet powerful image editor. It offers a dozen useful tools and handles big images with ease - as fast as Photoshop.

Red Pill features:

  • tools like magic wand, paint brush, paint bucket, clone stamp
  • transform, adjust filter
  • paste into command, float/anchor selection
  • unlimited undo
  • resize, rotate, flip image
  • quick save command, file manager
  • batch processing
  • smart fill (similar to content-aware fill, a major feature of PS CS5)

New in version 1.02:

This bug fix release features the following enhancements:

  • [Fix] problem fixed: selection created with magic wand tool was one pixel too far down
  • [Fix] problem moving the selection using the arrow keys fixed

System requirements: Red Pill is built for Mac OS X, requires at least Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and is a Universal Binary.

A trial version is available for your downloading pleasure.

Red Pill is published as shareware/nagware. A nag dialog box appears after the first seven application launches and frequently reminds you to register and pay for the application.

Red Pill can be purchased for EUR 17.

Cars 2: The Video Game Revs Up for Summer 2011 Release

PR: Disney Interactive Studios today announced that DisneyPixar's Cars 2: The Video Game is coming to major platforms this summer. Unveiled at the American International Toy Fair in New York City, Cars 2: The Video Game will allow players to jump into the Cars universe with a brand new international spy theme. The game will feature an array of beloved Cars characters competing in action-packed spy adventures, as well as world-class racing. Inspired by the upcoming DisneyPixar animated film, Cars 2: The Video Game is slated for release this summer.

Cars 2 video gameThe combination of racing, international locations and spy themes, and the beloved Cars characters makes Cars 2: The Video Game a truly unique game for players of all ages and skill levels to enjoy.

Cars 2: The Video Game brings players inside the international training center CHROME (Command Headquarters for Recon Operations and Motorized Espionage), where they choose from more than 20 different characters and train to become world class spies. As part of their international training, they will participate in simulated hazardous missions using high-tech gadgets to evade and slow down adversaries.

Avalanche Software, video game developers of the critically acclaimed Toy Story 3: The Video Game, are back in the drivers seat for Cars 2: The Video Game, working in close collaboration with Pixar artists to bring the humor and personality of the feature film to life.

"Cars is one of Pixar's most successful and treasured franchises, so we are thrilled to be working with Avalanche Software again to extend our creative vision of the Cars 2 universe into the interactive medium," says Jay Ward, Cars franchise guardian at Pixar Animation Studios. "Avalanche Software has the technology, experience, and history in working with us to create the best-looking Cars video game to date."

"The team at Avalanche Software is working on exciting ways to combine the power of the franchise with new storylines and characters in Cars 2: The Video Game to create something unlike any other racing game," says John Blackburn, vice president and general manager of Avalanche Software. "The combination of racing, international locations and spy themes, and the beloved Cars characters makes Cars 2: The Video Game a truly unique game for players of all ages and skill levels to enjoy."

Cars 2: The Video Game will feature connectivity with the World of Cars Online a free-to-play browser-based, virtual world based on the hit DisneyPixar animated Cars universe. Players will be able to discover an exciting new world beyond Radiator Springs with Mater, Fillmore, Sarge, and others as they gain rewards in the video game and then use them to unlock new items in the World of Cars Online.

Cars 2: The Video Game will be available on major video game platforms this summer including PlayStation3 computer entertainment system, the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, Wii, Nintendo DS, and PC/Mac.

Released in 2006, DisneyPixar's feature film Cars has become a leading boys franchise generating an impressive $2B in annual global retail sales for a total of $8B to date. Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature, Cars went on to gross $462M in global box office sales. Its supported across The Walt Disney Company through films including the highly anticipated release of Cars 2 in Disney Digital 3D, consumer products, live theater productions, park attractions including Cars Land planned for launch in 2012, music, a web site Disney.com/Cars, TV including the popular series of short form content: Cars Toons, home entertainment, video games including Cars and the upcoming June release of Cars 2: The Video Game supporting all major platforms, a virtual world WorldofCars.com, and books with more than 75 new titles releasing throughout 2011 domestically, in addition to more titles on digital books and mobile applications.

In DisneyPixar's Cars 2, star racecar Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and the incomparable tow truck Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) take their friendship to exciting new places in Cars 2 when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the worlds fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours and hilarious surprises when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. Mater finds himself torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret mission orchestrated by master British super spy Finn McMissile (voice of Michael Caine) and the stunning spy-in-training Holley Shiftwell (voice of Emily Mortimer). Maters action-packed journey leads him on an explosive chase through the streets of Japan and Europe, trailed by his friends and watched by the whole world. The fast-paced fun includes a colorful new all-car cast, complete with menacing villains and international racing competitors.

John Lasseter returns to the drivers seat to direct this follow-up to his 2006 Golden Globe-winning Cars. Cars 2 is co-directed by Brad Lewis, producer of the Oscar-winning film Ratatouille, and produced by visual effects industry veteran Denise Ream (associate producer, Up; visual effects executive producer, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith). The film hits the track on June 24, 2011, and will be presented in Disney Digital 3D and IMAX 3D in select theaters.

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