Mac News Review

Apple: How to Remove MacDefender Malware, Mac Sales Growth Outstripping PCs Worldwide, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.05.27

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Tech Trends

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Apple Explains How to Avoid and Remove MacDefender Malware

Publisher's note: No matter what you may have heard from uninformed sources, MacDefender is not a Mac virus. By definition, a computer virus is a program that can copy itself to other computers and infect them. MacDefender is malware, but it has to be installed manually by the user. If, while accessing the Web, you receive a message warning that your Mac is infected and offering to install antivirus software, don't do it - and warn other Mac users as well. dk

Apple Support says:

"A recent phishing scam has targeted Mac users by redirecting them from legitimate websites to fake websites which tell them that their computer is infected with a virus. The user is then offered Mac Defender 'anti-virus' software to solve the issue.

MacDefender installer"This anti-virus software is malware (i.e. malicious software). Its ultimate goal is to get the user's credit card information which may be used for fraudulent purposes.

"The most common names for this malware are MacDefender, MacProtector and MacSecurity.

"In the coming days, Apple will deliver a Mac OS X software update that will automatically find and remove Mac Defender malware and its known variants. The update will also help protect users by providing an explicit warning if they download this malware.

"In the meantime, the Resolution section below provides step-by-step instructions on how to avoid or manually remove this malware."

Products Affected: Mac OS X 10.4, Mac OS X 10.5, Mac OS X 10.6

Making Old Mac Apps Work with Lion May Take Some Tinkering

Writing for MarcoNews, Jerry King, president of the Naples MacFriends User Group (NMUG), notes that Apple's new Lion (OS X 10.7) operating system, expected this summer, may not support Rosetta PowerPC emulation, but that there is an easy method to determine the legacy applications this elimination would put at risk.

King observes that longtime Mac users who've migrated from OS 9 into OS X 10.6 will probably find four kinds of software on their hard drives - Classic, PowerPC, Universal, and Intel - and that Classic applications only run in Macs using early versions of OS X (up to and including OS X 10.4 on PowerPC Macs), and that PowerPC applications need Rosetta and probably won't work under Lion. Universal and Intel applications will be fine.

Options?

You could choose not upgrade to OS X 10.7, but if you buy a new Mac after Lion is released, it will have Lion installed as the base operating system and probably will not be capable of running earlier, Rosetta-supporting versions of OS X.

King suggests that you could keep an older Mac in service running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard for the PowerPC applications, or even OS X 10.4 Tiger on a PowerPC Mac if you still want Classic support. While this is cumbersome, he often wishes he'd kept a computer at Tiger (10.4) level so some Classic applications' critical data files would still be accessible. That's been your editor's strategy, and I'm planning to keep a couple of G4 upgraded Pismo PowerBooks running OS X 10.4 in service for as long as they'll continue running.

If you're running an Intel-based Mac that supports OS X 10.6 or earlier, it's possible to partition your internal hard drive with multiple volumes and install two or more versions of OS X that can be booted respectively using the Startup Disk Preferences panel.

King also profiles strategies going forward for several specific PowerPC applications.

Publisher's note: Our current solution at Low End Mac uses three Macs: a Power Mac G4 running OS X 10.4 Tiger with Classic Mode, another one running OS X 10.5 Leopard and set up as a server, and a 2007 Mac mini with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. This allows us to run Classic apps with the last version of OS X to support them and run Intel-only apps on our only Intel-based Mac. The Leopard machine is also configured with Teleport so the mouse and keyboard attached to it can control the other two Macs. (There's a problem with the current version of Teleport that prevents a Tiger Mac from seeing modifier keys - Shift, Command, Option, etc. - sent from a Snow Leopard machine.) It's a bit of a kludge and requires a very big desk for three monitors, but it works. I'm sure we'll adapt this a bit when we go Lion. dk

Rosetta and Lion: I Won't 'Just Get Over It'

TidBITS' Michael E. Cohen laments the rumored impending demise of Rosetta support for PowerPC Mac application software coming with OS X 10.7 Lion, noting that a friend says he should just "Get over it," a glib dismissal of his concerns that he says rankled at the time and still does, but unfortunately he hears the same sentiment popping up a lot, and not just regarding Apple's rumored abandonment of Rosetta, but in all sorts of contexts, about all sorts of transitions. He says that every time he hears it, even when he understands and even when he agrees with the necessity of moving on, he gets angry, concluding "change happens, but no, I won't just get over it."

Can Macs Beat PCs in the Corporate World?

The Week notes that Apple computers are making big gains with business customers, helped by a "halo effect" from the company's ubiquitous iPhones and iPads, with sales of Apple computers having outstripped sales of Windows PCs for the last five years, according to a new report by analyst Charles Wolf of Needham & Co., and with businesses, in particular, buying more "premium priced" Macs. Enterprise sales are up a whopping 66% in the last quarter, compared with 4.5% growth for the industry overall, begging the questions of whether the decades-old the Mac vs. PC rivalry is heating up in the corporate world, and could Macs possibly win?

Mac Sales Growing Faster than PC Sales for Five Years

The Guardian's Charles Arthur observes that for the past five years, sales of Macs have grown faster than the PC market, and he puzzles over why consumers, businesses, and government want them. What it is that Apple is doing right in the PC market? "And what, exactly, did it do wrong in the first quarter of 2006?"

The article cites metrics calculated by by Needham analyst Charles Wolf who's posted an investment note on Apple which points out that Mac shipments have grown faster than the PC market for the past 20 quarters (five years), noting that in Q1 2011 Mac shipments grew by 27.7% while the PC market shrank by 1.2% year-on-year (IDC data; competing Gartner shows a 0.94% decline) and Mac shipment growth occurring in "every single regional market" - up a mind-boggling 69.4% in Asia vs. 8.8 percent for PCs according to IDC data, and and shipments to businesses up 66% (with the overall market growing just 4.5%), and to governments by 155.6% (v 2.3% PC industry overall).

And while some observers argue that Apple is starting from a small base, so any increase will look dramatic, Arthur says his own analysis of Apple's sales figures and metrics from Gartner and IDC indicates that in Q2 of 2010, Apple took 4% of the entire PC market for the first time since 1998, and if not for for a stumble in Q1 2006, it would be 26 quarters - 6-1/2 years - of improved performance dating back Q4 2004.

But why?

Editor's note: It's probably more than coincidental that Apple's half-decade steady sales advance began when Intel based Macs, which can also run Windows natively, began shipping in 2006. cm

Publisher's note: What happened in late 2004 that could explain this change? In 2003, Apple added USB to the iPod, making it far more accessible to Windows users. It also released iTunes for Windows and opened the iTunes Store in 2003. All of these gave PC users the opportunity to experience AppleDesign. Further, with the release of Microsoft Office 2004, Mac users achieved parity with Windows users in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, making it easier than ever to transfer files between platforms. Add in the Mac mini, introduced at the start of 2005 as the first $499 Mac ever, and you can see where the momentum came from. And things only escalated in 2006 with the release of the first Intel-based Macs. dk

USB 3.0 Popularity Growing

Hardmac's Lionel reports that while most of the high-speed I/O excitement lately in the Mac sphere has been focused on the new Thunderbolt interface, a scan of peripherals available on the market confirms that that the popularity of USB 3.0 is expanding rapidly, with most external hard drives and flash drives sold today compatible with this relatively new interface, which comes closer to matching the throughput speed of hard drives than ancient and painfully slow USB 2.0.

However, Lionel notes that on the Mac, we'll have to wait, as current Intel chipsets don't yet support USB 3.0, although it is promised for 2012.

Word 5.1 Nostalgia: Pundit Doesn't Get It

Betalogue's Pierre Igot notes that there are multiple examples of Microsoft Word 5.1 nostalgia on the Web, and that for various reasons, many Mac users have come to believe that Microsoft Word 5.1 was the last great word processor for the Mac, that it was a near-perfect product, and that it's been all downhill from there.

Microsoft Word 5.1
Microsoft Word 5.1 fit perfectly on the 9" display of early Macs.

Igot begs to differ, presenting an eloquently-stated case against Word 5.1 nostalgia.

Word 5.1 running in Classic Mode.
Microsoft Word 5.1 runs just fine in Classic Mode with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

Editor's note: I remain a fan of Word 5.1 as the last Microsoft word processor version I really liked. It still runs in OS X Classic Mode in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger on my old Pismo PowerBooks too. Amazing for software that I bought in 1993! cm

Publisher's note: Word 5.1 ran decently on 8 MHz Macs with 9" black-and-white displays, and it had great support for style sheets. When I worked in publishing (1992-2001), it was our go-to word processor when preparing an author's manuscript before it went to the design stage. Although I no longer use Word, I have fond memories of this version, which loaded quickly and wasn't bloated with featuritis. dk

Need a Specific Mac OS 9 Build for an Old PPC Mac? Apple Might Send It

Fairer Platform's Ron Carlsen says that during the last year, he's set up exactly one Mac with Mac OS 9.2.2 for a customer who wanted to play legacy games. He notes that if you can convince them that you really need copies of OS 9 Restore CDs, AppleCare just might help you out by burning a copy of the original system from the vault and sending it free of charge, except for the cost of postage, as Adam Rosen suggests in Mac OS 9 Isn't Dead Yet.

You can still download OS 9 updates from Apple's support site (see below), even though its been nearly a decade since the last OS 9 update shipped - and just over nine years since Steve Jobs staged a mock funeral for the Classic Mac OS - albeit with the qualifier that "Mac OS 9 was a great operating system years ago, but there's so much you can do in Mac OS X that you can't do in Mac OS 9."

Mac OS 9 Updates Still Available

Updates available for Mac OS 9, and the order in which they must be installed.

Products Affected:

  • Mac OS 9.2, Mac OS 9.1, Mac OS 9.0
  • Mac OS 9.2.2
  • Mac OS 9.2.1
  • Mac OS 9.1
  • Mac OS 9.0.4

Upgrade Order

You must install all prerequisite software before installing any update. To update Mac OS 9.0 to Mac OS 9.2.2, install updates in this order:

  • Mac OS 9.1 Update
  • Mac OS 9.2.1 Update
  • Mac OS 9.2.2 Update

Also note that you cannot upgrade any version of System 7 or Mac OS 8 to Mac OS 9 through a downloadable software update. You'll need to purchase a later version in order to upgrade.

3D Fad Fading?

The Register's Tony Smith reports the excellent news that Americans may be turning their backs on the 3D movie fad, based on box office performance of Disney's latest Pirates of the Caribbean flick, On Stranger Tides, whose 3D version has taken less money than other recent releases, accounting for only 38% of Pirates' total ticket sales, down sharply from previous 3D releases, and citing expert opinion that if a strong 3D contender like Pirates is performing less well than movies with a built-in barrier to 3D ticket sales, it's a clear sign that the novelty is wearing off.

Editor's note: Music to the ears of this 3D skeptic and curmudgeon, who remains convinced that 3D is an annoying gimmick and that the medium should not be more of a focus than the message. cm

Tech Trends

World's First ChromiumPC Modular Desktop Computer

PR: Xi3 Corporation has announced its ChromiumPC modular computer, the world's first desktop computer designed to run Google's Chrome operating system.

ChromiumPCFirst disclosed by Xi3 Corp. in 2009, the ChromiumPC is a version of the company's Xi3 Modular Computer, which was formally unveiled in 2010 and named by the Consumer Electronics Association as an Innovations Award Winner in the Computer Hardware category for the 2011 International CES trade show.

Based upon the patented Xi3 Computer Architecture, the ChromiumPC computer is a cube-like, small form factor, low-power (20 Watts) dual-core modular computer that can be adapted to run other operating systems or to perform specialized functions. Xi3 Corp. has been developing the ChromiumPC since 2009.

"The Xi3 Computer Architecture is designed to support any x86-based operating system, including Windows, Linux, Unix, and other open source-based operating systems," says Jason A. Sullivan, president and CEO of Xi3 Corp. "Although we've been promoting, discussing, and working on modular computers for some time, we feel the market is now ready for a desktop computer with a cloud-based operating system like the one offered by Google. If someone chooses to switch their ChromiumPC to run a different operating system, it's as easy as swapping out one of the three boards inside the computer."

Historically, the vast majority of operating systems have been installed and run locally on computers. But as technology has advanced and people have become more and more comfortable with using Web-based applications and storing data away from their computer, specifically in the cloud, it only makes sense that operating systems will become cloud-based. In fact, we expect that over time well see many operating systems that are wire-bound and require the computer to be connected to the Internet to run, and we will likely support these new operating systems as well.

Modularity Explained for the ChromiumPC and Xi3 Modular Computer

Each Xi3 Modular Computer, including the ChromiumPC, is housed in an aluminum chassis that holds three small but interconnected boards (or modules), namely

  • The Processor Module,
  • The Primary I/O Module, and
  • The Secondary I/O Module.

Taken in concert, these three modules form the basis of what has been the classic motherboard, with the Processor Module housing the microprocessor and RAM, the Primary I/O Module typically housing the majority of the external communications ports, and the Secondary I/O Module typically housing Ethernet, video and power connections.

Unlike traditional computers, however, the Xi3 Computer Architecture makes it possible to change the so-called personality and/or functionality of an Xi3 Modular Computer, including the ChromiumPC. This is done in eight easy steps:

  • Power down and disconnect the Modular Computer from all external connections
  • Remove the four screws from one of the honeycomb-shaped and chrome-plated sideplates
  • Remove the sideplate from the Modular Computer chassis
  • Slide the three interconnected modules out of the chassis
  • Remove one of the I/O Modules and replace it with a new I/O Module
  • Reinsert the three interconnected modules back inside the chassis
  • Reattach the sideplate to the chassis
  • Reconnect all external connections and power-up the Modular Computer

Based upon feedback and interest from our initial proof-of-concept and evaluation customers, we have already begun developing new Primary and Secondary I/O Modules, Sullivan explained. We also have partners beginning to develop their own proprietary I/O Modules as well. We expect to have the first of our new I/O Modules available during this summer, each of which will work with the ChromiumPC, as well as Xi3 Modular Computers that run other operating systems.

The ChromiumPC will be powered by a dual- or single-core 64-bit, x86-based processor, housed in a chassis measuring 4.0" x 3.656" x 3.656" and available in multiple colors, including a chrome-plated chassis. ChromiumPC pricing will be announced later this year, with additional specifications announced at that time. General availability for the ChromiumPC is expected in the second half of 2011.

General Availability of the Xi3 Modular Computer Slated for the 4th of July

"Given today's announcement about our plans for the ChromiumPC, we felt it important to also let our friends know that formal sales of the Xi3 Modular Computer will begin on July 4, 2011," Sullivan explains. "Since the Xi3 Computer Architecture allows owners of the Xi3 Modular Computer to declare their independence from the built-in obsolescence of other computers, we felt that American Independence Day would be a great day to begin selling the 5 Series model of the Xi3 Modular Computer."

More details about the General Availability of the Xi3 Modular Computer (5 Series model) will be available before the 4th of July.

For more information on Xi3 Corporation (an ISYS TechnologiesSM company), visit:

Software

HDRtist Pro HDR Photo Software: HDRtist Pro for Mac OS X

PR: Ohanaware, a family team specializing in intuitive photo editing software, have announced the immediate release of an update to their award-winning HDRtist Pro software for the Mac. HDRtist Pro is the more advanced version of Ohanaware's free HDR software, HDRtist. It's been designed to provide more creativity with HDR images, while continuing to be easy to use.

HDRtist ProHigh Dynamic Range (HDR) & Exposure Blending make it possible to create highly detailed and ultra-realistic photographs with your digital camera. HDR works by combining exposure information using complex mathematics, while Exposure Blending works by simply selecting and cutting out the best parts of each photo. These two different techniques can generate different results. One technique might work for one image but may not work for another. This is why Ohanaware thinks it's best to have both techniques to use.

HDRtist ProHDRtist Pro has been designed to create and edit HDR or Exposure Blended images. Utilizing the Apple ImageIO Kit to read RAW images. A live interface lets you view changes happening in real time as the options are adjusted. The OS X Core Engine processes HDR images using 128-bit floating point data (16,843,009 times more precise than a JPEG) into beautiful works of art or super-realistic photos. The engine's been designed to work with multiple exposures, single RAW images, and can make single JPEG images look like HDR. 1-Click Styles, editable HDRs, straight forward interface and the innovative drop-N-click system are all featured in HDRtist Pro.

The unique file format also allows HDRs to be saved and re-edited at a later date. Even JPEG files generated by HDRtist Pro can be reopened and edited. With HDRtist Pro, it's possible to create an HDR effect from a single RAW or JPEG image.

HDRtist ProThings you'll love about HDRtist Pro

  • 128-Bit floating point precision: HDRtist Pro processes at the highest precision available to us to get the best results we can, giving you awesome HDRs.
  • Made for Mac: This isn't a Windows or Linux App, it's a bona fide Mac only App. It's been lovingly crafted by Mac Users who love the Mac, just like you.
  • Tale of 2 loves: Ohanaware loves HDR and love Exposure Blending. They couldn't decide which one was better so they built both into HDRtist Pro.
  • 1-Click Editing for HDR: As easy as it sounds, 1-Click will apply different styles to your HDR right in front of your eyes. You can even make your own 1-Click Styles.
  • Intuitive by Design: The developers spent months making HDRtist Pro easy enough to use that you shouldn't need any help. We've done things like make all the options clearly visible and reduced hidden controls.
  • The safer way to save: Introducing HDRtist Pro documents where your original source images and all your settings are stored, enabling you to re-edit your HDR without having to start from the beginning.
  • iPhoto & Aperture are my friends: Not only is it easy to get images from iPhoto or Aperture in HDRtist Pro, but there's an option that'll save an editable HDR directly into your favorite photo organizer.
  • Drop-N-Click: Drag-N-Drop, but simplified... Simply drop your images into a HDRtist Pro document window and your options will be presented for you. Forgotten key combos are a thing of the past.
  • HDRtist ProSingles Club: It doesn't matter if you only shoot single JPEGs or RAWs, you can still get the HDR look quickly and easily using HDRtist Pro.
  • Value for Money: HDRtist Pro was built for everyone to use, not just for professionals, which is why it sells for $29.99.
  • So sharp it hurts: How sharp do you like your HDRs, nice and soft or so sharp you feel like it could cut through glass? Either way HDRtist Pro has options.
  • Enhance dark or dull photos easily: HDR processing was originally designed to compensate the limitations of digital photography, which enables it to enhance dark or dull photos.
  • Easily & Quickly create beautiful results: With all the technology HDRtist Pro uses, it's simple to create great looking HDR images.

Help is on Hand

HDRtist ProIncluded is a "How to take HDR Photos" guide, along with a video tutorial and bunch of mini-tutorials, all to help you enjoy the world of HDR Photography.

UK Mac Magazine MacFormat recently awarded HDRtist Pro 5 out of 5 stars.

New in version 1.0.2:

  • InstallEasy has been improved for Snow Leopard users. • Fixed two display issues that some customers were having. ]
  • Added support for 16-Bit Photoshop files.
  • Fixed a bug with dragging in HDRP files.
  • The save dialog now respects the last selected format's extension on reopen.

HDRtist Pro 1.0.2 is a free update for all registered customers. For new customers HDRtist Pro is $29.99/£19.99.

Existing customers can use the "Software Update" or "Check for Update" function from the HDRtist Pro menu within HDRtist Pro to update, or simply download the new version from the Ohanaware website. A free unlimited 14-Day trial can also be downloaded from the Ohanaware website. HDRtist Pro can be purchased from the Ohanaware website and Apple's Mac App Store.

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
  • Intel Processor
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • A 256 MB graphics card is recommended for hardware acceleration.
  • 200 MB of Hard Disk space.
  • 1024 x 768 or larger display.

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