Mac News Review

Expect Siri on Macs, Steve Jobs the Hippy Billionaire, Hitachi Ships 4 TB Drives, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.12.16

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

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Expect Siri to Come to the Mac

Computerworld's Jonny Evans observes that Apple's Siri voice assistant technology in the iPhone 4S is proving itself a game-changer, noting that the company is hiring new engineers to develop its solution. So what improvements might we expect from their efforts, and when will we see Siri support in OS X?

Evans cites this come-on from Apple's help wanted ads:


"Want to make the next big thing even bigger?
Want to do the impossible?
Want to be constantly challenged into accomplishing things you know are beyond your reach?"

Evens thinks there's good reason to suspect that Siri will eventually make an appearance on the Mac, although we shouldn't be holding our breath.

Steve Jobs: Hippy Billionaire

The BBC has created a one-hour documentary about late Apple cofounder and figurehead Steve Jobs.

Broadly considered a brand that inspires fervor and defines cool consumerism, Apple has become one of the biggest corporations in the world, fueled by game-changing products that tap into modern desires. Its leader, Steve Jobs, was a long-haired college dropout with infinite ambition, an inspirational perfectionist with a bully's temper. A man of contradictions, he fused a Californian counterculture attitude and a mastery of the art of hype with explosive advances in computer technology.

Insiders - including Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, the chairman who ousted Jobs from the company he founded, and Jobs' chief of software - tell extraordinary stories of the rise, fall, and rise again of Apple with Steve Jobs at its helm.

With Stephen Fry, World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and branding guru Rita Clifton, Evan Davis decodes the formula that took Apple from suburban garage to global supremacy.

Note: This program is not available in all regions of the globe.

Woz on the Countercultural Formation of Apple and Steve Jobs

In an interview with Evan Davis for a BBC Radio 4 Today program about his friend and former business partner the late Steve Jobs, Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak said that a counterculture ethos was an essential element nurturing the creativity that went into establishing Apple as an innovator and leader that would revolutionize an industry, and that ethos meant letting people wear what they want to, and that allowing creativity in the early days of Apple was far more important than how you dressed or the length of your hair. He also suggested that the mild California climate probably had something to do with Apple's freestyle dress code, noting that it's a lot colder in northern and eastern regions where other IT firms are based.

Covering a wide range of topics in a five-minute interview, Wozniak also comments on nationalism and parochial emphasis on school pride and college sports teams as anti-creative forces while praising the college dropouts who founded Facebook and Yahoo!

Steve Wozniak's takeaway advice: "Think for yourself," noting that "Thinking for yourself is creativity and that's goes right down to what we were talking about dress, the clothing that you wear - you wear what you want to wear," and "What we stand for is creative thinking, being able to figure out different ways of doing things. When you are very structured, almost like a religion, with uniforms, then everybody is the same."

Wozniak also observed that a company like Apple could never have developed in a formal culture like, say, that of Singapore, "where bad behaviour is not tolerated and can get you extreme punishments: Where are the creative people? Where are the great artists, where are the great musicians, where are the great writers?All the creative elements seem to disappear. Though, of course, everybody is educated and has a good job and nice pay and a car."

Asked about Steve Jobs specifically, the Woz said he had always been too close to Jobs to evaluate him properly says: but that Jobs wasn't a thoroughgoing countercultural icon, noting that "I think he's got a lot of liberal counterculture thinking but then Apple does a lot of very conservative things, we control things and have very little tolerance. For you know, if an engineer tells a friend something then he's fired."

Rare Steve Jobs Video Posted

The Computer History Museum has posted a 23 minute video recorded in the early 1980s showing Steve Jobs talking about Apple's origin of Apple, and hinting about the Macintosh that was still in development.

Video of a Steve Jobs speech circa 1980. This was just recently donated and presented by the Computer History Museum.

The Protestor, Time magazine Person of the Year for 2011Steve Jobs Loses to 'The Protester' as Time's 2011 Person of the Year

AppleInsider's Slash Lane reports:

"Time magazine announced on Wednesday its annual 'Person of the Year,' awarding the title to 'The Protester.' Late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs was recognized in a 'Fond Farewell' from the magazine, while Apple CEO Tim Cook was identified as one of 2011's 'People Who Mattered.'... Jobs didn't earn the title or even make the magazine's list of runners up."

Products & Services

Hitachi GST Ships 2 New 4 TB DeskStar-Based Hard Drive Solutions

PR: Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST)'s new Hard Drive Retail Kit for the DIY upgrade market, and Hitachi Touro Desk External Drive offer easy add-on USB 3.0 storage.

Touro Desk External Hard DriveFor many, the hard drive is the hub of digital life - a workhorse in your Mac or PC, a place where you edit video, store digital memories, watch home videos and movies, and save important files. The hard drive houses your operating system, programs, and games, and it can help you protect your digital content. With its award-winning reputation for delivering quality and reliability, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST) has announced the industry's highest capacity 4 TB storage solutions the Deskstar 5K4000 Internal Hard Drive Kit and the Touro Desk External Hard Drive to help store and protect your digital data.

Hitachi 4 TB Deskstar 5K4000 Hard Drive Retail Kit with CoolSpin Technology

The 4 TB Deskstar 5K4000 is a 3.5" hard drive with a 32 MB cache buffer that provides a blend of power exceptional efficiency and high performance, making it an ideal solution for power-friendly desktop computers. Providing 33% more capacity than current 3 TB drives, the Deskstar 5K4000 drive features Hitachi's proprietary CoolSpin technology, expanding this class of performance-optimized, energy-efficient drives that run cooler and require less power. The CoolSpin technology, along with other Hitachi power management techniques, gives the Deskstar 5K4000 up to a 28% idle power savings over Deskstar 7K3000 7200 RPM drives and an idle acoustic level of only 2.5 bels. The new 4 TB Hitachi Deskstar 5K4000 Hard Drive Retail Kit is currently shipping in limited quantities to online and retail stores with a suggested retail price of $399.99.

4 TB DeskStarThe 4 TB Hitachi Deskstar 5K4000 Hard Drive Retail Kit comes complete with mounting screws, and step-by-step instructions. A software download allows 32- and 64-bit Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X and Linux systems to tap into the full capacity and power of the 4 TB drive, as one big massive data drive, without having to install extra hardware. Prospective users planning to buy a Hitachi 4 TB drive should consult the Hitachi High Capacity Technology Brief.

The new drive also incorporates Hitachi's ecological leadership initiative with its halogen-free design and power-efficient operation. These features helped qualify the drive for the Hitachi EcoTrac classification, which identifies products that minimize environmental impact in the areas of product design, manufacturing, operation and disposal. It also uses Advanced Format, which increases the sector size on hard drive from 512 bytes to 4096 (4K) bytes, thereby increasing capacities and improving error correcting capabilities.

Hitachi GST will be shipping its Deskstar 5K4000 (bare drives and bulk pack) to OEMs, distributors and channel partners worldwide in Q1 2012.

4 TB Hitachi Touro Desk External Drive

Placed vertically or horizontally, or even stacked, the Touro Desk External Drive perfectly fits into home or office environments. Featuring a smooth black, textured body, the Hitachi Touro Desk External Drive provides easy add-on storage for all your photos, movies, music and documents. Offering massive storage capacity, it can store many hours of high-definition video, thousands of movies, songs and photos, and tons of video games with room to spare.

Bundled with the Hitachi Touro Desk External Drive, and offered as a standalone service for anyone to use, every user gets 3 GB of cloud storage for free from HitachiBackup.com. Not only does HitachiBackup.com help keep your digital content safe up in the cloud, your online content is available anytime, anywhere, from any smartphone or computer web browser. You can even share your online content with others by simply sending a web link. If you need more online storage, you can quickly and easily upgrade to a paid account and receive 250 GB of cloud storage along with Apple iPhone and iPad apps.

Housing a Deskstar 5K4000 hard drive, the new 4 TB Hitachi Touro Desk External Drive provides plug and play simplicity and a fast USB 3.0 interface with all the quality and reliability you expect from Hitachi. Both Mac and PC compatible, the Hitachi Touro Desk External Drive now comes in 4 TB, 3 TB, 2 TB and 1 TB capacities.

The 4 TB Hitachi Touro Desk External Drive will be available in January for $419.99 MSRP.

SMK-Link Bluetooth Calculator Keypad

SMK-Link Bluetooth Calculator KeypadPR: SMK-Link Electronics Corporation has announced availability of the Bluetooth Calculator Keypad. With integrated wireless technology, the Bluetooth Calculator Keypad delivers cordless keypad and calculator functionality for iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Pro users, as well as for all Windows/PC laptop computers.

Designed for use with both Apple OS X computers and Windows/PC laptops, the new Bluetooth Wireless Keypad features a numeric keypad for extended data entry and spreadsheet computing. In calculator mode, it also doubles as a stand alone calculator: sending calculations wirelessly to spreadsheets as typed. The Bluetooth Wireless Keypad has a 10 meter wireless range and, for systems with integrated Bluetooth technology, requires no additional Bluetooth receiver.

SMK-Link Bluetooth Calculator KeypadThis wireless numeric keypad doubles as a ten-key for spreadsheets and data entry and as a stand alone calculator. The VP6273 features an LCD display, Bluetooth wireless up to 33 feet. Calculations computed on the keypad can be sent directly into a spreadsheet just like you typed them. Cut the cord and go wireless. For computers with Bluetooth built in, there is no need for any dongle or cord. For those without, it works perfectly with Interlink Electronics Nano Bluetooth Dongle.

SMK-Link Bluetooth Calculator Keypad"If you've purchased an Apple OS X computer over the past few years, it more than likely came with Apple's redesigned Wireless Keyboard," says John Blair, General Manager of Branded Products for SMK-Link. "This elegant keyboard features a reduced-footprint design that provides, however, no numeric keypad. Whether you're using your iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro or Mac Pro, you'll need an add-on peripheral keypad for extended data entry or spreadsheet use. Our new Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard was designed to precisely fill this need, as well as to be the perfect keypad peripheral for Windows laptop computers."

Bluetooth Calculator Keypad Features:

  • 12-digit LCD display
  • 9-key computer keypad (keypad mode)
  • 6-key calculator (calculator mode)
  • 2 hotkeys
  • Bluetooth V2.0 (10 meter range)

System requirements:

  • Bluetooth-enabled system (via built-in native Bluetooth or external adapter)
  • OS compatibility
    • Windows 2000, XP, Vista
    • Mac OS X or later

Compatible with Mac OS X computers & Windows/PC laptop systems

Suggested retail price is $59.99

In the US, available from the Apple Online Store, other online retailers, and from the SMK-Link website.

In the UK, available from the Apple Online Store and Amazon.co.uk. Suggested retail price is £39.99.

iFixit Offers Pro Tech Base Computer Toolkit

iFixit Pro Tech Base Computer ToolkitPR: Avoid the stripped screws, cracked screens, damaged circuit boards and high blood pressure associated with using the wrong tools to repair your stuff. With the Pro Tech Base Toolkit, there is almost nothing to keep you from sweet repair success. It's like a superhero alliance of repair tools.

In addition to iFixit's thousands of repair professional and home tinkering customers, this kit has become very popular with domestic and international top secret intelligence agencies with three-letter names cannot be named. Oh, and some computer company named after a fruit that is not a pear or orange, and their many competitors also use them internally.

Pro Tech Base Toolkit Includes

  • iFixit Pro Tech Base Computer Toolkit 54 Bit Driver Kit - Carefully designed to include the most common bits needed for repairs on all small electronics.
  • 2x Plastic Opening Tools* - Made of soft plastic, these help you pry open the trickiest enclosures scratch-free.
  • Spudger - Handy tool for all types of poking and prying at tough to open enclosures, delicate components, opening ZIF connectors, and is heat-resistant for soldering applications. Also sold as Apple's "Black Stick" tool.
  • Metal Spudger Set - Assortment of metal poking and prying tools for when plastic just doesn't cut it.
  • Precision Tweezers Set - Assortment of stainless steel precision tweezers for handling small wires, screws, and working in places your fingers can't.
  • Antistatic Wrist Strap - Protects delicate circuits from harmful static electricity while you work.
  • Small Suction Cup - Makes quick work of lifting front panels off of phones and media players.
  • iFixit 6" Metal Ruler - Makes measuring parts easy. Handy for hardware store trips too
  • This kit fits beautifully in iFixit's Oak Gerstner Toolbox.

* Plastic Opening Tools are made of soft plastic to avoid damaging your device. They should be considered a "single use" type tool.

The Pro Tech Base Toolkit is the foundation of iFixit's expandable toolkit system. Have PC and iMac repair on your mind? Try the Pro Tech Toolkit Expansion 1. Better ESD protection and corrosion repair? That would be Expansion 2. How about the ultimate workstation? That would be the Workstation Expansion.

6 month warranty

$59.95

Software

Dragon Express Streamlined Dictation Software

PR: Dragon Express is a new, relatively lightweight and inexpensive speech recognition utility that introduces OS X Lion customers to voice recognition for the Mac.

With Dragon Express, you can put your words to work without the hassle of typing. Just speak and surprisingly accurate results instantly appear in the Dragon Express window. You can dictate anything - even words that wouldn't be found in any dictionary - since Dragon Express is customized to recognize your voice and the words you use.

To turn your voice into text, just open the Dragon Express utility and start talking. Your words will automatically be transcribed in the Dragon Express window. When you're done, Dragon Express will paste the transcribed text into the application of your choice.

On initial use you will complete a two-minute enrollment so that the utility can better recognize your unique voice. Then just start dictating. The utility is conveniently available at any time since Dragon Express is loaded locally on your Mac, there's no need for network connectivity. To dictate, simply invoke the menu bar icon and start talking. When you're done, select the application in which you want your text to appear, and Dragon Express will place the text for you.

After a brief microphone setup and minimal voice training, users benefit from a trained profile customized for their unique voice. This profile yields better accuracy than a non-customized speech recognition tool, especially for users with accents. You can also add custom words to the Dragon Express vocabulary (such as acronyms and proper names) so that the program is prepared to recognize the unique words and terms that you use.

Works with the Applications You Use Every Day

Dictate into the Dragon Express window and then route the transcribed text into any native OS X application on your Mac. Transfer icons within the Dragon Express window include the active application (such as Microsoft Word or Text Edit) as well as other applications such as Mail, Facebook and Twitter. Or you can just copy to the clipboard and paste anywhere.

No Limit to Productivity

Dictate as much text as you'd like; there are no limitations on the amount of text you can dictate into the Dragon Express window. Dragon Express includes the ability to select and delete text by voice as well as the convenient "Scratch That" command that can be used when you change your mind. But there's no need to memorize voice commands. Just focus on capturing your thoughts and ideas instead.

Dragon Express Knows When to Listen

Dragon Express can be used with the internal microphone of your Mac, but a USB headset is recommended. (this program, unlike Dragon's full-featured Dictate for Mac, is not designed to work with a wireless microphone or digital recorder.) Dragon Express "listens" for your voice when the Dragon Express window is open and stops transcribing your voice when you click off the window. When you invoke Dragon Express again, your text will be waiting in the window until you place it within a specific application so you never need to worry about accidentally deleting or losing your text.

New in Version 1.0.1

  • Addresses an incompatibility with CamTwist
  • Resolved issues related to QuickTime and components that are not sandbox compliant
  • Resolved issues related to audio sources
  • Added new Register for Support menu item
  • Updated Help

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.7 or later

Limited Time Introductory Price: $49.99

Data Recovery Guru for OS X: Scan and Recover Deleted Files Simultaneously

PR: Mac OS X File Recovery has introduced Data Recovery Guru 1.0 for OS X, their new Utility app that recovers files that have been accidentally deleted due to user error or hardware malfunction. Files that have been emptied from the Trash appear gone, but actually remain on the disk until written over by new data. Data Recovery Guru locates and "unerases" these seemingly deleted files. Data Recovery Guru stands out among data recovery apps because it can find and save files that other apps cannot, generates preview thumbnails of recoverable files, and it can recover files at the same time it is scanning for lost files. Employing proprietary algorithms, the app's friendly GUI makes data recovery completely "nontechnical."

Data Recovery Guru

Even the most experienced Mac users occasionally delete a file by accident. This can be an extremely frustrating, possibly costly, experience, because users rely on their Macs in managing so much of their business and personal lives. Fortunately, experienced users have also learned that files emptied from the Trash are not really removed from the disk. On erasing a file, the disk's file index is instructed that the location of the file is now "free space," and can be used to hold new data. But until it is overwritten, the original file remains unaltered, though it cannot be seen in the Finder. Disk recovery apps perform two related jobs. One, they scan the disk, looking for intact files that the file index erroneously believes are gone. And two, they allow the user to select for recovery any missing file identified in the scan. When successfully recovered, the file again appears in the Finder and is "good as new," ready to be used as if nothing ever happened.

Data Recovery Guru 1.0 for OS X is part of a new breed of disk recovery apps for three important reasons.

  • First, Data Recovery Guru is uncomplicated and easy to use. The user does not need to make any choices about which of several possible scanning modes they want to use. There are no Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced data recovery methods. There is one simple default that works flawlessly. Again, unlike some competitors, Data Recovery Guru does not use an esoteric control panel or display window. Rather, the user sees the same Finder window to which they are accustomed. From the sidebar, the user selects the Volume or Drive. In the window's first column are listed folders showing the different types of files that have been located. Then, in the next column is a list of individual files contained in the folder selected. Finally, in the last column is one single file chosen for recovery. This is data recovery for grandparents, unpretentious and user-friendly.
  • The second reason Data Recovery Guru represents a new kind of data recovery app is that its scan will find deleted files (even some files on failing hard drives) that other apps miss. In addition, it can scan and recover files from an unprecedented number of different kinds of devices, including: Macintosh disks, Windows disks, Linux disks, Unix disks, digital cameras, mobile phones, USB drives, memory cards, CDs/DVDs, and more.
  • Third and last, Data Recovery Guru does not force the user to wait until the disk scan is complete before they can recover a file. Users can browse through deleted files that are found during the scanning process, while the app continues to scan. Selected files appear as text or graphic previews, displaying the file's content even before it is recovered. The larger the number of files on the disk, the longer the scan time. Data Recovery Guru features a thorough, high-speed scan, and allows users to recover their file the moment it appears in the scan window.

Data Recovery Guru

Should additional files need to be recovered, hitting the "Recover" button does not interrupt the ongoing scan.

Feature Highlights

  • Undelete files in Mac OS X
  • User-friendly Finder window interface
  • File thumbnail previews
  • Scan for deleted files and recover files at the same time
  • Finds lost files other disk recovery apps miss
  • Identifies bad sectors
  • Recovers files from failing hard drives
  • Free demo version available for download

"The main benefit of Data Recovery Guru is its ease of use and tight integration with OS X; it looks like a Finder window, but it allows you to view deleted files rather than regular files," stated CEO Ben Slaney of Mac OS X File Recovery. "In the past, data recovery software had an appreciable learning curve, but Data Recovery Guru just works as soon as it's launched."

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.6 or latter
  • 2 MB HD Space
  • 2 GB RAM

Data Recovery Guru 1.0 sells for $99 and is available worldwide directly from the Mac OS X File Recovery website. A free demo version is available for download.

MacCleaning Pro Monitors Free Drive Space, Cleans Up System Junk, Quickly Accesses and Unmounts Volumes

PR: MacCleaning Pro is a powerful and handy menubar utility for monitoring drive free space, cleaning up system junk, and quickly accessing and unmounting volumes, making Mac system run faster and perform better. With the features of ejecting all mounted drives by one-click and setting custom space value to raise alarm more than MacCleaning Free, MacCleaning Pro will surely provide more precise, efficient, and secured maintenance of your Mac. This professional disk monitor and system cleanup tool helps users to perfect Mac in all directions.

MacCleaning Pro

MacCleaning Pro finds and removes junk files on your hard drive, such as System Caches, User Caches, System Logs, User Logs, User Downloads, Trash, Safari Internet Cache, etc. are all detected and cleaned automatically. It will Free up space within minutes and is claimed to speed up your Mac significantly.

MacCleaning ProMonitor the free space of all drives & alarm you when the free space is running low. View free space of all external, network, local drives, discs and disk images in single menu. The detailed information will be displayed in both graphical and digital manner in the menu. The intuitional free space information of system drive will be also indicated on the menu bar in real time. It will alarm you if any disk is out of space. MacCleaning Pro manages your disks space in an automatic and efficient way.

  • Detect every event of inserting and unmounting of external devices: MacCleaning monitors your every event of inserting or ejecting the external storage device; it will notice you in the Tray Icon section each time of action. Drives information are updated in real time. All the drives are grouped and displayed in categories.
  • MacCleaning ProSafely eject any individual mounted drive or eject all by one click: You can safe eject your external, network, local drives, discs and disk images by clicking the Eject Button on the menu. Moreover, MacCleaning Pro can eject all connected drives by clicking Eject All on the menu. It will indicate you in Tray Icon when the drive is safely ejected.
  • Any drive can be viewed in Finder by one click on menu: Any drive, including external, network, local drives, and disk images can be opened in Finder by clicking the menu. You can quick browse the files of the device just by one click on the menu.

Free Space Monitor

This feature can show you how much space is available on all local, connected, discs and network drives with a single click, and it could alarm you each time your disk is out of space. The intuitional free space information will be also indicated on the menu bar in real time.

Removable Device Monitor

The software will monitor your every event of inserting or ejecting the external storage device; it will notice you in the Tray Icon section each time. Drives information are updated in real time.

MacCleaning Pro

Mac Cleaning Software Other Features

  • Any drive can be opened in Finder by clicking on the menu.
  • Pin graphic free space information of system drive on the menu bar.
  • Set custom space value to raise alarm.
  • Mount and Eject completion indicator.
  • Set to launch at login and monitor your disk space at real time.

System Requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.6 or later
  • 512 MB of RAM or more
  • 2.8 MB of available hard disk space

$9.99

Also Available: MacCleaning Free

MacCleaning is a free and all-in-one Mac cleanup utility combined with disk space monitor and disk ejector. It cleans junk files by one-click and shows your disk space available.

MacCleaning Free offers an easiest way to keep your Mac clean and healthy, let the Mac running smoothly and faster. This tiny menu bar utility alarms you when the disk space is running low. To be alerted in advance, you can move or delete files in time, allowing you to have enough free space again for your Mac to run fast.

  • Fast Clean Up Your Mac: Free up more space and keep your Mac in health. Just by one click, the junk files will be removed in seconds, including System Caches, User Caches, System Logs, User Logs, User Downloads, Trash, Safari Internet Cache and more.
  • Disk Space Monitor: Show disk space available in the menu bar and alert you in advance when the disk space is low. Then, you can react to clean or move files in advance, keep your Mac running smoothly, sparing you a lot of time. It will let you know the available disk space any time, showing in the menu bar.
  • Disk Ejector: Safely eject your mounted drives. External storage disks, CD and DVD disks, SuperDrive, network storage, disk images are all supported. It will also indicate you when mounting or ejecting a device has completed.

Tips: MacCleaning Pro offers an advanced feature to let you eject all the mounted volumes at a time by one-click.

Mac Cleaning Software Other Features

  • Open mounted drives in Finder to quickly browse the files by a click.
  • Launch at login.
  • Pin free space information of system drive on the menu bar.
  • Select places to clean up junk files.

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.6 or later
  • 512 MB of RAM or more
  • 2.8 MB of available hard disk space

Freeware

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