Mac News Review

Mac Pro Users Waiting for Upgrade, Quicken 2007 for Lion Released, Free Menubar Apps, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.03.16

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

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Mac Pro Users Jonesing for Overdue Upgrade

IDG News Service's Agam Shah notes that Apple has not upgraded its Mac Pro since July 2010, and customers are getting antsy for the latest Sandy Bridge Xeon E5 server chips, clamoring for quick Mac Pro upgrades, while Apple's unstable high-end desktop hardware upgrade timetable is raising concern about the company's commitment to professional users as it gravitates more and more to the consumer market and the iOS infrastructure.

Gartner: Personal Cloud Will Replace Personal Computer as the Center of Users' Digital Lives

PR: The reign of the personal computer as the sole corporate access device is coming to a close according to Gartner, Inc., which predicts that by 2014, the personal cloud will replace the personal computer at the center of users' digital lives.

Personal Cloud and the $2T Consumer Market

Gartner analysts say the personal cloud will begin a new era that will provide users with a new level of flexibility with the devices they use for daily activities, while leveraging the strengths of each device, ultimately enabling new levels of user satisfaction and productivity. However, it will require enterprises to fundamentally rethink how they deliver applications and services to users.

"Major trends in client computing have shifted the market away from a focus on personal computers to a broader device perspective that includes smartphones, tablets, and other consumer devices," says Gartner research vice president Steve Kleynhans. "Emerging cloud services will become the glue that connects the web of devices that users choose to access during the different aspects of their daily life."

The past two years have been a whirlwind in the client computing space, leaving many enterprises asking what comes next and what the environment will look like in five years.

"Many call this era the post-PC era, but it isn't really about being 'after' the PC, but rather about a new style of personal computing that frees individuals to use computing in fundamentally new ways to improve multiple aspects of their work and personal lives," Mr. Kleynhans observes.

Several driving forces are combining to create this new era. These megatrends have roots that extend back through the past decade but are aligning in a new way.

Megatrend No. 1: Consumerization: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

Gartner has discussed the consumerization of IT for the better part of a decade, and has seen the impact of it across various aspects of the corporate IT world. However, much of this has simply been a precursor to the major wave that is starting to take hold across all aspects of information technology as several key factors come together:

  • Users are more technologically savvy and have very different expectations of technology.
  • The Internet and social media have empowered and emboldened users.
  • The rise of powerful, affordable mobile devices changes the equation for users.
  • Users have become innovators.
  • Through the democratization of technology, users of all types and status within organizations can now have similar technology available to them.

Megatrend No. 2: Virtualization Changing How the Game Is Played

Virtualization has improved flexibility and increased the options for how IT organizations can implement client environments. Virtualization has, to some extent, freed applications from the peculiarities of individual devices, operating systems or even processor architectures. Virtualization provides a way to move the legacy of applications and processes developed in the PC era forward into the new emerging world. This provides low-power devices access to much-greater processing power, thus expanding their utility and increasing the reach of processor-intensive applications.

Megatrend No. 3: "App-ification" From Applications to Apps

When the way that applications are designed, delivered and consumed by users changes, it has a dramatic impact on all other aspects of the market. These changes will have a profound impact on how applications are written and managed in corporate environments. They also raise the prospect of greater cross-platform portability as small user experience (UX) apps are used to adjust a server- or cloud-resident application to the unique characteristics of a specific device or scenario. One application can now be exposed in multiple ways and used in varying situations by the user.

Megatrend No. 4: The Ever-Available Self-Service Cloud

The advent of the cloud for servicing individual users opens a whole new level of opportunity. Every user can now have a scalable and nearly infinite set of resources available for whatever they need to do. The impacts for IT infrastructures are stunning, but when this is applied to the individual, there are some specific benefits that emerge. Users' digital activities are far more self-directed than ever before. Users demand to make their own choices about applications, services and content, selecting from a nearly limitless collection on the Internet. This encourages a culture of self-service that users expect in all aspects of their digital experience. Users can now store their virtual workspace or digital personality online.

Megatrend No. 5: The Mobility Shift Wherever and Whenever You Want

Today, mobile devices combined with the cloud can fulfill most computing tasks, and any tradeoffs are outweighed in the minds of the user by the convenience and flexibility provided by the mobile devices. The emergence of more-natural user interface experiences is making mobility practical. Touch- and gesture-based user experiences, coupled with speech and contextual awareness, are enabling rich interaction with devices and a much greater level of freedom. At any point in time, and depending on the scenario, any given device will take on the role of the user's primary device the one at the center of the user's constellation of devices.

"The combination of these megatrends, coupled with advances in new enabling technologies, is ushering in the era of the personal cloud," said Mr. Kleynhans. "In this new world, the specifics of devices will become less important for the organization to worry about. Users will use a collection of devices, with the PC remaining one of many options, but no one device will be the primary hub. Rather, the personal cloud will take on that role. Access to the cloud and the content stored or shared in the cloud will be managed and secured, rather than solely focusing on the device itself."

Additional information is available in the Gartner report "The New PC Era: The Personal Cloud". The report is available on Gartner's website. The research is part of the Gartner Special Report, "Consumer Research: Personal Cloud".

The special report includes links to reports examine the impact of the personal cloud on enterprises, as well as video commentary.

Gartner analysts will provide additional analysis during the Gartner webinar, "Personal Cloud and the $2T Consumer Market" on March 27 at 11 a.m. EDT. To register for this complimentary webinar, visit here.

Opera on the Successes and Challenges of HTML5

PCWorld's Mark Sullivan recently spent an evening with Opera, noting that the only major browser player based outside the US says it's doing well in global markets despite present and anticipated future challenges.

The latest big Opera news is its new Opera 12 browser, which contains some HTML5 functionality that is expected to eventually allow a browser to do pretty much anything freestanding mobile apps currently do.

However, Sullivan reports that one of the most problematical obstacles to HTML5 technology implementation is paranoiac Hollywood copyright bullies and hegemonists, who are demanding that Opera and other browsers' HTML5 implementation support a full range of DRM controls, which is at cross-purposes to Opera's vision of making a browser that operates on the open Internet and can display or play any content the user decides to consume.

Editor's note: The ongoing obstructionism to technological progress asserted by the big music and entertainment biz cartels puts me in mind of reactionary established horse and carriage interests influencing government passage of England's Red Flag Act, in effect from 1836 to 1895, that required that any self-propelled vehicle be preceded on the road by a man carrying a red flag by day and a red lantern by night. cm

WD Acquires Hitachi GST: Three Hard Drive Makers Left Standing

Consolidation of the hard drive market, 1989-2012
Consolidation of hard drive manufacturers.

The Register's Chris Mellor reports that one year after Western Digital announced it was going to acquire Hitachi GST, the deal is done, the company having bought Viviti Technologies (formerly Hitachi GST) for $3.9 billion in cash and 25 million WD shares worth $0.9 billion; a total price of $4.8 billion. Hitachi Ltd. now owns about 10% of WD's outstanding shares and can designate two people to WD's board of directors.

That means there are now just three players in the computer hard drive industry: WD, Seagate, and Toshiba. Seagate acquired Samsung's hard drive operations, and Toshiba is getting two legs up into the 3.5" drive business by getting Hitachi GST's disk production and some off-loaded WD production too, while the dominant players, Seagate and Western Digital, split about 80% of the market, and the consolidation putting the industry on a sustainably profitable footing notwithstanding competition from SSDs in the PC sector.

Publisher's note: Wikipedia has an extensive list of defunct hard disk manufacturers, including whether they simply went out of business or were acquired. The chart (above right), adapted from that article, illustrates how the industry went from over a dozen players to just three via consolidation between 1989 and 2012. dk

Software

Free MiniUsage System Load Monitor

MiniUsagePR: MiniUsage displays various data like CPU usage, amount of network flow, battery status, and process names which uses much CPU time in a menubar. It takes little space and can display various data, so it's suitable for notebooks.

While the application is running, this information can be referred to via AppleScript.

New in version 1.5.0:

  • Added function to display multiple data on menubar
  • Added function to set MiniUsage as launch item

New in version 1.4.0

  • Added function to display the average/Max/Minimum CPU Usage of each running process for last 1 minute.
  • Added function to display the average/Max/Minimum network input/output data amount for last 1 minute.
  • Added function to display the icon of each process.
  • Added function to show MiniUsage icon of menu bar.

System Requirement: Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later. PowerPC compatible.

This software is donationware. If you want to continue using it, it's requested that you make small donation to help relief efforts for the Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster. (For example, American Red Cross.) It doesn't imply any donation to the developer.

Free NotesTab Menu Bar Notes Utility

NotesTabPR: NotesTab sits on your Mac's menu bar and is available at the click of a button - perfect for jotting down a few lines as well as drafting that essay you've been pushing aside.

NotesTab is freeware. Whilst developing NotesTab, the developers say they found themselves using it a lot more than expected. Soon after, they were convinced that this would be an app that literally everyone would find useful - so they thought, why charge for something that everyone should have the pleasure of using?

Unlike other note taking apps, NotesTab's developers are focused on making a streamlined, practical and beautiful app that you will find yourself using each and every day. They avoided unnecessary features that may sound cool, but in reality, never get used as they are way too overcomplicated.

NotesTab

  • How It Works: Write down your thoughts and important pieces of information into NotesTab and have them saved instantly, character-by-character, ensuring you never need to click save.
  • Multitasking: Via the Settings panel, you can set NotesTab to remain visible above other apps. This means you can easily copy/paste useful tidbits of information from other apps faster than ever.
  • Share Notes Via Email: By clicking the 'Share Note' button at the bottom bar of an open note, you can instantly transport its contents to your e-mail client, with the body of the note becoming the body of your drafted e-mail. Pretty cool, huh?
  • Time Stamps: Each note you write features a time stamp by its side which lets you view at a glance when that particular note was jotted down.
  • Search For Notes: Are you an obsessive notes taker? No problem, our high powered dynamic search allows you to find the particular note you're looking for in seconds.
  • Customizable Hotkey: The Settings panel in the app lets you assign your own hotkey for making NotesTab readily available with with just a click of your keyboard.
  • Beautiful Design: The developers claim that they've made NotesTab the slickest, simplest and best looking note taking app that you will use, with a user interface, menu transitions and app icon that are pixel perfect and a joy to use and look at.

Not convinced? Well, here's how you can use NotesTab for all your every day needs:

  • Take notes without opening a new app - NotesTab simply rests on your menu bar at all times
  • Particularly useful for students during lectures/classes, professionals in a meeting, etc.
  • You can easily copy and paste in text that you may later require
  • Got that million dollar idea? Make sure you take a note of it using this ever present app!
  • A great tool to help manage your passwords
  • Names, numbers, email addresses can all be jotted down in a jiffy
  • Take your MacBook to your kitchen and use NotesTab as a recipe manager
  • Birthdays and presents - make a list of both to always keep at hand.

And much, much more.

In summary, NotesTab's developers say they've spent a great deal of time thinking about the details, and after using this app for a few days, you'll begin to notice small yet creative touches. They plan on a very active development cycle. Within a day of its launch, this app was virtually Top 10 in every country, and they plan to add a host of new syncing and styling features for it in the very near future.

New in version 1.3:

  • Full screen editing mode added for OS X Lion users.
  • Added ability to backup and export notes (right click on menubar icon to do a full export, or right click on an note in the list view to export a single note).
  • General Bug Fixes and Tweaks.

System requirements: Intel, Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later

Free

Quicken 2007 Reengineered for OS X 10.7 Lion

PR: Quicken Mac 2007 OS X Lion compatible is a reengineered version of Quicken Mac 2007 that will work on OS X 10.7 (Lion).

This version is ideal for Quicken for Mac customers who use Apple's latest operating system OS X Lion.

New Quicken customers should choose Quicken Essentials for Mac to get started.

Data migration is easy

Quicken Mac 2005 2007 data files will automatically convert into the Lion compatible version. If you're currently running Quicken Essentials for Mac on OS X 10.7 Lion, and have previously converted from Quicken 2005, 2006 or 2007 for Mac, you'll be able to migrate your Quicken Essentials transaction data to Quicken Mac 2007 OS X Lion compatible.

Organize all your accounts in one place

With Quicken Mac 2007, you'll be able to see all of your checking, savings, credit card, loan, investments, and retirement accounts in one place, so you'll know exactly where you're spending your money. All without looking at multiple sites and statements: Quicken downloads your income and expenses from your bank(s), so you don't have to enter transactions manually.

See exactly where your money's going

Budgeting and organizing your personal finances is easy: Quicken Mac 2007 brings your accounts together, all in one place. You'll be able to see instantly how much money is left until your next paycheck and know how much you have available to spend.

Makes tax time less painful

Use Quicken Mac 2007 to organize your tax information, so you can easily find the tax deductions you deserve.

Helps you optimize your investments

Watch your investments and monitor your portfolio with ease. Plus, track your 401(k) investments within Quicken Mac 2007 electronically by downloading information from your brokerage or financial institution.

Backs up easily to MobileMe

Keep your files safe and secure. Added security and encryption make it easy for you to back up your Quicken data files to MobileMe.

New in version 16.1.0:

  • Mac OS X 10.7 Lion compatible

System requirements:

  • Intel
  • Mac OS X 10.7 or later

$14.99

Quicken Mac 2007 OS X Lion Compatible is available as a download or on CD-ROM.

Publisher's note: It's curious that this software supports MobileMe, which Apple has deprecated in favor of iCloud and will discontinue on June 30, 2012, instead of Apple's newer iCloud service. dk

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