Mac News Review

Apple Adds Community Discussion, Apple Quality Slipping?, Photoshop CS6 Beta, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.03.23

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

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Apple Adds Community Discussions Links to Online Store

Apple has also added links to community discussions from the product pages in the Apple Store. Users have the options of searching questions, answering those listed, browsing through questions by category and sorting them by various criteria.

Apple Adds Community Discussions Links to Online Store Pages

Questions addressed in threads include:

  • iPad or MacBook Pro 13" for a college student?
  • What are the differences between MacBook Pro and MacBook Air?
  • Can I run Office on a Mac?
  • What can I do on a Mac?
  • Compatibility with PC Files & Peripherals
  • Photos, Movies & Music
  • Windows & Microsoft Office
  • Mac OS
  • WiFi & Networking
  • Which Mac is right for me?
  • Comparing Macs
  • Portability & Battery Life
  • Customizing Your Mac
  • Software & Accessories

Answers from the Community

Is Apple Product Quality Slipping?

MIT Technology Review contributing editor Simson L. Garfinkel contends that as Apple caters less to the demands of artists and other creative professionals, the quality of its products is slipping, noting that in the "Think Different" era, the implicit message was that Apple products were for quirky rebels who would one day dominate the world.

However, Garfinkel maintains that today's Apple is turning its back on that creative class and no longer designs for creators of digital media, who tend to be demanding about product quality. Instead, he says, Apple is building mass market products for consumers in at least two senses of the word: people who spend their own money, rather than their companies', and people who consume digital media, as opposed to people who produce it. He notes that while this reorientation has made Apple wildly profitable, its products have trended downwards in quality, flexibility, and even reliability.

Addressing OS X Lion Recovery Partition Problems

MacFixIt's Topher Kessler says if your OS X Lion Recovery HD partition is missing or not working, then it may be easy to get working with just a few steps, noting that unlike previous versions of OS X that came on a separate installation disk, which could be used as a recovery and diagnostics tool, Lion is distributed through the Mac App Store and therefore does not have the option of a separate boot medium. To give people a similar option, the Lion installer creates a small "Recovery HD" partition that you can boot to by holding Command-R at startup. However, he says some users may have problems with their systems either missing this partition, or having multiple ones after a reinstallation.

Tech Trends

IDC: PC Shipments Expected to Have Strong Second Half of 2012

PR: Worldwide PC shipment growth for 2011 ended on a slightly positive note, growing to 1.8% on the year, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. While the first half of 2012 is expected to see only modest shipment growth, launch of Windows 8 and the excitement generated by ultrabooks and other ultrathin notebooks should drive second half sales in a much stronger way, IDC projects.

For much of 2011, vendors struggled to maintain consumer interest in a market beset by a tenuous economic recovery and disrupted by emerging computing devices. Lack of interest was evidenced by a lackluster Christmas season, and mature markets like the United States and Western Europe, in particular, had a rough year, with PC shipments in 2011 shrinking a substantial 9% compared to 2010.

PC Shipments by Region and Form FactorLooking ahead, IDC expects the PC market to still enjoy pockets of growth, particularly in emerging markets, with overall PC growth to be a modest 5.0% for the 2012, with most of that occurring in the latter half of the year. "Many consumers are holding off making PC purchases at the moment because tablet devices like Apple's iPad are proving to be a powerful distraction," Bob O'Donnell, vice president of Clients and Displays at IDC, says in a release. "However, end user surveys tell us that few people consider media tablets as replacements for their PCs, so later this year when there is a new Microsoft operating system, available in sleek new PC form factors, we believe consumer interest in PCs will begin to rebound."

Although emerging markets have continued to show good uptake, IDC has slightly reduced its outlook in some regions. The 2012 forecast for China has been lowered to 9%, the first time a year of single-digit growth has been forecast for there in recent memory. Part of the downward adjustment for emerging markets id due to the shortage of disk drives, which greatly impacts white box PC manufacturers who play a prevalent role in emerging markets. Secondly, the prospect of slowing exports will also likely affect PC spending as both consumers and SMBs in developing countries scale back.

PC Shipment Growth by Region and Form Factor"2012 and 2013 will bring significant challenges for Microsoft and the PC community," says Worldwide PC Tracker senior research analyst Jay Chou. "The Wintel platform must evolve to accommodate user expectations of ubiquitous computing on a multitude of devices and physical settings. Windows 8 and ultrabooks are a definitive step in the right direction to recapturing the relevance of the PC, but its promise of meshing a tablet experience in a PC body will likely entail a period of trial and error, thus the market will likely see modest growth in the near term."

A graphic illustrating desktop and portable PC shipments for both mature and emerging markets during the 2011-2016 forecast period is available at IDC.com. Instructions on how to embed this graphic into online news articles and social media can be found by viewing this press release on IDC.com.

IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker gathers PC market data in 80 countries by vendor, form factor, brand, processor brand and speed, sales channel and user segment. The research includes historical and forecast trend analysis as well as price band and installed base data.

Thunderbolt May Become Standard on PCs in 2013

DigiTimes' Monica Chen and Jessie Shen report that as Thunderbolt makes the shift from copper wire to optical cables at the end of 2012, adoption is expected to increase, with the technology likely to become a standard I/O specification for PCs and related products in 2013, according to sources at PC manufacturers.

Chen and Shen note that Lenovo, Asustek, and a number of motherboard makers are set to launch products based on Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge platform, which will come with Thunderbolt ports that utilize optical cables, their sources indicated.

Intel's current Thunderbolt cable technology for Sandy Bridge chips is based on copper, and the shift to optical cables for the forthcoming Ivy Bridge could bring higher bandwidth for data throughput and longer cable lengths, the sources noted.

Thunderbolt, developed by Intel and first brought to market with technical collaboration from Apple in February 2011 in a MacBook Pro refresh, is a high-speed PC connection technology that supports and consolidates both high-speed data transfers and high-definition (HD) displays in a single cable. Running at 10 Gbps, Thunderbolt can transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds.

Products & Services

Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Lion Edition

Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Lion EditionPR: There's never been a better time to switch to Mac OS X maintains David Pogue, whose newly released Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Lion Edition (O'Reilly, $29.99) is now available to help you do it.

"Who ever thought, in the days when Mac owners were an oppressed minority, that Macs would represent 20 percent of the world's new-computer sales?" asks Pogue, a weekly personal-technology columnist for the New York Times and an Emmy award-winning tech correspondent for CBS News. "An incredible number of these people are refugees from the Windows world who could use a hand crossing the great divide into the Mac world. This book is for them: the oppressed majority."

Important stuff you need to know about Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Lion Edition:

  • Transferring your stuff. Moving files from a PC to a Mac by cable, network, or disk is the easy part. But how do you extract your email, address book, calendar, Web bookmarks, buddy list, desktop pictures, and MP3 files? Now you'll know.
  • Recreating your software suite. This book identifies the Mac equivalents of your favorite Windows programs.
  • Learning Lion. Apple's latest operating system is faster, smarter, and more iPaddish - but you still have to learn it. iCloud. Gestures. Mission Control. Launchpad. AirDrop. App Store. AutoSave.

Indeed, If Apple wrote it, this new book covers it.

David Pogue, with 3 million books in print, is one of the world's best-selling how-to authors. In 1999, he launched the Missing Manuals series, which now includes 100 titles.

Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Lion Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
By David Pogue
Print ISBN: 9781449398538
Pages: 712
Print Price: $29.99
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938
1-707-827-7000

Software

Photoshop CS6 Beta Available

PR: Adobe Systems Incorporated has announced that a new Adobe Photoshop CS6 beta, a preview of what's to come in the next release of the industry standard in digital imaging, its first major update since April 2010, is available as a free download from Adobe Labs. Customers can download the beta, try out the experience and provide feedback to the product team. Packed with groundbreaking new innovations, features and incredible performance enhancements, Photoshop CS6 beta is available for the Mac OS and Microsoft Windows platforms. The final release is expected in the first half of 2012.

"Photoshop CS6 will be a milestone release that pushes the boundaries of imaging innovation with incredible speed and performance," says Winston Hendrickson, vice president products, Creative Media Solutions, Adobe. "We couldn't wait to share this beta of Photoshop CS6 with our customers and are looking forward to hearing from them and seeing the ways they are incorporating the beta into their daily creative workflows."

New Features in Photoshop CS6 Beta

Photoshop CS6 beta demonstrates Adobe's focus on performance enhancements, imaging magic and creativity tools to offer customers a new experience in digital imaging. Key features include new additions to the Content-Aware tools: Content-Aware Patch allows greater control by letting users select and duplicate an area of an image to fill in or "patch" another. Content-Aware Move lets users select and magically move an object to a new place in the image.

Customers will experience enhanced performance, powered by the new Adobe Mercury Graphics Engine, enabling claimed near-instant results from popular editing tools including Liquify, Puppet Warp, Transform and Lighting Effects; and a refined, modern interface featuring dark UI options to make images pop. New and reengineered design tools make creating designs faster and more efficient. Vector layers allow users to apply dashed lines and gradient strokes, searchable layers help quickly zero in on any layer you need, and new type styles let designers quickly apply type treatments to their designs.

In addition, the Photoshop CS6 beta offers all the features of Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended, such as new 3D editing features and quantitative imaging analysis capabilities. These features will be included in the shipping version of Photoshop CS6 Extended when it becomes available.

The Photoshop CS6 beta is available immediately as a free download in English and Japanese. At installation, users will be required to provide an Adobe ID to complete a one-time login and online product activation.

LibreOffice 3.5.1 Released

PR: LibreOffice is a free and open source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh, and GNU/Linux, that gives you six application modules for document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math, and Base. Support and documentation is free from a large, dedicated community of users, contributors, and developers.

New in LibreOffice 3.5.1 Final

This is the second release from the 3.5 branch of LibreOffice.

It contains many new features, and is the recommended version for private users.

The following notes apply:

  • This release is bit-for-bit identical to the 3.5.1 Release Candidate 2, so you don't need to download or reinstall if you have that version already.
  • The distribution for Windows is an international build, so you can choose the user interface language that you prefer. Help content is available via an online service, or alternatively as a separate install.
  • For Windows users that have LibreOffice prior to version 3.4.5 installed, either uninstall that beforehand, or upgrade to 3.4.5. Otherwise, the upgrade to 3.5.1 may fail.
  • For Windows users that have OpenOffice.org installed, the developers advise uninstalling that beforehand, because it registers the same file type associations.
  • If you run Windows 2000, you may require this update before being able to install LibreOffice.
  • If you run Linux, the GCJ Java variant has known issues with LibreOffice, we advise to e.g. use OpenJDK instead.
  • LibreOffice contains all the security fixes from OpenOffice.org in 3.3.0, and perhaps more as a side-effect of the code cleanups.

Microsoft Office 2010 will complain that ODF 1.2 and extended documents written by LibreOffice 3.5 are invalid (but opens them still). This is a shortcoming in MSO2010 only supporting ODF 1.1, please see here for further details.

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