Mac News Review

List of Macs Officially Supported by Mountain Lion, Apple Withdraws from EPEAT, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.07.13

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

The EPEAT Controversy

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Apple Posts List of Macs Official Supported by OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

Apple has posted an official list of supported hardware on its OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion "How To Upgrade" page.

Upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion from your Mac

In order to install and run Mountain Lion, your Mac must be one of the following models:

Presumably, anything older than the models listed is excluded because of 64-bit compatibility issues - at least the right sort of 64-bit compatibility (OS X version 10.8 is a 64-bit-only operating system that won't boot in 32-bit mode) - and/or insufficient graphics processing power.

If you're running OS X 10.7 Lion, you can find out if your current Mac qualifies by clicking the Apple icon at the top left of your screen, choosing About This Mac, and then clicking More Info.

Note that Mountain Lion will install over OS X 10.7 Lion or the latest version (10.6.8) of OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. While you have the About This Mac window open, you can check what version of OS X your Mac is running.

If you are running Lion (10.7.x), you're ready to update to Mountain Lion. If you are running Snow Leopard (10.6.x), update to the latest version of OS X Snow Leopard before you purchase OS X Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store. Click the Apple icon and choose Software Update to update Snow Leopard to version 10.6.8.

With the above provisions satisfied, you'll be ready to download OS X Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store when it's available later this month. Open the Mac App Store from your Dock to buy and download Mountain Lion. Then follow the onscreen instructions to install it. If you don't have broadband Internet access, you can visit any Apple Retail Store to get help with downloading.

Publisher's note: Over the past week, we have updated all profiles for Macs that can run OS X 10.7 Lion to indicate whether they officially support Mountain Lion, along with whether three new OS X 10.78 features - AirDrop, AirPlay Mirroring, and Power Nap - are supported. dk

Power Consumption May Put Power Macs Out to Pasture as Servers

PPC Luddite's Dan says that with most longtime Mac users moving to Intel systems but still having perfectly good PowerPC hardware sitting around, many ask, "What can I do with those old computers? . . . Is there anything close to their original purpose I can use them for?"

The answer most people come up with, if it isn't eBay, is some sort of server: a file server, music/media, or even a web server, and while Power Macs with their multiple drive bays seem ideal for this task, there's the issue of power consumption, and since a server computer will generally always be on, it's a good idea to look at their wattage efficiency to see which models "would be best served being servers of the served."

The article points the finger at dual-processor models as energy hogs, and a note by our own Dan Knight reminds us that the only G4 Power Macs to support drives over 128 GB without special software or an add-on card are the Quicksilver and Mirrored Drive Doors models.

Publisher's note: I will attest to dual-processor G4s running hot, although I haven't measured their power draw. I have a dual 1.25 GHz MDD running OS X 10.4 Tiger and a dual 1.0 GHz MDD running OS X 10.5 Leopard, and they definitely heat up the room. Putting them to sleep helps, and turning them off at night or over the weekend helps even more, especially with summer heat. (In the winter, this becomes the coziest room in the house.) In fact, once outdoor temperatures get much about 80°F, I need to turn on the air conditioner to keep the Leopard Power Mac from overheating. That said, a G4 or G5 Mac running OS X 10.5 Leopard with file sharing enabled can function as a Time Machine backup server, providing one more reason to keep the old Macs doing something. dk

Google Chrome Browser Soon Ending Support for OS X 10.5 Leopard

The Chrome Dev Channel Update's Jason Kersey reports that the Dev channel has been updated to 22.0.1201.0 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome Frame, and that starting with revision 22, the Mac version of Chrome requires OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or higher.

Publisher's note: Chrome has never supported PowerPC Macs or OS X 10.4 Tiger, so this applies only to Intel Macs running OS X 10.5 Leopard. Note that Chrome 20.0.1132.57 is the current stable version, revision 21 is in beta, and 22 is still a ways off, so Intel Macs running Leopard will still be able to remain up-to-date with Chrome until Chrome 22 reaches stable release status.

I have to admit that one reason I got an Intel Mac was to I could try Chrome, and in the past few months, I find myself using it more and more - especially to access Google resources such as Google+, Google Analytics, and Google Affiliate Network. Safari is taking over as my primary browser on the Mac mini running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and vies with Camino for most-used status on my OS X 10.4 Tiger and 10.5 Leopard G4 Power Macs. Firefox and TenFourFox (Firefox ported to PowerPC) are used less frequently, and Opera rarely. (If you're using Leopard on a PowerPC Mac, you might want to give Leopard WebKit a try. This project compiles the latest version of WebKit 1.x for PowerPC, and it's been working well on my Leopard machine for several weeks now.) dk

Future Thunderbird Development Limited to Security and Maintenance Updates

A Mozilla.org blog last Friday noted that the venerable Thunderbird standalone email client that dates back to the days of Netscape's Communicator Internet software suite, still provides an open-source, cross-platform email alternative for those of us who still use desktop email client software, affirming that it's a trustworthy app., under your control, and built to reflect the Mozilla mission. Thunderbird was spun off as a freestanding application with the development of Firefox as Mozilla's flagship Web browser.

However, the blog says that in light of more and more Internet users opting for Web-based email solutions, Mozilla's developer team have been pondering whether Thunderbird is a likely source of innovation and of leadership in today's Internet life, or is it already pretty much what its users want, and mostly needs only ongoing maintenance going forward.

The conclusion reached by most of Mozilla's leadership, including leaders of the Thunderbird team, is that ongoing stability is the most important thing, and that continued innovation in Thunderbird is not a priority for Mozilla's product efforts. Consequently the Thunderbird team has developed a plan that provides both stability for Thunderbird's current state and allows the Thunderbird community to innovate if it chooses.

Under this plan, Mozilla will provide security updates through an Extended Support Release process that will provide security maintenance updates, and will also maintain mechanisms for the Thunderbird community to organize for ongoing development.

If you are a Thunderbird user and are interested in more details, you can find links to follow the discussion.

The EPEAT Controversy

Apple: Dropping EPEAT a Mistake; We're Back

Earlier today, Bob Mansfield, Apple's Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering, posted this letter to Apple customers:

"We've recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT.

"It's important to know that our commitment to protecting the environment has never changed, and today it is as strong as ever. Apple makes the most environmentally responsible products in our industry. In fact, our engineering teams have worked incredibly hard over the years to make our products even more environmentally friendly, and much of our progress has come in areas not yet measured by EPEAT.

"For example, Apple led the industry in removing harmful toxins such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). We are the only company to comprehensively report greenhouse gas emissions for every product we make, taking into account the entire product lifecycle. And we've removed plastics wherever possible, in favor of materials that are more highly recyclable, more durable, more efficient and longer lasting.

"Perhaps most importantly, we make the most energy-efficient computers in the world and our entire product line exceeds the stringent ENERGY STAR 5.2 government standard. No one else in our industry can make that claim.

"We think the IEEE 1680.1 standard could be a much stronger force for protecting the environment if it were upgraded to include advancements like these. This standard, on which the EPEAT rating system is based, is an important measuring stick for our industry and its products.

"Our relationship with EPEAT has become stronger as a result of this experience, and we look forward to working with EPEAT as their rating system and the underlying IEEE 1680.1 standard evolve. Our team at Apple is dedicated to designing products that everyone can be proud to own and use."

Link: A Letter from Bob Mansfield, Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering

Apple No Longer Registering Products in EPEAT

EPEAT has posted a notice saying:

"Apple has notified EPEAT that it is withdrawing its products from the EPEAT registry and will no longer be submitting its products to EPEAT for environmental rating.

"EPEAT is the leading global environmental rating system for electronic products, connecting purchasers to environmentally preferable choices and benefiting producers who demonstrate environmental responsibility and innovation.

"For participating electronics manufacturers, EPEAT is a chance to showcase and validate their greener design initiatives, cleaner production and customer support services. But EPEAT is more than simply a product rating it is also a community effort by all interested stakeholders to define and maintain best practice in environmental sustainability for electronics.

"We regret that Apple will no longer be registering its products in EPEAT. We hope that they will decide to do so again at some point in future."

Apple Sacrifices Green at the Altar of Thin

iFixit's Kyle Wiens notes that federal agencies can no longer buy Apple products for their offices due to Apple's announcement that it will be pulling its products from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) green consumer electronics standard. EPEAT, developed by the Green Electronics Council with a grant from the EPA in 2006, is tasked with mitigating negative environmental and social impacts of electronics manufacturing by requiring that products meet eight environmental performance categories, including product lifetime, toxic materials, and recyclability of components and packaging materials.

Wiens says that since 2007, all of Apple's new products have been EPEAT Gold Certified, and federal agencies can only purchase products that meet the EPEAT standard. He believes that it's no coincidence that Apple's pullout decision came just weeks after release of its very-difficult-to-repair MacBook Pro with Retina Display, for which EPEAT certification was quietly left out of Apple's marketing material.

According to Wiens' EPEAT contacts, Apple's mobile design direction is in conflict with the intended direction of the environmental standard, which imposes particular requirements for product disassemble-ability, which is a major consideration for recycling. The standard dictates that external enclosures, chassis, and electronic subassemblies must be removable with commonly available tools or by hand, because it poses difficulty when manufacturers glue batteries to the device chassis with industrial-strength adhesive - as Apple has chosen to do with the Retina MacBook Pro.

Wiens concludes that Apple's decision to opt out of these most basic product eco-standards demonstrates that in Apple's world design-coolness supersedes concern for the environment.

Why Apple Withdrew from EPEAT

Macworld UK's Mark Hattersley has a simple explanation for Apple's bombshell withdrawal from the US government's EPEAT product environmental impact rating system this week: the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

Hattersley notes that with this machine practically no internal upgrade can be performed, with the chipset, graphics, RAM, and flash memory mostly (except for the SSD) hard-soldered together and guarded by propriety Apple pentalobe screws, and the battery glued to the chassis increasing the likelihood that it'll break during disassembly, and also covering the trackpad cable (more damage potential), plus the display assembly is completely fused, with no glass protecting it, so if anything fails inside the extremely expensive display assembly, the entire thing will need replacing.

EPEAT is concerned with not only the materials a device is built with, or the conditions that it is built in, but how easy it is to break down and recycle, an aspect where Apple is obviously getting worse and not better, going out of its way in general to build devices that are difficult to strip apart, and the MacBook Air Retina Display most likely pointing to the future of the MacBook range.

Apple Responds to EPEAT Concerns

The Loop's well-connected Jim Dalrymple reports that Apple on Tuesday responded to concerns over its asking to have its products removed from EPEAT, the US government's list of environmentally friendly products.

Dalrymple cites Apple representative Kristin Huguet telling The Loop, "Apple takes a comprehensive approach to measuring our environmental impact, and all of our products meet the strictest energy efficiency standards backed by the US government, Energy Star 5.2. We also lead the industry by reporting each product's greenhouse gas emissions on our website, and Apple products are superior in other important environmental areas not measured by EPEAT, such as removal of toxic materials."

Ms. Huguet also emphasized that it's important to note that in addition to not measuring toxins and other environmental areas, EPEAT also doesn't measure smartphones or tablets, which are clearly two areas vitally important for Apple and not covered by EPEAT, and observes that companies like Dell may have 171 products listed on EPEAT, but if you look on Dell's website, none of their computers are Energy Star compliant.

City of San Francisco Ends Mac Purchases Due to EPEAT Withdrawal

The Register's Iain Thomson reports that San Francisco city authorities have banned departmental purchases of Apple hardware now that Cupertino has dropped out of the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) green-standards scheme, citing Melanie Nutter, director of San Francisco's Department of Environment, telling The Wall Street Journal, "We are disappointed that Apple chose to withdraw from EPEAT, and we hope that the city saying it will not buy Apple products will make Apple reconsider its participation."

Thompson reports that Apple pulled out of the EPEAT program after launching of its latest MacBook line - the design of which has both the battery and the screen glued into the case, causing iFixit to declare it the most unrepairable laptop they've ever tested and harshly criticizing Apple for making the components impossible to recycle economically.

Retina MacBook Pro Nukes Apple's Green Credentials

The Register's Anna Leach says that the tightly packed new MacBook Pro with Retina display prevents the laptop from meeting requirements laid down by the US government's eco-friendly Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), which announced on Monday that the Retina Display Apple laptop is "difficult to disassemble for upgrades, repairs, and recycling - and could force the green-minded to rethink Apple loyalties".

Apple preemptively pulled all 39 of its products from the EPEAT's registry of "green gadgets" last week. All of the company's gear previously had gold ratings from EPEAT.

Software

TypeIt4Me 5.3 Now Available on the Mac App Store

TypeIt4MeEttore Software's TypeIt4Me 5.3, a text macro and typing shortcut utility that expands abbreviations as you type, is now available to download from the Mac App Store. This latest version includes iCloud support, so you can use your TypeIt4Me abbreviations seamlessly across all your Macs and with TypeIt4Me Touch on your iPad or iPhone. There's also a new pane just above your TypeIt4Me clippings that enables you to manage your local abbreviation sets and drag them across to iCloud and back again as you require.

A note for customers who purchase TypeIt4Me outside of the Mac App Store:

Apple currently only permits applications sold through the Mac App Store to access iCloud, so for now, the incarnation of TypeIt4Me available for direct download from the Ettore Software website will remain at version 5.2.1 rather than 5.3. That's while Riccardo Ettore evaluates options for adding some form of access to iCloud, for example via a helper application made available separately on the Mac App Store.

Version 5.3 system requirements:

  • OS X 10.7 or later
  • 64-bit processor

$19.99

Version 3.6 of Logitech Control Center Intel Only, Drops OS X 10.5 Leopard

Logitech Control Center (LCC) is a software driver utility designed to support Mac OS X and allow you to take full advantage of your Logitech keyboard, mouse, or trackball features set. With the LCC you can:

  • Browse the Internet using dedicated keys that provide one-touch access to your favorite sites.
  • Launch your email application by pressing a button.
  • Play music and control the system speaker using built-in buttons.
  • Open frequently used items, such as documents, folders and applications, with a single keystroke.
  • Scroll in windows of applications built for MacOS X. You can scroll up and down with a single keystroke or wheel movement.
  • Switch between open applications.
  • Show contextual menus with a single mouse click.
  • Simulate keystrokes to provide shortcuts to commands you use regularly.

New in version 3.6:

This release adds support for OS X 10.7 (Lion). Other changes include:

  • Mission Control can be assigned to a mouse button or keyboard key. Within this action, you can choose whether to launch Mission Control, or show all windows of the current application, the desktop, Dashboard or Launchpad.
  • OS X 10.4, 10.5 and Macintosh computers using a PowerPC processor are no longer supported.

System requirements:

  • Intel
  • Mac OS X 10.6 or later
  • Logitech USB pointing device or keyboard.

Still available:

Free download

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