Mac News Review

Apple's mini Support Page, Emperor's New mini, DoubleCommand for PC Keyboards, mini Overclocking, and More

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.02.04

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

This week's 'Book Review: Laptop security, PowerBook G5 delayed, SoundBite portable USB speakers, iPresent It, and more. Also the Mac/ThinkPad shuffle, 8x dual layer PowerBook G4 SuperDrive, Negroponte's $100 laptop, bargain 'Books from $319 to $1,739, and more.

Apple Posts Mac mini Service & Support Page

NEWS: Learn more about Mac mini on Apple's Mac mini Service & Support Page

  • Mac mini external ports and connectors
  • Compatible Apple displays
  • About the DVI to VGA Adapter
  • Memory Specifications and Upgrades
  • The power LED indicates the computer's status
  • Learn about which kind of keyboard and mouse to use
  • Positioning your Mac mini for best ventilation and wireless reception
  • Connecting headphones or external speakers to your Mac mini
  • Tips for cleaning the outer case of your Mac mini
  • Macintosh: How to Use FireWire Target Disk Mode

Troubleshooting and compatibility information

  • What to do if your Mac mini won't turn on
  • What to do if your Mac mini won't display video
  • The Apple logo on top of Mac mini does not light up
  • How to Reset your Mac mini
  • How to Reset the Power Management Unit (PMU)
  • Don't use nonstandard-shaped discs in slot-loading CD-ROM or DVD-ROM Drives

Mac mini: The Emperor's New Computer

NEWS: Divisiontwo Magazine's Jorge Lopez says:

"Both the Apple hype machine and Jobs' reality distortion field have kicked into overdrive this year with the recent release of the bold, innovative and affordable G4 Cube...oops I mean the Mac mini.

"I'll admit, we were excited at first to get one in the lab to put through its paces....

"If you believe Apple's marketing department, the new Mini is 'smaller than most packs of gum' and weighs 'less than four quarters'. Well, we received our test unit from Apple yesterday, and let me say right off the bat that those claims are a wee bit of an exaggeration. Far from being Trident-sized, the Mini actually measures about 6.5" x 6.5" x 2", about the size of two wonderbread cheese sandwiches stacked on top of each other, or about 50 packs of Bubble Yum. As for the weight, it feels about three pounds. Hold a Mini in one hand and four quarters in the other and tell me which one feels heavier. You could perform this experiment yourself at an Apple store....

"So is the mini a maxi value? For me, clearly, no. When I consider that a good deal of my time is spent running applications like Disk Defragmenter, Scandisk, Norton AV, Windows Update and Ad-Aware - none of which are available for the Mac platform - it doesn't make sense for me to 'switch' to a Mac at this time...."

DoubleCommand Keyboard Remapper

PR: DoubleCommand is software for Mac OS X (a kernel extension) that lets you remap keys, in other words change the way your keyboard works. Often used to make a PC keyboard more comfortable with a Mac, swapping the Alt (Option) and Windows (Command or Apple) keys, since they are in swapped positions on Mac and PC keyboards. DoubleCommand is a quick and easy way to fix this if you use a PC keyboard with your Mac. Called DoubleCommand because originally it was used to give the old PowerBooks a second Command key, where there was an enter key.

DoubleCommand started out as a hack of iJect, which was generously GPL'd by Christian Starkjohann. So go check out the great software he makes over at Objective Development www.obdev.at

As a result, DoubleCommand is released under v2 of the GPL. Please read the file Licence.txt for more information.

DoubleCommand 1.5.3 released for Mac OS X 10.3, added support for Control + Home/End PC style and fixed a bug with Command -> Option mapping.

DoubleCommand Feature List

  • Disable DoubleCommand
  • Enter key acts as a Command key
  • Enter key acts as a Control key
  • Enter key acts as an Option key
  • Enter key acts as an fn key (partial support, cursor keys only)
  • Command key acts as an Option key
  • Command key acts as a Control key
  • Option key acts as a Command key
  • Control key acts as a Command key
  • Swaps Control key and Option key
  • Capslock key acts as a Control key
  • fn key acts as a Control key
  • Swaps numpad . with numpad shift+.
  • Shift + Delete acts as a Forward Delete
  • Disable Command and Option
  • PC style Home and End keys
  • Backslash (\) acts as a Forward Delete
  • Swap function key behaviour on new 'Books
  • Disable Capslock

Any sensible combination of the above can be used.

The Plasticsmith Releases Line of Sleek Mac mini Accessories

PR: The Plasticsmith, makers of the Dome laptop stand, have been quick out of the blocks to release a cool new line of products designed exclusively to enhance Apple's new Mac mini.

Grandstand ClearApple warns against stacking anything on top of the mini's case, so the Plasticsmith mini Grand Stand gives the mini a protective covering while supporting the weight of an LCD or CRT monitor.

Available in clear acrylic or steel finished to complement the mini, they are both sleek and attractive as well as functional and space-saving.

For the more contemporary look, the acrylic model offers an elegant enclosure for the mini. It measures 11" wide by 9" deep by 2-1/2" high and is made of 3/8" acrylic with richly polished edges.

Grandstand SteelThe steel model's durable coating is designed to color complement the Mac mini. In addition to housing the mini, it can conceal a power brick , USB hub and excess cords. Measuring 11" wide by 9" deep by 2-3/8" high, it is made of 3/32" powder-coated steel.

Both models can safely support 60 lbs., have nonskid pads, add protection for the Mac mini and sell for $34.95.

Plasticsmith mini TowerPlasticsmith mini Tower

Plasticsmith mini Tower

The Plasticsmith mini Tower is a custom made flame-polished acrylic enclosure that turns the mini on its side for a more dramatic presentation.

Slots provide full ventilation and DVD access whichever side it is turned on. Designed to be a functional art piece, it gives the mini a unique look and saves space at the same time It sells for $39.95.

Plasticsmith mini SkirtPlasticsmith mini Skirt

The Plasticsmith mini Skirt is a 3/4" thick flame-polished acrylic pedestal the size of the mini that gives it an even classier look.

It, too, comes with nonskid pads and sells for $19.95.

All four products are sold exclusively on The Plasticsmith online store.

IOGear Connects Mac mini with Any Computer

PR: IOGear, the mobile connectivity and peripheral specialist, announces that its MiniView Micro USB PLUS KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) Switch (model # GCS632U) is a simple, low-cost solution for consumers to connect any computer to the new Apple Mac mini. Since the low-cost Mac mini computer does not come with a keyboard or monitor, users can connect their favorite keyboard, monitor, speakers and mouse to the new Apple system, along with their current desktop computer. This enables PC users to have affordable access to the simple computing and graphic interface of Macs.

The MiniView Micro PLUS KVM is a self-powered switch with built-in cables for simple Plug-n-Play use. This product allows users to simultaneously run and share audio between two computers with a single keyboard, monitor and mouse. The KVM comes with a unique USB Sniffing Technology that reduces the delay typically experienced when switching computers and allows multiple computers to be booted simultaneously.

The MiniView Micro PLUS KVM switch is the smallest two-port KVM switch available on the market with audio support. With KVM cables molded into the unit, users are now able to manage two PCs or Macs from a single keyboard, monitor and mouse and share the multimedia speakers between them. In a breakthrough in KVM technology for Mac users, IOGear has enabled the functionality of the special keys on the Mac systems. When using a PC keyboard, a special set of 'hot keys' have been designed to emulate the special keys on all Mac machines.

"Consumers who purchase the new Apple Mac mini are able to save their old computer and switch back and forth between the two computers, depending on what computing solution is needed," said Miranda Su, vice president of sales and marketing at IOGear, Inc. "IOGear's affordable KVM switches are an ideal solution because they connect two computers with just one keyboard, monitor and mouse, while allowing consumers to share multimedia speakers. That old computer no longer has to sit around and collect dust. PC users can now have the best of both worlds."

The MiniView Micro PLUS KVM switch is priced at $79.95 (MSRP) and is available immediately from all major catalog resellers, online resellers and selected retail outlets. The KVM switch functions on Microsoft Windows 98/98SE/ME/2000/XP, Mac OS 8.6 or higher and Sun Solaris workstations. The product comes with IOGear's standard three-year warranty.

Sound Bite, a 2.1 Speaker System

PR: Tritton has introduced the Sound Bite music system designed for portable computers. The USB portable 2.1 speaker system delivers quality sound across the entire musical spectrum in a compact design. With a built-in subwoofer, you will enjoy the highs and lows as it was meant to be herd. Both the audio and power come from the single attached foldaway USB cable so there are no batteries, power adapters or cables to carry around. Sound Bite is small enough to fit in your pocket, just plug into any PC or Mac USB port and start enjoying music on the go.

Sound BiteFeatures

  • Compact, portable fold up design
  • Plug and Play USB Connectivity
  • No external power adapter or batteries required
  • Superior 2.1 audio sound with built-in subwoofer
  • Registers as a second sound device on system

System requirements:

  • Available USB port
  • Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP
  • Mac OS 9/OS X

Specs.

  • 2 x 28 mm magnetically shielded satellite speakers
  • 1 x 52 mm magnetically shielded subwoofer speaker
  • Attached 50cm USB type-A cable
  • Maximum output power - 1.2W + 1.2W
  • 5W rated input power
  • Power LED
  • USB bus powered (5V, 500mA)
  • Product Dimensions: 110 mm x 110 mm x 42 mm
  • Mass: 280g

Available in pearl white or dark gray finish.

Price: $49.95.

Drive Genius 1.0.1 Storage Management: Maintain, Manage, Optimize

PR: Drive Genius is an OS X utility designed to provide unsurpassed storage management. Featuring an easy-to-use interface, Drive Genius is packed with powerful tools such as a drive optimizer, a comprehensive repair facility for analyzing, repairing and rebuilding volumes, plus excellent testing capabilities with media surface scanning, performance benchmarking and data integrity checking. It can be used to initialize drives, create and delete partitions, and erases them securely as per Department of Defense's standard. Drive Genius can also hide partitions and duplicate volumes or drives swiftly. Last but not least, Drive Genius features advanced tools for resizing and moving of volumes without reformatting, and sports a sector editing tool to modify the data on any sector of the drive - powerful features that will satisfy even the seasoned Mac experts.

Emails. Digital pictures. Work files. Music collection. Financial records. Lets face it, your computer has become and important part of your life. As you use your computer, your hard drive becomes bloated with thousands of files, mechanical parts wear and fatigue, your computer begins to operate more slowly, and eventually fails. Your only defense is to carefully monitor and manage your hard drive so you can be sure it is in good health and working at peak efficiency at all times - doing so might mean the difference between your productivity and complete data loss. Thankfully, Drive Genius makes these tedious tasks painless, fast, and easy. From performance tuning, to disaster recovery, Drive Genius provides all the tools needed to take control of your hard drive, and your digital life.

Drive Genius includes essential maintenance tools, effective optimization tools and powerful management tools.

Essential Maintenance Tools

  • Duplicate - Fast and easy volume or entire drive cloning.
  • Integrity Check - Find problems before they find you with these comprehensive hardware verification tests
  • Repair - Quickly fix corruption on OS X volume structures to get your damaged drive up and running fast
  • Rebuild - Rebuild and replace OS X volume structures to regain access to files that have become lost or hidden
  • Verify - Check OS X volume structures for possible corruption
  • Fix Permissions - Reset OS X boot volume permissions to improve application performance and compatibility
  • SMART Status - Read and display SMART diagnostic codes from your hard drive to avoid dangerous hardware failures

Effective Optimization Tools

  • Defragment - Get the most speed and efficiency possible by Optimizing your OS X volumes
  • Benchtest - Make sure your hard drive performance is what it should be with comprehensive speed tests and graphical comparisons to other common configurations
  • Surface Scan - Verify your hard drive's reliability with a complete suite of nondestructive read verification tests for any drive or OS X volume
  • Sector Editor - Fine tune all aspects of your system with direct, advanced byte viewing and editing of all data on your drives, volumes and files (for expert users only)

Powerful Management Tools

  • Partition - Add, delete, hide, expand or shrink OS X partitions so you can organize your data more efficiently
  • Shred - Stop prying eyes with DoD compliant (5220.22 - m) secure erase. Removes all traces of data from free space and deleted files on any device or OS X volume
  • Details - In-depth report of specifications and space utilization of all devices and OS X volumes
  • Initialize - Easy, high level OS X formatting to prepare new hard drives for use on your computer

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X Panther
  • Mac OS X Jaguar

Temperature Monitor 2.4 Displays CPU Temperature

PR: Temperature Monitor is an application to read out all available temperature sensors in Macintosh computers. The program can display and visualize measured values in a large variety of fashions. The application supports the following operations on the measured readings:

  • display in a default window
  • output in a screen display in front or in the background of the screen
  • tabular display in an overview window
  • display in the menu-bar
  • display of a maximum of two readings in the Dock
  • graphical display of short-term and long-term history curves
  • speech output of readings
  • display of minimum and maximum values
  • export to text files

Moreover, the application can display additional technical information about your computer. Among other information this includes:

  • Processor type
  • Processor and bus frequencies
  • Manufacturing information

Of course the application can read out the data only if your computer is equipped with the necessary sensors, and if Mac OS X can access them without needing third-party device drivers. Beginning in summer 2002, Apple has begun to massively drive forward the use of monitoring probes in the PowerMac series, the Xserve series, and in portable computers. Some models are equipped with 38 and more sensors. But Temperature and Hardware Monitor can detect sensors on many older systems as well if they are available.

We try to detect all sensors on as many Macintosh computer types as possible. However, a prediction which sensors are available in which models is not possible, because Apple very often releases "silent product updates", where the hardware equipment of some models are changed but the names are not (specifications are "subject to change without notice"). The particular graphics card and hard disk configuration used is also important because these parts can include independent sensors, too.

Please note that Apple does not support an official or standardized way of reading out sensor data in Mac OS X (the only exception is the Server Monitor application for the Xserve series). Moreover, there is no documentation or other technical note about the individual function of the sensors. For this reason, the development of Temperature Monitor and Hardware Monitor is very costly because the necessary data has to be determined by reverse engineering and tests run on a variety of computer models.

New in this version:

  • Support for many new hard disk models has been added.
  • Support for some previously undetected sensors of the Xserve and the Xserve G5 has been added.
  • A workaround for a bug in Mac OS X 10.3.7 has been added: On computers with incorrect DNS configurations, Panther 10.3.7 imposes a delay of approximately 1 minute to applications which have to know the computer's TCP/IP name. Among many other programs, Temperature Monitor and Hardware Monitor were affected by these delays. The applications will now detect this problem and cancel the request after 3 seconds. This allows the programs to be used in incorrectly configured TCP/IP networks with Mac OS X 10.3.7.
  • Alarm triggers for temperature sensors now automatically recompute their thresholds when the user switches to a different temperature unit.
  • The boot ROM version is now additionally displayed in the system overview.
  • The application notifies users who have forgotten to define different colors for curves in the history graphs.
  • Fixes a problem where old readouts could be displayed in the Dock when the application was quit.
  • Many small changes and optimizations in the user interface.

Requires Mac OS X 10.2.5 or higher.

Temperature Monitor is freeware.

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