Mac News Review

Mac mini Tools, Colorized minis, Torvalds Uses a Mac, Dr Mac Direct, Affordable Memory, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2005.03.17

PowerBook, iBook, iPod, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPod news is covered in The iNews Review.

Mac mini Tool Set Available, Includes DVD

NEWS: The German firm Pacecar Technologies has announced a new Toolset for Apple's Mac mini.

Obviously looking at the Mac mini, it doesn't seem to be easy to open the housing without damaging the machine. Naturally, you still want to do this to upgrade your brand new Mac mini with RAM, hard drive and other components.

This new tool set will help you to easily open the case of your Mac mini for upgrading components like RAM, hard drive, and optical drive. It includes a DVD video manual that will enable you to open the case of your Mac mini within minutes without damaging it.

Mac mini tool set incl. DVD €14,90 (Currently available only to European buyers, but Pacecar is seeking distributors outside the EU.)

The Mac mini Colorized

NEWS: 123macmini.com reports:

"ColorWare plans on adding the Mac mini to its colorful line of products. ColorWare is best known for the extraordinary paint jobs they do on other Apple products such as the iMac, iPod, iBook and PowerBook. . . . So it was only a matter of time before they added a little color to the Mac mini. ColorWare sent us some pictures of the Mac Minis they plan on producing...."

Linux Creator Switches to Macintosh

NEWS: CNET News.com's Renai LeMay reports:

"Linux creator Linus Torvalds is now running an Apple Macintosh as his main desktop, largely for work reasons but also because he's not one to pass up a bargain.

"Torvalds, who initially created Linux for the Intel x86 platform, revealed to the Linux Kernel Mailing List in February during a discussion on kernel size reduction that his main desktop machine no longer featured an x86 processor. Hence, Torvalds said, a patch specific to the x86 platform that he was submitting to the list for consideration was totally untested.

"ZD Net Australia was intrigued by this remark and sought to question Torvalds on why the man who helped revolutionize the use of Unix on the x86 platform would move away from it, and where he had moved to.

"Torvald's [sic] response came quickly and succinctly. 'My main machine these days is a dual 2 GHz G5 (a.k.a. PowerPC 970) - it's physically a regular Apple Mac, although it obviously only runs Linux, so I don't think you can call it a Mac any more ;)' he wrote."

Twin Cities-based Doctor Mac Direct Offers "Mouse Calls"

NEWS: Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus has partnered with Twin Cities entrepreneur Michael Catain to launch Doctor Mac Direct, a new service for troubleshooting, technical support and training on any Macintosh software issue. The company call center is based in Excelsior, MN, but has experts stationed around the country.

Doctor Mac DirectNow for the first time, any Macintosh user can request a Macintosh expert's help and receive phone support or use a totally new interactive, web-based control method that allows the Mac expert to see and work on the problem remotely. Doctor Mac Direct also offers online interactive training, assistance with system migration, pre-purchase buying advice and more. The quick response time and online convenience make the Doctor Mac Direct "Mouse calls" a great choice for any Mac user who needs occasional tech help.

"It's a great choice for the average Mac user who needs first-tier tech support on typical software issues," explains LeVitus. "Also, businesses are calling in for second-tier support - they may have their own tech support, but they're calling us for a quick fix over the phone or online."

The Doctor Mac Direct startup team also included noted technology writer, MacFixit.com founder and software troubleshooter Ted Landau.

LeVitus and Landau demonstrated the service for the first time to select press attending Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco. Michael Catain is the CEO of Doctor Mac Direct as well as the founder, CEO and driving force behind a hot new record label, Liquid 8 Records & Entertainment, also based in the Twin Cities.

"Doctor Mac Direct is exactly the kind of setup I wanted to help my own father when he was alive," states LeVitus, newspaper columnist and founder of Doctor Mac Direct. "There were so many times I wanted to reach through the Internet, see his screen and move his mouse to fix what he needed quickly. The technology and bandwidth are finally here! Doctor Mac Direct is starting a revolution in tech support and training on the Mac using the latest technology, leading industry experts consulting with us."

Hand-selected industry veterans comprise the staff of Doctor Mac Direct experts who use jargon-free language to help users track down and resolve problems, conduct personal training or offer advice. Doctor Mac Direct services are available for any issue related to Mac OS X or Classic Mac system software, Apple software or third-party software. Doctor Mac Direct experts will also help Mac users migrate systems or transition to Mac OS X.

Doctor Mac Direct's experts use an incident-appropriate combination of telephone, email and a unique Web-enabled control software system to communicate with Macintosh users based on their needs and connectivity situation. Macintosh users with a broadband connection can choose to install a plug-in for Safari that allows Doctor Mac Direct experts to see the customer's screen and move their mouse for quicker problem solving, migration help or training.

Macintosh users can call, toll-free 1-877-DrMac4U (1-877-376-2248) or visit http://www.doctormacdirect.com to request a Doctor Mac Direct expert's help, training and advice. Requests will be answered with an estimated time, cost, matched expert and proposed appointment. Problem resolution prices start at $30 for a quarter-hour resolution. Doctor Mac Direct guarantees resolution in the time estimated or will continue working toward resolution at no additional cost.

"Mac users win big with high-quality help and a resolution guarantee that we'll fix what's wrong within our estimate or keep working on it at no additional cost until we do," LeVitus continued.

Doctor Mac Direct, LLC is the world's first independent online remote troubleshooting, technical support and training service for the Macintosh. Focused on high-quality Macintosh consulting, the service is staffed by hand-selected industry veteran experts who use a combination of technology including phone, email and web-enabled, remote control software to fix any Macintosh or third-party software problem. Headquartered in Excelsior, Minnesota, Doctor Mac Direct is a privately held Corporation.

For additional information, contact Doctor Mac Direct, LLC at 877-DrMac4U (877-376-2248) or visit the website.

Mac Memory: In Search of Affordable Upgrades

NEWS: AnandTech's Anand Lal Shimpi reports:

"Apple upgrades always tend to be more expensive than their PC counterparts. It used to be that Macs used fairly different components from what PCs used, but these days, the parts inside a Power Mac are pretty much identical to what you'd find in a desktop PC. The video cards are slightly different because of connector differences as well as requiring a different video BIOS, but things like disk drives and memory are virtually identical. Despite the similarity in components, prices are almost always higher than their PC counterparts, even when there's no good reason for it.

"Given that we've been strong advocates of a minimum of 512 MB under OS X, we figured that it was time to put together a quick guide on the Apple memory upgrades available in the market from vendors other than Apple."

Bowie State University Builds $1 Million Supercomputer Based on Xserve G5

NEWS: Bowie State University has built a $1 million supercomputer in cooperation with Apple Computer, Inc. XSEED is a 224-node cluster based on Apple's Xserve G5. Running Apple's Mac OS X Server operating system, each Xserve is equipped with dual 2 GHz 64-bit G5 processors and is interconnected with a Myrinet 4 Gbit/sec switch.

The combination of this cutting-edge technology places XSEED among the world's top 100 most powerful supercomputers on the Top 500 list which serves as a benchmark for ranking high-performance computing systems. The supercomputing cluster will enable high-end graphics, animation, and complex computational problems among other capabilities.

Xserve G5

The initiative is expected to increase grant opportunities and attract business partnerships. In the near future, Bowie State will generate revenue by selling and negotiating cycle time. President Dr. Calvin Lowe said, "Bowie State University is a place that has outstanding resources and the desire is to give our faculty the resources they need which will allow them to be in the forefront."

XSEED is an extraordinary resource that will provide a computing environment to enhance teaching, learning, and research at the University. "This is such an exciting opportunity," says Dr. Diane Krichmar, special assistant to the president and administrative lead for the project. "What's really amazing is that a school our size would engage in something like this in order to create this sense of excitement."

XSEED was built by Bowie State computer technology and computer science students under the direction of professor Mark Matties and Apple Computer engineers. "We not only conceived of it, but did it," says professor Matties who serves as the technical lead for the supercomputing cluster. "The Model Institutions for Excellence (MIE) program was very instrumental. This was a very labor intensive project, and there was no way we could have done it without our students."

The supercomputing cluster is housed in the Center for Learning and Technology. For more information on the supercomputing cluster, contact professor Mark Matties at (301) 860-3974.

OnyX 1.5.0 System Optimization and Maintenance Tool

PR: OnyX is a utility for maintenance, optimization, and personalization of Mac OS X. It also makes it possible to configure certain hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock, and Safari; to remove a certain number of files and folders that become cumbersome; preview different logs and CrashReporter; and more...

System requirements:

  • OnyX 1.5.0 works with all Macintosh computers running Mac OS X version 10.3.x (with BSD subsystem).
  • OnyX 1.3.1 works with all Macintosh computers running Mac OS X version 10.2.x (with BSD subsystem).

OnyX is freeware.

Cirque Easy Cat USB Touchpad for Mac & PC

Easy Cat USBPR: The first USB touchpad available for both Macintosh and PC computers, the Cirque Easy Cat touchpad finally opens the door to comfort, durability, and ease-of-use for USB users. Simply glide your finger lightly over the touchpad surface to move the cursor onscreen, and tap the surface or click the buttons to perform basic mouse functions. Very little wrist motion and no touch pressure is required, making Easy Cat USB one the most comfortable new input devices on the market.

Convenient New Features

  • Wheel-mouse scroll - Activate vertical scrolling by simply gliding a finger along the right touchpad edge. No more pausing to click-click-click the scroll bars.
  • Right tap zone - Secondary mouse clicks provide quick access to submenus.
  • Left tap zone - Primary mouse clicks can be activated by tapping anywhere outside the right tap zone on the touchpad surface.
  • Drag, draw, highlight - Just double-tap and glide your finger on the pad, or hold the left "click" button as your finger moves.
  • GlideExtend - Hold your place onscreen when your finger senses a change of texture on the touchpad's surface-- no more running off the mousepad!

Physical Specifications

  • 2.7" long x 3.4" wide x .05" deep.
  • 6' USB cable.
  • Two mechanical buttons.
  • No contact pressure required.

System Requirements

  • PC's with Windows 98, 2000, ME, NT 4.0, or XP and an available USB port.
  • Macs with native USB.
  • Older Macs with a USB Adapter Card (PCI or CardBus slots) require smi MacBinary software. Specifically, for Mac's with:
    • OS 8.6 or later: Download Version 1.4.1
    • OS 8.5.1: Download Version 1.2
  • Mac OS X supports advanced features.
  • Mac OS 8.5 - 9.x requires a special driver to support advanced features.

Easy Cat for Mac sells for $54.95.

G-Play Personal USB Media Player

PR: G-Play from G-Tech enables you to enjoy your favorite movies, personal videos, music and digital photos wherever you go. Simply copy content from your computer to G-Play via the built-in USB interface and instantly play it on any TV! With G-Play you can create your own virtual DVD, music and photo libraries*. G-Play is also ideal for sales presentations and trade shows.

G-Play

G-Play plays video formats including MPEG1, MPEG2, and MPEG4 (DivX, DivX VOD, etc.). G-Play also plays your personal DVD movies (ISO format) as if they were playing from the original DVD at full quality and with full DVD functionality (with menus, fast forward, pause, etc.).

  • Store DVDs/personal movies and watch them on any TV
  • Store digital photos and view them as a slide show
  • Store and play music files
  • Operates via infrared remote control and user-friendly GUI
  • Doubles as an external hard disk for your data files
  • Compact (5.2" x 3.15" x .67") and lightweight aluminum enclosure
  • High-Speed USB 2.0 port
  • Mac and Windows compatible
  • 1-year warranty
  • Available in 80 GB or 100 GB drive capacity

G-Play makes it easy to download content from your computer and play movies, music, and slide shows on any TV. Attach G-Play to any Mac or Windows computer via USB and simply drag and drop your media files to the system.

G-Play hooks up to any TV, monitor, VCR, cable, or satellite box that supports composite, S-video, SCART RGB, YPbPr, or VGA. G-Play supports stereo analog, SPDIF digital audio, and compressed Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS pass through. Simply hook up G-Play using the included S-video/composite AV cable and sit back and enjoy the fun.

G-Play supports popular music formats including WAV and MP3 and also plays slide shows of JPG digital photos.

G-Play is operated via an infrared remote and a simple graphical user interface (GUI). It is easy to navigate to and play your content.

G-Play also doubles as a bus powered external USB 2.0 hard drive for your data files.

Now accepting preorders. G-Play will ship in mid March.

Photoshop Elements 3 Included with Wacom Intuos3 Pen Tablet

PR: Wacom Technology Corporation announced that Adobe Photoshop Elements 3 is now included with all sizes of its Intuos3 pen tablets. This software offers photo enthusiasts powerful tools that are designed to be used with a Wacom pen to quickly and easily edit digital photos and create original artwork.

With 19 pressure-sensitive tools, Photoshop Elements 3 is designed to be used with a Wacom pen to deliver dynamic control of important tool attributes such as size, opacity, and color. When used with a Wacom pen, the Quick Fix and Spot Healing Brush allow users to selectively alter images and naturally remove photographic flaws. Photographers will particularly appreciate the control of Camera Raw and the efficiency of the new File Browser. Together, a Wacom pen tablet and Adobe Photoshop Elements 3 make digital editing easier and more efficient than ever before!

Also included with every Intuos3 pen tablet are Corel Painter Essentials 2 for creating natural media art and organic effects, Color Efex Pro 2 IE from nik multimedia for selectively applying photographic enhancements, and Wacom Brushes 2 for even more brush choices in Photoshop Elements 3.

The Intuos3 pen tablet is designed to provide the serious photographer, designer, and artist with the power to quickly and professionally edit photos and create digital artwork. Intuos3 turns on the full power of Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, and over 100 other leading software applications. Intuos3 tablets now put ExpressKeys and Touch Strips within easy reach for convenient keyboard shortcuts, scrolling, zooming, controlling brush size and more.

Using an Intuos3 pen, mouse, and tablet provides more control, comfort and productivity. Alternating between the comfortable Grip Pen and the ergonomic five-button Intuos3 mouse reduces repetitive motion. Using an Intuos3 pen tablet is an easy and natural way for serious photographers, designers, and artists to work. The Intuos3 comes in three sizes and is priced from $219.

Apple Backs Blu-Ray High Density DVD Standard

NEWS: ExtremeTech reports:

"Apple Computer Inc. said Thursday that it has joined the Blu-Ray Disc Association, throwing its weight behind one of the two competing next-generation DVD standards.

"Apple will join Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Corp., Royal Philips Electronics and others on the association's board of directors, designed to promote the 25-Gbyte single-layer and 50-Gbyte Blu-Ray discs. Blu-Ray competes with the HD-DVD standard, led by Toshiba."

Linux-Bootable iPods & FireWire Drives

PR: Finally! A bootable FireWire drive with Yellow Dog Linux preinstalled. You no longer need to reformat and repartition your internal drive. Simply attach the FireWire drive, boot, hold the Option key, select the FireWire volume using your mouse, and you are running Yellow Dog Linux. It is truly that simple.

Prefer an iPod? Boot Yellow Dog Linux from your iPod and play your music, too! Yes, this really works. We have partitioned your iPod and installed Yellow Dog Linux for you. You need only select it at boot having held the Option key. Linux + music on a single box the size of an iPod!

Rather not lug your laptop to school, the library, or even a client site? Just grab your bootable YDL iPod or hard drive, cable, and - well, that's it! You don't need anything else but a G4 or G5 Mac at your destination, and you are ready to go.

  • Apple bootable iPod, 20 GB, YDL installed: $388.95 + shipping
  • Apple bootable iPod photo, 30 GB, YDL installed: $438.95 + shipping
  • Apple bootable iPod photo, 60 GB, YDL installed: $538.95 + shipping
  • LaCie Porsche bootable, pocket 40 GB FireWire drive, YDL installed: $226.98 + shipping
  • LaCie Porsche bootable, 5.25" 260 GB FireWire drive, YDL installed: $229.98 + shipping
  • LaCie Porsche bootable, 5.25" 250 GB FireWire drive, YDL installed: $278.98 + shipping

iLift Mounting Arm for iMac G5, Cinema Display

PR: Flexible mounting arm liberates desk space; provides ergonomic benefits

Innovative Office Products, Inc., a designer and manufacturer of ergonomic mounting solutions for LCD monitors and keyboards, will introduce the new iLift today, providing a flexible mounting solution for the new iMac G5 and Apple Cinema Display monitors.

iLift armThe iLift arm suspends the iMac and Cinema Display above the desk surface and provides users with greater flexibility and ergonomic benefits. It rotates 360 degrees at three swivel joints, allowing the user to quickly reposition the monitor with one hand.

"By allowing the user to adjust the monitor's position and height at will, the iLift enables users to quickly adapt their work areas to individual needs, thereby increasing comfort and productivity," said Bud Oddsen, president of Innovative Office Products. "These ergonomic benefits are important, since Apple products are commonly used in creative applications that require long computing sessions."

The iLift replaces the CinemaLift and StudioLift products, released in 2003 for the older models of Cinema Display and Studio Display.

The iLift is designed with a new white finish that complements the modern Apple style. It also features:

  • Integrated cable management that keeps cords out of the way
  • Extension up to 27 inches and fold back to just 3 inches for workplace flexibility
  • 200 degrees of monitor tilt

The iLift can be found at about 130 Apple resellers across the country. It is compatible with the 20" and 23" Apple Cinema Display models and 17" and 20" iMac G5. It requires purchase of an Apple VESA mount adapter kit, available from Apple dealers.

Sonnet Tempo-X eSATA 8: First Serial ATA PCI-X Host Controller with 8 External Ports for Mac

PR: Sonnet Technologies, the worldwide leader in upgrade cards for Apple Macintosh computers, announces Tempo-X eSATA 8, the first Serial ATA (SATA) host controller with eight external ports for Power Macintosh computers and the latest addition to the Sonnet Tempo line of products.

Tempo-X eSATA 8This high-performance adapter utilizes the PCI-X interface to take advantage of the enhanced performance offered in fast Power Mac G5 computers while retaining compatibility in standard PCI slots. Each port has its own controller, and is independently capable of data transfer rates of up to 150 MB/s, while much higher transfer rates may be achieved when connected drives are grouped in a RAID array.

With performance equal to Sonnet's acclaimed Tempo-X SATA 4+4, Tempo-X eSATA 8 is a fantastic choice for users working with High Definition video editing and authoring applications. While attached drives can be formatted for individual use, the benefit of using Mac OS X Disk Utility to group them in RAID 0 (Stripe) arrays is clear - 8-drive arrays can sustain read/write speeds in excess of 545 MB/s - offering more than enough performance to capture and process uncompressed 10-bit High Definition video without dropping a frame.

This card's eight external ports make it easier than ever for users to add storage capacity simply by plugging in cables between their computer and SATA drive enclosures. "Many customers requested an all-external-port version of our Tempo-X SATA 4+4 card," declares Robert Farnsworth, Sonnet President and CEO. "It was a challenge to deliver 8 ports through one PCI slot, but Sonnet engineers rose to that challenge and delivered another industry first." Tempo-X eSATA 8 uses eSATA (external Serial ATA) connectors that are designed to withstand heavy-duty use, and provide enhanced EMI (electromagnetic interference) protection.

eSATA is the emerging standard from the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) for the external deployment of Serial ATA storage solutions. "eSATA cables offer better shielding for reduced EMI, use connectors with better retention than the internal SATA I version, and are rated at 5,000 insertion cycles," states Steve Garceau, Sonnet Product Manager.

Tempo-X eSATA 8 Key Features

  • 8 external eSATA ports to support up to 4+TB of storage o 64-bit, 133 MHz PCI-X Serial ATA host controller o Works in any PCI-X or PCI slot in the listed compatible computers o 48-bit LBA support for drives with a capacity larger than 137 GB
  • No drivers to install; plug and play installation o Supports Mac OS X's built-in RAID 0 (striping) and RAID 1 (mirroring) functions
  • Upgradable firmware to enable future enhancements

Compatibility

  • Compatible with Mac OS X Version 10.2 and higher
  • Macintosh models: Power Macintosh G3 Blue & White, Power Mac G4 (all models except Cube), Power Mac G5

Pricing and Availability: Tempo-X eSATA 8 is available immediately with a retail price of US$299.95.

Sonnet Tempo eSATA Data Cables

PR: Sonnet Tempo eSATA Data Cables: Your Connection to the Outside

  • TCB-TSATA-2/1 connects Tempo-X eSATA 8 to an external drive enclosure with SATA I connectors.
  • TCB-TSATA-2/2 connects Tempo-X eSATA 8 to an external drive enclosure with eSATA connectors.

All Tempo eSATA data cables will also be available immediately and are sold individually with a retail price of USD $24.95, or in 4-packs with a retail price of USD $79.95.

QuickerTek Announces Compatibility & Availability of Plug and Play 27dBm Transceiver

PR: QuickerTek has announced today that the 27dBm Plug and Play Transceiver is now available is compatible with the complete range of Apple Airport Base Stations including the Graphite, AirPort Extreme with antenna port and Airport Base Station Extreme with the antenna port. This product maximizes the wireless power available to Apple Airport users under Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X.

The 27dBm Plug and Play Transceiver does not require disassembly of the Apple Airport Base Station and resolves the range problem often experienced when using Airport Base Stations. This Transceiver adds 500Mw of power to the Airport Base Station. This new model is the second 27dBm transceiver introduced by QuickerTek.

Unlike the previous model, this new 27dbm transceiver operates on all 2.4 GHz, WiFi systems. The transceiver supports both 802.11g and 802.11b wireless networks and works with both OS 9.x and OS X 10.x systems. This product is designed especially for Apple's Airport Extreme wireless systems and allows the maximum power output allowed. Apple wireless products have RF output of only 30mW, while this new transceiver outputs a whopping 500mW.

"Again, our customers have told us that this is the product they wanted and we went for it. We designed it to meet the feedback we received from our wireless Mac customers," said Rick Estes, president, QuickerTek. "If you need maximum Airport performance, this is the product that delivers. This new transceiver pumps out 500 milliwatts of wireless RF power - that's the redline according to the FCC."

The kit comes with mounting brackets, adapter cable, wall mounted power supply and utility software CD. The Transceiver does not require any installation software. See
http://www.quickertek.com/27dbtrans.html for more specific product information.

The 27dBm Plug and Play Transceivers are available from stock $180. Jack Putnam of TechnoWarehouse said, "We've got these transceivers in stock and we're ready to ship. We don't expect to have much inventory left by the end of the week. Our customers have hounded us for higher output Airport performance and this new transceiver is all that and more."

Desktop Mac Deals

Low End Mac updates the following price trackers every two weeks:

For deals on laptops, see our Best PowerBook G4 Deals, Best iBook G4 Deals, and Best iBook G3 Deals. For deals on iPods, see our Best iPod Deals.

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