Mac News Review

$25 802.11g Card for PCI Macs, Drive Support for 802.11n AirPort Extreme, Adtron Ups Flash Disks, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.03.02

PowerBook, iBook, MacBook, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Products

iPod Accessories

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

$25 802.11g Card for PCI Power Macs

MacInstruct's Eric Buczynski says:

"When I won the eBay auction for my PowerMac G4, I was thrilled to discover that my 'new' Mac came with an AirPort card. For those who don't know, an AirPort card allows you to wirelessly connect to the Internet and other networks. Since my PC downstairs was already connected to the Internet through an ISP, all I had to do to get wireless Internet access was purchase a wireless router for the downstairs computer, and I was on my way! The new PowerMac G4 settled in upstairs and surfed the web wirelessly.

"But after a while, I noticed that the wireless signal strength would be strong periodically, and not as strong at other times. Like old-school televisions built for tuning into network TV, wireless cards such as the Apple AirPort card have an antenna for reception. Inside the plastic case and outside the chassis of the G4, the antenna was wired throughout. I purchased an external antenna that was supposed to boost the reception a bit, but after disconnecting the original antenna and hooking up the new one, I didn't notice better reception or faster speed."

USB Drive Support for AirPort Extreme 802.11n

MacUser's Scott Silverman says:

"Apple has posted a support document to their site which clarifies some details on the AirPort Extreme's NAS abilities. It supports drives formatted as HFS+, FAT16, or FAT32. Unfortunately no NTFS support, so if you were planning on using NAS with a PC it's a no-go (unless you're willing to settle with FAT32 partitioning). Apple notes that the drive's block size must be 512 byes. Also of interest is how the AirPort Extreme shares your drive based on its formatting...."

Apple Updates

Firmware Updates for Intel-based Macs

An updated Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"Firmware updates for Intel-based Macintosh computers may not be displayed automatically using Software Update. If they do not appear in Software Update, they must be manually downloaded from the Apple Support Downloads site.

"If you are unsure whether your computer needs a particular update, simply download and open the update installer. The installer will alert you if the firmware update is already installed or not needed.

"To check your computer's version string of the Boot ROM or SMC firmware

  1. From the Apple menu, select About This Mac.
  2. Click the More Info... button.
  3. Under the Content header, select Hardware.
  4. The version information will be located in the pane on the right...."

Products

Adtron Increases Solid State Flash Disk Capacity

PR: Solid state flash disk manufacturer Adtron Corporation, announces the immediate availability of its most advanced generation of the Adtron Flashpak Family of products including the IDE and Serial ATA (SATA) flash disk models, the I25FB and A25FB, respectively. The products in this announcement include the industry's highest capacity 2.5" SLC NAND flash disk drives at 160 GBytes, only available from Adtron.

"New geometries and chip densities in SLC NAND enable Adtron to significantly expand the capacities of its industry leading high performance products," stated Alan Fitzgerald, Adtron Chief Technology Officer. "In addition, the economics of these new flash drives combined with the increased capacities in standard form factors, greatly expand the applications among our historic flash disk customers in the industrial and defense markets, as well as addressing bandwidth intensive server and storage acceleration applications in a much broader emerging market previously the domain of HDD products".

ArrayPro Performance Engine: This new generation of Flashpak flash disk incorporates advancements in the Adtron ArrayPro performance engine that provides parallel access and management of flash arrays within a single SSD. As Alan Fitzgerald describes, "ArrayPro separates an Adtron flash disk from the low-end single array SSDs and those that employ caching technologies that require battery back-up and whose performance are highly application dependent. "The Adtron products deliver sustained read/write performance in the 70 MB/sec range, delivering the solid state industry's best performance and far exceeding the capabilities of rotating media (HDDs).

Erasure Data Security: Beyond its leading performance this "next generation" solid state flash disk drive family will address a broad range of Data Security requirements meeting the needs of commercial enterprises and addressing the most stringent Military and Intelligence Standards defined. The Adtron Erasure Data Security Suite includes access control features and offers unparalleled, high speed data elimination including clear and sanitize functions at the most trusted levels defined today.

Shipments have begun in February 2007 with both commercial and industrial temperature models.

Machine Washable Medical Grade Keyboard and Mouse

Seal Shield ComboPR: Seal Shield Corporation has announced that it will be introducing the first products in a complete family of infection control solutions at the 2007 HIMSS show in New Orleans, LA; February 26-March 1. Notably, Seal Shield™ will be unveiling the company's signature products, the Seal Shield Medical Grade Washable Keyboard and Mouse. According to the company, the Seal Shield Keyboard and Mouse are the first ever to be fully submersible and dishwasher safe.

Seal Shield's products have been developed in response to the demand from healthcare organizations for disinfectant solutions to combat the spread of cross contamination infections. This year over 2 million patients will contract an infection while seeking treatment in a US hospital. Of those, close to 100,000 people will die, making hospital acquired infections a top 10 killer of Americans. Complicating this epidemic, a strain of antibiotic resistant staph infections, MRSA, has emerged in hospitals worldwide.

The recent rise in hospital acquired infections, and the lack of an effective treatment for MRSA, has prompted healthcare providers to reexamine their cleaning protocols in an effort to reduce cross contaminations. In response to the demand from major hospitals, Seal Shield(TM) has developed a family of common computer input devices which can be disinfected and washed in order to prevent the spread of bacterial infection.

Recent studies have shown the computer keyboard and mouse to be a major source of cross contamination infections. According to Dr. Daniel LePera, "Bacteria that reside in the upper mouth or respiratory tract can travel to an in-office computer keyboard and survive as long as 24 hours. Viruses can live on them for one hour or more."

Previous attempts to properly clean and disinfect keyboards have proven ineffective due to the keyboard's electronic circuitry. Existing solutions have either been cost prohibitive or unreliable. Even so called "spill proof" or "washable" keyboards have been shown to be ineffective. Although those products may be water resistant to a point, they are not fully submersible and not dishwasher safe.

Seal Shield Combo"The Seal Shield Medical Grade Washable Keyboard and Mouse are the only solutions which are fully submersible and dishwasher safe. Our products have been designed for healthcare, but are aggressively priced for the mass market," states Bradley Whitchurch, Chief Executive Officer at Seal Shield. "Seal Shield Medical Grade washable input devices, combined with effective cleaning protocols, represent a proven and economical solution for reducing hospital infection rates."

Seal Shield will introduce the Seal Shield family of Medical Grade Washable Keyboards and Mice at the 2007 HIMSS show in New Orleans on February 26th, Booth 1510. The company will demonstrate the products as part of a new line of complete Infection Control Solutions developed specifically for the healthcare market.

Seal Shield Keyboard Features

  • Machine washable
  • Seal Shield electronic waterproofing process (Patent Pending)
  • First fully submersible, true type keyboard
  • Natural look and feel with full travel keys
  • Silent Touch keys reduce work place noise pollution
  • Gold USB connector resists corrosion, improves connection and performance
  • Clean Cap USB Cover (Patent Pending)
  • Laser-etched keys will not fade from washing
  • Extended cord length optimized for medical carts
  • Retractable feet reduce risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Designed to NEMA 4X / IP68 specifications
  • 1 year limited warranty

Seal Shield Infection Control Desktop Combo Kit:

  • Seal Shield Medical Grade Washable Keyboard
  • Medical Grade Washable Mouse
  • Medical Grade Washable Antibacterial Mouse Pad
  • Medical Grade Disinfectant Wipes (Sample 10 Pack)
  • Clean Cap x 2
  • 1 x USB - PS/2 Converter
  • 1 Year Warranty

Seal Shield Protects Against:

  • Water
  • Solvents
  • Salt Water
  • Disinfectants
  • Humidity
  • Abrasives
  • Dust
  • Corrosives
  • Dirt
  • Sand
  • Shock
  • Alkaline
  • Alcohol
  • Bleach
  • Acid
  • Temperature Extremes

Specifications

  • Compatibility: Fully compatible with IBM/AT and PS/2
  • Keyboard Size: 460mm x 165mm x 32mm
  • Cable Length: 2.0 m
  • Key Layout: 107/108 (English)
  • Key Switch : Membrane key switch with tactile feedback
  • Keycaps Type: Laser etched
  • Life Cycle: 10 million strokes
  • Power Data: Input power: +5v dc 10% low power consumption
  • Switch Force: 55gf 10gf
  • EMI: FCC Class B, CE
  • Connector: USB Gold, PS/2 adapter included

Seal Shield MouseSeal Shield Medical Grade Washable Scroll Mouse

Fully submersible, washable, optical scroll mouse with Seal Scroll page grabber.

Seal Shield Washable Scroll Mouse Features

  • Completely sealed, washable and waterproof. IP-68
  • Resistant to chemicals and disinfectants
  • Seal Scroll page grabber (Patent Pending)
  • Clean Cap washable USB cover (Patent Pending)
  • Precision optics with 800 dpi resolution
  • Ergonomic design and Seal Skin Comfort Grip silicon reduce the risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

TransIntl Reduces Price on miniXpress825 Portable Drives

miniXpress825 Portable DrivePR: Portable, rugged, and stylish cases are made with Aluminum assuring durability and excellent heat dissipation

miniXpress - its portable, rugged, and stylish cases are made with Aluminum assuring durability and excellent heat dissipation. Equipped with an Anti Shock mechanism and a Triple interface (800/F400/USB) making the miniXpress an ideal and versatile answer for portable external storage.

Utilizing the latest SATA to FireWire Hot pluggable and Bus powered technology features allow the FireWire drives to be Plugged or Unplugged with out turning-off or restarting the computer. The drive mounts automatically when plugged into the FireWire Port of the computer.

miniXpress portable FireWire Hard Disk Drive

  • Ports: 2 x FW800, 1 x FW400 1 x USB 2.0
  • Chip set: Oxford 924DSB
  • Drive: 9.5mm SATA drive
  • Performance: Up to 800 megabits/sec
  • Dimensions: 147mm x 80mm x 21mm
  • Weight: 5 oz
  • In the box: FireWire drive,1 x F800, 1 x F400 1 x USB Cable, Power adapter, Backup & disk utility software
  • Warranty: One (1) Year

Link: miniXpress portable FireWire Hard Disk Drive

Noise Reducing Server Rack Pre-Order Begins

PR: GizMac Accessories, designer and manufacturer of the XRackPro2 server rack enclosure cabinets for noise reduction, begins pre-order of new model. GizMac has started accepting pre-orders for the soon to be released 6U XRackPro2 model. The new 6U size server rack will join the current 25U, 12U and 4U XRackPro2 models in the battle to reduce noise from loud equipment. The upcoming 6U model is expected to reduce noise by up to 80%, as with the current XRackPro2 server rack line. "This new 6U size XRackPro2 provides the right amount of space for a small combination of computers, RAID systems, switches, battery backup, etc." says Ken Vitto, Director of Marketing for GizMac Accessories, "Apple, Linux, SGI, Sun, Windows and other rackmount equipment will benefit from this new 6U XRackPro2." Noise reduction engineering of the XRackPro2 server rack allows computer, audio / video and other systems to be placed in areas that require low noise. Post production for film, video and audio editing; television, cable and radio broadcasting; medical offices, business offices, schools or any other environment that requires low noise will benefit from a XRackPro rack. The 6U XRackPro2 is available for pre-order now, pricing is $749.99 US retail and it is expected to be shipping by mid March. Additional XRackPro information can be found on the website or by calling the corporate headquarters at (800) 475-1677.

Software

TechTool Protogo

PR: TechTool Protogo is a Mac OS X application that lets a Macintosh user easily turn an old iPod, a flash drive, or other similar device into a bootable diagnostic tool that contains several of Micromat's utilities. Users may also install other utilities if desired. This device can then be used to boot, check, maintain and repair Macintosh computers. It allows a customer to create a tool similar to Micromat's TechTool Protege on a device they already own.

Lorene Romero, a local Macintosh expert and president of NCMUG was given an advanced copy of the program to test. She was impressed with the feature set and said, "This will allow me to use my iPod to repair my Mac and others on the road. I also like the fact that it allows me to create configuration profiles specific to my needs. What a great concept."

TechTool Protogo ships on a DVD that includes the Protogo configuration application, as well as Micromat's TechTool Pro Classic (for Mac OS 9 systems and below), TechTool Pro 4 (for Mac OS X), and DiskStudio. Protogo includes several profiles for standard system/utility configurations, making it easy to set up a device for specific needs. One can also create and save custom profiles that include third-party utilities as well. The standard profiles included with the program range from a minimal bootable system with TechTool Pro 4 and DiskStudio, to a full-blown Mac OS X installation including a Finder, Classic, and multiple utility programs.

With Protogo, it is possible to create a portable diagnostic device that can:

  • Boot most Macintosh computers
  • Diagnose and repair hard drive problems
  • Test major hardware components
  • Find viruses*
  • Find system conflicts*
  • Optimize and defragment hard drive volumes
  • Rebuild volume directories
  • Recover data from damaged volumes
  • Repartition hard drives without losing data
  • Boot different Mac OS versions from different partitions
  • Run a variety of utilities
  • And much more...

New in version 1.0.3:

  • Added ability to use iPod as a music player.
  • Added a Stop button to TechTool Protogo device creation.
  • Added application drag and drop to the Profile configuration window.
  • Added Check for Update feature.
  • Updated TechTool Protogo Help file.
  • Enabled application to launch from the TechTool Protogo DVD.
  • Added French, German, Italian and Japanese localization.

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
  • DVD-ROM drive.
  • 2 GB or larger target device, like an older iPod or other external media device.

System support: PPC/Intel

$135

Apogee Announces Mac OS X FireWire Driver Version for Ensemble

PR: Apogee Electronics Corporation has announced the release of a new version of the FireWire Audio Driver for Ensemble, Apogee's multichannel, digital audio interface designed specifically for use with Apple Macintosh computers. With this release, the Beta test period for the driver is now concluded.

This FireWire Audio driver supports a single Ensemble used with any G4, G5 or Intel-based Macintosh in conjunction with OS X v. 10.4.8 or later, providing consistent sample accurate performance at all sampling rates. This version also features enhanced stability on supported Macintosh computers and resolves the few remaining issues associated with previous versions of the beta driver.

"We are pleased to announce the release of a new Mac OS X FireWire Driver Version for Ensemble, thus bringing beta testing to a close," says Betty Bennett, Cofounder and CEO of Apogee Electronics. "This driver will allow our users to achieve the full benefits of Ensemble's sonic quality, flexibility and integration, without compromise."

The new FireWire Driver Version for Ensemble is available immediately via Apogee's Ensemble Updater software.

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