Mac News Review

Ubuntu 9 'as Slick as' OS X?, 8 Reasons to Go Mac, Startup Drive Repair Tips, ExpanDrive 2, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2009.05.01

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

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Products

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Ubuntu 9 as Slick as Windows 7 and Mac OS X?

ZD Net Australia's Renai LeMay says:

"Here's what the official press release won't tell you about Ubuntu 9.04, which formally hit the streets overnight: its designers have polished the hell out of its user interface since the last release in October.

Ubuntu 9.04
Ubuntu 9.04 shows off its new interface.

"So much so, in fact, that I am starting to prefer using my Ubuntu 'Jaunty Jackalope' desktop over the similarly slick Windows 7 beta (which I am currently running full-time on one desktop) and Mac OS X Leopard operating systems, which I also use regularly....

"In short, Ubuntu is now as slick and beautiful as Mac OS X or Windows 7."

8 Reasons Your Next Computer Should Be a Mac

Writing in PC World, Technologizer's Harry McCracken contends that there are lots of extremely rational reasons exist to choose a Mac running OS X over a Windows PC and that many Mac user have excellent basis to believe that they're getting good value for your money even though the Mac is never the cheapest option.

He profiles eight such reasons in this article (although he evenhandedly wrote an article called "Eight Reasons Your Next Computer Should be a PC" as well.

  1. Macs are consistently consistent.
  2. The joy of predictability.
  3. Who needs security headaches?
  4. Crud, or the lack thereof.
  5. Details count.
  6. Apple is one of the world's best software companies.
  7. The Apple Store's Genius Bar rocks.
  8. Hey, Macs are PCs.

Repair Your Startup Drive

Macworld's Ted Landau has posted a good tutorial on hard drive maintenance and repair, covering use of the OS X Disk Utility Application, booting into Single-user Mode and using the /sbin/fsck -fy command in the Terminal, using the freeware utility AppleJack, Safe Booting, and if necessary moving on to commercial software disk utility tools like Alsoft's DiskWarrior 4 or Micromat's TechTool Pro 5 (or, not mentioned by Ted, ProSoft's Drive Genius)

The Non-Terminal Users Guide to Not Using Terminal

MacFixIt's Ted Landau says:

"As a MacFixIt reader, you are probably aware that a UNIX engine supplies the power behind Mac OS X's glittering graphical user interface. For most Mac users, however, this is completely irrelevant information. Mac users happily browse the Web, check their e-mail, use iTunes and iPhoto, or run Microsoft Office - all without any thought as to what may be going on behind the scenes. Which is exactly as it should be.

"Still, there are occasions, usually either when you need to troubleshoot an issue or want to customize the user interface, where UNIX commands are often recommended as the solution. The typical way to enter these UNIX commands is via Terminal, the command-line application included in the Mac OS X Utilities folder. Of course, using Terminal requires either that you know UNIX or that you follow a 'cookbook' set of instructions for a specific task."

Mac mini Media Center: Is It Worth It?

Macworld's Christopher Breen reports on what it costs to turn a $599 Mac mini into a media center and how it performs compared to Apple TV.

Steve Jobs Deposition Offers Fascinating Peek Inside Apple

AppleInsider's Prince McLean reports that a deposition given by Apple chief CEO Steve Jobs to the Securities and Exchange Commission last year offers a window into the Jobs' role at electronics maker and the largely fictitious history erected around his return to the company in 1997.

A fascinating glimpse from the horse's mouth, so to speak, based on a review of the 120 page deposition obtained by AppleInsider.

Apple Updates

What to Ask Your ISP If You're Having Issues Sending, Receiving, or Configuring Mail

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"Are you having issues sending, receiving, or configuring Mail? If so, ask your Internet service provider (or email provider) the following questions to verify that your account is set up correctly in Mail. You can print (or copy and paste to a text document) and keep this 'cheat sheet' to record your email provider's settings for future reference. This sheet can make it easier for you when configuring Mail in Mac OS X or on iPhone or iPod touch, or when contacting your provider."

Products

iWork '09: The Missing Manual

PR: Apple's productivity applications have come of age. Unfortunately, their user guides are stuck in infancy. That's where iWork '09: The Missing Manual (O'Reilly Media, $39.99) comes in. This book quickly guides you through everything you need to know about the Pages word-processor, the Numbers spreadsheet, and the Keynote presentation program that Al Gore and Steve Jobs made famous.

iWork '09: The Missing ManualFriendly and entertaining, iWork '09: The Missing Manual gives you crystal-clear and jargon-free explanations of iWork's capabilities, its advantages over similar programs - and its limitations. You'll see these programs through an objective lens that shows you which features work well and which don't.

Author Josh Clark understands the importance of having a great working environment. "Many of us take care to arrange our desks and offices, but we often don't think much about our software environment - the screens where our eyes and minds spend much of the day. For decades, word processors and spreadsheets have been bland, even frustrating, work environments. Bland gets the job done, sure, but it doesn't inspire. iWork '09 is a real departure, providing a bright, creative workspace worthy of your work and ideas."

Josh continues, "I wrote iWork '09: The Missing Manual to help readers understand not only how to use iWork's various features but also how it can help them be at once more productive and more creative. With Pages, Keynote, and Numbers, Apple gives us a fresh take on the word processor, presentation software, and spreadsheet . . . iWork puts an unprecedented emphasis on the design and polish of your final document, making it almost effortless to create results that look not only professional, but actually stunning. This isn't about glitz, it's about the quality of your working life: When even your spreadsheets sparkle, it's hard not to feel energized about your work."

With this book, you will be able to upgrade your skills by learning how to:

  • Create gorgeous documents and cinema-quality digital presentations in minutes with iWork's theme and templates
  • Craft perfect prose with Pages' typo-busting power tools
  • Master budgets, student records, and invoices with Numbers' formulas and functions
  • Animate your slideshows with Keynote's amazing cinematic effects
  • Build insightful charts to give shape to your figures
  • Share your files with iWork's collaboration tools, including iWork.com
  • Discover pro design tricks for making your documents dazzle
  • Learn expert presentation tips for edge-of-the-seat performances

One of the few sources available on Apple's incredible suite of programs, iWork '09: The Missing Manual will help you get the best performance out of Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and more in no time. With a uniquely witty style that helps you learn quickly, this Missing Manual explains not only how to use every feature, but why and when, with entertaining and helpful examples every step of the way.

Josh Clark is a writer, designer, and developer who helps creative people get clear of technical hassle to share their ideas with the world. When he's not writing about clever design and humane software, he's building it. Josh is the creator of Big Medium, friendly software that actually makes it fun to manage a Web site. He lives in Paris, France, with his wife Ellen. You can find him on the web at globalmoxie.com.

More information about the book, including table of contents, index, author bios, and cover graphic, available online.

iWork '09: The Missing Manual
Josh Clark
ISBN: 9780596157586,
888 pages
Book Price: $39.99, £30.99
Ebook Price: $31.99
1-800-998-9938
1-707-827-7000

Kinesis Freestyle Adjustable Split Keyboard for Mac

Freestyle Adjustable Split Keyboard for MacPR: Most keyboards, including ergonomic models, have a 10°r; positive slope from front to back. These designs tend to bend your wrists (extension). The Freestyle Solo has a 0°r; slope, which minimizes the height, effectively creating negative slope and reducing wrist extension

Freestyle Solo Mac Keyboard Features:

  • Accommodates a wide range of humans
  • From small to tall and body types in between, the Freestyle Solo allows for maximum flexibility catering to each individual's unique needs.
  • Narrow footprint for comfortable mousing and keying.

At only 15-3/8 inches wide, the Freestyle Solo provides for close placement of any pointing device reducing over reach issues.

Pivot Tether

Both modules are connected together by a flexible pivot tether, allowing an infinite range of splay and greatly reducing ulnar deviation.

Slide Release Button

  • Each keyboard module incorporates a slide release button that allows the attachment of both the pivot tether and the Incline Accessory.
  • Provides total separation of both keyboard modules
  • Disconnecting the pivot tether allows up to 8" of complete separation of both left and right keying modules. Perfect for individual needs ranging from a narrow footprint to complete separation. This design greatly reduces and/or eliminates ulnar deviation one of the leading causes of discomfort and pain while typing.
  • Also available is a custom version that offers up 20" of separation.

Left Side Driverless Hot Keys

Driverless hot keys for commonly used mouse actions (Internet Page Forward and Back, Beginning of Line, End of Line, Cut, Undo, Copy, Select All, and Paste).

Top Row Driverless Hot Keys

Like the new iMac keyboards plus more! Esc/force quit, Brightness, Exposé, Dashboard, Play Audio, Audio Volume, Dock, Eject & Off/Sleep (not shown).

Freestyle Adjustable Split Keyboard for Mac, US Layout

Doublewide Escape and Fwd Delete keys

The Kinesis Solo for Mac employs double wide Escape and Forward Delete keys making for an easier target for your fingers to press.

Familiar key layout

Familiar key layout provides for minimal adaptation time.

Quiet, tactile key switches

The Freestyle Solo utilizes a quiet, low-force, tactile membrane key switch. Rated at 10 million operations the Solo will provide years of comfortable typing.

Freestyle Adjustable Split Keyboard for MacTwo year limited warranty.

Physical Specifications:

  • Length: 15 3/8 inches
  • Depth: 7 1/4 inches
  • Max Height: 1 3/16 inches
  • Key Height: 1 1/8 inches
  • Weight: 2 lb. 3 ounces
  • USB Cable Length: 6 feet

Kinesis Freestyle Mac Compatibility:

Requires available USB port

  • Will operate on virtually any USB system.
  • Driverless hot keys on left side only compatible with Mac operating systems.
  • Special actions on function keys F3, F4 & F11 require OS X 10.4 or newer.
  • Hot keys on F5-F7 require the Apple keyboard update 1.1. or newer.

Prices:

  • Freestyle Solo Keyboard for Mac (8 inch separation): $99.00
  • Freestyle Solo for Mac (20 inch separation with black linking cable): $139.00
  • Kinesis Low-Force Numeric Keypad for Mac: $59.95
  • Freestyle Palm Supports - White, 1 pair (includes set of palm pads): $24.95

Contour Roller Mouse Free

PR: Award winning design captures 2008 national ergonomics conference attendees choice award for best new product.

Roller Mouse Key Features and Benefits:

Eliminates reaching for a traditional mouse, relieving neck, shoulder and elbow pain. Asymmetrical reaching with one side of your body and not the other causes your muscle groups to compensate for the weight of your extended arm while reaching for a traditional mouse.

Contour Roller MouseRepetitive reaching oftentimes leads to tightness and pain in the neck, shoulder and elbow areas. The Roller Mouse Free allows you to keep your elbows comfortably by your side, which is a more beneficial ergonomic position. Thousands of users have thanked us due to the pain relief they have realized after using the Roller Mouse for a short period of time.

There is no gripping necessary, thus avoiding the threat of Repetitive Strain Injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Tendonitis. The Roller Mouse Free is controlled with the use of an unflexed hand, so there is no need to clutch or hold the device in order to navigate the cursor. Your fingertips roll a narrow bar both up and down and from side to side simultaneously to navigate the cursor over the entire screen, with very little friction or resistance. The elimination of flexing your fingers avoids activity through the carpal tunnel, overuse of a traditional mouse can aggravate the carpal tunnel and lead to numbness, tingling and pain.

Contour Roller MousePromotes the equal use of both hands, reducing the risk of injuring your dominant "mousing" hand. With the mouse buttons centered beneath the keyboard home keys, mouse control is equidistant from either hand. Ambidextrous use is encouraged and easily accomplished with your command buttons literally at your fingertips, for both hands.

Useful for both laptop and desktop computer applications, the Roller Mouse Free has been designed to fit immediately adjacent to your keyboard or laptop. This places the mousing controls just a few inches below the home keys, keeping your hands within a small work area, eliminating large reaching motions.

Contour Roller MouseConvenient, out of the box, "plug and play" connectivity for both PC and Mac computers. This HID compliant device has the drivers "on board" and simply needs to be plugged into any empty USB port, without the need for a cumbersome connection routine.

Seven powerful button functions right out of the box. There are two easy options to perform a "left click." Either push down on the navigation bar itself, or click on the large left button in the button control area. Other button functions include a traditional "right click" button, a single touch "double click" button, a scroll wheel, a scroll lock , "one touch" copy and "one touch" paste.

Custom button configuration available with the use of the Driver Disk included in the box. Although most customers use the Roller Mouse button functions "as is," specialized functions can be mapped to the button controls after loading the device drivers provided on a convenient CD-ROM.

30 day, no risk, product refund if you are not satisfied. You won't appreciate this product's ease of use and responsiveness until you try it out for yourself. If you are dissatisfied with your purchase in the first 30 days for any reason, simply ship it back to Contour for a refund.

$219.95

Software

ExpanDrive 2.0 for Mac: Access Remote Files Within Any Application

PR: ExpanDrive acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. Open, edit, and save files to remote computers from within your favorite programs even when they are on a server half a world away. ExpanDrive enhances every single application on your computer by transparently connecting it to remote data.

New for 2.0

ExpanDrive 2.0, released in April, is a major upgrade. We've rewritten the SFTP core and it's extremely fast. In addition we now offer support for Amazon S3 as a drive type in ExpanDrive. Our GUI has undergone a major refresh and FTP is much improved. More info is available here

Add FTP, SFTP, and Amazon S3 to Finder

With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from Finder, or even the terminal. No need to open a separate transfer client just for file transfer. ExpanDrive extends the way all applications on your Mac can access data.

Reconnect with grace

Once you re connected, you stay connected. If you change access points or bring your computer out of sleep, you ll stay connected. Our robust networking core ensures that if a connection is available, your drive is available.

Zero Configuration - it just works

Our client is dead simple there is nothing to install or configure on the server. No complicated instructions. No administrative hassles. Just use your existing login credentials to securely access your remote files.

Powered by MacFUSE

Using MacFUSE, ExpanDrive can do all kinds of things that traditional file transfer clients can t. MacFUSE is a powerful software library, developed at Google, that helps ExpanDrive to extend Mac OS X's native file handling capabilities.

International

ExpanDrive is available in Deutsch, Nederlands, Français, Español, Dansk, Norsk, Svenska, Suomi, and several other languages.

Free Download

Buy Now: $39

(Already own ExpanDrive 1.3? Upgrade for $19.95)

ExpanDrive is also available for Windows.

Smart Document Management in a Box

PR: DEVONtechnologies, LLC introduces two new 'Paperless Office' bundles to the US market consisting of the smart document manager DEVONthink Pro Office and the reliable and fast document scanners Fujitsu ScanSnap S300M or S1500M.

In today's world, everything is digital. From shopping receipts to important research papers, peoples' lives often fill their hard drives in the form of emails, PDFs, Word documents, multimedia files and more. Questions eventually pop up, like where to store all of this stuff? How to organize these very different file types, and even better, how to find the exact file one is looking for the second one needs it? It's almost as if one needs a second brain just to keep one's digital life straight.

DEVONtechnologies offers the fast desktop document scanners ScanSnap S300M and S1500M bundled with its flagship product DEVONthink Pro Office in its online shop. The devices digitize paper documents with up to 20 pages per minute, scan both sides in one go, and with up to 600 dpi in full color. Reliability and ease-of-use are the driving factors in all ScanSnap designs.

DEVONthink Pro Office directly supports the ScanSnap scanner range for the Mac by taking over the PDF files created from the paper documents and automatically making them searchable using optical character recognition (OCR). Artificial intelligence assists the user file the document by suggesting the most suitable places as well as related documents.

"Many of our DEVONthink Pro Office users heavily rely on Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners for digitizing their correspondence, articles, notes. But they had to buy the devices separately. So it was a logical step for us to bundle the power of our software and these perfectly integrated scanners and offer them for convenient one-stop shopping in our online store," says Eric Bohnisch-Volkmann, President of DEVONtechnologies.

The ScanSnap S1500M is the workhorse scanner for higher volumes, scans up to 20 pages per minute, and has a ADF (automatic document feeder) capacity of 50 sheets. The smaller S300M is the optimal solution for lower volumes or for mobile environments. It takes up to 10 sheets into its ADF, scans up to 8 pages per minute, and is able to work on battery or USB power.

As of this writing, the Paperless Office Bundles are solely available in the United States.

Enter DEVONthink: The solution to this digital age conundrum. It is a second brain, the one and only database for all digital files, be they PDFs, emails, Word documents or even multimedia files. Boasting a refined artificial intelligence, DEVONthink is exceedingly flexible and adapts to the user's personal needs. And if the files are not digital yet, paper capture support is already built-in (DEVONthink Pro Office only.)

Users can use it as their document repository, their filing cabinet, their email archive, or their project organizer; DEVONthink can do it all. One can even collect and organize data from the web, enrich it with sound and movie files, and then export the finished product as a website or to an Apple Pages document to print. Or one can copy the content to an iPod! The possibilities are only as limited as the user's imagination.

The Database For The Internet Age

Because DEVONthink keeps all important data in one database, it doesn't matter where the data is physically located. DEVONthink uniquely integrates both local documents and live content from the Internet to keep all project-related information together in one place. No more folders full of loosely organized files and overflowing bookmark bars in Safari; with DEVONthink, the user seamlessly mixes local documents, clippings, and live web pages in one dynamic database.

The Digital Workplace

DEVONthink is not only a simple database, it's a flexible work environment, too, with powerful management features suited to any professional project. It provides the user with all the tools she or he needs to effectively work with documents. The integrated RTF editor makes it easy to write new documents, or the users can open documents in a third-party application.

Intelligent Assistant

DEVONthink is based on a powerful artificial intelligence (AI) architecture that helps organize and navigate information collections quickly and accurately. It assists its users with both filing documents and with finding similar items, and can help make connections that they might have missed on their own. It can even master huge data collections with a few simple clicks, saving time and aggravation.

Share the Knowledge

Finally, DEVONthink Pro Office allows to share the accumulated and organized knowledge. Users can post it to their websites, or they can let their coworkers access databases with a familiar search-engine like interface using standard web browsers. Depending on the network setup, it's even possible to search shared databases over the Internet. A JavaScript applet gives convenient access to the database also from the Apple iPhone.

The Paperless Office bundles, consisting of DEVONthink Pro Office 2.x and a document scanner, sell for $419 with the Fujitsu ScanSnap S300M and for $569 with the ScanSnap S1500M (plus shipping) in DEVONtechnologies' online shop.

The public beta releases of DEVONthink Pro and Pro Office 2.0, DEVONthink Personal 2.0, and DEVONnote 2.0 require Mac OS X 10.5 or later and can be downloaded from devon-technologies.com. DEVONthink and DEVONnote can be test-driven for free for 150 hours of noncontinuous runtime until they need to be properly licensed. The public beta releases run without registration until May 31, 2009, before they need to be replaced by new betas or the final 2.0 releases.

Desktop Mac Deals

Low End Mac updates the following price trackers monthly:

For deals on current and discontinued 'Books, see our 13" MacBook and MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, 13" MacBook Pro, 15" MacBook Pro, 17" MacBook Pro, 12" PowerBook G4, 15" PowerBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, titanium PowerBook G4, iBook G4, PowerBook G3, and iBook G3 deals.

We also track iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle deals.

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