Mac News Review

Downgrading to Tiger, Apple a Feminine Brand?, First USB 3 Chips, $20 to Switch to iBank, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2009.07.31

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

Tech Trends

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Downgrading to Tiger

Vintage Mac Museum's Adam Rosen (also a columnist for Low End Mac) says:

"What's that saying: art imitates life, which imitates art, which . . . Recently I wrote an article for my Low End Mac column about Tips for Installing or Reinstalling Mac OS X Tiger, based on the many experiences I've had in getting that OS installed onto a Mac. Since Tiger (the 10.4.x) series is now discontinued by Apple, it falls into the realm of systems I include in the Vintage Mac Museum.

"It isn't dead in the real world yet, either."

Rosen goes on to explain how a client had been upgraded to Leopard by another tech - which meant no Classic Mode and no access to Classic apps. Downgrading to Tiger was the solution.

Is Apple the World's Most Discreetly Feminine Brand?

Forbes' Bridget Brennan says:

"Apple just may be the world's most discreetly feminine brand....

"...If something 'just works', is easy to use, and doesn't have a host of issues and problems, people will find out. I don't know if Apple caters to women, but it is a far better product than Microsoft's....

"Is it too much to attribute at least some of Apple's success to its female-friendly approach to product design? If women are indeed influencing nearly two-thirds of consumer electronics sales, surely that says something.

"Here's how Apple does it...."

Apple Arrogance + AppleCare = Shoddy Service?

SiliconValleyWatcher's Tom Foremski says:

"On the one occasion I've had to use AppleCare, the Apple extended warranty, about 5 years ago, I had a good result. This time I had a very bad experience and I'm wondering if Apple is getting way too arrogant in its dealings with customers."

MacSpeech Dictate Amazingly Accurate, Improves Productivity

IT Enquirer's Erik Vlietinck says:

"I received a copy of MacSpeech Dictate well over 6 months ago, but the program required an Intel Mac. With one of the last generation Mac Minis I tested Dictate long enough to be very impressed with the software's performance and accuracy.

"I installed MacSpeech Dictate on a Mac Mini, and the installation was really the most difficult about the whole application . . . I used both British and US English and two different headsets. All four test setups worked flawlessly; I passed the training sessions without any problem.

"Usually, these training sessions don't tell you how the software will actually perform under real-world circumstances, but in Dictate's case, there was no difference. I could dictate as much as I wanted, the software never hit a barrier beyond which it did not perform with a very high accuracy...

"In one word: Dictate actually boosted my productivity."

Tech Trends

Fujitsu Unveils First USB 3.0 Chips

ZD Net UK's Matthew Broersma reports:

"Fujitsu Microelectronics has begun shipping one of the first chips to support USB 3.0, which promises to be 10 times faster than USB 2.0.

"Fujitsu's MB86C30A, announced on Monday, is a USB 3.0-to-Sata bridge chip. The company said it can deliver the 5 Gbps maximum data transfer rate of the new USB 3.0 specification, which is also known as SuperSpeed USB. USB 2.0 supports a maximum transfer rate of 480 Mbps."

Unix Turns 40: The Past, Present, and Future of the OS

Computerworld's Gary Anthes says:

"Forty years ago this summer, a programmer sat down and knocked out in one month what would become one of the most important pieces of software ever created.

"In August 1969, Ken Thompson, a programmer at AT&T Bell Laboratories, saw the monthlong absence of his wife and young son as an opportunity to put his ideas for a new operating system into practice. He wrote the first version of Unix in assembly language for a wimpy Digital Equipment Corp. PDP-7 minicomputer, spending one week each on the operating system, a shell, an editor and an assembler.

"Unix of course went on to be the basis for Mac OS X, Linux, Sun's Solaris, Free BSD, and many other operating system variants. This article provides the backstory."

Products & Services

Master Digital Black & White with The Photographer's Guide to Silver Efex Pro

PR: Luminescence of Nature Press announces the release of The Photographer's Guide to Silver Efex Pro, the latest ebook by photographer and author Jason P. Odell, Ph.D. The Photographer's Guide to Silver Efex Pro is a comprehensive PDF tutorial that guides photographers through the steps of digital black and white conversion using the popular plugin software for Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture. The tutorial includes 15 instructional videos narrated by Dr. Odell, each of which reinforces concepts illustrated in the pages of the ebook. The instructional videos are embedded directly in the PDF file, which means that users don't need to worry about separate video files or media players; as long as they are using Adobe Reader 9 or later, the videos will play directly from the ebook.

The Photographer's Guide to Silver Efex ProInteractive Features

The Photographer's Guide to Silver Efex Pro follows in the same tradition as Dr. Odell's other educational ebooks and maintains his high standard of usability and interactive features. The new ebook is fully bookmarked, and contains an interactive Table of Contents and Index. Users can simply click a TOC or index entry and be taken directly to that page. Additional cross-references are hyperlinked within the Guide, as well.

Hidden Features Exposed

When asked about the new ebook, Dr. Odell was quick to point out that even seemingly straightforward software has a plethora of untapped or hidden features. "Many people have suggested that Silver Efex Pro has no image histogram," said Dr. Odell, "in fact, there is a histogram, but it is hidden within other tools." The Photographer's Guide to Silver Efex Pro walks even the most inexperienced users through a straightforward workflow approach to producing black and white images worthy of gallery showings. In the last chapter of the ebook, the author puts all the tools together and shows how to create commonly used effects, like dramatic landscapes and traditional portraits. More importantly, Dr. Odell focuses on the thought process behind each image. "I want the readers to understand how I'm thinking about each image as I progress through the editing steps, so they can start thinking about which tools to employ on their own images", said Dr. Odell.

The Photographer's Guide to Silver Efex Pro is available directly from Luminescence of Nature Press as a digital download for $19.95.

SteelSeries Introduces New High Definition Gaming Mouse and Gaming Surface

PR: SteelSeries, specialist in gaming peripherals and accessories, has introduced the SteelSeries Xai Laser Mouse, SteelSeries Kinzu Optical Mouse and the SteelSeries 9HD hard plastic surface. The technology, shape, size, weight and feel of the SteelSeries Xai was designed with one purpose: to create an immediate advantage for gamers by enhancing a user's performance during game play.

SteelSeries Xai Laser Mouse"We spent three years methodically perfecting the SteelSeries Xai by researching mouse grips used by professional gaming teams such as Fnatic, SK Gaming, and Evil Geniuses in order to create a level of performance that gamers have never experienced before," says Bruce Hawver, CEO of SteelSeries. "The SteelSeries Xai's High Definition sensor offers a huge improvement over the current highest-end gaming mice and it is designed with technical specifications that increase the level of performance results, especially during the most frantic and fast-paced games."

Research and development of the mouse was done in close cooperation with full-time professional gamers from the US, Europe, and Asia to ensure that the SteelSeries Xai is a tool with a purpose - not just a gadget. The 10.8 megapixels/second sensor offers a huge improvement over the current generation of gaming mice by processing 12,000 frames/second at 5,001 CPI at movement speeds of 150 inches/second providing the user with High Definition tracking for unparalleled precision.

Furthermore, the SteelSeries Xai offers unprecedented levels of personalization for the user, with unique SteelSeries sensor innovations like SteelSeries ExactAim, SteelSeries ExactRate, SteelSeries ExactSens, SteelSeries FreeMove and automatic lift distance calibration. SteelSeries Xai can be fully configured via a LCD menu system on the back of the mouse, where settings will be stored on the mouse thus eliminating the need for drivers and providing configuration capabilities on-the-go.

Some of the features of the SteelSeries Xai include:

  • Ambidextrous shape
  • 7 Programmable macro buttons, 200 strokes per button
  • Driverless plug-and-play, with 5 profiles
  • Fully configurable via LCD menu system
  • 100-5,001 counts/inch

The SteelSeries 9HD surface was designed to fully support the enhanced tracking capabilities of next-generation High Definition gaming mice. The finely textured surface consists of tens-of-thousands of light reflecting microscopic points, enabling the user to perform exceptionally precise mouse operations, including minimal movements as well as high velocity slingshots.

SteelSeries 9HD surfaceIn addition to the SteelSeries Xai Laser Mouse, SteelSeries is also introducing the SteelSeries Kinzu Optical Mouse. Based on the same shape as the SteelSeries Xai, but 7% smaller in size, the SteelSeries Kinzu processes 9,375 frames/second at 3,200 CPI and is compact, lightweight, and is in a league of its own when it comes to reliability and stability.

SteelSeries Xai, SteelSeries Kinzu and SteelSeries 9HD will be available August 2009.

SteelSeries is a leading manufacturer of gaming peripherals and accessories, including headsets, keyboards, mice, software and gaming surfaces, selling in more than 75 countries. SteelSeries has been on the forefront of professional gaming gear since its inception in 2001, thanks to continued innovation and product development in cooperation with leading professional gamers. All SteelSeries products are developed in cooperation with professional gamers to ensure optimum performance and durability. SteelSeries supports the growth of competitive gaming and electronic sports through professional team sponsorships and community support all over the world.

OWC Lowers Price on 'Quad Interface' Blu-ray Drives, Introduces Toast Pro Bundles for Macs

OWC 'Quad Interface' Blu-ray DrivesPR: Other World Computing (OWC) announces that it has lowered prices on its Mercury Pro Blu-ray "Quad Interface" External Drive line and has introduced two new special Mac bundles that include the full $149.99 retail version of Toast 10 Titanium Pro, the easiest tool for Mac users to burn music, video, photos, and data files onto CD, DVD, and Blu-ray discs. The Mercury Pro Blu-ray "Quad Interface" External Drives are the only Blu-ray burners on the market that provide the flexibility of a "Quad Interface" of FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2.0, & eSATA for Plug & Play compatibility with both Windows and Macintosh systems.

Pricing for OWC Mercury Pro Blu-ray "Quad Interface" External Drive line:

  • OWC Mercury Pro "Quad Interface" External Drive (model OWCMRF8UEBDW6) $299.99. Up to 6x Blu-ray, 16x DVD, and 40x CD Burn Speeds. Includes all connection cables, two 25 GB 4x BD-R discs, and one year OWC warranty.
  • OWC Mercury Pro "Quad Interface" External Drive (model OWCMRF8BDSD8X) $349.99. Up to 8x Blu-ray, 16x DVD, and 32x CD Burn Speeds. Includes all connection cables, two 25 GB 4x BD-R discs, and one year OWC warranty.
  • Special Mac User Bundle: OWC Mercury Pro "Quad Interface" External Drive and Toast 10 Titanium Pro (model OWCMRF8UEBDW6T) $399.99. Up to 6x Blu-ray, 16x DVD, and 40x CD Burn Speeds. Includes full retail box version Toast 10 Titanium Pro, all connection cables, two 25 GB 4x BD-R discs, and one year OWC warranty.
  • Special Mac User Bundle: OWC Mercury Pro "Quad Interface" External Drive and Toast 10 Titanium Pro (model OWCMRF8BDSD8XT) $449.99. Up to 8x Blu-ray, 16x DVD, and 32x CD Burn Speeds. Includes full retail box version Toast 10 Titanium Pro, all connection cables, two 25 GB 4x BD-R discs, and one year OWC warranty.

Burn 50,000 JPEG Images, 17,500 MP3 Songs, or 25 DVD Movies on a Single Blu-ray Disc

Available immediately priced starting at $299.99, the Mercury Pro Blu-ray External Drives are ideal for consumers with large amounts of High-Definition or other video, photos, music, and data files that they want to author, archive, or retrieve using a single disk. Capable of burning up to 50 GB of data - equal to 50,000 JPEG images, 17,500 MP3 songs, 25 DVD quality movies, or just under four hours of High Definition video - onto a single Blu-ray disc as quickly as 30 minutes, the Mercury Pro Blu-ray drives also read and/or write virtually all types of optical media, including DVD R/RW & Dual-Layer, DVD-RAM, and CD-R/RW.

Special Mac Bundles Include $149.99 Retail Version of Toast 10 Titanium Pro

A $149.99 retail value, Toast 10 Titanium Pro is included with two new OWC Mercury Pro Blu-ray External Drives bundles for Mac users. A long time Mac favorite tool for burning CDs and DVDs, Toast 10 Titanium Pro takes burning on Macs to the next level with built-in Blu-ray data and video disc burning capabilities, in addition to DVD & CD support. Ideal for creative professionals and designers, as well as home photo and video hobbyists, Toast 10 Titanium Pro supports the burning of massive amounts of raw data files, as well as the creation of fully playable Blu-ray video discs. Using this included software, Mac users can convert and burn a wide variety of QuickTime compatible files and HD video footage from AVCHD camcorders, TiVo DVRs, ElGato's EyeTV, etc. and then play the discs on any standard Blu-ray set-top box or PS3 game console.

"With up to 8x Blu-ray write speeds for burning up to 2 GB per minute, four interfaces for the fastest performance with any computer, all connection cables included, and two media disks included, the Mercury Pro Blu-ray External Drives give Mac and PC users with a large amount of data the complete performance package to convert those files to Blu-ray disc quickly and easily," said Larry O'Connor, CEO, Other World Computing. "For Mac users, the two special Toast bundles represent an outstanding value on the easiest drag and drop video to Blu-ray disk burning application on the market."

The OWC Mercury Pro Blu-ray "Quad Interface" External Drive line has been fully tested for compatibility with most Mac and Windows built-in and third party DVD/CD tools and players, including Apple iTunes, Apple Disc Burning, Apple iLife Suite, Apple Final Cut Studio 2 (exporting edited video to Toast for Blu-ray mastering), EMC Retrospect Express, NTI DragonBurn, Roxio Toast, Roxio Easy Media Creator, and Nero Burning.

Toshiba Breaks into the 3.5" External Hard Drive Market

PR: Toshiba's Digital Products Division has announced the availability of a new Toshiba 3.5" External Hard Drive, marking Toshiba's first entry into the 3.5" external hard drive business. The product offers digital consumers and business professionals a stylish and affordable back up device with dual connectivity, robust software features and up to 1 TB of capacity from a trusted brand.

"On the heels of successfully building a 2.5" external hard drive business, we are ready to expand our hard drive expertise into the 3.5" hard drive market," said Michael Cassidy, director, accessories and hard drive marketing, Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., Digital Products Division. "We designed the external hard drive to provide consumers an easy-to-use back up option that not only performs above competition, but is also a stylish accessory for their PC."

The Toshiba 3.5" External hard drive features dual connectivity with high-speed USB 2.0 and eSATA ports, as well as a robust software application that offers reliable and easy data protection. In addition, the software package allows consumers to not only back up and restore selected files, but also their entire system.

With its sleek glossy finish, Toshiba designed the 3.5" External hard drive to match its family of consumer laptops, while the slim form factor design and space-saving footprint conserves desk space. The hard drive is priced competitively at $129.99 MSRP for 640 GB and $159.99 MSRP for 1 TB. All versions of the hard drive are PC and Mac compatible and are backed by a Toshiba 3-year standard limited warranty.

Toshiba 3.5 inch External Hard DriveFeatures available on the Toshiba 3.5" External Hard Drive include:

  • Slim form factor and foot print to save desk space
  • Sleek high gloss finish
  • Vaporized metallic silver rim
  • LED activity light with white glow effects
  • Reliability by Design
  • High quality impact resistant ABS+PC material
  • Internal dampening system for shock protection
  • Power saving mode
  • PC and Mac compatible
  • Toshiba 3-year standard limited warranty

Capacities

  • 640 GB,1 TB
  • Technical Specifications:
  • Dimensions: 6.6" (W) x 6.8" (L) x 1.34" (H)
  • 1 High-speed USB 2.0 connectivity
  • 1 eSATA connectivity
  • 5400 rpm SATA Drive
  • Includes easy-to-use Backup Software
  • UL approved, USBIF compliant
  • FCC compliant and RoHS compatible

Contents

  • 3.5" Desktop External Hard Drive
  • USB cable 4 ft & AC adapter
  • Hard drive cradle stand
  • Backup software (preloaded on drive)
  • Quick Start Guide & Warranty Card

Available now through select Toshiba Preferred Partner Program resellers, retailers, e-tailers and toshibadirect.com.

Connect with Toshiba on Twitter at twitter.com/ToshibaLaptops and on Facebook.

Samsung Launches New 500 GB per Platter Hard Drive Lineup for Servers and Desktop PCs

PR: Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. has announced its new lineup of high-density hard drives for high-end computing environments, the Spinpoint F3. The F3 operates at 7200 rpm with offerings of up to 1 Terabyte (TB) data storage capacity by using two 500 Gigabyte (GB) per platter disks. As well as meeting data center requirements for addition storage to meet rising demand and increasing performance needs, the new drives also deliver high-performance with lower power for desktop computers and servers.

The Spinpoint F3 utilizes advanced 500 GB per platter technology, so that two-platter 1 TB capacity is achieved. Increased areal density per platter provides up to a 30% higher performance than a three-platter 1 TB in the same 3.5" form factor. A reduction in mechanical parts also contributes to enhanced reliability in terms of anti-shock and data failure.

"Our customers require not only additional capacity but also high performance for their server and desktop storage systems, while promoting a green environment," said Choel-Hee Lee, vice president of marketing, Storage Systems Division, Samsung Electronics. "The massive capacity-per-platter and high-performance features of the new Spinpoint F3 make it an attractive solution for driving the growth of high-density storage."

"Market forecasts estimate 500 GB per platter and higher densities will experience over 15% annual growth in the next five years, with expectations that high density storage will become main stream for 3.5" storage beyond 2010," said Mark Geenen, president of TRENDFOCUS.

Samsung's new hard drive utilizes its low noise operation technology SilentSeek™ and NoiseGuard™ to achieve a quiet operation system. In addition, the new Spinpoint F3 is compliant with the (RoHS) restriction of hazardous substances directive.

The F3 incorporates a 7200 rpm rotational speed, a 3.0 Gbps SATA interface, Native Command Queuing features and a 16 MB/32 MB buffer memory. The Spinpoint F3 is currently available in 500 GB capacities worldwide. The 1 TB drive is scheduled for initial shipment in August.

Software

IGG Software Pays Quicken Users $20 to Switch to iBank for Mac

PR: IGG Software, LLC has announced its "Why Wait Another Day?" rebate offer to all Quicken users. Frustrated Quicken users still searching for an alternate, Mac-based program to manage their personal finances now have 20 more reasons to switch to iBank. Paid iBank downloads from the IGG Software online store are qualified for this rebate offer, as are all registered purchases of iBank made after July 10, 2009.

Many longtime Intuit customers were vocally dismayed this summer, following back-to-back delays to the promised release date of a new version of Quicken for the Mac. But the wait is officially over: frustrated Quicken users still searching for an alternate, Mac-based program to manage their personal finances now have 20 more reasons to switch to iBank, in the form of a $20 rebate offer - "Why Wait Another Day?" - from developer IGG Software.

"We're a little surprised that more of Quicken's customers haven't already switched," says IGG marketing director Scott Marc Becker. "iBank offers a better experience on the Mac, and a pretty straightforward process for transferring your old data from Quicken. But now there's money on the table."

Unlike Quicken, iBank is a Mac-only application written to take full advantage of the Intel architecture of the latest Macs. There are no annual fees or required updates for iBank, and no features or functionalities are ever disabled for existing users. iBank customers also have the advantage of hardware (iSight), software (iCal) and cloud-based (MobileMe) integration with their Macs. A free trial copy of iBank, requiring Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, can be downloaded from IGG's website.

In addition, iBank Mobile is a number-one-selling finance app for iPhone and iPod touch. Available separately via the Apple App Store, the new mobile version of iBank allows transaction entry on the go, the ability to review account balances anytime and anywhere, and easy sync with the desktop version of iBank - even for business partners or spouses sharing access to the same accounts.

Paid iBank downloads from the IGG Software online store are qualified for this rebate offer, as are all registered purchases of iBank made after July 10, 2009. iBank is also sold through Apple, Amazon, and many other outlets, including Apple retail, OfficeMax, Office Depot, Fry's, J&R and many independent software dealers.

To receive their rebates, customers must submit a completed rebate form within 30 days of purchasing iBank, as well as proof of purchase of both iBank and Quicken. MS Money users are also qualified for this offer, which expires September 30, 2009. Valid in the US and Canada only, this rebate may not be combined with other offers.

TwitterPod 2.0.1 Twitter Client

PR: TwitterPod is a Twitter client with message store capability. The messages by your friends and by yourself will all be stored and displayed on an easy-to-navigate window.

Features:

  • Searches logs easily
  • QuickPost with tiny window
  • QuartzComposer views
  • SmartDrawer for website and GoogleMaps
  • Works with Growl
  • Checks updates with Sparkle

When you post messages with TwitterPod, you can add your location as a postfix from a simple and intuitive menu. (e.g. [San Francisco, CA], [Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo] or [home] ).

New in version 2.0.1:

  • Now twitters with "from TwitterPod" on web.
  • Add today function (but still have a bit problem)
  • Fix some error handlings
  • Fix copy function
  • Modify icon size and fix tiny icon problem
  • Add secret feature

System requirements: Mac OS X 10.4 or later.

System Support: PPC/Intel

Free

Blue Crowbar Software Releases Aperture2Twitter and iPhoto2Twitter 1.5

Aperture 2TwitterPR: Blue Crowbar Software has released Aperture2Twitter 1.5 and iPhoto2Twitter 1.5, upgrades to its Twitter-plugins for Aperture and iPhoto, Apple's photo editing and management applications. Both plugins let you send tweets and photos to Twitter without leaving your favorite Mac photo application. The new versions now add support for posting to Mobypicture, a service that makes it trivial to share photos and movies.

"After the initial release of our two plugins, many users have asked to be able to send their photos to more than one photo-sharing site," said Steven Vandeweghe, founder of Blue Crowbar. "To establish this, we have found the perfect partner in Mobypicture. Besides being a great stand-alone site for sharing photos and movies with your Twitter followers, Mobypicture also integrates with other popular services like Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, LiveJournal, YouTube, and Vimeo."

"It is really amazing to see that our core APIs are used by developers around the world to enrich and add options to their applications. The integration with iPhoto and Aperture is a great addition and makes sharing your adventures really easy and convenient." - Mathys van Abbe, Mobypicture.

New features in Version 1.5:

  • Support for photo uploads to Mobypicture
  • Support for movie uploads to Mobypicture (iPhoto2Twitter only)
  • Through Mobypicture, support for many other services is included: Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr, Blogger, LiveJournal, WordPress, YouTube, Vimeo and more

iPhoto2TwitterMobypicture helps users share adventures in real time with friends. In one simple action, all social Web sites are updated with text, audio, photos or video files. Mobypicture helps companies market their events and spread the content of the attendees throughout the social Web. For events, these are aggregated based on geo location. Clients use Mobypicture to send mobile digital content which is aggregated, enriched and distributed using APIs of all important social sites and services.

Feature Highlights:

  • Sends your tweets without leaving iPhoto or Aperture
  • Can include a photo or movie with a tweet
  • Fast switching between different Twitter-accounts

System Requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard)
  • iPhoto '08 or '09 for iPhoto2Twitter
  • Aperture 2 for Aperture2Twitter

iPhoto2Twitter and Aperture2Twitter are available immediately. A license for one user costs 4.95 euros for iPhoto2Twitter and 5.95 euros for Aperture2Twitter. The upgrade is free for existing users. A free trial version of the software can be downloaded from the Blue Crowbar website.

Mozilla Prism - Bringing Web Applications to Your Desktop

PR: Prism is an application that lets users split web applications out of their browser and run them directly on their desktop

Why Prism?

Prism is designed to create a better environment for running your favorite web-based applications. Much of what we used to accomplish using an application running locally on our computers is moving into the web browser. Thanks to advances in web technology, these apps are increasingly powerful and usable. As a result, applications like Gmail, Facebook and Google Docs are soaring in popularity.

Mozilla PrismUnfortunately the web browser, which was originally designed for reading documents, is not an ideal environment for running applications. It is frustrating and time-consuming to wade through a mass of browser windows and tabs just to find your email client. Unstable applications can slow down or crash your entire browser. And many of the conveniences offered by modern operating systems are unavailable to web apps running in the browser.

The Best of Both Worlds

This is where Prism comes in. Instead of running all your web apps in the browser, Prism lets you run them in their own window just like normal applications. A single faulty app or web page can no longer take down everything you are working on. In the future, Mozilla.org will be releasing web app bundles from the Prism developer community that let you customize your application to use many of the operating system features common to a desktop application.

Prism is based on the same world-class browsing engine as Firefox to ensure maximum compatibility with the entire range of applications available on the web, today and in the future.

There are two ways to use Prism; A Firefox extension or a standalone application. Either way, you can easily turn any website into a Prism application.

Prism Firefox Extension

Once you have installed the extension and restarted the browser, you can turn any web site into a Prism application by choosing "Create Application for this Website" in the Tools menu.

Prism Standalone Application

This application will be located in the Start menu on Windows or the Applications folder on Macintosh. Simply fill out the URL of the website you want to turn into an application, give it a name and select where you want the shortcut to be created, then click OK.

Features

Access Web Apps from System Taskbar or Dock

No more wading through web browser windows and tabs just to read your email or check your Facebook feed. Prism apps run directly on your desktop and can be accessed just like any other application. On Windows, you can launch applications from the Start menu and then access them in the taskbar. On Mac, you can launch and access applications from the OS X dock.

  • Prism apps run directly on your desktop and can be accessed just like any other application
  • Rock solid web app stability
  • Prism apps run separately from the browser, so they stay up even if your browser doesn't
  • System tray icon and dock badges
  • On Windows, the system tray icon can be changed to give information about application

Tray Icon and Dock Menus

When you do something often enough, even a single extra step can be a major hassle. With Prism, the most common features for an application can be added to a tray icon or dock menu. These features can then be accessed in one step, providing significant time savings.

Associate Applications with Browser Links

Some browser links cause an application to run rather than opening in the browser. A popular example are mailto: links that open your mail client and fill out the recipient (and optionally the subject line) for you. Until now, you were out of luck if you use a web mail client, but now Prism lets web apps handle these links just like traditional desktop apps.

Rock Solid Web App Stability

Modern web browsers are pretty stable, but then can still crash due to a rogue application or elusive bug. Prism apps run separately from the browser, so they stay up even if your browser doesn't. Separating apps also reduces browser load, improving performance and stability.

Run Applications Automatically When Your Computer Starts

Some web apps are so important that we want them running all the time. For some users this might mean Gmail, Facebook or Flickr. With Prism you can set an app to run automatically whenever your start your computer.

Minimize to Tray

Is your desktop cluttered by too many running applications? Prism apps can be configured to minimize to the system tray on Windows so they stay out of the way when you don't need them. Accessed to a minimized app is still only a single mouse click away.

System Tray Icon and Dock Badges

On Windows, the system tray icon can be changed to give information about application status (e.g. adding a star to show that your web mail has new messages). On Mac, a badge can be added to the Dock icon for the same purpose.

Popup Alerts

Applications can be configured to display popup alerts for certain events. For example, your web mail could display an alert when a new mail arrives.

System requirements: Prism supports Intel Macs only running OS X 10.4 or later.

Livescribe and Vision Objects Bring Handwriting-Recognition Service to Mac Users

PR: Livescribe Inc. and Vision Objects have announced the availability of a handwriting-to-text transcription service for Mac users, bringing handwriting-recognition software to a larger community of Pulse smartpen users. Mac users can download a 30-day free trial or buy MyScript for Livescribe online from Vision Objects, an expert in ergonomic, easy-to-use alternatives for text input.

"Handwriting-to-text transcription has been one of the most frequently requested applications from our Mac user community, and we are very excited to finally be able to provide this capability through our partnership with Vision Objects" said Eric Petitt, senior director of marketing for Livescribe. "Vision Objects is known for providing the highest recognition accuracy in the market, with confidence second to none."

With MyScript for Livescribe, Pulse smartpen users can make edits to their converted text and even create a personal dictionary of frequently used words, names, abbreviations or terms for an even more accurate conversion. They can also:

  • Directly send handwritten notes from Livescribe Desktop to MyScript,
  • Convert shapes, drawings and tables, as well as handwriting,
  • Send edited text to Microsoft Word or email, or save it as a picture file.

Vision Objects has been developing handwriting recognition technology for laboratories, universities and corporations worldwide since 1998. "Livescribe's 'computer-in-a-pen' radically transforms the way students take notes collectively as well as individually," said Jean-Marc Aïchoun, vice president of sales and marketing for Vision Objects. "Sharing technologies such as pencasts and MyScript for Livescribe invite a new level of collaboration likely to change the way people teach, learn and create information."

Pulse smartpen owners can download a free 30-day trial or purchase MyScript at <http://www.visionobjects.com/handwriting_recognition/pulse/pulse.htm>

System Requirements: Mac users must be operating Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger or 10.5 Leopard on an Intel processor.

Pulse Smartpen

The Pulse smartpen quickly won consumer and industry support after its launch 2008, winning innovation awards from Popular Mechanics and Popular Science, as well as a 2009 Macworld Best of Show award. Pulse is a computer in a pen that captures handwritten notes and simultaneously records and links the audio to the notes. By tapping on the notes with the smartpen, consumers can hear the conversation play back from that exact moment in time. All of this information can be uploaded to a computer for storage, easy keyword search or to share with others.

Located in Oakland, Calif., Livescribe has developed a new low - cost mobile computing platform that enhances productivity, learning, communication and self expression for anyone that uses pen and paper. The Pulse smartpen revolutionizes the act of writing by recording and linking audio to handwriting, so users never miss a word. For more information, visit Livescribe at:

Drive Genius 2 Updated to Support Snow Leopard

PR: ProSoft Engineering, Inc. announces the availability of Drive Genius 2.2, an update to its award-winning disk utility.

Maintain, Manage and Optimize Your Hard Drive

Drive GeniusIs your Mac running slower? Is your hard drive filling up and you don't know why? Are you seeing the beach ball more and more? Try Drive Genius 2, the best hard drive utility on the Mac platform. Defrag, DriveSlim™, Repartition-on-the-fly and Clone are only a few of the award-winning features of Drive Genius 2. Recently awarded the Editor's Choice award from Mac Life Magazine.

Drive Genius 2.2

  • Now supports Snow Leopard
  • Improved defragmentation functionality
  • Improved repartition performance and other improvements

"ProSoft is excited to release this new version of Drive Genius 2 that adds support for Apple's upcoming Snow Leopard operating system. Drive Genius 2.2 also adds improvements to a number of features including Defrag and Repartition. ProSoft is dedicated to producing award-winning utilities paired with excellent customer service and support," says Greg Brewer, CEO of ProSoft Engineering, Inc.

Current Drive Genius 2 users can simply auto-update their application for free within the application. A new boot DVD can be purchased from the ProSoft website for a nominal fee. Drive Genius 2 is available for purchase online at www.prosoftengineering.com and at Apple Stores.

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