Mac News Review

Record Apple Profits, Weathering Power Outages, Haxies Coming to Snow Leopard, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.01.29

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

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Apple Reports First Quarter Results with All-Time Highest Revenue and Profit

PR: Apple on Monday announced financial results for its fiscal 2010 first quarter ended December 26, 2009. The Company posted revenue of $15.68 billion and a net quarterly profit of $3.38 billion, or $3.67 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $11.88 billion and net quarterly profit of $2.26 billion, or $2.50 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 40.9%, up from 37.9% in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 58% of the quarter's revenue.

Apple sold 3.36 million Macintosh computers during the quarter, representing a 33% unit increase over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 8.7 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 100% unit growth over the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 21 million iPods during the quarter, representing an eight percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter.

During the quarter Apple elected retrospective adoption of the Financial Accounting Standards Board's amended accounting standards* related to certain revenue recognition. Adoption of the new accounting standards significantly changes how the Company accounts for certain items, particularly sales of iPhone and Apple TV.

"If you annualize our quarterly revenue, it's surprising that Apple is now a $50+ billion company," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. The new products we are planning to release this year are very strong, starting this week with a major new product that we re really excited about.

"We are very pleased to have generated $5.8 billion in cash during the quarter," said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO. "Looking ahead to the second fiscal quarter of 2010, we expect revenue in the range of about $11.0 billion to $11.4 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share in the range of about $2.06 to $2.18."

Apple provided live streaming of its Q1 2010 financial results conference call utilizing QuickTime, Apple's standards-based technology for live and on-demand audio and video streaming. The webcast will also be available for replay for approximately two weeks thereafter, begin at 2:00 p.m. PST on January 25, 2010 at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/earningsq110/

'Late 2009' iMac Responsible for Record Mac Sales

Cult of Mac's Leander Kahney says:

"Don't believe the negative hype. Apple's much-maligned new iMac, which is supposedly suffering from screen issues and delays, was largely responsible for the company's record hardware sales in Q1 2010....

"...Apple said Q1 desktop sales were up 70 percent year-over-year (a 60 percent increase in revenue), thanks largely to the new iMacs. During an analyst conference call, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer and Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said customers are thrilled with the new iMacs.

"Apple saw record Mac sales of 3.36 million units during the quarter, beating the previous best quarter (September) by more than 300,000 machines (up 33% year-over-year)."

Just Bought a Mac? Be Sure to Get AppleCare

MacFixIt's Joe Aimonetti says:

"If your Mac is less than a year old and you have yet to purchase AppleCare, be sure to get your hands on Apple's version of an extended warranty before that year is up. Though there are many views on whether any extended protection plan is worth the purchase, my experience tells me AppleCare is money well spent.

"Over the weekend I experienced what could very well have been a monumental disappointment regarding my love of Apple products...."

Editor's note: Notwithstanding Aimonetti's recent unfortunate experience with his MacBook Pro that made AppleCare worth the premium for him, your editor respectfully begs to differ and remains skeptical about its value/risk equation. cm

Other editor's note: Notwithstanding Moore's excellent track record with Apple gear, Low End Mac's publisher has had a different experience. With one exception, every Mac I've ever received new or as an Apple refurb has gone in for service at least once - fortunately that's almost always been within the first year. The only Mac I've ever bought AppleCare for, the original Titanium PowerBook, had its screen repaired during the extended AppleCare period. IMHO, the cost of laptop repairs justifies the price of AppleCare.

In the end, you have to make your own cost/risk analysis. dk

Computers Should Be More Like Toasters

Before Apple's iPad announcement, Slate's Farhad Manjoo says:

"Why are computers so hard to use? Readers ask me some version of this question all the time...

"'In short, when will the computer become an appliance?'

"If we're lucky, it'll happen this week."

USB 3.0 Changes the Game for External Storage

PCMag's Michael J. Miller says:

"From my perspective, one of the most important and most overlooked trends at CES was the emergence of name-brand external drives that support the USB 3.0 or 'Superspeed' specification. Effectively, this is a connection protocol that looks just like the USB 2.0 connections we're all familiar with, but it should let you transfer data to and from external drives three times faster than you can with USB 2.0 drives.

"Technically, USB 3.0 runs at 5 gigabits per second, compared with USB 2.0's 480 megabits per second, so you would think it would be 10 times faster. But remember that those speeds are theoretical maximums, not what you see in the real world....

"...the real problem now is a lack of USB 3.0 ports: Yes, you can buy a PCIe board for your desktop or an express card for your laptop (assuming you have the slot), but that's really only a solution for one machine. In the long run, we want machines that have USB 3.0 standard, and that won't really become commonplace until AMD and Intel build support into their chipsets, something neither has done yet."

Tips for Weathering Power Outages

Here's a topic that's close to home - indeed, at home - for folks like your editor who live in blackout-prone areas.

Macworld's Christopher Breen says that as a central-California resident, he's accustomed to generally mild and undramatic weather, but this week they've been getting hammered with real, honest-to-god weather there - hail, buckets of rain, high winds, thunder, lightning. Hmmm. Sounds like typical weather where I live!

As in Breen 's neighborhood, our power lines remain above ground, and he's been experiencing a powerr blackout of the sort that's fairly frequent in my neck of the woods. He offers some coping tips for weathering power outages, noting that a laptop of any stripe beats any desktop in a blackout - one reason why I use laptops almost exclusively.

Browser Speed Tests: Firefox 3.6, Chrome 4, Opera 10.5, and Extensions

Lifehacker's Kevin Purdy reports:

"Firefox 3.6 is out, Chrome's stable version got a big upgrade, and Opera 10.5 is inching toward release. It's a great time for us to break out the timer, process manager, and code tracker for some up-to-date browser speed tests.

"Lifehacker added some interesting nuances to this comparo, notable timing the human experience of clicking to start a browser and waiting for it to reach a (locally saved) home page, both 'cold' (right after boot-up) and 'warm' (after running at least once already), and having it load nine tabs at once, using a millisecond, keyboard-activated timer app from Rob Keir."

Categories tested include:

  • Boot-up and warm loading; Winner: Opera 10.01 and 10.5 Pre-Alpha
  • Tab Loading; Winner: Chrome
  • JavaScript; Winner: Opera 10.5 Pre-Alpha
  • DOM/CSS; Winner: Chrome
  • Memory use, no extensions; Winner: Firefox 3.6
  • Memory use with extensions; Winner: Firefox 3.6

Overall, Chrome and Opera 10.5 Pre-Alpha tied for winner of the speedstakes, which confirms your editor's gut impressions using those browsers, with Safari and Opera 10.01 bringing up the rear.

Note that these were Windows versons of the browsers; Mac results might be somewht different.

Best Email Client: Gmail

Also from Lifehacker: Jason Fitzpatrick asked readers to share their picks of favorite email client, and Gmail cleaned up taking nearly 50% of the vote - the only web-based client that garnered enough vote to be included. Distant runner-up was Thunderbird (19%), followed by Microsoft's client Outlook (15%), Apple Mail (11%), and Postbox (1%).

Also very interesting, and pretty much mirroring my own use, although I alternate between Thunderbird and its Eudora 8 beta clone, which can be done seamlessly since they both use the same support, settings, and archives files.

It also looks like plenty of Mac users like OS X Mail a whole lot better than your editor does.

Open Source Project Aims to Build New 'Letters' Mac IMAP Email Client

When you need something more than what Mail and Thunderbird have to offer

Brent Simmons's inessential.com weblog says:

"We need to talk about email clients.

"I've been joking for years that I'm going to write an email client and charge $500 for it - an email client that actually meets the needs of developers and professionals who rely on email, folks who type for a living.

"But I'm not going to, and I don't know anybody who is. The economics of it make it kind of tough, given that Apple ships a good email client with OS X.

"Nevertheless, we need that email client. The only way to get there is via open source: there might be enough interest and energy in the community to make it happen...."

Brent has set up an email-init mailing list; you can sign up from a link on his website.

His prescription:

  • It should be a Cocoa app.
  • It should just do IMAP. (Not POP or Exchange.)

Editor's note: Hmmmmm. He just lost me there. I like the idea of a new OS X email app., but I'm not an IMAP fan, and anything that doesn't support POP is a non-starter for me. cm

Draft Proposal for New 'Letters' Open Source IMAP OS X Email Client

Letters is a lean and programmable IMAP email client, with plugin and automation APIs, designed for developers and power users.

Problems Letters will solve

  • Existing email clients are inadequate for many developers and power users.
  • Mail.app is self-evidently designed for home users. Gmail integrates well with Google services but not with the Mac OS X desktop. Mutt offers speed and customization but lacks basic features like graphics. Pine offers ease-of-use (compared to mutt) but less customization. Thunderbird presents a not-quite-Mac-like UI and integrates less-than-ideally with the Mac OS X desktop. Mailsmith does POP only.
  • Developers and power users have diverse workflow needs.
  • While Mail offers its own to-dos system, power users often use more powerful applications. Developers may have needs like processing crash logs and bug reports in different ways, sending to different systems, some web-based and some not. Power users are likely to use BusyCal or Google Calendar instead of, or along with, iCal.
  • To further list examples would be to list trival examples - but that's the point. The workflow needs are often too small or specific to create as a feature for a general-purpose email client, but those needs are very important to teams and individuals.

The best way to handle this is to give power users and developers an email client that can be *programmed*, so that their email client can be a component of their workflow rather than just a silo for messages.

Programmability means a few specific things:

  1. A usable automation interface, complete enough to not throw roadblocks.
  2. A well-designed plugin API that allows for additions and modifications to the application and triggered actions.
  3. A documented data storage format, for applications and workflows that need access to the email but not the app's GUI.

User Interface

Though it's very tempting to want to innovate in the area of email filing and display, and this is not discouraged, this is not as important as programmability.

Nevertheless, some simple user interface issues could be attended to without much trouble. Examples:

  • Developers and power users tend to be very comfortable with the keyboard - the same people who like utility apps like LaunchBar and QuickSilver would like more keyboard control over filing messages and navigating mailboxes than Mail.app, for instance, provides.
  • Developers tend to like to reply in-line rather than via top-posting, but Mail.app's text editor and quoting system make that difficult: this is a relatively easy and valuable feature to do better.
  • Developers and power users subscribe to mailing lists, yet many email clients have no built-in concept of a mailing list.

The common and simpler needs of developers and power users should be handled first, while innovation happens in plugins.

Short sentences to inject into the DNA

Lean. Do less but do it better. Enable creativity and customization via plugins.

Leverage other work, other code: do not subscribe to Not Invented Here syndrome. Let yaks prowl the grounds unshaven. Process is distraction.

Strong and opinionated leadership is essential. Design by committee ensures mediocrity - at best.

This is a Mac app, dammit.

-Brent

email-init@lists.ranchero.com mailing list

List help: http://lists.ranchero.com/listinfo.cgi/email-init-ranchero.com

The All-in-One Bedroom Office

Still with Lifehacker, Jason Fitzpatrick discusses finessing a computer workstation in constrained space without creating chaotic messiness (you should see my office - no, scratch that!) is no mean feat, but "Stingray072" has achieved that objective masterfully, and on a college budget, living in a small, single-room New York City apartment with various spaces carefully laid out for sleeping, relaxing, studying, and working - and storing all his stuff. He's done an amazing job, making it aesthetically pleasing as well as comfortable and practical, and also managed to keep all those cables pretty much out of sight.

Raising a Stink Over Inkjet Ink

McClatchy Newspapers' Steve Everly observes that the cost of ink for your computer's printer can rival the cost of caviar - and you can't even price-shop accurately, because thecompanies that make the cartridges refuse to tell you how much ink they contain. However, consumer advocates have been agitating for more disclosure of information, setting up a showdown between regulators and cartridge manufacturers over how the cartridges are labeled.

Let's hear it for the consumer advocates. Inkjet cartridges are probably the biggest ripoff in the IT sector, although I've found a third-party supplier of reasonably-priced replacement cartridges for my Canon printer from whom I've received excellent service and meriting a plug.

Unsanity Plans to Bring Haxies, APE to Snow Leopard

Macworld.com's Nicholas Bonsack reports:

"Hey, remember Unsanity? That developer became famous - perhaps even infamous - for introducing haxies, software that injected code into other Mac OS X apps through Unsanity's own Application Enhancer, also known as APE, plus neat little tweaks like WindowShade X [which your editor simply can't abide living without] and another that completely reskins OS X's Aqua user interface from top to bottom, however Apple is not amused and announced that it will ignore every crash log submitted on a Mac with Application Enhancer installed."

Note that haxies simply do not work at all in Snow Leopard, which has left haxie lovers, including this writer, stuck using earlier versions of Mac OS X until Unsanity figures out a way to make its haxies work in OS X 10.6. Unsanity announced that it has plans to port specific haxies to Snow Leopard and take advantage of new technologies like Core Animation, at the expense of backward compatibility with Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5.

Also see Unsanity Working on New Generation of Haxies.

Products & Services

daFlores.com Makes it Easy to Send Virtual Valentine's Day Flowers

daFlores.comPR: Valentine's Day is a lighthearted holiday, fun for all who take part. One easy way to join in the festivities is to take advantage of virtual Valentine's Day flowers. Online florist daFlores offers a selection of virtual Valentine's Day bouquets through its popular Facebook application.

"We hope to bring Valentine's Day to Facebook," says daFlores.com's President and CEO, Francisco Bustos. "It's a day to acknowledge friendships as well as romances, and we make it easy to send Valentine's Day flowers both virtually and in real life."

Available to daFlores.com's Facebook fans, the application allows a visitor to pick out virtual Valentine's Day flowers and send them to friends. The service is completely free. This Valentine's Day, offerings will include beautiful red roses arranged in vases or baskets, and bouquets accompanied by teddy bears and chocolates.

"We hope to bring Valentine's Day to Facebook," says daFlores.com's President and CEO, Francisco Bustos. "It's a day to acknowledge friendships as well as romances, and we make it easy to send Valentine's Day flowers both virtually and in real life."

DaFlores.com is known for its high quality flowers and customer service. The company has embraced social media from the beginning and now has over 112,000 fans on Facebook. "Technology is an important part of people's lives," notes Mr. Bustos. "Making ourselves available on Facebook too is an important service to our customers."

For fun and games with daFlores.com's virtual Valentine's Day flowers, visitors need only become a fan to gain full access.

Silex Releases First Gigabit USB Device Server

PR: Silex Technology America, Inc., a global leader in product networking solutions, has announced the availability of SX-3000GB, the industry's first Gigabit USB Device server. A single SX-3000GB allows users to share up to 15 USB devices over TCP/IP via a Gigabit ethernet interface.

Silex Gigabit USB Device ServerFor home users, the new SX-3000GB provides networking capabilities to MP3 players, web cameras, speakers, monitors, and many other devices with a USB interface. Business applications include devices from card readers to USB dongles as well as multifunction printers, scanners and storage devices running on Macintosh or Windows.

SX-3000GB can also be integrated in a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure to provide USB device connections in a server based computing environment. The versatile features make the SX-3000GB the solution of choice for USB device networking.

The Gigabit USB Device Server provides very fast throughput USB 2.0 Hi-speed devices. It instantly converts the connected device(s) for access anywhere on your network. Now you can enjoy the convenience and freedom of remotely using multifunction printers, scanners, storage devices, or various other USB devices. It brings flexibility and productivity of USB devices to a whole new level in any environment including home, SOHO, school or business setting.

Silex Gigabit USB Device Server DiagramThe SX-3000GB makes working with USB devices very easy. By attaching a USB hub, the SX-3000GB can integrate up to 15 USB devices to the Gigabit network. After installation all network users can share the resources. Users can access the USB devices and use them as if they were attached locally to their computers.

The SX-3000GB is able to acquire status information and allows for the configuration and use of the device.

Also included is a web browser interface for configuration and management of the device.

The included SX Virtual Link utility allows you to easily discover the USB devices on the network, connect and disconnect, and see status. Silex has been the pioneer in leading USB IP technology adoption in the market since 2003, delivering its own product and OEM projects in United States, Japan, Europe and Asia for the hardware and software intellectual property. The SX-3000GB is the latest addition to enhance Silex's popular USB device server hardware platform with a new Gigabit support and 2X throughput.

Silex USB device servers allow users to connect virtually any USB device to a wired or wireless network. Silex's proprietary Virtual USB provides a direct USB port connection on Windows or Macintosh systems and transfers the packets out over the LAN using TCP/IP to the USB device connected to the Silex USB Device Server. The computers think they are communicating with the device via a direct USB connection, but they are actually communicating over the network with the USB ports of the SX-3000GB. This method ensures the most robust compatibility with the USB device driver and software applications. Connected USB devices can be used as if they were locally connected.

"Over the past five years, it has been amazing to learn how creatively our customers have utilized our technology to change the way people interact with many different USB devices." said David N. Smith, President of Silex Technology America. "With the SX-3000GB product, as a new best of breed, even more applications will open up with the higher throughput and we will continue to lead the way in USB device networking."

SX-3000GB Features:

  • One 10/100/1000Base Ethernet port that can be connected to a wireless router for wireless USB device networking
  • Two Hi-Speed USB 2.0 ports supporting up to one amp of USB bus power combined
  • Connect up to 15 USB devices using a hub
  • Bundled "SX-Virtual Link" client software utility:
  • Allows users to graphically manage USB device connection over the network
  • Enables the user to issue a "Request Use" to the other user when the target device is being used
  • Mac OS 10.6.x/10.5.x support in addition to Widows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP/2000, Windows Server 2008/2003

Specs

  • Supported Operating Systems
    • Windows 2000, Windows XP/Vista/7 (32/64-bit), Windows Server 2003/2008
    • Mac OS X 10.2.7 - 10.5.x (Power PC), Mac OS X 10.4.3 - 10.6.x (Intel)
  • Supported protocols TCP/IP
  • Printer interface USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (A-Type) x 1
  • Network interface 10 / 100 / 1000 Mbps (Auto-detection)
  • Total number of USB interface connections15 (including USB hub)
  • Configuration Web Browser / Quick setup
  • Languages (Installation utility) English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese
  • Power supply Universal AC adapter (DC 12V, 1A)
  • Power consumption Up to 5W
  • Warranty 2 years
  • Regulatory approvals FCC, CE, VCCI Class B
  • Package contents SX-3000GB, Setup Guide, AC adapter, Warranty booklet, CD-ROM with software and documentation
  • Dimensions 2.4 x 3.9 x 1.1 in. / 60 x 100 x 28 mm
  • Weight 3.5 oz / 100g

SX-3000GB is available at $99 MSRP. To find out more, call 801-748-1199, or visit silexamerica.com

Razer Vespula Gives Gamers the Best of Both Worlds with an Advanced Dual-sided Surface

Razer VespulaPR: Razer, a leading manufacturer of high-end precision gaming and lifestyle peripherals, today announced the Razer Vespula, a lightweight, gaming grade mouse mat. The dual-sided design of the Razer Vespula provides gamers with the choice of a Speed Surface for faster mouse movements or a Control Surface that picks up even the most precise of mouse movements.

The Razer Vespula was designed with gamers in mind that need a single solution for every game they play. Different genres call for different gameplays. The advanced technology in the improved dual-sided mouse mat gives gamers the choice of a smooth Speed Surface or a textured Control Surface, which delivers just that flexibility, said Robert Razerguy Krakoff, president, Razer USA. The Control Surface is great for gamers that use small, precise movements, while the Speed Surface is an ideal match for gamers that prefer large, sweeping motions.

The Razer Vespula enables extended gaming sessions with a gel-filled memory conformance wrist rest for top performance without fatigue or potential strain and comes with the proven sturdiness and extra durability of its prequel the Razer eXact Mat.

Razer VespulaThe Razer Vespula Gaming Mouse Mat is designed to give gamers comfort, choice and performance in even the most demanding of gaming conditions. Constructed with a matte, non-slip hard coat and an enhanced dual-sided design, the Razer Vespula provides gamers with the choice of a Speed Surface or a Control Surface. The Speed Surface is designed for smoother, fast-paced action that maximizes freedom of movement with a slick finish, while the Control Surface provides tactile feedback with a coarsely textured surface that is best for ultra-precise movements. The Razer Vespula also comes with a memory conformance wrist rest for long-lasting comfort, even during extended gameplay.

Cost: $34.99; €34.99

Availability: Worldwide

Product Features:

  • Matte, Non-slip Hard Coat
  • Advanced Dual-sided with a Speed Surface for faster mouse movements and a Control Surface for precise mouse movements
  • Memory Conformance Gel Wrist Rest
  • Abrasion Resistant

NewerTech Driverless SATA 6Gb/s Ports for PCIe Macs and PCs

PR: For Mac Pro and PC's with available PCIe 2.0 or 1.0 slot. The easiest solution for adding two SATA 6Gb/s ports with a Driverless.Plug and Play installation to Mac Pros.

Driverless Install with No Updating Needed

NewerTech Driverless SATA 6Gb/s PCIe CardHigh performance doesn't mean a thing if its highly complicated to use, install, or a hassle to keep maintained. Because the NewerTech MAXPower eSATA 6G PCIe 2.0 Controller Card is fully compliant with the industry standard Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI), there are no drivers to install and no future driver downloading/updating required. Additionally, the card uses the same connecting cables utilized by earlier SATA 1.5Gb/s and 3Gb/s devices for straight from the box, "install it and forget it" highest levels of convenience and performance.

Adds Faster Than Factory Interface to Mac Pros

From faster backups and file transfers to high-end Audio/Video editing, connecting an eSATA interface equipped device to the NewerTech MAXPower eSATA 6G PCIe 2.0 Controller Card can take data transfer performance to an entirely new level. Optimally compatible with Mac Pro models and PCs with an available PCIe 2.0 slot, the NewerTech MAXPower eSATA 6G PCIe 2.0 Controller Card works with ANY eSATA interfaced equipped external hard drive or optical drive to deliver significantly faster data transfer rates over the fastest factory equipped Mac Pro interface of FireWire 800.

Future Ready Yet Fully Backward Compatible

NewerTech MAXPower eSATA 6G PCIe 2.0 Controller Card is like a "performance assurance policy" as conventional hard disk drives and SSDs migrate to the SATA 6Gb/s standard. Installing the card now offers immediate speeds gains while making a Mac Pro or PC future ready for even greater speed gains. Like all good upgrades, the card doesn't leave the past behind. The NewerTech MAXPower eSATA 6G PCIe 2.0 Controller Card is fully backward compatible with PCIe 1.0 slots as well as previous generations of SATA 1.5Gb/s and 3Gb/s drives.

transferspeeds.gif

Features:

  • PCIe 2.0x1 backwards compatible with PCIe 1.0.
  • Two eSATA 6Gb/s ports with up to 500MB/s data transfer rate per port*.
  • eSATA hot plug support**.
  • Plug and Play ready with industry standard AHCI compliance.
  • Out-of-the-box ready driverless install for Mac OS X 10.5 & 10.6, Windows
  • Vista & Windows 7, and any Linux version with built- in AHCI support. (Windows 2000/XP/2003 requires driver install)
  • Compatible with eSATA port equipped external storage solutions and optical drives

* up to 500MB/s total for x1 PCIe 2.0 slot or 250MB/s total for x1 PCIe 1.0 slot

** Dependent upon external enclosure compatibility

What is eSATA 6Gb/s?

eSATA stands for External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment. eSATA 6Gb/s (600MB/s) for external storage devices.

Software

Optimism for Mental Health App

PR: Mental health software company Optimism Apps is pleased to announce Optimism 3.2, its popular mood chart and health planning application for OS X. At its core, Optimism helps a person to monitor the triggers and warning signs of a decline in their mental health and develop strategies that help them to remain well. Database fields can be customized to be very specific to the individuals circumstances. Version 3.2 continues to develop the charts to improve the contextual information available.

Technology is rapidly increasing the options for delivery of mental health services. The use of software, online interventions and light-weight tools promotes collaboration between patients, caregivers, medical professionals, and other stakeholders. With the emphasis in healthcare moving towards preventative care, effective computer based technologies are ideal for delivering low cost treatments.

In this context, mental health software company Optimism Apps is pleased to announce version 3.2 of Optimism, its popular mood chart and health planning application. At its core Optimism helps a person to monitor the triggers and warning signs of a decline in their mental health, and develop strategies that help them to remain well. Database fields can be customized to be very specific to the individuals circumstances.

Charts and reports help to discover interactions between the things being monitored, which assists in developing a long-term health plan. This plan is dynamic. With the benefit of a continual feedback loop, the individual can gain a better understanding of these interactions and continually improve on their health strategies.

In version 3.2 Optimism Apps has continued to develop the charts to improve the contextual information available. Users can now view their journal notes in a pop-up window for any day on a visible chart. This helps with recall and making connections between recorded data and notes. The upgrade also includes an automatic launch function, prompting users to record their entries each day at a time of their choosing.

Optimism is available for OS X 10.3 or later as a Universal Build. A single license costs $39.95 (USD), but there is currently a 10% discount at the checkout available to all buyers. All future upgrades are free.

Unsanity Working on New Generation of Haxies

PR: Unsanity Software says:

It's Winter, Right?

When I look out to the window, all I see is snow. And cars. And people. And lots of other things, but the snow prevails. It's not too unusual for this time of the year - the white substance naturally comes as a part of the bundle the nature calls "winter" here (by "here", I mean St.Petersburg, Russia, of course).

I can't say I am a big fan of the whole snow thing. Yep, skiing is fun, but the overall "freeze your butt off for 4 months of the year" experience is getting old and boring very, very fast.

However, there's an animal that enjoys snow (or at least that's the common concept about it - who knows what it thinks about snow in reality). By coincidence, the name of that animal have been picked by Apple for their last edition of Mac OS X - 10.6 - the one many of us already use and love. Or hate.

Either way, this brings us to the topic of . . . haxies. They haven't been updated for ages. Some have not even been updated for Mac OS X 10.5 (for a reason). And we're taking this opportunity to rewrite some of our most popular haxies for the latest and greatest OS ever.

While they are not yet ready for public consumption (even in the public beta form), I'd like to share what we've accomplished so far and also clarify on our plans.

First of all, future versions of our haxies will be compatible with 10.6 only - we're dropping 10.5 and below. If you still use an older version of an OS, you can keep using the versions we currently have out. The reason is simple - many haxies have ancient and scary code dating back to 2002. The APIs in the system have changed so much during these 8 years the code became increasingly hard to maintain - heck, some of it is no longer used because the OS has evolved but it is still there. Granted that we're now moving into 64 bit space, with lots of system calls being deprecated, it's a good time to re-engineer the code. As a side effect, we lose compatibility with the older revisions of the Mac OS X. On the bright side, however, it gives us a chance to clean up code and use more modern technologies, where available - such as Core Animation, for example.

Second, our team got bigger - we welcome one of the experts in the Mac OS X low-level programming, Cyril Murzin, to our team.

So what is the current state of things?

We got Application Enhancer working solidly under Snow Leopard - in both 32 and 64 bit modes. Obviously this was the first thing that had to be done - without it, other haxies just won't work. This part is considered done, and it ate most of the time to accomplish.

WindowShade X was largely redone, with the MIP system rewritten from scratch. It is currently in the internal beta, and requires some more attention before I could consider it "publically consumable".

FruitMenu is now in caring hands of Rosyna. It will tell you about it later, I guess. From what I can say, it runs, yet some things still have to be fixed about it.

Labels X was rewritten from scratch, and this one is probably the one closest to the public beta stage at the moment. Yes, it can colorize icons, change label colors (and they change live in the Finder), turn on and off these label bubbles - basically, everything you expect.

Mighty Mouse is due a renewal - Jason is rumored to work on it in February when he gets some spare time from his insanely busy schedule.

Other haxies are currently on hold. As soon as we're done with the above mentioned ones, we'll switch to our other paid haxies. I am not yet sure whether it will be possible to keep Xounds or ShapeShifter alive, however, we will keep you posted here.

You can also follow us (@haxies) on Twitter - it usually contains more inside and up-to-date information. You can also communicate with us there.

And last but not least, thank you for being here and being our inspiration. You guys rock.

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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