Mac News Review

Google Dumping Windows, Raskin Zoomable Finder Alternative, Sync Windows PCs and Macs, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.06.04

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

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Security Concerns Prompt Google to Dump Windows for Macs, Linux

AppleInsider's Sam Oliver reports:

"A major security breach in which Google's Chinese operations were hacked could 'effectively end' the presence of Microsoft Windows machines at the search giant, with most systems replaced by Macs.

"According to the Financial Times, multiple Google employees said that the company is phasing out the use of machines running Microsoft Windows. Most of those systems will reportedly be replaced by hardware from Apple."

How to Get Rid of OpinionSpy Spyware from Your Mac

The Guardian's Jack Schofield says:

"The newly-discovered adware - though it's really spyware - takes root permissions and relaunches if you kill it. Nasty.

"If you're using Mac OS X and think that you may have installed one of the list of infected screensavers or applications containing the OpinionSpy/PremierOpinion spyware - or just feel worried - here's what to do."

Editor's note: It's time for Mac users to be as wary as Windows users about downloading free screen savers, games, and system enhancements, as they are a leading vector for Trojans, spyware, bots, etc. Mac OS X is still pretty safe, but it is not invulnerable. dk

Raskin, a Zoomable Alternative to the Mac Desktop

PR: A team of Swiss software developers has unveiled Raskin - their zoomable Mac desktop alternative - to the world.

Raskin home screen
The Raskin home screen.

Inspired by Jef Raskin (Macintosh Inventor and Author of "The Humane Interface"), the visual user interface shows the contents of your computer on a single surface.

"We're really digging into Apple territory here, so we're excited to get first reactions from the industry and from Mac people everywhere," says Raskin's Chief Software Engineer, Martin Halter.

Raskin scroll bars
Raskin scroll bars.

Eight years in development, the application's simplicity, functionality, and ease of use trumps most attempts in this area to date. The software's main feature - zoom and pan navigation - let's you view, arrange, and open documents simply, without opening Finder windows or multiple folders.

Moving around the Raskin surface with the use of the pinch gesture - to zoom in and out - familiar to iPhone and iPad users, makes interacting with the computer feel more natural. Raskin has been optimized for Mac OS X Snow Leopard and high resolution displays. Raskin may appear simple to the user, but behind the fluid navigation is a complex series of algorithms - something only today's machines can handle.

Raskin showing entire surface
The Raskin surface.

After building a crude prototype in 2002, Raskin's creators waited almost six years before continuing development in earnest, due to operating system, graphic resolution, and CPU performance limitations. "I think the end product has benefited from the long incubation period," says Raskin's cofounder, Michael Rosewich. "We had a very clear vision, and then we had to wait for technology to catch up."

Raskin folders
Raskin's implementation of folders.

The Raskin team will be attending the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2010 next week in San Francisco, to introduce their software to fellow Mac developers before testing the software in Cupertino, California at Apple's Developer Compatibility Labs. With zoom and pan interaction, Raskin is a single surface alternative to the traditional Mac desktop, to locate and open documents and applications on your computer.

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6

Raskin is available directly from the company at the introductory WWDC Promo Offer price of $20 until June 14, after which regular price of $50 will apply (Free 30-Day Trial).

Raskin llc
Walchestrasse 30
8006 Zurich
Switzerland
Tel. +41 44 450 6975
Fax +41 43 499 0971
email: info@raskinformac.com

Why an iPad and a Mac mini Are This Mac Columnist's Computing Future

TUAW's TJ Luoma says:

"A strange realization dawned on me today: I have already made mental plans to eventually replace two Mac devices I already own with two totally different devices that I don't yet own. Namely, I am planning to replace my MacBook Pro with an iPad and my iMac with a Mac mini."

Should You Store Important Data on Optical Disks?

The BBC's David Reid warns that preserving precious data like pictures and home videos on recordable optical disks, including CDs and DVDs, could result in data loss, according to a new study by the French National Centre for Scientific Research. Testing the longevity of portable media by artificially aging it with heat, water vapour, and light has determined that the lifetime of these disks, some of which were projected to last for centuries, was actually more in the range of five to ten years - and in the most severe cases (happily quite rare), data on some disks lasted just one year. Moreover, brand was not a reliable indicator of high or low quality.

What a Mac-loving Son Gets His Mac-loving Dad

OWC blogger Chris S. says:

"A frequent topic of my articles in the OWC Blog center around my adventures in keeping my dad's Mac mini up and running. As we're in the Father's Day season, I think it's only appropriate that I put together a list of items that would enhance his digital lifestyle. Perhaps your father might appreciate one or more of these items, as well. Of course, I don't make nearly enough to get him everything here (we have to keep our prices low somehow), but at least it's a good launch point for ideas, for both my Dad and maybe yours, too.

"First of all, I'd have to get him a new Mac mini...."

Operating System and Browser Market Shares for May 2010

Windows slipped a bit more in May, but the Mac OS lost a sliver of ground too. However the iPad gained from 0.03% in April to 0.08%, leapfrogging over Blackberry and Windows Mobile into 9th place overall. In browser space, Internet Explorer is still losing ground, falling below 60%. Firefox is also down marginally, with Chrome the biggest gainer again in May

Here's the Operating System Total Market Share rundown of the significant players for May 2010 (April figures in parentheses) tracking changes over the the past month, with Windows slipping a bit more, but the Mac OS losing share too; Linux, Android, and especially the iPad gaining.

  • Windows: 91.28 (91.40%)
  • Mac: 5.27% (5.32%)
  • Linux: 1.13% (1.05%)
  • JavaME: 0.73% (0.79)
  • iPhone: 0.60% (0.53%)
  • Symbian: 0.26% (0.23%)
  • iPod touch: 0.12% (0.12%)
  • Android: 0.11% (0.09%)
  • BlackBerry: 0.07% 0.05%)
  • iPad: 0.08% (0.03%)
  • Windows Mobile: 0.05% (0.09%)
  • Playstation: 0.03% (0.04%)
  • FreeBSD: 0.01% (0.01% )
  • SunOS: 0.01% (0.01%)

The iPhone OS overall (iPhone + iPod touch + iPad) is 0.80%, up from 0.68% in April.

In terms of specific OS versions, Windows 7's momentum continues, while Windows XP and Vista fade. Apple's OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is the most prolific Mac OS version prowling for a second month, more than tripling OS X 10.4 Tiger's receding user share - a contrast with Windows, whose OS X 10.4 contemporary Windows XP is still far and away the most prolific version in the Windows space.

  • Windows:
    • Windows XP 62.53% (63.41%)
    • Windows Vista 15.26% (15.60%)
    • Windows 7 12.67% (11.68%)
    • Windows 2000 0.50% (0.56)
    • Windows NT 0.17% (0.21% )
    • Windows 98 0.07% (0.07%)
    • Windows ME 0.03% (0.07%)
  • Macintosh:
    • Mac OS X 10.6: 2.34% (2.26%)
    • Mac OS X 10.5: 1.96%
    • Mac OS X 10.4 0.66% (0.71%)
    • iPhone: 0.60% (0.53)
    • Mac OS X (no version reported) 0.14% (0.14)
    • iPod: 0.12% (0.12%)
    • Mac OS X Mach-O 0.05% (0.04%)
    • iPad: 0.08% 0.03%
  • Linux: 1.13% (1.05%)

Browser Share

Turning to browsers, Internet Explorer is still below 60%, but Firefox is also down marginally, the tantalizing one-quarter of the browser market still elusive. Chrome was the biggest gainer again in May among the major browsers, with Safari also gaining a hair and Opera up a smidge as well. Opera Mini remains the 6th place browser in its own right, gaining slightly.

Browser Total Market Share (April '10 figures in parentheses)

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer: 59.69% (59.95%)
  • Firefox: 24.35% (24.59%)
  • Chrome: 7.05% (6.73%)
  • Safari: 4.77% (4.72%)
  • Opera: 2.43% (2.30%)
  • Opera Mini: 0.74% (0.79%)
  • Netscape: 0.46% (0.46%)
  • Mozilla: 0.17% (0.16%)
  • Flock: 0.07% (0.06%)

Google Chrome OS Could Shake Up PC Market

PC World's Jeff Bertolucci says:

"It's official: Google plans to debut its Chrome operating system in the fourth quarter of this year....

"Chrome OS, announced by Google nearly a year ago, is a lightweight, open source operating system designed for netbooks, at least initially. Like its namesake Chrome browser that's steadily gaining market share, Google's new OS is built for speed. Startup times, including access to the Web, should take seconds rather than the minute or longer that most Windows users endure. The cloud-based design should provide quick access to Google's suite of online applications too....

"So does the world need another desktop operating system? Yes . . . Google's simple promise: Faster access to the Web, online apps with cloud storage, and fewer security hassles."

Software

PlayNice Software Lets Users Sync Data Between Windows & Mac OS X

PR: PocketMac, releases PlayNice for Mac & Windows. PlayNice is the first software to allow users to sync data from Windows & Macintosh computers.

"There's no reason that you shouldn't be able to have your data current between your Windows and Mac machines," Tim Goggin, VP of Sales & Marketing said. "And now you can with PlayNice - it's the first software to give you this power."

Unlike subscription services like MobileMe, PlayNice is a one-time purchase-and-install and there are no subscription costs.

With PlayNice, Mac and PC users sync contacts, appointments, and tasks between Outlook on Windows and Address Book/iCal on Mac.

Goggin continued, "With PlayNice, users can sync between their Mac and their PC. They can sync between their Mac and their other Mac. They can sync between their two Macs and their PC. They can sync between their two PCs and their Mac. Now they can make sure their data is current on on all their machines.

"PlayNice also works with Parallels Desktop as well," Goggin added. "That means you can sync between your Mac OS partition and your virtual Windows box. It's simple and automatic."

One copy of PlayNice can be installed on up to 3 computers so that means with one license, a user can sync up to 3 machines. What's more, PlayNice can also sync between two or more computers on the same network, be they Mac or PC.

Goggin added, "This is the tool for people who need secure synching of their data across different computers. With PlayNice for Mac & Windows, customers no longer have to worry about their crucial data being out-of-sync or out-of-date on any of their computers. And like all PocketMac products, PlayNice comes with a full 90-day money back guarantee. If you don't like it for any reason, we'll refund your money completely."

The system requirements for PlayNice are:

Macintosh Requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.5 ("Leopard")
  • Mac OS X 10.6 ("Snow Leopard")
  • 50 MB free disk space on your Mac
  • Intel Macs Only

Windows Requirements

  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • 50 MB free disk space on your PC
  • Outlook 2000 Or Outlook 2003 Or Outlook XP Or Outlook 2007

PlayNice retails for $39.97.

A YouTube video demoing the product is available.

VMware Fusion Users: Upgrade to Parallels Desktop 5 for $39.99

PR: Parallels announces that it is offering VMware Fusion users a free trial of Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac and a limited-time opportunity to upgrade to a better and faster experience with Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac for only $39.99 until June 15th. Parallels' No. 1 selling and award-winning software enables customers to seamlessly run Windows programs and Mac OS X applications side-by-side on an Apple computer without rebooting.

"Fusion 3 users have been waiting seven months for an update that VMware said would fix the problems their users had," said Mary Starman, director of consumer marketing for Parallels. "We see the disappointment Fusion 3 users have had because VMware's update still doesn't deliver the performance that Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac customers have enjoyed since last year; that's why we are making this special offer for VMware users to switch to Parallels."

Parallels Desktop 5 brings superior performance that Fusion users will find appealing:

  • Fastest: Parallels still delivers the fastest performance, including graphics and overall virtual machine operations.
  • Smarter: Simply import your Fusion virtual machine into Parallels Desktop.
  • Powerful: Parallels is the only Autodesk certified, supported and recommended solution for Mac.

Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac is available to Fusion users for $39.99 until June 15, 2010.

It includes $175 worth of additional software for free: Parallels Internet Security 2009 by Kaspersky (1 year subscription); Acronis Disk Director Suite 10.0 (Disk Management); and Acronis True Image 11 Home (Backup and Recovery Solutions).

A free trial of Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac is available along with detailed information, videos, and screenshots of the new features.

New Kensington TrackballWorks Software Offers Increased Trackball Speed & Productivity

PR: Kensington Computer Products Group has announced its TrackballWorks software, designed to customize the user experience with Kensington's award winning trackballs for increased productivity and comfort.

Kensington SlimBlade TrackballKensington's latest smart made simple design provides users with the freedom to assign functions or keyboard shortcuts to any trackballs buttons to match the way they work. Additionally, the software enables "chording" to assign additional functions to combinations of trackball buttons. TrackballWorks is built to work with the latest versions of Windows and Mac operating systems.

"At Kensington, we pride ourselves on listening to what our customers ask for to optimize their experience" says Bill Rathbone, Global Product Marketing Manager, Kensington. "Our customers have told us that customization is an important part of what they look for in a trackball. TrackballWorks is designed to meet that need and lets users be even more productive."

Features of the Kensington TrackballWorks software include:

  • Customizable buttons - Assign function or keyboard shortcuts to trackball buttons or a combination of buttons
  • Pointer motion - Adjust pointer speed and acceleration for greater precision
  • Scrolling speed & direction - Adjust scrolling speed and direction
  • Compatibility - Works with the latest operating system versions of Windows and Mac

Kensington's family of trackballs includes:

  • Kensington SlimBlade Trackball (K72327US; SRP $129.99)
    Gain precision and comfort with the Kensington SlimBlade Trackball. The low-profile design provides hours of comfort while also saving desk space. And the extra large ball provides fingertip precision no mouse can match.
  • Kensington Expert Mouse (K64325US; SRP $99.99)
    For the ultimate in productivity and comfort, get on the ball with the award-winning Kensington Expert Mouse. The TrackballWorks software lets you customize the four button functions. What's more, the unique scroll ring delivers precise fingertip scrolling while the optical technology and large ball provide highly accurate cursor control without requiring the arm movement or desktop space of a standard mouse.
  • Kensington Orbit Trackball with Scroll RingKensington Orbit Trackball with Scroll Ring (K72337US; SRP $39.99)
    All-day comfort and click-free scrolling come together in the Kensington 2-button Orbit Trackball with Scroll Ring. The scroll ring allows you to fly through web pages and documents. And all while delivering comfort and space savings no mouse can match.
  • Kensington Orbit Optical Trackball (K64327US; SRP: $29.99)
    Navigate with greater comfort and precision while saving valuable desktop space. The optical technology delivers precise cursor control with the touch of a finger while the two-button design provides an interface that's familiar to mouse users.

Kensington trackballs are available for purchase at Amazon.com and Kensington.com.

Purchase Links

  • Kensington Orbit Trackball with Scroll Ring, currently $34.94 from Amazon.com with free ground shipping
  • Kensington Orbit Optical Trackball, currently $22.99 from Amazon.com (free ground shipping with $25 order)
  • Kensington SlimBlade Trackball, currently $95 from Amazon.com with free ground shipping
  • Kensington Expert Mouse, currently $75.84 from Amazon.com with free ground shipping

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