Mac News Review

Apple Genius vs. Best Buy Geek, Intro to Mac Malware, 6 Alternative Email Clients, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.07.16

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

Reviews

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Apple Genius vs. Best Buy Geek

PCWorld's Zack Stern notes that many of us have sought in-store support from the Best Buy Geek Squad or from an Apple Store Genius to help us get out of a technology bind, observing that people who've used both services quickly notice that they employ very different styles and approaches - but which one has the better tech chops, Apple, with its "smug and self-aggrandizing Genius characterization" or Best Buy's nonthreatening Geek who occupies a step down in the social hierarchy from "nerd"?

Stern set out to anecdotally determine who offers the best service and results in responding to seven platform-agnostic questions based on real-world issues in the context of Windows 7 for the Geeks and Mac OS X 10.6 for the Geniuses.

Taiwan's Pegatron Reportedly Lands Apple Desktop Orders

DigiTimes' Monica Chen and Joseph Tsai report:

"Taiwan-based notebook maker Pegatron Technology, the spun-off manufacturing arm of Asustek Computer, has reportedly landed desktop orders from Apple, according to sources from market watchers.

"The sources noted that Pegatron's major objective currently is to retrieve its lost Apple MacBook orders and if the rumors about Pegatron landing desktop orders is true then Pegatron is one step closer to achieving its goal."

Is Tesla Motors 'the New Apple'?

Business Insider's Jay Yarow reports that according to George Blankenship, the former Apple marketing executive who steered Apple's brick and mortat store development, and who moved to electric car startup Tesla last week, "Tesla is the new Apple," contending that "Tesla has a great product, lots of innovation in the pipeline, and we just need to teach customers about the company."

Yarow thinks that "on a high level" the Apple-Tesla analogy makes sense, but on closer inspection, the comparison doesn't really hold up, noting that even an expensive iPod is affordable for most ordinary consumers, but a $100,000 Roadster from Tesla is not, and suggesting that Blankenship has "taken a serious gulp of the Tesla Kool-Aid."

Globe & Mail/CTV automotive columnist Jeremy Cato would agree with that assessment and suggests that the 41% surge in Tesla stock prices accompanying the company's public stock offering last week reflects more an irrational exuberance than sober business analysis, while Ford Motor Co. has a sensible and potentially profitable electric vehicle strategy with its plan to launch five new "electrified" vehicles over the next three years - two of then true EVs like the Teslas, and the other three hybrids, making Ford stock, which was under pressure last week,\ still be a much better bet than Tesla stock.

Learn About Mac Malware

The Mac Security Blog, published by Intego (which publishes security software for Macs), says:

"While viruses exist, there are relatively few of them compared to other forms of malware. (This is not only true for Macs, but also for Windows.) Today's malware uses different techniques, and the goal is different. Rather than writing malware just for the fun of infecting computers, the malware that spreads now is written by cyber-criminals to make money. Viruses don't make money, but Trojan horses, which can install malicious software to take control of computers, can.

"Intego has published a page about Mac malware discussing the different types of malware that affect Macs, and providing definitions of the different types. While the general public - and some journalists - use the term virus to talk about malware, this is incorrect. Take a few minutes to learn more about malware that affects Macs...."

Is Printer Ink a Consumer Rip-off? 3 Facts Printer Manufacturers Don't Want Consumers to Know

PR: PrinterExperts.com says shopping for replacement ink and toner cartridges can be an eye opening experience. Consumers quickly realize that the cost of purchasing a printer is minimal when compared to the cost of operating that printer, particularly the high cost of buying replacement ink and toner cartridges. It is not uncommon to find that the cost of replacing each of the four color toner cartridges in some of today's most popular color laser printers will cost more than the price paid to purchase the printer. The purpose of this article isn't to support or defend the cost the manufacturers charge for these consumables, rather to raise consumer awareness and to inform them about alternative replacement cartridge options.

The printer manufacturers claim that the retail cost of replacement cartridges is not high at all, rather fair . They back up these claims by stating the costs reflect the billions of dollars spent on the research and development of the science behind the ink and cartridge technologies. The reality is that the printer consumables product lines, which includes replacement ink and toner cartridges, are some of the most profitable product lines for printer manufacturers. The cost of printer consumables (ink and toner) has risen due to a very high consumer demand for these cartridges.

Facts Every Consumer Should Know About Ink and Toner Cartridges

Fact #1: Using Remanufactured Ink and Toner Cartridges Will Save Consumers Money

Remanufactured and New Compatible replacement ink and toner cartridges can be used by consumers instead of using Brand New OEM (original equipment manufacturer) cartridges.

Remanufactured cartridges from reputable suppliers typically consist of a reconditioned cartridge that has been given new parts (wipers, blades, drum, toner, ink, etc.). These cartridges are subjected to quality control testing, performance testing, and then sealed and packaged for sale.

New Compatible cartridges are actually manufactured new cartridges and not reconditioned cartridges. They are considered generic versions of their respective OEM cartridges.

Remanufactured and new compatible ink and toner cartridges cost much less than their OEM counterparts. Most reputable vendors of these cartridges offer them at discounts of 50% - 80% less than the new OEM cartridge would cost.

Our customers typically save 50% or more when they buy remanufactured cartridges from us instead of visiting their local office supply store. states Anthony Allen, President of PrinterExperts.com, a Dayton, Ohio based Internet retailer that sells remanufactured and compatible ink and toner cartridges. We have one customer that operates 48 auto parts stores across Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio that started buying remanufactured toner cartridges from us, which resulted in annual savings of $36,000.

Consumers who replace ink and toner cartridges just once or twice annually can save hundreds of dollars, while consumers who replace their cartridges more frequently can realize annual savings in the thousands of dollars.

Fact #2: Using Remanufactured Ink and Toner Cartridges Does Not Impact the Warranty of the Printer

Consumers are often misinformed and led to believe that using remanufactured or compatible cartridges in their printer will void their printer's warranty. This is completely false. Ink and toner cartridges are user replaceable parts and consumers have the right, under US Federal Trade Commission Law, to use non-OEM or non-branded parts when replacing them. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act is a United States of America Federal Law that states "Warrantors cannot require that only branded parts be used with the product in order to retain the warranty." Enacted in 1975, it is the federal statute that governs warranties on consumer products.

Consumers are encouraged to research this law and get a better understanding of their rights as consumers.

Fact #3: Remanufactured Ink and Toner Cartridges Perform as Well as New OEM Branded Cartridges

The ink and toner aftermarket is made up of many companies selling remanufactured and compatible printer consumables, mainly ink and toner cartridges. To put it in perspective, a recent study valued the global toner cartridge and toner supply industry at $40 billion annually. Aftermarket toner cartridges and toner supplies make up 25% of the market or $10 billion annually.

The reason behind this growing figure is simple. The $10 billion aftermarket toner cartridge and supplies market exists because these products work and offer consumers lower cost alternatives to buying new OEM branded supplies.

Consumers considering the purchase of aftermarket toner products should seek out a reputable vendor. Reputable vendors of these products typically offer 100% satisfaction guarantees on their products that will allow consumers to return the products if they are not satisfied with the performance of the supplies. Business accreditations, such as Better Business Bureau, and other company accolades should also be investigated when trying to determine a company's ability to supply quality products and services.

Remanufactured ink and toner cartridges purchased from reputable vendors and suppliers are going to work in the printers they were designed for. Print quality, color quality, and page yields should be equal to that of the OEM version of the cartridge or product.

In conclusion, consumers are encouraged to increase their own knowledge of the facts stated above as the printer manufacturers don't promote this type of information. Understanding the information in this article and your rights as a consumer will lead to making better purchasing decisions and hopefully save you a few bucks during the process.

PrinterExperts.com is owned by Printer Experts LLC. They sell OEM brand, remanufactured, and compatible printer supplies for most major brands including Brother, Canon, Dell, HP, Konica-Minolta, Lexmark, Okidata, Samsung, and Xerox.

Reviews

Comparing Value: $699 Photoshop vs. $59 Pixelmator

Mac 360's Bambi Brannan says:

"Attention Photoshop haters and lovers. It is time to rejoice and unite in spirit and value. There's a new kid in town and he's here to claim the Mac 360 Value Crown and go head to head against Adobe's Cash Cow.

"Why pay nearly $700 for Photoshop when you can get a high powered design tool for less than one tenth what Adobe charges? Pixelmator has gone Nucleus with more features, more power, same low price...."

6 Alternative Mac Email Clients

Fairer Platform says:

"From Mozilla's Thunderbird, and its variants, to the retro-looking MailSmith, you do have choices besides the two most-common email clients, Apple Mail and Microsoft Entourage, when you update or set up your Mac. Here are five fine Mac email clients that will get the job and then some for exactly zero dollars."

  1. Thunderbird
  2. MailSmith
  3. SeaMonkey
  4. Postbox Express
  5. Eudora OSE
  6. Pine

Essential Free Apps for Mac Troubleshooting

MacFixIt's Topher Kessler profiles some free software that can improve your Mac experience immensely, noting that "When it comes to troubleshooting the Macintosh, there are many utilities available for getting the job done. Some are cheap and some expensive but for most you will have to shell out a bit of cash for a license. However, there are also some very robust free options out there for troubleshooting software problems to managing hardware issues."

Kessler observes that many freeware options can be just as good if not better than the paid alternatives, and cites list of some he's found particularly handy:

Charles Moore is a big fan of OnyX and Temperature Monitor.

Products & Services

Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, Fourth Edition - New from No Starch Press

No Starch Press has released a revised and expanded edition of Rickford Grant and Paul Bull's best-selling book for new Linux users.

Ubuntu for Non-GeeksUbuntu has been hailed as the Linux distribution for newbies, but getting it up and running isn't always a walk in the park. Linux is different, but the same unique features that make it shine can also prove intimidating for new users.

Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, 4th Edition (No Starch Press, July 2010, 496 pp., $34.95, ISBN 9781593272579) eases the transition to Linux by offering readers hands-on instruction to help them get up, running, and comfortable with Ubuntu, fast. In addition to covering the latest features of Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx), this edition includes five new chapters that walk readers through common tasks like installing games, accessing social networks, troubleshooting common hardware and software problems, connecting with the Ubuntu community, and accessing the files on their Windows installation.

"A lot has happened since the first edition of Ubuntu for Non-Geeks came out, and Linux has attracted more users than ever before," said co-author Rickford Grant. "Our goal with this edition was to address the needs of the ever-growing, varied population of Linux users and to gently welcome newcomers into the world of Linux." Co-author Phil Bull adds, "We didn't want to introduce readers to Linux with list upon list of dry instructions. Instead, our approach was to concentrate on doing interesting things, tinkering with settings, working through cool projects, and generally having fun, while still covering the fundamentals."

In Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, readers learn how to:

  • Install Ubuntu and keep it updated
  • Set up printers, scanners, USB flash drives, and other hardware
  • Install and play free games like Frets on Fire, Frozen Bubble, and Warzone 2100
  • Watch DVDs, listen to music, and sync their iPod, iPhone, and other mobile devices
  • Edit and share digital photos and videos
  • Create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations
  • Customize the look and feel of their system
  • Work with Windows files and programs on Linux
  • Connect with the Ubuntu community to get support or join in
  • Work with the command line (or avoid it altogether!)

Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, 4th Edition is probably just what you need to help you get started with Linux.

Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, 4th Edition
Rickford Grant with Phil Bull
July 2010, 496 pp
ISBN 9781593272579, $34.95
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938
1-707-827-7000
Currently available from Amazon.com for $23.07. (Orders over $25 qualify for free Super Saver shipping.)

Software

DasBoot: Free Mac OS X Diagnostic/Emergency Boot Software

Do you have a shiny new flash drive, or multi-use storage device in your pocket ? Now you can turn it into a Mac OS X diagnostic, repair, and maintenance tool. DasBoot allows you to take any third-party boot CD (such as those shipped by SubRosaSoft Inc., Prosoft Engineering Inc., Alsoft Inc., or Micromat Inc.) and quickly create a bootable diagnostic device that contains any of your own utilities you may wish to install.

You can use your device to boot and repair Mac OS X computers as needed without erasing it and taking away your ability to use it for other purposes such as playing music, or watching videos. With the help of DasBoot™ you get to carry all the tools you'll need with you. But unlike expensive third-party alternatives, you'll have plenty of space left over in case you need to recover data.

DasBoot devices run software much faster than a CD/DVD repair disk. In addition you can reconfigure the device at any time to add new utilities, updated versions of software or newer versions of Mac OS X.

Build a pocket-sized tool kit for your Mac that includes all your powerful utilities in one place. Powerful programs like FileSalvage, CopyCatX, MacForensicsLab, Drive Genius, and Disk Warrior, all in one place to keep your Mac running at peak performance.

Creating a DasBoot device is simple. Insert a flash drive or other device you wish to make a powerful repair kit, select the utilities you d like to include on the repair disk and use a 3rd party bootable CD/DVD (such as those included with FileSalvage, Disk Warrior, Drive Genius, etc.) and create your repair drive in minutes.

DasBoot is so easy to use that any Mac user can make their own boot device to maintain the health of their computer. It's so powerful that it's used by computer repair and industry professionals to keep their customers computers running great and to recover lost data. You no longer need to carry around countless boot disks for each of your recovery, repair, and maintenance applications. With DasBoot you can keep all your disk tools in one convenient place where they re ready for whatever problems may arise with your machine. DasBoot devices also boot and run much faster then optical media so you can get to the task of maintaining your machine quicker.

DasBoot has been tested with the following disk utilities and data recovery tools, but will also run many others, including CopyCatX, FileSalvage, MacForensicsLab, VolumeWorks, Drive Genius, Data Rescue 3, DiskWarrior, and TechTool Pro 5.

Tiger (OS X 10.4) users: DasBoot 2.0 supports Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or greater. DasBoot 1.0.3 is compatible with Tiger and can be freely downloaded as well.

DasBoot is free to download, and may be freely distributed.

* Note - Users of DasBoot must have purchased licenses to install the various disk utilities and own an appropriate disk utility bootable CD/DVD to use as the source disk. DasBoot works with FireWire and USB external storage devices on your Intel-based Mac or FireWire only devices on PowerPC-based Macs. DasBoot does not support the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Pixelmator 1.6: Improved Performance, 64-bit Support, and More

The Pixelmator Team released Pixelmator 1.6, an update of their Photoshop-challenging GPU-powered bitmap image editing tool. Available as a free software update for registered users of Pixelmator 1.x, version 1.6, code named "Nucleus," adds major performance improvements, notably 64-bit support, layer groups, an Import feature, Flickr, Facebook and Picasa support, plus redesigned transform tools, and more.

Pixelmator 1.6
Pixelmator 1.6

"Pixelmator makes it incredibly easy and fun for anyone to enjoy the best of image editing," says Pixelmator's cofounder Saulius Dailide. "Now, with Pixelmator 1.6's Nucleus foundation, which takes advantage of the latest Mac OS X technologies, Pixelmator delivers the greatest-possible image editing performance ever."

In addition to 64-bit support, which makes use of large amounts of RAM and increases performance, Dailide says that Pixelmator Team engineers have polished almost every part of the Pixelmator foundation in order to allow users to take full advantage of the power of graphics processing available in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Thanks to these improvements, the overall performance of Pixelmator is claimed to be up to 40% improved (and it was no slouch in version 1.5), with launch time now twice as fast and the ability to paint with Pixelmator four times faster than it was in the previous version. Pixelmator says users should notice the overall performance improvements in nearly every function of the application.

Pixelmator 1.6

The new Layer Groups feature allows users to easily organize and manage layers in a Pixelmator composition. You can use groups to arrange layers in a logical order and to reduce clutter in the Layers palette, and also use Layer Groups to apply blending modes, opacity, masks, or even transformations to multiple layers simultaneously.

The new additions to Pixelmator's "Send To" feature make it easy to quickly publish images to online photo sharing sites such as Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa right from the application. The new Import feature allows quick and easy importing of images directly to Pixelmator from cameras, scanners, and multifunction devices such as camera/phones, printer/scanners, and such as iPhones and iPads.

Other new features in Pixelmator 1.6 Nucleus include redesigned transforming tools which are more precise and easier-to-use, Automator Actions for trimming and watermarking images, improved printing, minor user interface changes, compatibility improvements, and several bug fixes.

Pixelmator 1.6.0 changelog:

Major performance improvements

  • 64-Bit support
  • Layer Groups
  • Send to Flickr, Picasa, and Facebook
  • Import directly from cameras, scanners, multifunction devices, and devices such as iPhone and iPad
  • New transforming tools
  • New printing engine
  • Trim Images and Watermark Images Automator Actions
  • Deeper Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard integration

Improvements

  • Open Recent button added to the Welcome Screen
  • iSight support improved
  • Ruler performance improved
  • Progress bar added when saving larger files
  • Edit in Quick Mask mode added to the Edit menu
  • Alpha pixels are now properly supported by clipping masks
  • New cursors for Hand and Zoom tools added
  • Ability to reset palette locations by pressing Command + Shift + R added
  • Gradient palette is now separated from Brushes palette and can be shown or hidden by pressing the Command + 4 keyboard shortcut
  • Layers palette contextual menu improved
  • Appearance of type layer thumbnails improved
  • License menu item will not appear if the application is already licensed
  • Fit Images Automator action now includes the ability to proportionally scale images
  • German, French, and Japanese localizations updated
  • Minor user interface improvements added
  • Help in-app documentation updated

Corrected Bugs

  • A bug that caused incorrect palettes size and position
  • A bug that caused Eyedropper to move by 1 pixel when picking color
  • A bug that caused Gradients palette not to resize when gradients removed
  • A bug that caused the Hand tool not to work correctly after Tab shortcut is pressed
  • A bug that sometimes caused some palettes to disappear
  • A bug that sometimes caused objects to disappear when using Distort transform
  • A bug that caused filters not to load after using the Replace Color function
  • A bug that caused Clipping Mask to work incorrectly after editing layer's mask
  • A bug that caused clipping layers not to show up after the main layer is hidden

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.6
  • Core Image supported graphics card (recommended)
  • Some features require Mac OS X 10.6 Leopard and/or iLife.

Pixelmator 1.6 is available for $59 and is a free update for registered Pixelmator users. System requirements, as well as a 30-day Pixelmator trial and more information on Pixelmator, can be found online.

WindowShade X 5.0.4

With WindowShade X, you can assign the following actions to the minimize button and a double-click on the window title:

  • Minimize the window to the Dock, like always;
  • "Windowshade" the window into a tiny strip to quickly peek below or get it out of the way;
  • Minimize-In-Place the window so it becomes really small so you can move it out of the way yet still see what is going on;
  • Make the window transparent so you can continue working in it while seeing things under it;
  • Hide the application quickly;
  • Do nothing and ignore the action (sometimes it is quite useful as well).

These actions can be set on per-application basis so you can configure your workspace to be convenient for you - get more accomplished, and make it happen quicker.

New in version 5.0.4:

  • Addressed a packaging error that prevented WSX from working with carbon applications.

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.6 or later.
  • Rosetta.
  • Intel

WindowShade X v5.0 and newer are NOT compatible with Mac OS X 10.5.x. Please download version 4.3 if you are running Mac OS X 10.5. Please note that this version is unsupported.

$15 shareware

The WSX 5.x is a paid upgrade. If you bought WSX on or after August 28th, 2009, this upgrade is free. If you bought WSX before August 28th, 2009 and you have a previously valid serial number, you will be given a 33% coupon if you wish to update. Your currently valid code will continue to work with older releases of WSX.

Desktop Mac Deals

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.

Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Google+, or subscribe to our RSS news feed

Links for the Day

Recent Content

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Custom Search

Follow Low End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Mac on Facebook

Favorite Sites

MacSurfer
Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
MacInTouch
MyAppleMenu
InfoMac
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
RetroMacCast
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
DealMac
Mac2Sell
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

Affiliates

Amazon.com
The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac
eBay

Low End Mac's Amazon.com store

Advertise

Open Link