Mac News Review

Mac mini Too Expensive?, $40 Computer Bifocals, Best Free Mac Antivirus App Gets Better, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2010.10.01

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

Products & Services

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Mac mini 'Too Expensive' by PC Standards

PC Authority's Darien Graham-Smith deems the 2010 Mac mini a likable, well-engineered machine - "front-room friendly" with its stylish aluminum casing, cool running, and near silence - but declares it not worth anywhere near the asking price.

Graham-Smith says Apple's claim to using "the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processors" in the mini is misleading, since the Core 2 Duo is last-generation Intel chip technology, and says the the processor upgrade option to a faster 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo is "a rip-off" with the difference in retail price for the faster silicon being around Aus$100 - but with Apple charging Aus$210. Ditto for Apple demanding Aus$140 for a hard drive upgrade from 320 GB to 500 GB, when you can buy a brand-new 500 GB drive retail for less than Aus$100, noting that "on paper it looks like the Mac mini should be half the price."

Editor's note: The Australian dollar is currently worth 3% less than the US dollar.

Highlights from the 2010 Accordance Bible Software Users Conference

This Lamp's Rick Mansfield reports that the first-ever Accordance Users Conference, which met from September 24-25. was designed to be distinct from the normal training seminar. While attendees could certainly learn to use Accordance better as in a training seminar, the Users Conference was chance to see a variety of specialized presentations on numerous topics. The timing of the conference also coincided with the release of Accordance version 9, and the upcoming iOS version of Accordance which was publicly demonstrated for the first time.

Products & Services

$40 Optically Designed OTC Computer Bifocals Can Prevent Eyestrain and Related Aches and Pains

PR: Computer Eyed introduces high quality, affordable, over the counter computer glasses that prevent the irritated eyes and upper back and neck pain that is associated with computer or digital device use. The optically designed bifocal computer glasses correct for both midrange (computer) and close (reading/keyboard) vision. The patent-pending lens has an antiglare coating that reduces digital glare and provides increased visual comfort and acuity.

Computer Eyed computer bifocals"These over the counter computer glasses will revolutionize the eyeglass industry the way the over the counter readers did for reading glasses," says Dave Grossman, COO of Computer Eyed, "computer users are looking for a high quality affordable option."

The increased use of computers and digital devices are taking a toll on the nation's eye health. The Vision Council of America estimates that more than 10 million Americans suffer from vision problems related to computer usage. A study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry found that there is a direct correlation between proper vision correction and worker productivity.

Recognizing that there was a growing need to provide high quality, affordable, ready-made eye protection for the millions of computer users, Computer Eyed, a division of Vision Concepts International, developed a line of innovative optical quality computer glasses that correct for both computer vision, (midrange,18" to 30" from object) and reading/keyboard vision, (close, 8" to 12" from object). The patent-pending lens also has an antiglare coating that reduces the digital glare emitted from the average computer screen, thus providing the user increased visual comfort and acuity.

Computer Eyed computer bifocals"Most people don't know that they are using their midrange vision when viewing a computer,"says Optician Lester Frankel, but by wearing eyeglasses designed to correct for midrange vision, visual discomfort will be eliminated."

Custom made computer glasses can cost consumers hundreds of dollars. Computer Eyed's over the counter bifocal computer readers are affordable, fashionable, and prevent the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome.

Computer Eyed's computer glasses come in eight fashionable frame styles. The optical quality frames in a variety of styles have spring hinges, stylish detailing, and come with coordinating protective eyeglass case. Lens powers offered start at +1.50 through +3.00. Suggested retail is $39.99.

Features and Benefits of Computer Eyed Computer Glasses

  • Prevents the symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome
  • Optical quality bifocal lens that corrects for both reading (close) and computer (midrange) vision
  • Convenience, one pair of eyeglasses that corrects two vision problems
  • Antiglare coating that reduces digital glare and provides increased visual acuity and comfort
  • Optical quality frame and lens
  • Spring hinges
  • Light weight
  • Comes with coordinating protective eyeglass case

Publisher's note: I discovered years ago (after graduating to bifocals) how useful it is to have computer glasses when you spend a lot of time in front of the computer. This sounds like the next best thing to prescription computer glasses, and at a very reasonable price.

SteelSeries Shift Interchangeable Keyset Gaming Keyboard

SteelSeries Shift gaming keyboardPR: SteelSeries has announced their new SteelSeries Shift gaming keyboard. Named for the ability to alter its appearance and functionality through interchangeable keysets, the SteelSeries Shift brings gamers advanced customization capabilities that improve the way they approach, experience, and master their game.

"With the introduction of the SteelSeries Shift, we're able to bring another unique and powerful gaming tool to consumers, says SteelSeries CEO, Bruce Hawver. "The Shift greatly expands the functionality and concept of the original Zboard, which joined our product line in 2008 as a result of our acquisition of Ideazon, with new SteelSeries features that will provide gamers with a keyboard experience that can be customized for all types of games. As we bring the SteelSeries Shift to market, we are continuing to work with the best developers and publishers in the games industry to offer player's unique layouts and functionalities that will enhance their entire gaming experience."

Premium Build Quality

SteelSeries Shift gaming keyboardThe interchangeable keyset design is the only common denominator between the SteelSeries Shift and Zboard. The new keyboard was constructed from ground up with high-quality, strong materials that add durability and functionality. The base of the Shift and the new Shift Keysets are all made with premium plastic and finishes for a superior look and feel. With three height levels, extra wide feet, and a wrist rest that include rubber inserts to prevent slipping, users are able to choose what feels most comfortable for their preferences.

Additional hardware features include:

  • Gold plated audio-out and microphone-in 3.5mm ports

2 USB 2.0 ports, including 1 powered

  • LED indicators to alert when profiles and functions are active
  • Onboard memory allows users to easily record up to 3 layers of on-the-fly macros at the top of the SteelSeries Shift base and have access to instant media controls on the left side of the keyboard. The Bar and Pad Lock keys allow additional layers of mapping on the F and NUM Pad keys that can be utilized in games or in daily applications.

Every key on the SteelSeries Shift can be customized; more than just macros, players can record a sequence of actions with delays and then map that sequence to a single key. Users can then program advanced capabilities in multiple layers per key. Players can take advantage of an endless amount of layered movements with the support of its anti-ghosting capability, which allows up to simultaneous 7 keystrokes.

Customized Gaming Terrain

Equipped with an advanced chip reader in the SteelSeries Shift base, users can easily interchange SteelSeries Shift Keysets from the Standard QWERTY Keyset, which is included, to licensed Keysets of blockbuster game titles that are each sold separately. Every keyset is uniquely designed in cooperation with game publishers and configured with input from expert players to establish an intuitive command setup and predefined game mods for games of all types.

The SteelSeries Shift and Shift Keysets are forward and backward compatible with SteelSeries Zboard and Zboard Keysets. Keysets that support backwards compatibility includes Aionô, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. Check out our product page for further details about compatibility.

The SteelSeries Shift has an MSRP of $89.99/ €89.99 and includes the Shift Base, and the Standard QWERTY Keyset. The SteelSeries Shift Keysets will be sold separately for $24.99 / €24.99. You can check out the new SteelSeries Shift online.

Software

ClamXav, Best Free Mac Antivirus App, Better than Ever

Fairer Platform declares ClamXav 2.0.7 the "best (free) AV software for the Mac" and reports that, since being completely rewritten in Objective C, the free ClamXav Mac OS X antivirus application is "pretty darned fast and updated with reassuring frequency," and developer Mark Allen has announced the release of ClamXav 2.0.7, which deals with some bugs but also brings updated functionality to the table.

Public Beta for www.WordOf.GD Bible Linker Web App

PR: Have you ever tried to look up a specific translation of a Bible verse, but it wasn't available on your favorite Bible website? Bible readers can now get to the passage and translation they want in an instant with the launch of WordOf.GD. Before, users would need to know which Bible study site offered any given translation in order to find the correct version of Scripture they wanted. But this new URL shortcut service for Bible verses lets users create direct links to any Bible passage in any of 30+ translations on the fly.

WordOf.GD examplesThe web app works in a single step using any web browser address bar. Users simply have to type in wordof.gd/ and the scripture verse or passage they are searching for. For example, http://wordof.gd/john3:16 would immediately bring up John 3:16 in the NIV (the default translation offered) on a major Bible website. If the user wanted a specific translation, they just need to append the translation abbreviation to the end of the URL. So http://wordof.gd/john3:16WEB would bring up the World English Bible translation on a website that offers that specific translation without any prerequisite knowledge of which website offers which translation.

The WordOf.GD Bible Linker also supports interlinear display when the URL includes either HEBREW or GREEK at the end of the URL. For example, http://wordof.gd/john3.16GREEK would display the Greek interlinear text for John 3:16. [Editor's note: When I used the link, it didn't display anything in Greek. Trying an Old Testament passage, it showed Hebrew transliterated into Roman text, not Hebrew text. This is because WordOf.GD doesn't use the Mac's installed Greek and Hebrew fonts. The solution is to download the zipped SLGreek and SLHebrew fonts from http://www.searchgodsword.org/fonts/, unzip them (double-clicking did not work; I had to "open with" Stuffit Expander), and double-click each font, which launches TypeBook. Click Install, and you're ready to go. dk]

To make it as easy as possible for the end-user, the WordOf.GD Web App recognizes most common abbreviations for books of the Bible as well. e.g. Verses from the Book of Matthew could be indicated with "Matthew," "Matt," or even "Mt". Additionally, spaces and colons, typically not valid in URLs, are automatically converted to the appropriate characters on the fly.

WordOf.GD instructionsUsers will also appreciate links available in the small header bar above the final Bible passage display that allow users to immediately email or tweet the Bible passage being viewed using WordOf.GD. And if a user wanted to use a link elsewhere to that specific passage being viewed, they can easily copy/paste a properly formatted URL shortcut also presented in the header bar.

While other Bible URL shortcut services are usually restricted to a single Bible website's translation offerings, WordOf.GD offers users more translations since it forwards users to more than one Bible website based on the translation requested.

Pastors and ministry leaders can now create links to specific verses or passages on the fly in their emails, Facebook posts, or Twitter messages confidently without having to go to a Bible website, look up the Scripture, copy the URL, and use a URL shortening service like tinyurl.com or bit.ly. The advantage is time savings, URLs that won't break across multiple lines in some email readers, and easy to recognize URLs.

More translations are being added quarterly. "Spanish" is the latest addition to the various translations available. The current list of all translations and abbreviations is available at the WordOf.Gd homepage.

WordOf.GD is a web project of Godvertiser.com, which is a resource site for pastors and ministry leaders who want to learn about effective church marketing in today's environment. It is published by Kenny Jahng, founder and CEO of Big Click Syndicate LLC - a strategic marketing and social media consultancy/coaching company based in New Jersey.

OnyX 2.1.8 Released

PR: A new version of your editor's favorite Mac OS X system maintenance app, freeware OnyX, is available.

New in version 2.1.8 (requires OS X 10.6.x):

  • OnyX can be run from a non-admin account
  • Vertical/horizontal display the buttons on the iTunes 10 window
  • Enable/disable iTunes Store in iTunes
  • Enable/disable the High contrast mode in iTunes
  • Hungarian translation added
  • Bug corrected in the Info panel
  • The Log bash can be individually deleted (Clean > Logs)
  • The Log bash is not deleted anymore from the Automation panel
  • Managing messages improved
  • Some bugs corrected
  • Help improved, updated and reindexed

Pixelmator to 1.6.1 Image Editor Released

PR: The Pixelmator Team has released Pixelmator 1.6.1, an update of the revolutionary GPU-powered image editing tool that provides everything needed to create, edit, and enhance still images. Available as a free software update, Pixelmator 1.6.1 adds Aperture support, an improved Photo Browser palette, a revamped Stroke feature, bug fixes, and more.

Built from the ground up on a combination of open source and Mac OS X technologies, Pixelmator features powerful selection, painting, retouching, navigation, and color correction tools, and layers-based image editing, GPU-powered image processing, color management, automation, and transparent HUD user interface for work with images.

The improved Photo Browser palette in Pixelmator not only makes it easy to browse the iPhoto library, but also offers quick access to the Aperture library, projects, albums, smart albums, and folders as well as access to PhotoBooth-taken images and predefined custom folders. Additional updates to the Photo Browser include both minor usability improvements and performance improvements.

The revamped Stroke feature delivers significant quality enhancements for outlining selections or layers using color. Other changes in Pixelmator 1.6.1 include improvements for Save-for-Web feature, minor user interface and performance improvements, and several bug fixes.

Pixelmator 1.6.1 is available for $59. Pixelmator 1.6.1 is a free update for current Pixelmator users. System requirements, as well as a free 30-day Pixelmator trial and more information about Pixelmator can be found at Pixelmator's website.

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.

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