Mac News Review

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Preview, Apple the Most Reputable Brand, FBI's Steve Jobs File, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.02.17

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

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News & Opinion

Apple Releases OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

OS X Mountain LionPR: Apple on Thursday released a developer preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, the ninth major release of Apple's 10-series desktop operating system.

NotesMountain Lion brings popular apps and features from iPad to the Mac and accelerates the pace of OS X innovation - introducing Messages, Notes, Reminders, and Game Center to the Mac, as well as Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, and AirPlay Mirroring. Mountain Lion is the first OS X release built with iCloud in mind for easy setup and integration with apps.

GatekeeperThe developer preview of Mountain Lion also introduces Gatekeeper, a new (Apple says "revolutionary") security feature to helps keep you safe from malicious software by giving users complete control over what apps are installed on your Mac.

The preview release of Mountain Lion is available to Mac Developer Program. Apple says Mac users will be able to upgrade to Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store in late summer 2012.

Reminders"The Mac is on a roll, growing faster than the PC for 23 straight quarters, and with Mountain Lion things get even better," commented Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. "The developer preview of Mountain Lion comes just seven months after the incredibly successful release of Lion and sets a rapid pace of development for the world's most advanced personal computer operating system."

MessagesThe developer preview of Mountain Lion features the all new Messages app, which replaces iChat and allows you to send unlimited messages, high-quality photos, and videos directly from your Mac to another Mac or iOS device. Messages will continue to support AIM, Jabber, Yahoo! Messenger, and Google Talk. Starting today, Lion users can download a beta of Messages.

Game CenterThe final version will be available with Mountain Lion. Reminders and Notes help you create and track your to-dos across all your devices. Game Center lets you personalize your Mac gaming experience, find new games, and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether they're on a Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Notification CenterShare SheetsMountain Lion presents notifications in an elegant new way, and Notification Center provides easy access to alerts from Mail, Calendar, Messages, Reminders, system updates, and third party apps. Systemwide Share Sheets make it easy to share links, photos, and videos directly from Apple and third party apps.

Twitter integrationAirPlay MirroringTwitter is integrated throughout Mountain Lion so you can sign on once and tweet directly from Safari, Quick Look, Photo Booth, Preview, and third party apps. Mountain Lion also introduces AirPlay Mirroring, an easy way to wirelessly send a secure 720p video stream of what's on your Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV.

More than 100 million users have iCloud accounts, and Apple says Mountain Lion makes it easier than ever to set up iCloud and access documents across your devices. Mountain Lion uses your Apple ID to automatically set up Contacts, Mail, Calendar, Messages, FaceTime, and Find My Mac. The new iCloud Documents pushes any changes to all your devices so documents are always up to date, and a new API helps developers make document-based apps work with iCloud.

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion on MacBook AirThe new Gatekeeper security feature gives you control over which apps can be downloaded and installed on your Mac. You can choose to install apps from any source, just as you do on a Mac today, or you can use the safer default setting to install apps from the Mac App Store, along with apps from developers that have a unique Developer ID from Apple. For maximum security, you can set Gatekeeper to only allow apps from the Mac App Store to be downloaded and installed.

Mountain Lion also has features specifically designed to support Chinese users, including significant enhancements to the Chinese input method and the option to select Baidu search in Safari. Mountain Lion makes it easy to set up Contacts, Mail, and Calendar with top email service providers QQ, 126, and 163. Chinese users can also upload video via Share Sheets directly to leading video websites Youku and Tudou, and systemwide support for Sina weibo makes microblogging easy.

Hundreds of new APIs give developers access to new core technologies and enhanced features within OS X. The Game Kit APIs tap into the same services as Game Center on iOS, making it possible to create multiplayer games that work across Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. A new graphics infrastructure underpins OpenGL and OpenCL and implements GLKit, first introduced in iOS 5, to make it easier to create OpenGL apps. Using Core Animation in Cocoa apps is easier than ever, and new video APIs deliver modern 64-bit replacements for low-level QuickTime APIs. Enhanced Multi-Touch APIs give developers double-tap zoom support and access to the systemwide lookup gesture. Kernel ASLR improves security through enhanced mitigation against buffer overflow attacks.

Publisher's note: The new graphics infrastructure means no support for Macs with Intel GMA 950 or X3100 graphics, and possibly Macs with other GPUs as well. This includes many 2006 Macs that are compatible with Lion, as well as some Macs discontinued in Early 2009. For more details, see Too Many Macs Left Behind by OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. dk

The Original Macintosh's Designer on Steve Jobs

Paula Routly of the Vermont-based journal Seven Days has posted a fascinating interview with Jerry Manock, who back in the day filled the Jonathan Ive role for then-fledgling Apple, designing the classic original compact Macintosh, and well as the Apple II, the Apple III and the Apple disk II.

Jerry Manock and his Mac, copyright Andy DubackManock, who these days lives in Burlington, Vermont, was 33 back in 1977 when he was one of Apple's five employees, hired by Steve Jobs as a consultant to design the Apple II. Routly reports that Manock gets credit for almost everything but the circuit board and the logic (which was engineered by Jobs partner and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak), including the structure, the outside aesthetics, and the color beige (Pantone 453, the color of the deep-space universe, Manock says), and was part of the original team of a half-dozen workers who designed the original Mac.

Manock worked under Jobs for three-and-a-half years, a witness to Apple's early innovation, exponential growth, and subsequent conflicts, including the legendary one between Jobs and CEO John Sculley.

Manock, now 66, is currently sole proprietor of Manock Comprehensive Design, and for 21 years has taught a University of Vermont class on integrated product development.

Routly's article provides more insight into the enigmatic Jobs, Manock relating that he would say things like, "I was just thinking, in my career I could be the CEO of two or three billion-dollar companies."

"When somebody asked him what kind of market share he wanted, Steve was famous for saying, I want it all. I want 100 percent," Manock recalls.

For all his involvement with computers, Manock is not an uncritical cheerleader for what they have wrought. He notes, "Nowadays you can design something in 3D, have photorealistic rendering, cast shadows and specify, This is metal. This is wood. You can come up with a picture of it without ever touching a physical thing, without ever building a model to hold in your hand. To me, that's really dangerous."

He also says he gets really upset when he's walking downtown and there are young people walking toward him, all with their heads down. "I try to make eye contact to say hello, good morning, and nothing. The disconnect there bothers me, and that's going to get nothing but worse. I've got my iPhone and GPS and news anytime I want it. But my mindset is: I'm not married to this thing. I don't have to look at it every five minutes. I can kind of use the technology for what I need. I feel pretty balanced that way. And I've made a conscious decision not to go with all the social-media stuff, because it takes up too much of my time. I can't read a book. I can't sketch. I can't go to movies if I'm constantly tweeting somebody."

Mac Pro Update Finally on the Way?

M.I.C.Gadget's Steve Lo observes understatedly that it's been a while, but says he has some very exciting news, ergo: that Apple is close to finally updating the Mac Pro.

Lo notes that Intel will be moving to its next-generation Ivy Bridge Core i CPU platform in April, and that this is expected to solve heating issues in comparison to the current Sandy Bridge processor family thanks to the extremely efficient 22nm manufacturing process, replacing old transistor types with tri-gate transistors, which Lo says are over 30% more efficient in heat dissipation.

Ivy Bridge will be the first chip to use Intel's 22nm tri-gate transistors, and Lo says M.I.C. Gadget's sources tell him that engineering samples of the new processors, with 8 cores and a whopping 20 MB of cache, have been given to Apple for testing, that overheating issues have been eliminated, and that the manufacturing yield is now high enough for Apple to maintain its high profit margin.

So basically, says Lo, the new Mac Pro will transition from two high-performing 6-core CPUs to two even higher performing 8-core chips - but that's not all

Lo notes that Apple went with ATI graphics for its last generation Mac Pro and got burned, with problems that include flickering, artifacts, overheating, no display, and more, and that the upgrade drivers ATI made for the Mac Pro were also notoriously flaky even after Apple took a crack at updating them, all of which cost Apple a significant amount of money - something they're not looking to not repeat.

Which brings us to Nvidia's Kepler series of graphics cards that are projected for release in the April/May time frame, which is around the same time as Intel's Ivy Bridge silicon is expected to be available. Lo says his sources within the company indicate that Nvidia has been chosen for graphics.

However, it's not quite time to be holding your breath yet. Lo says new Mac Pros could appear near the end of Q3 2012, after early production bugs have been ironed out of the new released hardware and driver/software issues have been addressed.

6% of US Internet Users Still Using Dial-up

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Deborah M. Todd reports that in a surprising number of households, the sound of dial-up tones still resonate, noting that 74% of US adults had Internet access in their homes by 2010, and 6% were still relying solely on dial-up Internet connections to go online, according to a Federal Communications Commission report that looked at broadband access.

Notwithstanding the fact that Apple, for instance, appears to regard dial-up as an artifact of the past - OS X 10.7 Lion no longer supports Apple's own USB modem that was discontinued in 2009 - the old connection protocol is not dead by a long shot.

Last year, AOL, added 200,000 new dial-up customers.

Todd notes that just last year, AOL, whose more than 3.5 million dial-up users account for the bulk of residual dial-up business, added 200,000 new dial-up customers, and even Verizon Communications, which provides high-speed Internet services via fiber optic FIOS service or digital subscriber lines (DSL) to the majority of its 8.7 million subscribers, still also provides dial-up Internet to more than 31,000 US customers.

So why are people stubbornly persisting with dial-up? Ms. Todd says that according to the FCC report, respondents still using dial-up cited monthly costs as a primary factor (the FCC report cites average monthly costs for dial-up Internet at around $22, while the average costs for broadband service is around $37), followed by satisfaction with current services, sporadic Internet usage, reservations about entering long-term contracts, high activation costs, a lack of need for speedier service, and a lack of availability for high-speed services in their areas.

Another reason is reliability and easy access. While more and more households have dropped land line telephone service, most homes still have it, and dial-up Internet networks are more robust than, for example, the wireless or satellite high-speed networks that serve many extra-urban areas, especially in bad weather.

Todd also explores the issue of a deepening and widening digital divide due to the fact that high-speed Internet service is still simply unavailable in many rural localities, due to economies of scale making it unattractive to providers. Government subsidization and possibly legislation will probably be necessary to make high speed Internet coverage available to all rural residents.

Tim Cook's Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Presentation

Apple has posted an audio webcast of Tim Cook's presentation at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference from February 14, 2012 in which Mr. Cook elucidates his vision for Apple going forward.

If you prefer to read a text transcript of the interview, Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt has posted one.

Harris Poll: Apple Last Year's Most Reputable Brand

PR: It's a complicated world for corporate America as consumer perceptions grow increasingly negative. With the erosion of trust in corporate leadership, consumers have higher expectations and are demanding more information and transparency from companies with which they plan to spend their hard-earned dollars.

Through its 13 years, the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) study has shown that the reputations of traditional manufacturers have fared well, though their overall visibility as an industry has declined; it also has indicated a rising affinity for technology companies. Customer inclination towards strong leadership and technological innovation may be the catalyst, and it is within this environment that Apple reigns supreme.

This year regional brick-and-mortar retailers are more prominent, and many once-leading American companies are noticeably absent from the 2012 Harris Poll RQ study, which asks the general public to measure the reputations of the 60 most visible companies in the country.

This year's most reputable brand, Apple, benefits greatly from its hybrid status as a technology/consumer product/retail company, and earns the highest RQ score to secure the top spot in the ranking. It displaces Google, last year's most reputable corporation, which now ranks second with an excellent score of 82.82. The Coca-Cola Company, ranked 15th in 2011, has surged into third place, despite any meaningful change in its reputation rating. Amazon.com moves up from eighth to fourth place, and perennial reputation elite, Kraft Foods, ranked fifth.

"We are seeing the emergence of a group of companies that garner reputation equity by being positively associated with multiple industries," says Robert Fronk, executive vice president and Global Corporate Reputation Practice Lead for Harris Interactive. "Companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon.com combine innovation and leadership across multiple business areas, giving them true competitive advantage."

In terms of year-over-year change, only Toyota, General Motors, BP, and Apple enjoy significant improvement in their RQ scores, while one quarter of companies saw drastic declines. Among those with the most significant declines, five were financial institutions, including the 2010 top scorer, Berkshire Hathaway.

13th Annual Harris Poll RQ Study RQ measures six dimensions that comprise reputation and influence consumer behavior. Apple has the greatest score overall. In fact, despite today's challenging environment, Apple records the highest score in the RQ's history, and is top-ranked in four of the six key dimensions of reputation:

  • Social Responsibility: Whole Foods
  • Emotional Appeal: Amazon.com
  • Financial Performance: Apple
  • Products & Services: Apple
  • Vision & Leadership: Apple
  • Workplace Environment: Apple

Interestingly, Amazon.com, which has no storefront and very limited human interaction, scores highest in the Emotional Appeal dimension - this is the core strength of its reputation. In terms of supportive behavior, customers report considerable confidence in Amazon.com and several other companies:

  • In the future, Americans would "definitely" purchase products & services from Amazon.com (71%), Kraft Foods (70%), and the Coca-Cola Company (64%).
  • Americans would "definitely" recommend to others products & services from Amazon.com (64%) and Kraft Foods (57%).
  • In the future Americans would "definitely" invest in stock from Amazon.com (34%), Microsoft (23%), and the Coca-Cola Company (23%).
  • Americans would "definitely" recommend to others to invest in stock from Amazon.com (46%), the Coca-Cola Company (25%), and Microsoft (24%)

Scores of 80 and Higher Are Rare This Year

Apple earned "the highest RQ score ever achieved by any company".

An RQ score of 80 or above signifies a company with an "excellent reputation." Since first measured in 2000, Apple has shown steady improvement, earning an elite score of 85.62 this year, the highest RQ score ever achieved by any company in the 13 years of the RQ study.

Reflecting the negative mood of consumers, this year only eight companies earn such scores. This is a 50% decrease from 2011, when 16 companies earned this privileged status.

"It's quite striking to see such a drop in the number of companies scoring 80 or above," said Fronk. "Corporations are facing significant headwinds as they try to win and preserve consumer trust."

Reputation Rehabilitation Happens

Two automotive companies, each managing through unique reputation rehabilitation processes for different reasons, saw the greatest increases in their RQ scores this year.

General Motors' reputation has been steadily moving upward for four consecutive years. Over the course of that time, the RQ study has seen its reputation rise 13 points and its ranking move up 14 places. This year General Motors improves in all six RQ dimensions and advances in the rankings due to dramatically higher perceptions in the Emotional Appeal and Vision & Leadership dimensions.

After a series of quality and safety issues resulted in a ten-point drop last year, Toyota rebounds five points, driven by gains in Product & Service, Vision & Leadership, and Emotional Appeal dimensions.

In the pharmaceutical space, Johnson & Johnson, plagued by recall and quality issues, manages to maintain a score over 80, though it fell from second highest ranked company in 2011 to seventh in 2012. For the first time in RQ history, Johnson & Johnson did not rank in first or second place.

Reputation Retrospective Retail and Manufacturing Swap Places

Meanwhile, the sudden appearance of brick-and mortar retailers like Best Buy, Costco, JCPenney, Kohl's, Walgreen's, and Macy's on the most visible companies roster contrasts sharply with the absence of iconic US-based manufacturers, like IBM and Intel Corporation.

A look back at the RQ most visible list from ten years ago also shows the dramatic change in the American corporate landscape. At that time, nine industrial manufacturers (excluding automotive) and six retailers made the list. This year's list contains two companies in the industrial manufacturing space and is dominated by 14 retail brands, nearly one-quarter of the total list.

In charting the ten-year trajectory of individual companies, Apple and Hewlett Packard emerge as starkly different examples of how reputation management and behavior can impact perception.

Apple's current dominance is built on strong investments in its brand, predominantly through its products and services. This one-dimensional approach to building reputation has ultimately yielded high associations with all six reputational dimensions and ranks it first in Financial Performance, Products & Services, Vision & Leadership, and Workplace Environment.

Conversely, Hewlett Packard, which once outranked Apple, has headed in the reverse direction. Hewlett Packard's slowly eroding reputation has been injured by negative perceptions on Ethics and Vision & Leadership dimensions, and its brand is beginning to feel the damage.

NPD: Apple #1 Brand in 2011

PR: US consumer technology hardware and consumable sales(1) fell just one half of a percent in 2011 ending the year at nearly $144 billion, according to leading market research company The NPD Group.

Top 5 Categories

Nearly 60% of all sales in 2011 were driven by the top five categories; PCs, TVs, tablets/e-readers, mobile phones, and video game hardware, according to NPD's Retail and Consumer tracking services and Mobile Phone Track. PCs (notebooks and desktops) generated the most revenue with nearly $28 billion in sales, accounting for almost 20% of sales, but that figure was a decline of 3% from 2010. Tablets/e-readers were the clear winner in 2011, nearly doubling sales to $15 billion in 2011.

"US hardware sales growth is becoming harder and harder to achieve at the broad industry level," says Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD. Sales outside of the top five categories fell by 8% in 2011 as consumers shifted spending from older technologies to a narrow range of products.

Apple benefited from this shift as it was the leading consumer electronics brand for the second year in a row. Among the top five brands Apple was the only one to experience a sales increase, posting a 36% rise over 2010. By the critical fourth quarter Apple accounted for 19% of all sales dollars, almost twice as much as number two Hewlett-Packard.

Top 5 US brands

At the retailer level, Best Buy came out on top once again, followed by Walmart and Apple. Staples and Amazon tied for fourth place to round out the top five, a repeat of 2010.

Sales through online, direct mail, and TV shopping channels jumped 7% and accounted for 24% of all sales, up from 22% in 2010. Sales through these non-retail channels captured 25% of industry revenue in the fourth quarter of 2011.

While in-store sales fell about 2.5% in 2011, the growth in online volumes for retailers meant that retail name plates still accounted for well over four of every five dollars spent on CE hardware in the US, said Baker. Despite their sales strength, retail stores still face serious challenges in 2012 as volumes in the traditional CE categories, which once carried these stores, continue to slide. It shouldn't be forgotten, however, that a large majority of mobile phones and tablets/e-readers (the two fastest growing CE categories) have mostly been driven through in-store experiences.

FBI Posts Its Steve Jobs File

The FBI has posted the contents of its 1991 background check file on Steve Jobs - all 191 pages of it.

The Steven Paul Jobs file was compiled when Jobs was being considered for appointment to the President's Export Council, on which Jobs served on the President's Export Council under the George H. W. Bush administration, and notes that several individuals questioned Mr. Jobs' honesty, stating that Mr. Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals. One interviewee characterized Jobs as an honest and trustworthy individual, but suggested that his moral character was questionable. Another said she had questions concerning his ethics and morality. The FBI also notes critically Jobs' use of marijuana. Another nugget is that Jobs was given Top Secret security clearance in 1988, later terminated in 1990.

Software

Free LibreOffice 3.5 Office Suite

PR: The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 3.5, the third major release of its free office suite alternative to Microsoft Office, incorporating improvements derived from the development strategy adopted since September 2010. LibreOffice 3.5 derives from the combined effort of full time hackers - the largest group of experienced OOo code developers and volunteer hackers, coordinated by the LibreOffice Engineering Steering Committee.

The Document Foundation was formed in by former OpenOffice.org community members who had a philosophical parting of the ways with Oracle, which acquired the OpenOffice software through its purchase of Sun Microsystems.

During 16 months, an average of 80 LibreOffice developers each month have provided a total of over thirty thousand code commits, introducing new and interesting features such as:

Writer

  • a new built-in Grammar checker for English and several other languages
  • Grammar checkingimproved typographical features, for professional looking documents
  • an interactive word count window, which updates in real time
  • a new header, footer and page break user interface
  • Improved font hinting fir high quality docs.

Impress/Draw

  • an improved importer of custom shapes and Smart Art from PPT/PPTX
  • a feature for embedding multimedia/colour palettes into ODF documents
  • a new display switch for the presenters console
  • new line ends for improved diagrams
  • Microsoft Visio import filter

Calc

  • support for up to 10,000 sheets
  • a new multiline input area
  • new Calc functions conforming to the ODF OpenFormula specifications
  • better performances when importing files from other office suites
  • multiple selections in autofilter
  • unlimited number of rules for conditional formatting

Base

  • a new integrated PostgreSQL native driver

In addition, for the first time in the history of LibreOffice, an online update checker will be incorporated to inform. users when a new version of the suite is available.

"We inherited a 15 years old code base, where features were not implemented and bugs were not solved in order to avoid creating problems, and this - with time - was the origin of a large technical debt," says Caoln McNamara, a senior RedHat developer who is one of the founders and directors of TDF. "We had two options: a conservative strategy, which would immediately please all users, leaving the code basically unchanged, and our more aggressive feature development and code renovation path, which has created some stability problems in the short term but is rapidly leading to a completely new and substantially improved free office suite: LibreOffice 3.5, the best free office suite ever."

"In sixteen months, we have achieved incredible results," comments Michael Meeks, a SUSE Distinguished Engineer, who is also a founder and director at TDF - "with nearly three hundred entirely new developers to the project, attracted by the copyleft license, the lack of copyright assignment and a welcoming environment. In addition to the visible features, they've translated tens of thousands of German comments, removed thousands of unused or obsolete methods sometimes whole libraries and grown a suite of automated tests. Although we still have a long way to go, users who have sometimes complained for the stability of the software, as they were not aware of the technical debt we were fighting with can now benefit from a substantially cleaner, leaner and more feature rich LibreOffice 3.5."

LibreOffice

LibreOffice 3.5 is the first release where the contribution of local communities and associations, such as ALTA in Brazil, has been acknowledged. In addition, TDF tried to recognize those volunteers who could easily be identified who put so much into the 3.5 release, with a hacking or bug hunting hero badge presented the same day of the announcement. TDF is encouraging the development of a global, open and diverse ecosystem where companies, associations, local communities and volunteers share the common objective of developing the best free office suite ever.

The Document Foundation invites power users to install LibreOffice 3.5, but advises more conservative users to stick with LibreOffice 3.4 branch for now. Corporate users are strongly advised to deploy LibreOffice with the backing of professional support, from a company able to assist with migration, end user training, support and maintenance. The Document Foundation will soon provide a list of certified organizations providing these professional services.

System Requirements: Macintosh

  • Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or higher
  • Intel or PowerPC processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • Up to 800 MB available hard disk space;
  • 1024 x 768 graphic device with 256 colors (higher resolution recommended).

System Requirements: Windows

  • Microsoft Windows 2000 (Service Pack 4 or higher), XP, Vista, or Windows 7
  • Pentium-compatible PC (Pentium III, Athlon or more-recent system recommended)
  • 256 MB RAM (512 MB RAM recommended)
  • Up to 1.5 GB available hard disk space
  • 1024 x 768 resolution (higher resolution recommended), with at least 256 colors
  • Administrator rights are needed for the installation process

Registration of LibreOffice as default application for Microsoft Office formats can be forced or suppressed by using the following command line switches with the installer:

  • /msoreg=1 will force registration of LibreOffice as default application for Microsoft Office formats
  • /msoreg=0 will suppress registration of LibreOffice as default application for Microsoft Office formats

If you perform an administrative installation using setup /a, you need to make sure that the file mmsvc90.dll is installed on the system. This file is required for LibreOffice to start after an administrative installation: http://bit.ly/iNVVTo

Acorn Image Editor

PR: Everyone needs to edit images at some point, but not everyone has the time to learn super pricey wizbang image editing programs. Acorn is a user-friendly image editor that allows you to add text and shapes to your digital pictures, combine images together to create your own, work with layers to touch up your favorites or make something new from scratch.

Acorn Features

  • Layer Styles - Apply nondestructive effects to your layers. Try things out knowing you can always change your mind later on. Multistop Live
  • Gradients - Are two color gradients not enough for you? With Acorn's multistop gradients, you have infinite rainbows at your fingertips.
  • Rotating Text and Shapes - Ask and you shall receive. Turn your text and shapes upside down and every which way. You've got it in Acorn 3.
  • Quickmask - Make your selections like a pro. Quickmask will allow you to zoom in and edit your selections like never before.
  • Instant Alpha - Remove backgrounds and other unwanted pixels from your image with a flick of the wrist.
  • New Filters - Inner shadow, bevel, circles and lines, we've got some great new filters in Acorn you're sure to enjoy.
  • Vector Chops - In addition to being able to rotate your shapes, you can now convert text to Bezier paths, add and subtract points, and have your edges snap to pixel boundaries.

  • PSD Import and Export - Improved support for loading PSD images, and for exporting your images as layered Photoshop files.
  • Web Export - Export your images as Optimized PNGs, JPEG, JPEG 2000, GIF, and even Google's WebP format.
  • Acornss2.jpg
  • Create Custom Brushes - Use Acorn's built in brush designer to create new brushes or alter existing ones. Test your strokes out and watch them instantly update as you change settings.
  • Vector Tools - Add ovals, lines, rectangles, or even custom Bezier paths. Pixels and vectors- two great tastes that taste great together
  • Scriptable and Automatable - You can script Acorn using AppleScript, Automator, or even JavaScript.
  • Filters Filters Filters! - Combine filters together in endless combinations and customize your own presets.
  • Screenshots - Acorn can create layered screenshots of every window you have open on your computer.
  • Selections - Create different shaped selections, invert, feather, or add a corner radius. Or, if you're looking to quickly select an entire color, try using the Magic Wand.
  • Layer Masks - Use layer masks in your image to block out unwanted areas of your image or to expose layers below.

New in Acorn 3.2.1:

  • New AppleScript property on bitmap layers to get and set the origin.
  • You can now delete a point on a Bezier curve by selecting it and pressing the delete button.

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.6+, works great on 10.7 Lion

Photo Editing Redesigned with CameraBag 2

PR: Nevercenter has released CameraBag 2 for Mac and PC, a desktop photo app with a new approach to photos. Redesigned from the ground up, CameraBag 2's new Analog Engine pairs a full suite of photographic tools with the high quality filters and vintage simulations the series is already known for. CameraBag 2's key innovation is a straightforward approach to layering, rearranging, and capacity to endlessly tweak all of these effects in realtime. The 100+ fully-adjustable filters and 25+ professional controls CameraBag 2 ships with are only the beginning, forming the palette from which users create their own styles.

You can watch CameraBag in action at http://www.nevercenter.com/cb2trailer

CameraBag 2

"The most common feedback we got from previous versions was that the user wanted greater control, without sacrificing CameraBag's straightforward, accessible nature," says Tom Plewe, Nevercenter's president. "We came up with a simple tile-based system which presents all the additional control from the new Analog Engine in a quick, intuitive way. Then we added fullscreen Quicklooks and instant previews to emphasize a visual decision-making process. Instead of starting from scratch with a photo, you can compare a lot of great options, choose the very best one, and then start tweaking. And you never have to do the same work twice; once you create a new look or workflow, you just add it to the menu for next time."

CameraBag was initially released as an iPhone app, climbing as high as #2 across all paid apps. The first version for Mac and PC CameraBag Desktop soon followed, proving that the concept scaled beautifully to high res. photos. CameraBag 2 for Mac and PC is a major upgrade from both CameraBag iPhone and CameraBag Desktop, rebuilt from the ground up specifically for desktop computers, and now including a full suite of photo tools, a whole new interface for finding and creating filters, nearly 10 times as many built-in looks, and a rewritten engine under the hood, while maintaining the intuitiveness and approachable feel of the original app.

CameraBag 2

Key CameraBag 2 Features:

  • Choose from 100+ built-in styles and filters, or create and share your own. Filters are easy to export as files to share online. Just drag and drop a filter file to apply it in CameraBag. Once applied, its tiles are fully editable.
  • Full suite of 25+ manual photographic tools including advanced curve editors.
  • New interface.
  • State-of-the-art image processing via the all-new Analog Engine.
  • Add any look you create to the toolset as a fully-adjustable filter. There are actually many ways to adjust the color of an image, each with different and useful results, but most image editors force you to use just one. CameraBag includes many and puts them side-by-side, including Tint, Color Balance, Colorize, Color Filter, and Dye. The Color Corrector tool offers targeted color adjustment, a brand new approach to precise color corrections and modifications. It's curve-based, so you can target different brightness ranges using all of our built-in color adjustments.

CameraBag 2

  • 32-bits-per-component color depth. CameraBag always works in 32-bits-per-component color depth. This is higher than the default in Photoshop, for example, and matches the highest precision you can work with in Photoshop.
  • Nondestructive editing (active history).
  • Easy layering of styles and adjustments.
  • Quicklooks and hover previews for visual decision-making. There are three ways to browse possible looks for your photo in CameraBag: you can use the fullscreen Quicklooks, mouse over each filter in the side panel to get a hover preview, or you can use the up and down arrow keys on your keyboard to view each filter in the main window. Each is best in different situations. You can also get inspiration when you don't know what look you want by pressing the spacebar, which calls the Random Remixed Filter command from the Edit menu. This will choose a random filter from the built-in styles or from your saved favorites and randomly set the Remix value for any tile that has a Remix slider. Keep pressing it until you find something you like.
  • The Remix slider, which smoothly transitions between open-ended variations.
  • Large, precise controls. The sliders in CameraBag are big, but it's not just for style: big controls give you precision. The developers have carefully thought out what each slider's range should be, and what should happen at the end of each slider's range. It can be frustrating in some photo editors when adjusting exposure, for example, and the software doesn't let you make your photo as dark or as light as you want it.
  • Arrow key navigation makes it easy to quickly view lots of photos with different filters. Use left and right to go between files, and up and down to switch filters.
  • Laptop-friendly design.
  • Batch saving.
  • RAW format and metadata support.

With CameraBag 2, you don't have to know what look you want to get started. CameraBag 2 lets you see all the possibilities at once: old-school instant film or modern high-contrast portrait, subtle color adjustment or complete artistic overhaul. Choose from side-by-side comparisons with the fullscreen Quicklooks, or get large, instant previews on mouse-over; the emphasis is on creative exploration. Once you've chosen a filter, its components are all in the tray to tweak and adjust nondestructively with large, interactive sliders. The Remix slider in particular brings back the "happy accidents" of analog film, smoothly transitioning between infinite natural variations for each style.

The new CameraBag features a full suite of photographic tools, from simple exposure and cropping to advanced vignetting, color correction, and curves. The built-in styles also now have full control over their strength and variation. Since every adjustment appears as a tile in the tray, it's easy to see everything affecting the image at once, and rearrange tiles or edit amounts without compromising image quality. Adjustments and styles can be freely layered to create new looks, which can be saved right into the interface as new filters. Whenever a filter is loaded, the user once again has full control over all of its tiles.

The Analog Engine

At CameraBag 2's core is the brand new Analog Engine: high-fidelity, 32 bits-per-channel, nondestructive, multithreaded image processing. Fast and smooth, CameraBag 2 is claimed to match the power of high-priced software, yet it's light on its feet and starts up instantly. Its old-school looks are particularly high tech: recreating the natural blemishes and random variations of the analog world is one of the hardest digital challenges, and that's where the developers have devoted much of their research. Even the most heavily-modified photos retain smooth, film-like colors (especially with the extra color information in RAW files).

OS X Requirements:

  • Intel-based Mac with OS X 10.5 or higher.
  • 70 MB hard drive space.
  • 1 GB RAM.

Windows Requirements:

  • Any Windows OS newer than (or including) Windows XP Service Pack 3.
  • 70 MB hard drive space.
  • 1 GB RAM.

Import formats

  • JPG, PNG, TIFF, most RAW formats.
  • With RAW images, CameraBag uses the extra data while editing, then exports to JPG, PNG, or TIFF.
  • Windows users may need to install a codec from the camera's manufacturer (or the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack) to open RAW files.

Export formats

  • JPG, PNG, TIFF, including metadata.

CameraBag 2 is available now for Mac and PC. A single cross-platform license is available for $29 (launch sale price: $24), and a Mac-only version is available via the Mac App Store for $24 (launch sale price: $19). A free, fully-functional 30-day demo is included in the download from www.nevercenter.com, where more info, tutorials, and videos can also be found.

Free G_RoadTester Vehicle Dynometer Simulation with Road-test Features

PR: G_RoadTester is a professional high speed automotive vehicle dynometer simulation including road-test features. This program is a powerful assistant to have before and during engine tuning and modification. It gives instant confirmation of accurate results. It also has a professional and simple user interface so that anyone can set it up in a few minutes. It comes with sample database examples to get you started.

G_RoadTester

A new and improved version has been now been made available, incorporating many new features, including revised interfaces, updated easier to use styles, additional results, and recalibration of many of the formulas/equations to further refine accuracy.

Due to a change to a more efficient database, data used in the previous application, is not compatible with this new app., so a new sample database of 60 vehicles is included in the app. bundle. It is also capable of calculating equivalent mpg for electric vehicles and hybrids, including costs per mile.

G_RoadTester

Features

  • Dual Core, 10.6 +, 64-bit Only
  • Has an ergonomic interface that is easy and simple to use.
  • Fast visual results.
  • Includes a free sample database of around 60 cars. Don't forget to backup old data (if any), before installation of new data.

New in version 6.5:

  • Added vehicle photo and rtfd editor tabs, to display your vehicle views and notes.
  • Also refinements added, such as an automatic theoretical computation of imperial miles per gallon, for each vehicle, including EVs.
  • Can run a lap simulation.
  • Tyre/Wheel Calculator with visual sizer.

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.6 or later

Freeware

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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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