Mac News Review

Use Your Mac as a WiFi Hotspot, Make a Mountain Lion Recovery Disk, and More Mac News

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2013.01.29

News & Opinion

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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. Older Macs are covered in Vintage Mac News. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

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News & Opinion

How to Use Your Mac as a WiFi Hotspot

MacTuts+'s Andrew Lee notes that while WiFi hotspots and networks abound these days from coffee shops to airports, there still may be occasions when you find yourself without a wireless connection and have five friends who need to get online. Lee shows us how to create a WiFi hotspot from a wired Internet connection with our Macs using functionality built into OS X - and also covers how to set up computer-to-computer networks for sharing files, screens, and more, no routers required. Lee says this system works great when you're traveling and only have a single cable to connect several gadgets. Everything gets to connect to the Internet from just one cord.

How to Make a USB Recovery Drive for Mountain Lion

In an excerpt from his new book Master Your Mac, MacInstruct's Matt Cone says:

"Its a good idea to have a bootable emergency drive on hand, just in case disaster strikes your Mac. An emergency drive (also referred to as an OS X Recovery Disk) can help you repair the hard disk, reinstall the operating system, and restore from a Time Machine backup to get your computer back fast.

"With previous versions of OS X, you could have used the installation DVD to fix problems. But OS X Mountain Lion is sold in the App Store as a digital download - no physical disk is provided. What's a maintenance-minded Mac user to do?

"Create your own bootable OS X USB drive, of course! Its easy, and if you've already purchased OS X and have a USB drive that's 1 GB or larger, its completely free. Carry it in your pocket or put it on your keychain so it's available if the worst-case scenario occurs. You'll thank yourself for taking the time to complete this project."

Also see Charles W. Moore's recent review of Master Your Mac at MacPrices.net.

Sitting Is the Smoking of the PC Generation

Harvard Business Review blogger Nilofer Merchant cites metrics indicating that nowadays we sit more than we do anything else - 9.3 hours a day, compared to 7.7 hours of sleeping - but that health studies tell us people should sit less, and that after just one hour of sitting, the body's production of enzymes that burn fat declines by as much as 90%, while extended sitting slows the body's metabolism affecting things like (good cholesterol) HDL levels in our bodies, and moreover that research shows lack of physical activity is directly related to 6% of the impact for heart diseases, 7% for type 2 diabetes, and 10% for breast cancer or colon cancer, and the death rate associated with obesity in the US is now 35 million compared to 3.5 million tobacco-related deaths.

stand-up desk at Low End MacMerchant advocates switching to more standing desks and walking meetings as strategies to mitigate the ravages of our sedentary lifestyles.

Publisher's note: I've build a standup desk into a closet (see photo) using wall-mounted shelves to hold the monitors and books, an Ikea desktop and legs as my work surface, and have two Power Macs and a scanner on a low table beneath the desk. And when I want to take a load off, I have a barstool, but mostly I work standing up nowadays. dk

Preinstalled Windows Crapware: Why You Should Just Buy a Mac

StableyTimes blogger Greg Bussmann recently bought his daughter a PC laptop for high school based on price and features - but after the latest round of hours spent cleaning, pruning, and otherwise tuning up the machine, a regular chore necessary to simply keep the machine in working order, says he was ready to throw it out the window.

The problem, he says, as with all other PCs, is crapware - the gateway drug to malware - pieces of software you neither need nor want that come preinstalled on your PC: six month trials, free downloads, alternative search engines, etc. that the manufacturer loads onto your PC before you even buy it.

The problem is insidious, and it's not going away, because - as PC manufacturers will tell you - consumer desire for affordable computers necessity this subsidy.

Happily, Mac users don't have to struggle with this, because Apple doesn't load any crapware on new Macs, nor do they permit software developers to bundle it with their programs when you download them from the Mac App Store.

Editor's note: That's one of several reasons why Macs cost more, but I agree with Bussman that if you take the price of a bargain PC and add in the hours you will spend keeping it in working order, you will actually come out way ahead by buying a Mac, with the bonus that the user experience will be superior in every way.

And that's why so many of us are happily willing to pay the so-called "Apple Tax" price premium in order to use Macs. It's not fanboi-ism or a Steve Jobs personality cult. It's pure self-interest and we likely save money (time is money) to boot. cm

IDC Study Highlights New Roadmap on the Future of Personal Computing

PR: The industry is at a tipping point as computing is redefined by user experience and the evolution of transparent computing, says market research firm IDC, predicting that tablets will become an extension of PCs just like notebooks were for desktops over 20 years ago.

Looking into the future of computing, IDC deduces that the advancement of computing no longer starts and ends with the personal computer. Since the first smartphone in 2000 and the introduction of the tablet a decade later, we have witnessed an explosion of mobile form factors and a breakneck rate of innovation in hardware and software. These form factors are now extensions of personal computing.

Complacency and a lack of innovation among OEM vendors and other parts of the PC ecosystem has occurred over the past five years. As a result, PC market growth flattened in 2012 and may stagnate in 2013 as users continue gravitating to ever more powerful smartphones and tablets.

This year, over 2 billion users will access the Internet, IDC notes. What makes this compelling is not the number of users going online, but rather the number of devices that will be used to gain access. Over half of these users will access the Internet with mobile devices, which means that system OEMs and semiconductor suppliers need to emphasize technology that offers better performance, optimizes power for all day mobility, and drives integration and cost savings by leveraging heterogeneous SoC-based solutions across every form factor.

The introduction of a new category of Ultrabooks comes at an important time for the PC industry, which is at a crossroad as established vendors struggle to reinvent their business models and remain relevant in personal computing. IDC expects that this year the industry will see an acceleration in investment and innovation in technology, design, materials science, and software platforms that cut across personal computing form factors. This is the reinvigoration that the PC market needs to change course, and initiatives like the Ultrabook category are just the first step in the PC industry's new path.

"The growth of the industry is very clear; the key challenge will not be what form factor to support or what app to enable, but how will the computing industry come together to truly define the market's transformation around a transparent computing experience. In the end, consumers will demand the same level of simplicity and convenience on any device and for any service," says Mario Morales, Program Vice President, Semiconductors and EMS at IDC.

IDC's latest study, The Ultrabook Experience: How It Will Redefine Personal Computing (Doc #238999), provides IDC's perspective on upcoming features and user experiences that consumers should expect to see over the next two years in mobile computing. Where is the innovation going to be in form factor, and what is the market timing of key technologies and user interfaces that enable a richer computing experience?

Original TV Batmobile Sells for $4.2 Million

Your editor is I'm old enough to remember when California-based "King of the Kustomizers" George Barris created the original Batmobile for the campy Batman ABC television series that aired from 1966 to 1968 starring Adam West in the title role. The show wasn't very good, but the car was cool - although West has been cited noting that it was a handful to drive, with poor road manners.

George Barris, now 88, was and is a folk-hero to a generation of car-culture hotrodders and customizers, and kids like me who built car models from AMT plastic kits, for which Barris was a design consultant.

Batmobile from the 1960s TV series
Batmobile from the 1960s TV series.

The platform for Barris' quintessential Batmobile was a 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car that he bought from Ford Motor Company for the princely sum of one dollar, then spent a still-modest 15,000 1965 dollars converting into Batmobile trim. The car had also appeared, painted red, in the 1959 movie It Started with a Kiss, starring Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford.

Barris retained ownership of the car, displaying it displayed in his own Barris Kustom museum in California, until Arizona automobile collector Rick Champagne was the successful bidder at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction last Saturday in Scottsdale, Arizona, paying $4.2 million.

Wikipedia notes that the twin bubble top Lincoln Futura concept car was originally designed by Ford Motor Company lead stylists Bill Schmidt and John Najjar. Unlike many car show concepts then and now, the pearlescent white Futura was a functional automobile - powered by a 368 cubic inch Lincoln V8 engine and powertrain, and built on a Lincoln Mark II chassis and running gear by coachbuilding firm Ghia entirely by hand in Turin, Italy, at a cost of $250,000 - which was serious money in 1955

The virtual giveaway to George Barris after the car made the rounds of the the auto show circuit would presumably have been a tax write-off for Ford.

Thanks for the memories, George!

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