Mac News Review

Software to Darken iMac Display, Columnist Returns iPhone, Logitech Introduces Air Mouse, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.07.20

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

PowerBook, iBook, MacBook, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Products

iPod News

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Software to Turn Off the iMac's Display

InformationWeek's Mitch Wagner says:

"Turning down or off the display isn't just a matter of saving energy for Mother Earth. It is also necessary to produce a condition known to interior designers as 'darkness.' And the iMac, for some reason, lacks that most simple of hardware amenities: An on-off switch that controls just the display.

"The iMac display also lacks a brightness control, which puts it at a disadvantage to televisions manufactured during the Eisenhower administration.

"Free software called Brightness Control from Plasm, fills the gap. You run it, and it presents you with a simple slider control that runs from 0.0 to 1.0. Set the slider to 0.0 and your iMac screen turns black. It still emits a sort of techno-Goth glow, but it's a vast improvement on the vast expanse of shining light that the iMac usually generates."

Editor's note: This sofware isn't just for iMacs. It should work with any Mac running Mac OS X 10.1 or later, including eMacs. It's working just fine on my Power Mac. dk

Register Columnist Returns iPhone

The Register's Cade Metz reports:

"Friday was one of life's great days: I returned my iPhone. I was tired of Apple's adult-proof keyboard. I was tired of AT&T's piddling wireless network. But most of all, I was embarrassed that I'd bought the thing in the first place.

"First, I suffered the public humiliation of standing in line with hundreds of people who can't think for themselves, waiting outside the downtown San Francisco Apple store for Steve Job's latest marketing coup to finally go on sale. Then came the shame of being applauded by Apple employees as I paid five hundred and forty-one dollars and forty-two cents for a product that everyone says I'm supposed to want....

"Yes, I was just doing my job, trying to dig up some dirt for the good of El Reg. But to quote Paul Newman's Cool Hand Luke, 'Calling it your job don't make it right.' After two weeks with the iPhone, I was determined to be the first person on earth to return the thing."

NewerTech Wins American Photo 2007 Editor's Choice Award for Best Storage Product

PR: Newer Technology, Inc. (NewerTech) has announced that it has won the American Photo 2007 Editor's Choice Award for Best Storage Products for the NewerTech Guardian MAXimus RAID-1 storage solution, the first low-cost FireWire and USB 2.0 External RAID-1 Storage Solution for consumers and professional users alike (for complete product details, see release:

Article excerpt: "One convenient and reasonably priced solution is this dual-drive RAID (redundant array of independent disks). The Guardian MAXimus continuously 'mirrors' your data to two separate drives, writing two identical volumes. If one drive fails, the RAID's status LEDs warn you, even as it continues to write data to the second," American Photo, July/August 2007.

Featured in the July/August issue of American Photo, the 2007 Editor's Choice Awards inform readers of "the best of the best," recognizing quality and technological advancement among manufacturers in a wide range of product categories serving the professional photography industry. With a circulation of over 250,000, American Photo is the premier showcase for outstanding photography and photographic products.

Apple Updates

Intel Mac Firmware Restoration CD 1.3

A new Apple Knowledge Base article says:

"Your rights to use this update are subject to the terms of the software license agreement that follows and accompanies the update. By downloading or using this update, you accept the terms of the software license agreement.

"The Firmware Restoration CD can restore the firmware of an Intel-based Macintosh computer.

"Note: Restoring your firmware will reset some of your computer's preferences to defaults.

"You can only use this to restore the firmware after an interrupted or failed update. If your computer is already in this state, you'll need to download the software and create the CD on another Macintosh computer, or you can take your computer to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider to restore your firmware. This CD can be created on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macintosh computers.

"Note: This CD cannot be used to return an Intel-based Macintosh computer's firmware to a previous version if a successful update has already been performed."

File Size: 22.5 MB

System requirements: Intel-based Macintosh computer

Products

Logitech Introduces Air Mouse

MX Air mousePR: The future of personal computer navigation starts now. Logitech, the world's leading manufacturer of computer mice, has introduced the Logitech MX Air™ Rechargeable Cordless Air Mouse, a versatile laser mouse that works on the desk and in the air. Similar to the way people use a remote to control a television, when holding the MX Air mouse, people can now lean back and relax while navigating the computer and enjoying media content.

For many, the computer is now much more than a productivity tool. It serves as a hub for digital media, demanding a new way for people to control, consume and enjoy music, photos and videos on the PC. To enable effortless in-air navigation, the new mouse combines three important technologies - Freespace motion-control, gesture command and wireless - so people can point, select and play media files with just a flick of the wrist.

MX Air mouse"The MX Air mouse offers a radically new way for people to control their PC entertainment," said Rory Dooley, Logitech senior vice president and general manager of the Control Devices business unit. "It's for anyone who has listened to music on their PC and been frustrated by having to return to the desk to change songs or volume. It's for people who want to share vacation photos with friends and family without being tied to the desk. It's for any of the millions of people using the Internet to browse and watch videos on sites such as YouTube or Grouper. And it's for people with a living-room computer or media PC who want to navigate their media content on their terms."

Advanced Control - Freespace and Gesture Commands

MX Air mouseFreespace motion control technology is designed to provide accurate, responsive navigation without the limitations encountered by previous in-air pointing devices. This patented technology is based on a combination of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) sensors, DSP (digital signal processing) technology and RF (radio frequency) wireless technology. These combined technologies allow a user to hold the mouse in any orientation, point in any direction, and enjoy effortless, intuitive cursor control. Additionally, sophisticated algorithms distinguish between intentional and unintentional hand movements - effectively canceling the slight involuntary tremors everyone experiences when holding a device in the air.

Gesture-based commands add a new level of sophistication to the MX Air mouse. To change the volume, people press and hold the volume button and simply gesture - to the right to increase volume, or to the left to decrease it. For music applications, a small circular motion to the right activates the skip track command, while a circle to the left repeats the song.

MX Air mouseIn place of a traditional scroll wheel, the MX Air mouse features a touch-sensitive scroll panel. A swipe of the finger across the surface enables the inertial scrolling mechanism, which adjusts its speed according to the speed of the finger swipe. Media functions such as Play/Pause, Volume/Mute, Back and Select can be easily accessed in the air by pressing the large, orange backlighted buttons with the thumb.

Designed for Versatility

The MX Air mouse has a striking design, complete with a polished-black, semitransparent top case, a silver base and a svelte, contoured shape. The carefully sculpted shape provides versatility, allowing people to comfortably use it as a desktop mouse - with their hand over the top - or as an air mouse - with their fingers under the base and their thumb on top for button selection.

The rechargeable MX Air mouse uses Logitech's 2.4 GHz Digital Cordless technology, which offers a range of up to 30 feet (10 meters). The sleek charging cradle is unobtrusive and elegant. And with its 2.4 GHz micro-receiver, the MX Air mouse is easy to plug in and use with a desktop or notebook PC.

Pricing and Availability

The Logitech MX Air Rechargeable Cordless Air Mouse is expected to be available for Windows platforms in the US and Europe beginning in August.

The air mouse will not initially be available for the Macintosh, but an OS X version is expected soon.

Its suggested retail price in the US is $149.99. More information about the MX Air mouse is at:

Convert Your LPs to MP3 with USB Turntable

ION USB turntablePR: ION has created a revolutionary USB turntable allowing you to convert your old vinyl collection directly to CD or MP3 with included recording software. The iTTUSB also features a switchable phono/line level output for connecting to any home stereo with an AUX input.

Key Features of iTTUSB10

  • Plug & Play USB - no drivers needed!
  • Adjustable Anti-Skate control for increased stereo balancing
  • 33-1/3 and 45 RPM
  • Supports the recording of 78 RPM records through the included software
  • Switchable Phono/Line level RCA outputs (with built-in pre-amp)
  • 1/8" stereo line input; digitize music from cassettes or other sources

Computer Requirements

  • Mac running OS 9 or higher
  • PC running Windows 98SE, 2000, ME, XP
  • One available USB 1.1 port or higher

Compatible with most standard operating system drivers.

The ION iTTUSB05 and iTTUSB10 turntables sell for $149.99 and $249.99 respectively.

DataTraveler 100 Retractable Thumb Drive

DataTraveler 100PR: DataTraveler 100 was built with simplicity in mind, allowing you to focus on your data.

With the USB connector safely housed inside the sleek case and capacities up to 8 GB, DataTraveler 100 gives you plenty of room to hold any important digital files.

You've trusted Kingston's DataTraveler with your most important files. Now Kingston introduces the sleek and capless DataTraveler 100. It holds all your documents in an affordable, convenient device and helps budget-conscious users break storage barriers, allowing them to easily store and move large files in a device no bigger than a pocketknife.

DataTraveler 100 was built with simplicity in mind, allowing you to focus on your data. The USB connector is safely housed inside the sleek case, so you don't have to worry about losing a cap. DataTraveler 100 is available in capacities up to 8 GB to give you plenty of room to hold just about any document, from term papers and theses to digital images, spreadsheets or other important documents.

Backed by a five-year warranty and Kingston's legendary service and support, DataTraveler 100 is a reliable, inexpensive solution for carrying digital files with you anywhere you go.

Features/Benefits:

  • Compliant - designed to Hi-Speed USB 2.0 specifications
  • Convenient - pocket-sized for easy transportability
  • Simple - just plug and play into a USB port
  • Practical - capless, USB connector protected within case
  • Guaranteed - five-year warranty
  • Dimensions - 2.35" x 0.88" x 0.37" (59.7mm x 22.3mm x 9.5mm)
  • Capacities* - 1 GB, 2 GB, 4 GB, 8 GB
  • Operating temperatures - 32º F to 140º F (0º C to 60º C)
  • Storage temperatures - -4º F to 185º F (-20º C to 85º C)
  • Compatibility Table:

Operating System Support

  • Mac OS (10.x and above)
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows XP (SP1 and above)
  • Windows 2000 (SP3 and above)
  • Linux (2.4 and above)

Kingston DataTraveler 100 Part Numbers:

  • DT100/1GB, DT100/2GB, DT100/4GB, DT100/8GB - priced at $19, $32, $59 and $116 respectively.

miniXpress Portable FireWire Hard Disk Drive for SATA Drives

minixpressPR: Triple interface miniXpress825 - portable, rugged, and stylish cases are made with aluminum assuring durability, excellent heat dissipation and impact protection, keeping your high RPM SATA hard drive running cool and safe. The drive spin down function ensures efficient operation by automatically reducing power consumption. When the laptop or desktop system enter sleep mode, the miniXpress825 spins down to minimize power consumption. The hard disk spins up automatically when the host system wakes up.

Quad interface miniXpress825S customized to give 2.5" SATA HDD users blazing SATA transfer speed and multiple interface connectivity options, the combo miniXpress825S offers a full spectrum of connectivity options with one eSATA, one USB 2.0, and two FireWire 800 ports with repeater functionality. miniXpress825S further enhances flexibility with the bundled 6-pin to 9-pin FireWire cable for connecting the miniXpress825S to the F400 port of any notebook or desktop computer. The groundbreaking DuoLink eSATA/USB 2-in-1 I/O connector combines an eSATA and a USB 2.0 port into a single connector. The discreet, "error-proof" connector eliminates potential damage to the enclosure, by limiting the direction in which the eSATA or USB cable can be inserted.

Utilizing the latest SATA to FireWire Hot plugable and Bus powered technology feature allows the FireWire drives to be Plugged or Unplugged with out turning-off or restarting the computer. The drive mounts automatically when plugged in to the FireWire Port of the computer.

  • Connectivity
    1. F800, F400, USB 2.0
    2. F800, F400, eSATA, USB 2.0
  • Chip set: Oxford 924DSB
  • Drive: 9.5mm SATA drive
  • Performance: Up to 80 MB/sec Up to 150 MB/sec
  • Dimensions: 147mm x 80mm x 21mm 147mm x 80mm x 21mm
  • Weight: 5 oz 5 oz
  • In the box:
    1. FireWire drive, 1 x F800, 1 x F400 1 x USB Cable, Power adapter, Backup & disk utility software
    2. FireWire drive, 1 x F800, 1 x F400, 1 x SATA, 1 x USB Cable, Power adapter, Backup & disk utility software
  • Warranty: One (1) Year

iPhone: The Missing Manual

iPhone: The Missing ManualPR: "It's here, baby," says an exhausted but happy David Pogue about his new instant bestseller, iPhone: The Missing Manual.

"I didn't eat, sleep, or see my family for six weeks. But thebook is here, it's gorgeous, and if I may say so, it rocks."

His new book is the first (and therefore the best) book about Apple's iPhone, which, as everybody knows, has done some world-rocking of its own. This tiny, gorgeous, 0.4-inch-thick handheld computer is a cellphone, iPod, email station, Web browser, alarm clock, camera, stopwatch, weather, stock, traffic reporter, mapping module, and more. Its face is a 3.5-inch slab of touch-sensitive glass, with a pixel density (160 dots per inch) that makes computer and TV screens look downright coarse.

Pogue, the ultimate gadget guru, has done more than write about the iPhone; he's also sung about it.

Fortunately, for everyone who stood in line only two weeks ago to buy an iPhone, David arrives just in time with iPhone: The Missing Manual. This witty, authoritative, full-color guide truly unlocks the iPhone's potential. The printed book will be available in a few weeks. The PDF is available now.

Coverage includes:

The phone and organizer. Sophisticated features like conference calling, visual voicemail, and text messaging are a finger tap away. This book offers detailed instructions for syncing the iPhone with the address book and calendar on a Mac or PC. It even covers syncing topics even Apple never dreamed of, like syncing a single iPhone with multiple computers, or using the iPhone as a data bucket to merge the address books from several different PCs. The iPod. With a finger swipe or a pinch on the 3.5-inch, multitouch screen, you can bring your music, photos, and videos to life. These pages cover both the iPhone's entertainment features and how they interact with the digital files on your Mac or PC. The Internet. The iPhone can get online in two ways: on Wi-Fi hot spots or on AT&T's cellular network. Learn how to manage multiple accounts, subscribe to RSS feeds, and keep your iPhone secure. The book tackles such non-obvious problems as solving the "two-mailbox problem" and remedying the iPhone's lack of a spam filter. The hardware and software. The iPhone may be the world's coolest computer, but it's still a computer, with all its complexities.

iPhone: The Missing Manual is an entertaining, lavishly illustrated guide to the tips, shortcuts, and workarounds that will turn you, too, into an iPhone addict. Full of humor, tricks, and surprises, this book teaches readers how to extend iPhone's usefulness by exploiting its links to the Web as well as its connection to Macs or PCs; how to save money using Internet-based messages instead of phone calls; and how to fill the iPhone with TV shows and DVDs for free.

For busy professionals, working parents, and anyone else who owns an iPhone or plans to get one soon and hopes to tap into the iPhone's full potential, David Pogue's latest Missing Manual makes it possible.

David Pogue is one of America's best-selling how-to authors, with nearly 3 million books in print. David is the creator of the Missing Manual series and the weekly computer columnist for The New York Times.

iPhone: The Missing Manual
David Pogue
ISBN: 0-596-51374-7
304 pages
$19.99 USD book only, £14.99 GBP, $24.99 USD (PDF andbook)
mailto:order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938
1-707-827-7000

Software

MacPorts: Install Open-source Software on Your Mac

PR: MacPorts Project's main goal is to provide an easy way to install various open-source software products on the Darwin OS family (OpenDarwin, Mac OS X and Darwin)

The MacPorts team is pleased to announce the release of MacPorts v1.5.

A major achievement in this release is the completion of code and documentation changes to reflect the transition in project name from DarwinPorts to MacPorts. This results in a slightly modified installation layout.

In addition to that, there are a sizable number of bug fixes and feature enhancements.

System requirements: Mac OS X v10.3 and 10.4 downloads are available.

System Support: PPC/Intel

Free

Parallels Desktop 3 a Major Update

PR: Parallels Desktop for Mac is the first solution for Intel-Macs that give you the flexibility of running Windows on a Mac OS X simultaneously without rebooting. You can use Parallels Desktop for Mac on any Intel-powered iMac, Mac Mini, MacBook, MacBook Pro, & Mac Pro Towers.

Parallels Desktop for Mac is the leading virtualization solution for the Mac, enabling Mac users to run Windows simultaneously with their Mac OS X on any Intel-powered iMac, Mac Mini, MacBook, MacBook Pro, & Mac Pro Towers.

The latest release of Parallels delivers easy to use migration tools, USB 2.0 support, innovative Coherence technology, and much more. It's never been easier to run Mac OS and Microsoft Windows side by side.

With Parallels Desktop for Mac, you can:

  • Run your favorite Mac and Windows applications at the same time without rebooting
  • Seamlessly connect to any network in both Mac OS and Windows using a shared network connection
  • Achieve a high level performance for Windows on your Mac by leveraging Intel and AMD virtualization technology - industry leading solutions available on from Parallels Software
  • Copy and paste items between your Mac desktop and your Windows desktop
  • Quickly create multiple virtual machines by using the new Parallels Installation Assistant
  • Create "Active" backups by using Parallels Desktop for Mac in conjunction with Parallels Compressor
  • Achieve optimal virtual machine performance and reduce disk space by 50% or more with the new Parallels Compressor

Innovative new features:

  • Parallels Installation Assistant making installing Parallels Desktop for Mac easier than before
  • Parallels Coherence providing seamless integration and allowing you to maintain a single, integrated environment for running all of your applications
  • Parallels Transporter allowing you to easily migrate your existing system to any Parallels enabled computer.
  • Full USB 2.0 support allowing you to connect all of your favorite devices to your operating system of choice
  • Full support for OS X and Windows Vista
  • Automatic network configuration seamlessly connecting your new virtual system to the Internet without any manual network reconfiguration

New in version 3.04560:

  • Coherence 2.0 - Run your Windows and Mac OS X applications in single integrated environment
  • Image Tool - Add capacity to your virtual disk image
  • SmartSelect - Open your files in Mac OS X or Windows with any available Mac OS X or Windows application
  • Shared Applications and SmartSelect options in Configuration Editor were redesigned: you can now enable/disable all options
  • Shared Applications and SmartSelect options in the Applications menu were redesigned: you can now access Windows Start menu and the list of recently opened Windows applications, as well as configure SmartSelect without starting a particular Windows application. SmartSelect and Shared Applications
  • Some correct file associations in Mac (like .doc association with Microsoft Office Word for Mac) reset and switch to Parallels Desktop - fixed
  • Errors when opening certain file types in Mac (like .msg files from Microsift Office Outlook 2007) - fixed
  • Detection of the file types that don't have associations in Mac - improved
  • SmartSelect and Shared Applications configuration options added
  • SmartSelect now correctly recognizes default web browser in Mac
  • Video and 3D
  • No textures in some games (like Max PayneTM) - fixed
  • Some games crash on Nvidia vide
  • cards - fixed
  • VM cannot suspend after iTunes upgrade to 7.3 due to incorrect DirectX detection - fixed
  • Pixel size calculation - improved: graphics are displayed correctly in Microsoft Access
  • Performance of some CAD/CAM applications (including SolidWorks) - improved
  • Multi-threaded CAD/CAM applications now show workspace correctly. The list of applications includes, but not limited to, AutoCAD, 3D Studi
  • MAX, CATIA V5, PowerSHAPE, Zemax, Pro/ENGINEER and many others
  • Vertical Sync enabled (this will result in benchmarks performance cut-off at 60 FPS, but will provide less resources usage and less artifacts when resizing screen)
  • Boot Camp
  • Detection of the operating system installed in Boot Camp - improved
  • Vista reinstalls ACPI PC on each restart - fixed
  • Snapshots
  • Delete with children (recursive delete) option added
  • Possible corruption of the .xml file included in the bundle .hdd during reversion t
  • snapshot - fixed
  • Parallels Explorer
  • Many segmentation fault cases were fixed
  • Correct handling of non-NTFS file systems added
  • Many look and feel improvements
  • Other fixes
  • Having USB device in configuration significantly (by 30%) increases Parallels Desktop CPU usage for Vista guest OS - fixed
  • Mouse gets automatically ungrabbed if Vista had been put int
  • sleep mode from inside the virtual machine
  • Correct tools for eComStationTM 1.2 included
  • Windows 98 restart hangs - fixed
  • Parallels Tools installation changes default printer in Windows - fixed
  • Compatibility with Microsoft LiveMeeting - fixed
  • Mouse issues with Flex/Flash drag-n-drop - fixed
  • Shared folders: Changing file extension affects the dates in the file inf - fixed

System requirements: Intel Mac running Mac OS X 10.4.4 or later

System support: Intel

Get Parallels Desktop for Mac for $79.99

If you already have your copy of Parallels Desktop for Mac you can update it easily - simply download updated file and install it over your existing version. You will NOT need to reinstall any guest OS or any applications when you update your Parallels Desktop for Mac. Don't forget to update Parallels Tools after updating.

Desktop Mac Deals

Low End Mac updates the following price trackers monthly:

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.

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