Mac News Review

Build an $800 Hackintosh, Why to Switch to Mac, the Church of Mac, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2007.12.21

Merry Christmas from Low End MacPowerBook, iBook, MacBook, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in The iNews Review.

This is the last Mac News Review of the year - Low End Mac will be closed from Christmas through New Year's Day. We'll be back with more Mac news in two weeks. We wish you and yours a joyous Christmas and a blessed 2008.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

Apple Updates

Products

Software

Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Build a Hackintosh for Under $800

lifehacker says:

"If the high price tag for Apple hardware has kept you from buying a Mac but you're willing to roll up your sleeves and get adventurous, you can build your own 'Hackintosh' - a PC that runs a patched version of OS X Leopard. What?!, you say. Apple's move to Intel processors in 2006 meant that running OS X on non-Apple hardware is possible, and a community hacking project called OSx86 launched with that goal in mind. Since then, OSx86 has covered major ground, making it possible for civilians - like you and me! - to put together their own Hackintosh running Mac OS 10.5. Today, I'll show you how to build your own high end computer running Leopard from start to finish for under $800."

Editor's note: Going Hackintosh has become increasingly popular among Mac users who are tired of waiting for Apple to produce the ultralight laptop, tablet computer, or expandable desktop computer (less expensive than the US$2,200 Mac Pro). For many, it's the only way to have the hardware and the OS they want. dk

Thinking of Switching to a Mac? Here's Why You Might

USA Today's E. Baig says:

"Most consumers seeking a new computer this holiday season will buy a Windows PC. And yet judging by the questions I get, many would-be buyers are considering a Macintosh for the first time, possibly because they're smitten with the iPod, or because of Apple's clever Mac guy/PC guy TV ads.

"I'm a Mac guy, too, though not one who believes bashing Windows is a prerequisite. So consider this column a primer on switching to the Mac....

"Why are Macs special?

"It's like explaining the difference between a Buick and a BMW...."

Apple's Leopard Launch Its Best Ever

PC Magazine reports:

"The launch of Apple Inc's latest operating system, Leopard, was its best ever, a research group said on Monday.

"When comparing the first full month of sales of Apple Mac OS 10.5 'Leopard' (November 2007) to the first full month of sales for Mac OS 10.4 'Tiger' (May 2005), dollar volume for Leopard was up 32.8 percent and unit volume up 20.5 percent, NPD Group Inc said in a statement."

Editor's note: Apple sold 14.77 million Macs during the 2-1/2 years Tiger was on the market compared to 8.42 million in the 2-1/2 years before Tiger shipped, so maybe the big surprise is that sales weren't up 75%. dk

FireWire to Gain 3.2 Gb/s Bandwidth Boost

Register Hardware's Tony Smith reports:

"Not to be outdone by rival peripheral interconnect technology USB, FireWire is likewise having its data throughput increased, the organisation behind the standard said today. But it's target speed of 3.2 Gb/s falls some way below that of USB 3.0....

"FireWire supporters maintain that their favoured technology is more efficient than USB and is superior in that it's a peer-to-peer system, allowing any FireWire device to connect to any other, and devices to be chained. USB is defined as a host-slave technology, and while a peer-to-peer version is available, it's not widely used....

"And FireWire - even FireWire 400 - is generally faster in operation than 480 Mb/s USB 2.0...."

FireWire S3200 vs. USB 3

Ars Technica's Joel Hruska says:

"The IEEE 1394 Trade Association has announced a new FireWire specification that the group claims is capable of delivering up to 3.2 Gb per second of throughput. The new interface (officially known as S3200) is directly based upon the 1394b/FireWire 800 standard and uses the same physical connectors, arbitration, and protocols as its predecessor. In theory, this should allow vendors to roll out S3200-capable silicon in a very short amount of time....

"There's no word on when S3200 devices might hit the market, but the 1394 Trade Association expects the standard to be fully ratified by early February. That's well ahead of USB 3.0, the closest competition to the spec...."

"Of course, FireWire - up to and including S3200 - has always offered certain advantages that USB lacks. Not only is it markedly less CPU-intensive due to its peer-to-peer nature (USB is master/slave), but FireWire is capable of delivering more power over a single cable."

Editor's note: The USB specification has always limited the bandwidth used by any single device to 2/3 of maximum bandwidth. Thus a USB 1.1 drive can only transfer data at up to 8 MB/sec., USB 2.0 at 320 Mb/sec., and the proposed USB 3.0 at 3200 Mb/sec. - the same as the FireWire's S3200 proposal.

Further, the USB specification provides for up to 500 mA (or 15W) of 5V power per device (400 mA on a powered bus), while FireWire allows up to 45W (or 1500 mA) of 30V power, although many notebooks provide less power for the sake of battery life, and the desktop Mac mini limits this to 8W. This is why an iPod charges faster from FireWire than from USB. dk

Why It's Called the Apple Cult

ZenProBlog says:

"Whether you are an Apple Inc. fan or not, you have to give them some sugar. They are one of the leading figures in turning their product into a company, their company into a brand, and finally their brand into a cult with diehard followers willing to pay the premium pricing.

"Have you ever seen a sale at an Apple Store?

"The answer is probably not.

"Yet still, they are growing more rapidly than any other computer company on the market. Why?"

The Church of Mac and Apple Fundamentalism

ScienceBlogs' Sheril R. Kirshenbaum says:

"I need a new computer.

"So readers, Mac or PC?

"The thing is Mac users sometimes scare me just a little . . . Really. It's as if they've been converted to the Church of Macintosh. Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?"

"Mac users generally strike me akin to missionaries. I've recently dubbed them the 'Cult of Apple'. Why? Well, it's not enough that they love the camera, the screen, the bubbly icons at the bottom of their desktop that pop up when scrolled over . . . but what troubles me most is that after a glorified demonstration - they're convinced I too must love-borderline-worship 'M-c'. And if I don't, they'll make darn sure I'm converted before I leave. I've actually had to fake it one or two times just so I could go."

Editor's note: It appears that the term "Church of Macintosh" was first used online by Rodney O. Lain in 2001 when he wrote The 10 Commandments of the Church of Macintosh, Part I and Part II.

Intuit Fixes QuickBooks Flaw That Vaporizes Data from Mac Desktop

Computerworld's Brian Fonseca reports:

"Users running Intuit Inc.'s Apple Macintosh version of QuickBooks Pro 2006 and 2007 today were warned that an automatic software update flaw can eradicate stored files, documents or folders from a desktop and hard drive.

"Intuit late this morning said it had fixed the flaw by correcting an internal server that had caused the problem. The company said the message should no longer appear to users opening up the QuickBooks application.

"Intuit said it has not been able to come up with a resolution to allow end users to recover files that were lost as a result of the problem...."

Apple Updates

OS X Security Update 2007-009 (10.5.1)

Security Update 2007-009 (10.5.1) is recommended for all users and improves the security of the following components:

  • Core Foundation
  • CUPS
  • Flash Player Plugin
  • Launch Services
  • Perl
  • python
  • Quick Look
  • ruby
  • Safari
  • Samba
  • Shockwave Plugin
  • Spin Tracer

Security Update 2007-009 (10.4.11 PPC) SHA1 Digest:

SecUpd2007-009.dmg = 9d1743b2cd15f3934d82cc6341c3142a3d16becf

35.6 MB

System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5.1 Client and Server

Products

FastMac 4x Dual Layer Blu-ray for Mac Pro & Power Mac G5

PR: FastMac has announced a 4x Dual Layer Blu-ray optical drive upgrade for Apple's Mac Pro & Power Mac G5 computers. The new 5.25", tray loading drive uses one of the fastest Mac-compatible Blu-ray mechanisms to provide up to 50 GB of storage on 1 dual or double layer disc, without sacrificing compatibility with standard DVD & CD recordable media. Using a SATA connection, the drive's 4x BD-R DL mechanism allows professional Mac users to burn up to 50 GB of data on 1 disc in less than 50 minutes.

FastMac Blu-Ray driveFastMac's 4x Blu-ray optical drive upgrade is available now, and can be ordered from fastmac.com for a special introductory price of $579.95.

Each drive carries a 1-year warranty and a 30-day money back guarantee.

FastMac's line of Blu-ray recordable drives give photographers, videographers & musicians the ability to save large amounts of data in a compact and portable form factor, ideal for separating production files by clients and/ or project. System and database administrators can archive and retrieve large amounts of data on 1 convenient disc.

Blu-ray, also known as Blu-ray Disk (BD), is the name of a next generation optical disk format developed by a consortium of electronics and computer manufacturers including Apple, Dell, HP, JVC, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony & TDK. The format was designed to enable the recording and playback of High Definition (HD) content and to allow storage of large amounts (up to 200 GB) of data. While current optical drive technologies rely on a red laser to read and write data, the new format uses a blue-violet laser (hence the name, Blu-ray). The blue-violet laser has a 38% shorter wavelength (405nm) than a red laser (650nm), allowing the drive's optical pickup unit to focus more precisely than ever before. Data can then be packed more densely on standard sized disks. Despite using a new type of laser, Blu-ray drives are compatible with standard DVD and CD media through the use of a combined red, blue & violet optical reader and writer.

In addition to broad support from the electronics, music, computer & video game industry, 6 out of 8 of the major Hollywood film studios support Blu-ray media and 5 out of those 6 (Disney, Fox, Lionsgate, MGM & Sony) have decided to release their movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format. Recently released data (based on unit sales of players & movie titles) shows Blu-ray movie titles outselling HD-DVD titles by a ratio of 3:1. The Blu-ray format also dominates the recorder market in Japan, where it holds a 97% market share lead over HD-DVD. With its forward and backward integration with new and old media, Blu-ray is destined to become the successor to today's DVD format.

Specifications

FastMac's 4x Blu-ray optical drive upgrade supports reading & writing to single and dual layer Blu-ray media at 4x speeds, and rewriting to single and dual layer Blu-ray media at 2x speeds. The drive is also compatible with standard DVD and CD media and can write to DVD-R and DVD+R media at 12x speed in single layer and 8x speed in dual/ double layer mode. It can rewrite to DVD+RW media at 8x speeds and DVD-RW media at 6x speeds. The drive also supports CD-R reading and writing at up to 40x speeds and CD-RW burning at up to 24x speeds.

System requirements:

FastMac's 4x Blu-ray optical drive upgrade requires Mac OS X 10.4.8 or higher and is compatible with the following Apple computers:

Mac Pro

Power Mac G5 (requires SATA to IDE/ATAPI converter cable)

Blu-ray burning requires Blu-ray media (sold separately) & third-party software such as Adobe Premiere CS3 or Roxio's Toast 8 Titanium, which enables Blu-ray disk support in the Mac OS Finder. Native support for Blu-ray burning within iLife & iTunes is expected in the near future, but cannot be guaranteed at this time.

Software

CrossOver Runs Windows Apps on Intel Macs Without Windows Installed

PR: CrossOver Mac allows you to install many popular Windows applications and games on your Intel OS X Mac. CrossOver includes an easy to use, single click interface, which makes installing Windows software simple and fast. Once installed, your application integrates seamlessly in OS X. Just click and run your application directly from the OS X Finder. Clicking a Windows file or document - including email attachments - will launch the appropriate Windows program, allowing you to work on the files. Best of all, you do it all easily and affordably, without needing a Microsoft operating system license.

Adding new Windows software is easy. Just place your install CD in your Intel Mac, and CrossOver will recognize it and offer to begin the installation process. CrossOver then completes the installation and configures your application to run on your Mac. That's all there is to it.

New in version 6.2.1:

  • Repaired Input-Method behavior.
  • Fixed a crash with certain non-US keyboards.
  • Fixed a small GUI error which appeared when creating new bottles for supported apps.
  • Fixed a potential hang-on-exit problem.
  • Made the preference setting "Enable keyboard modifiers for mouse buttons" take effect
  • Fixed transparent and incorrectly colored cursors.
  • Application fixes:
  • Extended the Team Fortress 2 font fix to Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and Portal.

System requirements:

Mac OS X 10.4 Intel up

$59.95

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