Mac News Review

OS X Safer than Windows, Macs Fuel Academic Turnaround, Potential Restore from Backup Problems, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.05.05

PowerBook, iBook, iPod, and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. News about Apple's transition to Intel CPUs and other Intel developments is covered in The Macintel Report. iPod news is covered in The iNews Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion




Desktop Mac Deals

News & Opinion

Macs Fuel Academic Turnaround at UK School

Apple UK Education reports:

"Wildern School in Hampshire combines top exam performance with a highly innovative approach to teaching. It scores 100% GCSE passes and has won the Government's prestigious Future Vision Award for use of technology in the curriculum. Now Wildern is working closely with other UK schools, sharing the fruits of its success in transforming learning and boosting student results.

"Innovation at Wildern School relies heavily on Apple technology, with more Macs than any other school in England. According to the school's Head, Jeffery Threlfall: 'Our focus is on quality teaching and improving opportunities for children to learn, not on technology for its own sake. Macs have provided brilliant support for our teaching ideas and the ideal platform for working with other schools'.

"Wildern School is a comprehensive school with around 1,800 boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 16. Its size poses both opportunities and challenges for Threlfall and his staff. 'We have the breadth of resources to forge strong relationships with the community', he explains. 'However, scale means we have to be very careful in planning everything we do, or we could incur costly errors'.

"Our focus is on quality teaching and improving opportunities for children to learn, not on technology for its own sake. Macs have provided brilliant support for our teaching ideas and the ideal platform for working with other schools."

Link: Macs Fuel Academic Turnaround at UK School

OS X Far Safer from Malware than Windows

iTWire - IT News Australia's Stan Beer reports:

"The recent ruckus about the claimed growing vulnerability of Mac OS X from certain sources has caused an indignant outcry from Mac advocates who claim the stories are mostly media hype. According to an expert in Unix and Linux systems, the outcry is not without justification.

"Con Zymaris has been working with Unix systems for nearly three decades and for the past 15 years has been running a consultancy on open source software implementation. Zymaris says that, while it is true that a Mac can get infected with a virus, it is not easy and it is not likely to cause much damage. What's more, Mac users don't need to install firewalls and anti-virus software...."

"According to Zymaris, at the most basic level, Windows machines get infected by malware through poor design, which is not the case with Macs."

Link: Mac OS X Safe as Houses not Windows

Could Mac Backup Software Be Harmful?

Editor's note: Despite this misleading title of the article, running backup software simply isn't harmful. The danger is assuming that you can restore your hard drive or select files with no changes to the file metadata - such things as creation date, last saved date, and various flags used by the operating system. dk

Plasticsfuture's maurits says:

"Earlier, I wrote about The State of Backup and Cloning Tools under Mac OS X, where I made the point that copying files on Mac OS X is not trivial because of the metadata associated with files:

"Paradoxically, copying a file and being sure that all information has been copied is not easy under Mac OS X.

"I analyzed a variety of file copying engines, most of them command-line tools, and demonstrated how they fare in preserving file metadata.

"In this article, I will investigate commonly used GUI backup/cloning tools for Mac OS X. The tools vary widely with respect to their feature set; the features are irrelevant here. I will concentrate purely on the underlying functionality of copying files. A backup tool needs to be able to copy files faithfully for a successful restore in case desaster has struck. The surprising conclusion of my investigation is that almost all Macintosh Backup tools fail at their most basic task, the faithful copying of files."

Editor's note: Only one program, SuperDuper, is "highly recommended". We've been using it for a long time at LEM headquarters. See our review, SuperDuper: Quick, Easy, Efficient Backup for $20 (SuperDuper is now a US$28 program and worth every penny). dk

Link: Mac Backup Software Can Be Harmful

Future Apple Monitors Could Double as Cameras

Business 2.0 Magazine's Owen Thomas, and Fortune's Oliver Ryan report:

"In an invention out of George Orwell's nightmares, Apple's two-way screen takes your picture as you view it."

"Since the legendary 1984 TV commercial that launched its first Macintosh, maverick Apple has prided itself on humanizing personal computing. However, its latest innovation may prove disconcerting to fans: It's a flat-panel LCD screen that can record video as well as display it."

"Apple has patented a way to insert tiny image sensors in between the LCD cells of a flat-panel monitor. But over on Slashdot, one reader is understandably flustered: 'What you're telling me is that Apple is NOT really the enemy of Big Brother, but Big Brother in disguise? I'm so confused. How can there be so many truths?'"

Link: New Apple Monitors to Double as Cameras

The Latest Articles on Mini Ture_MacJournal

From the Mac Quadra 610 DOS Compatible to the Mac mini (Intel). "So crystal balling the future of digital imagery and archiving is not just a pleasant historical archival pastime it is the day by day setting up of the translatability and upward compatibility of our digital lives efforts and moments to preserve for the future, digital file and image archives."

New DisplayPort Interface Standard for PCs, Monitors, TV Displays, and Projectors

PR: The new DisplayPort standard was developed by a VESA Task Group comprised of leading companies in the display silicon, connector, computer monitor, TV display, projector, and PC industry segments. "With support from these major industry players, we expect rapid adoption of DisplayPort in the PC marketplace," according to Bill Lempesis, executive director of VESA. "DisplayPort will reduce platform costs and drive a common digital interface across PC platforms and components."

DisplayPort allows high-definition digital audio to be available to the display device over the same cable as the digital video signal. It delivers true plug-and-play with robust interoperability, and is cost competitive with existing digital display interconnects. Designed to be available throughout the industry as an open, extensible standard, DisplayPort is expected to accelerate the adoption in PCs of digital outputs enabling higher levels of display performance. When the optional content protection capability is active, DisplayPort will support viewing high definition television, video and other types of protected content.

DisplayPort enables for the first time a common interface for both external and internal display connections within a PC notebook or a desktop display. This approach allows for standardized connections between source devices and display devices, such as LCD panels, without the need for signal translation. This direct drive capability simplifies display product design and reduces cost. DisplayPort may be applied within notebook PCs, and for external display connections, including interfaces between a PC and monitor or projector, between a PC and TV or between a device such as a DVD player and TV display.

The standard includes an optional digital audio capability so high-definition digital audio and video can be sent over the interface. DisplayPort also provides performance scalability so that the next generation of displays can feature higher color depths, refresh rates, and display resolutions. The external connector is small, user-friendly and optimized for use on thin profile notebooks in addition to allowing multiple connectors on a graphics card.

Layered, Modular Architecture Includes Main Link and Auxiliary Channel

DisplayPort incorporates a Main Link, a high-bandwidth, low-latency, unidirectional connection supporting isochronous stream transport. One uncompressed video stream with associated audio is included in Version 1.0. DisplayPort is seamlessly extensible, enabling support of multiple video and/or audio streams. Version 1.0 also includes an Auxiliary Channel to provide consistent-bandwidth, low-latency, bi-directional connectivity with Main Link management, and device control based on VESA's EDID and MCCS standards. The Link configuration enables true "Plug-and-Play."

The Main Link bandwidth of up to 10.8Gbit/s, equivalent to a data transfer rate of 1080 Mbytes/second, uses four lanes; the auxiliary channel features minimal delay, with maximum transaction periods less than 500 microseconds.

As higher performance display and source technologies are introduced, the demands on interface bandwidth expand and the problem is becoming ever more acute with requirements for more colors, higher resolutions, and higher refresh rates. The DisplayPort standard's high initial bandwidth is designed to scale to even higher bandwidths to accommodate future display requirements.

Data is transmitted across the DisplayPort interface using a micro-packetized format which provides both high performance and the flexibility to handle the evolving requirements of a high performance display interface.

The DisplayPort standard has available an optional robust content protection system which is designed to meet the unique high-bandwidth requirements of the current and future requirements of high-definition audio and video digital technology. In addition, a compliance program is nearing completion to complement the standard and to assure that solutions will be interoperable and provide a great user experience.

Link: VESA


How to Open a Mac mini's B.Greenway says:

"The title pretty much says it all. With more and more minis making their way into our lives, sooner or later you might just need to know how to properly open yours.

"This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006 at 2:21 am and is filed under How to. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response."

Link: How to Open a Mac mini

Apple Keyboard Update 1.0

The Apple Keyboard Update 1.0 addresses reliability of keyboard and mouse functionality on MacIntel systems.

This update is recommended for the following computers:

System requirements: Installation of the Apple Keyboard Update 1.0 requires Mac OS X version 10.4.6 or later

System support: Intel

File Size: 12 MB

Link: Apple Keyboard Update 1.0


The Mac Night Owl Reviews the 20" iMac

Gene Steinberg, the Mac Night Owl, writes:

"It's really hard for me to be objective about the iMac. My experience with them goes back nearly eight years, to the original introduction of the bondi blue model in the summer of 1998. Yes, it's been that long, and I've remained fascinated as the product has matured."

Link: The Night Owl Review: 20-inch iMac


NewerTech Unveils First 750 GB FireWire/USB Solution

PR: Newer Technology Inc. (NewerTech) has announced the release and immediate availability of a 750 GB version of the award-winning NewerTech miniStack V2 FireWire and USB 2.0 combo storage solution with integrated port expansion hubs.

NewerTech miniStack V2This new 750 GB model, introductory priced and immediately available at $599.99, is the industry's first ever external FireWire 400/USB 2.0 single-drive solution that also integrates port expanding USB 2.0 and FireWire powered hubs. Also available are 80 GB to 500 GB models with the same port expanding features with prices starting as low as $129.00.

With a profile of only 6.5" wide by 6.5" long by 1.5" high, the NewerTech miniStack specifically meets the demands of today's Audio/Video, Backup, Movie, Music, Photography needs, while saving space and enhancing function via integrated powered hubs that provide three additional USB 2.0 ports and one additional FireWire Port.

"Today is a day that all technology users will celebrate. NewerTech's miniStack V2 has set a new standard with reliable state-of-the-art single drive storage at an all-time high 750 GB with the added bonus of premier USB and FireWire port expansion," says Jen Soule, Sales Manager of Other World Computing, a strategic partner and source distributor of NewerTech products.

NewerTech miniStack V2Combining massive storage capacity and expanded powered port capabilities, the new 750 GB NewerTech miniStack V2 perfectly completes modern Digital Media focused computer systems, providing unparalleled capacity for Audio/Video, Movies, Music, and Photos. A single 750 GB miniStack V2 can be used to store/playback/edit over 55 hours of raw, uncompressed digital video translating to an amazing 320 hours of standard MPEG2 compressed video.

"The latest perpendicular hard disk technology enhances performance, while increasing capacities to accommodate our ever growing storage requirements, and NewerTech is proud to lead the industry in bringing the latest and greatest solutions to technology users everywhere with this ideal entertainment hub," says Larry O'Connor, President of NewerTech.

miniStack V2 Features:

  • Matches the sleek Mac mini look
  • Unique Cooling system, including Smart Fan
  • 2 FireWire and 3 USB ports available
  • Security slot and slots for internal cooling

High-Performance 3.5" ATA/6 7200 rpm Drive with 2 MB, 8 MB, or 16 MB data buffer doesn't just give you more storage, it also provides far better performance than any internal Mac mini hard drive option as well. Use the NewerTech miniStack as your Startup Drive for an instant performance boost.

System Requirements

The miniStack V2 works with any Mac, Intel Mac, PC, or Linux computer with an available FireWire or USB port. By design, the miniStack is the perfect companion for the Mac mini and is further build to safely endure the rigors of travel for those requiring portability.

Mac Requirements:

  • FireWire 400 (1394a): Mac OS 9.2 or higher
  • USB 2.0: Mac OS 10.2 or higher
  • USB 1.1: Mac OS 9.2 or highe

Windows Requirements

  • FireWire 400 (1394a): Windows98SE/ME/2000/XP
  • USB 2.0: WinME/2000/XP
  • USB 1.1: WinME/2000/XP

The miniStack V2

  • 0 GB 'Add Your Own HD' $79.95
  • 80 GB 7200 rpm 2 MB $129.00
  • 160 GB 7200 rpm 8 MB $149.99
  • 250 GB 7200 rpm 8 MB $179.99
  • 320 GB 7200 rpm 8 MB $209.99
  • 400 GB 7200 rpm 8 MB $299.99
  • 500 GB 7200 rpm 8 MB $419.99
  • 750 GB 7200 rpm 16 MB $599.99

All models feature high speed Oxford 911-Plus based custom bridge, are EMC Backup Certified with direct support in EMC's industry respected standard Retrospect Backup software. Solutions are packaged with everything needed for immediate plug-and-play operation: FireWire and USB cabling, Intech HD Speedtools utility suite, EMC Retrospect backup software, and a full 2-year NewerTech Warranty.

USB only miniStack also available.

Link: NewerTech miniStack

Multi-Channel Digital Audio PCI Express Card for Power Mac G5

PR: Apogee's Symphony PCI Express card is a digital computer interface that is based on the PCI-Express architecture in Apple's Power Mac G5 computers. Controlled by Apogee's Maestro software, Symphony features 32 channels of digital I/O on a single PCI-Express card format. And supports sample rates up to 192 kHz. Symphony connects directly to Apogee's Rosetta and AD-16X and DA-16X series converters via the X-Symphony option card, which installs in the slot of the converter itself.

With the ability to install three cards in Apple's G5, Symphony is the only connectivity solution that offers high end, professional users the capability to utilize up to 192 channels of audio simultaneously in a single computer, providing more than enough I/O for even the biggest scoring sessions.

"We are pleased to be able to ship Symphony, an exciting step forward in native I/O capability," says Betty Bennett Co-Founder and CEO of Apogee. "Symphony makes very high channel, high quality recording with Apogee converters a reality and offers this breakthrough at a lower cost per channel than any other option."

Symphony at a glance:

  • 32 channels of 24-bit 192K Digital I/O
  • Single 32 channel PC32 bi-directional connector
  • Direct connectivity to Apogee's Rosetta 800, Rosetta 200 and AD-16X and DA-16X converters via the X-Symphony option card
  • Compatibility with any CoreAudio software application
  • Apogee's Maestro Software for advanced control and routing
  • Availability: Now Shipping
Link: Symphony PCI Express Card

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