Mac News Review

Anti-Piracy Legislation Could Wreck the Internet, AppleCare a Bad Choice, Ivy Bridge Prices, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.12.23

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.

News & Opinion


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News & Opinion

Anti-Piracy Legislation Could Wreck the Internet

Writing in the Stanford Law Review, Professors Mark Lemley, David S. Levine, and David G. Post* say that two Internet anti-piracy bills now pending in Congress - the PROTECT IP Act of 2011 (Protect IP) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House - represent the latest legislative attempts to address a serious global problem: large-scale online copyright and trademark infringement.

The authors note that although the bills differ in certain respects, they share an underlying approach and an enforcement philosophy that pose grave constitutional problems and that could have potentially disastrous consequences for the stability and security of the Internet's addressing system, for the principle of interconnectivity that has helped drive the Internet's extraordinary growth, and for free expression.

The three experts says that to begin with, the bills represent an unprecedented, legally sanctioned assault on the Internet's critical technical infrastructure. Based upon nothing more than an application by a federal prosecutor alleging that a foreign website is dedicated to infringing activities, Protect IP authorizes courts to order all US Internet service providers, domain name registries, domain name registrars, and operators of domain name servers - a category that includes hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses, colleges, universities, nonprofit organizations, and the like - to take steps to prevent the offending site's domain name from translating to the correct Internet protocol (IP) address. These orders can be issued even when the domains in question are located outside of the United States.

The writers contend that directing the remedial power of the courts towards the Internet's core technical infrastructure in this sledgehammer fashion has impact far beyond intellectual property rights enforcement - it threatens the fundamental principle of interconnectivity that is at the very heart of the Internet. They point out that the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS) is a foundational block upon which the Internet has been built and upon which its continued functioning critically depends, and that court-ordered removal or replacement of entries from the series of interlocking databases that reside in domain name servers and domain name registries around the globe undermines the principle of domain name universality and will also have potentially catastrophic consequences for DNS stability and security.

Plus, the government's ham-fisted approach won't have the intended effect anyway, and it could backfire spectacularly, they say.

* Mark Lemley is the William H. Neukom Professor at Stanford Law School. David Levine is an Assistant Professor at Elon University School of Law. David Post is a Professor at Beasley School of Law, Temple University.

AppleCare Is Almost Always a Bad Choice

The Mac Observer's Ted Landau says:

"Back in 2006, I wrote a column titled Should You Care About AppleCare? In it, I weighed the pros and cons of purchasing AppleCare when buying a Mac. I strongly recommended against getting Apple's extended warranty: AppleCare is almost always a bad choice.

"With the 2011 holiday season upon us, many many many people will be getting Apple products as gifts over the next few weeks. They will all have to decide whether or not to purchase AppleCare for their new devices. As such, it seemed like a good time to reconsider the merits of AppleCare this time with a focus on iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch).

"My conclusion remains essentially the same: AppleCare for iOS devices, and especially AppleCare+ for iPhone, are still a bad bet. . . . It's not just Apple; extended warranties are a bad bet in general."

Editor's note: Your editor agrees. cm

Advanced Text Handling Tips

MacFixIt's Topher Kessler follows up his previous tutorial on handling text in OS X, which included the use of the Option and Command keys for selecting various portions of text in a document, noting that readers wrote in with more tips and suggestions, some of which may be useful for people who regularly compose text. He cautions that not all text editors are built to handle these options, but those that use Apple's Core Text libraries should be able to use at least some of them.

5 Tips for Getting More from TextEdit

Cult of Mac's Keir Thomas notes that all Macs come bundled with TextEdit, which is actually a powerful word processor. Thompson offers five tips to let you get the most from TextEdit and maybe even avoid the need to spend money on Microsoft Word or iWork Pages. This article is extracted from Mac Kung Fu, a new book containing over 300 tips, tricks, hints, and hacks for OS X Lion.

  1. Adding an AppleScript to provide a word count
  2. Search better
  3. Go to a particular line number
  4. Spell check foreign languages
  5. Automatically create web or email links

CPU World Posts Prices of Ivy Bridge Desktop CPUs

CPU World's Gennadiy Shvets reports that Intel's next-generation Ivy Bridge microarchitecture family, planned for the second quarter 2012, will bring a number of enhancements to CPU and graphics portions of the chip. The CPU cores will feature up to 15%, sometimes even higher performance due to microarchitecture improvements and 100 MHz - 300 MHz higher Turbo Boost frequencies. HD 4000 and HD 2500 graphics will add support for DirectX 11, and it will be considerably faster than current HD 3000 and HD 2000 on-chip graphics.

What's more important, says Shvets, better performing Ivy Bridge CPUs will come with 20% lower Thermal Design Power. So while it's great that upcoming CPUs will run cooler and faster, at what price? Based on pricing information, that he's seen, Shvets says desktop Ivy Bridge SKUs will have prices, in most cases identical to the current Sandy Bridge predecessors.

Ivy Bridge Desktop CPU Prices
Screen capture of Ivy Bridge Desktop CPU prices posted by CPU World.

The fastest and the most expensive Ivy Bridge processor Core i7 processor will be a 3.5 GHz quad-core chip with 8 MB L3 cache, Hyper-Threading, and up to 3.9 GHz Turbo Boost

Similar to current Sandy Bridge products, Ivy Bridge Core i5s CPUs feature 4 CPU cores with 6 MB of last level cache, save for the dual-core i5-3470T with 3 MB L3 cache.


PaintSupreme: Painting & Image Enhancement for Macintosh, Windows, and Linux

PR: BrainDistrict GmbH, developer of world-class image manipulation and enhancement technologies, today announced the availability of PaintSupreme, a powerful yet easy-to-use application for drawing, painting, and image enhancement. Originally created for BrainDistrict's highly anticipated RaySupreme rendering and animation application, PaintSupreme is a fun and easy-to-use application that can deliver professional results at a price point that won't break the bank.

PaintSupreme's superpowers include sophisticated brush & gradient capabilities with many options tools, and BrainDistrict claims it's the only product in this price range that offers full vector support capable of creating paths that all tools can be applied on (the path itself as well as path contents). PaintSupreme offers full layer-based image editing, offering users a simple way to edit layered images, and has an intuitive user interface (that looks like a sort of cross between Photoshop Elements and Pixelmator - Ed.). And the best part . . . PaintSupreme costs less than $20.00.

"PaintSupreme really is a fun and easy way to draw, paint, and edit images without the complexity of applications like Photoshop," says BrainDistrict GmbH Managing Director Markus Moenig. "More advanced users will appreciate the advanced vector capabilities, which are not currently found in either Photoshop or Pixelmator. PaintSupreme has something for everyone who needs a capable drawing and painting application yet doesn't want to spend a small fortune in the process."

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later
  • 64-bit processor

BrainDistrict PaintSupreme is currently available for $19.99 for the Macintosh, Windows, and Linux platforms. The Windows & Linux version can be purchased from the BrainDistrict online shop. The Macintosh version is available in the Apple Mac App Store.

Visit the BrainDistrict website for further details or to download a demo version of PaintSupreme, or learn more about other BrainDistrict products & technologies available for individual purchase or technology license in SDK form.

TenFourFox 9 PowerPC Port of Firefox 9 Released

PR: "Mozilla left you. Apple left you. But we didn't," says the TenFourFox development team, noting that like many PowerPC Mac holdouts, they were horrified when Mozilla delivered the one-two punch of dropping both support for Tiger and our beloved Power Macs from Firefox.

"A quad 2.5 GHz G5 isn't worth using to surf the Web? Really? And you guys still support Windows XP?

"And, of course, Apple's been giving us Power Mac users the proverbial middle digit since 2006. Remember: think different. That's why your MacBook has the same hoary old architecture in ye old generic Wintel box, and if you want to use your perfectly good OS 9 software, you're using Tiger or bust. Heck, Lion won't even run any PowerPC software anymore. (And don't get us started on SheepShaver. It's a great hack, but Classic beats it cold.)

"But if there's one thing we've learned from our years of using Macs, it's that they outlast anything else out there. Why shouldn't an iBook be able to look at embarrassing pictures on Facebook, or Twitter about our lunch break? These are our computers, dang it. We paid good money for them. They still work. They may not be as fast, but there's no technical reason they can't do everything that a MacBook can. So if you want something done, you do it yourself, and we did. The result is TenFourFox.

Tuned for Your Operating System and Processor

Why is this TenFourFox and not Firefox? Because even though it uses the Firefox code base, it's not Firefox. It uses code tuned for 10.4 (and compatible with 10.5), adds new PowerPC-specific improvements and restores the glue necessary to get most of modern Firefox's advanced features working on our older computers, offered in separately hand-tuned builds for G3, G4/7400, G4/7450 and G5 processors to get the most from your specific computer.

Nevertheless, it's still almost all the same code as today's Firefox and has nearly all the same features, including dramatically faster JavaScript, WebM video, compatibility with most Firefox add-ons, and HTML 5 and CSS 3 support. You'll find TenFourFox significantly faster overall than Firefox 3.6, yet it supports so many more new and emerging Web features that your dear old Power Mac will still be able to do what you need online for years to come

The Fastest JavaScript on Power Macs

No, that's not chart trickery: TenFourFox's JavaScript interpreter really is faster than Safari 5 and over twice as fast as Firefox 3.6, as proven on both the SunSpider and Dromaeo industry-standard browser JavaScript benchmarks. Thanks to its exclusive native tracing just-in-time compiler, TenFourFox powers through today's JavaScript-intensive web applications faster than any other PowerPC browser on both Tiger and Leopard. We've sent our work back to Mozilla so others can benefit, but with TenFourFox, you can wring the best online performance from your Power Mac now!

AltiVec Acceleration, from Server to Screen

Remember how AltiVec was going to change the world? Well, it did, because everyone else did it too and now vector and SIMD extensions are in every new Intel CPU and every new browser. But no one brought those new algorithms back to the PowerPC browser world . . . until now. In TenFourFox 4, we brought you pixel compositing and WebM video accelerated by AltiVec. In TenFourFox 5, we brought you scaling and colour conversion powered by AltiVec. In TenFourFox 6, we even accelerated HTML itself. Every step of the content chain is faster already, and will get faster in the future. It's the power your G4 and G5 Power Macs always had that TenFourFox finally unlocks. (Don't worry, G3 owners, you can still enjoy all the other benefits of TenFourFox.)

You Asked For It. Now You Can Get It. Download TenFourFox 9

So what are you waiting for? Download TenFourFox and accelerate your Power Mac's Internet experience today. We're (almost) exactly the same code as Firefox 9, and surf the same sites, but with the code needed to keep your Power Mac functional and fast.

Be sure to read the Release Notes, the official TenFourFox FAQ and the list of known bugs before you begin. Then pick the version for your processor (older versions also available):

  • TenFourFox for G3 processors
  • TenFourFox for G4 processors: 7400 | 7450 ("G4e")
  • TenFourFox for G5 processors

TenFourFox uses modified Firefox source code, rewritten to remain compatible with Mac OS X v10.4 and the Power Macintosh. It also contains specific optimizations and special features for PowerPC processors. For this reason, it is not exactly the same as Firefox. However, it is intended to be as compatible with it as possible, including most add-ons and most standard features. You can treat 10.4Fx as equivalent with Firefox 9.0 in most circumstances, with specific exceptions noted below.

Note that add-ons which require an Intel Macintosh will not work with TenFourFox, even if they are otherwise compatible with Firefox 9, and add-ons that require 10.5 Leopard may not be compatible with TenFourFox running on Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, even if they are compatible with PowerPC.

TenFourFox no longer supports plugins or Flash

Plugins on PowerPC are of special concern because Mozilla is making updates to their plugin architecture which may require the plugins themselves to be updated, and there are certain difficult-to-correct bugs with them already on Tiger. Most importantly, Adobe Flash for PowerPC is no longer maintained and has known security risks that can crash or leak data, and QuickTime for Leopard will lose its own support with the release of OS X Lion. In addition, Flash 10.1 is rapidly becoming unsupported by many applications.

As of TenFourFox 6.0, for these and other reasons, plugin support ships disabled. Plugins will not operate by default, and bug reports will no longer be accepted. Sites will now act as if no plugins were installed at all.

For Internet video, we strongly recommend the use of Perian and any of the available video download add-ons for Firefox.

For YouTube, TenFourFox recommends MacTubes. If you have a high end G4 or G5, you can also use WebM for selected videos by visiting and enabling HTML5 video. This will set a temporary cookie enabling browser-based video without Flash. You do not need a YouTube account for this feature, but you may need to periodically renew the cookie setting. Not all video is available in WebM.

New features specific to TenFourFox:

  • All new standard features of Firefox 9.0, including interface improvements, enhancements to Do-Not-Track and faster dynamic web page performance (chunked XHR).
  • JavaScript regular expression compilation, significantly accelerating certain common script operations (issue 101). This is enabled on all architectures, including G3.
  • Faster AltiVec-accelerated text conversion (issue 75).
  • Improved AltiVec-accelerated WebM scaling and display (issue 64).
  • Accelerated AltiVec colour management (issue 87).

Known issues fixed in this version of TenFourFox:

  • An issue where malformed JPEG images could crash the browser has been repaired (issue 108). This does not affect the G3 version. This does not affect versions prior to 10.4Fx 8.0.
  • An issue where JPEG decoding performance degraded in 8.0 has been mitigated (issue 112). This affects G3 worst, but affects all versions. This is not related to AltiVec-accelerated JPEG decoding. This does not affect versions prior to 10.4Fx 8.0.
  • An issue where extremely complex JavaScript could crash the browser has been mitigated (issue 113). This affects all prior versions of 10.4Fx.
  • Known issues fixed between beta and final release
  • Icons now appear correctly in the History and Bookmarks menus (Mozilla bug 705516). This bug also affects regular Firefox, but less acutely.
  • Mozilla Add-on pages now properly interact with the user again (issue 117).

Firefox 9
TenFourFox (below) uses a lighter chrome for windows than Firefox (above)
TenFourFox 9

Known issues specific to TenFourFox

  • Remember: Plugins are turned off by default, and code for them will fail to function entirely in a subsequent version. See PluginsNoLongerSupported for an explanation and suggested workarounds.
  • As of TenFourFox 8, TenFourFox uses a lighter chrome for windows and dialogue boxes than prior versions or the official Mac Firefox. This is intentional.
  • When 10.4Fx has no suggestions for the awesome bar, a blank box appears instead (issue 21). This is intentional.
  • 10.4Fx does not currently support WebGL or out-of-process plugins, and Indic, Arabic and other scripts requiring glyph reordering or language-specific ligatures may not appear correctly. See TechnicalDifferences for the complete list of changes necessary for 10.4Fx. See issue 5 for notes specific to the font issue.
  • Animation performance is currently poorer in Mozilla 2.0/Firefox 4.0 and later versions using software rendering, which includes 10.4Fx. Mozilla acknowledges this bug, but there is not yet an ETR. See issue 7.
  • The titlebar does not always properly match the menu gradient (issue 16). This problem is also in the official release. Installing a Persona may fix this issue if you find it bothersome.
  • Crash reporting is intentionally disabled to avoid polluting Mozilla's crash tracking system with our reports. Please use your system's crash logs if you are reporting a reproducible crash, or (if you are able) provide a gdb backtrace.
  • Although 10.4Fx will tell you when an update is available, you must download updates manually at this time.

Full Release Notes

System Requirements

TenFourFox requires a G3 Power Macintosh, Mac OS X 10.4.11, 100 MB of free disk space and 512 MB of RAM. 1 GB of RAM and a G4 or G5 processor is recommended. Video playback is likely to be poor on systems slower than 1.25 GHz; a G5 is recommended. Mac OS X 10.5.8 is supported.

Intel Macintoshes are not supported, but the G3 build is known to run under Rosetta in 10.5.8 and should run under Rosetta in Intel 10.4.11. It is not tested with Snow Leopard. 10.4Fx will not run under 10.7 Lion, as Lion does not support Rosetta and 10.4Fx is not a Universal binary.

TenFourFox is free software.

Publisher's note: A lot of Low End Mac staffers are running TenFourFox on our PowerPC Macs, either as our primary or secondary browser. If you're still using a G3, G4, or G5 Mac and OS X 10.4.11 or 10.5.8, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. dk

SeaMonkey 2.6 Browser Suite for Intel Macs

PR: The SeaMonkey project is a community effort to develop the SeaMonkey all-in-one Internet application suite. Such a software suite was previously made popular by Netscape and Mozilla, and the SeaMonkey project continues to develop and deliver high-quality updates to this concept. Containing an Internet browser, email and newsgroup client with an included web feed reader, HTML editor, IRC chat and web development tools, SeaMonkey will appeal to advanced users, web developers and corporate users.

Under the hood, SeaMonkey uses much of the same Mozilla source code which powers such successful siblings as Firefox, Thunderbird, Camino, Sunbird and Miro. Legal backing is provided by the Mozilla Foundation.

SeaMonkey 2.6 is now available for free download on the SeaMonkey website.

SeaMonkey 2.6 contains the following major changes relative to SeaMonkey 2.5:

SeaMonkey-specific changes

  • Added support for the HTML5 "context menu" feature (contextmenu attribute)
  • Added Print Preview support to Composer
  • Added update channel indication to About SeaMonkey page (about:)

Mozilla platform changes

  • Added Type Inference, significantly improving JavaScript performance
  • Added support for querying Do Not Track status via JavaScript
  • Added support for font-stretch
  • Improved support for text-overflow
  • Improved standards support for HTML5, MathML, and CSS
  • Fixed several stability issues

The changes page lists a more detailed overview of new features and fixes relative to the last stable release, SeaMonkey 2.5.

System Requirements

  • Intel
  • Mac OS X 10.5 or later

Thunderbird 8.0 Email Client for Intel Macs

PR: has released Thunderbird 8.0, a new version of its open source email and news program. Based on the new Mozilla Gecko 8 engine used in Firefox 8, this release includes new Search and Find shortcuts, a more accessible attachment list, stability improvements, and fixes for half a dozen security issues (as in Firefox).

New in version 9.0:

  • Thunderbird is based on the new Mozilla Gecko 9 engine
  • New opt-in system for users to send performance and usability data back to Mozilla to improve future versions of Thunderbird
  • Additional support for Personas in the compose and address book windows
  • Better keyboard handling for attachments
  • Windows users can hide the menu bar (and show it with the "alt" key)
  • Several user interface fixes and improvements
  • Fixed several security issues

Thunderbird 9.0 System Requirements Mac

  • Operating Systems
    • Mac OS X 10.5
    • Mac OS X 10.6
    • Mac OS X 10.7
  • Recommended Hardware
    • Macintosh computer with an Intel x86 processor
    • 512 MB RAM
    • 200 MB hard drive space

Thunderbird is freeware.

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