It was a largely offline holiday break for many of us, but here are a few newsworthy items from before we started dreaming of sugar plums: a podcast discussion on the Tech Night Owl Live that ended up speculating about how Apple could improve Mac OS X and iOS via the cloud, benchmarks for Parallels Desktop 6 and VMware Fusion 3.1, and a reminder that the Mac App Store will be opening in a few days.
 -- A discussion with Tech Night Owl host Gene Steinberg about Apple’s missteps in 2010 somehow segued into far-ranging speculation about how Apple could radically improve the Mac and iOS experience with cloud-based storage and syncing of common files.
 -- When you need to run Windows, it’s always a bit more comforting to do so via emulation on your Mac. The experts at MacTech have published a preview of their latest benchmarks comparing two popular virtualization options for the Mac: Parallels Desktop 6 and VMware Fusion 3.1. The short version is that Parallels bests VMware in most of MacTech’s general tests, but you’ll want to read the whole thing to understand the complete results.
 -- Apple has announced that the Mac App Store will officially open for business on 6 January 2011. The Mac App Store, of course, will aim to recreate the magic of the App Store for iOS devices—making Apple and third-party developers a whole lot of money in the process. Of note is that in Apple’s press release, CEO Steve Jobs says that Apple hopes to make “finding and buying PC apps easy and fun.” Apparently, the company is aiming to take back the term “PC” from the world of Windows machines. As with the initial App Store, Apple will take a 30 percent cut of all software sales, with the rest of the money going to the developers themselves.