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We're overflowing with news this week, including the release of our "Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac" book, TidBITS staffers being honored in the MacTech 25, the iPhone sidestepping a bullet in the form of a patent ruling against Qualcomm, the release of enhancements to the MacBook Pro line, a surprise release of Adobe GoLive 9, Typinator 2.0 adding auto-correction capabilities, NetNewsWire 3.0 sporting better integration with Apple applications, a new remote-control option for Macs, and a trio of announcements about running Windows on a Mac. But despite all that, the big news comes from San Francisco, where Steve Jobs held court at the WWDC keynote, showing off Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, Safari for Windows (gasp!), and how developers can write applications for the iPhone.
by Jeff Carlson
Congratulations to my fellow TidBITS staffers - Adam Engst, Tonya Engst, Glenn Fleishman, Joe Kissell, and Matt Neuburg - who were included on the now-annual MacTech 25 list of most influential people in the Macintosh technical community (see "Adam & Tonya Engst Honored in MacTech 25," 2006-07-17)Show full article
Congratulations to my fellow TidBITS staffers - Adam Engst, Tonya Engst, Glenn Fleishman, Joe Kissell, and Matt Neuburg - who were included on the now-annual MacTech 25 list of most influential people in the Macintosh technical community (see "Adam & Tonya Engst Honored in MacTech 25," 2006-07-17). Although Adam regularly places high on lists like this one and the MDJ Power 25, along with being named one of MacDirectory's "top ten visionaries articulating the spirit of the Macintosh community," it's particularly pleasing to see other members of TidBITS being similarly recognized for their contributions to the Mac community via TidBITS and Take Control. Other groups we work with receiving significant representation on the list include Macworld, Peachpit Press, and MacNotables.
Recognition should of course go to all the other people on the MacTech 25 list this year, many of whom are developers and heads of influential Macintosh software companies. Without further ado, then, here is the full list.
- Aaron Hillegass: Founder of Big Nerd Ranch; author of Cocoa programming books such as "Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X"
- Adam and Tonya Engst: Publisher and Editor in Chief of TidBITS and Take Control Books, and members of the MacNotables podcasting group. Adam is also Senior Contributor at Macworld and author of numerous books about Macintosh and Internet topics.
- Allan Odgaard: Developer of TextMate
- Amit Singh: Head of Macintosh Development at Google; author of "Mac OS X Internals"
- Andrew Welch: CEO of Ambrosia Software; long-time shareware developer
- Andy Ihnatko: Author of Mac books, journalist (for the Chicago Sun-Times, Macworld, Macworld UK, and The Mac Observer), and member of MacNotables
- Ben Wilson: Chief Editor of MacFixIt
- Brent Simmons: Developer of NetNewsWire
- Chris Breen: Senior Editor at Macworld, author of iPod books, and member of MacNotables
- Daniel Jalkut: Developer and head of Red Sweater Software
- Dave Nanian: Developer of SuperDuper and head of Shirt Pocket Software
- Glenn Fleishman: TidBITS contributing editor, Seattle Times columnist, Take Control author, and the principal behind Wi-Fi Networking News.
- Gus Mueller: Developer of VoodooPad and head of utility company Flying Meat
- Joe Kissell: Senior Editor at TidBITS, author of numerous Take Control books, and head of the Internet publishing company alt concepts
- John Gruber: Writer of the Daring Fireball blog; creator of the Markdown format and text-to-HTML conversion tool
- John Siracusa: Apple Technology Specialist at Ars Technica
- Jonathan 'Wolf' Rentzsch: Developer, writer, and organizer of the C4 developer conference
- Matt Neuburg: TidBITS contributing editor, author of AppleScript and Frontier books, Take Control author, and Macintosh developer
- Paul Kafasis: CEO/Lackey of audio developer Rogue Amoeba Software
- Philip Dow: Developer of Journler notebook and information manager software
- Ric Ford: Head of MacInTouch
- Rob Griffiths: Author, columnist for Macworld, and editor of the Mac OS X Hints site
- Scott Stevenson: Creator of numerous sites devoted to Mac OS X programming, including Cocoa Dev Central
- Ted Landau: Author of best-selling troubleshooting books, founder of MacFixIt, Senior Contributor at Macworld, and member of MacNotables
- Wil Shipley: Developer of Delicious Library and head of Delicious Monster
Around our dinner table, the tools, economics, standards, and future of publishing are topics of daily discussion. If you share our interest, I'd encourage you to join us at the upcoming O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conferenceShow full article
Around our dinner table, the tools, economics, standards, and future of publishing are topics of daily discussion. If you share our interest, I'd encourage you to join us at the upcoming O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference. It runs from 18-Jun-07 through 20-Jun-07 in San Jose, California. The first day offers sets of half-day tutorials, and the next two days are chock full of 45-minute sessions. We're glad that we're both going, since we can split up and see twice as much; it would be frustrating to miss some of these sessions. I'll be talking about collaborative writing tools with a specific look at the lessons we've learned over many years of group publishing along with some thoughts about where tools need to evolve to keep up with the fast-paced world of publishing. Tonya will be participating on a panel on the pros and cons of selling in-progress books. If you do want to go, use coupon code "toc07scd" to save 25 percent on the cost of admission.
In our very first DealBITS drawing in 2003, we gave away a Tom Bihn Brain Bag and laptop case; it remains one of our most popular drawings of all time, with nearly 1,300 entrantsShow full article
In our very first DealBITS drawing in 2003, we gave away a Tom Bihn Brain Bag and laptop case; it remains one of our most popular drawings of all time, with nearly 1,300 entrants. Well, Tom Bihn is back, and this time they're offering an even better prize, a Tom Bihn Empire Builder Briefcase, Brain Cell Hard-Sided Laptop Case, and Absolute Shoulder Strap, collectively worth $225. I don't have one, personally, but it looks extremely well thought-out.
Congratulations to William Causey of msn.com, Susan Alles of dontgotmail.com, and Jeremy Meadows of not-pc.com, whose entries were chosen randomly in last week's DealBITS drawing and who received a copy of BeLight Software's Live Interior 3D, worth $79.95Show full article
Congratulations to William Causey of msn.com, Susan Alles of dontgotmail.com, and Jeremy Meadows of not-pc.com, whose entries were chosen randomly in last week's DealBITS drawing and who received a copy of BeLight Software's Live Interior 3D, worth $79.95. Since Jeremy was referred to DealBITS by Randall Meadows, Randall will also receive a copy as a thank you. But don't fret if you didn't win, since BeLight is offering everyone who entered this DealBITS drawing a 15 percent discount on Live Interior 3D through 21-Jun-07, dropping the price to $67.95. Thanks to the 1,195 people who entered this DealBITS drawing, and we hope you'll continue to participate in the future!
Apple should be breathing a sigh of relief right now that they didn't include third-generation (3G) cellular data networking technology in the iPhone. A highly unusual U.SShow full article
Apple should be breathing a sigh of relief right now that they didn't include third-generation (3G) cellular data networking technology in the iPhone. A highly unusual U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling last week prevents the importation of any new 3G phone that uses silicon chips from Qualcomm. Bloomberg News confirmed that the iPhone doesn't use any Qualcomm chips.
The ITC ruled in October 2006 that Qualcomm had infringed patents owned by Broadcom, a rival maker of cellular chips as well as a major Wi-Fi chip maker. However, until last week's ruling, it was unclear what action might be taken. The ban affects all 3G chips sold by Qualcomm; most handsets are manufactured overseas and then imported. Any handset model imported by 07-Jun-07 can continue to be imported in future shipments, according to the ruling.
The iPhone uses Wi-Fi for local networks and EDGE for cell networks. EDGE fits into the 2.5G cell technology category, a peculiar name - "second and a half generation" - assigned to interim standards released mostly in the United States to bridge the gap between 2G (slow modem speed) and 3G (low-end broadband speed) offerings during a long period that 3G wasn't ready to deploy. EDGE offers as much as three times the bandwidth of a dial-up analog modem, or roughly 150 Kbps in ideal cases.
Many pundits and journalists opined that by charging $500 or $600 for the iPhone (depending on capacity) and by including a slower-than-3G cell data connection, Apple had missed the boat - forgetting, of course, that smartphones are only gradually adding 3G networking, that few offer 3G and Wi-Fi in a single offering (and none allow seamless network handoffs), and that other smartphones cost in the hundreds of dollars. With new Qualcomm-based 3G phones banned, Apple may get the last laugh.
The decision went into effect immediately, and Qualcomm, Verizon, and others are already attempting to have the ruling reversed. The ruling becomes final within 60 days unless overturned by the U.S. president; the White House said that it would delegate the decision to the U.S. Trade Representative, as it has since 2005. If there's no decision from U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, Qualcomm can file an appeal in federal court.
by Jeff Carlson
Apple revamped its MacBook Pro line of portables last week with faster processors, better graphics capabilities, 802.11n wireless networking (removing the need to run an enabler), and screens that are backlit using LED technologyShow full article
Apple revamped its MacBook Pro line of portables last week with faster processors, better graphics capabilities, 802.11n wireless networking (removing the need to run an enabler), and screens that are backlit using LED technology. I need to remind myself that the MacBook Pro I bought last November is still a perfectly fine machine for my needs, and not allow techno-lust to overpower me (see "More Bang, Less Bucks for My MacBook Pro," 2006-11-20). That won't be easy, however.
The new 15-inch and 17-inch models are powered by Intel Core 2 Duo processors running at 2.2 GHz or 2.4 GHz. The new chips belong to the recently announced Intel "Santa Rosa" family, which offer improvements in power consumption and bus speed (800 MHz versus 667 MHz for the Core 2 Duo processors used in the previous MacBook Pro revision). The chips also enable the use of up to 4 GB of RAM, up from a maximum of 3 GB. The base configurations include 2 GB of memory. For graphics, the MacBook Pros use the Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT processor with either 128 MB or 256 MB of memory.
That memory comes in handy not only for graphics-intensive applications such as Final Cut Studio but also for powering the 17-inch model's optional (for $100 more) display with a resolution of 1920 by 1200 pixels, large enough to view and edit 1080i high-definition video at native resolution. The default configuration remains the same as before, with a native resolution of 1680 by 1050 pixels.
The MacBook Pro is also the first Mac to use energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) backlighting for its display, though only on the 15-inch model for now. Steve Jobs alluded to LED-backlit displays in his "A Greener Apple" open letter posted at the Apple Web site in May (see "Steve Jobs Talks Green," 2007-05-07) because replacing fluorescent backlighting with LEDs reduces the amount of toxic mercury used in computers. According to comments by Apple, the LED backlighting can also add 30 to 60 minutes of time to a battery charge.
Storage has been increased, offering 120 GB or 160 GB hard drives running at 5400 rpm for the 15-inch model, with an optional 160 GB drive at 7200 rpm or a 200 GB drive at 4200 rpm. The 17-inch model comes with a 160 GB drive, but can be outfitted instead with the 7200-rpm 160 GB drive or a 250 GB 4200-rpm drive. Note that drives spinning at faster rates will not necessarily perform more quickly in real-world usage.
In most other respects, the configurations are similar to the previous generation, including one FireWire 400 port, one FireWire 800 port, two USB 2.0 ports (three ports on the 17-inch model), 8x slot-loading SuperDrive, built-in iSight camera, backlit keyboard, ExpressCard/34 slot, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR short-range wireless networking, and gigabit Ethernet.
The new MacBook Pro models are available now for the same prices as the previous generation. The 15-inch model with the 2.2 GHz processor, 120 GB hard drive, and Nvidia card with 128 MB of memory costs $2,000. The 15-inch model with the 2.4 GHz processor, 160 GB hard drive, and Nvidia card with 256 MB of memory runs $2,500. And the 17-inch model with the 2.4 GHz processor, 160 GB hard drive and an Nvidia card with 256 MB of memory costs $2,800.
by Jeff Carlson
Sometimes it's good to be wrong. Or, perhaps more apt in this case, wrong for the time being. Last week Adobe surprised me with the release of GoLive 9, an update to the company's previous flagship Web design application before it acquired DreamweaverShow full article
Sometimes it's good to be wrong. Or, perhaps more apt in this case, wrong for the time being.
Last week Adobe surprised me with the release of GoLive 9, an update to the company's previous flagship Web design application before it acquired Dreamweaver. GoLive 9 now supports Intel-based Macs as a universal binary, adds paragraph and character styles similar to InDesign's implementation, inherits the new user interface of Creative Suite 3, adds a Place command (also similar to InDesign), simplifies site management, and inter-operates with other Adobe applications. GoLive 9 also appears to be reinventing itself as a powerful CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) tool, even though its CSS capabilities have been pretty good in recent versions.
I didn't expect to see any further development of GoLive, especially not what appears to be significant engineering work in GoLive 9. Following Adobe's acquisition of Macromedia in 2005 (see "Adobe Swallows Macromedia," 2005-04-25), Glenn Fleishman and I figured that GoLive would either be sold or put out to pasture like its sibling FreeHand (see "Farewell FreeHand," 2007-05-21). Dreamweaver had essentially trounced GoLive in the marketplace, a fact reflected in the disappointing sales of the book we co-authored, "Real World Adobe GoLive."
Then, late last year, Adobe officially dropped GoLive from the Creative Suite in favor of Dreamweaver, untying it from the sole reason many people presumably still used GoLive: it was part of the bundle (see "GoLive Booted from Adobe Creative Suite, Acrobat 8 Released," 2006-09-18). And when Creative Suite 3 finally shipped in April of this year, GoLive was nowhere in sight (see "Adobe Ships Creative Suite 3, Offers Video Betas," 2007-04-16).
Needless to say, despite this release I'm still not optimistic for GoLive's future at Adobe. My guess is that enough engineering work had already been invested to finish the job, and that a core group of Web designers still prefer the GoLive approach. But Adobe's product page features prominent links to information on switching from GoLive to Dreamweaver. The first line on the switching page reads, "Before purchasing Adobe GoLive 9 software, consider Adobe Dreamweaver CS3, the market-leading tool to design, develop, and maintain websites and web applications."
In other words, you're perfectly welcome to buy it, but we don't recommend it, even though we probably put a lot of work into it.
GoLive 9 costs $400, with upgrades from GoLive 6, Creative Suite, or Creative Suite 2 (but, notably, not Creative Suite 3) priced at $170. A free 30-day trial is available as a 323 MB download.
by Matt Neuburg
I'm a pretty good typist, but my thoughts still race ahead of my fingers, so it's nice to have a utility for entering frequently used words and phrases by typing just an abbreviationShow full article
I'm a pretty good typist, but my thoughts still race ahead of my fingers, so it's nice to have a utility for entering frequently used words and phrases by typing just an abbreviation. Such a utility can also act as a live typographical error correction mechanism, if you set up some "abbreviations" that are actually mistakes your fingers habitually make, like inverting the "h" and the "e" in the word "the". Of all the utilities I've tried for doing this, Ergonis Software's Typinator remains the simplest and most reliable. The interface is clear, and there are just enough options to make Typinator powerful and flexible without sacrificing clarity and ease of use. TidBITS first reviewed Typinator in "You Type, It Typinates," 2005-06-27; the news this week is that Ergonis has released version 2.0.
Typinator is an ordinary application (not a dreaded input manager); it watches your typing and controls the application where that typing takes place, by using the accessibility features of Mac OS X (see my articles "Are Input Managers the Work of the Devil?," 2006-02-20, and "Scripting the Unscriptable in Mac OS X," 2003-03-10, if you don't understand the technical terms in that sentence). Its only interface is its single preferences window. This window lists, at the top, your abbreviation sets (these sets are a major new feature of this version of Typinator), and below that, the abbreviations in the currently selected abbreviation set.
Abbreviation sets are useful because of their enablement behavior. In a secondary dialog, you set up a list of applications where you want special abbreviation set enablement; each abbreviation set can then be enabled or disabled for each of those applications and for all other applications en masse. Thus, for example, an abbreviation set that should be operative only in BBEdit would be enabled for BBEdit and disabled for "All Other Applications." Typinator 2.0 also comes with three sets of frequently mistyped words (one each for English, German, and French).
Each abbreviation can have several options too. It can be automatically expanded either at word-beginning or only when it is used as an entire word; and expansion can be sensitive, insensitive, or responsive to the case in which you type an abbreviation's letters. By "responsive" I mean that, for example, "FYI" would yield "For Your Information," but "Fyi" would yield "For your information."
That's essentially all there is to it, but I'd be failing in my duty if I didn't mention one more really cool additional new feature. An expansion can include a specification of where the insertion point should be afterwards, and it can paste whatever is in the clipboard at the moment at a specified place within itself. Thus, for example, you could copy the phrase "wow" and then type the abbreviation "em" to get "wow" surrounded by EM HTML tags and with the insertion point right after the "wow". This kind of intelligent, flexible clipping insertion is a feature of some applications, such as BBEdit; now Typinator makes it universal.
Typinator costs $20 for a two-year license, meaning that two years after you purchase your license, if you want to take advantage of any subsequent upgrades, you must pay an additional fee. It's a 2.4 MB download, and a universal binary; it requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, but 10.4 is recommended. You can try Typinator for free, but there will be some special behavior until you purchase a license; I believe what happens is that Typinator will nag you as it performs an expansion, except when you are working in TextEdit.
Staff Roundtable -- I'm not alone in my use of Typinator and other auto-completion utilities - Adam has long used auto-correction capabilities in other applications, and has started using Typinator as well.
[Adam Engst] Abbreviation expansion utilities have never rocked my world, since I'm a sufficiently fast typist that typing even relatively long words and phrases is easier than remembering abbreviation and expansion keys. However, I'm really liking Typinator's new auto-correction capabilities, complete with an 800+ entry set of typos and correct expansions (in English, French, and German, not that I ever make mistakes in either French or German) that Typinator can fix no matter what application you're using. I've gotten used to auto-correction in Eudora and Microsoft Word, and I miss it in other applications.
I would like to see Ergonis add a contextual menu item that would simplify adding common mistakes to the list; it can be easier to add such things while writing rather than requiring a switch to Typinator.
[Matt Neuburg] When using BBEdit to write a TidBITS article, I actually find another utility even more useful than Typinator: it's BBAutoComplete, by Michael Tsai (whose other invaluable applications include SpamSieve). BBAutoComplete is a one-trick pony, but that trick is a great one. When you summon it, usually by pressing some keyboard shortcut, it looks at the letters preceding the insertion point and then considers all the other words in your document, seeking one that starts with those same letters. If it finds one, it completes your letters, turning them into that word. If that's the wrong word, press the keyboard shortcut again to get a different completion. Optionally, BBAutoComplete can look through other documents open in the same application, and can even resort to the built-in Mac OS X spell-checker's word list. However, I use it only for the frontmost document, and generally only with peculiar, technical terms (such as "TidBITS,", "SpamSieve," or "BBAutoComplete" - yes, I entered all three of those using BBAutoComplete). BBAutoComplete works in only a few applications, because serious scriptability is a prerequisite for it to do its magic; those applications include BBEdit and Microsoft Word. Best of all, it's free!
Speaking of "free," let's get back to Typinator, and in particular, how its pricing model works. Granted, $20 is a very reasonable price indeed; but having to pay again every two years in order to continue getting updates means, to me, that you really have no idea how much you'll end up paying. Aren't you going to feel pretty cheated if you pay for your two years and then, one day after it expires, Ergonis comes up with the bug fixes or improvements you've been waiting for all this time? That is, in fact, just what happened with Typinator 2.0: it came out two years and one month after Typinator 1.0. Now, as it turns out, Ergonis recognized this fact and secretly extended the license period; but that's just my point: they did this secretly (nothing in Typinator informs you of the fact: indeed, my copy explicitly says that the free update period expired last month), and they did it arbitrarily. Basically, my view is, during the two years you pay for, anything (or nothing) could happen: you're gambling either on the program being totally satisfactory and bug-free (when was the last time that happened?) or on getting a reasonable amount of improvement in a reasonable amount of time (no guarantees there either). Plus it seems to me that this pricing scheme penalizes the early adopter, who, just the other way round, I think, should be rewarded for suffering through the bugs and shortcomings and ponying up the funds that make future improvement possible.
However, I don't seem to be able to muster much support for my views here at TidBITS, and Ergonis's Christoph Reichenberger tells me I have the facts all wrong (though I assure you, I'm just drawing what seem to me the logical conclusions from the information available on the Ergonis Web site). But then, that's why these Staff Roundtables are so cool: everyone gets a say! So let me hand the virtual microphone back over to Adam for an opposing view.
[Adam Engst] Matt and Christoph and I have had this discussion several times over the last few years, and I'm not bothered by the overall policy. With software, all pricing decisions are in a sense arbitrary, since software is created with pure thought rather than raw materials, and overhead is generally low. Plus, requiring users to pay to use a new version after two years of free upgrades feels no more arbitrary than a developer deciding that the next release should require an upgrade fee - there are no rules here.
Since no developer commits to a release schedule with upgrade fees years in advance, there's no way to calculate whether Ergonis's approach would cost more or less than a conventional "pay only for a major upgrade" method. What you do know with Ergonis's approach is that it will cost at least an extra $10 (that's the upgrade fee, not $20) if you want to take advantage of new features and bug fixes after two years (your current version does not stop working). The only possible surprise is a good one - if Ergonis decides to extend the two-year time frame to reward early adopters (who have also benefited from the software the longest) or to fix a particularly egregious bug. With a conventional approach, you never know at what point you'll be required to pay an upgrade fee, how significant the upgrade will be, or how much it will cost. So if anything, Ergonis's approach seems much more predictable.
But what I like most about Ergonis's approach is that it's a little different. Just as we benefit when products offer unusual features, I believe we benefit when developers try different business models. If they're good, they'll survive and become available for others to try. If they're bad, consumers will revolt, and the company will be forced to try something else. Therein lies the true test, and the mere fact of Ergonis's five-year history would seem to indicate that most people aren't concerned about this upgrade approach. Christoph tells me that what little negative feedback they have received is based on misunderstandings.
I do think Ergonis could ameliorate many of these misunderstandings technically. For instance, Typinator could display a splash screen that would warn the user after two years that the next upgrade would no longer be free. Or Ergonis could implement an automatic update mechanism that would make clear to the user during the update process that an upgrade fee would be required if sufficient time had passed.
The latest version of the popular news reader NetNewsWire is out, sporting a spiffier interface, improved performance, and direct connections to several Apple and third-party applicationsShow full article
The latest version of the popular news reader NetNewsWire is out, sporting a spiffier interface, improved performance, and direct connections to several Apple and third-party applications. NetNewsWire 3.0 lets you subscribe to RSS and Atom syndication feeds offered by media sites, blogs, search engines, and others, regularly checking for updates and aggregating the results into a compact window.
The new release, despite its major version number change, has much the same above-the-hood functionality as version 2.1. The interface revision is welcome, adding quite a bit of subtlety and shading to the previous, more quotidian look.
NewsGator, the developer, says that under the hood, they revised some fundamental parts of how the program stored its bits of news, making it more robust and quicker in handling extremely large subscriptions and quantities of news items.
NetNewsWire has insinuated itself more deeply into Mac OS X by tying into Spotlight, Address Book, iCal, and iPhoto. In Spotlight, searching on any word found within any retrieved item shows a stub within the list of Document results with a NetNewsWire icon. Double-clicking the result opens the item within NetNewsWire. Photos can be copied from a feed into iPhoto, too.
The program supports micro-formats, which are embedded structured elements within Web pages that can be interpreted by clever software. If a page includes a calendar or contact entry in this format, NetNewsWire presents you with the opportunity to add it to iCal or Address Book.
NetNewsWire 3.0 adds Growl notifications, Twitterific support, and the capability to email the contents of a news item or a link to a news item through a menu command. Also new is what NetNewsWire calls "cover art": a tiny screen capture of the home page of the Web site for the news feed you're currently viewing. Finally, you can now store news items as clippings, which are synchronized with an account you set up at NewsGator's Web site.
Mac users have a new tool for remotely accessing other Macs regardless of whether the remote computers have routable IP addresses. LogMeIn released a beta last week of their LogMeIn Free software for Mac OS XShow full article
Mac users have a new tool for remotely accessing other Macs regardless of whether the remote computers have routable IP addresses. LogMeIn released a beta last week of their LogMeIn Free software for Mac OS X. LogMeIn already supports Windows and Linux operating systems, and some handheld platforms. This version enables a Mac running Mac OS X 10.4.9 to connect to, or be connected to by, any LogMeIn client on their supported platforms.
Remote control software is often used to view and control the operating system interface of a computer elsewhere on a local or remote network, and to retrieve or transfer files among multiple computers owned by one person - I have Quicken installed only on my computer at home, for instance, and use it remotely while I'm in the office. Remote control software is also widely used for technical support, enabling a technician to view precisely what a user is doing, and to install software remotely.
The free flavor of LogMeIn allows unlimited computers and connections, but doesn't include file transfer, just remote screen control. The company offers several paid versions of their products, including a premium personal release that does include file transfers, remote printing, and a dashboard for managing multiple machines. The Mac version is available only in the free edition at the moment.
LogMeIn requires a software installation (but without the need to restart) on the computer that will be remotely controlled. The company's Web site manages your connection to remote computers. Remote control is handled through a Web browser: a plug-in for Safari and a Java applet that works in Firefox provide the interface. Just like iChat, Skype, and other communications software, LogMeIn can work with either routable IP addresses or with private, non-routable addresses typically used in home networks, hotspots, and some business networks. (The trick is that computers on either end of a connection open a link to a central server which ties the separate connections together.)
Other Buttons on the Remote -- While Timbuktu Pro has long provided a combination of remote control, file transfer, and other communications features, the product is priced and designed for technical support or advanced users with specific needs, not personal use. Timbuktu Pro can't penetrate networks to reach private addresses, either, since Netopia doesn't operate central servers that would enable that. Timbuktu Pro can traverse NAT gateways using Skype, but I have found that slow and sometimes unreliable in practice.
Similarly, Apple's Remote Desktop software provides remote control, file transfer, and client management. But the package is relatively expensive, has no capability for working with private, non-routable IP addresses, and is aimed at large installations (see "Apple Remote Desktop 3 Released," 2006-04-17).
Fog Creek's Copilot software can reach routable and non-routable addresses, but is sold on a time-used basis and is meant for technical support (see "Fog Is My Copilot," 2007-01-09); usage can cost 25 cents a minute or $5 per day, or can be included in monthly subscription plans. Likewise, Mac HelpMate Remote can reach any computer, but is designed for remote technical support, and is part of a package starting at $600 per year.
by Joe Kissell
For almost a year, we've covered the ongoing rivalry between Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion, the two leading ways to run Windows on an Intel-based Mac without rebootingShow full article
For almost a year, we've covered the ongoing rivalry between Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion, the two leading ways to run Windows on an Intel-based Mac without rebooting. Last week, the competition escalated yet again as both products received major new releases. And, just to keep things interesting, Apple also released another beta of Boot Camp, their official dual-boot solution for running Windows.
VMware Fusion Beta 4 -- VMware has released the fourth public beta of their Fusion virtualization software. The biggest news in this release is that Fusion has outdone Parallels Desktop's Coherence feature (for now, at least) with a feature called Unity. Both Coherence and Unity free Windows from running in a separate box, putting windows from both Mac OS X and Windows on equal footing - and giving Windows applications their own Dock icons. However, Coherence puts all windows from Windows in the same "layer," which is to say that you can't put a Mac OS X window between two Windows windows; switching any Windows window to the front brings them all to the front - and Exposé groups all Windows windows together. Fusion's Unity has no such limitations; it not only provides full support for Exposé but also adds drop shadows to each window, for a much more Mac-like Windows experience. In addition, Unity replicates most of the contents of the Windows Start menu in your Mac menu bar, unlike Coherence, which displays the whole Windows task bar within Mac OS X. On the other hand, Unity currently works only with Windows XP, whereas Coherence already supports Windows Vista as well.
Beta 4 also gives Fusion the capability of using Boot Camp partitions with Windows Vista installed. (Previously, only Boot Camp partitions running Windows XP were supported.) This support is still considered experimental, however, meaning users must reactivate Windows Vista each time they switch between Boot Camp and Fusion. Fusion's Boot Camp support received several other bug fixes and enhancements in Fusion beta 4 as well, including automatic updating of Fusion's drivers when running Windows from a Boot Camp partition in a virtual machine. Other improvements in beta 4 include improved performance, a customizable tool bar, and support for Apple 30-inch Cinema Displays. Fusion beta 4 is a 167.4 MB download.
Parallels Desktop 3.0 -- Meanwhile, Parallels has kept busy on other fronts, and their newly released version 3.0 of Parallels Desktop provides a number of major improvements and new features. At the top of the list is the long-awaited support for 3D graphics, which finally enables gamers to consider Parallels as a viable alternative to Boot Camp.
A new Snapshots feature lets users save the state of their Windows virtual machines at any time, so that they can install new software or make other changes and then easily go back to the system's earlier state if crashes or serious problems occur. Another new feature, SmartSelect, provides the capability to associate file types with particular applications in either Windows or Mac OS X - so that, for example, you could double-click a .txt file in Windows and have it open in TextEdit under Mac OS X, or double-click a .doc file in Mac OS X and have it open in the Windows version of Word. And Parallels Explorer provides a way to view and access files stored in your Windows system even if Windows itself isn't running.
Among the many other changes in version 3.0 are improvements to Coherence, Boot Camp support, Shared Folders, and USB support, plus hundreds of bug fixes.
This is the first paid upgrade to Parallels Desktop since its release. The upgrade costs $50; new copies remain priced at $80. Parallels Desktop 3.0 is a 78.3 MB download.
Boot Camp Beta 1.3 -- Lastly, Apple released beta 1.3 of Boot Camp, a 274 MB download. This latest version supports the newest Macs (including, presumably, the new MacBook Pro models introduced on 05-Jun-07). It also adds support for keyboard backlighting on MacBook Pros, pairing of Apple Remotes (for those who have more than one), and improvements in several areas, such as graphics drivers and international keyboard support. Apple recommends the update for all current Boot Camp users. As in previous versions, updating requires burning a new Mac Windows drivers CD or DVD, restarting under Boot Camp, and installing the updated drivers.
At today's Worldwide Developer Conference keynote, Apple CEO Steve Jobs demoed the first feature-complete developer beta release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, showing off slick new features, including what appears to be the most significant overhaul of the Finder in some timeShow full article
At today's Worldwide Developer Conference keynote, Apple CEO Steve Jobs demoed the first feature-complete developer beta release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, showing off slick new features, including what appears to be the most significant overhaul of the Finder in some time. At last year's WWDC, demos focused largely on marquee features like Time Machine, Spaces, Mail, and Dashboard (see "Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Previewed at WWDC 2006," 2006-08-07). Today Jobs also shocked the Mac world by announcing the release of a test version of Safari 3 for Windows XP and Vista, and then wrapped up by explaining how developers will be able to create applications for the iPhone, due at 6 P.M. on 29-Jun-07.
Although Jobs claimed 300 new features in Leopard, he chose to focus on only a few in the keynote, and didn't cover the new features in Mail or iCal, or Mac OS X's accessibility capabilities, which were previously revealed. Jobs reiterated a shipping date of October 2007 for Leopard.
Basic Finder Improvements -- Eye candy is important to Apple these days, and Leopard provides plenty of it, with the new translucent menu bar and a reflective "floor" on which Dock icons sit. These features are likely due to Core Animation, a new API that simplifies the process of creating sophisticated animations.
Computer makers, processor makers, and operating system developers all conspire to make sure that each new update to an operating system's interface includes something that requires more horsepower. Not so much that it hobbles older computers, but enough that it can wow existing owners into buying new hardware. Multi-core processors make it somewhat easier to justify burning processor cycles on trendy 3D effects, too.
Stacks, a new element of the Dock, should appeal to clean-desk types irritated by Mac OS X's inability to handle piles of things. As far as we can tell, a stack is a new way of looking at the contents of a docked folder; you can either fan out the contents to see (and select from) them, or you can view them in a grid if there are too many for the fan display to make sense. The newest document is always placed on top of a stack.
In essence, Stacks brings back the tabbed folder functionality from Mac OS 9, although with a modern look and feel. In a bid to end piles of downloads scattered across your Desktop, Jobs said that a default stack named Downloads will automatically capture downloaded files, notifying you when new ones arrive.
Another Finder improvement is Quick Look, which provides a fast preview of any document in the Finder. Pressing the spacebar with a file selected presents a preview of the file's contents. This preview includes the capability to play QuickTime movies and page through multi-page documents. Apple will provide Quick Look support for common document types, like Microsoft Word and Excel, PDF, text, movie, and image files, and will offer a plug-in architecture for developers to build their own Quick Look preview interfaces. Clearly, Steve's documents are prettier than ours, but Quick Look may still prove useful for examining documents quickly without having to launch the associated application.
The popularity of iTunes is having a notable effect on the Finder, with an iTunes-like sidebar that contains top-level items labeled Devices (disks), Shared (networked computers), Places (folders), and Search For (essentially smart folders). For those who enjoy the iTunes Cover Flow feature that lets you browse by album art, Jobs said that the same option will now be available for Finder windows, letting you browse through items and even play QuickTime movies in the interface.
Spotlight extends its reach in Leopard to search networked Macs and PCs, providing a fundamental enhancement to the technology. Leopard's Spotlight will also feature Boolean searching, exact phrases, dates, ranges, and absolute dates. Oddly, it will reportedly also perform simple calculations (much the way you can perform calculations in LaunchBar, we suppose). It remains to be seen if these improvements will cause those of us who find Spotlight relatively useless now to change our minds. Because Jobs said this new Spotlight feature will search PCs, Apple may need to release Spotlight for Windows, too, perhaps in a challenge to the various desktop searching programs like Google Desktop.
Finally, a shared computer listed in the Finder's sidebar can be accessed not just for file sharing, but also for remote control, just as though you were in front of it. Apple didn't stop there. The awkwardly named "Back to My Mac" feature allows remote access to other Macs for which you have authorization over the Internet, with Apple's .Mac service managing the connection. Several products - including LogMeIn, a beta of which was released last week for Mac OS X (see "LogMeIn Adds Remote Control for Mac," 2007-06-11) - allow remote control connections to computers behind home and corporate gateways that assign private network addresses. Private network addresses are typically non-routable, unreachable from the rest of the Internet.
The More Bits the Better -- Jobs said Leopard will be a 64-bit operating system that will also support 32-bit applications. In a slight jab at Microsoft, which has sold 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows separately, Jobs said that Leopard will have a single version that can handle both kinds of applications.
The advantage of 64-bit processors when they have operating system support is, in part, their capability to perform mathematical operations on larger chunks of data at a time. That can produce substantial improvements in computationally intensive tasks, which invariably include the display of new, fancy interface elements - Quick Look, Cover Flow, etc. - and serious application tasks, like creating movies in iDVD or playing games. Apple is unique in selling mostly computers that feature 64-bit processors. Until now, the real underlying power hasn't been used to its full advantage.
Boot Camp Changes Little -- Leopard will, as expected, have Boot Camp built in, but only as a complement to Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion. By "built in," it appears that Apple means you'll be able to switch to Windows by choosing Restart in Windows from the Apple menu. But Leopard won't require that you end your session on the Mac side; instead, it goes into "safe sleep" mode so when you return, you'll be right back where you left off.
Nonetheless, this approach to Boot Camp means that Apple chose not to compete with the third-party software offering virtualization capabilities. That's unusual in the sense that Boot Camp, by forcing the user to reboot into Windows, isn't a very Mac-like solution to the problem of needing to run the occasional Windows application.
Both Parallels Desktop, with Coherence, and VMware Fusion, with Unity, offer far more integrated approaches, but Boot Camp is free with Leopard. Jobs did say that Apple is helping both companies, and both are working hard to provide seamless compatibility with Windows partitions created by Boot Camp so you can use either Boot Camp or a virtualization program without duplicating your Windows installation.
On the other hand, Boot Camp enables full use of all hardware drivers and peripherals in Windows, along with 100 percent of the potential processor power. Virtual machines can never achieve that efficiency - although they can get close to it, depending on task - and specific hardware that uses software that bypasses the driver abstraction layer may never be supported on a virtual machine.
Spaces -- With Spaces, Leopard users will be able to create and switch among multiple desktops, each with different active applications. Such capabilities are by no means new, but by integrating Spaces into Mac OS X at a low level, we suspect that multiple desktops will become significantly more popular among normal users. It appears that Apple has done a particularly good job with Spaces, making it simple to switch among spaces, drag windows from one space to another, and more.
The attraction of Spaces comes in part from the constant demands for attention inherent in today's Macs - it can be difficult to concentrate on writing, for instance, when people can interrupt via iChat, when email is constantly flowing in, when Web pages update automatically, and when various other distracting applications are constantly at the ready.
Dashboard & Web Clips -- Jobs claimed that over 3,000 Dashboard widgets have been written, making the technology a success. However, creating a widget currently requires a bit of programming, whereas with the new Web Clip feature of Dashboard, anyone will be able to cut out a regularly updating part of a Web page - perhaps the comic of the day, a Google Analytics usage graph, or CNET's "What's Hot" treemap of popular and timely articles - and turn it into a Dashboard widget.
iChat -- Leopard's iChat may be one of the most compelling improvements for many of us. First and foremost, audio quality has been improved through support for AAC-LD (AAC Low Delay) encoding. iChat in Leopard also offers tabbed chats, as are currently available via Chax, and in a bit of a silly but fun move, Photo Booth effects that can be applied to live video, as well as bluescreen effects behind (and overlays in front of) someone in a video chat, much like Script Software's ChatFX.
But what's really interesting is that you can now share iPhoto slideshows via iChat, along with Keynote presentations and videos. Plus, anything you can display with Quick Look can be shown in iChat, making it possible to show others documents in real time. We're looking forward to using iChat for remote presentations with Mac user groups; we've done a few that way already, but it's nearly impossible to flip back and forth between video and showing something onscreen. Even better, anything you show with iChat can be saved, audio chats as AAC files, and video chats as MPEG-4 files. The podcasting world may explode, thanks to the added ease of recording live audio and video.
Time Machine -- This year's demonstration of Time Machine wasn't particularly detailed, but Jobs revealed one previously unannounced feature that's notable. It turns out that Time Machine can back up multiple computers to a hard drive connected to an 802.11n-based AirPort Extreme Base Station (2007 release). Network backups are far easier and more efficient (if slower) than schlepping a hard drive between Macs - it would be nice if an initial backup could be made while the drive was connected locally, and then attached to the AirPort base station for remote backups. Time Machine will let you change the disk to which you're backing up, exclude items you don't want backed up, encrypt your backed up data, and set time limits on how long versions of files should be kept to avoid filling up the destination drive. It remains to be seen if it will be easy to store a Time Machine-based backup drive off-site, as is ideal to protect against fire or burglary.
Winning Hearts and Minds (and Browser Market Share) -- The classic "one more thing" announcement was a shocker, with Jobs announcing that Apple would be taking advantage of the experience in porting iTunes to Windows to release Safari 3 for Windows XP and Vista as well as for Leopard and for Tiger. Although this seems like an odd move, given that Apple won't make any money from a Windows version of Safari, it may be designed to encourage Web developers working in Windows to create sites that will display properly on the iPhone, which itself will be running a version of Safari. The public beta version of Safari 3 was released today.
Security and standards support may provide another rationale for Apple porting Safari to Windows. A long-standing complaint among security experts has been the many holes in Internet Explorer that allow exploitation of a user's computer by simply visiting a Web site. Internet Explorer 7 solved some of this problem by creating a kind of walled garden in which browsing takes place, but it's a hack on Microsoft's part. Plus, Web designers have long been irritated by successive versions of Internet Explorer that fail to fix fundamental problems in the browser's CSS support. A single line of simple CSS that works correctly in Safari, Firefox, and Opera on all platforms can require several lines of additional code to work in multiple versions of Internet Explorer.
It's ironic that Apple is releasing a browser for Windows, given that Microsoft released Internet Explorer for the Mac in 1996. Internet Explorer was the Mac's default browser until early 2003, when Safari was unveiled, after which the program saw no more development effort before being discontinued in 2006. See "Microsoft Unveils Internet Explorer for Mac," (1996-01-22), "Internet Explorer for Mac in Maintenance Mode" (2003-06-16) and "Internet Explorer Officially Fades Away," (2006-01-09) for more on Internet Explorer for Mac's history.
Jobs didn't let last week's appearance with Microsoft CEO Bill Gates at the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference stop him from poking fun at Microsoft's multiple versions of Windows Vista. Jobs announced - apparently to a little initial shock - that Leopard would be available in Basic, Premium, Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate versions, all of which will cost $130. (It's a joke - there's only one version.) This is the same price as all previous versions of Mac OS X.
The release of the beta of Safari 3 for Windows, the potential of Spotlight for Windows (based on Jobs's comments), and continued development of iTunes, Bonjour network discovery, QuickTime, AirPort Utility, and other programs continues to change Apple's role vis-a-vis the Windows platform. Apple is a very serious, top-level Windows software developer now with tens of millions - if not more - customers using their software for Windows.
If, as our illustrious editor in chief, Tonya Engst, has suggested, the iPhone is the new network computer, then Windows and Mac OS X become equally viable platforms for interacting with the iPhone, just as is true for the iPod.
Developing for the iPhone -- Speaking of the iPhone, Jobs's final announcement was that Apple has come up with a new way for developers to create applications that can run on the iPhone, a question that has been much debated since the iPhone was first announced. Apple's approach is to leverage the Safari engine to enable AJAX-based applications that can communicate with the Internet and integrate with other iPhone services like placing calls, sending email, accessing Google Maps, and so on. And that's all without the need for Apple to publish and maintain a software development kit.
In retrospect, this approach makes perfect sense, and lets Apple make it possible for anyone (well, anyone who could create an AJAX-enabled Web site) to create an iPhone application without actually opening the platform up for development. Apple's Scott Forstall, vice-president of the iPhone division, demoed a corporate address book that took less than 600 lines of code and a person-month to write and test, but which enabled remote lookups via LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol), direct dial, direct sending of email, and more.
From June to October -- With all those announcements out of the way, we can sit back and contemplate what it will be like to use Leopard come October. Or at least, those of us for whom the iPhone will simply cost too much can ponder Leopard - everyone else will undoubtedly be too busy playing with their iPhones on the subway, while stuck in traffic, or at the beach to notice the intervening months.
Solve Mac Problems with Our Latest Ebook -- It's always frustrating when your Mac fails to start up, kernel panics repeatedly, or starts acting strangely for no apparent reasonShow full article
Solve Mac Problems with Our Latest Ebook -- It's always frustrating when your Mac fails to start up, kernel panics repeatedly, or starts acting strangely for no apparent reason. But with "Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac," you can learn how to diagnose and fix nearly any Mac-related problem. Written by Mac guru Joe Kissell, the 86-page ebook helps you assemble a troubleshooting toolkit and teaches you the key troubleshooting procedures. It then provides specific instructions for solving the most common problems you're likely to experience before showing you how to apply the troubleshooting techniques to solving entirely new problems. Pick up a copy today so you're prepared before trouble hits! For those who want a print copy for reference during more severe Mac troubles, we hope to have print-on-demand copies available soon.
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