Beware Country-Specific iTunes Stores
If you buy an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, and you happen to be a user of the iTunes Store in more than one country, take note which country's store you're viewing in iTunes when you plug in the device for the first time. This will be the country the device will register with, and you will be forever barred from purchasing or even updating free apps from anywhere else. The only way out is to delete everything on the device and do a full restore.
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Laptops have become smaller and more powerful, but still the alternative beckons: Can you travel without one? Rich Mogull, self-described technology addict, ventures out on vacation armed only with his iPhone and lives to tell the tale. Rich also looks at the release of information on iCal security vulnerabilities which, although they pose little risk for Mac users, have yet to be patched by Apple. Also in this issue, Glenn Fleishman ponders options for recovering a stolen Mac following the recent report of a woman using Back to My Mac to apprehend thieves, and Adam notes what's new in Nisus Writer Pro 1.1 and wonders if replicating Word's feature set is enough to be competitive. If you're a GarageBand user, check out our two new ebooks about GarageBand '08. Finally, in the TidBITS Watchlist, we pass along information on SpamSieve 2.7, TextExpander 2.2, KeyCue 4.2, Airfoil 3.2, and Logic Pro 8.0.2.
Nisus Software has added commenting and mail merge to Nisus Writer Pro, bringing the program ever closer to the standard set by Microsoft Word. But will it be too little, too late?Show full article
Continuing on their quest to meet and exceed the standard set by Nisus Writer Classic, Nisus Software has released Nisus Writer Pro 1.1. Most notably, the new version adds what appears to be a nicely considered comment feature, positioning comments off to the left side of the document in a parallel pane. Comments can be collapsed to just a header, responded or added to by clicking a + button, and deleted by clicking a - button. The only negative is that I couldn't see any way to expand a comment with multiple additions to see a back-and-forth discussion all at once. Nisus says that comments are compatible with Microsoft Word.
Also new in 1.1 is a mail merge feature that lets you create customized documents by merging a source document and either data from Address Book or a comma-separated value text file. You can also add bits of Perl code to customize documents further.
Less significant features include additional macro commands, page numbers in the status bar, a "Go to Page" feature that simplifies navigation in longer documents, the capability to redefine a style based on the current selection, a Page Borders palette that works on selected sections, a preference to control the thickness of the insertion point, preservation of fonts in a document that aren't available on the Mac on which the document is being opened, and an option in the Open dialog to ignore rich text commands so HTML documents can be opened as plain text (rather than interpreted). Nisus Writer Pro 1.1 also incorporates numerous bug fixes and performance enhancements that should speed up typing and display rendering, especially in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.
With these changes Nisus Writer Pro also comes closer to being able to compete with Microsoft Word for serious word processing. However, until Nisus Writer can do change tracking, it won't be able to take over from Word in collaborative workgroups that share documents around for editing as well as commenting. Even if a future version of Nisus Writer Pro were to add change tracking, I'm concerned that Nisus isn't putting enough effort into rethinking what a modern word processor should be able to do - merely recreating Word's feature set isn't enough. Arguably, most writing today has the Web as the ultimate destination, and smooth collaboration (both sequentially and in real-time) is becoming ever more important. If a small company like Nisus can't meet those needs in the relatively near future, the field will undoubtedly be ceded to the online word processors like Google Docs, Zoho Writer, Buzzword, or a promising newcomer like TextFlow.
Nisus Writer Pro 1.1 is a universal binary and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. The upgrade for existing owners of Nisus Writer Pro is free. New copies cost $79, and a 3-user "family pack" for individuals, families, and small office users is available for $99. Upgrades from Nisus Writer Express cost $45. A 15-day demo is available.
by Rich Mogull
Details on three new unpatched security flaws were just released. While the risk to Mac users is low, the announcement raises ethical issues about how vendors and security researchers approach security vulnerabilities. Show full article
On 22-May-08, the research unit of Core Security Technologies released the details of three new security vulnerabilities in iCal. Two of the vulnerabilities can crash a vulnerable system, while the third can potentially allow an attacker to take over your computer. Based on the communication notes in the official advisory from Core, it appears that Apple originally intended to release a patch before the vulnerability details were released, but the patch was delayed. In all three cases the vulnerabilities take advantage of the user opening specially crafted .ics calendar files.
The first two vulnerabilities are a class of bug known as a null-pointer dereference. Until very recently this type of flaw wasn't considered exploitable by an attacker, because it might crash your system or the running program but it couldn't allow someone to take over your computer. This changed in March 2008 when security researcher Mark Dowd used a null-pointer dereferencing bug in the Adobe Flash player to exploit a fully patched Windows Vista laptop during the CanSecWest conference Pwn2Own contest (the same contest where Charlie Miller compromised a MacBook Air; see "Apple Becomes First Victim in Hacking Contest," 2008-03-28).
Dowd's technique is extremely complex, and there is absolutely no indication it can be used with these iCal vulnerabilities. Core's own advisory states that they do not believe these vulnerabilities will do anything other than crash iCal if you open a malicious .ics file.
The third vulnerability is remotely exploitable by an attacker, but is a low risk due to the sequence of steps needed for it to run. You must first import the malicious calendar entry, then double-click it in iCal, then click Edit, then click the field to change the alarm. The exploit code will execute only if you click on the alarm field in Edit mode.
In all three cases, if the attacker inserts the malicious calendar entry into a calendar you subscribe to, it will automatically import into your system and could crash iCal (you still have to click the alarm in a malicious entry for the attacker to take over your system). These attacks haven't yet been seen in the wild, but Core's security advisory contains working proof-of-concept code from which a bad guy could easily build an attack.
This brings up a complex ethical issue about disclosure of security vulnerabilities. By releasing detailed information before Apple patched the flaws, Core places all Mac users at risk. On the other hand, as you can read in the Report Timeline of the advisory, Core worked with Apple to coordinate the release with the patch until communications seemed to break down at the last minute.
My personal opinion is that researchers should only release vulnerability details either after a patch is released, or if there is clear evidence the bad guys already know about the vulnerability and are exploiting it in the wild. However, some researchers disagree with my opinion and feel they should also release details if a vendor is unresponsive or doesn't patch within a reasonable time period. I used to share this opinion, but over time I've come to believe that the stakes have changed in the last 5 to 10 years, with exploits appearing within hours of vulnerability advisories. Releasing details before a patch helps the bad guys far more than users. All too often these situations become ego battles between the vendor and the researcher, with innocent users caught in the crossfire.
The good news is that in this particular case the overall risk to users is low. The two easiest vulnerabilities to exploit will only crash iCal, and only if you import a malicious .ics file or are subscribed to a compromised calendar. The third vulnerability is more serious, but unless you click on the alarm field in the malicious entry it can't run.
As usual, we advise you to follow safe computing practices. Be careful what you import into iCal, and make sure you keep your eyes open and update when Apple releases an update, which we expect soon. Your risk is low, and despite being unpatched, this vulnerability isn't keeping me up at night.
(Full disclosure: Core Security Technologies is currently a consulting client of mine.)
Whether you're just getting started with GarageBand '08 or are an old pro looking for advice on getting the most from the program, check out Jeff Tolbert's new "Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand '08" and "Take Control of Recording with GarageBand '08."Show full article
We're pleased to announce the release of a pair of ebooks about GarageBand '08. These books are based on previous editions but have been completely updated to cover all the latest GarageBand features - Visual EQ, Magic GarageBand, tempo automation, the arrange track, and more. Each costs $10 or you can purchase them together for only $17.50. Whether you're just getting started with GarageBand or are an old pro looking to get the most out of the program, these titles have the help you need.
In "Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand '08," Seattle musician Jeff Tolbert's step-by-step instructions guide beginning and intermediate users through using GarageBand's built-in loops to create three songs, explaining not only how to use GarageBand's editing and mixing features but also how to be playful and creative while composing tunes that please the ear. In this 110-page title, you'll learn how to plan a song, get the most out of Magic GarageBand, edit loops using both graphical and notation view, create exciting mixes, and export your masterpieces as songs or iPhone ringtones. The book also covers how to change track volume, tempo, and panning dynamically, and how to work with GarageBand's effects. Linked-in audio lets you listen to examples while you read about them. Bonus! The book includes seven suggestions for solving performance problems and a five-page glossary of music-related terms.
Want to record your own music? In "Take Control of Recording with GarageBand '08," Jeff shares his GarageBand know-how and years of recording experience to help you get the most out of your existing gear or purchase new equipment that fits your budget and style. You'll find real-world recording studio techniques, learn tips for using a microphone, and discover how to apply effects like a pro. Clear steps and practical advice help you plan a recording session, record multiple tracks at once, and fix mistakes easily. Two example songs demonstrate many of the techniques discussed, and you can follow along with audio examples as you read.
Owners of a previous edition of either GarageBand title who purchased before 01-Aug-07, can click the Check for Updates button on the first page of the ebook's PDF to access a special 50 percent-off upgrade discount. Everyone who purchased on or after that date should already have received a download link for a free update; contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if our email didn't arrive.
Install some software and engrave a number on your Mac, and in the event that it's stolen, the computer may be able to help in its own recovery by sending you pictures or videos of the thief, or even by screaming for help if it finds itself in an Apple Store.Show full article
Two weeks ago, a remarkable Mac owner - a teenaged Apple Store employee - led police to her stolen Mac laptop through the clever use of a Leopard feature; see "Back to My Mac Leads to Recovery of Stolen Mac," 2008-05-10. The recovery was so clever it was used as a question in the rapid-fire round at the end of NPR/Chicago Public Radio's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" show on 17-May-08.
This incident led several readers to ask via email how they could accomplish a similar feat; one person's Mac had already been pilfered. Back to My Mac can be tricky to work without controlling all network circumstances, but it's not a bad place to start. I found two other methods and offer some rumination on other ideas.
Get My Mac Back, Back to My Mac! If you'd like to be as smart as 19-year-old Kait Duplaga, you can enable Back to My Mac even if you have just a single Macintosh. The feature, built into Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, requires a .Mac subscription - either a regular subscription or one that's part of the five-user family pack. An email-only subscription available as a less-expensive extra won't work.
In Leopard's .Mac system preference pane, use the Account tab to log into .Mac, and then click the Back to My Mac tab to start up that service. Back to My Mac requires your .Mac user name and password to be accessible from another computer running Leopard. It automatically updates the .Mac servers with your computer's information whenever network information changes.
If your computer is stolen, you could set up your .Mac account and Back to My Mac on another computer - Duplaga was tipped off because a friend saw her identity appear on iChat - and then access the remote machine. Your stolen computer will appear in the Shared list in a Finder window's sidebar. Select it, click Share Screen or Connect As, and you'll have access to the remote screen and remote files. Duplaga launched Photo Booth from the Applications folder, snapped some shots, and quickly copied those to her computer along with some other photos on the machine.
The thieves, if they'd been savvy enough, could have kept the computer off a network, logged out of .Mac, or even used Back to My Mac to share Duplaga's screen.
Because Back to My Mac requires a networked router that uses one of two automated port mapping protocols to be enabled - Apple's NAT-PMP or the more broadly used UPnP - it's likely that a stolen computer won't wind up accessible via Back to My Mac, even though it may appear in the Shared list in the sidebar.
Conceivably, you could pull the IP address that Back to My Mac registers with the .Mac service, and then give that to the police, who, if they had a cybercrime division, could use it to track down the appropriate ISP, and then ask or subpoena that ISP for details on the IP's location (if static or assigned). I've tested different means of retrieving an IP address for Back to My Mac machines, but Apple wraps Back to My Mac inside IPv6 (next-generation Internet addressing) tunnels, and I've unable to figure out if the IPv4 (the current addressing scheme) address is also made available.
Going Deep Undercover -- Orbicule's Undercover software and service is a nifty little package designed to keep track of your computer with minimal resource usage. The $49 application, a universal binary updated for Leopard, must first be installed to generate a unique ID that you retain and keep private. Once installed, Undercover contacts the company's servers every 6 minutes with a very lightweight request - 500 bytes - to check whether the computer is in Orbicule's database of stolen machines. The company says no ID information is passed during this request.
If your computer is stolen, you use an online form to notify Orbicule using your private ID code. This updates their database, and the next time your computer comes online, the Undercover process - which runs at boot regardless of whether a user is logged in - discovers its host machine is stolen, and goes into a reporting mode.
Undercover then starts to take screenshots of the desktop and, if there's a built-in or external iSight, snapshots through the camera. The software continually transmits this information to Orbicule. The company will contact the ISP through which the laptop thief has connected, as well as work with local law enforcement to deliver the information.
After a period of time you define, Undercover will pull a trick from the old handbook of Macintosh practical jokes and pranks: it starts gradually dimming the screen in an attempt to trick the thief into trying to get it repaired or sell it. (You might ask, Which book? I can't recall if it's "Stupid Mac Tricks" by Bob LeVitus, or "The Macintosh Joker" by Owen Linzmayer. Both came with floppies, and could perform such pranks as progressively shrinking the effective screen size by one pixel on each side after each restart.)
Orbicule has assembled a database of Apple Store and repair shop IP addresses: should the computer be powered up on one of those networks, your computer displays a full-screen message that, if dismissed, reappears with the fact that the computer has been stolen, offering a finder's fee (paid by the company), and any custom text you provide.
Here's perhaps the best part: Orbicule clearly has a sense of humor. Your computer will also use its text-to-speech capability to yell the same information, setting the volume level to its highest setting.
The only fault I can find in Orbicule's software, which I have not yet installed nor tested, is that if your computer isn't connected to the Internet for 60 days, this second phase ("Plan B") is automatically invoked. So if you go on vacation for three months, leaving your computer behind - heaven forfend! - when you return, it will start yelling at you about being stolen. You have to contact the company with your private ID code to disable Plan B; the company is looking into ways to allow the interval to be changed.
Orbicule has a variety of prices for its software, which requires no annual fee. A single-user commercial license is $49, a household license (up to 5 Macs) is $59, and a site license for up to 25 Macs is $249. Full-time students pay $10 less for a single-user license and $5 less for a household license. Educational institutions pay $8 per Mac for 100 copies or more.
Get Back to Where You Once Belonged -- BAK2u makes theft-tracking software for a variety of platforms and devices; its Mac offering, Verey I for Mac, is somewhat simpler and comes with no recovery service. The software costs $39.90, is a universal binary, works with Leopard, and has no recurring fees.
Verey I requires that you enter a password whenever it connects to a network. If the password is entered incorrectly, Verey I starts recording audio and video with a built-in iSight, if available, and sends you alerts that include network information and a scan of nearby Wi-Fi networks through a variety of services (via instant messaging, email, Twitter, and on a Web page).
Verey I doesn't use or require any corporate intervention in recovery, instead letting you handle everything. That may or may not be a plus, depending on your situation and preferences.
There's also the cleverly name-checked Computrace LoJack for Laptops, which has nothing to do with the car theft-prevention and recovery service except a name licensed by its maker Absolute Software. As far as I can tell from the minimal information on the company's Web site, the software regularly contacts the company's servers, and when you alert Absolute Software that your computer is stolen, they work with you and law enforcement to track it down via network access. It's a subscription package, and costs either $49 per year or $99 for 3 years.
Distributed, Decentralized Identification -- I learned about a very low-tech solution used by many police departments around the United States and Canada from Cornell University's Oliver Habicht (pictured here with a super-cool laptop etching), a friend of the Engsts. Called Operation ID, the program lets individuals, academic institutions, and companies engrave or etch a unique identifier in some indelible fashion onto objects that need to be protected. (This Operation ID is not to be confused with programs of the same name in North America used to educate retailers about under-age alcohol and cigarette sales.)
The ID is a left-to-right, geographically largest-to-smallest human-readable code. It starts with the state or province abbreviation or a corresponding number (like MN or NY), followed by numbers that identify the county and then police department. The final digits are a unique number assigned by the police department that can be assigned to an individual or to an organization. In some places, police prefer that the ID is the simpler formula of the state or province's two-letter postal abbreviation followed by a driver's license number.
Oliver researched the program before committing laptops purchased by Cornell to be labeled with Operation ID numbers, but neither of us could find any centralized authority, Web site, or canonical information about it. I've come to the conclusion that Operation ID is a meme - a kind of mind virus - rather than an actual program.
Visiting dozens of local Web sites that describe the program, there's no reference to any official centralized source or even references to how the program started. On one site, it's described as being 30 years old. I expect that it's a combination of useful bureaucracy, in which police departments are used to being assigned numbers within state hierarchies, and someone's bright idea in the 1970s that was simply passed along, almost as a form of oral history crossed with procedure - police myth!
The relatively standardized form in which the ID is used means that it's perpetuated itself, and means that many officers and precincts should be familiar with it. If you pair a Google search of "Operation ID" with your town or college, you can typically find out if your local law enforcement system offers the loan of an engraving pen or help with engraving, and whether they register your ID. Minnesota State University has a good explanation of their rendition of the program. Some departments will hand out Operation ID stickers that you put in your window, ostensibly to deter thieves.
Oliver noted that Cornell's Operation ID policy says property can be traced "by computer back to the university." He contrasts this with the fact that the number assigned to him was written on a piece of paper and placed in a filing cabinet.
In Recovery -- Clearly, there's room to provide more association of stolen gear with those who own it. Given that Macs, like most electronics of any kind, have unique serial numbers, and, unlike most electronics, can read those serial numbers within the operating system means that there should be a way to connect a uniquely numbered Mac, its owner, and the computer's location.
I would think that there's room for a Mac developer to work on a theft-recovery service with Skyhook Wireless, which can compute a set of location coordinates using a scan of nearby Wi-Fi networks and their signal strengths. Skyhook already has an API that allows external access to their systems via a Web page, and partners with companies like Apple on the iPhone (alongside a Google cell-triangulation system) to provide GPS-like results. Skyhook already has a deal in place with The CyberAngel for Windows-based theft-recovery services with Wi-Fi positioning.
It seems like a short step for a stolen Mac to phone home and say, "Help! I've been stolen, and I'm being held in a warehouse in Santa Rosacrucia!" Then it's just a matter of convincing the police that no psychics were involved in determining the system's whereabouts.
by Rich Mogull
Some challenge their mettle by risking their lives in courageous acts. Others just try and survive a long weekend vacation without a trusty MacBook Pro, instead relying entirely on an iPhone.Show full article
Something about human nature compels us to challenge ourselves. It's as if evolution itself coalesces into corporeal form to drive us forward; clinging to our backs as it whispers sweet rewards to tempt us into actions to prove we are worthy of our place on this planet. For some, these temptations burst free with creative impulse resulting in works of art, literature, or entrepreneurship. For others, especially young males, these temptations lead to dangerous physical follies involving beer. And those individuals with exceptional skills, experiences, and capabilities demand even more extreme challenges. Challenges that risk their very survival.
I've been trained to survive some of the harshest, most dangerous conditions in our world short of combat. As a former paramedic and firefighter with over a decade's experience in mountain rescue, I'm confident in my ability to handle everything from natural disasters to run-of-the-mill survival situations in the ocean, in the desert, and in the mountains. But nothing could prepare me for my latest challenge... surviving five days on vacation in California with only my iPhone; leaving my trusty MacBook Pro at home.
Scoff if you must, but I am completely unapologetic about my addiction to technology. As a frequent business traveler I've lugged my laptop to the corners of the earth and rely upon it as an essential travel tool. My first MacBook Pro even accompanied us to our wedding on a beach in Mexico (saving us from relying on a local band). But when my wife and I decided to spend a long anniversary weekend in San Francisco, I felt compelled to challenge myself and see if I could survive under such harsh conditions. Plus, bringing my laptop on an anniversary trip might have ensured my demise by other, more direct, means.
Day 1: Phoenix, Arizona -- As I pull my iPhone from its cradle and shut the lid of my laptop I feel a shudder of fear. Am I up for this challenge? Is it worth the risk to my mental health? I attempt to brush aside my fears as I slip the iPhone into my pocket and stride from the door with nothing more than the clothes on my back. And my boarding pass. And my roller bag with 5 days of clothes and toiletries. And a couple of books and magazines. But technologically, I am otherwise empty-handed and defenseless.
Day 1 continued: San Francisco, California -- The iPhone served me well at the airport; keeping me entertained in the mind-numbing security line with the latest news and Twitter updates. I spent the flight comfortably crammed into what my airline claims is a First Class seat, thanks to an upgrade, and catching up on some television I legally transferred over from my TiVo. It's still early in my journey, but so far I've managed to satisfy my email, news, Twitter, and television addictions.
Upon landing we head to the rental car area even though we originally planned to pick up our car the next day. I check my confirmation number using TripIt, an online travel tool, as we race to the counter to find a long line being served by only two attendants. I pull out my iPhone, browse to the Web site for the rental company, and with a few clicks call the service desk. No cars are available, so we scurry to another rental company as I check rates online. We're headed to our car before our original line clears.
We're now navigating our way to dinner using Maps, after about 4 hours of wandering the city. I laughed in the face of the hotel receptionist as she offered me a map, opting to face my fears and place my trust in the iPhone. So far we haven't stopped moving long enough for me to miss the laptop, and using the iPhone I'm completely up to date on my email. Being self employed, it's difficult to go completely offline during working days; one reason traveling without a laptop is such a great fear.
Day 2: Alcatraz Island, California -- We managed to find shelter for the night and survived the winds and frigid San Francisco Bay conditions, but the lack of a coffee maker in our room drove us into the wild soon after dawn. A quick search in Maps on the iPhone located the nearest breakfast restaurant, and the live mapping guided us over the death-defying hills of Lombard Street and down the other side to our ferry to Alcatraz Island.
I now find myself somewhat disturbed as I respond to emails while standing outside the prison cell that once held Al Capone. Did the mythical crime lord once sit in his cell, browsing YouTube over his EDGE data connection? Perhaps not, so I snap a picture with my phone and move on to the dining area, scanning the other inhabitants for hidden shanks.
Day 3: Sonoma, California -- I'm sitting in a lean-to structure in the middle of a field surrounded by edible plants, but to touch them is to place my very existence at risk. The locals, called "winemakers," consider the plants sacred, only to be touched in a ceremony known as a "harvest." One of these winemakers is our host, and after five hours of participating in the ritual known as a "tasting," I am completely disoriented yet completely happy. This Colin Lee Vineyards and Winery produces a powerful beverage with a compelling flavor I can't seem to resist.
Using the notepad on my phone I write down the address and phone number, since they don't use email, and I begin to research my foraging options for our evening meal. My screen appears blurry - perhaps it's affected by the local climate? If so, the climate is also affecting everything around me, since nothing seems to be in focus.
Day 4: Sonoma, California -- My laptop separation anxiety now seems completely unfounded. Four days into this challenge and I'm completely confident that I will not only survive, but thrive. I've been able to stay completely current with work email messages, including those with attachments. I haven't been able to edit documents, but I'm still able to at least read standard Microsoft Word, Excel, and Adobe PDF documents. Not ideal, but serviceable considering the circumstances. Someday, maybe, we'll be able to edit these files directly, and having even read-only PowerPoint support would be extremely helpful for following along with presentations while on conference calls. While a laptop will always be preferable for any serious document work, basic editing capabilities will satisfy those unexpected needs when a full computer isn't available.
One of the primary reasons I usually travel with a laptop is to have access to a Web browser. I use it for everything from itinerary lookups, flight changes, and local maps to movie times, news updates, restaurant recommendations, and general research. While the iPhone Web browser and email client aren't as robust as the Mac OS X equivalents, they exceed my survival requirements and meet most needs. They are my two essential travel applications.
The one missing piece that makes me break out in a cold sweat when I even suspect I need it is copy-and-paste. The lack of copy-and-paste between applications, or even within the same application, is a devastating loss equivalent to having to start a fire with a bow and drill instead of match or lighter. You can still survive, but at a high cost with much anxiety.
It's our last night in Sonoma, and I set my iPhone on the table between us with some Jimmy Buffett emanating from the speakers as we enjoy some fine wine and cheese. Chalk up my ability to survive these hard conditions to my extensive fortitude combined with the iPhone exceeding my expectations.
Day 5: Approaching Phoenix, Arizona -- As we prepare for landing, I check my iPhone to ensure it's in airplane mode so I don't bring us crashing to the ground in a ball of wireless-induced flames. Looking back on my journey, I reminisce about the challenges I faced. From finding shelter and foraging for food, to entertaining ourselves and keeping informed, I realize the iPhone is in many ways more useful than the laptop it replaced.
With maps, a nearly feature-complete Web browser and email client, photos, video, calendar, and... what's that called... a phone, it offers much of the core functionality I use for non-business travel. With only a few more features, such as copy-and-paste, PowerPoint viewing, and perhaps basic Office document editing it might even be suitable for lightweight work trips. The large screen and functional Web browser offer advantages over my old Blackberry; attached documents look much better, and unlike the Blackberry, the Web experience is more than sufficient for most browsing. I do have a slight advantage since I'm very quick on the iPhone keyboard and able to write full email messages with two-thumb typing faster than some people on a standard desktop keyboard.
While I couldn't survive a full business trip with just the iPhone, I not only didn't miss my MacBook Pro during this challenge, but accomplished feats the laptop could never match. While my laptop technically supports location-based mapping (with an external GPS), photos (via the iSight), and phone calls (Skype), I would need to buy some seriously larger trousers to fit it, and the required spare batteries, in my pocket.
And as my journey of survival ends I realize that I am not a brave man. If I truly wanted to challenge myself I'd keep the laptop and try to survive without the iPhone. But that's a feat I'll leave for braver souls. Besides, this being our anniversary trip, the presence of the MacBook Pro justifiably wouldn't have been good for my continued health.
Notable software releases so far this week include KeyCue 4.2, TextExpander 2.2, SpamSieve 2.7, Airfoil 3.2, and Logic Pro 8.0.2.Show full article
- Logic Pro 8.0.2 from Apple fixes unspecified bugs and compatibility problems in Logic Pro 8.0 and the bundled Waveburner 1.5 and Impulse Response Utility 1.0. ($499 new, free upgrade, 139 MB)
- Airfoil 3.2 from Rogue Amoeba improves support for the new Draft N (802.11n) AirPort Express, including better synchronization and what Rogue Amoeba describes as "full password support." This update also handles remote control for QuickTime Player and iTunes via an Apple Remote with an Apple TV or Keyspan Express Remote with an AirPort Express. Airfoil streams music across a network from any application to AirPort Express base stations, other computers, and Apple TV. ($25, free upgrade for 3.x owners, $10 upgrade for 2.x owners, 10 MB)
- SpamSieve 2.7 from C-Command Software updates the powerful spam-filtering software with a variety of accuracy improvements aimed at dealing with obfuscations, image attachments, URLs, and HTML. Other changes include increased performance and lower memory use, cosmetic changes to the rule and corpus windows, and more. ($30, free upgrade, 5.1 MB)
- TextExpander 2.2 from SmileOnMyMac adds to the typing shortcut tool a pre-defined snippet group with common CSS code to help people who design Web sites using Cascading Style Sheets. Other changes in version 2.2 include compatibility with MacSpeech Dictate, limiting of the "Adapt to Case" option to lowercase snippets and abbreviations with two or more characters, and disabling of expansion when Shift-Space is typed. ($29.95, free upgrade, 3.9 MB)
- KeyCue 4.2 from Ergonis Software helps users learn and remember keyboard shortcuts by displaying a concise table of all available shortcuts for the current application when the Command key is held down. Version 4.2 adds support for Stairways Software's Keyboard Maestro 3.0, showing Keyboard Maestro hot keys along with those that are native to the current application. Other changes include the capability to avoid overlapping with the heads-up display of clipboards in Script Software's CopyPaste Pro and a bug fix that could prevent the Mac from restarting or shutting down. (19.95 euros, free upgrade if purchased within the last 2 years or 9.99 euros for 2-year license renewal, 907K)
by Jeff Carlson
This week's discussions touch on encrypting folders, dealing with unsolicited email on an iPhone, running into problems using Mail on the Mac, videoconferencing using Skype, moving video from a DirecTV DVR to the Mac, replacing a monitor and Mac power supplies, and surviving a trip armed only with an iPhone.Show full article
Folder Encryption -- A reader needs to ensure that work files remain securely encrypted. Will FileVault provide the solution, or are third-party encryption products the answer? (10 messages)
Spam on iPhone -- The iPhone's limited memory and storage make it difficult to provide good on-device filtering of unsolicited email. Instead, weed out the junk before it gets to the phone. (2 messages)
Griping about Mail -- A former Eudora user runs into limitations in Mail, which spurs a discussion about preserving original messages for litigation. (6 messages)
Using Skype Video -- Can you take advantage of Skype's High Quality Video setting without purchasing special Logitech hardware? (2 messages)
DirecTV DVR to Mac -- The non-TiVo DVR offered by DirecTV does not seem capable of transferring video to a Mac, so what's the alternative? (3 messages)
Monitor Recommendations -- After soliciting advice on buying a replacement display, Kirk McElhearn shares advice on acquiring and setting it up. (1 message)
Power supply and fan replacements -- Can replacing an old power supply and fan in a Power Mac G4 improve performance and reduce noise? (2 messages)
iPhone Survivor: Traveling Without a Laptop -- Readers respond to Rich Mogull's article on leaving his laptop at home for a trip to San Francisco. (4 messages)