This week's issue has an emphasis on security, though in more practical ways than usual. Wondering what the fuss is about the "Mac botnet" stories last week? Rich Mogull explains that it's nothing new and lays out five tips for how to evaluate Mac security stories. For Microsoft Office users, there's a security update that's worth getting, along with the news that Office 2004 will hit its end-of-life date on 13-Oct-09. On the data security side of the fence, Joe Kissell describes the newest online backup service to hit the Mac, Backblaze. We also just released the latest version of "Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security," co-authored by Glenn Fleishman and Adam Engst. But we're not above having some fun, so we're pleased that Julio Ojeda-Zapata joined us to compare three new Twitter clients: the just-released Tweetie and the still-beta Nambu and Lounge. Interesting software releases this week include Airfoil Speakers Touch, which turns an iPhone or iPod touch into a wireless audio receiver, along with Drive Genius 2.1.1, Server Admin Tools 10.5.6v1.1, iMovie 8.0.2, Aperture 2.1.3, and SpamSieve 2.7.4.
by Doug McLean
Microsoft has updated Office 2008 and Office 2004, fixing a critical security issue in both versions and issuing a handful of undisclosed performance improvements.Show full article
Microsoft has released its latest updates for Office 2008 and Office 2004, fixing a critical security issue in both versions and reportedly improving performance. According to Microsoft, both updates address vulnerabilities in Excel that could allow remote code execution if you were to open a specially crafted malicious Excel file. While both updates also claim performance enhancements, no specific changes are mentioned in the release notes.
The Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac 12.1.7 Update requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later, and that you have already installed the 12.1.0 update (the updater is a combo updater, meaning it contains all fixes since 12.1.0). It's a 267.7 MB download from Microsoft's Web site, and is also available via the Microsoft AutoUpdate utility launched by choosing Check for Updates from any Office 2008 application.
Some users have been reporting problems echoing those of previous updaters, in particular the error message, "You cannot install Office 2008 12.1.7 Update on this volume. A version of the software required to install this update was not found on this volume." Installation steps and advice for circumventing this issue are available on the Entourage Help Blog.
The Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.5.4 Update requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later, and that you've previously installed the Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac 11.5.3 Update. It's a 9.7 MB download from Microsoft's Web site and is also available via the Office 2004 version of Microsoft AutoUpdate.
A final note: Microsoft tells us that Office 2004 will reach the end of its supported life as of 13-Oct-09, and will thus no longer receive any updates. Microsoft's lengthy commitment to updating the now five-year-old software suite has been appreciated, but alas, all good things must come to an end.
by Doug McLean
Ever wish you had access to all the audio you can play from your Mac even when you're trimming the hedge outside? Rogue Amoeba's latest app, Airfoil Speakers Touch, enables users to turn an iPhone or iPod touch into a wireless speaker.Show full article
Audio software developer Rogue Amoeba has announced the release of AirFoil Speakers Touch, an app for the iPhone and iPod touch that extends the capabilities of the previously available AirFoil application. AirFoil, available for the Mac and Windows, enables users to share audio from their computers to AirPort Express base stations, Apple TVs, Macs, PCs, and Linux boxes. The application syncs audio playback across devices, and can share files from a variety of sources including iTunes, RealPlayer, Spotify, and even Web-based sources like Pandora or Last.fm. (Without Airfoil, you can play music wirelessly only to an AirPort Express or Apple TV, and only from iTunes.)
AirFoil Speakers Touch now extends those capabilities to the iPhone and iPod touch. You can plug in headphones or dock your device to a speaker to listen in on the wirelessly shared playback. This is great for listening to audio that comes from a source other than iTunes or for streaming audio from iTunes to an iPhone or iPod touch that lacks space for the audio files.
AirFoil Speakers Touch is currently available as a free download from the App Store, and works in conjunction with Airfoil for Mac or Windows (both $25), which are available for download via Rogue Amoeba's Web site. Whether you're already a fan of AirFoil or are newly searching for a way to untether your audio, AirFoil Speakers Touch is worth checking out.
by Joe Kissell
The Backblaze online backup service, in private beta testing since September 2008, is now available to the general public - with new and highly appealing features.Show full article
Several months ago, I wrote about a new online backup service called Backblaze, which at that time was available to Mac users only in a beta form, by private invitation (see "Backblaze Launches Mac Beta of Online Backup Service," 2008-12-09). After extensive beta testing, and a few much-requested modifications, the company has now finally opened the service to everyone. If you've been thinking about using online backups, or if you've tried another service and been disappointed, Backblaze may well be worth a look.
Like several other online backup systems, Backblaze uses Mac client software to back up your files, compressed and encrypted, to secure servers over the Internet. It operates continuously in the background, automatically uploading new data as you create or modify it. You can restore data by selecting files and folders in a Web-based interface and downloading a Zip file, or by requesting that the company send your data overnight by FedEx on DVD ($99 for up to 4.2 GB of data) or on a USB hard drive ($189 for a 500 GB hard drive, up from 160 GB during the beta program).
One of the key changes the company made during its beta program was adding support for resource forks on Mac files, including full de-duplication of resource fork data. In addition, the company says it correctly backs up and restores each file's type, creator, creation date, and modification date, and that packages (or bundles), such as those used to store iPhoto libraries, are handled correctly. All of this should be good news to users who have found these features lacking in Mozy, a similar but better-known backup service.
Among the numerous other changes in the 1.0 release (or 220.127.116.11, to be exact) are greatly improved support for external drives (which the software now tracks even after they're disconnected), more helpful notifications and reports, improved translations into several different languages, performance and compression enhancements, and more intelligent exclusion of cache and temporary data. Backblaze now also includes an uninstaller.
For users who participated in beta testing, Backblaze should automatically and silently update its client software in the background. New users can download the software (a 3.6 MB file) from the Backblaze Web site. Setup is a matter of running the installer, entering your email address, and choosing a password. No other configuration is required, although users can manually exclude any folders, volumes, or file types they don't want to back up.
Backblaze charges $5 per month, or $50 per year (which works out to $4.17 per month) for unlimited data storage, and the company offers a 15-day free trial.
If you're concerned about the security of your wireless network, the latest version of "Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security," by Glenn Fleishman and Adam Engst, has the real-world advice you need to set up the appropriate level of security for your needs and budget.Show full article
We've just released a new version of "Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security," penned jointly by wireless networking guru Glenn Fleishman and Take Control publisher Adam Engst. The ebook is aimed at anyone who is running a home or small-office wireless network and who wants to set up and maintain an appropriate security level for their needs and budget. Glenn and Adam have been publishing articles and books about wireless security for ages, so this new version contains the distilled essence of years of thinking about the topic, along with fresh material to bring their discussions up to date for 2009. They have added the latest details relating to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, current recommendations for setting up WPA and WPS security, and steps for configuring guest networking with Apple's recently released base stations. To ensure that your wireless network is appropriately secure, pick up a copy of the $10 ebook.
Although the last update to "Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security" came in October 2007, we're still making this version a free update for anyone who owns a previous edition of the ebook. In your existing PDF, click Check for Updates on the first page to access a download link.
"Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security" helps you assess your real-world security risk, and aids in evaluating the likelihood of a security-related problem, the potential severity of a break-in, and the opportunity cost of securing your wireless network. It then goes on to explain the pros and cons of various security techniques, explaining how to implement the best ones to secure your network and your data in transit. It covers Mac OS X, Windows XP, and Windows Vista.
by Rich Mogull
Worried about the latest Apple security story? Follow these five tips to find out if you're really at risk.Show full article
Some days it seems the entire world is waiting with bated breath for the eventual fall from grace of the long-vaunted Macintosh security. From industry publications to the mainstream press, even the slightest Mac security hiccup spurs an onslaught of articles, debates, and even the occasional cable news headline. Some stories declare us invulnerable to attacks, while others give the impression that by the time you jump up from your armchair and rush to your Mac, it will already be infected and funneling your life's savings and family photos to Nigerian spammers. For us Mac users it can be difficult to discern the lines between truth, hype, and outright fantasy.
As someone who spends most of his time reading, writing, and speaking about security, there are five things I tend to look for in Mac security news to cut to the heart of the story. After all the hype in recent days over the "Mac botnet," I thought it was time to share some of my tricks.
Is the Story Based on a Vendor Press Release? Many security vendors provide the computing community an invaluable service by releasing vulnerability and exploit information uncovered by their research and incident response teams. While this information is incredibly helpful in learning about and evaluating new security threats, it also comes with a dark side: Vendor marketing departments often see these discoveries as a great way to scare people into buying their products.
They issue press releases to draw as much attention to problems as possible, hoping they will bring more users to their products (since they can always, of course, protect against the new risk). These releases would fade into the ether if it weren't for a press hungry for readers. Everyone loves a good scare story, and it becomes the digital media equivalent of "if it bleeds, it leads."
When I read any story involving some new kind of security threat, the first thing I look for is the source of the story. If I see nothing but quotes from a security vendor, or a straight reprint of a press release (an all-too-common practice), my skepticism meter usually starts to peak. (For the record, I don't consider the vendors malicious or deceptive, but when you truly believe in your product it comes with a certain bias.)
Is the Story Really New? Security stories often percolate for months, or even years, in the industry press before breaking out into more mainstream publications. Even within the industry press, we sometimes see a small group of incidents constantly repurposed in new articles, typically with a healthy dose of additional hyperbole.
The Mac botnet story that flooded the press last week is a classic example of an old story experiencing an unjustified rebirth. The malicious software initially appeared back in January 2009, hidden inside pirated versions of iWork '09 and Adobe Photoshop CS4.
The story was revived as additional information came to light, but it was unfortunately misinterpreted by many as some new kind of attack. The malicious software was demonstrating some interesting behavior, but nothing in the story indicated any additional risk to users. A quick Google search will usually reveal the root of the story, and help determine if you face a new risk.
Is the Security Issue Really New? It's not uncommon to see a string of security stories that are all essentially about the same root problem. This happens regularly even in the security industry; once a new vulnerability or exploit becomes public there's a never-ending string of variants as different bad guys try to circumvent our security defenses. But these variants are typically different colors on the same body, and don't indicate any increased risk over the original.
For example, some Mac malware hides itself as a fake video player on adult Web sites, and we saw a few new versions appear last year. This social engineering trick - hiding malware inside an innocuous-looking application aimed at prurient interests - has been around nearly as long as people have been looking at digital pictures of other people who aren't wearing clothes. When I read stories that seem to spin old news, or describe a variant of a well-known problem, I start looking at them more skeptically.
I'm generally unimpressed by any story that involves tricking a user into manually installing malicious software. On occasion we see a particularly creative deception, and I might be concerned if the malicious software was hiding in a mainstream application, but getting someone to install something evil on their system is a fault with the human brain, not their operating system of choice.
What's the Mechanism of Action? With any security risk there has to be some sort of mechanism of action. Sometimes it's a new vulnerability in an operating system or software, other times it's a new method of attack. If the news story doesn't offer any details on the mechanism of action, I start hunting down sources to determine what's really going on. Once I do identify the mechanism, I can usually determine the level of risk.
For example, as we discussed above, I tend to be less concerned about software that requires manual installation, unless it's hidden itself in an extremely common source that affects a large portion of the community. (Yes, you could argue hiding malware in an adult video player hits a large portion of the community, but that's not something we talk about in polite publications). If I see something that works only under a limited set of uncommon circumstances, the risk is usually low.
However, when I see something that allows an attacker to take over your system via an email message, by getting you to view a malicious Web page, or via a network attack on a common port or other common service, I become more concerned.
First ask yourself how it works (what's the mechanism of attack?), then how bad it is (what does it damage, or allow the attacker to do?), and then who it affects (any Mac user, or just those running some obscure software?). Admittedly, you need a bit of knowledge to make these interpretations, but you don't generally have to be a security expert to figure out many of the basics.
Going back to our Mac botnet story, it was mentioned, if not clear, in every article that the malicious software hid itself only inside pirated versions of iWork '09 and Photoshop CS4. Unless you downloaded those illegally, or grabbed a (possibly illegal) version from a friend, you were safe. End of story.
Does the Story Defend Mac Security Based Solely on History? We Mac users have it pretty good. We face only the smallest fraction of the security risk endured by our Windows brethren. But just because we live in a nicer neighborhood doesn't mean we are immune to risks. For many years Mac OS X did have an inherent security advantage over Windows, but to those who understand the technologies within the operating systems, those days are long past.
The latest version of Windows (Vista, not that most people use it) is provably more secure in the lab than the latest version of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Leopard lacks proper implementation of the new anti-exploitation technologies included in Vista, and, based on the number of Apple security patches, experiences about as many vulnerabilities.
When I see articles that defend Mac OS X based on the lack of Mac-specific malicious software, and not on current technical capabilities, cybercrime dynamics, or attack methods, I tend to be dubious.
Mac OS X's Unix core was a powerful security defense for many years, especially the requirement to enter a password before installing most kinds of software, but modern attack methods are able to circumvent that protection. On the upside, Apple started adding some of these technologies to Mac OS X in Leopard (albeit incompletely), and if they finish the implementation, and continue to add new security features, the odds are we will never face the same security risks as Windows users.
You Can Do It -- The need for computer security long ago passed from a minor annoyance to something that could affect our personal and financial safety. Just as disasters, crime, and tales of tragedy tend to dominate the news, stories of information security failures never fail to grab the headlines. When it's a story with the potential to smear a media darling like Apple, you can bet the article will be right up there next to the latest celebrity embarrassment. But with a little consideration of these five tips, you can evaluate the reality level of any given security story.
Unsatisfied with your current Twitter client, but overwhelmed by the number of options out there? Julio Ojeda-Zapata, tired of using Twitter from his Web browser, tries out three new Twitter applications for the Mac: Nambu, Lounge, and the just-released Tweetie. Show full article
As a Twitter addict and power user, I have long been on the lookout for killer desktop software to turbocharge my microblogging. Yet, again and again, I've been disappointed. While I love Twitter apps for the iPhone, nothing on the Mac has ever quite satisfied me.
A recent crop of Mac-based Twitter clients, however, gives me reason to hope that my days of tweeting from a Web browser might, at last, be numbered. The recent releases of Tweetie, Lounge, and Nambu provide power and flexibility, along with the elegance and flair Mac users demand.
Tweetie is the hottest news here. Released today, the Atebits app by Loren Brichter is a companion to the popular Tweetie for iPhone. I've been working with pre-release builds of the Mac version for more than a week and appreciate how it masks power-user features with its minimalist facade - the same formula that has made Tweetie such a hit on the iPhone. Despite one major issue I will describe shortly, the desktop version of Tweetie is growing on me.
Nambu and Lounge also look appealing, even though they remain in beta form and suffer a few nagging issues. These three are more capable than simple apps like Iconfactory's Twitterrific, which many love but others find limiting. As a result, these next-generation Twitter programs have the potential to become Twitterverse dashboards for Twitteraholic superusers.
The new Mac apps are also, well, Mac apps. This can't be said of the feature-rich but un-Mac-like Twhirl, Seesmic Desktop, and TweetDeck, which run atop Adobe AIR software that also enables their use on Windows PCs. Many Apple aesthetes loathe AIR apps for their odd appearances and interface behavior.
So has my dream Twitter app for the Mac finally come? To find out, I spent tons of time tweeting with Nambu, Lounge, and Tweetie, and gathered impressions from a few friends.
Nambu -- An Apple-centric friend of mine recently test-drove the tricked-out TweetDeck but couldn't stomach the experience. Never mind that its multi-column makeup allows for such customizations as Twitter groups, keyword tracking, and optional Facebook-friend monitoring. He found the AIR application aesthetically revolting. (I suspect he'd detest the new, TweetDeck-style Seesmic Desktop, as well.)
So he was thrilled when I turned him on to Nambu. Like TweetDeck, it has multiple columns that show a user's primary Twitter-friend timeline, private (or "direct") messages, public mentions of that user's Twitter handle, and so on. As with TweetDeck, subgroups of favorite Twitter friends are readily placed in their own columns. So are columns displaying custom searches or trends.
For my pal, Nambu has the added benefit of a Mac-like look and feel. And while it lacks Facebook access, it does boast support for FriendFeed and identi.ca accounts (at least, that's the promise; both were grayed out in the beta versions I evaluated for this article).
Nambu surpasses TweetDeck in some ways. It supports multiple Twitter accounts, for one thing. Those like me who juggle more than one account can get all column-crazy with Nambu, setting up as many viewing options as the widths of our displays will permit.
The app has other nice touches like Twitter-name autocompleting in the composing field, along with the now-common features such as URL shortening and TwitPic posting. Each column has a word-filtering field to narrow down the tweets that appear within. Double-click in the blank area in any tweet to reply to it, or double-click the author's picture to open a window with that person's info. There is even conversation threading in the main interface, with replies embedded beneath the original tweets.
Nambu really shines with its alternate-view options. Its second option provides a Mail-like view with a sidebar showing icons for all key functions. A third option distills Twitter into a single river of information. With three Nambu modes, you can use the app as the mood strikes you.
But my pal is no longer happy with Nambu, due to its "often-flaky personality," he said. Another pal said Nambu "is crazy slow and kept pushing me over 100 requests per hour no matter how I set the time interval." (He's referring to limits Twitter places on client software to keep from overtaxing the ever-shaky service.) He is back to using the AIR-based Twhirl.
If Nambu can work through its problems, however, it has promise for those who require the most malleability and control in their Twitter use.
Lounge -- Taking a simpler approach than Nambu, Lounge offers only a single mode with a main window and a sidebar. This sports colorful, whimsical buttons for "My Tweets" (your tweets), replies (which pulls up all public mentions of your Twitter handle), private or "direct" messages, favorites, search and the like. You can easily add search buttons with customized criteria.
Clicking tweets or direct messages (DMs) in the main window expands them to show the author's details. Each of these entries also sports a minimalist row of buttons (invisible until your pointer hovers nearby) for retweeting, DM-ing and other tasks.
The top-left corner of the Lounge interface is a drop-down menu for switching among two or more Twitter accounts (which, at press time, could be added but not deleted). The tweet-composing field is at the bottom, a la Nambu, with a similar name-autocompletion feature. Lounge, like Nambu, supports Growl notifications that alert you to new replies and so on.
Lounge, though, is a work in progress. It's a performance laggard, and it lacks obvious features like URL shortening or picture posting via TwitPic or a similar service. Forget about setting up subgroups, customizing your interface, or doing keyword filtering. Judged on its own, Lounge might be regarded as a Twitter-app also-ran.
But developer Goose Apps is deploying a possibly groundbreaking feature: Twitter syncing. That's where Lounge for iPhone comes in.
Nearly identical to its Mac sibling in appearance and functionality, the mobile app is intended to be wielded in tandem with the desktop incarnation. Customized searches set up on the Mac application, for instance, would show up on the iPhone app, or vice versa. Tweets viewed in one place would be marked as viewed in the other place.
This all sounds great, but there was a catch as I finished this article: An updated version of the iPhone app with that syncing capability enabled had been submitted to the App Store but not yet gone live, so I don't know how well the syncing works. I'm eager to find out.
Tweetie -- The iPhone version of Tweetie has been my favorite mobile Twitter app for a bit because of its near-perfect blend of simplicity and complexity. It does not pack in features like Twittelator Pro but is far more capable than Twitterrific for iPhone. It feels... just right.
So, like thousands of other Mac-using Twitteraholics, I'm ecstatic that a desktop version of Tweetie has arrived. Deceptively simple in appearance, Tweetie for Mac is a worthy rival to Nambu and Lounge, even though it does not match them feature for feature. That has been the genius of developer Loren Brichter - he seems to know just what to integrate, in terms of raw functionality, and what to leave out.
Tweetie is a triumph of Macintosh interface design. Consisting of a single vertical window with just four toolbar buttons (the main timeline, replies, direct messages and searching), it boasts the kind of clean and elegant appearance I crave in a Macintosh application.
It's snappy, too. After my time with the lumbering Nambu and Lounge, I am astounded at the speed with which Tweetie operates. When I scroll downward to the last tweet in the viewing window, Tweetie promptly fetches the next batch of tweets in the timeline.
Moving from one toolbar option to another triggers a vertical fast-slide effect I find delightful. Click a user's avatar or name and a fade-zoom effect reveals his or her particulars. More fast-sliding (horizontal, now) moves you among that user's tweets, favorites, and info.
Double-click a public reply and the entire back-and-forth conversation is revealed in threaded form. Your private exchanges also are threaded (but, strangely, with iChat-style color bubbles that deviate jarringly from Tweetie's otherwise-consistent interface guidelines).
Though Tweetie lets you drill deep into the Twitterverse via willy-nilly clicking, it will always guide you back to your point of origin. It does this cleverly by displaying every step you took, each as its own clickable hyperlink, along the top edge of the application window.
The tweet-posting interface is even more minimalist; it's a little window that swoops to the center of the Mac desktop (via a customized keyboard combo, if you like). This is a swell touch, especially when you do not want to be distracted by the tweeting of others. Tweetie lets you send direct messages in a similar fashion, and the posting window opens with an autocomplete field for entering the recipient's user name.
Tweetie does clever things with photos, too. Click a TwitPic link or a user's avatar photo within his or her info page, and the enlarged image appears in a slick-looking standalone window that zooms to the center of the Mac screen. You can easily upload photographs by dropping them into the posting window; they are then pushed up to the any of four photo-hosting services Tweetie supports.
Tweetie handles Twitter searches with grace, as well. A pull-down menu shows recent searches as well as Twitter trends. And, in a nice touch, searches can be opened in their own standalone windows (handy for monitoring hashtag-fests, for instance).
Tweetie, like Nambu and Lounge, supports multiple Twitter accounts, though not groups like Nambu and TweetDeck. For those who like to follow a fair number of people but focus on subsets, this may be a significant lack. As an alternative that might work for some people, Brichter suggests creating a separate Twitter account.
It's with Tweetie's multiple-account functionality that I ran into trouble: On several of the Macs I used, I was unable to enter a second or third Twitter account after a set-up routine that asked me for an initial identity. This is the first time I've run into an issue like this, with any Twitter app. Brichter said he's aware of the glitch, which others have run into in the release version, and is working on it. (As I filed this article, he appeared to be making headway since I was able to get my accounts into the program with a bit of persistence.)
On Macs that did take more than one account, I could easily move among these via avatar icons displayed in the toolbar (and double-clicking any of these fade-zoomed me to the info page for that account). The avatar icons can be reordered in Tweetie's preferences.
There are other things I'd like to see in Tweetie, such as support for Growl notifications, grouping features, and a refresh button. Brichter is fighting his users on these last two, and I grudgingly compliment him on this; making strict, smart calls about what to put into Macintosh software, and what to leave out in spite of user pressure, is how fine applications get made.
As for notifications, Tweetie has a sweet-looking menu bar item that turns from neutral gray to glowing blue when there's new activity (this can be customized to include or omit new tweet, reply or DM notifications). You can click the menu bar icon to hide and show Tweetie's main window.
So, has my dream Twitter desktop app arrived? I think so, and thy name is Tweetie, assuming that multiple account glitch will be fixed soon. (Lounge's syncing potential has me intrigued, though.)
I'm hardly alone in embracing this Mac companion to the celebrated Tweetie for iPhone. There was an unbelievable amount of Twitter chatter about the Mac app in the days before its release. I have a hunch Twitter diehards using Windows will be extremely jealous today.
[Julio Ojeda-Zapata is the author of "Twitter Means Business: How Microblogging Can Help or Hurt Your Company" (learn about the book at twitin.biz), as well as a consumer-technology columnist at the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. Get his latest writing at yourtechweblog.com and twincities.com/techtestdrive.]
Notable software releases this week include Drive Genius 2.1.1, Server Admin Tools 10.5.6v1.1, iMovie 8.0.2, Aperture 2.1.3, and SpamSieve 2.7.4.Show full article
Drive Genius 2.1.1 from Prosoft Engineering is the latest update to the popular disk utility software. Changes include enhanced defragmentation capabilities, improved performance, and updates for Apple's latest boot disc technology. ($99 new, free update from 2.0)
Server Admin Tools 10.5.6v1.1 from Apple updates the collection of Mac OS X's server administration tools with a handful of improvements described in decent release notes. When deploying a system image, System Image Utility no longer generates identical local KDC files on the target computers. Also fixed is a bug causing Server Admin to stop responding when propagating permissions on a folder that's not located on the boot volume. Finally, both utilities have added NetBoot/NetInstall model filters for the latest Apple notebooks. The update is available via Software Update or as a standalone download. (Free, 92.7 MB)
iMovie 8.0.2 from Apple fixes two specific issues: Projects with a file size of 0 KB could make iMovie quit unexpectedly at launch, and full-screen mode was not available on some systems. Kudos to Apple for including that information in the release notes. The update is available via Software Update or as a standalone download. (Free update, 24.1 MB)
Aperture 2.1.3 from Apple is a bug fix update that focuses on a few areas. Importing from a Nikon camera directly to the computer now displays the correct thumbnails in the Import window. A problem where unwanted duplicates could appear after rebuilding the Aperture library has been fixed, as has an issue where the Relocate and Consolidate commands were not available. See Apple's release notes for more information on dealing with those circumstances. The update is available via Software Update or as a standalone download. (Free update, 49.4 MB)
SpamSieve 2.7.4 from C-Command Software is a maintenance update to the powerful Bayesian spam filtering software. Changes include enhanced compatibility with the latest developer build of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, better error handling by the Entourage installer, revised troubleshooting instructions, and an improved capability to recover from corpus files damaged by disk errors. Additionally, two minor message-related bugs have been fixed, and the crash reporter has been improved to warn before sending reports without email addresses, as well as to accept the Enter key for clicking the Send Report button. ($30 new, free update, 5.8 MB)
Read on for a collection of links to the most interesting articles and resources that the TidBITS staff discovered on the Web this week.Show full article
Oracle to Buy Sun Microsystems for $7.4 Billion -- In a surprise move, database developer Oracle has agreed to acquire hardware maker Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion, taking over after talks between Sun and IBM failed. Despite this merging of computer industry heavyweights, the effect on the Mac world will likely be relatively minimal, with the main question being the future advancement of Sun's Java and MySQL technologies. (Posted 2009-04-20)
YouTube Adds Premium Content Section -- YouTube, in what appears to be an effort to compete with sites like Hulu, has launched a premium content section that includes movies and television shows. YouTube's owner, Google, has announced the initial content will be provided by studios including Sony, CBS, MGM, Lionsgate, Starz, and the BBC. The new material will be available free of charge, and supported by the recently announced Google TV Ads. While Google hopes the new section will garner extra revenue, the user-generated content for which YouTube became known will remain the main focus of the site. (Posted 2009-04-18)
Apple Leads in Customer Satisfaction Survey -- CNET reports that Apple recently topped the list of computer companies in a customer satisfaction survey conducted by Forrester Research. The survey, comprising almost 4,600 consumer responses regarding 113 companies in 12 different industries, found that Apple received an overall satisfaction rating of 80 percent. Though Apple may outperform its peers (second-place Gateway scored only 66 percent), it does so in an industry that receives poor ratings overall; according to the survey, PC companies are only slightly better liked than insurance companies and cable providers. Nevertheless, these rankings are interesting in light of recent Microsoft ads targeting Apple, and the company's response to them. (Posted 2009-04-18)
iPod touch Storms the Battlefield -- Newsweek reports that the United States Army has begun equipping soldiers with iPod touch devices for use in language and gesture translation, analysis of data from satellites and drones, and more. (Posted 2009-04-18)
O'Reilly Shares App Store Stats -- Interested in data that goes beyond the fact that Apple is closing in on the billionth iPhone app downloaded from the App Store? Ben Lorica shares some interesting statistics about iPhone apps on the O'Reilly Radar blog. (Posted 2009-04-18)
CinemaView Offers First Mini DisplayPort Compatible Monitors -- CinemaView has announced that it is releasing the first non-Apple Mini DisplayPort-compatible monitors. The company is currently offering 19, 21, and 24-inch models for $299, $399, and $499 respectively. With cast aluminum construction, and black-bordered optical glass fronts, the displays capture some semblance of Apple's design, and with the 24-inch model being $400 cheaper, these monitors might become attractive alternatives to Apple's high-end Cinema Displays. (Posted 2009-04-14)
Apple to Offer $899 20-inch iMac to Schools -- Ars Technica is reporting that Apple has updated the lowest rung of its educational desktop offerings from the otherwise-obsolete 17-inch white polycarbonate iMac to a 20-inch aluminum model. The updated model includes a 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 1 GB RAM, a 160 GB hard drive, a SuperDrive, and Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics processor - quite an upgrade considering the price will remain at $899. Unfortunately for most of us, this deal remains available only for schools and not for individuals. (Posted 2009-04-14)
Rich Mogull Interviewed by The New York Times -- Rich Mogull, computer security expert and TidBITS Security Editor, was recently interviewed by the New York Times Gadgetwise blog. In the wake of the Conficker virus scare, New York Times blogger Riva Richmond asked Rich about security on the Mac, and how Apple users can stay safe. The interview piqued enough interest to prompt a followup article as well. (Posted 2009-04-14)
Microsoft Office 2008 Available in 30-Day Trial Edition -- Trial software is commonplace on the Internet these days, but it's not so easy to do with massive suites like Microsoft Office that are generally sold through resellers. Microsoft has now made a 30-day trial version of Office 2008 for Mac available, though downloading it requires running through a cart and registering with Microsoft for periodic followup messages. You can unsubscribe later, if you wish. It's a 545 MB download. (Posted 2009-04-14)
Post Notes to Evernote via Twitter -- If you use the note-taking service Evernote and the microblogging/discussion service Twitter, you can now have specific tweets saved to your Evernote account (available via the Web, the Mac, the iPhone, and more). Not groundbreaking, but a nice way to link two popular Internet services. (Posted 2009-04-14)
Apple's Countdown to One Billion Apps -- Apple is on the verge of selling the one billionth app in the iTunes App Store. To celebrate the occasion, any customer purchasing an app between 12:01 AM 10-Apr-09 and when the one billionth app is sold will be entered into a contest with the chance to win a $10,000 iTunes gift card, an iPod touch, a Time Capsule, or a MacBook Pro. A list of the official contest rules is available on Apple's Web site. (Posted 2009-04-10)
The Little App Factory $1,000 Prize Giveaway -- In celebration of its app, iPodRip, having now transfered over one billion songs, The Little App Factory has announced a giveaway contest featuring $1,000 worth of prizes. The contest, running until 01-May-09, will grant nine winners an iPod touch, nano, shuffle, or a $50 gift certificate to the iTunes Store, as well as a free copy of iPodRip. All prizes will also be exchangeable for their retail value's worth of iTunes Store gift certificates. Contestants can enter by email, Twitter, or blogging - or by all three! (Posted 2009-04-08)
iPod Scammer Pleads Guilty -- Here's how not to run a business that's geared towards taking advantage of the popularity of Apple's iPod shuffle. The owner of an iPod repair shop has pled guilty to fraudulently obtaining and reselling 9,000 iPod shuffles. (Posted 2009-04-06)
by Jeff Carlson
This week's discussions revolve around setting up an FTP server, making a local backup of IMAP email, the security of Backblaze, the way iPhoto uses contact information for Faces, taking an iPhone from the United States to New Zealand, digitizing old analog audio tapes, replacing the old Pop Up Folders program, and solving a Mac OS 8.6 AppleScript problem.Show full article
Problems setting up FTP server in Leopard -- Could the problem getting an FTP server to work stem from a software configuration error, or is an ISP blocking the connection for security reasons? (11 messages)
IMAP Client for Mail Backup -- A few methods allow local backup of IMAP email, which is a good way to protect data in case of an ISP meltdown. (3 messages)
Backblaze Publicly Launches Online Backup Service for Macs -- A reader is concerned that Backblaze may not provide secure backups. (6 messages)
10 Undocumented Changes in iPhoto '09 8.0.2 -- The latest version of iPhoto handles addresses for its Faces feature in odd ways. (9 messages)
iPhones down under -- After accepting a job offer in New Zealand, a reader wonders whether his new iPhone can be used there. (8 messages)
Sound recording tapes -- What's required to digitize old reel-to-reel Scotch Sound Recording Tapes from the early 1950s? (11 messages)
Pop Up Folders Replacement Software? -- FinderPop, FolderGlance, or a system preference in Mac OS X may be able to replicate the behavior of the early Mac OS program Pop Up Folders. (5 messages)
When iPhone Pushes, Text Message Fees Fall -- A reader in Europe provides additional information about sending - and paying for - text messages from mobile phones. (1 message)
AppleScript Problem -- Readers tap the dusty archives of their AppleScript memories to solve a problem under Mac OS 8.6. (2 messages)