Previous Issue | Search TidBITS | TidBITS Home Page | Next Issue

TidBITS Logo


There's something for everyone in this week's issue. For video fans, Jeff Carlson examines what's new in Apple TV 3.0 and Glenn Fleishman passes along news of two new streaming video boxes from Roku. In the iPhone world, Glenn looks at why the iPhone sold in China will lack Wi-Fi; and Doug McLean checks out the Best Camera app, Web site, and book. If you're more interested in networking, check out Adam's explanation of Twitter's new Lists feature, along with Glenn's description of Mac remote control via Twitter, coverage of the just-released PureFTPd Manager for Snow Leopard, and Wi-Fi-informed explanation of why a new chip may help bring GPS support to cameras. Finally, for Mac stalwarts, Matt Neuburg shows off SheepShaver, which lets you run classic Mac OS software on an Intel-based Mac in Snow Leopard. Notable software releases this week include Electric Sheep 2.7b18b, iTunes 9.0.2, Default Folder X 4.3.2, Wireless Mouse Software Update 1.0 for Leopard and Snow Leopard, VMware Fusion 3, ScreenFlow 2.0, Apple Server Diagnostics 3X106, and DoorStop X Security Suite 2.3.

This issue of TidBITS sponsored in part by:
Help support TidBITS by supporting our sponsors!

Apple TV 3.0 Adds Focus on Your Content

  by Jeff Carlson <>

Apple has introduced version 3.0 of its Apple TV software, revamping the main menu with a new look and - finally - a new focus. The redesigned top-level navigation now features links to your content (My Movies, My TV Shows, etc.) at the top of each section menu; in the previous version, the focus was on Apple's paid offerings.

Categories are arranged in a single line, left to right. Highlighting a category displays options below, like a drop-down menu. The top third of the screen features thumbnails of content: for example, when the TV Shows category is active, your unwatched episodes appear alongside top shows from the iTunes Store; press the top button on the Apple remote to highlight one of the items, and then press the Play button to view it.

A new Internet menu item leads to YouTube videos and, new to the Apple TV software, Internet radio stations. The stations are arranged by genre, as you'd find in iTunes. When you press and hold the Play button during playback of a station, you can choose to mark it as a favorite, which then appears at the top of the Radio list.

Other new features include photo syncing of iPhoto Faces and Events, Genius Mixes, and support for iTunes LP albums and iTunes Extras movies. However, if you've previously purchased items with those expanded features, they need to be re-downloaded to work with the Apple TV; Apple says they will download automatically in iTunes.

Aside from the top-level navigation, and a switch to Helvetica as the default font, the rest of the Apple TV interface is largely unchanged.

The Apple TV hardware remains the same as the original model introduced in 2007, although now containing a 160 GB hard disk. A new Apple TV costs $229.

The Apple TV 3.0 software update is free for current owners, and is available only via the Apple TV itself (go to Settings > Update Software).

Though the improvements in Apple TV 3.0 are welcome, they're unlikely to cause anyone to decide to buy an Apple TV, meaning that the Apple TV remains a hobby for Apple, and merely another small step as Apple gingerly pushes its hardware into the living room (the previous small move was making the latest models of the iMac capable of operating as external monitors for Blu-ray players, game machines, and the like).

iTunes 9.0.2 and Remote 1.3.2 -- Apple also released iTunes 9.0.2 and Remote 1.3.2, which add support for the new Apple TV features. iTunes 9.0.2 also offers a new preference to use a dark background behind the Grid view, located in the General pane of the iTunes preferences.

iTunes 9.0.2 is an 85.82 MB download, and is available via Software Update or as a direct download. Remote is free and available from the iTunes Store, and is a 1.6 MB download.

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article

Roku Adds Two New Internet Video Streaming Boxes

  by Glenn Fleishman <>

Roku has expanded its lineup of Internet-to-television streaming media adapters with two new units. Roku players can browse Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, and's streaming services, and display video through a variety of audio/video outputs.

With subscriptions to these services, no computer is needed to watch movies, just sufficient bandwidth. The Roku player has no permanent storage, just RAM, and metaphorically acts as the plumbing between the Internet and your TV. The player, depending on service, automatically adjusts video quality based on available bandwidth.

I've used the original Roku Player since its release, and have been extremely happy with both its performance and Roku's successive firmware updates and content additions. The company openly discusses its interest in having many subscription streaming services available.

The new models are now divided into SD (standard definition), HD (high definition), and HD-XR (HD plus extended range wireless) for $79.99, $99.99, and $129.99, respectively. Shipping is currently free.

The Roku SD outputs 480i, or 480 lines of interlaced video, and offers 802.11g and 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, with stereo RCA audio output and composite video.

The Roku HD, formerly the only player the company offered, can produce up to 720p (720 lines of progressive-scan video) via composite, S-Video, component, and HDMI connections. (Composite and S-Video are limited to 480i, the pre-HDTV standard.) Audio outputs are via RCA, digital optical, and HDMI. Networking is also 802.11g and 10/100 Mbps Ethernet.

The Roku HD-XR brings 802.11n to the mix for higher speeds and longer-range wireless connections than 802.11g. In some homes, that may be necessary when your broadband connection and router are far from where you keep your TV set or monitor.

The Roku player was spun off from Netflix, according to a recent Wired magazine article. The company had hired Anthony Wood, Roku's founder, to build a device in house, but chose to spin the player, Wood, and 19 employees out to Roku in order to push the notion of embedding Netflix streaming in any consumer electronics device.

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article

The Best Camera Evangelizes iPhone Photography

  by Doug McLean <>

Earlier this year, I looked at the burgeoning field of iPhone photography, or "iPhoneography," as it is known by some, in "The Art of iPhone Photography" (19 May 2009). One of the photographers I featured in that article, Chase Jarvis, has since released an iPhone photo app and an iPhone photo book, and launched a new iPhone photo sharing site. All three go by the moniker "The Best Camera" and comprise what Jarvis calls a three-part ecosystem devoted to the mantra that "the best camera is the one that's with you."

The App -- The Best Camera iPhone app costs $2.99. Jarvis provides an in-depth tour of the app on the Best Camera Web site for prospective users. The app's main draw is that users can easily shoot, edit, and export images without leaving the program. The app also features the capability to view and rate images that have been uploaded to the online community at

The app currently comes equipped with 14 filters which include, among others: Candy, which raises the contrast and color saturation on your photos; Paris, which brings a "high impact black and white look"; and Slate, which lowers contrast and cools colors to bring an appearance to your photos that's inspired by architectural drawings.

Sharing features include the capability to send images to Facebook, Twitter, email, the iPhone Camera Roll, or The Best Camera Web site. Simply checking or unchecking boxes next to these various options determines where your images will be sent, and you can even send to multiple sites at once.

The Site -- The Best Camera Web site offers a place for users of the iPhone app to upload their photos and browse other uploaded pictures. On the front page, a grid of user photos updates in real time as new pictures are submitted to the site.

In addition to the real-time feed of uploaded snapshots, the site also features a Best Photos page for images that have received thumbs-up votes. Presumably, these votes come from viewers using the iPhone app since there appears to be no voting ability on the site itself. You can view the best pictures of the hour, day, or month, and often find links to the photographers' personal Web sites via their Best Camera profiles.

The Book -- Finally, leaving no stone unturned, Jarvis has also written a book, "The Best Camera" ($19.99). The publisher notes, "The pictures in the book, all taken with Chase's iPhone, make up a visual notebook - a photographic journal - from the past year of his life. The book is full of visually rich iPhone photos and peppered with inspiring anecdotes."

While the ebb and flow of the online sharing may be a more dynamic outlet for these photos, the book would certainly make a nice holiday gift for anyone with a interest in iPhoneography. Additionally, the book will in time become be an interesting artifact marking the emergence of the mobile-phone photography field.


Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article

Twitter Adds Lists, Finally

  by Adam C. Engst <>

The main reason I use TweetDeck to read Twitter is that it, unlike most other Twitter clients, lets me create groups of users, so I can separate out the people whose tweets I wish to read relatively quickly from headline tweets (such as from @TidBITS and @TakeControl) and posts from people I know more peripherally. Arguably, I could just follow fewer people, but at different times, it's useful to have quick access to my less-important groups.

In what is perhaps the first major change to the service since the beginning, Twitter has started rolling out Lists, which lets you create groups of users via Twitter's Web interface, collecting together all the tweets from the people in the group. Lists can be either private, at which point they're just for your reference, or public, so anyone can see the tweets collected in them.

I see private lists as an official way of doing within Twitter what I do already in TweetDeck - organizing groups of people I follow as a way of limiting how much I read at any one time. If you've found Twitter overwhelming, try making a group of the people you find most interesting and focusing on that list most of the time.

Public lists, on the other hand, will serve as a way for people new to Twitter to find additional interesting people to follow (check out my Mac Writers list, for instance, or the TidBITS staff list). Public lists will also probably provide a more accurate way of determining influence within the Twitter network, since adding someone to a list is a significantly more intentional act than following them. Right now, I'm at around 3,650 followers and have been included in 81 lists, but the TidBITS Twitter feed is already in 72 lists, despite having only about 1,400 followers.

Twitter is also releasing a Lists API, so Twitter clients like Twitterrific and Tweetie will have to figure out the best way to integrate Lists into their interfaces. It's none too soon, frankly, since although TweetDeck offers group functionality, it's clumsy and incomplete (you can make groups, but you can't make a group of people not in any other group). Hopefully Twitter will build such a feature into Lists, along with making it easier to add people to lists directly from a tweet.

Not all users have access to the Lists feature yet, since Twitter is rolling it out in waves, but with luck it will be available to everyone soon.

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article

Free "Take Control of VMware Fusion 3" Simplifies Windows on a Mac

  by Adam C. Engst <>

Thanks to sponsorship from VMware, we are pleased to provide Joe Kissell's new "Take Control of VMware Fusion 3" for free. In Fusion 3, VMware added 64-bit optimization for Snow Leopard users, Windows 7 support, a simplified process for porting a physical Windows installation to a virtual Mac installation, and better support for graphically intense applications.

Joe covers all this, plus walks readers step-by-step through many possibilities for installing Windows on a Mac, the best ways to configure Fusion, techniques for working effectively in Windows with Mac hardware, and much more.

To help readers further explore the Take Control series, "Take Control of VMware Fusion 3" also comes with a coupon code worth 50 percent off one ebook order.

Print copies of "Take Control of VMware Fusion 3" are also available for $12.99.

If you'd like an idea of what's involved in running Windows on your Mac with Fusion (or even more generally), we published a slightly edited excerpt that explains the topic over on the Take Control site.

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article

Chinese iPhone Has No Wi-Fi

  by Glenn Fleishman <>

The combination of mobile broadband and Wi-Fi in the iPhone has long been one of its selling points, and seamless data roaming between cell and Wi-Fi, location discovery, and free access to Wi-Fi networks operated by cellular carriers in some countries make Wi-Fi seem essential. Not so in China. The iPhone model for sale by China Unicom lacks Wi-Fi. This was widely rumored months before the deal was in place for China Unicom to offer the iPhone.

The reason for this omission is the Chinese government's efforts since 2003 - in fits and starts - to promote a proprietary security standard for 802.11 devices called WAPI, which stands, in a cumbersome fashion, for "WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure."

For the first few years, non-Chinese firms were required to partner with one of a handful of Chinese companies that had access to the WAPI specification, and many of these companies were tied to the Chinese military, which has active control of a number of businesses separate from the rest of government. Foreign firms protested, because they would have had to disclose significant portions of their intellectual property in a country that has a mixed record in honoring patents and trade secrets.

The issue was significant enough that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell raised WAPI in trade talks in 2004 because if required it would be a bar for U.S. firms to sell Wi-Fi products in the country. The WAPI requirement may also violate World Trade Organization rules, although that hasn't been tested. China attempted to get WAPI approved by standards group ISO, but that effort failed largely because the group representing China wouldn't provide the spec's details - kind of a problem for a proposed standard. China was recently invited to introduce WAPI to ISO once more, although it's hard to see how it has a better chance. (The IEEE 802.11i security standard was accepted instead of WAPI.)

A second concern about WAPI, one that I've raised for years in my writing at Wi-Fi Networking News, is that one must presume that a proprietary standard that hasn't been subjected to full disclosure and outside scrutiny includes backdoors for government access to secured sessions. The Wi-Fi approved WPA/WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) has no known generic exploits, and can't be deciphered over the air. While WAPI may be completely secure, this can't be determined, nor does that conform with the Chinese government's history of Internet oversight.

There is some suspicion that WAPI's authentication aspect, in which a login would be required to join a network securely, was partly desirable to track users, too. This would eliminate the "problem" of untrackable connections to Wi-Fi hotspots, coupled with security that would prevent local interception.

In the last few years, China hasn't pushed WAPI with the same vigor, and has made noises about backing down. However, its official status appears to still be in place, and other mobile phones in China have WAPI installed. This AP story says that Wi-Fi was banned in China, but it's apparently possible and straightforward to buy Wi-Fi access points without WAPI in China, and Wi-Fi is in wide use.

Because Apple already has its phones manufactured in China, there appears to be wide agreement that future versions of the iPhone will have Wi-Fi with WAPI as an option.

The Associated Press estimates as many as two million unlocked iPhones brought in from other countries are in use in China already, and none of those use WAPI.

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article

TweetMyMac Offers Remote Control by Twitter

  by Glenn Fleishman <>

TweetMyMac is possibly one of the most bizarre, but then instantly obvious, ideas that I've seen in a while. The software uses Twitter as a messaging mechanism that enables you to control your Mac remotely.

The folks at Twitter have long made available access to the system via an API (application programming interface) used by developers outside the company to create Web, mobile, and desktop applications. TweetMyMac is software that runs under Mac OS X and receives messages from a Twitter account you set up specifically as a control channel.

The concept is simple. Direct messages in Twitter are received only by the party to whom the messages are addressed. Thus, if you set up an account for a Mac you want to control, you have a direct conduit to it. Your Mac's account must then be set to follow one or more Twitter accounts from which you want to send commands; only accounts being followed may send the Mac direct messages to be executed as remote commands.

The set of commands is small but interesting. You can remotely restart, logout, sleep, or shut down a Mac; launch and quit applications; retrieve its IP address (perhaps useful in case of theft if TweetMyMac remains active); pull a picture from the built-in camera or grab a screenshot (hmm, also useful for a stolen Mac) which is sent back to you via Twitter; and lock the screen (errr...same comment); among other commands. Perhaps most useful is the capability (disabled by default, due to its power) to execute Unix shell commands.

The software, by TheMacBox, is free, although donations are encouraged.

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article

New Processor Promises Improved Camera GPS Support

  by Glenn Fleishman <>

Very few digital cameras incorporate GPS technology, and those that do tend to offer limited and difficult-to-use capabilities. The advantage of a GPS is obvious: a picture can be "geotagged," or marked with the geographical coordinates at which you snapped a shot. To support this capability, iPhoto '09 added its Places feature, which reads geotagging metadata stored in a picture to stick a photo on a map (see "iPhoto '09 Adds Faces and Places," 6 January 2009).

There are ways to make GPS work while taking pictures, such as add-on products from camera makers and third parties that constantly record coordinates. Later, you use software like HoudahGeo and Geophoto to extract a timestamp from each photo and match that with coordinates captured at that moment by the GPS recorder. Also, the Eye-Fi Geo Wi-Fi camera card uses Wi-Fi positioning to grab Wi-Fi snapshots when a picture is taken, and then retrieves approximate location data (when available) when a photo is uploaded using Eye-Fi's software (see "Eye-Fi's Geo Targets Apple for Wireless Photo Transfers," 29 July 2009).

The iPhone geotags images using the best data it has from Location Services, which means Wi-Fi positioning and cellular tower trilateration (an alternative to triangulation that relies solely on distance measurements) if the GPS system hasn't yet locked onto satellites and computed a good location.

I've tried cameras that integrate GPS. The controls are wonky, the GPS lock is slow, and it's often unclear whether or not coordinates are being captured. Cameras aren't good at GPS because they typically lack the capability to use Assisted GPS (AGPS), in which tables of computed satellite location data are preloaded into GPS receivers. Those satellite locations are critical, because a receiver has to trilaterate its current location based on the satellite's distance. You have to know where the satellite is, obviously, to produce that calculation.

AGPS enables much faster GPS locks by predicting a satellite's location at a future point of time, instead of the 12.5-minute minimum required for a "cold boot" - a startup in a different location or after a few days - for GPS devices sold a few years ago, and for some very cheap devices still offered today.

To support AGPS, camera makers would have to offer software that downloaded updated satellite tables (the "ephemerides") into a USB-connected camera from a computer. Cameras with Wi-Fi - still very much in the minority - could more easily retrieve updates from Internet-based servers. (For more on AGPS and modern usage in cameras, read my Ars Technica story from early this year, "Inside assisted GPS: helping GPS help you.")

A new module from CSR, a chipmaker that acquired leading GPS system builder Sirf, may help camera makers and other gadget designers achieve better results. Instead of producing a GPS fix on demand, when a camera is powered up or takes a picture, the chip produces a continuous series of coordinates based on the best-available fix at the moment. This is quite like Location Services in the iPhone OS.

The CSR module also has a number of features designed for mobile devices to remove interference and deal with bouncing (while holding a camera or jogging with a music player, for instance). Plus, it embeds the capability to store a week's worth of satellite location data - computed in advance by CSR - as long as the device can manage a connection.

Once Wi-Fi becomes a regular camera feature and these GPS chips (and similar future chips from other firms) become routine additions, we'll finally be able to forget entirely where we took a picture, and rely on more-or-less accurate - but always available - coordinates captured and stored in the picture's metadata. Until then, not so much.

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article

PureFTPd Manager Updated for Snow Leopard

  by Glenn Fleishman <>

PureFTPd Manager is now compatible with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. The FTP server package combines a simple graphical interface with a powerful and secure FTP server engine to provide remote file access to specific folders or an entire computer, depending on your needs.

PureFTPd Manager 1.8 installs and configures the necessary server software for you, as did previous releases. The software's developer makes the package available at no cost, but requests donations for those who find it worthwhile.

The reason to use FTP, a hoary method from the depths of Internet time, is that FTP can allow account-based access to separate collections of data, with users unable to view all the contents of a drive or other accounts' data. FTP is also highly efficient, because of its origins at a time when bandwidth was precious.

With the right software on the server side, it's easy to create an account that can be used only during certain hours, that's restricted to a specific throughput level and storage total, and which can access only the contents of a targeted folder. It's possible to do some or all of that with WebDAV and a Web server, but you'll have pulled out your hair first.

PureFTPd Manager provides a graphical interface to the many features for access control and security available in the BSD-based pureftpd FTP server. The pureftpd server was designed years ago as a from-scratch effort to build a secure FTP server after exploitable flaws were found repeatedly in some older, much-patched systems.

Those flaws are now lost in history, but pureftpd remains a strong alternative to tnftpd (formerly known as lukemftpd, after its initial developer), which Apple uses in Mac OS X. tnftpd isn't inherently problematic, but Apple configures it poorly in both Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server, while also making it effectively impossible to override the company's choices. And, believe me, I've tried. (I explain more of the limits of FTP and alternatives to it in my recently released "Take Control of Sharing Files in Snow Leopard." PureFTPd Manager isn't covered in the book because the developer hadn't committed to a Snow Leopard-compatible version as of the time it was written.)

I've long been a fan of PureFTPd Manager because it addresses the weaknesses in Mac OS X's built-in tnftpd, while eliminating the need for the technical knowledge necessary to use pureftpd. You don't want to configure pureftpd server yourself, as it requires a very long sequence of command-line flags instead of configuration files.

Beyond the ease of setting up users with specific restrictions, and other configuration details, PureFTPd Manager also makes it easy to enable a secure FTP mode. FTP is an inherently insecure file transfer protocol - passwords are sent in the clear. If you use FTP in a public place, like a Wi-Fi hotspot, without using a VPN to protect your data, any casual sniffer can obtain your FTP account name and password. For many people, that username and password also provides access to other parts of an ISP or hosting account, possibly as well as banking and ecommerce sites.

You can wrap FTP in encryption or simulate FTP in one of three typical ways: SFTP, which isn't FTP at all; FTP over SSH; and FTP over SSL/TLS.

In PureFTPd Manager, after you install the package and walk through a simple initial setup assistant, you can pull up the program's preferences, and click SSL/TLS Sessions. In this screen, you can click Create a Certificate, and either import an existing SSL/TLS certificate you're already using on a computer or create a self-signed certificate.

Self-signing means that no external certificate authority validates that the certificate is genuine. However, self-signed certificates are often good enough for personal use or with a workgroup. You can get free certificates that work with pureftpd from StartCom's StartSSL service. (For a detailed look at SSL and TLS, read Chris Pepper's "Securing Communications with SSL/TLS: A High-Level Overview," 25 June 2007.)

If you set PureFTPd Manager's TLS Sessions pop-up menu to TLS Only, then only FTP clients that support SSL/TLS with FTP can connect. In Interarchy 9, for instance, the standard FTP connection tries to create a secure link by default. If a self-signed certificate is found, Interarchy notes that fact in its transcript (Window > Transcript), but connects anyway. (You can disable using unverified certificates in Interarchy > Preferences in the Advanced tab by checking Verify Server Certificates.)

While the world may have seemed to pass FTP by, there are still plenty of cases in which FTP is the best solution for file transfer needs, and there are many client software packages among which to choose: Fetch, Captain FTP, Interarchy, and Transmit are just a few that are built around FTP or support it among other protocols. With PureFTPd Manager, you can get the best of FTP while securing it, too.

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article

SheepShaver Brings Classic Mac OS to Snow Leopard

  by Matt Neuburg <>

In the run-up to the original release of Mac OS X, users were justifiably worried about compatibility. Mac OS X was a completely different operating system from its predecessors (Mac OS 9, Mac OS 8, System 7). Recent Mac OS 9 applications that had been "Carbonized" might run natively under Mac OS X, but older applications certainly would not. Were users doomed to lose access to all their older applications and documents?

To solve this problem, Apple tided its users over with Classic, an environment that emulated Mac OS 9 within Mac OS X. But this solution was fated not to last forever. Classic reached the end of its life in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger; later versions of Mac OS X don't include Classic, and Classic doesn't run on Intel machines at all.

If, like me, you still have an older application or document that you'd occasionally like to open, what can you do? I actually have three different approaches. For certain applications that won't run properly even under Classic, I have several ancient (by computer standards) machines that can actually boot into Mac OS 9. I also have two PowerPC-based Macs that run Tiger and therefore have Classic. But all of that is a lot of trouble, because I'm not usually using those machines; I'm usually using my Intel-based Mac mini, and running Snow Leopard. But even there - even on an Intel machine, even under Snow Leopard - I can run an older Mac OS, enjoy my older applications, and read and edit my older documents, by using SheepShaver.

SheepShaver is a PowerPC emulator that runs under Mac OS X. It started life over 10 years ago as a commercial application for BeOS, but it is now open source and free, and is a clear testament to what the dedication of a few knowledgeable volunteers can accomplish. The Mac version of SheepShaver is a universal binary, so it runs natively on an Intel-based Mac. (Versions that run on Windows and Linux also exist.)

SheepShaver lets you run any older system between Mac OS 8.5 and Mac OS 9.0.4. (There is another program, BasiliskII, with a parallel history, that emulates a 68000 processor and lets you run System 7.5 through Mac OS 8.1, but I haven't tried it.) Unlike Apple's Classic environment, which integrated its windows with Mac OS X's windows, SheepShaver displays all the older system's windows inside its own single application window, as if SheepShaver were acting as the monitor of an old Mac; you should't find this at all inconvenient or disconcerting, especially if you've ever used screen sharing under Mac OS X.

I must warn you that setting up SheepShaver is not for the faint of heart, and giving detailed instructions is beyond the scope of this article. The best way to get started is through the resources at the E-Maculation Web site, which provides a particularly good step-by-step tutorial (as well as forums where I have received very courteous and accurate technical advice). You'll need a generic (not hardware-specific) installation CD for the system you'd like to run (I used a Mac OS 9.0.4 installer that I had lying around). You'll also probably need a machine that can run Classic, in order to obtain a ROM file; I used the technique described in a different tutorial, where you download the Mac OS ROM Update disk image and use Apple's Tome Viewer utility to extract the ROM file from it.

With the ROM file in hand, properly named and located with respect to the SheepShaver application file, you launch SheepShaver and set up its preferences. There will need to be a disk image file onto which SheepShaver will install your older Mac OS, and from which it will subsequently boot; so, you create that file. And, in order to get your own software and documents into that disk image file, there must be a "shared" folder in the Mac OS X world that SheepShaver can see and project into the older Mac OS world; so, you create that folder and tell SheepShaver where it is. There are some other preferences to set up, but the tutorial tells you what settings to use.

Now you insert the Mac OS 9 (or whatever it is) installer CD into your computer and start up SheepShaver, telling it to boot from the installer CD. When this works, it's positively thrilling, since you are actually running from the installer CD in emulation mode inside SheepShaver, thus proving to yourself that SheepShaver can work on your machine. The disk image file that you made in the previous step has also mounted as an empty drive in the SheepShaver world. So, you now install the system onto that empty drive - that is, into the disk image file. Then you quit SheepShaver and start it up again. This time, though, you boot from the disk image file, which, if all has gone well, now contains a clean installation of the system.

All of that sounds rather daunting, and to be honest, it is. But once it's done, you'll be living in a plug-and-play world; you have to suffer all this suspense only once. It took me an entire morning to accomplish the steps described in the previous two paragraphs, as things kept going wrong and I repeatedly had to scrap the disk image file and try again. Eventually, however, I did get it right, and was rewarded at last by seeing Mac OS 9 boot under Snow Leopard, directly from my hard disk, without the Mac OS 9 installer CD being involved. I had done it! I was shaving sheep!

The rest is simple. Any time you start up SheepShaver, it boots your older Mac OS, and there you are. When you tell your older Mac OS to shut down, it does, and SheepShaver quits. That's all there is to it, really.

But what if you want to do any useful work? Mac OS 9 comes with a few applications, such as SimpleText, but to open your own applications and documents, you need to copy them into the disk image file. You do this in two steps. First, you move or copy them into the "shared" folder I mentioned earlier. Now you start up SheepShaver. The Mac desktop as presented by SheepShaver displays two "disks": the boot disk, which is really the disk image file, and the "Unix" disk, which is really the "shared" Mac OS X folder. So now you copy the applications and files from the "Unix" disk onto the boot disk, where they should operate properly.

I've made a screencast showing that I can run such nostalgia-laced applications as MORE and HyperCard on my Snow Leopard machine. As you can see, SheepShaver starts up and boots Mac OS 9 in emulation in just a few seconds, and presto, I'm opening a MORE document or a HyperCard stack instantly. Look also at the "disks" at the upper right of the desktop: "baa" is really the disk image file, and "Unix" is really the "shared" folder.

I have not pressed SheepShaver to its limits, nor do I expect to. I haven't used it to access the Web or to input MIDI or to do any weird hardware-based stuff like that (even though SheepShaver is said to implement Ethernet networking, serial drivers, and even SCSI emulation). As long as I can occasionally access an old MORE document or HyperCard stack, I'm an extremely happy camper.

Read and post comments about this article | Tweet this article

TidBITS Watchlist: Notable Updates for 2 November 2009

  by TidBITS Staff <>

Electric Sheep 2.7b18b -- The dizzyingly beautiful screensaver Electric Sheep has been updated to version 2.7b18b, bringing back the multiple display support that was lost in the switch to Snow Leopard compatibility. Other changes include smoother animation, improvements in voting, and various bug fixes to enhance performance and usability. Make sure you download version 2.7b18b, since not all the download links on the Electric Sheep site have been updated yet. (Free, 16.6 MB)

iTunes 9.0.2 -- Apple has released iTunes 9.0.2, adding support for Apple TV 3.0 and an option for a dark background in Grid view, and improving accessibility. The update is available via Software Update or the Apple Support Downloads page. (Free, 85.82 MB)

Default Folder X 4.3.2 -- St. Clair Software has released a maintenance and stability update to the Open/Save dialog enhancement utility Default Folder X. Version 4.3.2 improves recently-used-folder tracking, fixes a bug that caused files to be saved to the wrong folder when using column view, and addresses an issue in Snow Leopard that prevented folder switching and rebound from working correctly when the name of the mounted server's disk was the same as a folder on the startup drive. Also, support for the SharpShooter screenshot utility has been added, creating preview images for files and folders no longer causes Default Folder X to attempt to resolve aliases to offline servers, and the program's controls now properly hide themselves when an options dialog is invoked from an Open or Save As dialog. A full list of changes is available on St. Clair Software's Web site. ($34.95 new, free update, 10.7 MB)

Wireless Mouse Software Update 1.0 for Leopard and Snow Leopard -- Apple has released two updates that enable users running either Leopard or Snow Leopard to take advantage of the multi-touch capabilities in the new Magic Mouse (see "Apple Releases Magic Mouse, New Remote, Souped-Up Base Stations," 20 October 2009). Apple notes that users running Leopard must have version 10.5.8 installed, and that Momentum scrolling is not available. Users running Snow Leopard must have version 10.6.1 installed. Both updates are available via Software Update or the Apple Support Downloads page. (Free, 36.22/63.92 MB)

VMware Fusion 3 -- VMware has released the latest version of its Windows virtualization software for Mac, VMware Fusion 3. Changes include 64-bit optimization for Snow Leopard users, Windows 7 support, a simplified process for porting a physical Windows installation to a virtual Mac installation, and better support for graphically intense applications. Also, the migration assistant has been improved, memory usage has been reduced when running Windows 7 or Vista, full support for four-way SMP has been added, the Unity feature's behavior is now more Mac-like, the Multi-Display and Full Screen views have been enhanced, and automatic program updating has been added. A full list of features is available on VMware's Web site. Note that our "Take Control of VMware Fusion 3" ebook is also available, as a free download. ($79.99 new, $39.99 upgrade, 186 MB)

ScreenFlow 2.0 -- Telestream's ScreenFlow, which creates screencasts, has been updated to version 2.0 (see "ScreenFlow: Screencasting on Steroids," 30 April 2008). The new version adds much-needed (and long-rumored) features such as transitions between video clips, the capability to speed up or slow down a portion of a clip, separation of audio from video, audio ducking, moving clips between documents, pause during recording, and many performance and editing improvements. ScreenFlow 2.0 includes a Flip4Mac WMV Studio serial number (a $49 value); it requires Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or later and Quartz Extreme. A trial version watermarks exported movies. ($99 new, $29 upgrade, 7.8 MB)

Apple Server Diagnostics 3X106 -- Apple has released an updated version of its Apple Server Diagnostics that tests for hardware issues in servers running Mac OS X Server 10.6. Like past versions, this one runs a customizable set of tests for identifying issues with server components such as the boot ROM, Ethernet controller, fan, hard drive, memory, power supply, processor, sensor, USB ports, and video controller.

The update is compatible with Snow Leopard Server on the Xserve (Early 2009), Xserve (Early 2008), and Mac mini (Early 2009), and is available via Software Update or the Apple Support Downloads page. Apple also notes you can run Apple Server Diagnostics in Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI), in Mac OS X, or in Mac OS X Server. (Free, 20.2 MB)

DoorStop X Security Suite 2.3 -- Open Door Networks has released a significant maintenance update to its flagship collection of Internet security products, the DoorStop X Security Suite. The latest release of the suite includes updated versions of DoorStop X Firewall, Who's There? Firewall Advisor, and the ebook "Internet Security for Your Macintosh and iPhone."

DoorStop X Security Suite 2.3 includes additional information and support for Snow Leopard throughout its components, as well as Snow Leopard-specific bug fixes. It also adds information and advice regarding the iPhone and iPod touch. DoorStop X Security Suite's ebook now includes an entire chapter on the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as iPhone details throughout. Plus, a Twitter stream has been integrated with the products through a News menu, enabling security issues to be addressed in real time.

Other minor additions include support for non-admin users in DoorStop X Firewall, an enhanced geolocation service for the Who's There? Firewall Advisor, and added advice on a variety of new security issues. ($79 new, free upgrade for users who purchased version 2.2 after 28 August 2009, 15.8 MB.)

ExtraBITS for 2 November 2009

  by TidBITS Staff <>

Jeff Carlson Talks Photoshop Elements 8, Canon G11 on MacVoices -- Adobe is now shipping Photoshop Elements 8, notable in part because the company skipped version 7 for the Mac last year. On this episode of MacVoices, Jeff Carlson talks to Chuck Joiner about what the newest Photoshop Elements offers Mac users and then discusses his current project, a book about Canon's PowerShot G10 and G11 cameras. (Posted 2009-11-01)

ICANN Approves Non-Latin Top-Level Domains -- The group responsible for Internet names and numbers, ICANN, has at long last issued the go-ahead for a limited number of top-level domains (TLDs) written in non-Latin characters. These new TLDs will start appearing in mid-2010. TLDs, which include generics like .com and country codes like .cn, have long been limited to A-Z, 0-9, and the dash. Second-level domains (the part before the . and the TLD) can be registered in many TLDs using non-Latin characters already. (Posted 2009-10-30)

A Look Inside the iPhone's High Tech Sensors -- Computerworld's John Brandon looks at the sensor technology that enables the iPhone to perform some of its more amazing tricks. It's not magic, but it is sufficiently advanced to seem like it at times. (Posted 2009-10-29)

Carving Apple Jack-O'-Lanterns -- For Halloween, Macworld served up an Apple-themed pumpkin carving contest. Attempts from Macworld's editors are currently on view for inspiration. So check them out, visit your local pumpkin emporium, and get to work on your Apple-inspired jack-o'-lantern! (Posted 2009-10-27)

TidBITS Staff Provides Perspective on 1,000 Issues on MacVoices -- After interviewing Adam and Tonya earlier in the week on the milestone of 1,000 TidBITS issues, MacNotables and MacVoices host Chuck Joiner invited a panel of TidBITS staffers to discuss what 1,000 issues looks like from their perspective. The conversation covers the birth of TidBITS, how everyone got their start working for it, the group's approach to journalism, and where TidBITS stands today. And no, Adam and Tonya had no clue it was happening until after the fact! (Posted 2009-10-27)

Hot Topics in TidBITS Talk for 2 November 2009

  by Jeff Carlson <>

Calendar for Mac -- Readers find iCal insufficient for group calendars, and offer alternatives. (6 messages)

Drive Mechanism Reliability -- Are laptop drives reliable enough to use for backups, or are the 2.5-inch mechanisms not well suited for such tasks? (3 messages)

CNN gets it wrong with new Flash splashpage -- Readers wonder and debate whether Flash is useful at all, or if it's just an annoyance. (33 messages)

Setting default email window height -- Eudora's vast array of settings include the option of specifying window heights (and much, much more). (6 messages)

Opening many Photoshop files -- A reader tries to figure out why Photoshop refuses to open multiple selected files at once. (6 messages)

Why Email Remains the King of Internet Communications -- Adam's article provokes discussion of other communication methods and archiving data, such as Twitter. (4 messages)

Droid - Verizon v. iPhone - AT&T -- Is the new Droid smartphone a worthwhile competitor to the iPhone? (16 messages)

New Hard Drive for Old G4 -- Can a Power Mac G4 from 2000 access more than 160 GB on a larger replacement hard disk? (No, and the limit is actually 128 GB.) (14 messages)

Mail reloads old emails into inbox -- Is the reappearance of old email messages a problem with Mail (or other email clients), or is the problem rooted at the mail server? (10 messages)

This is TidBITS, a free weekly technology newsletter providing timely news, insightful analysis, and in-depth reviews to the Macintosh and Internet communities. Feel free to forward to friends; better still, please ask them to subscribe!
Non-profit, non-commercial publications and Web sites may reprint or link to articles if full credit is given. Others please contact us. We do not guarantee accuracy of articles. Caveat lector. Publication, product, and company names may be registered trademarks of their companies. TidBITS ISSN 1090-7017.
Copyright 2009 TidBITS; reuse governed by this Creative Commons License.

Previous Issue | Search TidBITS | TidBITS Home Page | Next Issue