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The days of having to stop and ask for directions are coming to an end, as Adam navigates New York City using the Garmin StreetPilot c330. Also in this issue, Glenn Fleishman looks at LightScribe technology, which uses the lasers in compatible CD/DVD burners to etch labels into a disc's surface. Last week saw the release of Mac OS X 10.4.1 and Apple's voluntary safety recall of some iBook and PowerBook G4 batteries. Finally, a bug in Eudora surfaces, and Fetch 5 arrives, just in time for us to take our yearly Memorial Day break. See you in June!
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Next Issue Appears 06-Jun-05 -- We're taking next week off in honor of the Memorial Day holiday here in the U.S., Jeff Carlson's birthday, and the possibility that I'll be spending the following week as a citizen doing jury duty. So you all have my permission to take the time you'd normally spend reading TidBITS and do something you consider equally as enjoyable. See you in June! [ACE]
Apple Recalls Laptop Batteries -- Apple has announced a voluntary recall of certain rechargeable laptop batteries sold with, or sold separately for use with, its 12-inch iBook G4, 12-inch PowerBook G4, and 15-inch PowerBook G4 models from Oct-04 through May-05. The company, which acted in cooperation with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission and international authorities, says the affected batteries could overheat, posing a potential fire hazard. The batteries will be replaced at no cost to the owner.
The recalled batteries include those with model numbers A1061, A1078, and A1079, and have serial numbers that begin with HQ441 through HQ507, and 3X446 through 3X510. There are unaffected batteries with the same model numbers but different serial numbers, so check both. After verifying the battery is from the affected batches, Apple will ship a replacement battery at no charge to the user, who will then return the original battery using the same packaging and an included pre-paid shipping label. [MHA]
Fetch 5 Ready for a Walk -- Proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks, Jim Matthews and Fetch Softworks today released Fetch 5, a sleek new version of the earliest FTP client still in active development for the Macintosh. With Fetch 5, Jim focused on simplifying the user interface to improve ease of use and adding support for low-level technologies like SFTP. Fetch now sports a new toolbar for quick access to commonly used functions, Back and Recent buttons for easier navigation to previously viewed folders, a more Finder-like list view, and a status pane at the bottom of each transfer window. Other interface niceties include a file transfer progress indicator in Fetch's Dock icon, context-sensitive help, and a recent connections pop-up menu in the New Connection dialog. Under the hood, along with SFTP support, Fetch 5 now offers resuming of binary uploads, automatic detection of FTP and SFTP servers on your local network if they advertise their presence via Bonjour (formerly called Rendezvous), importing of Interarchy and Transmit bookmarks, support for using StuffIt to compress files automatically on upload and expand automatically on download, improved handling of non-ASCII and Unicode file names, and "Automatic Passive Mode" for automatic detection of proper connection modes for reliable transfers through firewalls and NAT gateways. Fetch 5 works with Mac OS X 10.2.4 or later (including Tiger), and it costs $25, with upgrades from Fetch 4 priced at $15. New copies of Fetch and upgrades may both be purchased directly from within Fetch 5; choose Purchase or Purchase Upgrade from the Fetch application menu. Users at educational and non-profit charitable organizations may apply for a free license. [ACE]
Qualcomm Acknowledges Eudora Bug -- As reported by our friends at MacInTouch, Qualcomm has acknowledged that recent versions of its Eudora email software for Macintosh could incorrectly delete messages from the Inbox associated with an IMAP account.
The company has told site license support providers that an upcoming release of Eudora, version 6.2.3, addresses the problem. Early advice to revert to Eudora 6.1 won't help, as the code that could cause that bug is in 6.1 as well. Qualcomm recommends installing the public beta of version 6.2.3, or turning on the "Show Deleted Messages" function in the mailbox options menu at the bottom right of the Mailboxes window. The rare bug only affects mailboxes accessed with the IMAP protocol. Users who use the POP3 protocol for retrieving mail will not be affected. [MHA]
DealBITS Drawing: PublicVPN Winners -- Congratulations to Diane Palumbo of gmail.com and Philip Hudson of spamgourmet.com, whose entries were chosen randomly in last week's DealBITS drawing and who each received 3 months of PublicVPN service, worth $17.85. Even if you didn't win, you can save 10 percent off the cost of PublicVPN service if you sign up before 30-May-05 using coupon code "dealbits10" (sans quotes, of course); this offer is open to all TidBITS readers. Thanks to the 230 people who entered. Keep an eye out for future DealBITS drawings. [ACE]
by Geoff Duncan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Last week, Apple released Mac OS X 10.4.1 Update for the just-released Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" operating system. (And, of course, Apple did so within minutes of our publishing TidBITS-780. Sigh.) The standalone version of the Mac OS X 10.4.1 Update weighs in at 37 MB, but is somewhat slimmer (19.4 MB) via Software Update.
Mac OS X 10.4.1 Update includes significant enhancements and fixes, although users contemplating the update are strongly encouraged to read Apple's release notes and back up their systems before installing.
Fixes problems moving between access points on the same wireless network (a truly annoying problem recently noted in TidBITS Talk).
Fixes a problem with computers with a long computer name from obtaining a DHCP address via AirPort.
No longer permits files, applications, or Web pages to be opened at the password prompt which appears when a Mac wakes from sleep or stops running a screen saver.
Corrects several editing issues within Apple's Mail application, as well as syncing improvements and potential conflicts with third-party plug-ins for Mail.
iDVD no longer crashes if it is hidden while saving a disk image or burning a DVD; instead, the option to hide the application is disabled.
iSync more reliably connects to .Mac services, and now defaults to merging data on your Mac and a portable device rather than erasing the device by default.
Safari no longer crashes when Control-clicking some graphics or PDFs.
FileVault's secure erase feature states it is "Deleting old Home Folder" when deleting original files, rather than doing a very good impression of a hard crash. (For the record, we still don't advocate using FileVault; see "How FileVault Should Work," in TidBITS-719).
iCal no longer crashes receiving some invitations via Mail, and changes made from Tiger to iCal calendars originally published using Mac OS X 10.3 Panther are now visible if the calendars used long names or special characters.
Improves AFP and SMB/CIFS network services, as well as login issues with Active Directory and LDAP servers.
Provides new ATI and NVIDIA graphics drivers.
Dashboard provides a workaround for the so-called "evil Widget" potential vulnerability, where a malicious Widget could compromise one's computer. Widgets are now no longer considered "safe" files to the rest of the system. However, we still encourage users to uncheck the "Open safe files after downloading" option in Safari preferences. Dashboard also responds better to scroll wheels and trackpad scrolling.
by Glenn Fleishman <email@example.com>
I back up my computers to hard drives using about a terabyte of storage (500 GB in each set). But these sets are incremental and rotate. I don't keep any permanent copies, just two separate aging sets. I also like to have some storage that isn't rewritable, and the new dual-layer DVD writers that have come on the market can put about 8.5 GB on a single disc. It seemed like the way to go for the best trade-off on cost, permanence, and sheer capacity. The thought of burning lots of cheap CDs reminded me of those automated floppy disk loaders of yesteryear.
In searching for a good dual-layer DVD-R, I bumped into another innovation: LightScribe, a method of burning text and graphics onto the label side of specially made CD-R and DVD-R media. LightScribe uses CD and DVD burning technology to write grayscale images.
Surprisingly Affordable -- LaCie announced months ago the only Mac-supported drive with LightScribe: the d2 DVD+/-RW with LightScribe 16x. I was sure it would cost a small fortune given that it included FireWire 400, dual-layer DVD+R, and full DVD+RW and DVD-RW (and CD-R and CD-RW) on top of LightScribe.
But it was only $170 for a version that also includes USB 2.0; $200 gets you a FireWire-only drive bundled with Toast Titanium 6 software from Roxio (separately $80), while it's just $120 for an internal EIDE drive with no software. Toast has been updated to handle Tiger and dual-layer discs, as well as DVD+RW.
I bought the FireWire/USB version of the drive, which was delayed in its release by about a month after its original delivery estimate. I received mine weeks ago and was a little baffled by the separate LightScribe software included by LaCie. Call me an idiot, please, as I didn't read the directions fully and couldn't get a label to burn.
The secret? You have to flip the disc so that the label side is down and the lasers can etch it. Burn, Flip, Burn is plastered all over the media, the software, the associated Web sites. In my defense, I've been a father for nine months, and we all know what that does to the synapses.
I purchased a few spindles of CD-R and single layer DVD-R media - there's no dual-layer DVD-R LightScribe media yet that I could find - and started playing with the latest version of LaCie's software (also recently updated for Tiger).
LightScribe Software -- The LightScribe software has a decent set of editing tools for text, images, and graphic primitives like lines and squares. Because it's highly typical you'd want type to appear on a curve on a disc label, several tools let you curve or re-center type, which can use any fonts on your Mac. You can place a background image and then use layers to control other images placed on the label.
You can burn a disc label using a number of prefabricated templates, and you can edit those templates, replacing elements. Labels can be made with varying degrees of coverage: a full disc label took about 30 minutes to burn onto the disc, while a title label which uses just a thick band around the center took 7 minutes. There's even a very thin band setting that takes just 2 minutes.
The software enables you to burn multiples of whatever you create, and even add to the burned image. For instance, you might burn a pile of discs with the same title band and then go back and use a mask to just add images to special ones.
Images so far are in grayscale, but there's no good reason that technological advances couldn't allow for some manner of color. You can import and use color within the LightScribe software, which converts everything at the printing stage to a grayscale BMP image.
Labeling Trends -- If you look at the trend for CD and DVD labeling, it started with providing a surface on which permanent markers would write - although there's evidence that those markers could degrade media over time - and progressed to various ways to put fancier labels on discs that simulated the silkscreening used for mass-produced discs.
That took us through sheets of disc-shaped adhesive labels designed to be printed on, and then the labels applied to discs; to special disc printers that could use special ink-jet receptive media; to general-purpose printers that can handle printing to discs with the right coating.
LightScribe is a natural extension of that desire to label the disc with as much ease as burning it, as well as to produce a label that looks as good as what you've put on the disc. I compared prices for low volume silkscreen printing with LightScribe media and LightScribe comes out quite well. CDPrintExpress will silkscreen 50 CDs for $110 including media, shipping, and handling, while 60 blank LightScribe-capable Verbatim CD-Rs cost about $42 with shipping. That's $2 versus 70 cents. (Of course, burning 60 LightScribe disc labels would take approximately 30 hours and involves direct action on your part to load and flip the discs.)
LightScribe speeds are slated to double later this year, and I expect that this first wave of technology will seem quaintly slow in a year or two, just as an original CD burner taking 30 minutes or more to burn a single disc seems ridiculous in an era of 40x CD-Rs that can do the same task in three or four minutes.
by Adam C. Engst <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It's 11:00 PM, and we're in moderately heavy traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge on our way into New York City. Our directions, passed down in the family for generations (well, at least it seems that way) say to take the second exit after the bridge. Counting down, it's exit 9, then exit 8A, then exit 8... clearly we should take exit 8A, except that 8A is for I-87, whereas we're supposed to be getting on the wonderfully named Sprain Brook Parkway next. Traffic's moving too quickly, and I've already committed to exiting by the time Tonya has realized that we really should have taken exit 8.
Under normal circumstances, this mistake would have been cause for much gnashing of teeth, rending of hair, and unkind words directed, at the least, at the transportation engineers who designed the confusing interchange. But these aren't normal circumstances, and we're driving with the aid of a Garmin StreetPilot c330 GPS device that is calmly, without allowing even the barest hint of peevishness in its voice, giving us directions that will take us to the Throgs Neck Bridge via the Hutchinson River Parkway. At 11:00 PM at night. In the dark. On roads we've never before seen. And it does so with complete success, directing us to the hotel in Queens where my family has gathered to attend my grandfather's funeral the next day.
The funeral was unanticipated, though due the medical care being committed upon my grandfather, not entirely surprising. Nonetheless, we had only 24 hours notice, a TidBITS issue to edit, a DealBITS drawing to coordinate, several deadlines related to our Take Control of Tiger collection for Peachpit, and the usual packing and trip preparation. Luckily, I was able to lay my hands on the StreetPilot c330 to test in the real-world mean streets (and freeways and expressways and parkways and turnpikes) of New York City. New York may not be the ultimate test of a GPS, but it certainly ranks up there in terms of complex and stressful driving.
Last week, when I wrote about using the Motorola i58sr GPS-enabled cell phone, I noted that I was disappointed in its reliance on having a clear cell signal to download instructions, the lousy interface for entering destinations, and more. The StreetPilot c330 addressed all those issues and fared poorly in only some comparisons. And well it should, given that its suggested retail price is $964.27.
In the Flesh -- Physically, the StreetPilot c330 is well-designed, and far more so than the GPS-enabled cell phone. Rather than the candy bar shape of the cell phone, which forces the screen to be relatively small to make room for the keys, the StreetPilot c330 is nothing but screen. It ends up looking similar to a dehydrated original iMac - slightly lozenge-like. Its 3.5-inch (8.9 cm) backlit screen offers 320 by 240 resolution with 16-bit color; almost all functions are accessible via the touch screen, eliminating the need for a keypad of any sort. It features an integrated lithium battery with a reputed 4-hour battery life; our trips to and from New York City were in the 3.5 hour range, and we had no problems with the battery conking out. The only physical controls are a rotary volume knob and an on/off switch. It fits snugly into a decently designed suction cup mount that attaches firmly to the windshield.
The screen was clear and easy to read, except in bright sun, and wearing sunglasses to combat the bright sun made the screen only harder to read (that was one area where the monochrome screen of the GPS-enabled cell phone succeeded). At dusk, the StreetPilot c330 automatically changed the display colors from a yellow background to a black background to reduce the distraction of a bright light in the driver's field of vision. The touch screen itself worked flawlessly, and the device proved trivial to use without reading any directions at all.
Having a battery, which isn't standard across competing devices, proved to be particularly helpful, since that meant we could use the StreetPilot c330 while leaving our iPod in the DLO TransPod plugged into the single outlet in our Honda Civic. We dislike the TransPod and will replace it at some point, but for now, it's a functional solution to the problem of how to listen to the iPod in the car with a minimum of cabling snaking around the cabin. If we needed to plug two units into the same outlet, there are apparently adapters that provide a pair of outlets from one. Unfortunately, the StreetPilot c330's plug was integrated into the suction cup mount, so it was impossible to avoid its dangling cable even when we were running from battery power. The StreetPilot c330 also comes with an AC adapter that charges the battery from a normal wall outlet.
All in Its Head -- One key reason for testing the StreetPilot c330 for this trip was that it had all its maps pre-loaded, eliminating the need to figure out how to load maps from a PC via USB. I have an old Garmin eTrex Legend handheld GPS, and loading maps into it requires a PC with a serial cable (a USB adapter might work, but since I have an old PC that does nothing but load maps into the GPS, I haven't looked into making it work on my newer PC). Although I'm confident that I could have done the map loading, I dislike being forced to use a PC, and the software is neither Mac-compatible nor will it work (reportedly) with Virtual PC. More to the point, I didn't have the time or energy to load maps before this trip. Also loaded automatically was a database of points-of-interest; we had no opportunity to use it since the trip was so focused. One downside of the StreetPilot c330 (and all devices from Garmin, I believe) is that it comes with only a single free update; after that database upgrades cost an extra $150 (prices vary with other parts of the world), which feels excessive after buying a nearly $1,000 device.
Using the StreetPilot c330's interface is simple and elegant. Upon powering up, it displays two buttons: Where To? and View Map. Clicking Where To? walks you through the process of entering an address: state, city, street number, and street name. At each point, the StreetPilot c330 provides a list from which to choose as soon as it has seen enough characters to narrow the choices. For instance, I had to enter only IT before it guessed "Ithaca" properly, although, oddly, it wouldn't accept two-letter state abbreviations. Annoyingly, and I gather that this is true of other GPS devices as well, it was persnickety about the city. In New York City, different areas have different city names, so even though we were in Queens, in New York City, we had to know that the hotel was actually in the city of Bayside and my grandparents' old house (where Tonya and Tristan and my sister and I all visited when we had some free time) was in actually in Fresh Meadows, even though we'd always written Jamaica for the city in their address. When possible, the StreetPilot c330 remembered the current state and city so all I had to do was click the New York button instead of entering New York as the state each time.
Although the StreetPilot c330 has only a single female voice, it was clear and easily understood at all times, though we did have to max out the volume in most freeway and city driving. Occasionally, on smaller streets, I lowered the volume a notch for aural comfort. I didn't particularly need a choice of voices (I gather that people with the beginnings of hearing loss appreciate a choice), but the main thing I found disappointing about the StreetPilot c330 was that it has only a small vocabulary that covers the words necessary to say how to turn, what direction to turn, and how far away the turn is. The GPS-enabled phone also spoke the name of the road we were turning onto, which was great, since it eliminated the need to look at the screen at all. Since the StreetPilot c330 lacked that feature, I found myself constantly glancing at the screen to see the name of the next turn, and although I'd positioned it well for that use, anything that distracts from looking at the road can be dangerous.
That said, I found looking at the 3-D map display particularly helpful in two situations. First, when we were driving quickly on Route 17 toward New York City at night, there were sometimes major curves in the road that I couldn't anticipate in the dark. But seeing them represented a few hundred meters ahead on the StreetPilot c330's screen enabled me to tell what was coming up. Similarly, when exiting from freeways, being able to see what squirrelly off-ramps looked like ahead of time was extremely welcome.
The StreetPilot c330 has a decent set of options, although I gather that other devices may offer more. For instance, the slightly more expensive Garmin StreetPilot 2620 can accept a series of destinations in a route and can theoretically route around temporary problems such as traffic jams or roadwork (not automatically, the user must specify roads to avoid, though we would have been happy to do that while we were caught in terrible traffic on the Cross-Bronx Expressway on the way home). It also lets the user choose whether it should prefer large, medium, or small roads and includes a remote so a passenger can interact with it without leaning forward all the time. But on the downside, it can't run from battery and looks more complex to use.
You Get What You Pay For -- I can't say for sure if the StreetPilot c330 will prove to be the GPS navigation device we end up with. Aside from the difficulty of reading the screen in direct sunlight and its inability to read the names of turns out loud, we liked it a lot, and if it were the only option, we'd be happy with it. But at discount prices starting around $750 and with the promise of one or more $150 database upgrades in the distant future, it's not cheap, and we don't do that much driving in unfamiliar areas. Of course, we'd probably rationalize some of the cost by lending it to family and friends on occasions when we didn't need it, but still... And now that we've been bitten by the GPS navigation bug, additional research into competing units from Garmin, along with Magellan and TomTom, is clearly in order. For more anecdotal reviews of other GPS devices, be sure to read the TidBITS Talk thread that's collecting excellent comments from other TidBITS readers.
In thinking about how to reduce the cost, I also researched the Garmin StreetPilot c320, which differs only in that it comes with a 128 MB SD card for holding maps, which must be loaded from a PC. It reportedly accepts SD cards up to 1 GB for holding lots of maps, which would add about $75, but since the StreetPilot c320 costs only slightly less than $700 at discount, there wouldn't be any particular savings over the pre-loaded c330.
Oh, remember the problem with our family directions? It turns out that exit 8A is relatively recent, and when the directions were written, it didn't exist. Change happens, but it won't cost anything to get new directions from my mother.
by TidBITS Staff <email@example.com>
The second URL below each thread description points to the discussion on our Web Crossing server, which will be faster.
Voice-enabled GPS navigation devices -- Adam's recent experiences with GPS navigation devices prompts discussion about other products and which features to look for. (25 messages)
Battery Life in Bluetooth Mice -- Wireless mice seem to vary widely in their battery consumption, though the type of batteries (rechargeable versus alkaline) seems to make a difference. (13 messages)
X11 and pre-installed copies of Tiger -- Apple's X11 for Mac OS X is not installed by default in Tiger, but readers point out how to install it on a Mac with Tiger pre-installed. (3 messages)
GPS devices for MACINTOSH -- What's the Macintosh user to do when all the GPS devices seem to work only with PCs? (3 messages)
Spotlight Documentation - NOT -- After installing Mac OS X 10.4, one reader is underwhelmed by the upgrade's new features and Spotlight documentation. (1 message)
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.
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