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The debate surrounding Apple and Greenpeace continues, as Adam looks at responses to the environmental topics raised at Apple's annual shareholder meeting and finds a better measurement scale from the Green Electronics Council. He also looks into why fax technology isn't yet pining for the fjords and what the Danes have against Apple (and the iBook G4's logic board). In the news, we look at the releases of Microsoft Office 11.3.5, Apple's Pro Application Support 4.0, PopChar X 3.2, the promising Encyclopedia of Life, and the Macworld Apple TV Superguide.

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Microsoft Releases Office 2004 11.3.5 Update

  by Jeff Carlson <>

Microsoft has issued an update to Office 2004 for Mac, which the company says includes "fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer's memory with malicious code." The update is 58.5 MB, largely because it also includes all previous Office 2004 updates, and is available as a stand-alone download or via the Microsoft AutoUpdate application.

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Apple Releases Pro Application Support 4.0

  by Jeff Carlson <>

Apple has released Pro Application Support 4.0, a non-specific update that "improves general user interface reliability for Apple's professional applications." Affected programs include Final Cut Studio, Final Cut Pro, Motion, Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Aperture, Final Cut Express HD, Soundtrack, Logic Pro, and Logic Express. I'm guessing this release heralds the arrival of Final Cut Studio 2, which is expected to ship this month (see "Apple Announces Final Cut Studio 2, Final Cut Server," 2007-04-16). The update is available via Software Update or as a 7.6 MB stand-alone download.

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Encyclopedia of Life Launches

  by Adam C. Engst <>

A number of high profile scientific institutions joined together last week to announce the Encyclopedia of Life, a global project to document on a Web site every one of the 1.8 million named species of animals, plants, and other organisms. In essence, the Encyclopedia of Life will run along some of the same lines as the Wikipedia, although contributions may be limited to scientists with expertise in the subject, a restriction that may both slow the growth of the project and avoid some of the errors and argumentativeness that exist in Wikipedia. But from the standpoint of those who need information about living organisms, the Encyclopedia of Life's demonstration pages look extremely promising, bringing together written information, photos, video, audio, maps, and more, and presenting it all in an interface that can be scaled to the reader's level of experience. There isn't any live information yet, but it's worth viewing the demo pages, reading the FAQs, and watching the video on the main page.

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PopChar X 3.2 Gets More Subtle

  by Adam C. Engst <>

Along with fixing a variety of bugs, Ergonis Software's recently released PopChar X 3.2 font utility adds an option to hide the application's corner "P" unless the cursor is nearby, something regular users might appreciate, whereas less frequent users may prefer the constant reminder of PopChar's presence. (See "PopChar X 3.0 Improves Usability," 2006-07-03, for a more detailed description.) Other improvements include an option to highlight recently selected characters for easier re-use, faster display rendering, and an architectural change to make PopChar X resolution-independent for future Mac OS X releases. PopChar X 3.2 is free for customers who purchased within the last two years; new copies cost 30 euros and upgrades are 15 euros. The program requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or newer, and is a 1.7 MB download.

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DealBITS Drawing: Parallels on USB Drive from Small Dog

  by Adam C. Engst <>

A year ago, I might have needed to explain this week's DealBITS drawing in more detail. But a year ago, virtualization - the capability to run Windows and other PC operating systems on an Intel-based Mac - was just getting started, and Parallels Desktop hadn't yet become the must-have application for anyone who needs to use Windows applications on a Mac.

This week's drawing is a bit unusual, since the prize - from Small Dog Electronics - is a copy of Parallels Desktop on a 512 MB Kingston USB drive, worth $69.99. Entrants who aren't among our lucky winners will receive a discount on it from Small Dog, so be sure to enter at the drawing page. All information gathered is covered by our comprehensive privacy policy. Be careful with your spam filters and challenge-response systems, since you must be able to receive email from my address to learn if you've won. Remember too, that if someone you refer to this drawing wins, you'll receive the same prize as a reward for spreading the word.

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Danes Publicize iBook G4 Defect

  by Adam C. Engst <>

The Consumer Complaints Board of the National Consumer Agency in Denmark is claiming to have found evidence of a manufacturing flaw in Apple's iBook G4 - defective solder joints that fail after a year or more of use. Because the solder joints in question are for a component that controls power flow, iBook G4s afflicted with this problem reportedly shut off or display a blank screen. The most common workaround for the problem is to apply additional pressure to the area to the left of the trackpad with a clamp or internal shims.

The iBook G4 was introduced in October 2003 and discontinued in May 2006, when it was replaced with the MacBook. Ironically, the PowerPC G3-based iBook models that the iBook G4 itself replaced also had troubles with their logic boards, prompting Apple to issue a repair program for certain iBook models back in January 2004 (see "Apple Announces Replacements for Some iBook Logic Boards," 2004-02-02 and our followup in "iBook Repair Program Extended," 2004-06-21). But the discussions of the problems suffered by the older models sound awfully similar to the problems encountered by iBook G4 owners. The chatter on the Applefritter site follows much the same path, identifying a weak solder joint and sharing the clamp and shim workarounds. For even more detail, you can read the lab report commissioned by the Danish board.

Apple has settled a number of cases in Denmark after the release of the report. The question, of course, is if Apple will create another repair program to address this problem worldwide, something the more than 2,000 signatories to an online petition have joined Denmark's Consumer Complaints Board in asking for. Apple didn't respond to our request for comment.

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PageSender 4.0 Shows Fax Isn't Dead

  by Adam C. Engst <>

Fax is dead, right? After all, you don't see ultra-hip Web 2.0 sites trumpeting their fax services, and the Internet in general has surely supplanted the lowly fax machine, hasn't it? And if you do need to fax a document, Mac OS X has fax capabilities built in.

Not so fast. If fax were dead, surely SmileOnMyMac wouldn't waste their time updating their five-year-old fax program PageSender, which they just did. Along with its existing features for sending and receiving faxes, PageSender 4.0 features spam fax filtering, PDF cover pages, direct lookup of numbers from Address Book, font and style control over the cover page text, and an improved preview capability. It's easy to use from the Print dialog, scriptable, and provides oodles of features lacking from Mac OS X 10.4's fax function. PageSender 4.0 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. It's $40, and registered users who purchased before 2007 can upgrade for $20; it's free for anyone who bought a copy this year.

(Amusingly, SmileOnMyMac made a special birthday cake for PageSender and then used it to bribe a bunch of kids into singing Happy Birthday to the program. Speaking as a parent, listening to a mother try to get one toddler to use a fork instead of his hands gives the video the ultimate aura of authenticity. And while PageSender may be 5 years old, fax technology itself dates back to 1843.)

I try to use faxes as little as possible, and when I do, I send via our stand-alone fax machine and I receive via MaxEmail (see "Replacing eFax with MaxEmail," 2005-04-04). Curious as to who could really be using PageSender, I asked Jean MacDonald at SmileOnMyMac about it.

She forwarded me the results of a survey they did of 500 random PageSender users. The survey had a 10 percent response rate, and of the responses, half said they definitely saw themselves using faxes in 5 years, a quarter said "probably/maybe/less and less" and a quarter said "no/hope not." The other two questions were: "What do you fax?" and "Why can't it be emailed?"

For the most part, survey respondents agreed with John Baughman of BY'te DESIGN Hawaii, who said that he faxes documents, especially those that need signatures, to groups like governmental agencies, banks, or insurance companies. Others relied on the fax for sending medical records, lab results, construction bid proposals, sketches and art proofs, purchase orders, order confirmations, and more.

More surprising though, was that nearly every respondent talked about how the reason they used faxes was because recipients required faxes. As Walter Kicinski said, "Some people want documents faxed - mostly business applications that may involve forms. We use fax because that is what they want."

Reasons for requiring faxes ranged from organizations that have large centralized fax reception capabilities, easier compliance with the medical HIPAA regulations, lack of email in construction company offices, and some level of added security by eliminating the ISP middlemen. Only a few people said that fax was easier to deal with than email, and in most of those cases, the problem revolved around dealing with file formats, attachment sizes for large graphics, or having to print the received attachment just so it could be signed and faxed back.

In the end, although fax may not be sexy, it's functional. As much as it may be hard for those of us who have spent most of our professional lives in the era of email to realize, large portions of the business world still haven't adopted email for certain types of critical communications. For the form that needs a signature right away, just fax it.

But hey, where possible, let's try to create a technological environment (with better file formats, easy and secure digital signatures, and online forms) that enables these people to wean themselves from 19th century technology, OK? Shoveling coal into the fax machine is getting old.

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Steve Jobs Addresses Greenpeace at Shareholders Meeting

  by Adam C. Engst <>

At Apple's annual shareholders' meeting on 10-May-07, the company's environmental efforts played a large role, though one that was undoubtedly reduced in contentiousness by Steve Jobs's open letter, "A Greener Apple," which I analyzed in "Steve Jobs Talks Green" (2007-05-07). In that letter, Jobs laid out what Apple is doing today and plans to do in the future to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in manufacturing Macs and iPods, and to increase the level of recycling of old equipment.

Shareholder Proposals -- In particular, the letter caused two proposals regarding Apple's manufacturing and recycling efforts to be withdrawn by their presenters, Trillium Asset Management and the As You Sow Foundation, before being voted upon. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Nevertheless, the groups urged Apple to assume a leadership role among other tech companies in recycling old products and removing toxic chemicals from new products." A different take on the same words came from Roughly Drafted, which wrote, "Both groups praised Apple's new public commitments, saying that their immediate concerns had been addressed satisfactorily, and that they hoped to continue progress on future goals with the company." Notice how the first quote implies the groups weren't entirely happy, whereas the second presents a more positive retelling?

Apple vs. Greenpeace -- Then there was the interaction with Greenpeace representatives. Roughly Drafted painted an evocative picture:

"Those comments didn't stop Greenpeace representatives from using the meeting as an opportunity to advertise the group's anti-Apple campaign. Among the activists sent by Greenpeace was Iza Kruszewska, one of the key architects of the corporation's Apple-oriented fundraising program. Kruszewska was wearing a Greenpeace t-shirt styled after the former iPod ads, presenting Apple's products as dangerously toxic and encouraging user donations to Greenpeace to somehow solve that issue. After attempting to take credit for Apple's announcements, Kruszewska questioned Jobs about Apple's potential to do more to advance Greenpeace's political goals in announcing principles, but Jobs insisted that such 'flowery' announcements were not really doing anything for the environment."

In contrast, Macworld wrote, "Two representatives from Greenpeace were present at the meeting and congratulated Jobs and Apple for the company's commitment to the environment." Again, depending on which you read, you come away with a rather different impression.

However, both described Jobs's response to Greenpeace in similar terms - Macworld's "Jobs had strong words" and Roughly Drafted's "Jobs also blasted." And here's where it gets interesting. Macworld quoted Jobs as saying:

"I think your organization particularly depends too much on principle and not enough on fact. You guys rate people based on what people say their plans are in the distant future, not what they are doing today. I think you put way too much weight on these glorified principles and way too little weight on science and engineering. It would be very helpful if your organization hired a few more engineers and actually entered into dialog with companies to find out what they are really doing and not just listen to all the flowery language when in reality most of them aren't doing anything."

In other words, Jobs agrees with my criticism of Greenpeace's scorecard in last week's article, where I complained that the scores aren't based on quantitative measurement, but on public statements. Needless to say, Jobs didn't follow the thought to its logical conclusion, which is that those who are concerned about Apple's environmental efforts have nothing more to go on than Apple's public statements. Macworld reported that Jobs then offered to help Greenpeace and other environmental groups improve their measuring technology such that future scorecards could be based on science, not statements. That's very much along the lines of my call for quantitative rankings, though I'd like to see something that could be independently verified as well.

I also remain struck by the differing language used by the various publications and how that mirrors the problem as a whole - when all we have to go on are words, it's hard to know where on the continuum reality lies.

Enter EPEAT -- After last week's article, reader Jerry Zernicke pointed me to an Ars Technica article mentioning another system to help purchasers evaluate the environmental impact of particular computer models. EPEAT, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, is a project of the Green Electronics Council, itself part of the International Sustainable Development Foundation. Funding for the three-year development and implementation of EPEAT, which launched in July 2006, came from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to Scot Case of the Green Electronics Council, the development process included environmental non-profit groups, academics, government officials, professional IT purchasers, manufacturers, computer recyclers, and others.

Although EPEAT seems both more comprehensive and more specific than Greenpeace's Green Electronics Guide, it too relies a good deal on public statements from the companies whose products are being evaluated. Where I think it stands out is in its product verification policy, whereby EPEAT periodically selects particular products to verify that they meet the standards as claimed by their manufacturers. This verification process can include just requesting more information from the manufacturer, or it might involve detailed laboratory analysis or even destructive disassembly.

On the EPEAT scale, there are 23 required criteria and 28 optional criteria in 8 categories. To qualify for bronze status, a product must meet all the required criteria. Silver status requires all the required criteria plus at least 50 percent of the optional criteria. And gold status ups that percentage of optional criteria met to 75 percent.

430 systems earned the EPEAT's bronze status, and of those, 374 went on to earn silver, including all of Apple's products. No systems qualify for gold status. In the Integrated Systems category, only three systems merited silver status at all, the 17-inch, 20-inch, and 24-inch iMacs, each with 16 of 28 points. In the Notebooks category, Apple's 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pros were also at the top of the list, with 19 of 28 optional points (no mention was made of the MacBook). For Desktops, the Mac Pro garnered 17 points, with only one manufacturer's PC picking up 18 points. Similarly, in the Monitors category, Apple's 20-inch, 23-inch, and 30-inch Cinema Displays were only 1 point away from the top, with 16 points each (a number of NEC monitors received 17 points).

On EPEAT's ratings, then, Apple is doing well in comparison to other manufacturers, though there's still plenty of room to improve. The iMacs may have been alone in the silver, but 16 of 28 points is only 57 percent, just enough to squeak in. In comparison, the Gateway Profile computers also in the Integrated Systems category didn't pick up any optional points at all.

Other Coverage -- My article last week generated a bit more coverage than normal, with the Guardian Unlimited quoting a bit in a piece arguing that people don't care much about how environmentally friendly their computer is. To bolster that point, the article pointed out that Jobs's "Thoughts on Music" open letter generated postings on about 6,200 blogs according to Technorati and 3,300 according to Google Blog Search. In comparison, "A Greener Apple" generated posts on only 860 blogs tracked by Technorati or 450 according to Google Blog Search. (My double-checking of those numbers showed that they had increased only slightly since.)

It's an interesting approach, since it would imply that people feel more strongly about DRM than corporate environmental policies. That may be because DRM is a purely artificial construct that's functionally unnecessary and could be removed in short order throughout the industry if there were sufficient desire, whereas most people recognize that elimination of toxic chemicals and complete recycling of old hardware is a worthy goal, but one that certainly can't be reached quickly through changing the minds of a few executives.

I also had an enjoyable conversation with Shawn King of Your Mac Life on the 09-May-07 show. My 20-minute segment starts about 72 minutes in (mostly easily found by opening the URL in QuickTime Player), after Shawn finishes up talking with Greg Scown of SmileOnMyMac about PageSender - amusingly, they end up discussing several points from my article "PageSender 4.0 Shows Fax Isn't Dead," (2007-05-09) at about 65 minutes. We talked about the Jobs letter, and Shawn, as always, asked great questions and directed the conversation in amusing and insightful ways.

In the end, whether Greenpeace or the Apple shareholders were responsible in any way for Steve Jobs's letter, or if Apple merely decided that now was the time to make environmental responsibility part of the Apple brand, is immaterial. We all need to be able to look past the specifics of the present and focus on the overall goal of making the environmental impact of our electronics as minimal as possible. If we consumers and the industry as a whole don't start paying to maintain a clean environment now, we'll all pay later.

Let's be clear. As with every other environmental push, this isn't about saving the Earth. The planet couldn't care less. Instead, it's about maintaining an environment that's conducive for us, one that we as a species not only can tolerate but actively want to live in. Many people see environmentalism as some sort of altruistic desire to improve quality of life in ways few people would notice, often for unknown people in other parts of the world. But it's more than that - with a longer-term view, environmentalism is both appropriately selfish and necessary for the survival of the human species.

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Take Control News/14-May-07

  by Adam C. Engst <>

Learn All About Your Apple TV -- Whether you're an early adopter of the Apple TV or still considering adding one to your home entertainment system, we have a new ebook for you. Our friends at Macworld (many of whom also write for Take Control) have been working with the Apple TV since the day it was released, and they've brought together everything they've learned about it in the "Macworld Apple TV Superguide," the latest in Macworld's series of electronic books.

Inside, you'll find help setting up the Apple TV, navigating its interface, and managing your media - video, music, and photos - for easy access on the Apple TV. Should anything go wrong, an extensive troubleshooting section covers common problems and solutions. After a while, you may find the Apple TV's 40 GB hard disk limiting, at which point you can refer to the ebook's step-by-step, illustrated instructions for replacing the disk with a larger one.

There's even a very short section on choosing an HDTV, if you don't already have one, but honestly, if you're in the market for such a TV, read Clark Humphrey's "Take Control of Digital TV" for a much more in-depth discussion of what all the jargon means and how to choose the best set for your needs. As incentive, we're offering $5 off if you buy both ebooks together.

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Hot Topics in TidBITS Talk/14-May-07

  by TidBITS Staff <>

Skype on MacBook Pro -- A reader encounters poor performance using Skype's Voice-over-IP service, but is the problem in his network connection or audio input source? (11 messages)

Timeslips in Parallels -- Are others encountering a problem running the program Timeslips in virtualization? (1 message)

ICeCoffEE functionality everywhere -- Recent discussion of old Apple Data Detectors technology leads to an awareness of how it's hard to find a solution as easy as Command-clicking a URL to open it in a Web page. (4 messages)

MacBook drive failure? A hard drive is acting up - time to break out DiskWarrior? Yes, but using an old version could prove disastrous. (8 messages)

Encrypted disk image won't close -- Readers offer solutions for a disk image that wants to stick around. (7 messages)

Wired or wireless network for a graphics lab? A computer lab is moving to a new location, which is an excellent time to reevaluate infrastructure. For graphics-focused machines, is it worth stringing cable, or can a wireless network handle the data throughput needs? (5 messages)

Treo 755 Review -- The latest Palm Treo is found to be underwhelming; is a mystery device on the horizon, or will the iPhone knock Palm out of its own market? (2 messages)

Losing Address Book Data -- What's a good solution for automatically backing up Address Book, given that a reader has watched its database implode on several occasions? (2 messages)

Apple TV -- The Apple TV won't stream Internet radio from a computer or over the Internet, which dampens a reader's enthusiasm for the device. (1 message)

Remembering passwords -- Is it a good idea to carry your passwords written in your wallet? Perhaps, but with a little trickery. (2 messages)

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