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TidBITS#892/13-Aug-07

If you're wondering why Mac writers get twitchy when Apple goes quiet for a few months, last week's deluge of product announcements provides the answer. At a special press event on Tuesday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs released new aluminum iMacs along with iLife '08 (including a completely new iMovie application) and iWork '08, now supplemented by Apple's new spreadsheet application Numbers. That would be enough for most companies, but Apple also upgraded the Mac mini and the AirPort Extreme Base Station, and rolled out bug-fix and compatibility updates for the new iMac, the new aluminum Apple Keyboard, Mac Pro desktops and the latest MacBook Pro models. Also this week, Charles Maurer notes a new direction for Asiva photo editing plug-ins and Glenn Fleishman points to increased storage for Google services plus troubles for KisMAC due to a new German law.
 
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Apple Releases New Aluminum iMacs, Refreshes Mac mini

  by TidBITS Staff <editors@tidbits.com>

In last week's "special event" presentation, Apple CEO Steve Jobs whipped through the announcement of the much-anticipated new iMacs with an almost cursory spin through a change in industrial design that updates the current iMac look. The new iMac comes in 20-inch and 24-inch models (bye-bye, 17-inch iMac), is much thinner, and is built largely of glass and a single sheet of aluminum instead of the previous white polycarbonate. In a nod to the recent hullabaloo about Apple's green credentials (see "Steve Jobs Talks Green," 2007-05-07), Jobs even called attention to the fact that the two materials are highly recyclable.

[View image]

As with the previous iMac models, the new iMac includes a built-in iSight video camera and microphone, an infrared port (with an Apple Remote for talking to it), and a slot-loading SuperDrive (with dual-layer support). In a row along the back, the new iMac offers audio input and output jacks, three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 400 and one FireWire 800 port, gigabit Ethernet, and DVI video out (you'll need a separate adaptor, for about $20, if you want to use it). 1 GB of RAM is standard, upgradable to 4 GB (by removing just one screw, the only one that's visible), and 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.0 are built-in. Base models are accompanied by a keyboard (for more about that, read on) and Mighty Mouse. In a move that may be controversial, the glossy screen is also standard.

The 20-inch iMac at $1,199 includes a 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and a 250 GB hard drive with an ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT graphics card with 128 MB of GDDR3 memory; switching to a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, a 320 GB drive, and an ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro with 256 MB of GDDR3 memory increases the price to $1,499. The 24-inch iMac drops in price by $200 to $1,799 and includes the same 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 320 GB hard drive, and ATI Radeon card as the mid-level model. A souped-up version of that model with a 2.8 GHz Core 2 Extreme processor, 500 GB hard drive, and 2 GB of RAM costs $2,299. You can also purchase the base 24-inch model with a 2.8 GHz Core 2 Extreme for an additional $250. All the new models are currently available, and include the just-released iLife '08.

As far as we can tell, the Core 2 Extreme processor used in the new iMac differs primarily from the Core 2 Duo in clock speed, although it also features something called an "unlocked multiplier" that enables it to be over-clocked to run at higher clock speeds for greater performance. Although there are quad-core instances of the Core 2 Extreme, Apple appears to be using only a dual-core version. Interestingly, the fact that the Core 2 Extreme used in the iMac has an 800 MHz front-side bus points to it being the X7800, which Intel lists as running at a 2.6 GHz clock speed, suggesting that Apple has taken advantage of the unlocked multiplier to clock it up to 2.8 GHz.

Apple also released the new Apple Keyboard, an incredibly thin input device that's reminiscent of the keyboard used in the company's laptops (it's only 0.33 inches/8.3 mm tall, as opposed to the 0.99 inch/25.1 mm height of the previous Apple Pro keyboard). The $49 wired model, which accompanies the new iMacs in their base configuration, uses USB (and provides a pair of USB 2.0 ports); a $79 wireless model, available with the iMacs as a build-to-order option, relies instead on Bluetooth, while dropping the USB 2.0 ports. Both keyboards offer, along with all the usual keys, dedicated keys for Mac OS X features like Exposť and Dashboard, along with media keys for play/pause, eject, brightness, and volume.

[View image]

Also refreshed was the Mac mini, which switched from a choice of 1.66 or 1.83 GHz Core Duo processors to 1.83 GHz or 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo processors. The base model includes 1 GB of memory, up from 512 MB and expandable to 2 GB. Other features remain unchanged, including only 802.11g Wi-Fi, and four USB 2.0 ports.

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Hardware-Related Updates Follow Apple Announcements

  by Jeff Carlson <jeffc@tidbits.com>

Not long after Steve Jobs left the stage at last week's Apple press event, a succession of small updates began to pop up, some of which applied to the brand-new machines themselves. The following updates are available via Software Update or as stand-alone downloads.

People who unpacked their new aluminum iMacs were treated to iMac Software Update 1.0, which provides unspecified "important bug fixes." It's a 5.1 MB download.

The Keyboard Software Update 1.1 is intended for people who purchased the aluminum Apple Keyboard separately and enables features such as the remapped function keys that adjust brightness and activate Exposť. The update, a 32.1 MB download, covers both the wired and wireless versions, though the latter isn't expected to ship until next month.

The Mac Pro SMC Firmware Update 1.1 applies to Apple's desktop tower Macs and adjusts the fan behavior; it's a 544K download.

The company's latest professional laptops also gained a boost in the form of MacBook Pro Software Update 1.1, which contains important bug fixes and also addresses issues with Motion versions 2 and 3. The 14.7 MB download applies to the 2.2 GHz and 2.4 GHz MacBook Pro models.

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Numbers Joins iWork '08

  by TidBITS Staff <editors@tidbits.com>

Along with the new iMacs and iLife '08, Steve Jobs unveiled iWork '08 last week, which updates Pages and Keynote and adds the long-rumored spreadsheet, Numbers. iWork '08 is available for $79; as with iLife and previous versions of iWork, no upgrade discounts were announced.


Numbers -- Apple's spreadsheet application Numbers gives number-crunching a distinctly iWork look, with customizable templates to help even the most math-phobic individual. Instead of a large expanse of empty cells, Numbers appears to treat the document as a blank canvas on which you add "intelligent tables" that provide spreadsheet functionality. Of course, you can add (and move) other elements on that document page, including 2D and 3D charts, images, text labels, and photos. It almost appears as if Apple designed Numbers to be as much a presentation tool as Keynote.

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Numbers also imports and exports Microsoft Excel 2007 files created in Microsoft's Office Open XML formats and CSV. It can import OFX (Open Financial Exchange) documents, too, and export in PDF. And Numbers introduces an interactive print view, which enables you to scale and rearrange items in a print preview mode before committing the job to paper (no more printing a spreadsheet that ends up awkwardly split between multiple pages).


Keynote -- Steve Jobs's favorite application has been updated with new text effects and transitions, as one might expect, but also with animated action builds that can perform actions such as moving objects along a path and scaling objects over time. Keynote '08 adds "instant alpha," a feature for masking out portions of an image, and voice-over recording, as well as a smart builds feature that creates animations the way one would build a simple slideshow in iPhoto.


Pages -- Speaking as writers, Pages has never floated our collective boat because it has always been a page layout application first, with rudimentary word processing features. Pages '08 could change that with its word processing mode, which is entirely separate from layout mode. Apple has also added something that no company other than Microsoft has in a consumer-level word processor: change tracking. It remains to be seen how capable it is, but we're looking forward to putting it through its paces. Also new is a contextual formatting bar that may be easier to use than the inspector of previous versions, along with 140 Apple-designed templates. Like Numbers, Pages can read Open XML files created with Microsoft Word 2007 in Windows.

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AirPort Base Station Upgraded to Gigabit Ethernet

  by Glenn Fleishman <glenn@tidbits.com>

In the midst of other announcements last week, Apple quietly released an upgraded AirPort Extreme Base Station with 802.11n featuring gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbps) on all four wired ports. While the company didn't release information separately, they contacted me to note the change, and the Apple Store's product listing has been updated. The new base station can be ordered now.

The AirPort Extreme with N had a lot of wonderful features, hard to find elsewhere, in its initial release in February 2007, including a USB port for adding and sharing printers and hard drives. (There are a lot of small problems with the way in which sharing is enabled and managed, however, which I document thoroughly in "Take Control of Your 802.11n AirPort Extreme Network." They may be fixed in this new version.)

Apple also chose to include both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios, putting the AirPort in a rather special class in which either chunk of spectrum could be used. 5 GHz is relatively unoccupied and has a greater span of available frequency, making it ideal for new installations. Most Core 2 Duo Macs (the now-discontinued 17-inch iMac being one exception) also had 802.11n with both radios built in, enabled through a $1.99 Apple Store software purchase or found on the AirPort Extreme with N installation disc.

My primary complaint with the first release of the base station was the lack of gigabit Ethernet, which was especially pronounced given Apple's widespread early inclusion of the fastest common Ethernet flavor in its computers, starting with Power Mac models in 2000. Apple was way ahead of competing computer makers in this regard. And a few other network equipment makers had already released gigabit Ethernet 802.11n routers when Apple's Draft N entry appeared in February, making it an even stranger decision to trail competitors.

I also suspected that the overall performance of the 802.11n draft specification that Apple is using was constricted due to internal Ethernet limits. In my testing for a review in Macworld, I was able to top 90 Mbps in Wi-Fi to Ethernet and Wi-Fi to Wi-Fi transfers, where one computer was transmitting full bore to another. However, I achieved 50 Mbps in each direction (100 Mbps aggregated) when two computers were attempting to send to each other at full speed over Wi-Fi. That 100 Mbps aggregate was closer to the full speed of 802.11n, but the internal networking of the base station was still throttling the bandwidth.

Apple says that their new gigabit Ethernet base station is up to 50 percent faster for wireless-to-wired links, which would put it closer to 150 Mbps, a speed achieved on the few gigabit Ethernet-based Draft N routers from other manufacturers. Apple didn't state numbers for wireless-to-wireless links, which I can understand, because those links can be more variable, and other constraints may apply. I can't wait to test the revised model to see if intra-Wi-Fi links can hit nearly 150 Mbps, too.

When testing the previous version of the base station in February, I discovered that with NAT (Network Address Translation) enabled to share access from an incoming broadband link, performance was restricted to about 30 Mbps from a wireless connection to the broadband side, and 60 Mbps from a wired local connection to the broadband side. Apple confirmed this was a bug that was due to performance issues in their NAT software. Apple wasn't able to tell me if this limitation has been fixed in the latest model, but I am hoping so.

This bug emerges in only two edge cases: where a broadband connection exceeds 30 Mbps, which is true for some fiber and cable customers; or where a corporate or office LAN isn't supplying addresses to the computers connected via the AirPort Extreme. If NAT is turned off, the AirPort gateway has no performance limitations.

The price for the AirPort Extreme Base Station with 802.11n remains $179.

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German Laws Kill KisMAC,Threaten Privacy

  by Glenn Fleishman <glenn@tidbits.com>

The developers of the KisMAC Wi-Fi sniffing and cracking software have removed their code from distribution and halted their efforts, due to a change in German law that came into effect on 11-Aug-07 (article in German). KisMAC could be used for good or evil, but it was primarily a tool for monitoring and evaluating the security of Wi-Fi networks.

System administrators who used Macs were particularly fond of KisMAC. It was also a good way to demonstrate the utter failure of WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) encryption for Wi-Fi when trying to convince people to upgrade to WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), which actually works (see "Step on a WEP Crack, Break Your Network's Back," 2007-04-09).

KisMAC's developers reacted to a small set of changes to section 202 in the German Penal Code. These changes broadened the definition of unauthorized access, and, in section 202c, criminalized both the possession of passwords to such networks and any tools that facilitate extraction of passwords and such. Section 202b says either unauthorized access to a private network or obtaining the data or the wireless transmissions of a computer is illegal, unless the data is intended for you. The penalty is two years imprisonment - the lovely phrase Freiheitsstrafe or "freedom penalty" - or a monetary fine. (Unauthorized access and "data not specifically for you" are two overlapping parts - the one being access or interception, the other being the data itself.)

Section 202c describes punishment of a year in jail or fines if password or security codes to such networks are involved. It likens trafficking in passwords - selling, giving, receiving, etc. - to creating software that allows the extraction of passwords. There's no exemption in the law, as I read it with my rusty German, that allows for research or other mitigating factors.

Thus, KisMAC's ability to exist in Germany is legally invalidated, whether for the developers or those who use the software for any but very limited purposes. Because you give yourself permission to sniff your own network, you might be okay to use KisMAC in Germany, but the law seems to indicate that because infringing purposes are available, the software would be thoroughly outlawed even for in-house testing. If you inadvertently sniffed another network, too, you'd be in trouble even if in-house use were permitted.

These laws are part of a class of law found worldwide in which certain behavior is de facto illegal, regardless of any circumstances. The possession of child pornography, for instance, is so illegal in most of the world that even if you can prove you didn't obtain or view the pornography, you may have no defense against imprisonment. This law provides the same level of indefensibility. The KisMAC developers note that in Germany, possession of child pornography carries twice the jail penalty of this new law.

There's a further, broader set of changes to German law coming in 2008, too, which don't specifically deal with hacking, but which raise similar concerns. The potential new policy covering Vorratsdatenspeicherung - loosely: the retention of stored data - includes all mobile and fixed telephony and data transfers. It has an incredibly overarching effect in requiring firms to retain records about the origin, destination, and location of parties involved in calling, emailing, text messaging, and other activities. A demonstration against the law is scheduled for 22-Sep-07 in Berlin.

As of 06-Aug-07, according to Wikipedia's timeline of the matter, the developers say that a site in the Netherlands should be available "soon." The KisMAC site notes, "KisMAC will live on. Different people. Different country. Same 'threat' to national security." Wikipedia may be the best place to follow developments in KisMAC's future, as the article continues to be updated.

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Asiva Plug-In Demos Now Available

  by Charles Maurer

In my last TidBITS article I wrote that the main reason I use Photoshop is to run Asiva's plug-ins, especially Shift+Gain. Last year Asiva shut up shop, leaving these products unavailable, but they have been purchased by their original developer, who is marketing them again. He is also now, at long last, providing demo versions, making it possible for people to try the products before committing any money. In addition, he has cut their prices and renamed three of the plug-ins to clarify their functions. Here is the line-up. The set of four costs $99.

Current Name      Former Name      Price
----------------------------------------
Correct Color     Shift+Gain       $39
Replace or Apply  Correct+Apply    $39
Sharpen or Blur   Sharpen+Soften   $39
Selection         Selection        $29

These plug-ins allow you to select tones and manipulate them based on their hue, saturation and intensity. Hue, saturation and intensity approximate the perceptual dimensions that the brain works with, so manipulating tones with Asiva's plug-ins is more straightforward than manipulating tones in conventional ways that are analogues of film or are based on the computer's channels of red, green and blue. Asiva's plug-ins enable direct, vector adjustments that would normally require handwork and/or complex masking. Asiva's approach is patented, so these are the only products of their kind.

I use Correct Color for almost every photo, in lieu of all of Photoshop's colour-correcting tools (for details, see "Editing Photographs for the Perfectionist," 2004-09-27, and "Reality and Digital Pictures," 2005-12-12). Replace or Apply is the simplest way I know of to change the colour of a sky or of a discordant piece of clothing or background. Selection lets me select skies and other smooth tones so that I can remove noise only from those areas and retain detail elsewhere. Sharpen or Blur I use occasionally for softening bright elements in portraits.

These plug-ins are available for any version of Photoshop back to 5.5, for any kind of Macintosh or for Windows. The Macintosh demos are universal binaries that will work on an Intel- or PowerPC-based Mac, but they require Adobe Creative Suite 3 and Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later.

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New iLife '08 Revealed, .Mac Upgraded

  by TidBITS Staff <editors@tidbits.com>

At last week's press event, Apple took the wraps off the next version of its iLife suite, bumping the name from iLife '06 to iLife '08 and providing a completely new version of iMovie. The suite retails for $79 (with no upgrade discounts) and ships for free with all new Macs.

iLife '08 requires a Mac with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 processor running Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later and QuickTime 7.2 or later. Some other special system requirements apply as well: iMovie '08 requires an Intel processor, a Power Mac G5 (dual 2.0 GHz or faster), or an iMac G5 at 1.9 GHz or faster; iMovie no longer supports PowerPC G4-based Macs. Also, iDVD requires a 733 MHz or faster processor.


iPhoto '08 -- iPhoto '08 seems largely to be an evolutionary upgrade, with the primary new feature being the concept of "events," since many photos are taken at a particular event. Events are created automatically and contain the photos taken on a particular day (unlike film rolls that contain all the photos imported in a particular session), and events can be split or merged as need be. When you're browsing by event (as opposed to the traditional method of browsing by individual photos), you can "skim" through photos in an event by moving your mouse over the event icon, itself set to one of the pictures in the event.

iPhoto '08 also adds hiding: a way to suppress the display of photos you don't want to delete. The feature could reduce the visual overload of dealing with many thousands of photos. Searching has been improved, with a single interface for searching by date, text, or keyword. Jobs said iPhoto '08 would feature theme-based home printing, new books with dust covers, and 75-percent larger calendars at the same price. iPhoto's editing capabilities see improvement as well, with shadow and highlight tools that work on just portions of photos, a cropping tool that helps you follow the "rule of thirds," and tools for noise reduction, edge sharpening, and white balance. You can even copy and paste a combination of adjustments from one photo to other photos that need similar fixes.

iPhoto '08 has tighter integration with the updated .Mac as well, enabling users to publish Web-based galleries - a feature cleverly called .Mac Web Gallery - and featuring one-button photo sharing. Photos in Web galleries can be viewed four ways: in a grid, in a slideshow, in a mosaic, or in a CoverFlow-like carousel. Other features in .Mac's Web galleries include print-quality downloads, uploads via email, easy uploading of photos taken with your iPhone, permissions for who can view or contribute to the galleries, and synchronization back down to iPhoto for photos contributed by others.

[View image]

The iPhone feature, while useful, is essentially an extension of email. Many photo-sharing services, such as Flickr, provide a unique and complex email address to which you can send photos to be immediately posted. The iPhone addition, according to Apple's notes on setting it up, essentially streamlines sending photos from the iPhone via email instead of creating a new conduit over which photos are directly transferred. Apple says that your .Mac email account must be set up on your iPhone, and you need a software update for the iPhone which appears to have been delivered automatically; iPhone owners who have .Mac email accounts set up on the device were able to access the Send to Web Gallery command shortly after iLife '08 was announced. The iPhone software lets you pick a Web gallery into which to email the photo you've selected. There still isn't a way to choose multiple photos to upload at once or to attach to a single message.

Shortly after the iLife announcement, Apple released iPhoto 7.0.1 (available via Software Update or as an 8.8 MB download), which fixed issues with publishing photos to .Mac Web Galleries.


iMovie '08 and iDVD '08 -- The most aggressive change in the iLife suite is iMovie '08, which is a completely new application with a new interface. Following in the vein of iPhoto, iMovie keeps track of all your video in a library, using events to make finding clips easier. In addition to standard DV and high-definition HDV video formats, iMovie now supports editing AVCHD (Advanced Video Codec High Definition), a compressed format introduced last year that's designed to be saved onto random-access storage devices such as SD memory cards, hard disks, and MiniDVD discs.

[View image]

iMovie also beefs up its sharing capabilities by providing options for encoding and sending movies directly to YouTube, to an iPhone via iTunes, and to Apple's enhanced .Mac service.

However, applying the title "iMovie" to a brand new application has resulted in a few differences that are likely to flummox people accustomed to previous versions of the program. For example, iMovie '08 offers no support for third-party plug-ins such as extra effects and transitions. And some features you may be accustomed to aren't present at all, such as DVD chapter markers, bookmarks, and themes. Also, iMovie '08 can only import (not open) projects created in earlier versions, and even then the process only acquires the raw video; transitions and effects don't move over. So, although this advice has always been true, it's even more important now: If you're working on an iMovie project in a previous version, finish the project in that version.

The good news is: if you're upgrading to iLife '08, your previous version of iMovie HD 6 remains intact, giving you the option of editing video with either application. But if you've just purchased a new iMac that comes with iLife '08 pre-installed, you didn't have that option until today.

Apple has now made iMovie HD 6 available free for owners of iMovie '08. The installer checks to see if iLife '08 is installed, so it's not a gift to owners of earlier versions of iMovie. iMovie HD 6 is a 154.6 MB download.

iDVD '08, on the other hand, sees relatively few changes: mostly better performance, professional grade encoding, and 10 new animated themes.


iWeb '08 -- Apple's easy Web-page creation software, iWeb '08, gained support for widgets that you can embed in your pages, much as YouTube videos can be embedded in any Web page. It's thus easy to add Google Maps to a Web page now, or even almost any HTML snippet. If you want to make a little money from your site, you can easily integrate ads via Google AdSense, registering directly from within iWeb. iWeb '08 also supports personal domains, provides media index pages, and enables you to change themes.


GarageBand '08 -- The signature new feature in Apple's music-editing component of iLife is Magic GarageBand, a way to play music in a "virtual band": choose a genre, assign some instruments on the faux stage, and then pick an instrument for you to play along with a pre-loaded track. (Guitar Hero seems to have made a slight impact on GarageBand.)

GarageBand '08 also supports multi-track recording and 24-bit audio, and adds a new arrangements feature that lets you define sections of a song (such as the chorus) and easily reposition them elsewhere in the song. A visual equalizer enables you to change EQ bands by dragging sections of a waveform; professionally designed presets are also available.


.Mac Bulks Up Storage and Transfer -- Almost as an aside, Jobs said that .Mac's current 1 GB of storage "might be a little small." Now, .Mac accounts include 10 GB of storage for a combination of mail and iDisk. iDisk is a rubric that covers anything you store in your own folders, and all publicly available content uploaded through old and new iLife tools. That's a much better limit for a $99.95 per year offering. A Family Pack option provides one master account and four sub-accounts for $179.95.

Jobs also said that .Mac users will have 100 GB of monthly data transfer included. That's a far cry from the early days, when an amount wasn't specified, and a tenfold leap from the previous limit of 10 GB per month (see "Apple Updates .Mac with More Storage and Features," 2005-09-26), now close to or exceeding that offered by most Web hosts.

The additional levels of storage and transfer are correspondingly higher, too: an additional $49.95 or $99.95 per year brings the total storage and transfer to 20 GB and 200 GB or 30 GB and 300 GB, respectively.

Base pricing has also been set for other nations: Canada (CAN$139), the euro zone (99 euros), the UK (£68.99), and the non-EU European nations and Africa (81.82 euros). All countries not enumerated pay U.S. prices. Upgrades are also available.

Apple's making good money; Apple said that .Mac has 1.7 million subscribers, which is something north of $150 million per year when you factor in discounts for retailer kit sales and bundles, while adding on for storage upgrades and family plans. People with storage upgrades will likely drop down, saving $50 to $100 per year without giving anything up.

With the ongoing drop in storage, operations, and data transfer costs, it's neat that Apple is now catching up with their nearest competitors. It's the first time .Mac has seemed like a good deal for what subscribers might typically use the service for, instead of a necessary purchase for those of us tied to the Mac platform for synchronization and media.

It's interesting that Apple has retained the subscription model in the face of much more heavily used ad-supported Web services from companies like AOL, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. Those four services tend to focus on email, with more limited or no support for sharing media. Yahoo's Flickr Pro service, for instance, includes unlimited photo uploads and unlimited viewing each month for $24.95 per year; free Flickr accounts have a 100 MB monthly upload limit.

Note that if you have iDisk Syncing turned on in your .Mac preference pane, it will now use 10 GB of space on your hard disk, which could be problematic on a Mac with relatively little free space available, especially laptops with smaller hard disks. The simple workaround is to turn off iDisk Synching.

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Google Offers Paid Storage Boost for Services

  by Glenn Fleishman <glenn@tidbits.com>

Google initiated the webmail storage wars some years ago by launching its beta of Gmail with 1 GB of mail storage. (It's still in beta, by the way.) Although it took a while, other services like Yahoo! Mail, Microsoft Hotmail, and even Apple's .Mac eventually caught up. These and other services generally offer 1 GB to 10 GB as basic storage options.

But once you needed more storage than Google provided - currently set at 2.887 GB for Gmail (though rising constantly) and 1 GB for its Picasa photo service - you were out of luck. As Google expanded its online services, it was becoming tricky for people with needs beyond what the search behemoth had set.

The company recently announced that users can now purchase a higher pool of storage shared among some of the various services they offer, starting with Picasa's galleries and Gmail, but extending eventually to other products, according to a Google product blog.

Prices start at $20 per year for 6 GB of storage and range up to $500 per year for 200 GB of storage. Apple now charges $99.95 per year for 10 GB of storage at .Mac, ranging up to $200 for 30 GB of storage. With .Mac, that includes file storage, Web sites, email, and synchronization, among other services. Xdrive, an AOL company, provides 5 GB of file storage at no cost and 50 GB for $120 per year ($9.95 per month).

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Hot Topics in TidBITS Talk/13-Aug-07

  by TidBITS Staff <editors@tidbits.com>


VMware Announces Fusion 1.0 Release -- What options are available for converting a Parallels Desktop disk image to work in VMware Fusion? (4 messages)


Fake Steve Jobs Finally Unmasked -- Does the no-longer-anonymous Fake Steve Jobs actually channel the "real" Steve Jobs personality? Does it even matter? (4 messages)


Runaway iDisk -- Mark Anbinder discovers that the recent changes to .Mac caused his local .Mac synced copy to balloon in size. (4 messages)


New iLife '08 -- iMovie '08 requires a PowerPC G5-based Mac or faster, leaving G4 Macs in the dust. Is Apple obsoleting its hardware too soon? (15 messages)


Apple Releases New Aluminum iMacs, Refreshes Mac mini -- The new wireless aluminum Apple Keyboard is smaller than its wired counterpart, on the assumption that people using wireless keyboards are more likely to have them in a lap where a full-size keyboard isn't as useful. (6 messages)


The technology of Jobs's presentation? What does Steve Jobs use during his presentations? The answer is Keynote, of course, and not always the version available to the public. (4 messages)


Eudora/Penelope -- Mozilla Thunderbird is to be the new basis for Eudora, but is that future in doubt as Thunderbird leaves the Mozilla nest? (8 messages)


Personal domains with .Mac mail? The latest incarnation of .Mac lets you use custom domain names for Web sites, but does that apply to email too? (4 messages)


Touch Screen In iMac's Future? If you think of the new iMac as a giant iPhone, could Apple be thinking of giving it a touch screen interface? Steve Jobs hinted that such a thing may exist in Apple's labs, but for now the concept doesn't seem very useful. (7 messages)

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