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TidBITS#959/12-Jan-09

Apple may be pulling out of Macworld Expo, but we've found ourselves with a surfeit of coverage of the show, so much so that this issue restricts itself to our coverage of the keynote announcements and other standard features. A special issue, later this week, will contain our post-Macworld wrap-up content. So read on for what we know of the iLife '09 and iWork '09 updates, what we thought of Phil Schiller's keynote, an overview of the upcoming 17-inch MacBook Pro, and details about the changes to the iTunes Store that make all songs DRM-free (but with variable pricing). In followup news from a previous article, Glenn Fleishman notes a resolution to a recent Quicken problem with online banking. In the TidBITS Watchlist, we glance at the releases of WireTap Studio 1.0.7, Things 1.0, PDF Shrink 4.5, CheckUp 2.0, and FileMaker Pro 10.0.
 
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Phil Schiller Delivers Lackluster Keynote

  by Adam C. Engst <ace@tidbits.com>

It was a fine keynote. Apple VP Phil Schiller, standing in for Steve Jobs, worked his way gamely through updates to iLife and iWork (the former impressive, the latter less so), the news of a beta release of iWork.com, the refresh of the 17-inch MacBook Pro, and, almost as an afterthought, welcome changes to Apple's music business. There were no significant stumbles or mishaps, and the Apple employees Schiller brought on stage for special demos also did fine.

But - and how to put this nicely? - the presentation was essentially a ho-hum keynote when placed alongside those given by Steve Jobs over the last few years. The only new Mac we saw was entirely expected, and the much-rumored updates to the iMac and Mac mini were no-shows, as were additional sizes of the LED Cinema Display, continuing a situation where most of Apple's Macs and monitors aren't compatible.

What struck us was how the keynote almost felt like the kind of talk we would have been happy to hear from Apple 10 years ago, in an era of lesser expectations before the iTunes Store, the iPod, the iPhone, and the MacBook Air. Back then, the announcement of significant updates to iLife and iWork would have been more than enough to set tongues wagging for the rest of the show.

Would it have been different if Steve Jobs had been on stage with his Reality Distortion Field operating at full strength? Perhaps somewhat: Schiller's delivery was overloaded with weak superlatives and, at least in my mind, he never quite connected with the audience. But I think the real reason Jobs handed the keynote reins to Schiller was because there simply wasn't that much to demo.

Schiller started on a strange note, extolling how great it was to build stores with the Apple logo, and wondering if any other company could put its logo front and center. Where the statistics of how many customers visit Apple Stores each week used to sound as though the company were sharing celebratory good news with the keynote attendees, this year's claim of Apple Stores receiving "100 Macworld Expos" worth of visits each week came off instead as a dig, and almost insulting.

And he went out equally strangely, with several comments about "this last Macworld" (rather than Apple's last significant participation in the show) and then introducing musical guest Tony Bennett, who launched into "The Best is Yet to Come" and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." It may have been meant as a sort of goodbye, but it rang false, given that it's more a situation of Apple giving up on the rest of us.

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iPhoto '09 Adds Faces and Places

  by Doug McLean <doug_mclean@tidbits.com>

As our photo collections grow into the tens of thousands of photos, Apple is working on ways to make it easier to find particular photos, adding face recognition and geotagging support to iPhoto '09.

In the same way iPhoto '08 enabled users to sort and tag their photos by events, iPhoto '09 makes it possible to search, sort, and tag by faces. Face detection technology, once you've taught the program properly, can identify friends or family members from your larger collection based on their facial features. Once the program believes it has found the person, it will ask you to confirm and tag the photo with their name. The tagging process is similar to tagging photos in Facebook. Clicking a top-level Faces collection in the sidebar shows all the people you've identified.

Unfortunately, face tags are not exported with photos, although it may be possible to assign a keyword to a person easily, and export that. It's also worth noting that the face recognition technology is unique to iPhoto and isn't more generally available in Mac OS X for other applications, which is a shame.

Additionally, with Places, users can sort and tag by the location the photograph was taken. Cameras with geotagging capabilities mark your photos with the longitude and latitude of the location they were taken. iPhoto interprets this information and correlates the spot to a Place in its database, showing pins on a map generated from Google Maps. If you don't have geotagging capabilities, you can instead manually tag photos or groups of photos with locations listed in iPhoto's location database.

Other than the iPhone, only one consumer-level camera, the Nikon Coolpix P6000, makes it trivial to match GPS coordinates with photos. More are on the way, but as Glenn Fleishman explained in an Ars Technica article, it's not a trivial problem due to how quickly cameras are turned on and off, leaving insufficient time to get a satellite lock.

iPhoto '09 also now includes useful Facebook and Flickr syncing capabilities. You can click a button to sync your photos to your Facebook or Flickr accounts, complete with name (for Facebook) and location (for Flickr) tags. You can even perform the reverse function, sending photos from online collections to your iPhoto library with tags in place.

Additional changes include more advanced slideshow customization and new themes that can all be synced to your iPhone and iPod touch. Finally, the new version includes enhanced Travel Book options including more themes, better printing, and geotagged maps.

iPhoto '09 is part of iLife '09, which will ship in late January 2009 for $79 or $99 for a family pack. Also available then will be the Mac Box Set for $169, which includes iLife '09, iWork '09, and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. New Macs will continue to ship with iLife for free. If you purchase a new machine between 06-Jan-09 and 31-Mar-09 that does not include iLife '09, you can upgrade it for $9.95 through Apple's iLife Up-to-Date program.

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iMovie '09 Seems to Fix Everything from iMovie '08

  by Jeff Carlson <jeffc@tidbits.com>

When Apple introduced iMovie '08, the video editor was nothing like previous versions. Completely rewritten and boasting a new interface, it lacked features that iMovie users had grown accustomed to: audio editing lost capabilities that had been gradually added to iMovie over several versions; themes were removed; iDVD chapter markers disappeared (as well as the capability to send a project directly to iDVD); and more (see "New iLife '08 Revealed, .Mac Upgraded, 2007-08-13). iMovie '08 had its upsides - support for importing AVCHD footage and making easy color adjustments come to mind - but it was very much a 1.0 application.

Based on what Phil Schiller presented during the Macworld Expo keynote, iMovie '09 looks to be the program we were expecting last year. A new Precision Editor lets you fine-tune edits in an expanded visual way. When you drag and drop a clip from the Event library onto a clip in your movie, a new action pop-up menu appears with options to replace the existing clip, insert the new clip in the middle of the existing one, or just add the audio from the new clip. (Other options include green-screen and picture-in-picture.)

Video stabilization is a welcome new feature that can take the shake out of handheld footage, something that will be especially useful for owners of small Flip camcorders that lack built-in image stabilization features. (iMovie also improves compatibility with the Flip MinoHD.)

iMovie's engineers have clearly spent some time traveling (or thinking about traveling), because several features are ideal for travel videos. Animated travel maps, available in a few different themes, let you specify locations on a map or globe and create Indiana Jones-style markers that extend from place to place. Themes have also made a reappearance in iMovie, and at first glance they seem more interesting and flexible than those that appeared in iMovie HD.

Other welcome improvements include the return of iDVD chapter markers and direct-to-iDVD exporting, iPhoto Event matching, an intriguing new archive feature for making copies of tapeless footage, multi-touch gesture support, the capability to adjust multiple clips at once, and, at last, the return of fast and slow motion. Still missing are support for exporting footage back to tape and the capability to adjust volume levels within a clip. A full list of new features can be found on Apple's Web site.

iMovie '09 is part of iLife '09, which will ship in late January 2009 for $79 or $99 for a family pack. Also available then will be the Mac Box Set for $169, which includes iLife '09, iWork '09, and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. New Macs will continue to ship with iLife for free. If you purchase a new machine between 06-Jan-09 and 31-Mar-09 that does not include iLife '09, you can upgrade it for $9.95 through Apple's iLife Up-to-Date program.

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GarageBand '09 Adds Music Lessons

  by Doug McLean <doug_mclean@tidbits.com>

GarageBand '09 has added a major new feature called Learn to Play, an instructional tool that teaches you how to play the guitar or piano. Instructors walk you through nine basic lessons in high-definition video with synchronized notation; animated fretboards and piano keys appear at the bottom of the screen showing you how to follow along.

In addition to the basic lessons, Apple is also adding special Artist Lessons, in which celebrity musicians actually teach you how to play simplified versions of their songs. So far, participating artists include Sarah McLachlan, Fall Out Boy, Colbie Caillat, Sara Bareilles, One Republic, Ben Folds, John Fogerty, Sting, and Norah Jones. Users can store lessons, and buy new ones from the Learn to Play Store for $4.99 each.

Smaller changes include five new simulated guitar amplifiers, 30 new complete guitar rigs, added guitar pedal effects, and a virtual rehearsal space complete with a customizable backing band.

GarageBand '09 is part of iLife '09, which will ship in late January 2009 for $79 or $99 for a family pack. Also available then will be the Mac Box Set for $169, which includes iLife '09, iWork '09, and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. New Macs will continue to ship with iLife for free. If you purchase a new machine between 06-Jan-09 and 31-Mar-09 that does not include iLife '09, you can upgrade it for $9.95 through Apple's iLife Up-to-Date program.

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iWork '09 Adds Catch-up Features

  by Tonya Engst <tonya@tidbits.com>

Apple's iWork '09 announcements at Macworld Expo brought some worthwhile improvements to the presentation, word processing, and spreadsheet suite, along with a new Keynote Remote Control app for the iPhone and iPod touch. Oh, and there's also a beta of a new online service, iWork.com. But, particularly with Pages and Numbers, the new features sound awfully reminiscent of things we've been accustomed to having in Microsoft Word and Excel for years.


Keynote -- Keynote '09 picks up some visual enhancements, fancier transitions, and the capability to perform object-level transitions that animate the graphics or text between slides. There are also new themes and snazzier chart types and animations, but the main addition is actually a $0.99 Keynote Remote app for the iPhone and iPod touch. It enables you to drive a Keynote presentation, complete with speaker's notes and a preview of the next slide. The functionality isn't new though, since apps like StageHand and Remote Buddy have been offering similar features for some time. We'll be curious to see if Apple tosses these competing programs out of the App Store for treading on Keynote Remote's new turf, or if they'll settle for undercutting them.


Pages -- The most important changes in Pages '09 made us think that Apple has finally gotten serious about competing with Microsoft Word, if not producing a word processor for the 21st century. These new features include mail merging with Numbers, an outliner that enables you to move items around in a hierarchy and have those movements reflected in the styling of your document (much like the Heading styles in Microsoft Word), and support for MathType and EndNote. Also, a new full-screen view takes over the entire monitor, obscuring even the menu bar unless you hover the cursor over it, enabling you to focus on the task at hand instead of all the other stuff happening on your Mac (see "Minimize Desktop Distractions", 2008-12-04).


Numbers -- Changes in Numbers '09 look like solid updates, but are nothing groundbreaking. There's a new feature that improves the re-organizing of tables, added formulas and an enhanced interface for entering them, and new chart types and visuals. Happily, we've heard that Numbers '09 does offer the capability to freeze a column, locking it in place as you scroll through other columns. Finally!

iWork '09 also now features dynamic linking, which enables you to create charts in Numbers and then link them into Keynote and Pages, such that when the chart changes in Numbers it automatically changes in all locations. If you're thinking this sounds like Microsoft's OLE or Apple's own Publish and Subscribe, from the early 1990s, well, you're right.


iWork.com -- Phil Schiller also announced a beta version of a new Web site called iWork.com, which gives users of iWork '09 a way to share files online and perform limited collaboration. To share an iWork document, you click a button in the toolbar and enter the email address of someone to whom you want to give access. That person can then click a link in the resulting email message to view the document in their favorite Mac or Windows Web browser, with what looked like excellent fidelity to the appearance of the original document.

The iWork.com site enables users to add comments (which appear as sticky notes) and maintain an ongoing chat-style conversation with each other; the interface looks similar to the iWork applications and can display any Pages, Numbers, or Keynote document. Users can also download files in their original formats, as PDF documents, or as Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, or PowerPoint) files. Although the service is brand new and still in beta, our take is that it's going to have an uphill climb in order to compete with the far more useful Google Docs and other online collaboration services.

That's largely because there's no round-trip support, and it supports only iWork documents. If, for instance, you're working on a project with an editor, your editor needs to download your files, make changes, and give them back to you. That's not possible, nor is working with any file types - Photoshop, InDesign, etc. - that are commonplace in the real world.


Details -- iWork.com is now available to purchasers of iWork '09, with free access during the beta test period. Apple said that the service would require a fee in the future, but did not state how much it would cost or when free access would end. This approach feels haphazard - we'd like to see iWork.com merged with MobileMe, so users won't have to work in multiple sites or pay separate bills.

iWork '09 requires Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.11 or later, and at least a 500 MHz G4 processor. It costs $49 with the purchase of a new Macintosh, or it can be purchased separately for $79 or $99 for a family pack. iWork '09 is available now, and it will be available in late January 2009 in the Mac Box Set, which will cost $169 and include Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, the new iLife '09, and iWork '09.

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Apple Pioneers New Battery Tech with 17-inch MacBook Pro

  by Rich Mogull <rich@tidbits.com>

As expected, Apple completed the transition of the MacBook line to the latest unibody design with the announcement of the new 17-inch MacBook Pro. Apple's largest notebook was the last remnant of the original MacBook Pro form factor, which itself was nearly unchanged since its debut as the aluminum PowerBook G4. The new model sports the upgraded design, faster processors, larger memory and hard disk options, and a new integrated battery design that Apple claims offers up to an 8-hour battery life on a single charge.

The unibody design is a mere 0.98 inches (25 mm) thick and 6.6 pounds (3.0 kg); which Apple claims is the world's thinnest and lightest 17-inch notebook. As with the newest 15-inch MacBook Pro, it comes with the new multi-touch buttonless trackpad, Mini DisplayPort, Firewire 800, ExpressCard/34, and multiple USB ports. It runs on an upgraded Intel Core 2 Duo processor at 2.66 GHz standard, with a 2.93 GHz option; both sport 6 MB shared L2 cache and a 1066 MHz frontside bus. It comes standard with 4 GB DDR3 memory, and it supports up to 8 GB of total RAM. A 320 GB hard disk, with an option for a 256 GB solid state drive, round out the basic specifications.

As with the other MacBook Pro, the 17-inch model includes both integrated graphics and a second, discrete Nvidia 9600M GT graphics processor. These power a new LED backlit glossy screen with a 1920 by 1200 resolution at 133 pixels per inch; a $50 option swaps the glossy display for a traditional matte/anti-glare screen (sure to please the graphics professionals, but you do lose the black bezel). The screen has a 60 percent wider color gamut (the range of colors it can display) and a 700:1 contrast ratio.

The most significant change is the unique integrated battery, which uses new lithium polymer technology to offer up to 7 hours of run time using the discrete graphics processor, and 8 hours with the integrated graphics. Because the battery is integrated into the MacBook Pro body, Apple claims it is 40 percent bigger than a removable battery. To extend the life of the battery and improve efficiency, Apple combined the new battery chemistry with an adaptive charging system, creating a battery that - according to Apple - will last up to 1,000 charge cycles, thus extending the life of the battery three times beyond the industry standard to about five years of normal use. (A video detailing the changes in the battery technology can be viewed at Apple's Web site.)

Moving to a fully integrated battery is a risky move, but it is a direction the entire mobile computing industry is considering as users continue to demand power for bigger processors, better graphics, and increased wireless networking. Notebook designers can build the batteries right into the laptops, taking advantage of custom designed cells that fit into the nooks and crannies left after squeezing in all the hardware. The problem is, of course, that batteries have a limited life span and need to be occasionally replaced. For instance, I'm on my third MacBook Pro battery, and Adam's brand-new MacBook battery is already ailing after a mere two months. If an integrated battery does go bad or wears out, the laptop can be sent to Apple for replacement.

Apple failed to mention any external battery options for situations where even 8 hours isn't enough. Since Apple has yet to license the MagSafe charging connector, no third party-vendors will be able to provide external options. It's also unclear at this point whether the RAM and hard drive are user-accessible, as they are for the MacBook and 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Thus, 17-inch MacBook Pro users trade flexibility and convenience for a greatly extended battery life. Since the average notebook refresh rate for professional users is about three years, Apple is clearly banking on the battery lasting longer than the average user will keep the notebook.

The 17-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,799, is available for pre-order today, and should be released by the end of January 2009.

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Apple Moves to Unprotected Music, Tiered Prices

  by Glenn Fleishman <glenn@tidbits.com>

Apple will strip digital rights management (DRM) from the 10 million songs it offers through the iTunes Store by the end of the first quarter of 2009, with 8 million songs available without protection today. These songs will be encoded at the higher 256 Kbps rate in AAC format that Apple has been using for a subset of their catalog and has called iTunes Plus.

The company is also changing its mostly flat-rate pricing model of $0.99 per song, and allowing iPhone owners to purchase and download songs over 3G cellular data networks in addition to Wi-Fi.


Strip Down to Bare Music -- Apple was the first company to sell large quantities of licensed and legally downloadable digital music - 6 billion songs is the latest count - and wrap their files in proprietary encryption. The history isn't publicly known, but it's believed that music labels required Apple to use DRM and periodically update it to protect against hacks.

DRM limits music, games, or videos to play only for specific users on recognized devices. Apple's FairPlay DRM system (which allows music to play back via iTunes under Mac OS X, Windows, and on all iPod models and the iPhone) has never been licensed to other companies. DRM-free music can be played on any device or computer that supports the music format, which is almost always MP3 or AAC.

This also means that sophisticated hardware for playing music throughout a home, like the Sonos ecosystem (see "Audio Bliss: Sonos Digital Music System," 2006-01-23) and the just-announced Linksys Wireless Home Audio system, can handle unprotected iTunes Store purchases just as well as music from other sources.

When Apple's early lead in the digital downloads market eventually neared complete domination, music labels turned to firms like Amazon, Walmart, and Microsoft to offer DRM-free tracks as an alternative to Apple's iTunes/iPod/iPhone lock-in. However, this approach didn't do much to undercut Apple's hold on the market, since Apple had become the number one music retailer in the United States. (See "Amazon MP3 Scores DRM-Free Music: What About Apple?", 2007-09-25, for some background.)

It's likely that the music industry's demand for variable pricing was connected to Apple obtaining the right to sell music without protection. Currently, most iTunes songs are priced at $0.99; the new pricing model - which takes effect in April 2009 - will offer songs at $0.69, $0.99, and $1.29.

Apple VP Phil Schiller said during the Macworld Expo keynote that more songs would be priced at $0.69 than $1.29, but that's a specious observation, as more popular and recent songs are likely to be priced at the highest tier. Some labels had wanted the ability to charge lower prices for some songs to increase sales as well.


The Ignominy of Paying a DRM-Free Tax -- iTunes Plus upgrades for music you previously purchased at any price still cost $0.30 each while music video upgrades are $0.60 each. You cannot choose to upgrade specific songs or videos, but must upgrade your entire collection as noted in the iTunes Store's account records.

Some have expressed irritation at this issue: Early buyers will have to pay an additional amount to acquire songs that might be the same price or cheaper and offered without protection. That is, a song purchased with DRM for $0.99 might now be offered without it for $0.69 for new purchasers, and you'll pay $1.29 to obtain it.

I'm surprised Apple didn't offer to eat the upgrade fees for all their users, even if it cost a few hundred million dollars to pay the labels or other rights-holders for the privilege, because of the enormous good will it would engender.

For those who prefer to avoid the DRM-free upgrade fee, you might consider a tool like NoteBurner ($39.95), available for Mac OS X and Windows. NoteBurner is a virtual CD burner and ripper, avoiding the tedium in creating tons of CDs to switch over your collection.

While at one point, an argument could be made that removing DRM from a song that you'd purchased could be a violation of certain aspects of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, an odious piece of legislation, it's hard to see how that's the case now.

The same song can be purchased without DRM; Apple will no longer sell the song with DRM; we can assume Apple will likely attempt (as Walmart and Microsoft MSN Music have) to turn off its authorization servers at some point in the future; and you're likely removing protection for personal use, because there's little reason to strip DRM to then distribute the music. You bought the song, you just want to have better access to it - and so does Apple, sort of, since that's why they're converting their whole catalog to be DRM-free.


iTunes Purchases over 3G -- Apple also said it would allow iPhone owners to purchase and download music over a 3G network in addition to the Wi-Fi access that was previously available. Songs will be identically priced when purchased via iTunes or through the iPhone over 3G. This stands in contrast to many cellular carriers that charge different prices for music depending on the delivery means.

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Quicken/BECU EV Certificate Problem Resolved

  by Glenn Fleishman <glenn@tidbits.com>

BECU, a credit union in Washington, alerted its members this week that banking transactions can once again be downloaded in Quicken 2007 for Mac and previous versions. In mid-December, BECU updated its Web site's certificate to use Extended Validation (EV), which provides greater credibility to a secure certificate. (See "Quicken for Mac Lacks Extended Validation Certificate Support," 2008-12-23.)

Whatever the change was - BECU attributes the fix to Intuit - it worked fine and I'm once again able to download transactions.

It's still unclear how quickly Intuit intends to update Quicken 2007, the current latest release of personal-finance software for Mac OS X, and whether the company will fix earlier versions of Quicken, too. Intuit said that the upcoming Quicken Financial Life for Mac, due out in mid-2009, will incorporate correct EV support. The new software will require Mac OS X 10.5 or later, and thus won't be appropriate for all current Quicken users.

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TidBITS Watchlist: Notable Software Updates for 12-Jan-09

  by Doug McLean <doug_mclean@tidbits.com>

WireTap Studio 1.0.7 from Ambrosia Software is a minor update to the tool for recording and editing audio on your Mac. The update brings enhanced performance, more efficient memory usage, customizable keyboard shortcuts for starting and stopping recording, added support for the scroll wheel and multi-touch trackpad, improved drag and drop capabilities, and support for recording from Java apps and other applications with improperly coded bundle identifiers. ($69 new, free update, 26.6 MB)

Things 1.0 from Cultured Code is the first official release of the Getting Things Done-inspired task manager that has been steadily gaining attention while in public beta. Updates include a new Apple Help Book, refinements to existing keyboard shortcuts, new keyboard shortcuts and menu commands, and a bug fix that enables the search field to scroll when more text than it can hold is entered. ($49.95 new, 4.2 MB)

PDF Shrink 4.5 from Apago is a substantial upgrade to the company's PDF size reduction tool. The latest version enables users to shrink PDFs to fit on the iPhone and iPod touch. Other changes include improved support for Leopard, a new PDF encryption function, and the capability to shrink entire folders of PDF files. ($35 new, $14 upgrade, 5.2 MB)

CheckUp 2.0 from App4mac is a major upgrade to the multipurpose maintenance utility. Changes include an improved user interface, new memory testing capabilities, added performance optimization features, report exporting capabilities, a duplicate file search function, and a new documents tab view. For more on CheckUp, see Joe Kissell's review of version 1.0, "CheckUp 1.0: A Beautiful but Unripe Maintenance Utility," 2008-02-29. ($39.40, free update, 16.3 MB)

FileMaker Pro 10.0 from FileMaker Inc., is a major upgrade to the longstanding database application. Changes include a dramatic interface overhaul that features a new status toolbar. From the toolbar users can find or delete records, visualize the database's record holdings, and view data in lists, tables, or detailed icons. Also new are Dynamic Reports that enable users to make real-time changes to data, Script Triggers that can automate virtually any action, and a new Save Find feature that enables users to save frequent search terms and locate recent searches. Finally, the new version also contains 30 new Starter Solutions, and 10 new themes. FileMaker Pro 10.0 comes in Standard, Advanced (which contains an additional suite of advanced development and customization tools), Server, and Advanced Server editions. ($299/$499 Standard/Advanced, $179/$299 upgrade, 348/312 MB)

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ExtraBITS for 12-Jan-09

  by TidBITS Staff <editors@tidbits.com>


MacNotables: Adam and Jim Dalrymple Square Off About Apple -- Chuck Joiner described it as "freewheeling," which is a nice way of saying that Macworld's Jim Dalrymple and I went off the rails in this podcast, recorded at Macworld Expo. In short, I was cranky and wasn't about to give Apple the benefit of the doubt on much of anything. (Posted 2009-01-12)


Google Releases Picasa for Mac -- Google has released a public beta of Picasa for Mac at Macworld Expo this week. Previously, Mac users were limited to the Picasa Web Albums uploader and an iPhoto plug-in, but now they have access to the full version of the photo editing and organizing software. (Posted 2009-01-07)


The Onion Spoofs Apple -- The popular fake news organization, The Onion, recently posted a hilarious video on its Web site featuring a look at a fake new Apple laptop, the MacBook Wheel. According to The Onion, the MacBook Wheel replaces the keyboard with a giant touch-sensitive click wheel, making everything on your computer "just a few hundred clicks away." (Posted 2009-01-07)


Roku Players Gains Amazon Video on Demand Access -- The Roku Player continues to change: after upgrading customers to HD output, Roku has forged a partnership with Amazon to offer the retailer's on-demand video. The addition will appear in early 2009. Amazon allows all devices associated with an account to access the same video library. (Posted 2009-01-05)

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Hot Topics in TidBITS Talk for 12-Jan-09

  by Jeff Carlson <jeffc@tidbits.com>


Safari Stalling on Opening PDF files -- What's the cause for long delays in opening PDF files in Safari? (10 messages)


A contrarian view of Macworld Expo's utility -- A reader makes the case that perhaps it's time to do away with Macworld Expo entirely, with a variety of reactions both for and against. (8 messages)


iWork.com and MobileMe? Apple's desire to turn iWork.com into a paid service is baffling, since it would be a great add-on to MobileMe. (2 messages)


Apple's Canard of 100 Macworlds a Week -- Apple is comparing Macworld Expo to the number of people that go into Apple retail stores, but does the comparison really match up? (4 messages)


Odd removable disk behavior with 10.5.6 -- Removable disks such as CDs or flash drives aren't appearing in the Finder as expected. Is something wrong in Mac OS X 10.5.6, or did an errant preference get set? (2 messages)

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