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Apple made much of the improvements in iPhoto 5, but how do those features and others fare under Adam’s scrutiny? Also in this issue, Jeff Carlson takes a look at the new iMac and eMac models, and examines Tiger’s iChat AV 3.0, with its multi-person audio and video chats. In the news, Security Update 2005-005 patches Mac OS X 10.3.9, iTunes 4.8 appears, DragThing turns 10, more Spotlight details appear, Adam makes the radio rounds, and we give away 5 copies of Stock WatchTower, a stock analysis program.

Geoff Duncan No comments

Security Update 2005-005 for Mac OS X 10.3.9

Security Update 2005-005 for Mac OS X 10.3.9 — Apple has released Security Update 2005-005 to address several online security issues with Mac OS X 10.3.9 and Mac OS X Server 10.3.9. Users can download the patch via Software Update or from Apple’s Web site (about 6 MB, depending on version).

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Security Update 2005-005 rolls in patches for a number of Mac OS X applications and technologies, as well as components of Mac OS X’s underlying Unix implementation. Key fixes address buffer overflows and means by which attackers could potentially overwrite files, escalate privileges, or execute arbitrary code using the Finder, Help Viewer, the Foundation and AppKit application frameworks, Terminal, and AppleScript. Other fixes affect the Apache Web server, lukemftpd, sudo, Directory Services, VPN, and X11; in addition, Security Update 2005-005 disables Bluetooth file sharing by default, and prevents Bluetooth services from accessing files outside the default file exchange directory. As of this writing, a similar update has not been made available for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, and it’s not clear whether Tiger already addresses these security concerns. [GD]

Jeff Carlson No comments

Apple Releases iTunes 4.8

Apple Releases iTunes 4.8 — Apple today released iTunes 4.8, a free download with minimal documentation. According to the ReadMe file, "iTunes 4.8 includes new Music Store features and support for transferring contacts and calendars from your computer to your iPod," noting that the latter feature requires Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. Poking around a bit reveals that Apple is incorporating video into iTunes; you can drag a QuickTime movie to the Library, where it appears with a small gray videocamera icon. Playing the movie displays it in the little Now Playing box (where album covers appear); clicking the movie opens it in a separate window, and clicking a new Show Video Full Screen button presents the movie full screen (although the full-screen option doesn’t work for videos or movie trailers downloaded from the iTunes Music Store.) A new preference also controls the default window setting for video playback. As of this writing, the update was available only as a stand-alone download, but I’m guessing it will appear via Software Update soon. The iTunes 4.8 installer is an 11 MB download. [JLC]

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Adam Engst No comments

A Trio of Radio Interviews

A Trio of Radio Interviews — In conjunction with the 15th anniversary of TidBITS and the release of our Take Control ebooks about Tiger, I’ve been doing the radio show rounds. On 27-Apr-05 I took a break from tracking down a maddening bug to talk about the history of TidBITS and the Macintosh with Gene Steinberg of the Tech Night Owl Live. Then, on 30-Apr-05, I spent a snappy 10 minutes chatting to Scott Sheppard of Inside Mac Radio. And then late on 01-May-05, I had one of my always-enjoyable discussions with Chuck Joiner on the User Group Report. [ACE]




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Matt Neuburg No comments

DragThing Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

DragThing Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary — Hard on the heels of TidBITS’s celebration of its 15-year anniversary comes the 10th anniversary of James Thomson’s launcher DragThing. We’re proud to say we’ve been writing about DragThing ever since it first emerged. It’s still going strong here in the age of Tiger, and to some of us, it’s a must-have utility, making up for the Dock’s shortcomings and then some. In honor of this happy event, James is giving a secret discount to new DragThing customers. To find out what the discount is and how to get it, check out the celebratory Web page at the first URL below. [MAN]




Glenn Fleishman No comments

Spotlight Qualifiers Posted on Apple Site

Spotlight Qualifiers Posted on Apple Site — Sure enough, I write an article that says Apple hasn’t yet provided detail on a given subject, and they go and update their site. In last week’s TidBITS, I wrote about using some restricting syntax for making searches in Tiger with Spotlight, and said Apple hadn’t provided the detail necessary to know what control words and terms to use. They do now.



Although there are many kinds of metadata, Apple is exposing just the item kind and the item’s modification date or the date in a calendar item. The syntax is pretty straightforward and they provide the vocabulary for it now. If you want to search on more metadata attributes, you can use Smart Folders. [GF]

Adam Engst No comments

DealBITS Drawing for Stock WatchTower

From 1995 through 2001, Tonya and I participated in a stock investment club with a number of our Mac-using friends. It was a valuable learning experience, and the club did fairly well, though it was difficult to do badly in the stock market during some of those years. We worked mostly within the advice promulgated by the National Association of Investors Corporation (NAIC), and although that system wasn’t terribly data-intensive, we still found it difficult to enter data for stocks we were investigating and to keep up-to-date with stocks in our portfolio. Some online services offered downloadable information for a fee, but either the fees were too high or there was some other problem with the service, such as working only in Windows. Tonya and I bowed out of the investment club when we left Seattle, and without the structure and positive peer pressure of a monthly meeting to make time in our busy schedules, we’ve essentially stopped investing in individual stocks.


I can’t say when or if we’ll pick up investing again, but there’s now a Macintosh application that looks as though it would provide the kind of data we wanted in a flexible manner. WillStein Software’s Stock WatchTower downloads a vast amount of data covering thousands of stocks from a variety of freely accessible Web sites on its first launch (about 150 MB), and updates that data with much-faster but still significant (about an hour over a broadband Internet connection) downloads on every subsequent launch. Using that data, you can then filter and sort just the stocks whose data matches criteria you set: P/E ratios within a certain range, current annual earnings over a certain amount, prices nearing 52-week highs, and so on. Stock WatchTower can then graph each stock’s data so you can more easily identify buy points, or, for stocks that you already own, prices at which you want to sell. You can create Watch Lists, which are manually generated lists of stocks much like playlists in iTunes, and WatchTowers, which are automatically generated lists akin to smart playlists.


Obviously, I’m not vouching for Stock WatchTower personally, since I haven’t used it in any real way, but if you’ve been looking for a tool to help you accumulate and analyze stock data, be sure to enter this week’s DealBITS drawing for 5 copies of Stock WatchTower, each worth $49.95. Those who don’t win will receive a discount as well, and if you want to check out the software right away, WillStein offers a 30-day trial version and a 30-day money-back guarantee. All information gathered is covered by our comprehensive privacy policy. Be careful with your spam filters, since you must be able to receive email from my address to learn if you’ve won, and remember that you can increase your chances of receiving a copy of Stock WatchTower by telling your friends about this DealBITS drawing.



Jeff Carlson No comments

iMac G5 and eMac Lines Refreshed

Shortly after releasing new Power Mac G5 models (see "Apple Speed Bumps Power Mac G5" in TidBITS-778), Apple announced updates to two of its consumer desktop lines, the iMac G5 and the eMac.


iMac G5 Improved — Apple bumped up the processor, graphics card, and built-in memory of the flat-panel iMac G5. As before, it’s available in two sizes and three standard configurations. The low-end 17-inch model, at $1,300, is outfitted with a 1.8 GHz PowerPC G5 processor (up from 1.6 GHz) with a 600 MHz frontside bus, 160 GB hard drive, and a slot-loading Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW). The mid-range 17-inch model ($1,500) and the 20-inch model ($1,800) both include a 2.0 GHz processor (up from 1.8 GHz) with a 667 MHz frontside bus and an 8x dual-layer SuperDrive. The 17-inch configuration includes the 160 GB hard disk, while the 20-inch beastie is equipped with a 250 GB hard disk.


All three configurations now ship with 512 MB of RAM (with support for up to 2 GB), and an ATI Radeon 9600 graphics card with 128 MB of memory, as well as the original iMac G5’s complement of ports: two FireWire 400, three USB 2.0, VGA output, and S-video output. All models also come with built-in AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR wireless networking; previously, the Bluetooth was a build-to-order option. Each runs Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and includes iLife ’05.

eMac Sees Boost — The CRT-screen-based eMac continues to be Apple’s quiet inexpensive workhorse, and that’s even more true thanks to last week’s improvements to the all-in-one computer. The new eMac configuration includes a 1.42 GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 512 MB of memory, a Radeon 9600 graphics card with 64 MB of memory, and an 8x dual-layer SuperDrive. The $800 low-end configuration now sports an 80 GB hard disk, while the $1,000 model has a 160 GB hard disk. They both ship with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and iLife ’05.


Jeff Carlson No comments

A New Dimension for iChat AV

Last year I "attended" a briefing with a few Apple representatives while sitting in my office chair in Seattle. They were in Cupertino, and thanks to the video chat capabilities of iChat AV, we had a face-to-face conversation. But since there were three of them, they had to crowd into the frame by sitting behind each other so that I could see them all.

If we have a similar briefing now, I’ll have a much clearer picture of each person. iChat AV 3.0, included in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, can now handle video chats of up to four people (you and three others), with potentially better image quality than before. This capability comes with a price, however, as some Macs aren’t capable of participating.


Multi-Person Chats — The multi-person video chat is one of the snazziest-looking new features of Tiger, which is why Apple has included screenshots of it in action on most of the company’s advertisements I’ve seen. When two people are chatting, iChat AV 3.0 uses the same appearance as in iChat AV under Panther: you appear in a small corner window, and the other person occupies the rest of the window.

But as soon as you add a third person, your participants appear on planes angled in 3D, as if you had set up two LCD screens. (The Audio and Video status buttons in iChat’s Buddy List show up as stacked icons to indicate that a person is running iChat AV 3.0 and is capable of multi-person chats.) A fourth person added appears on a similar plane, but facing straight-on. The idea is that you’re all sitting around a conference table, and Apple enhances the illusion by providing surface reflections below each person’s plane; I have to admit that I spent most of my first multi-person video chats staring at the reflections, which update in real time.

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Unlike the previous version, not just anyone can start a multi-person video chat. The originating computer performs much of the video encoding and audio-video synchronization, leading to stringent hardware requirements: a Mac with at least dual 1 GHz PowerPC G4 processors, or one with a PowerPC G5 CPU, along with 384 Kbps of Internet bandwidth. Unfortunately, that rules out Apple’s entire laptop line as video chat initiators.

Participation in a multi-person video chat is less demanding: you need at least a 1 GHz PowerPC G4 or a dual 800 MHz PowerPC G4-based Power Mac – along with 100 Kbps of Internet bandwidth. iChat AV also supports video chat with Windows users running the latest version of AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), but only one to one, not for multi-person chats.

As advertised by Apple, the video quality is improved due to iChat’s use of the H.264 video codec, but the quality also depends on the connection and the hardware involved. Slower connections appear blurrier than faster ones; that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as iChat is sacrificing fine detail in favor of more fluid motion (see the image at the second URL above for an example).

iChat AV 3.0 also features audio chats of up to 10 people, which doesn’t carry the same hardware and connection demands. Hosting a 10-person conference requires a Mac running a 1 GHz G4, dual 800 MHz G4, or G5 processor and a 128 Kbps Internet connection. Participation in an audio chat needs any G3, G4, or G5 processor and a 56 Kbps connection.

Miscellaneous Changes — The multi-person chats are the star attractions, but iChat AV 3.0 includes a number of other noticeable changes. It’s easier to switch among several iChat or AIM accounts using a new Switch To item under the iChat menu. You can set a profile that describes you when other people view your information from their Buddy Lists by choosing Change My Profile from the Buddies menu; previously, you had to launch the AIM application to edit this field.

Speaking of switching, iChat includes a preference that dictates what the program should do when you use Fast User Switching to go to another user, either to log out of iChat (the old method), or to change your status to Away. If you are away, and someone chats you up anyway, you can set iChat to fire back with a reply (either your custom status message or "Auto-reply: I am away from my computer" if set to the default Away status).

The Groups feature is also improved, with a more comprehensible interface. I never bothered with groups before, but now I can arrange my buddies according to affiliations (such as a TidBITS group), which appear under banner headings in the Buddy List.

For companies looking to secure their instant message traffic, iChat AV 3.0 now supports Jabber, which can encrypt messages. You can sign onto existing Jabber servers, or use the Jabber-based iChat Server included with Mac OS X 10.4 Server.


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Apple also incorporated a popular third-party feature into iChat. In addition to Available and Away status messages, you can choose to display the title and artist of the song currently playing in iTunes (which I used to use iChat Status for). Clicking an arrow at the right edge of the status message takes you to that song in the iTunes Music Store if you want to sample (or buy) music your friends are playing.


Video Future — I use iChat every day for text-chatting with friends and colleagues, and only occasionally chatting via audio or video. Although the new multi-person video chatting capability is cool, I’m curious to see how often people end up using it. Still, it does provide an inexpensive, built-in way to participate in video conferences, something that formerly required more expensive, often proprietary services to accomplish.

Adam Engst No comments

iPhoto 5: New Features Abound, Limitations Remain

I’ll admit it. I was rather disappointed with iPhoto 4, the previous version of Apple’s consumer-level photo management program (see "iPhoto 4: The Potential Remains" in TidBITS-718). It wasn’t that it lacked high-end features; it was that it was the latest in a series of mediocre implementations of what was, and still is, a brilliant idea. Apple was the first to understand that most people want a soup-to-nuts photo management program that handles everything from importing and organizing through editing and output. And iPhoto remains pretty much the only such program on the Mac, although several similar programs have appeared on the Windows side.



Keep in mind, I have a bit more interest in iPhoto than most people, having written a Visual QuickStart Guide about each incarnation of the program so far. And in fact, my iPhoto 5 for Mac OS X: Visual QuickStart Guide should be on bookstore shelves now; alternatively, you can buy the PDF version for $14, which is roughly equivalent to the price at discount book retailers.

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So, based on spending several months writing about iPhoto 5, would I recommend an upgrade? iPhoto has gone from free (iPhoto 1 and iPhoto 2) to part of the $50 iLife ’04 package (iPhoto 4), and now it’s available only as part of the $80 iLife ’05 package or with the purchase of a new Mac. As a free program, iPhoto deserved some slack, but I had trouble recommending iPhoto 4 to anyone who wasn’t already committed to iPhoto. With iPhoto 5, numerous improvements make the program significantly more powerful than its predecessors, but notable omissions – many held over from the very first version of iPhoto – remain. Overall, yes, I do recommend upgrading if you already use iPhoto – iPhoto 5 is without a doubt an improvement over iPhoto 4, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy with every aspect of the program. Let’s look at each of the major parts of the program so you can determine what’s good and what’s not.

Importing & Managing Photos — Relatively little changed with how you import photos into iPhoto, although Apple modified the interface slightly, displaying your camera or media card reader in the Source pane with your other collections of photos. When you’re importing, a preview appears for each photo as it comes in; as with iPhoto 4, you can work in other parts of the program while you’re importing.

Much hyped by Apple is iPhoto 5’s new capability (actually provided by Mac OS X) to import camera movies and RAW files (from at least some cameras, though mine don’t do RAW at all); neither feature has rocked my world. Many people have been confused by the way iPhoto handles RAW files; apparently it immediately stores the RAW file in an appropriate Originals folder and generates a JPEG copy for you to work on. This is consistent with RAW being a "digital negative" format; it’s not something you ever work with directly. You can get the RAW file out of iPhoto by exporting in the original format; Revert to Original creates a new JPEG copy of the RAW original.

Movies are much easier to explain, and more disappointing. Yes, iPhoto imports them, and yes, you can add them to albums, assign them ratings and keywords, and… that’s it. You can’t even play the movies within iPhoto; double-clicking one opens it in QuickTime Player. I’d like to see iPhoto gain at least the capability to play the movies without opening another application.

A real disappointment is that iPhoto still, four years later, lacks the basic feature of Apple’s own Image Capture application: selective import of only a few pictures from a full camera. Sure, iPhoto can avoid duplicates, but that’s still a lot slower than being able to select a few thumbnails and click Import. Having cameras appear in the Source pane provides the perfect interface too; when you selected it in the Source pane, all the available thumbnails could appear in the main window just as they do with any other source.

Also frustrating is the fact that although iPhoto allows you to use multiple iPhoto Library folders, the interface for switching between them remains primitive at best. When launching iPhoto, if you hold down the Option key, it prompts you to create or pick a new library. In the end, my advice remains the same: if you want to keep entirely different sets of photos in separate iPhoto Library folders, use Brian Webster’s free iPhoto Library Manager. Note that there’s no reason to do this for performance reasons; it’s purely for organizational situations where you don’t want to mix work and personal photos, for instance.

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Organizing Photos — iPhoto 5 brings some important new features to photo organization. Most notable is the concept of these things called "folders" – perhaps you’ve heard of them. Folders, much like the real-world folders everyone uses to store pieces of paper, let you collect sets of albums, slideshows, and books. You can think of it as a "hierarchical filing system," and it’s extremely useful; kudos to Apple for adding it to iPhoto 5 only 20-some years after introducing the concept in the Finder. Pardon my sarcasm, but the inability of previous versions to allow any sort of hierarchical filing was one of the top complaints I heard. Anyway, hierarchical filing is now possible, and it’s a good thing.

The Source pane used to hold only albums, but iPhoto 5 now also shows other collections there: folders, slideshows, and books. In the past, slideshow settings and book layouts were properties of an album, which made it difficult to create and work variants over multiple sessions. Although you can rearrange the various items in the Source pane, they always maintain the same basic sort order: folders, smart albums, albums, books, and slideshows. The same is true when they’re in folders.

Apple completely revamped how keywords work, so now you define them in a pane in iPhoto’s Preferences window, and you assign them and search with them in a new Keywords pane below the Source pane. I’m reserving judgment on the keywords interface; iPhoto’s previous lousy approaches trained me never to bother with keywords. One interesting note: iPhoto 5.0.2 fixes the searching such that when you select two keywords, iPhoto shows only those photos that contain both keywords (narrowing the search), rather than photos that contain either keyword (expanding the search) as was true before 5.0.2.

Another new element under the Source pane is the Calendar pane, which is an awfully nice way to display just photos from selected time periods. The periods can be either contiguous or non-contiguous; I very much like being able to limit the visible photos to those within certain date ranges.

A new Search field lets you search for text in titles, filenames, comments, and keywords; it’s a well-done ad hoc search along the lines of the similar feature in iTunes. I haven’t used it much since I don’t put much effort into adding metadata to my photos, but it works both well and quickly. (As an aside, the reason I don’t spend effort on metadata is that iPhoto still provides no built-in way to export photos and metadata. I believe it’s possible, since the Flickr export plug-in does it, but until I can be sure that my time won’t be wasted in the event I ever want to switch to another program, I won’t assign keywords or title photos.)

All these features are welcome, but if you’ll permit some additional astonishment, why the heck can’t we change photo and film roll titles (along with dates, keywords, and ratings) directly, as has been possible in the Finder since 1984? If you want to rename a photo or film roll, you’d probably think to click the name and wait a moment, as you do in the Finder, and then type the new name. But no, renaming requires selecting the item and then changing its name in the Info pane. iPhoto has been broken in this fashion since day 1; it’s embarrassing.

Editing Photos — Perhaps the marquee feature of iPhoto 5 is its Adjust panel, which provides a number of ways you can adjust the color, exposure, and sharpness of a photo. Speaking as someone who never understood levels histograms before learning them to explain in my book, I’ve become extremely fond of the control that the Adjust panel gives me over my photos. The Enhance button, unchanged from iPhoto 4, doesn’t do as good a job as I can do with the Adjust panel – I’ve radically improved photos that would have been lousy otherwise. Of course, the downside is that now I spend more time fixing photos than I did before. Ideally, you could click the Enhance button and see its effect on the sliders in the Adjust panel so it could become a starting point for improving photos.

Understanding that the Adjust panel is a very good thing, a few criticisms are in order. Its Brightness and Contrast sliders are essentially useless; you should always use the Exposure and Sharpness sliders instead for better results – that is, unless you’re using a PowerPC G3-based Mac, in which case Brightness and Contrast are your only adjustment options. Although the Adjust panel is an interesting new interface element – a translucent floating window that lets you see your image underneath – I find the sliders themselves clumsy and hard to adjust, thanks in large part to their tiny size (and I have decent eyes and coordination!). You can click the icons on either end to move by single-increment steps, but it would be nice to have keyboard control as well.

Apart from Adjust panel, most of the changes to iPhoto’s editing capabilities are steps backwards. The red-eye reduction interface changed for the worse; now you’re supposed to select the tool and then click in the middle of the eye you want to fix. But eyes are often very small, making them tricky targets, and since the red-eye reduction doesn’t do anything if you miss an appropriately colored area, you never know if you’ve clicked in the right spot and it hasn’t worked, or if you clicked in the wrong spot. Plus, if you’re fixing red-eye in a group shot, it can take a while to click each person’s eyes. Luckily, the old interface has been added back in iPhoto 5.0.2; just select an area roughly around the eyes and click the Red-Eye button.

You can no longer Command-drag a photo while zoomed in to move around; Command-clicking now sets a white point, moving the Temperature and Tint sliders in the Adjust panel if you have it open. The idea is that you’re supposed to click on something white in the picture, but I’ve found it nearly impossible to find something the right shade in any given photo.

But the most annoying problem is that Apple changed the way edits are applied to the photo. In previous versions, you could use Undo multiple times, working your way back through edits, even if you’d gone on to edit another photo, switched modes, or whatever. Once you start editing a photo, iPhoto 5 queues up all your edits (which does have the useful effect of eliminating any worry about making adjustments in a particular order) and then applies them when you move to another photo or switch modes. Undo works only as long as you’re editing that photo; as soon as your changes are saved, you can only revert all the way back to the original.

Thus, experimentation becomes a bit tricky, since although Undo will step back through individual changes as long as you’re editing that image, the Control key before/after view shortcut sees only the full set of changes, not just the last one you’ve made. It’s also easy to make an accidental edit and save it without meaning to; there’s no indication that you’ve made a change that will be saved. And worst, it means that saving changes has become painfully slow. Every time I see that Saving Changes dialog, my blood pressure rises.

Showing Off Your Photos — Once you’ve imported, organized, and edited your photos, it’s time to show them off to others. iPhoto 5 is a mixed bag in this regard; slideshow and book creation is totally new and far better; printing, exporting Web pages, and everything else is almost entirely unchanged from iPhoto 4.

With iPhoto 5, Apple introduced what I call "saved slideshows," or slideshows which stick around in the Source pane and with which you can work repeatedly. The old approach, a "basic slideshow," is still present, and it’s what you use when you just want to use a slideshow to cull bad photos from the last import, for instance. But saved slideshows are really where it’s at, since you can adjust the timing, transitions, and even the Ken Burns Effect (pan and zoom within a still image) for each individual photo. You can also export a saved slideshow to a QuickTime movie. One warning, though: the automatic Ken Burns Effect works differently on each playing of a saved slideshow, so if you want predictable results, make sure to set the Ken Burns Effect manually for each slide. iPhoto 5.0.2 provides a useful slideshow fix – fitting the length of the slideshow to selected music now works. You still must select either a single song or a playlist from iTunes; you can’t select multiple arbitrary songs.

Also totally revamped, and generally for the better, is book creation. No longer do you have to work left-to-right or risk utter confusion; now you can drag photos from an unplaced photos list into specific slots on a page. Dragging photos into blank spots adds them (if allowed by that design) and dragging photos onto other photos swaps them. My main criticism of the new book interface is that the Autoflow layout option causes far more work than it saves if you have any opinion at all about how you want your book to look. Stick with manual layout and you’ll be fine. iPhoto 5.0.2 changes the layout interface a bit from 5.0; no longer are you prompted to choose between manual and automatic layout each time you start; instead iPhoto informs you about the Autoflow button. Also, in the first release, choosing an option from the Page Type pop-up menu would pull photos down from the unplaced photo list; now you must drag photos in manually at all times. But most welcome in iPhoto 5.0.2 is a fix for a bug that caused constant crashes in my main iPhoto library when building books. Thanks, Apple!

Perhaps my favorite fact about both slideshows and books in iPhoto 5 is that you can essentially crop images for a particular use, rather than cropping the original in a permanent way. With slideshows, it’s a matter of using the normal zoom slider; with books, you double-click the photo and zoom in. In either case, once you’ve zoomed, you can drag the image around in the frame to center it as desired. The different interfaces can be a touch confusing; if you double-click a photo in a saved slideshow, you edit it, but to edit a photo in a book, you must double-click it once to switch into zoom mode, and then double-click it again to edit it. Control-clicking a photo in a book provides an Edit Photo option, but no such similar option is available if you Control-click a photo in a saved slideshow.

One notable aspect of sharing photos that has unfortunately remained unchanged is that burning a disc of photos still creates an iPhoto Library folder on the destination disc, making the photos easily accessible to iPhoto users and rather inaccessible to everyone else. You can export photos to a ready-to-burn disc in the Finder, but it’s clumsier than is necessary; iPhoto could simply ask you whether you wanted an iPhoto Library folder on the destination or a series of folders corresponding with albums.

Also unchanged is iPhoto’s lack of support for sharing photos between multiple users of the same Mac, or sharing photos over a network such that multiple people can organize and edit the same photos. Both limitations can be worked around, thanks in part to iPhoto Library Manager, but such hacks shouldn’t be necessary.

A Closing Snapshot — It may sound as though I’m unhappy with iPhoto 5, but that’s not the case. What I’m unhappy about is the seemingly obvious problems suffered by previous versions that have once again gone unresolved. In fact, I like the new saved slideshows a lot, and I like the new book interface (though the new themes aren’t terribly impressive), and I adore what the Adjust panel enables me to do. The new keywords interface is definitely improved, and the Calendar pane and Search field are extremely welcome.

But I’m once again left pining for the next version of iPhoto which could, at least in theory, provide basics like selective import, a non-iPhoto-specific option for burning discs, better sharing of photos on the same Mac or with networked Macs, an option for exporting metadata, and direct modification of photo and film roll titles. I understand that it’s never as much fun to fix broken old features as it is to create new ones, but after four releases some of these omissions are becoming painful.

I have no intention of switching away from iPhoto, in large part because I don’t consider any collection of programs as clean and easy to use as iPhoto is for everyday photo handling tasks, and there’s no direct competition at all. In fact, what iPhoto really needs, though I’d be incredibly surprised to see it, is a serious competitor. Ideally, such a program could use the same database and photo store, but by its mere existence could significantly improve the overall state of photo management for the rest of us.

TidBITS Staff No comments

Hot Topics in TidBITS Talk/09-May-05

The second URL below each thread description points to the discussion on our Web Crossing server, which will be faster.

Tiger Shipping and Educational Discount Problems — A few people didn’t receive their pre-ordered copies of Tiger when promised, though some report being offered free software as compensation. Also, Apple’s educational discount seems to apply only online, not in Apple retail stores, though there have been some exceptions. (7 messages)



Tiger Safari Improvements — Safari 2.0 appears to handle memory much better than previous versions. (2 messages)


<> in Tiger — A reader runs into "fantastically strange" behavior in the new version of Mail, amid discussion of the program’s new, altered interface. (3 messages)



iChat AV in Tiger — How well does iChat AV under Tiger work with previous versions under Panther? One reader sees unexpected behavior. (2 messages)



Nits related to Unix in Tiger — Tiger now handles extended data information (resource forks) differently than earlier versions, and other Unix specifics. (13 messages)



Tiger installation troubles — A reader encounters unusually slow backup copying with Retrospect Express prior to installing Tiger, and others note which approaches they took when upgrading to the new operating system version. (5 messages)



Dashboard Usability — Does Dashboard’s layer-based approach work well, or is it a hindrance? (6 messages)