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TidBITS#801/17-Oct-05

Last week brought an abundance of announcements, including Apple’s record financial results and release of a video-enabled iPod, a new iMac with an iSight camera built-in, and iTunes 6 with TV shows for sale in the iTMS. Not entirely overshadowed was Palm’s release of a pair of Palm handhelds, the Z22 and TX. Microsoft was also busy, settling a lawsuit with RealNetworks and announcing plans to make its instant messaging network interoperable with Yahoo’s. Last, though not least, James Thomson shipped the slick calculator utility PCalc 3, and we published "Take Control of Permissions in Mac OS X."

Matt Neuburg No comments

PCalc Adds! (A New Version, That Is)

PCalc Adds! (A New Version, That Is) — PCalc is a calculator utility by James Thomson (who also writes DragThing, my favorite launcher). Developing a calculator is something of a thankless task, because users feel that arithmetic is something computers should just know how to do, and because a free calculator utility is always included by default. PCalc, however, has had remarkable staying power; it’s been around for a long time, and has usually been the calculator that Apple strives to emulate with each successive version of its calculator. The Tiger version of Apple’s calculator threatened to catch up at last, adding reverse Polish notation and hexadecimal/binary mode. Now PCalc strikes back with version 3, adding extensible unit conversions and user functions, plus a superior interface (you can do just about everything without the mouse, plus it looks really slick with all three drawers showing – RPN stack, Unicode, and paper tape). PCalc requires Tiger 10.4.2 (and includes a calculator Dashboard widget); it costs $20 and is a free upgrade for current PCalc users. [MAN]

<http://www.pcalc.com/english/whatsnew.html>

Adam Engst No comments

Adam Helps Launch MacNotables Podcast

Adam Helps Launch MacNotables Podcast — Podcasting is all the rage right now, and it’s something we’ve thought about doing in a variety of ways for TidBITS and Take Control. But the obstacles are huge – learning entirely new technologies and skills, coming up with interesting topics to talk about, and carving out time in our already overcommitted schedules on a regular basis. So when Chuck Joiner, who has tons of experience with The User Group Report, called to run an idea past me, I sort of ambushed him with a related idea – why not create a new podcast with a group of well-known Mac people who weren’t currently participating in the podcast space? In one fell swoop, the idea, now a reality as the MacNotables podcast, eliminated all the problems that had kept many of us out of the podcasting world. Chuck’s production, interviewing, and scheduling skills anchor the podcast, which features a veritable who’s who of panelists, including Chris Breen of PlaylistMag.com, Bryan Chaffin of The Mac Observer, Jim Dalrymple of MacCentral and Macworld.com, Tonya and me representing TidBITS, Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times, Ted Landau, Bob LeVitus of the Houston Chronicle, and Dennis Sellers of Macsimum News. The first few episodes have been panel discussions: the first one focused on Apple’s financials and speculation about last week’s announcements, while the second covered Apple’s new products. So give us a listen, and stay tuned for more notable episodes. Use the second link below to subscribe via iTunes; the MacNotables home page has links for general RSS subscription and direct listening. [ACE]

<http://www.macnotables.com/>
<http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/ wa/viewPodcast?id=82507146>

Adam Engst No comments

DealBITS Drawing: Swift Publisher Winners

DealBITS Drawing: Swift Publisher Winners — Congratulations to Kevin Savetz of savetz.com, Ole Andreas Kongsgaarden of c2i.net, and Marijn van der Waa of xs4all.nl, whose entries were chosen randomly in last week’s DealBITS drawing and who each received an electronic copy of BeLight Software’s Swift Publisher, worth $34.95. If you weren’t among our winners, you can still save 15 percent on Swift Publisher through 26-Oct-05 by using the links below (the second link is for the download edition of Swift Publisher for $29.95, the third one is for the CD edition for $33.95 plus shipping (a total of $43.95); the CD edition contains 23,000 images and 100 designs versus 800 images and 60 designs in the download edition). This offer is open to all TidBITS readers. Keep an eye out for future DealBITS drawings! [ACE]

<http://www.belightsoft.com/swiftpublisher/>
<https://usd.swreg.org/cgi-bin/s.cgi?s=31176& amp;p=311761832&v=1&d=0&q=1& amp;t=&a=tidbits>
<https://usd.swreg.org/cgi-bin/s.cgi?s=31176& amp;p=311761832&v=1&d=1&q=1& amp;t=&a=tidbits>
<http://www.tidbits.com/dealbits/swift-publisher />
<https://tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tbart=08277>

Adam Engst No comments

DealBITS Drawing: MaxProtect II from MaxUpgrades

Many different companies produce laptop cases in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and designs. If you’re interested in an impact-resistant briefcase for Apple’s three PowerBook models, check out the new MaxProtect II from MaxUpgrades. Why only the PowerBook models? The MaxProtect II achieves some of its protection by providing a form-fitting, cushioned velvet interior that eliminates internal motion in the event of a impact and offers protection against scratches (though you won’t carry much more than the PowerBook in it for the same reason). It’s covered in synthetic leather, has both internal and external cushioning, and is lightweight (1.9 to 3 pounds, or .86 to 1.4 kg, depending on size). Plus, you could make a real fashion statement by wearing a dark suit and sunglasses and chaining it to your wrist.

<http://www.maxupgrades.com/istore/index.cfm? fuseaction=product.display&Product_ ID=137>

In this week’s DealBITS drawing, you can enter to win your choice of the three sizes of MaxProtect II cases, worth $49, $59, or $69, depending on size. Entrants who aren’t our lucky winner will receive a discount, so if you’re looking for a new rigid PowerBook case, be sure to enter at the DealBITS page linked below. 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. Remember too, that if someone you refer to this drawing wins, you’ll receive the same prize to reward you for spreading the word.

<http://www.tidbits.com/dealbits/maxprotect/>
<http://www.tidbits.com/about/privacy.html>

Geoff Duncan No comments

Apple Quadruples Q4 Profit

Apple Computer has published the financial results for its fourth fiscal quarter of 2005, and… well, there’s no other way to put this. Somewhere in Cupertino, someone is rolling around in a big pile of money and laughing like a comic book villain on nitrous oxide. Apple earned $430 million on $3.68 billion in revenue, marking the highest quarterly revenue and profit in the company’s 29-year history. Compared to the same quarter a year ago, Apple quadrupled its profit.

<http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2005/oct/ 11results.html>

For the quarter, Apple’s operating margin was a healthy 28.1 percent (up from 27 percent a year ago), and 40 percent of the company’s revenue came from outside the United States. The quarter also concludes a great year for the company, marked by 68 percent revenue growth and a 384 percent increase in net profit year-over-year. Apple pulled in $13.93 billion during fiscal 2005, from which it squeezed $1.335 billion in profit.

What’s fueling Apple’s windfall? In a word, iPods. To be sure, the company managed to shuffle 1.2 million Macintosh computers out the door (split nearly evenly between desktop and portables, with 602,000 and 634,000 Macs of each type sold, respectively), a highly respectable increase of 48 percent year-over-year. And the company generated $590 million in revenue from things like the peripherals and non-computer hardware, software like the iLife application bundle and Mac OS X, and .Mac memberships, etc.

However, these traditional activities of Apple, a computer company, are being rapidly overshadowed by its music business, which now accounts for over 40 percent of the company’s revenue. Apple shipped 6.45 million iPods during the last three months and pulled in another $265 million from other music offerings like the iTunes Music Store. (And it’s a good bet that some of the money accounted for separately as hardware and peripherals are, in fact, iPod-related: speakers, lanyards, batteries, adapters… and, fer gosh sake, socks.)

Does Apple think the ball is going to stop rolling? Nope: for its first quarter of 2006 – which includes the end-of-year holiday buying season – Apple is anticipating revenues of around $4.7 billion.

Geoff Duncan No comments

Apple Unveils Video iPod & New Media-centric iMac

In one of its trademark media events in San Jose on 12-Oct-05, Apple Computer took the wraps off its new fifth-generation video-capable iPod and a new, slimmer iMac with an integrated iSight video camera and new Front Row media software.

First, Apple’s fifth-generation iPod sports a 2.5-inch LCD screen which, like previous color iPods, can display album art and photographs, but can also play video, including music videos, television episodes, video podcasts, and home movies. The new iPods are available in 30 GB and 60 GB capacities at $300 and $400, respectively: Apple says the 60 GB model can hold up to 150 hours of video. The new iPods are also slimmer than their now bulky-seeming predecessors: the 30 GB model measures 4.1 by 2.4 by 0.43 inches (104 by 61 by 11 mm) while the 60 GB model is just slightly thicker at 4.1 by 2.4 by 0.55 inches (104 by 61 by 14 mm). The new iPods will be available from Apple this week in both white and the highly popular black.

<http://www.apple.com/ipod/ipod.html>

Like previous iPods, the new fifth-generation portable player works with both Mac OS X and Windows XP; video and other content is synchronized to the iPod from the user’s computer via iTunes 6, also announced (see "iTunes 6 Gets Video," elsewhere in this issue). Apple says the new 60 GB iPods get up to 20 hours of battery life playing music, while the 30 GB models play tunes for up to 14 hours. Video and slideshow playback is more costly, however: the 60 GB model can play 4 hours of slides or 3 hours of video, while the 30 GB model conks out after 3 hours of slides or 2 hours of video. The iPods feature a stereo minijack for headphones, a Dock connector enabling USB 2.0 connections to a host computer, and (most intriguingly) composite video and audio output through the minijack, enabling users to play iPod-stored video on a television or other video device with a special AV cable. A separate Universal Dock accessory supports S-video. Missing from the new iPods? FireWire. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, you’ll want a Mac with USB 2.0 to load music, podcasts, video, and other content onto a new iPod.

<http://www.apple.com/itunes/>

Not to be lost in the (ahem) shuffle, Apple also showed off a new, slimmer iMac G5, sporting either a 17- or 20-inch LCD screen, an integrated iSight video camera, and new Front Row media software which can play music and videos from your iTunes collection, show slides of iPhoto images, or play home video – all from any nearby seat, via an included remote control that features an (ahem) familiar-looking click wheel design. Although Front Row offers easy access to media stored on the iMac, it’s almost more interesting to say what Front Row is not: a personal video recorder or media server. Front Row does not turn a Mac into a TiVo-like personal video recorder, nor does it manage distribution and access to media across a network.

<http://www.apple.com/imac/>
<http://www.apple.com/imac/frontrow.html>

Clearly aimed more at the dorm room than the home theater, the iMac G5 faetures a familiar set of specifications and features: either a 1.9 or 2.1 GHz PowerPC G5 processor, 512 MB of RAM (expandable up to 2.5 GB), a 160 or 250 GB hard disk, an 8x SuperDrive, an ATI Radeon X600 Pro or X600 Pro XT graphics controllers, two FireWire 400 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, two USB 1.1 ports, and VGA out, plus S-Video and composite video out (via a separate adapter). The iMac G5s also sport Gigabit Ethernet, AirPort Extreme, built-in Bluetooth, built-in stereo speakers, a built-in mic, headphone/optical audio output, and audio line in. Notably missing is a built-in modem, although you can add an external USB modem for $50 if you’re forced to use a dial-up Internet connection or wish to send and receive faxes.

New to the iMac equation is the built-in iSight video camera, suitable for video conferencing via iChat AV, or for creating your own home movies and video podcasts. A new application called Photo Booth turns the iMac into… well, a photo booth. The new iMacs also sport Apple’s multi-button Mighty Mouse, making the new iMac G5 the first Macintosh in history to ship with a multi-button mouse by default. It appears that the single-button Apple Mouse is on its way out, given that the Mighty Mouse and the Bluetooth-based Apple Wireless Mouse are the only pointing devices now available separately.

<http://www.apple.com/imac/isight.html>
<http://www.apple.com/mightymouse/>

The new iMac G5 models are available starting this week; pricing ranges from $1,300 for the 17-inch, 1.9 GHz version to $1,700 for the 20-inch, 2.1 GHz version, with several build-to-order options available.

Adam Engst No comments

iTunes 6 Gets Video

In the much-anticipated "One More Thing…" special event last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced iTunes 6, just five weeks after the release of iTunes 5. That version numbering was somewhat deceptive; iTunes 5.0 was really just the next point upgrade after iTunes 4.9, and its features reflected that reality. Although it doesn’t look much different from the previous versions, iTunes 6 (and the iTunes Music Store) breaks new ground in a variety of ways, most notably in its support for video.

Along with the oodles of songs available on the iTunes Music Store, iTunes 6 now enables you to buy short films from Pixar, music videos, and select ABC and Disney TV shows for $1.99 each; TV shows currently available include Desperate Housewives, Lost, Night Stalker, The Suite Life, and That’s So Raven. New episodes will appear the day after they’re broadcast. Each episode checks in at about 180 MB, and Jobs claimed they’d take 10 to 20 minutes to download over a broadband connection. Along with the television shows, you can also buy music videos and short films for $1.99 each; they’re smaller and thus faster to download. The videos are 320 by 240 pixels in size (the same resolution as the new video iPod), so don’t expect to watch DVD-quality presentations.

Also new in iTunes 6 is the capability to give people music, TV shows, or music videos to anyone with an email address, making it possible to build digital music and video into gift-giving habits, something that’s been tricky for downloadable products so far.

In yet another attempt to help you buy more from the iTunes Music Store, iTunes 6 now provides "Just For You," a built-in recommendation service that points you toward music that you might like, based on music that you’ve bought already. Just For You is still in beta, and although some of its recommendations seemed reasonable, others were truly wacky (such as recommending the audio book of C. S. Lewis’s "Prince Caspian" because I’d bought the album "Painting It Red" by the Beautiful South). If you don’t like the automatically generated suggestions from Just For You, you might be able to learn more about new music via reviews submitted by iTunes customers. With these Amazon-like features, how long will it be before we have an iTunes Music Store popularity ranking for every song and TV show as well?

Currently the TV shows are accessible only to United States customers, probably due to licensing agreements. It’s too bad, since first run television shows from the United States would be wildly popular in countries that must normally wait months or years for the shows to air locally. Some BBC shows from the United Kingdom would undoubtedly enjoy a similar popularity in the United States.

Clearly, the handful of TV shows currently available in the iTunes Music Store is just the tip of the iceberg, given the number of other shows and, looking forward, full-length movies produced by ABC and Disney and their subsidiary networks, like the cable sports channel ESPN. Once the near-certain popularity of downloading TV shows is proven, Steve Jobs will undoubtedly manage to convince other networks to sell through the iTunes Music Store as well, including the back catalog of old but still popular shows. And that, my friends, will be a major change in the entertainment landscape, since there are many people, like Tonya and me, who will happily (and economically) trade cable TV for access to individual programs.

I can’t see music video sales being as popular, since music videos started primarily as a way of advertising an artist’s music, and as advertising, have always been available for free up to this point. There’s no question that some music videos have excellent production values and stand on their own as an art form, but pricing a several-minute music video the same as a 60 minute television show seems wrong.

It’s also worth noting that with video gaining a central spot in the iTunes Music Store and being played through iTunes, those names are becoming increasingly inaccurate and almost uncomfortable, much along the lines of clicking the Start button in Windows when you want to shut down. That said, Apple has a great deal invested in "iTunes" and "iTunes Music Store," making it difficult to switch to something more all-encompassing and generic (like calling the software "iPod for Macintosh" and the store the "iPod Store").

iTunes 6 is of course free as a 14 MB download, and Software Update has it as well. iTunes 6 requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later, with 10.3.9 or later required for video. Playing videos purchased from the iTunes Music Store also requires that you install QuickTime 7.0.3, a free download you can get via Software Update or as a 32.3 MB stand-alone download.

<http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/>
<http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/>

Glenn Fleishman No comments

RealNetworks and Microsoft Settle, Present New Unified Front

The moral of last week’s settlement agreement between RealNetworks and Microsoft is apparently that if you continue a lawsuit long enough against the Redmond software giant, they pay you off – in this case, to the (pun-intended) tune of $761 million.

<http://www.realnetworks.com/company/press/ releases/2005/real_microsoft.html>

That’s not to say that ex-Microsoftie and RealNetworks founder Rob Glaser’s complaints about Microsoft’s past predatory practices were invalid. On the contrary, Microsoft clearly engaged in activities designed to make it harder for Windows users to use RealNetworks’s audio and video products reliably. Whether these points were illegal in a criminal or civil standpoint had not yet been proven; Microsoft had been found to violate anti-trust laws in 2000 (see our coverage in TidBITS-525).

<https://tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tbart=05875>

The $761 million that RealNetworks will receive comes in two pieces. The first installment of $460 million, paid up front, is intended to resolve all Real’s claims for damages worldwide. Real also gets long-term access and licenses for Microsoft’s Windows Media technology. Microsoft will also let RealNetworks integrate its player much more fully into Windows, let users more easily choose which media player to use, and allow companies like Dell to pre-install RealPlayer without crying foul or imposing sanctions.

The second chunk, $301 million, is actually credit against services. Microsoft will market Rhapsody, RealNetworks’s subscription Windows-only streaming service, through MSN, and RealNetworks gets the right to buy ads on MSN to promote Rhapsody. In turn, RealNetworks will incorporate MSN Search within RealPlayer and will commit to using Microsoft technology for some services.

How does this affect Apple? Microsoft isn’t buying RealNetworks, so we still have three large competing formats:Windows Media, RealAudio/RealVideo, and QuickTime. The market will remain in three pieces. In fact, it’s clear that both RealNetworks and Microsoft are committed to developing their own formats further. But the disturbing part for Apple is that the two companies will work to make their digital rights management (DRM) schemes interoperable, which could create more unified competition for Apple’s iTunes/iPod/iTunes Music Store troika, in which content is protected by Apple’s closely held FairPlay DRM.

In recent years, RealNetworks has transformed itself from its roots as a server software company that gave away a free player. Now the company is increasingly a premium subscription services firm that licenses content and distributes it through its RealPlayer Gold service, which handles video, and its Rhapsody music subscription service, which streams an unlimited number of different tunes to a PC for a monthly fee.

Real’s stock surged upwards by 36 percent following the announcement, closing at nearly $8 per share. The stock, adjusted for splits, hit its all-time high of nearly $100 per share in 2000. In the last two years, the stock has gyrated between bands of about $5 and $7. The first payment of $460 million will bring the company’s cash on hand from $260 million to $720 million.

(Disclosure: I own a very small number of RealNetworks shares because of the purchase eight years ago of a company I helped out in its early days. I never worked for RealNetworks, and my material benefit is not significant in terms of overall holdings.)

Glenn Fleishman No comments

Instant Messaging World Coalesces, a Little

For a technology that enables people the world over to communicate easily, the current instant messaging (IM) networks are surprisingly close-mouthed. Currently, users of the three major IM networks – MSN, Yahoo, and AOL (which Apple uses for iChat) – cannot chat between different services. However, that limitation will start to disappear within the next six months, as Microsoft (MSN) and Yahoo announced last week that they would have interoperable instant-messaging networks by the second quarter of 2006.

<http://www.eweek.com/article2/ 0,1895,1870365,00.asp>

The two networks together represent about 44 percent of users, but eWeek points to research showing that AOL, with 56 percent of the market, has about 40 percent of regular usage. For years, MSN, Yahoo, and AOL have sparred over interoperability, and occasionally one has tried to build a temporary bridge between the networks. But it was clear that only a top-level agreement could pull together the pieces.

Basic shared features between MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger will include buddy lists, computer-to-computer voice calling, and emoticons (thank goodness ;-}).

It’s possible that this consolidation will eventually force AOL to join the club and allow interconnections as it will be increasingly frustrating for their IM users to not be able to reach the combined Microsoft/Yahoo networks.

In the United States, cell-phone based SMS (short messaging service) text didn’t take off until the several cellular operators cleaned up their act to allow simple cross-network messaging. SMS and more advanced multimedia messaging caught on here only after that. Text messaging users in the rest of the world, already able to communicate across networks, were addicted years before.

Windows users who subscribe to multiple instant-messaging networks have had a leg up with the Trillian application for some time. Though Trillian can’t bridge different chat networks, it consolidates your login for multiple networks into a single program with additional features. Mac users can look at Fire 1.5 or Adium (in pre-release development). Both support all the major services, including Yahoo, MSN, and AIM, though they don’t resolve the issue of a subscriber of one service being able to contact a subscriber of another.

<http://www.ceruleanstudios.com/>
<http://fire.sourceforge.net/>
<http://www.adiumx.com/>

Glenn Fleishman No comments

Cheap Palm, Connected Palm

Before Apple started teasing the press last Wednesday in a cell phone-unfriendly auditorium, Palm announced their two latest handheld organizers, both of which come with Mac OS X support out of the box.

<http://www.palm.com/us/>

Palm, Inc. dropped the Zire and Tungsten "sub-brand" names, as they called them, keeping just the initials. The $100 Palm Z22 is aimed at casual users who can’t always remember to keep a battery charged, while the $300 TX offers greater connectivity at a mid-range price.

<http://www.palm.com/us/products/handhelds/z22/>
<http://www.palm.com/us/products/handhelds/tx/>

Palm Z22 — The Z22 comes with infrared and a mini-USB port (with a special cable), but more cleverly includes 32 MB of flash RAM (which doesn’t lose its data if the battery goes dead). The Z22 works with Mac OS X 10.2.8 to 10.4.x, Windows 2000, and Windows XP.

Palm hopes that this model will appeal to folks who want to be able to run Palm applications and have a portable device with a color screen (160 by 160 pixels), and who will find the price point appealing. Palm also understands that the primary problem for this audience is, in fact, keeping the battery charged. The non-volatile memory is a great idea.

The Z22 comes with a USB sync cable (but doesn’t require or include a cradle). The Z22 also comes with an AC adapter and a selection of built-in software, including a few games.

Palm TX — The Palm TX will attempt to work its magic on a different audience: one that wants the portability of a small computing device along with Internet connectivity and a good media player. It comes with infrared, Bluetooth 1.1, and Wi-Fi built-in, 128 MB of memory, and a massive 320 by 480 pixel screen.

The screen orientation can change from landscape to portrait with a single click, making it easier to view Web pages and videos. The device has an SD/SDIO slot that can accept cards up to 2 GB in size (Palm lists a 2 GB card as coming soon on their in-house store for $250).

Out of the box, the device can play only MP3s using PocketTunes, but an upgrade to the Deluxe version enables playback of WMA files and Plays4Sure-protected files and streaming media from compatible services like Rhapsody. This is one way a Mac user could gain access to those subscription music services, as none work on the Mac.

<http://www.pocket-tunes.com/>

Transferring music from a Mac requires an SD card, which appears on the Mac desktop as if the Palm TX were just another USB storage device. The PocketTunes Deluxe version doesn’t add playback for AAC or Protected AAC (used by the iTunes Music Store) because Apple doesn’t license its FairPlay digital rights management system.

Palm bundles a variety of Palm software, but two of the three third-party packages that Palm highlighted in its announcement have some issues with the Mac. Avvenu is a remote desktop file access program, but it works only on computers running Windows XP SP1 or later. DataViz’s Documents To Go handles opening and editing Microsoft Office documents; Mac PowerPoint files can be viewed but not edited. It also reads specially converted PDF files, although a later version promises to be able to open them without conversion.

Finally, although it’s only sold separately, Palm’s pre-release briefing and press release both mentioned a subscription-based television service called MobiTV that should work well over Wi-Fi. MobiTV’s pricing hasn’t been set in this trial phase, but they expect to offer at least 10 channels of news, sports, and entertainment, growing over time.

<http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google /index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view& amp;newsId=20051011005023& amp;newsLang=en>
<http://www.mobitv.com/>

Video, Video, Everywhere — I couldn’t help being struck by the differences between Apple’s new 30 GB video iPod and the Palm TX, both of which cost $300. The new iPod has a 240 by 320 pixel screen, half the area of the Palm TX’s screen, and a 30 GB hard drive that dwarfs the TX’s 128 MB of RAM. The Palm features four connection methods, three of them wireless; the iPod has only its dock connector. Out of the box, the iPod can play several music formats, but offers no option for Microsoft DRM-protected tunes or WMA (without conversion); the TX plays only MP3s and WMA (protected and not) with a separate $35 upgrade.

That’s where the feature-to-feature comparison ends. The Palm is a general purpose computational device with an operating system supported by a microcosm of Palm OS developers. It can play video and music, edit documents, run terminal sessions, and browse the Web.

The iPod plays music and video. Apple has secured music and video licensing rights and one assumes much more content will be coming down the pipe. Palm has none. Though many people may not realize it, the iPod provides a variety of built-in PDA-like features, along with its capability to act as an external hard drive (see Steve Sande’s "Take Control of Your iPod: Beyond the Music" for details). But there’s no way to write new software for the iPod, and it seems unlikely that Apple will ever open it up to developers.

<http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/ipod-btm.html? [email protected]@!pt=TRK-0025-TB801>

This doesn’t make the iPod worse in any sense. Its hard drive makes up much of the difference in price versus functionality, for instance. But it’s a stark comparison, because the Palm isn’t unusable in the way that many of the music players that compete with the iPod are unusable. Its interface isn’t terrible. Its speed isn’t slow. The Palm does many things quite well; the iPod excels at just a few tasks.

I wouldn’t have thought of comparing an iPod and a Palm head to head just a few days ago. Now, it’s an obvious comparison.

Tonya Engst No comments

Take Control News/17-Oct-05

"Take Control of Permissions in Mac OS X" Released — When Adam and I conceived of the Take Control series back in 2003, we imagined multiple ebooks, each functioning like a chapter in a huge volume about the Mac – readers could buy only those chapters that were of interest, and we could provide deeper and more current coverage than a print book could offer.

In our initial brainstorming sessions with authors, a number of people suggested writing about permissions, those sometimes-pesky settings that control who can do what to which files, folders, and disks on a Mac. Between swapping stories of permissions problems that we’d encountered – files that wouldn’t delete, boot drives that wouldn’t give us access to our own accounts, the ubiquity of the recommendation to repair permissions to solve random problems – we kept trying to slot the topic of permissions into an ebook that someone was already writing, such as "Take Control of Users & Accounts in Panther" or "Take Control of Sharing Files in Panther." However, giving readers the knowledge to take control of permissions requires providing a careful mix of practical details and theory, and the topic was just too deep to cover in the context of sharing files or user accounts.

Fast forward a year. Out of the blue, Brian Tanaka contacted us because he wanted write an ebook about permissions. With his years of solid Unix experience and genuine love of the Macintosh, Brian was perfect for the job, and I took on the task of editing the ebook, knowing that it would stretch my technical understanding of Mac OS X (especially since I have essentially no Unix background) and because I felt that if I could understand the ebook, almost anyone could. After many months of writing, thoughtful discussions, and expert review, it is with great pleasure that I announce "Take Control of Permissions in Mac OS X."

Reading this ebook will help you understand your Mac as never before, and you’ll learn how you keep your files private, copy files to and from servers effectively, set the Ignore Permissions option for external disks, repair screwy permissions, and delete files that just won’t die. For those who want to learn advanced concepts, the ebook delves into topics like the sticky bit, access control lists, bit masks, and symbolic versus absolute ways to set permissions. The ebook also discusses the pros and cons of working with permissions via the Finder’s Get Info and Inspector windows, in several more-capable Macintosh utilities, and through the Unix command line; for each option (particularly the flexible and powerful Unix command line), it gives detailed instructions.

You can read more about Brian’s ebook, download a free 26-page excerpt, and place an order at:

<http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/permissions- [email protected]@!pt=TRK-0026-TB801- TCNEWS>

TidBITS Staff No comments

Hot Topics in TidBITS Talk/17-Oct-05

The first link for each thread description points to the traditional TidBITS Talk interface; the second link points to the same discussion on our Web Crossing server, which provides a different look and which may be faster.

iDisk Performance — Slow performance when accessing files on an iDisk prompts discussion of alternatives. (3 messages)

<https://tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tlkthrd=2737>
<http://emperor.tidbits.com/TidBITS/Talk/586/>

10.4 vs 10.3.9 — An owner of a new Mac mini is unhappy with Tiger; can he downgrade to Panther? As part of the discussion, readers offer solutions for improving performance, disabling Dashboard and Spotlight, and more. (14 messages)

<https://tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tlkthrd=2738>
<http://emperor.tidbits.com/TidBITS/Talk/587/>

Activation in Adobe CS2 — Adobe Creative Suite 2 can be installed on two machines per license (such as on a desktop and a laptop), but what happens if one machine dies? (3 messages)

<https://tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tlkthrd=2739>
<http://emperor.tidbits.com/TidBITS/Talk/588/>

How to clean keyboards? Damp cloth? Compressed air? Dishwasher?!? Explore the many methods of cleaning keyboards. (7 messages)

<https://tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tlkthrd=2741>
<http://emperor.tidbits.com/TidBITS/Talk/590/>

Review: The iBook/AirPort/OS X experience — A reader new to the Mac posts his experiences and some further questions about buying an iBook and AirPort Base Station. (8 messages)

<https://tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tlkthrd=2743>
<http://emperor.tidbits.com/TidBITS/Talk/592/>

TidBITS 800: Trends to Watch — Readers respond to Adam’s article on the state of the Mac world. (2 messages)

<https://tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tlkthrd=2744>
<http://emperor.tidbits.com/TidBITS/Talk/593/>

The iMac Cyclops — The integrated iSight camera in the new iMac G5 gained a lot of attention, but TidBITS Talk readers also noticed that the machine lacks a built-in modem (an external modem is all that’s available). (10 messages)

<https://tidbits.com/getbits.acgi?tlkthrd=2745>
<http://emperor.tidbits.com/TidBITS/Talk/594/>