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Just in time for Halloween, Apple surprises you with a ghoulish set of bug fixes in Mac OS X 10.4.3! Travis Butler returns with a look at three third-party AC adapters for Apple’s laptop computers, and Geoff Duncan tunes into ICANN’s long-running Internet soap opera. Adam passes on news and tips about some new Retrospect 6.1 updates, and we also note the third-generation Squeezebox and SlimServer 6.2 software, OmniWeb 5.1.2, a slew of pro video software updates from Apple, and of course, the iTunes Music Store opening in Australia.

Geoff Duncan No comments

iTunes Music Store Sells Over 1 Million Videos

iTunes Music Store Sells Over 1 Million Videos — Less than 20 days after unveiling new video-capable iPods and announcing Apple would begin selling music videos, short films, and selected ad-free ABC television episodes for $1.99 apiece, Apple says it has already sold more than 1 million videos through its iTunes Music Store. The most popular items include music videos from Michael Jackson, Fatboy Slim, and Kanye West; Pixar’s shorts For the Birds and Boundin’; and episodes of Lost and Desperate Housewives. Apple’s press release quotes CEO Steve Jobs saying the sales indicate a strong market for legal video downloads, and pledging to expand iTMS’s video offerings. Is it too soon to hope for The Honeymooners or Your Show of Shows? [GD]

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Andrew Laurence No comments

Squeezebox Gets New Design, Software Upgrade

Squeezebox Gets New Design, Software Upgrade — Slim Devices has released the third generation of their Squeezebox network music player (see "Squeezebox2: Long Live Rock" in TidBITS-782). The change is largely cosmetic, as the new player’s design features the polished metal look that’s all the rage, and it stands upright like a picture frame. (Personally, I like how the prior design nestles subtly inside my stereo rack.) Technical improvements include two internal wireless antennas, and a new power supply. The player is available in black or white, with a matching remote control.



SlimServer 6.2 adds support for automatic volume adjustment; it reads settings stored by the Volume Adjustment and Sound Check features of iTunes, or mp3gain, aacgain, J.River Media Center, or replaygain (in Ogg Vorbis or FLAC files). The Windows Media Audio (WMA) format is now supported on all platforms, including files and streaming radio stations. New firmware for the Squeezebox 2 and 3 adds Wake-on-LAN support, Unicode character display, and support for WPA2 security on 802.11g wireless networks. [ATL]


Adam Engst No comments

OmniWeb 5.1.2 Released

OmniWeb 5.1.2 Released — The Omni Group has released OmniWeb 5.1.2, a minor update aimed primarily at fixing bugs (see "OmniWeb 5.0: The Powerful Web Browser" in TidBITS-742 for a full review). New features in OmniWeb 5.1.2 include support for Fast User Switching and the Flash Player 8 plug-in. JavaScript alert() and prompt() dialogs now properly display the domain that initiated them and bring the initiating page or tab to the front, a useful security measure. Most of the changes, however, are bug fixes, ranging from the trivial, such as corrected tooltips, to the significant, including a variety of crashing bugs. See the release notes for a full list. OmniWeb 5.1.2 costs $30, and upgrades are free to registered users as a 6.0 MB (English) or 10.3 MB (internationalized) disk image. [ACE]


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Adam Engst No comments

Apple Opens iTunes Music Store in Australia

Apple Opens iTunes Music Store in Australia — Much to the delight of some of our friends down under, Apple has finally opened a version of the iTunes Music Store in Australia. Reportedly, the delay was due to at least one of the big music companies holding out, and that may account for the lack of artists from the Sony/BMG label. Despite this, Apple claims over 1 million tracks, including a number of exclusives from Australian musicians, and over 1,000 music videos; that’s about half the size of the U.S. iTunes Music Store. Also currently missing are TV shows, which undoubtedly require an entirely different licensing process. Prices are a bit higher than the U.S. iTunes Music Store, with most songs costing A$1.69, which is equivalent to US$1.28 at the moment, in comparison with the US$0.99 that U.S. customers pay for most tracks. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see Apple finally serving Australian Mac and iPod users in this way. [ACE]

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Jeff Carlson No comments

Apple Releases Pro Video Updates

Apple Releases Pro Video Updates — Apple recently released a slew of updates to its professional video software. Final Cut Express HD 3.0.1 adds compatibility with the recently announced Power Mac G5s equipped with PCI Express graphics controllers; the update is a 948K download. For Final Cut Pro 5 users, the Final Cut Pro 5 Updates provide "improved reliability" and bring Final Cut to version 5.0.3; the updater is an 85 MB download. Apple also released Pro Applications Update 2005-02, which updates the Helium.framework and DesktopVideoOut.component used by Final Cut Studio, Apple Qmaster 2, and Final Cut Express HD 3; it’s available via Software Update. Finally, Pro Application Support 3.1 improves general user interface reliability for Final Cut Studio, Soundtrack, Logic Pro, and Logic Express; separate versions for Mac OS X 10.3 and 10.4 are available as 6.1 MB downloads. [JLC]

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Geoff Duncan No comments

Apple Releases Mac OS X 10.4.3

Apple has released Mac OS X 10.4.3, the latest update to its Tiger operating system. Two versions are available: one, the "Delta" update, updates Mac OS X 10.4.2 to 10.4.3, while the other "Combo" update brings either Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.4.1 to version 10.4.3. The 10.4.3. update is available for free from Apple either via Software Update or as separate standalone installers: sizes vary depending on computer models and software installed, but range from around 55 MB for the Delta update to 109 MB for the standalone Combo updater.

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The Mac OS X 10.4.3 update is a collection of bug fixes and tweaks, rather than new features or capabilities, and the update includes previous security updates Apple has released for all versions of Mac OS X 10.4. According to Apple, the following changes and improvements highlight Mac OS X 10.4.3; the complete release notes are available at the first URL above, Apple’s Web page describing the "Delta" update.

  • Spotlight searches in the Finder should be more responsive (which is welcome; it’s difficult to imagine them being less responsive!); Spotlight comments should also be preserved during iDisk synchronization.

  • Safari should be more compatible with webcams, handle Macromedia Shockwave projects accelerated using OpenGL, and pass the tortuous "Acid 2" CSS rendering test. (Viewing the Acid 2 test’s source is recommended for amusement purposes only.)


  • Disk Utility can (finally!) verify the Mac OS X startup volume. To perform repairs, though, you still need to start up from another Mac OS X disk (such as a spare hard drive or an installation DVD.)

  • In Mail, Smart Folders which use "entire message contains" and other criteria with the "any" qualifier now work correctly, and Apple has fixed a bug in which some Mail rules could sometimes be lost or duplicated following a .Mac sync. Mail also accepts Smart Groups dragged from the Address Book to a message’s recipient fields, and better handles meeting requests sent from Microsoft Outlook to an Exchange account.

  • iChat supports encrypted chat sessions between .Mac members, and tries to address persistent alerts about insufficient bandwidth and missing data during video chats. Also, users can elect to have emoticons shown as plain text rather than graphics (handy for those of us who occasionally get tripped up when face-like graphics appear in code snippets pasted into iChat sessions).

  • Hebrew and Arabic text is better handled in both Safari and Mail.

  • Fixes an issue where Microsoft Word and Excel 2004 stop responding to user input for several seconds at a time.

  • Items copied to a Drop Box have their permissions set correctly and file permissions inside packages are correctly set when changing permissions to enclosed items via a Finder’s Info window.

  • Improves connecting to and mounting SMB volumes, along with compatibility with Squid proxy servers. The Finder is also better at mounting and accessing MS-DOS volumes, which amusingly includes Apple’s iPod shuffle.

  • The Address Book’s URL field now syncs with .Mac, Address Book subgroups can be synced with an iPod via iTunes, and .Mac synchronization errors are better reported in the dotmacsync.log file.

  • The Apple Wireless keyboard can now be used in single-user mode; also, upper ASCII characters in account passwords no longer potentially prevent login or crash the Mac OS X startup sequence.

  • Quartz 2D Extreme is completely disabled: it was never a supported feature in Tiger, and re-enabling it may cause redraw issues or system crashes.

Adam Engst No comments

New Retrospect 6.1 Updates

After releasing Retrospect 6.1 several weeks ago (see "Retrospect 6.1 Gains Full Tiger Compatibility" in TidBITS-799), EMC Dantz has pumped out a few more minor updates. Most interesting is Retrospect Express 6.1, which is a free update for anyone who received Retrospect Express 6.0 bundled with an external hard drive; Retrospect Express isn’t sold separately any more. (Note that you must install Retrospect Express 6.0 before attempting to update to 6.1). As with the full Retrospect 6.1, Retrospect Express 6.1 now supports Tiger’s extended attributes and access control lists, along with providing some bug fixes and tweaks for full Tiger compatibility. Also released recently was an update to the Retrospect Client software that fixes a bug that caused Net Retry errors; Retrospect Client wasn’t properly deleting the old retropds.log file on the client system. If you installed Retrospect 6.1 before 12-Oct-05, be sure to download and install Retrospect Client 6.1.107 or later. You may have to install it manually, since the Net Retry problem can affect updating remotely from Retrospect, but the benefit of installing manually is that the new Retrospect Client installer can automatically add exceptions to the Mac OS X firewall for itself.



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Also, there was some confusion related to our initial coverage of Retrospect 6.1, since we said that Retrospect 6.1 provided full Tiger compatibility, and yet there’s a note in the Read Me that talks about how Retrospect doesn’t back up the Spotlight database (specifically, it excludes the .Spotlight-V100 directory). Retrospect is doing the right thing here – since the Spotlight database won’t be correct for the content on a restored volume, there’s no point in backing it up and restoring it. Spotlight rebuilds the database in the background after you restore.

Other Notes of Interest — Retrospect 6.1 now always creates separate data and catalog files by default, and these files must be stored together in the same directory and not renamed. This approach is necessary to avoid the Mac OS-imposed limit of 16 MB in a file’s resource fork, which was where Retrospect previously saved catalog data. Although Retrospect 6.1 supports backup sets created with Retrospect 6.0, once you write to a Retrospect 6.0-created backup set, you may receive errors if you try to restore from that backup set using the older Retrospect 6.0 again. Similarly, Retrospect 6.0 cannot use new backup sets created with 6.1. Lastly, to back up and restore Spotlight comments correctly, you must back up and restore an entire volume or subvolume to avoid the Spotlight comments going missing or being out of date; EMC Dantz says this limitation is due to the way Apple implemented Spotlight comments. For more, be sure to check out the full Read Me.

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Geoff Duncan No comments

ICANN and VeriSign Agree to End Site Finder Suits

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN) and registration services provider VeriSign have reached a tentative agreement to end their long-standing lawsuits against each other over how VeriSign resolves non-existent domain names for the .com and .net top-level domains. The agreement must still be approved by ICANN’s board after a period of public comment; you can see both ICANN’s and VeriSign’s announcements of the agreement on their respective Web sites.

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The dispute between VeriSign and ICANN dates back to late 2003, when VeriSign rolled out a new service called Site Finder which altered the way non-existent domains under VeriSign’s purview were resolved. When users typed in or clicked a link pointing to certain sites which didn’t exist, VeriSign programmed its name servers to report the sites did exist. And viola! The unsuspecting surfer sees a Web page with a list of suggested sites the user might have wanted to reach, along with selected sponsored items from VeriSign and its partners.

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To understand the magnitude of the change Site Finder represented, it’s important to note .com and .net are two of the most widely used top-level domains (TLDs). VeriSign’s change wreaked havoc on software which relied on the Internet’s DNS system returning errors for non-existent sites – as the system was designed to do, and had done for decades. Anti-spam systems which checked the veracity of a sender’s domain suddenly approved any nonexistent or faked domain in the .com and .net name spaces. Similarly, providers like Microsoft and AOL who offered custom error pages to their subscribers when a site couldn’t be located suddenly saw those features go dark: all that "junk traffic" was now going to VeriSign. Just to make things more controversial, VeriSign was selling advertising on the Site Finder pages and had revenue sharing agreements with several sites promoted in Site Finder listings. Search providers claimed VeriSign was unilaterally abusing its responsibility as a top-level domain operator to gain unfair competitive advantage. VeriSign claimed it was rolling out an innovative new service.

Software developers and ISPs rapidly began to deploy mechanisms to block traffic to Site Finder, and, after considerable whining, VeriSign bowed to pressure from ICANN and the Internet community to shut down the service. However, VeriSign sued ICANN some months later, saying ICANN’s actions unfairly impeded VeriSign’s ability to develop new revenue sources. ICANN – in the way of most non-profit organizations comprised of committees and procedural requirements – eventually got around to counter-suing.

The new agreement, if approved, would redefine the role of a registry service for the .com top-level domain so that services like Site Finder would require prior ICANN approval before being deployed. VeriSign seems to like the agreement because it would provide "business certainty:" VeriSign wouldn’t have to worry about having the rug yanked out from under any new services approved under the new policy after spending considerable time and money developing some new idea. ICANN, and in turn the larger Internet community, wouldn’t have to worry about registrars making changes to services without sufficient technical evaluation and prior notice. Similar terms were rolled into ICANN’s renewal of VeriSign as the .net registry operator in earlier this year.

The agreement does not provide either party with a monetary settlement, although the new .com Registry Agreement requires VeriSign to make a $1.25 million lump sum payment to ICANN to meet "the costs associated with establishing structures to implement the provisions of this agreement." It seems likely that VeriSign will pass this fee along to registrants and domain resellers as a surcharge on a per-domain basis. So, if you’ve registered .com domains, get ready to pay a little bit more next time you renew.

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Coming Soon, International Governance Issues — This news comes amid unease over ICANN’s role in Internet governance, which will no doubt be a hot topic at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunisia on 16-Nov-05.


Essentially, ICANN operates at the pleasure of the United States Commerce Department, which retains final policy control over the Internet’s authoritative root servers as a historical artifact of the Internet’s development within U.S.’s Advanced Research Projects Agency. Lately, the Commerce Department’s role isn’t merely a formality: it recently reversed policy and announced it would not consider turning over root server control to an international agency, and abruptly forced ICANN to delay a process of creating a top-level domain which would function as a sort of online red light district.

A number of countries insist Internet governance ought to be handled by an international agency, possibly within the United Nations, rather than by non-elected members of a non-profit organization who ultimately must defer to a department of the U.S. government. The current Bush administration – along with an increasing number of Senators and other U.S. lawmakers – say "no," claiming that the smooth operation of the Internet is crucial to international commerce and, therefore, a matter of U.S. national security.

So, a crisis is brewing which may fragment the Internet. Without some resolution, some countries and regions may set up their own governance bodies and registry services, which could mean some Internet sites wouldn’t be accessible from particular regions, or the same domain name could load different sites in different places. Presumably some peering arrangements would be worked out, but there’s no telling what forms those might take, or how reliable they might be.

Travis Butler No comments

Comparing Three AC Adapters

A laptop road warrior’s best friend – or most bitter enemy – is his AC adapter. It’s the second most vital thing you must carry; no adapter, and you start crying a few hours into the trip when your laptop goes down for the last time. Heaven help you if you left yours at home, because you’ll need to find another one somewhere. (If you’re lucky, you’ll check into the hotel, unpack, and notice it missing before the nearest computer store closes.) Your AC adapter should be small and light enough to fit easily in your laptop bag, so you don’t forget it or have to dig around in your suitcase to pull it out. It should be simple and self-contained, so you can pull it out and hook it up in less-than-convenient places, without dragging out half-a-dozen other things that got tangled up in the cord. And it must be durable, because an AC adapter is likely to be pounded more than almost anything else you carry with you.

Apple has received much praise for its current AC adapter design, and justly so. It is compact, with flip-out posts that give you a convenient place to wrap the cord when travelling. The adapter/wall outlet interface is ingenious: a plug with flip-out prongs lets you plug it directly into the wall, or remove the plug and use a standard-design cord when outlet space is tight or you want extra length. The power tip has a lighted ring that shows the charging status, a nice touch. However, it’s known for occasionally having problems with the cord fraying, breaking, or pulling out at either end; if the cord goes, the adapter becomes an $80 paperweight. Is this reason enough to go with a third-party adapter? Or are there other benefits you can find?

MadsonLine’s Lucille — Back in the days of the Wallstreet PowerBook G3, the best AC adapter I could find was the MicroAdapter by MadsonLine. It was about half the size of the power block that Apple used at the time, and even smaller than the yo-yo adapter that Apple switched to later. When the white iBook and Titanium PowerBook G4 came out, with a different-sized power socket, MadsonLine went their previous adapter one better by making the power tip – designed at a right-angle to reduce the amount of clearance needed – a machined aluminum piece instead of molded plastic. Unfortunately, the G4 MicroAdapter didn’t produce enough power to run and charge simultaneously a last-generation Titanium PowerBook, or the 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks. And so for a couple of years, I’ve been operating without my preferred adapter, and missing it.

I was therefore excited to learn that MadsonLine was finally coming out with a new adapter that would provide the 65 watts needed for the newer PowerBooks. I was even happier to see that the new $90 adapter – named "Lucille" after B.B. King’s guitar – would have a USB and a FireWire jack, to power devices like iPods and Palms that would charge over one of the two connections. I placed my pre-order as soon as I could.


Unfortunately, when the Lucille arrived several months later, it turned out to be something of a disappointment. While MadsonLine’s Web page lists accurate dimensions for the adapter (if you don’t count the cord-wrapping flanges), I still hadn’t imagined how bulky it would end up being: substantially larger than the old MicroAdapter, and even a bit larger than the current Apple power adapter. What’s more, while the power tip looks from a distance like the machined aluminum of the prior model, it turned out to be molded plastic.

That said, once I got over my disappointment, the Lucille is still a good AC adapter. The angled power tip doesn’t have the same "expensive equipment" feel as the aluminum one on the previous MicroAdapter, but it’s still solid and saves space, and the cord seems sturdier than the Apple adapter’s cord at both the brick and the tip ends. The MadsonLine Web site touts Lucille’s power consumption, claiming it draws very little power when not in use, half the power of the Apple AC adapter. I don’t have the test equipment to verify this, but I can say it remains cool when nothing’s plugged into it, which many wall warts cannot claim. Raised flanges give you an easy way to wrap the cord around the case; they’re a nice touch, and not as susceptible to breakage as Apple’s flip-out cord posts.

The USB and FireWire power jacks work as advertised; with the appropriate cable, I could charge my iPod through either port, and my Palm handheld through the USB port. The large number of devices that can be charged or powered through USB gives this power port additional value; instead of carrying several chargers for your devices (I’d normally have at least three: Palm, iPod, and cell phone), just pack the Lucille and appropriate USB charging cables. And while you can always plug a USB-powered device into your PowerBook/iBook, the Lucille’s port doesn’t add to the number of cables hanging off your laptop. (For those who haven’t tried it, actually using a PowerBook or iBook on your lap becomes awkward if several devices are hanging off the ports on either side.) You can also use the Lucille to give something a quick booster charge without dragging your entire laptop out of the bag, which can be a boon in a crowded airport. (Insert obligatory "Why can’t airports provide more power outlets?!?" rant here.)

All in all, I have to give the Lucille a qualified recommendation. It’s well-built and well-designed for its size, and the extra power ports give it added versatility, for only $10 more than the Apple adapter. However, it wasn’t the modern version of the svelte MicroAdapter that I was hoping for – and that I still hope MadsonLine will release, someday. If versatility is your prime goal, other adapters go beyond the Lucille’s capabilities, though with correspondingly increased clutter.

Kensington Universal AC/Car/Air Adapter — I originally bought this unit as the Kensington Universal AC/Car/Air Adapter model 33069; Kensington also sold the same unit in white plastic instead of black. While this model seems to have been discontinued by Kensington (I could only find it on their Web site through a model number search, and their online store lists it as out-of-stock), another company sells what appears to be an identical model (save some minor cosmetic differences) as the iGo Juice. Because it no longer seems to be available from Kensington, for the sake of this review I’ll usually refer to this unit as the Juice.




(Note: Kensington has released replacements for the various AC/Auto/Air models; the transformer bricks look thinner but wider, and the Web site now lists a series of "SmartTips" similar to the iGo system. However, I can’t tell from their Web site whether they remain cross-compatible with the iGo parts.)


The basic Juice is a fairly large transformer brick with an input socket and an output socket. The input socket accepts one of two cables: an AC cable for wall power, and a DC cable that fits a typical 12V car cigarette lighter socket. Remove a shell from the DC cable and you expose a DC power plug that fits the Empower socket featured on some airplanes.


The output cable has a plug on each end, plus a round power socket partway down its length (more on that in a moment); one end goes into the brick, while the other accepts a series of tips made to fit various models of laptops. The tip handles the appropriate power manipulations needed to make the brick work with a given laptop. (The Juice comes with tips for both the previous-generation PowerBook socket – PowerBook 1400/2400/3400, Wallstreet/Lombard/Pismo, original iBook – and current socket – all PowerBook G4 models and white iBook G3/G4 models.)

By itself, this would be handy, and that was all I was expecting when I originally bought the Kensington model. However, I was curious about the extra socket on the cable, and asked the Kensington people about it at Macworld Expo this year. They explained that it was meant for an adapter from the iGo power system, and could then be used to power/charge other pieces of equipment, with the appropriate tip. Soon after the event, I went to Radio Shack to pick up the adapter (called the iGo DualPower Accessory) to see what I could do with it.



As it turned out, I could use the DualPower Accessory to run just about every portable electronic device I had access to, with the appropriate tip – Nokia cell phone, Palm Tungsten T and Tungsten E, iPod with dock connector, even an old Sharp Zaurus. (See either URL above for a tip selector wizard that helps you pick the right tip for your device.) This was, needless to say, pretty cool; instead of needing to travel with several wall warts, or several USB charge cables, I could just bring the Juice, the DualPower Accessory, and a set of tips. I like this.

Unfortunately, this versatility comes with a price, and the most notable one is the complexity. While the Kensington version included a carry-bag that holds all the various parts and tips, there are a lot of pieces; you have to be careful to avoid spilling something accidentally. The multiple parts also mean it takes longer to set up; instead of "pull out, plug in, and go," you must assemble all the various bits for the power you have access to and the device you’re charging.

The Juice is also bulky and heavy compared to the other adapters I discuss here, making it more suitable for a suitcase than a laptop case. And while the system in general has a tough, durable feel, the plug where the output cable attaches to the brick feels chintzy; it binds occasionally when it goes into the socket, and while the plug is keyed to prevent it from going in the wrong way, I can’t avoid a nagging feeling that I could plug it in wrong if I wasn’t careful.

Finally, the system is not cheap; the Juice itself normally sells between $100 and $120, the DualPower Accessory lists for $25, and individual tips list for $10 each. I was lucky enough to find good deals and paid a lot less than that, but you should plan on investing a chunk of change to get the most out of the system. Of course, there are much less expensive options.

MacAlly AC Adapter for PowerBook G4 — This unit’s main virtue is value; it’s a reasonably well-built unit for half the price of the Apple model. And while it’s not as elegantly designed as the Apple adapter, or versatile as the Juice, or balanced as the Lucille, it is solid and functional.

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The adapter is a rectangular brick about the length of the Lucille, but narrower. Most of the adapters I’ve worked with, including all the Apple and MadsonLine models, have the output cord to the laptop permanently attached and the input cord from the wall plugging in; on the MacAlly, the input cord is the one permanently attached, with a strain relief that feels very solid. Both design styles have advantages, as I’ll describe momentarily. The output cord plugs into the brick with a connector that looks like a mini headphone plug; while there is a plastic locking mechanism to hold it in place, and I have yet to have a problem, I still feel a bit uneasy about the stability of the connection. The combination of cords stretches to 10 feet, a respectable length. Although all that wire makes for an awkward lump in the carrying case, the unit has an attached velcro strap that keeps the cables mostly under control.

I can’t say a whole lot more about the MacAlly adapter. It does the job, simply and unobtrusively, and does it well enough that I don’t notice any significant irritations – although there also aren’t any design innovations that I can note on the positive side of the ledger, either.

A Few General Notes — It can be difficult to visualize how large these adapters are, especially in comparison with one another, so I put together a comparison photo of the various adapters to give you a better idea of the relative sizes and parts included. The top row shows the various stand-alone adapters; the bottom row shows the various parts of the Kensington/iGo Juice AC/Auto/Air system.

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A recent TidBITS Talk thread discussed a problem people were having with the PowerBook tip of the Kensington adapter. I’ll say the same thing here that I did there; I’ve had problems with loosely fitting connections with several different AC adapters on my 15-inch PowerBook G4 – including several different Apple adapters, the Kensington, and the Lucille. I’ve seen the exact same adapters have no trouble at all on other iBooks and PowerBooks. My best guess is that the metal ring around the adapter tip can spread apart over time as it gets plugged and unplugged, and the tolerances on some recent PowerBooks (I haven’t seen this on any iBooks, yet) are loose enough that the ring doesn’t make solid contact. I’ve had success in the past by gently squeezing the ring to make it fit tighter. However, you must be careful, because if you squeeze too hard, you can distort the ring badly enough that it won’t make good contact again. I’ve seen extreme cases of this more than once, where the tip became caught under something and was crushed. On adapters where that cord is permanently attached to the brick, that’s it for the adapter; you now have an expensive paperweight. That’s one advantage to the Juice and the MacAlly; if you crush the tip, you ought to be able to buy a replacement for a fraction of the price of replacing the whole adapter.


Of course, there are also advantages to having the input cord going to the wall as a detachable part. While Apple includes an input cord with a custom-shaped plug that matches the exterior of the case, the power socket behind it is an industry-standard AC input; you can buy cords that fit for $3 each at someplace like Radio Shack, and leave them plugged in around the building wherever there’s a wall outlet that’s awkward to get to. So when you move around the building – or between home and office – all you have to carry around is the brick, and you only have to crawl under each desk once.

Overall, each of these units has something good to be said for it. The Apple AC adapter is a model of elegant design, with features like the charging indicator on the tip that aren’t matched by any of the other AC adapters here – even if the occasional durability issue means it falls short of true elegance. MacAlly’s is a good cheap second adapter. The Lucille offers a good balance between simplicity and versatility, while the iGo Juice is versatility transcendent, usable with a wide variety of power sources and a wide variety of devices, and letting you replace a multi-brick travelling suite with a single adapter. Any of them would be a good choice in the right circumstances. I currently travel with the Kensington/Juice in my suitcase, and an Apple adapter in my laptop case for immediate use; I will probably replace it with the Lucille on my next trip.

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TidBITS Staff No comments

Hot Topics in TidBITS Talk/31-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.

iTunes 6 Gets Video — The capability to purchase video content such as music videos and television episodes brings up questions over whether the music and television companies are actually making any money on those sales. (10 messages)



Opening old MacWrite files — Is it possible to open an old MacWrite document? Several suggestions are offered. (3 messages)



Testing drives that don’t support SMART — Last week’s discussion of utilities that can diagnose SMART-enabled hard drives leads a reader to ask whether non-SMART drives can be similarly diagnosed. (2 messages)



iTunes Music Store for Australia at last — Australia gets its own iTMS finally, but some readers question why the song prices are higher than in the United States. (3 messages)



Sleeping Hard Drives — Last week’s article on setting custom sleep times for hard drives elicits a link to Cocktail, a utility that looks as if it can set different spindown times for every drive. (2 messages)