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Apple racked up impressive numbers for its fourth financial quarter of 2008 – $7.9 billion in revenue and $1.14 billion in profit – but that’s only half of the story – literally. Those numbers nearly double when you account for iPhone revenue received, which we explain this week. Also in this issue, Joe Kissell celebrates the release of Mail Act-On 2, Jeff Carlson suggests a way to import video from a FireWire-equipped camcorder to the new MacBook that no longer includes FireWire, Glenn Fleishman notes the release of Google’s Android code as open source, and Adam weighs in on rumors of a tablet-sized device from Apple and looks at the new Google Earth for iPhone. In Take Control news, we announce the release of Joe’s new ebook, “Take Control of MobileMe.” And in this week’s TidBITS Watchlist we note the releases of iPhoto 7.1.5, BBEdit 9.0.2, Lightroom 2.1, Adobe Camera Raw 5.1, DiscLabel 5.3, Cocktail 4.2, AirPort Extreme Update 2008-004, Aperture 2.1.2, InDesign CS3 5.0.4 Update, InCopy 5.0.4 Update, and Suitcase Fusion 2.0.

Adam Engst No comments

First Look at Google Earth for iPhone

The iPhone is already pushing hard into the realm of what would have been science fiction 20 years ago, but with the release of the Google Earth iPhone app, it gets even closer. Could you have imagined using a handheld device to view an aerial photo of the Woolworth Building in Manhattan, and then tapping a tiny icon to read an encyclopedia article about it?

For those who may not have seen it, Google Earth is a cross-platform application that lets you view any location on the planet, zooming in to see satellite and aerial imagery. On top of the primary imagery you can layer other map-related information, such as roads, weather, geo-located photos, and even cloud cover. You can also find businesses and get directions, just like in Google Maps on the Web.

The free Google Earth iPhone app (which works on the iPod touch as well), offers the basic functionality of the full Google Earth application, though it can’t display all of the different layers available in the full application. It can show borders and labels, and terrain, along with geo-located photos from Panoramio and links to geographically related Wikipedia articles. But the app can’t display roads, 3D buildings, street view photos, weather, or any of the other layers that can be applied in the full application.

Google Earth for iPhone takes advantage of the iPhone’s gestures, so you can pinch to zoom in and out (double-tap also zooms in), drag with a single finger to pan the view, and drag in a circular motion, or drag left or right, with two fingers to rotate the view. Tilting the iPhone or iPod touch changes the angle at which you view the map, or you can drag up or down with two fingers. Four buttons around the corners of the screen let you search for addresses, reorient the view to put north at the top of the screen, find your current location, and set options and get help. Searching, though slow to invoke, is smart enough to match against the contents of Address Book and make it easy to select a match without having to type the full
address. There’s even an option to search for results near your current location.

Performance isn’t stunning, but it’s amazing that Google was able to shoehorn so much of the full 110 MB Google Earth application into an 8.9 MB iPhone app. I imagine that much of that becomes possible by offloading more of the application to Google’s servers, so it’s possible that the iPhone app will perform better when connected via Wi-Fi than via 3G or EDGE.

Adam Engst No comments

Tablet iPod Rumored on Weak Evidence

John Markoff of the New York Times is reporting that a source from a search engine has shared log information showing hits from “an unannounced Apple product with a display somewhere between an iPhone and a MacBook.”

By itself, that might not have attracted much attention. But during a rare appearance on Apple’s earnings call this week, Steve Jobs commented that Apple didn’t “know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk” and – far more positively – that Apple is watching the nascent market for netbooks (small, inexpensive, portable computers used primarily for Web and email access).

Combine Jobs’s comments with the search engine logs, and it’s easy to imagine an iPhone- or iPod touch-like device with a larger screen. Just because Apple can’t build a sub-$500 computer that’s not junk doesn’t mean they can’t build a sub-$500 device based on the iPhone software. Sounds an awful like the device I suggested in “Open Letter to Steve Jobs: In Support of an iPod reader” (2008-03-05), doesn’t it?

However, much as I’d love to see an iPod reader and believe that it would be good business for Apple, I’m suspicious of the evidence as given.

A quick scan through my Google Analytics shows a wide range of screen resolutions: 393 in the last month, including a few hits from devices that report pixel counts from 0 by 0 (clearly an audio-only Web browser) all the way up to 65536 by 65536 (must be a custom screen used on the sly by Bill Gates’s Mac-using housekeeper). There are tons of hits from devices reporting resolutions between an iPhone and a MacBook. Our traffic is infinitesimal in comparison with that of a search engine, but I can’t see how more data would do anything but further muddy the issue.

There are two other things this anonymous search engine could do to glean more information about a particular screen resolution, which I can’t do easily. First, they could limit the search to IP number ranges known to belong to Apple, and second, they could examine the user-agent strings for suspicious resolutions. Although it’s conceivable that Apple would allow prototype devices out on the Internet from within an Apple-controlled IP range, I can’t imagine seeing a user-agent string along the lines of “Unannounced Apple Product.”

So, I have to say that I’m not buying the rumor, much as I would buy the device if it actually existed.

Jeff Carlson No comments

Importing Video from a FireWire Camcorder to an Aluminum MacBook

Apple’s newest consumer laptop is a package full of shiny power, but it also lacks a FireWire port. That means no FireWire Target Disk Mode, no support for external hard drives with FireWire interfaces, and no support for digital camcorders that have FireWire (or i.Link) ports.

In an email response to a customer who asked about camcorder support, CEO Steve Jobs replied, “Actually, all of the new HD camcorders of the past few years use USB 2.” And looking at Amazon’s current best-selling camcorders, most of them connect via USB.

However, if you already own a perfectly good MiniDV or HDV camcorder that connects via FireWire, you may not be completely out of luck. Although I don’t have one on hand to test this, in theory you can use an analog-to-digital video converter to bring your footage into the new MacBook. (If you own one of these devices, please let me know if I’m off the mark.)

For example, take a look at the Pinnacle Video Capture for Mac ($100). Most camcorders include a composite AV cable that enables you to connect the camcorder directly to a television for playback. Insert the left and right audio plugs, and either composite video or S-video cable, into the Video Capture for Mac hub, which in turn connects to the MacBook via USB.

Poking around online, I also found the ADS Tech VideoExpress ($50) and the Plextor ConvertX for Mac (PX-TV402U) ($229), neither of which I’ve used.

Obviously, this approach isn’t ideal. You’re starting with digital footage and converting it to analog, then re-digitizing it in the computer, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some image quality loss (though I’m guessing it would be hardly noticeable). You also lose device control, the capability to control the camcorder directly from iMovie as you’re reviewing footage and importing.

I should also point out that you can also still purchase a new white MacBook with FireWire for $999 or move up to a MacBook Pro, which includes FireWire.

I agree with many others that removing FireWire from the new MacBook is disappointing, but it’s also consistent with Apple’s outlook for digital video. iMovie ’08 is a completely new application that shares little with iMovie HD 6, and it’s clearly designed as an editor for video snippets and shorter movies destined for YouTube. In Apple’s view, the people who are shooting these types of movies – using Flip cameras or the movie-recording functions of digital still cameras – are the market for the new MacBook. I don’t expect Apple to bring FireWire back to its consumer laptop.

Adam Engst No comments

Adam Running the New York City Marathon

Sometimes you have to attempt feats you don’t know you’re capable of achieving.

I turned 40 in November 2007, and one of my goals for the year was to race every standard timed distance during the year, including a triathlon and a marathon, neither of which I’d ever done. I’ve run competitively since my sophomore year of high school, so it’s not like I was going from couch potato to marathoner, but I’ve always focused on the short to middle distances, everything between 1,500 meters and 10 kilometers, and I would seldom run more than 25 miles per week. The prospect of racing a marathon – more than my weekly mileage in a single shot – wasn’t unimaginable, but it was daunting, to say the least.

I’m almost done with the year, and I’ll be capping it off by running the New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 2nd. Honestly, I’m nervous as all hell. I’ve trained well and managed to avoid serious injury, but it has been harder and more time-consuming than I anticipated, both for me and for Tonya and Tristan, who had to put up with how my long runs and subsequent fatigue tweaked our family schedule.

Long runs? Before this year, I had run 20 miles once in 1984, and two 13-mile races around 1990. More recently, I qualified for the New York City Marathon with a 1:20:45 at the local Skunk Cabbage Half Marathon in April 2008, and since then I’ve successively raised the bar on how far I could run, with a 16-mile trail race, an 18.5-mile trail race, an 11.5-mile trail race combined with a 12-mile road run back to my car, and a full 26.2-mile training run on the roads in 3:30:24. Each of those runs caused me significant anxiety beforehand, and it was a huge relief each time I finished, knowing that I could handle each successive distance. (Tonya has been matching my efforts on her old bike, starting from scratch in late May 2008 when we
bought a tandem to eliminate car miles driving Tristan to school, and working her way up to riding the full marathon distance just yesterday for her longest bike ride since 1989.)

So, if you’d like to follow me during the New York City Marathon this coming Sunday, there are a number of ways to do it. You can sign up for email alerts that track my progress, or you can watch the race on TV or via the Internet (I suspect the chances of my appearing in the video are relatively low, but it might be fun to watch anyway). There’s also an interactive Athlete Tracker that will work during the race, but I can’t tell how that will operate ahead of time. And if you live in New York City and would like to watch the race and help cheer me on, I
gather it’s easy to find a spot on the course to do that.

To track my progress either live or over the Internet, note that I’ll be starting in the first wave, at 9:40 AM Eastern (remember that the clocks fall back 1 hour on Sunday for Daylight Saving Time), and I hope to be running between 6:30 and 7:00 minutes per mile, so you can calculate when I’m likely to hit specific points. Although I imagine it will be difficult to pick any given runner out of the crowd, I’ll be wearing my traditional race uniform of red shorts and a blue jersey with the High Noon Athletic Club sun logo on the front and back.

My base goal is to finish, of course, with a more serious goal being to finish in under 3 hours. And if I can get down into the low 2:50s, that’s just icing on the cake.

I’ll report on the race next week, but thanks in advance for any support you’d like to provide, and I hope my efforts can serve as an example of how it’s never too late to try to accomplish something that you had no idea was possible before.

Jeff Carlson No comments

iPhones, Macs Give Apple a Strong Q4 2008

Last year at this time, I commented that the Mac had made a comeback as a major contributor to Apple’s bottom line after several quarters where the iPod dominated the balance sheets. With last week’s release of the company’s Q4 2008 financial results, the Mac is joined decisively by the iPhone, which, including sales to date, has now surpassed Apple’s goal of selling 10 million units during 2008.

For the quarter ending 27-Sep-08, Apple earned $7.9 billion in revenue with a net quarterly profit of $1.14 billion ($1.26 per diluted share). That compares to $6.22 billion in revenue and a $904 million profit from the fourth fiscal quarter of 2007 (see “Apple Sells Record Number of Macs for Q4 2007,” 2007-10-22). Sales of 2,611,000 Macs (a 21 percent increase from last year) and 11,052,000 iPods (an 8 percent increase) contributed heavily.

However, that’s not the full story.

Mind the GAAP — The big question for this quarter was iPhone performance. In the third quarter of this year, Apple sold 717,000 first-generation iPhones – the iPhone 3G had not yet been released. For this quarter, Apple marked an impressive 6,892,000 iPhone sales (that compares to 1,119,000 in the year-ago quarter). The company didn’t break the number down any further, but during the earnings call that followed Apple’s announcement Apple COO Tim Cook pointed out that the iPhone’s market expanded from 6 countries to 51 during the quarter, and therefore a significant percentage is attributable to international sales. (International sales accounted for 41 percent of the overall quarterly revenue.)

Apple also crowed that the 6.9 million number beats RIM (Research in Motion), which sold 6.1 million BlackBerry devices in the same period – not bad for the upstart entrant in the market. It’s also a larger amount than sales of the original iPhone – 6.1 million – over the previous five quarters combined.

Another aspect of the iPhone to watch is the revenue it produced, which isn’t straightforward. Due to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), Apple doesn’t treat the sale of an iPhone (or Apple TV) as a regular sale, but rather counts the expected income over the life of the product (currently set at 24 months for accounting purposes) due to the fact that Apple provides free updates after the sale; one example is the iPhone 2.0 software update that was made available to all iPhone owners.

(Speaking of the Apple TV, Apple CEO Steve Jobs reiterated that he thinks it – and the category of the “digital living room market” – will continue to be a “hobby” in 2009.)

If you count income without the GAAP consideration, Apple reported revenue of $11.68 billion – an increase of 48 percent over its reported $7.9 billion – and net income of $2.44 billion.

Looking Ahead — Despite all the strong financial news, the declining economy figured prominently in the company’s conference call and guidance for the future. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said, “Looking ahead, visibility is low and forecasting is challenging, and as a result we are going to be prudent in predicting the December quarter.” Apple expects a revenue target of between $9 and $10 billion and earnings per diluted share between $1.06 and $1.35.

A few indicators fueled this approach. Education sales were down 7 percent from last year as K-12 school districts tightened their budgets, according to Tim Cook; that accounts for approximately 75,000 lost Mac sales. Slowing Mac purchases in the last month as customers waited for last week’s MacBook and MacBook Pro refresh also hurt earnings, though sales since the announcement have surged.

However, Apple doesn’t have much to worry about looking ahead. It has $25 billion in the bank and zero debt, which Jobs said would help the company innovate its way through a rough economy. In fact, Jobs even pointed out that Apple customers’ loyalty means they’re likely to delay purchases instead of buying a less expensive brand.

When asked about whether Apple would offer its products at lower prices (citing the iPhone and MacBook as examples), Jobs delivered a quintessential answer that reflects the company’s overall attitude. “There are some customers which we choose not to serve. We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk,” he said. “And our DNA will not let us to ship that. But we can continue to deliver greater and greater value to those customers that we choose to serve – and there’s a lot of them.”

Glenn Fleishman No comments

Android Code Released as Open Source

The Open Handset Alliance, the group that manages the Google-developed and -driven Android operating system, said that the entire platform has been released as source code and licensed for liberal use. Open-source licensing typically requires that anyone who distributes versions of a project – whether identical or modified – also make the full code base available. Most developers also contribute any changes they make back into a central repository. The first smartphone using Android shipped 22-Oct-08 from T-Mobile in the United States (see “T-Mobile’s Google Phone Promising but Unpolished,” 2008-10-20).

The Android Open Source Project chose the Apache 2.0 license, which allows development along both commercial and open tracks, and either track may involve free or for-fee elements. Because Android uses a Linux kernel as its base, however, that part of the project remains under the GPLv2 license, which has broad requirements that prevent closed paths from forming.

The primary difference I can see between the two licenses is that with the Apache 2.0 license, a developer can add to the work and set their own terms regarding distribution and copyright. All the source from the project up to that point still must be noted with licenses.

Open-source licenses vary widely, with many allowing commercial resale of derived software, and some requiring the release of any code that a developer or firm has modified and then incorporated in a distributed release. These licenses typically affirm intellectual property rights, and assign a chain of rights as the work develops. Apple, for instance, uses FreeBSD for much of the core of Mac OS X; the associated license requires notices of copyright to be attached, but has no mandate to keep development open or contributed back to the root.

The use of an Apache 2.0 license is critical for Android because handset makers and others may want to develop custom versions of Android that their competitors can’t simply copy from the code base and use. On the other hand, in order to keep the operating system in sync, most proprietary changes will likely be overlays and modules; otherwise, it would become an unmanageable task to fold in improvements while maintaining copyright separation.

Reports indicate that Android will likely be used for a variety of handhelds, tablets, and mobile gadgets, as well as a replacement for existing “embedded” operating systems used for devices that aren’t computers, like cable set-top boxes. The richness and newness of the platform apparently makes it more compelling than many embedded offerings currently on the market.

Joe Kissell No comments

Mail Act-On 2 Supercharges Mail Rules

For years I’ve been a big fan of Indev’s Mail Act-On, a plug-in for Apple Mail that lets you assign keystrokes to individual rules for things like filing messages and changing their background color. That may not sound very exciting, but in practice, it has revolutionized the way I work with Mail. And it’s one of those things that gets into your motor memory and becomes so automatic that you almost can’t figure out how to function without it. (Enthusiasts of LaunchBar, Quicksilver, or Butler, you know what I mean.) But now, my fingers are 32 percent happier, because Mail Act-On 2.0.1 has been released. Whereas the first version knocked my socks off, this new version also launders my
socks, folds them, tucks them neatly into my sock drawer, and gives me a pedicure.

I have no idea what that last sentence means either, but I’m trying to make the point that I’m extremely happy with this new piece of software!

The Keys to Efficiency — Let me begin with some Mail Act-On basics – things the program has been able to do for some time. Its fundamental capability is ad hoc application of individual rules. Normally, whatever rules you set up in Mail apply automatically to all incoming messages – and only then. You can select a message later on and manually apply all your existing rules, but Mail doesn’t let you apply just one rule to a message. Mail Act-On does, and it lets you apply rules with keystrokes (a big bonus in my book).

Say you have dozens or hundreds of mailboxes, nested several levels deep. You’ve just read a message in your Inbox and you want to file it in one of these mailboxes. Mail lets you do this by drag and drop, but if you have to navigate a complicated hierarchy of mailboxes, that’s both awkward and error-prone. You can also dig through a set of hierarchical menus to do the same thing – it’s a bit less tweaky but still time-consuming. With Mail Act-On installed, you can set up a rule that says “Move messages into mailbox X,” and with as few as two keystrokes, apply that action instantly to any message(s) you select.

Now, that by itself isn’t terribly interesting, because there are lots of other ways to assign keystrokes to menu commands. But Mail Act-On lets you go way beyond that, because all its actions are based on rules. That means you can do a whole bunch of things with a single keystroke (for example, mark a message as read, change its color, send an automatic reply, and file it into a mailbox). In addition, you can specify conditions and not just results. So, a rule can say, “Move messages into mailbox X only if the sender is so-and so.”

Not only that, but if you assign the same keystroke to multiple Mail Act-On rules, you can apply all of them at once. For instance, I have a rule that files messages from my wife in the “Morgen” mailbox, another that files messages from my mother in the “Mom” mailbox, and similar rules for a bunch of other people with whom I correspond frequently. I assigned the keystroke “D” to all these rules (my mnemonic is “D” for “Do the right thing,” in case you were wondering), and now whenever I want to file messages from any or all of those people, I can do it with just one keyboard shortcut.

New and Improved — All right, that’s all old news. It’s been nearly a year since I installed the initial (and only) public beta of a Leopard-compatible version of Mail Act-On. That version got the job done, but I experienced some performance difficulties, and had long wished for some interface improvements. When Mail Act-On 2.0 finally appeared last week, I wasn’t expecting much more than a polished, bug-reduced version of what I had been using. Instead, what I got was a totally new Mail Act-On, rewritten from scratch with better performance, a dramatically improved interface, and features I hadn’t even dared to hope for.

In my opinion, the most interesting new feature is one that many Mail users have wanted for years: outbox rules. Now, for the first time ever, you can have special rules apply automatically to all your outgoing messages. This lets you do things like move sent messages into subject- or correspondent-specific mailboxes, grouping conversations together in one place instead of having one ginormous Sent mailbox (mine has, at the moment, a completely unreasonable 25,000 messages) that’s detached from all your carefully filed incoming mail. Lots of other email programs have offered this capability for years, and I’m delighted to finally be able to add it to Mail.

The interface for creating Mail Act-On rules has progressed from weird and somewhat aggravating to clean and obvious. Previously, to assign keystrokes to rules, you had to give them special, odd names, and put them in a certain position in your list. Now, when you go to Mail’s Rules preference pane, you see three views: Inbox Rules (Mail’s existing rules), Outbox Rules, and Keystroke Rules. When you create a rule in the Keystroke Rules view (Mail Act-On migrates rules from the old version automatically), you simply create a rule as you normally would, but with one tiny addition: a single character that serves as the keystroke. (Yes, just one character – I’m getting to that.)

Earlier versions of Mail Act-On had an odd way of using keystrokes, which took some getting used to. The normal method was to press a user-assignable shortcut key (by default) followed by - not at the same time as - a single character. Alternatively, you could press Control and your shortcut key at the same time, so my "Do the right thing" shortcut was either followed by D, or Control-D, the latter of which I found more convenient and less error-prone. The new interface for performing keystrokes is still unusual, but more intuitive and much more powerful.

You still have the option to press either a shortcut key followed by a keystroke or Control at the same time as a keystroke. The default shortcut key (which is still user-adjustable) has changed to F2; when you press it, a menu appears, showing all your defined keystrokes. If you then hit one of those keys, it does what you expect. However, you can instead press F1 and get an all-purpose menu. In this menu, you can press A to run one of your existing keystroke-based rules, M to move a message, or C to copy a message (among other options). After pressing M or C, you can then navigate to any mailbox in Mail, even if you never defined a rule for it. For example, I might press F1 (to display the menu), then M to say I want to move a
message, then spacebar to say I want to search for a mailbox, and finally a few characters of the mailbox’s name. When I find a match (using the arrow keys if necessary), I just press Return.

That may sound like a lot of key presses, but they all happen in about 2 seconds, and once you’ve done them a few times to get the hang of them, the process becomes automatic. It’s very cool: with about half a dozen keystrokes, I can move or copy a message to any of dozens or hundreds of mailboxes without knowing where it is, without any advance preparation, and – crucially for me – without taking my hands off the keyboard. And, once I’ve moved a message into a mailbox, Mail Act-On remembers that as a recent destination and in the future, lets me get to it with fewer keystrokes (in a manner somewhat reminiscent of LaunchBar).

Besides the F1 and F2 shortcuts, there’s also F3, which displays a similar menu – this one just for moving messages (thus saving you one keystroke from the F1 method). You can also lock any of these menus open on screen; this enables you to perform a series of Mail Act-On actions in one swoop, rather than continually dismissing and redisplaying the menus.

Other Features — The new version of Mail Act-On can also undo keystroke rules. I’ve wished for this capability many times, after accidentally hitting the wrong key (but not knowing which one I hit), sending messages into an unknown folder somewhere.

If you also have Indev’s popular MailTags plug-in, which adds searchable keywords, due dates, and other metadata to Mail messages, Mail Act-On inherits some additional capabilities. You can have a rule assign keywords, for example (and that includes outbox rules); you can also press K after displaying the F1 menu to add keywords manually, or press P to assign the message to a project (essentially a category). Indev says MailTags integration comes by way of a new extensible architecture that could enable other developers to add their own features, though I have not yet seen any further details on how this works.

Last but not least, Mail Act-On 2 has added a new feature that many long-time users are sure to be less than excited about: a price! Previously the program was freeware, but now it’s shareware (a 21-day free trial is available). The introductory price is $19.95 (expected to increase to $24.95 at some point in the future). Given how much more productive Mail Act-On has made me – and the fact that I’ve had free use of it for several years – I think that price is more than fair.

Mail Act-On 2.0.1 runs only on Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, and is a 2.3 MB download. Version 1.3.2, which runs only on Mac OS X 10.3 and 10.4 (and has none of the groovy new features) remains available as a free 911K download.

Adam Engst No comments

Take Control News: Make the Most of MobileMe

MobileMe has become a virtual Swiss Army knife of online services, offering not only a whizzy new “push” data syncing service for tracking calendar, contact, and bookmark info on a variety of devices, but also email services, online storage and file sharing, Web hosting, and much more. To help you make the most of your $99-per-year MobileMe subscription, we’ve just released the 112-page “Take Control of MobileMe,” by Joe Kissell.

Joe starts out by helping you understand MobileMe’s features and get set up, and then he dives into the details of real-life projects. In particular, he focuses on syncing – what to expect, what kinds of data besides calendar and contact information can sync, handling problems, and more. The ebook also examines:

  • Various ways to use an iDisk for storing and sharing files
  • Accessing and updating calendar and contact data on the MobileMe site
  • Using the Gallery feature (alone or via iLife ’08) to publish photos and movies
  • Publishing a Web site to MobileMe’s servers
  • Enabling Back to My Mac in order to access one of your Macs from another
  • Using MobileMe email, via its Web interface, Apple Mail, and an iPhone or iPod touch

You’ll also learn what Backup, Apple’s free backup software that comes with MobileMe, can and can’t do, and get advice on whether it’s a good choice for you, especially when compared with Leopard’s Time Machine.

This ebook is effectively the third edition of “Take Control of .Mac,” and if you own that ebook you should already have received an email message with a free download link or a discount, depending on when you purchased it. If our mail didn’t arrive, open the PDF of the latest version of that ebook and click the Check for Updates link on the cover to learn more.

Also, we’ve just updated Glenn Fleishman’s “Take Control of Back to My Mac” to version 1.1. It’s a free update for anyone who already owns it; click your Check for Updates link in that book. If you don’t own it, you can buy it together with “Take Control of MobileMe” at a discount.

Doug McLean No comments

TidBITS Watchlist: Notable Software Updates for 27-Oct-08

  • iPhoto 7.1.5 from Apple is a minor update that “improves the printing quality of books, cards and calendars ordered via the iPhoto printing service.” It’s available via Software Update or as a standalone download. (Free update, 9 MB)
  • BBEdit 9.0.2 from Bare Bones Software is a maintenance update to the recently released text editor, adding a slew of minor bug fixes as well as a few small feature enhancements. The full, and lengthy, list of repairs is worth looking through to see if any issues you’ve encountered have been resolved, though the fixes are extremely specific. The two primary additions are a language selector in the Scratchpad to enable proper syntax coloring and refined capabilities for the Use Selection for Find command. ($125 new, free update, 15.4 MB)
  • Lightroom 2.1 from Adobe is the latest update to the popular photo management software, adding improved Photoshop integration, enhanced performance under Leopard, keyword migration capabilities, compatibility with several raw file formats (see the update for Adobe Camera Raw 5.1, below), and several bug fixes. ($299 new, free update, 33.9 MB)
  • Adobe Camera Raw 5.1 updates the Photoshop plug-in with raw file support for 15 new digital cameras including the Nikon D90, Nikon D700, Canon EOS 50D and the Canon EOS 1000D. Adobe has also released a new set of Digital Negative (DNG) camera profiles, available on Adobe Labs, that offer improved raw processing and color-rendering emulation. Additionally, Adobe recently released Camera Raw 4.6 with the same raw file support for Photoshop CS3 users. (Free update, 8.4 MB for
    ACR 5.1; 14.9 MB for ACR 4.6)
  • DiscLabel 5.3 from SmileOnMyMac is the latest version of the CD and DVD label design software. Changes include added support for Aperture imports, Blu-ray disc packaging design elements, the capability to select from multiple iPhoto libraries when importing, and various unspecified bug fixes. ($35.95 new, free update, 12.7 MB)
  • Cocktail 4.2 (Leopard Edition) from Maintain is a significant update to the general purpose maintenance utility. New to this version is the capability to search and delete corrupted preference files, a searchable database of Mac OS system error codes, a list of commonly used network ports, an enhanced procedure for clearing log files, a handful of interface updates, and fixes for various unspecified bugs. ($14.95, 1.8 MB)
  • AirPort Extreme Update 2008-004 from Apple “resolves some issues with AirPort connections when roaming in large Wi-Fi networks.” It’s only for Intel-based Macs, and currently appears only via Software Update. Apple released AirPort Extreme Update 2008-003 early last week but pulled it soon after, so this version presumably corrects a problem introduced in that phantom update. An Apple support article also describes it as the solution to a problem with being unable to turn AirPort on after turning it off and restarting. (Free, 2.2 MB)
  • Aperture 2.1.2 from Apple is a minor update to the photo management software that enhances the print quality of books ordered through the Aperture printing service. The update is available via Software Update or as a standalone download and cannot be used for Aperture trial software; you must own the full version of Aperture 2 to update. ($199 new, free update, 48 MB)
  • InDesign CS3 5.0.4 Update from Adobe addresses compatibility issues in the page layout program with the recently released Creative Suite 4. According to Adobe’s Web site, the InDesign CS3 5.0.4 Update contains fixes regarding “CS4 to CS3 Export to INX (Save Back) workflows… File Size, Hyphenation, Performance, Anchored Objects, Character Alignment, Step and Repeat, Indexing and Table of Contents, Text and Fonts, Dictionaries, Color, Scripting, Import/Export Graphics, InDesign Interchange files (INX), XML, Library files, Printing, and others.” The installer also includes the fixes from all previous InDesign CS3 5.0.x updates – which are no longer separately
    available. A list of issues that have been resolved with the update can be downloaded from Adobe’s site as a PDF. (Free, 71.7 MB)
  • InCopy 5.0.4 Update includes fixes for Adobe’s little-known word processor regarding “Notes, Tagging, Character Alignment, Undo and Redo, Text and Fonts, Dictionaries, Import/Export Graphics, and others,” to quote again from Adobe’s Web site. Like the InDesign update, the installer also includes the fixes from all previous InCopy CS3 5.0.x updates. You can download a list of issues that have been resolved with this update from Adobe’s Web site as a PDF. (Free, 69.9 MB)
  • Suitcase Fusion 2.0 from Extensis is a major update to the popular font management utility. With a redesigned user interface and new back end based on Universal Type Server architecture, Suitcase Fusion 2.0 offers improved performance and stability. Changes include Leopard-compatible auto-activation plug-ins for Illustrator CS4, InDesign CS4, and QuarkXPress 8; a character palette with Glyph Preview capabilities; plug-in-based font matching features; multiple font preview capabilities for comparing type faces; a new core application that runs in the background to offer uninterrupted font management when Suitcase is not active; font organization tools such as
    auto-classification and Smart Sets; a font search engine, and more. Suitcase Fusion 2.0 requires Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. ($99.95 new, $49.98 upgrade, 31.3 MB)

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