Apple updates iWork
Pages and Keynote both got a little update tonight. -> Software Update.
LaunchBar 4.1 released
Objective Development has released LB 4.1. The new version is not only a universal binary, but also up to twice as fast as the previous version. I'm personally a fan of it, and if you still haven't got around to testing it, you should certainly do it right now. :)
NeoOffice 2 Alpha PPC EAP
If you want to shell out 25 USD, you can participate in the "Early Access Program" for NeoOffice 2.0 Alpha. After 9 May 2006, the cost is reduced to 10 USD and I'm pretty sure that some day, the access will become free. (23 May 2006, I just read...) While I understand that projects like this one need money, too, I personally won't donate any money to gain access to an alpha release of a Java port of 2 to the Mac. I think it's kind of the wrong way 'round... :/
MacBook Pro 17" released (available next week)
The 17" model is basically the same as the 15" model with the following changes... It has a FW800 port (yay!), an 8x DL SuperDrive (yay!) and of course a bigger screen. 2799 USD is the base price for the 2.16 Core Duo model, which is the only option as for the processor. And this is actually my main gripe with Apple and the adoption of intel's Core processors. They should be perfectly capable to offer me a 17" with the lowest-cost processor available! But it looks like they'll just continue like that - which means that a smaller screen MacBook (the rumoured 13.3" widescreen model) will have a low-end processor only, which is a pity, because portability should not necessarily mean lower performance. Not with what intel actually offers as processor-options.
While this might come across as whining, it's not my personal gripe. I'll be happy with a 13" widescreen model with so-so performance. But if Apple truly wants every switcher possible - even those who'll just use Windows XP on their MacBooks - Apple should lure them into the Apple (Boot) Camp more actively in my not-so-humble opinion. And for all those whose main issues are "big screen" and "play videos" and "price", the now-released 17" is absolutely no match for the flood of 17" notebooks already out there. They all play videos fine and they all have good screens (although I'd bet that Apple's currently are better...), but they're often simply cheaper. I'm not merely saying "Apple should be cheaper", mind you! I actually find Apple's notebook prices quite okay for what they deliver. But Apple is low on the options part. Build-to-order? Not really. You can have it all or nothing instead - for 2799 USD.
Various security issues in Mac OS X 10.4.6 (and earlier)
Security-Protocols' Tom Ferris has found various issues (German page) with Mac OS X 10.4.6 which could lead to exploits on the web. Theoretically, even a GIF image on a webpage could include a Trojan. There's also a problem with the BOM-helper, which can crash while trying to unzip a file - or execute contained malware while at it. Be aware. All mentioned issues are based on heap overflows. Apple will probably fix the issues in the coming days. Testing of Mac OS X 10.4.7 has not yet officially started according to our sources.
novaMedia iSync plugins and iSync 2.2 revisited
When Apple released Mac OS X 10.4.6, they also released iSync 2.2 with it (Tiger only), and a warning accompanied that release that unsupported mobile phones (used with hacks) would maybe stop working with iSync and that it would be best to backup any iSync-connected devices and re-sync them afterwards.
I'm currently using two devices: My Nokia Communicator 9500 and a SonyEricsson Z520i. The commie has the problem that it's simply not supported by iSync/Apple, the latter had the problem that you could only synch dates for up to 8 weeks into the future, which was a problem for me sometimes. In 10.3.x and iSync 1.x, I would hack an iSync file to enable synching of a year or two, but with Tiger I had no luck.
Come iSync 2.2. Suddenly, the options for the SE phones have changed and I can choose two years. As if it _ever_ would have been a technical problem... *sigh-of-relief* Now it works.
On to the commie. I reapplied my usual hack and it worked, but a strange problem with duplicate contacts cropped up after a few synchs. When I got my hands on novaMedia's iSync plugins (they gave me a license in order to review the plugin for the Nokia Communicator, which I'm now doing), I decided to total-reset the commie and start fresh. And there's basically only so much to say about the plugin for the Nokia Communicators (9300, 9300i, 9500): It is easily installed, "just works" and has no problem synching the device with iSync. There is one little problem which I hope will be addressed in the future. That is that the device's icon can't be changed and is simply novamedia's logo. I wish they'd add device-specific logos. Otherwise, I can only recommend buying the plugins. The hack can be too much of a hassle for most users, and you have to reapply the hack everytime iSync is updated.
Evaluating a MacBook Pro?
... then you should read this extensive review by AnandTech. The author ("Anand Lal Shimpi") clearly has given his tests some thoughts.
The article also highly praises Parallels' virtualisation solution in version 2.1b3. This newer beta solves a couple of issues like the stuttering mouse cursor.
I took a look at a MacBook Pro today as well at a store, but no-one let me log in and work away. The only thing I want to say is that the caps lock light is - compared to the PowerBook's - of a very ugly bright green. It reminded me of how "PC Corel Draw Graphics Designers" never got the concept of "less saturation often is more". ;) ... Maybe the ugly green is Apple's ironic sign of "intel inside"? Guess not. And it's almost 4 in the morning here, so I don't have to make sense exactly. Have a nice weekend!
Aperture 1.1 Universal and 299 USD
Apple has released the final version of Aperture 1.1. The Universal Binary has a new - and let's say *LOW* - price of 299 USD (149 edu-price). I guess there's going to be some bitching now by people who paid 499 in the past few weeks. The answer to those, of course: "Hey! Stop whining! Happens all the time, and Apple offering stuff cheaper than anticipated is a *good* thing, although maybe not for you _personally_!" ... ;)
Pick 1 Apple product that sucks...
If you were asked to pick one product by Apple that really sucked, present or past, what would it be? For me, it's veeeeeeeeeery clear now. I recently bought a so-called "Mighty Mouse". But Apple has done everything wrong about it - period.
First: So they did not want to admit that two buttons might be the norm now. So they had to invent themselves around a tree to come up with something that JUST DOESN'T WORK right. One button acting as two? Well, Steve: No, it's not easy to right-click on the Mighty Mouse. I'd go as far as saying it's disruptive in the work process. How many times have I left-clicked on something when I really wanted to right-click? I've used the MM for about a month now, and I'd say it's about 300 times. About a 100 times, the left-click did something I had to undo afterwards. I'd say it's actually easier to use the Ctrl-button and just turn the second mouse button off. One button lost.
But not only that, it's also not easy to drag and drop with the Mighty Mouse - unless the destination is only 200px away that is. So you lift a file from the Desktop, move it 250px and accidentally squeeze the mouse, activating Dashboard or whatever you have set the squeeze button to act like, the file's dropped wherever the cursor just was. Hm. Another button lost. And even if you turn squeeze-action off, it's still not straight-forward how to drag&drop, because the mousebutton (i.e. the entire face of the mouse) is easily "unclicked" automatically. Bad, bad, bad.
Then: The wheel. Well, ball. Hm. Tiiiiiiiiiny ball. It works alright, meaning you get used to it after, say, three weeks or so. You get carpal tunnel after 4 more weeks, I guess, but it's not like MM was advertised as something which is good against stress, right?
The overall feel of the mouse is mushy. If you go back to, say, a normal two-button mouse with scrollwheel, nothing fancy, just a cheap Logitech or Microsoft mouse, even a no-name one would do - it's like suddenly seeing again after having been blind for a couple of years. Suddenly, the mouse works again as intended!
Apple: Here you really lost the ball. I mean the iMac's puck was not the best idea, but actually I get less strain on my hand from that than from the MM.
Sorry for the longish text, but I just switched my mouse back to what I had before the MM, and wanted to inform the world how really bad the MM sucks. Pfui.
Apple releases Remote Desktop 3
... and it's a universal binary, meaning system administrators can now finally buy their MacBook Pro's. ;)
Grrr! :/
Apple apparently has added "resizeVolume" to "diskutil". On intel Macs. So resizing partitions non-destructively is now a feature of Mac OS X' diskutil tool (the Terminal one at least) - but only on intel Macs it seems. Please Apple? Can we have that on PPC Macs, too?
On-the-go partitioning please, Apple?!
For millennia (well, not really...) Apple has not allowed Mac users to partition their harddrives without losing data. Now suddenly Apple allows intel Mac users to do so for dual-booting Windows. Could we *PLEASE* have that ability in Disk Utility asap? For free? And maybe even for OS 9 users? Just as a, say, payback kinda thing? ;)
And now: Parallels...
Another day, another "Windows on Mac" message. Parallels has their beta ready for intel Macs. You can create virtual machines and run any version of DOS, OS/2, Windows, linux, BSD, Solaris etc. on Mac OS X as a virtual machine. I think this is what many people have really waited for. The final product will cost something like 50 USD, and you need a Windows license to run Windows on it, of course.
So is the world going to end now?
Wow. What we hear today... People who go "Apple's doomed now" and "Apple's back in business now", but nobody really gets what's happening...
Apple doesn't have to care whether switchers actually use Mac OS X on their new intel Macs. As long as they buy a Mac, they're counted as Mac users in all market-share statistics. Plus: The hardware's where Apple's money is. Chances are, that people who buy Macs to run Windows on them, will at least try OS X. Again and again. And I'm sure that once you have a Mac, even if you're using Windows on one, you're still tempted by what Leopard will have to offer.
But just don't forget one thing: As earth-shattering as today's announcement may seem - there were people booting Windows XP on their intel Macs yesterday, too. Yeah, it's Apple now giving support and making this easier, but it's not *unseen* or anything.
My advice: Just nod, smile and move on. At least on my Mac, this hasn't changed anything. And even if I were using an intel Mac, I'd still look forward to using Windows apps in a VPC way or using real virtualisation schemes. Because if I had booted my intel Mac into Windows, I guess I wouldn't have access to or a real version of Photoshop (Windows versions of Adobe apps have a strange "backdrop" window that hides the desktop and every application "behind" the frontmost Adobe app, effectively killing "drag & drop"...).
A bad day for nay-sayers: Boot Camp Beta
Apple's released a beta of "Boot Camp" (name could be changed later on, they say), which basically just gives you everything you need to install Windows XP Home or Pro SP2 on your intel-based Mac. Well: Everything but Windows XP, of course. The 80+ MB download helps you adding a partition for Windows without losing data on the Mac side of things and gives you all the drivers you need to make the hardware work correctly after Windows boots on your Mac.
This clearly states a change in thinking at Apple, where previously, they said they'd do "nothing against people trying to install Windows" on intel Macs, they now pro-actively help those people who need this. Although: They won't support Windows. And if you have a problem with Windows running on your Mac, you're probably not getting support from anywhere, as long as Microsoft does not consider a Mac a PC, I guess...
Apple also said that a final version of Boot Camp would come with Leopard, Mac OS X 10.5.
Mac OS X 10.4.6 8I127 (PowerPC) & 8I1119 (intel) released...
As we said, the 10.4.6 update was basically ready for release last week. Today, Apple has released the update in the usual forms: Delta updaters on the website and through Software Update and - recommended - combo updaters, for PowerPC and intel.
Don't panic: If you're on a PowerPC Mac, it'll restart twice automatically. Normal reboot times are achieved after 10.4.6 has booted for the first time.
iSync 2.2 - included with the update - apparently does some nice and bad things. First: It adds support for several new phones, but it also breaks some unsupported phones' hacks. I'll check the hack for the Series 80 phones on our site and report back very soon. ... Well, I just did that and apparently the hack still works without a hitch. As with every iSync update, the hack is actually overwritten and you have to do it all over again, but after re-applying the hack, you'll have to let iSync reset your Nokia communicator and re-sync. Gives some strange messages on the commie, but it works just fine.
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