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Macs Only! Blog Archive--June 2008

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Copyright 2008 by Bill Fox All rights reserved.
Last Updated: June 30, 2008

Go to: May '08

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[6/30] 320GB 7200RPM miniXpress Now Available from TransIntl

Parallels Products Rebates!Trans International today announced the addition of 320GB 7200RPM drive to it’s miniXpress SATA to FireWire Portable External Storage Solutions. This affordable miniXpress ($239.00) is a SATA to FireWire portable drive, utilizing Hitachi 2.5” 7200RPM, 16MB Cache SATA drive. Backup and Disk Utility Software Included. Bare drives to upgrade internal storage for MacBook and MacBook Pro are also available at $159.00. [Bill Fox]

[6/18] 500GB miniXpress Now Available from TransIntl

Site sponsor Trans International announced the addition of a 500 GB Drive to it's cool miniXpress line of FireWire portable external storage solutions.

The 500GB miniXpress portable external drive ($289-316) utilizes the latest SATA to FireWire, hot swappable and bus powered technology. This allows the drive to be swapped without restarting the computer and powered through the FireWire port--it does not need an additional external power supply. The drive mounts automatically when plugged into the computer. It's rugged yet stylish aluminum case assures durability and efficient heat dissipation. Small (can easily fit in your shirt pocket), equipped with an anti-shock mechanism and triple interface (F800/F400/SATA/USB), the miniXpress is a versatile, durable and high performance portable storage solution. All miniXpress drives ship with Backup and Disk Utility Software. [Bill Fox]

[6/18] Washington Apple Pi to host Walter Mossberg on June 28

Walter Mossberg, creator of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Personal Computing column and co-producer of WSJ's All Things Digital, will speak and take questions at the Washington Apple Pi general meeting on June 28, 2008, in Falls Church, VA. The meeting is at Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church, Virginia, starting at 9:30 a.m. with its usual questions session led by Lawrence Charters. Mr. Mossberg's program begins at 10:30 a.m., with short talk followed with an audience question period. The morning session wraps up with a celebration of our thirty years of Apple and Macintosh user support. Members and guests reminisce about their favorite times in Apple Pi.

Following a half hour light food break consisting of anniversary cake as well as food and cola (with donations accepted to share food and drink costs) , the afternoon program begins. It offers three concurrent afternoon special interest group (SIG) sessions. The New User/Mac OSX Basics SIG addresses basic how-to-do-it on a Macintosh tasks, related questions, and activities. iLife SIG, the second session, focuses on using one or more of the five software products in Apple's iLife suite making doing a fun task easier or showing how to more easily produce near-professional results. In the third session, the Genealogy SIG, holds an organizational meeting with participants sharing their interests and challenges. The SIG meetings wrap up by 3:00 p.m.

Meeting is free and open to the public. The public is invited to join Washington Apple Pi for this exciting learning experience. Attend morning session or afternoon as your schedule permits. [Bill Fox]

[6/18] Brief Hands-On Report--Parallels Desktop for Mac 3.0 Build 5608

Parallels released an update (Build 5608) to its Desktop for Mac 3.0 to take care of a few issues with Mac OS X 10.5.3. It is available for download within the application or via

Once again I could not get "Check for Updates..." within the Help menu of the application to provide the update so I downloaded the update via MacUpdate. I uninstalled Build 5600 and then installed Build 5608 with no problems. No issues were encountered during updating Parallels Tools in my Windows XP SP3 and Vista SP1 virtual machines nor during updating each OS and using it for awhile. [Bill Fox]

[6/10] Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" to Focus on Performance

Rather than adding new features, Snow Leopard will focus on performance and perfection according to an Apple press release issued late yesterday. Bertrand Serlet, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, described Snow Leopard to developers attending the WWDC08.

According to Apple,

Snow Leopard delivers unrivaled support for multi-core processors with a new technology code-named "Grand Central" making it easy for developers to create programs that take full advantage of the power of multi-core Macs. Snow Leopard further extends support for modern hardware with Open Computing Language (OpenCL), which lets any application tap into the vast gigaflops of GPU computing power previously available only to graphics applications. OpenCL is based on the C programming language and has been proposed as an open standard. Furthering OS X's lead in 64-bit technology, Snow Leopard raises the software limit on system memory up to a theoretical 16TB of RAM.

Using media technology pioneered in OS X iPhone, Snow Leopard introduces QuickTime X, which optimizes support for modern audio and video formats resulting in extremely efficient media playback. Snow Leopard also includes Safari with the fastest implementation of JavaScript ever, increasing performance by 53 percent, making Web 2.0 applications feel more responsive.

For the first time, OS X includes native support for Microsoft Exchange 2007 in OS X applications Mail, iCal and Address Book, making it even easier to integrate Macs into organizations of any size.

Snow Leopard is scheduled to ship in about a year. [Bill Fox]

[6/10] Some Further Thoughts on iPhone 3G

Yesterday, Apple announced the iPhone 3G at WWDC08 and issued a slew of press releases. I reported on the iPhone 3G's salient features and here is a QuickTime webcast of the nearly 2-hour keynote address.

Subsequently, AT&T issued its own press release on the cost of the 3G iPhone and its data service. From it we find out that AT&T will still be the exclusive service provider in the U.S.; the $199 (8GB) and $299 (16GB) prices are, in fact, subsidized prices with a 2-year service contract; AT&T will no longer share revenue from the service contract with Apple; and the data service fee jumps 50 percent from $20 to $30 per month for consumers ($45 for business).

AT&T claims to have 3G service currently in 280 metro areas and that it will have 350 areas by the end of the year. Furthermore, AT&T plans to make many of its "hundreds of enterprise applications" available for the iPhone as well as new and innovative applications, e.g.:

AT&T is working closely with Apple to roll out several new and innovative applications that take advantage of the iPhone's advanced capabilities. For example, AT&T is finalizing YELLOWPAGES.COM mobile for the iPhone, an innovative GPS-enabled application that combines local search with social networking capabilities, giving users the ability to search for information, share reviews and plan activities with friends, neighbors and co-workers.

It seems reasonable that AT&T would charge more for its 3G data service, especially with all of the new applications that people will be using.

There are still some important questions for us early adopters. Of course, I want to replace my original 8GB iPhone with an iPhone 3G, keeping the same number, and pass the older one off to my spouse to replace her pink RAZR, again keeping her number. But I have a three-phone family service contract with AT&T that got extended 2 years when I added the iPhone a year ago last June. Hopefully, these trades will be possible and just cost me the additional $30 per month for the 3G iPhone data service.

I still have my $100 rebate, so an iPhone 3G will cost me only $99 or $199. I'm undecided on the 8GB vs 16GB model but since I am only using 4GB on the current 8GB iPhone, I'm leaning toward getting another 8GB model. [Bill Fox]

[6/9] Apple iPhone 3G--Faster, Cheaper, Thinner with GPS and New Apps--July 11th for $199 or Less

For a maximum of $199, the new 8GB iPhone 3G will operate at near Wi-Fi speeds on 3G cell phone networks. It's design is a bit thinner, with an all-black plastic back, non-recessed headphone jack and metal buttons. It will also have a GPS receiver to pinpoint its present location.

Battery life is improved. 2G talk time will increase from 8 to 10 hours. 3G web browsing time will be 5 hours, Wi-Fi 6 hours, video time 7 hours and audio time 24 hours.

There will also be a 16GB model for $299 maximum that will also be available in white.

The "maximum" means that some network providers may choose to subsidize its cost.

Nothing on Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or other new Apple hardware was announced in Steve Jobs' keynote at WWDC08. [Bill Fox]

[6/9] Apple's 2008 Worldwide Developers Conference begins Today

WWDC08Apple CEO Steve Jobs will deliver the keynote address at WWDC08 starting at 10am Pacific Time. During the keynote, Steve Jobs and other Apple Executives will showcase Mac OS X Leopard and OS X iPhone development platforms. WWDC08 will take place at the Moscone West Conference Center in San Francisco all week. It is sold out this year (image courtesy of Apple, Inc.).

On Wednesday, June 11th, Apple will present the 13th annual Apple Design Awards at WWDC08. The ADA's recognize technical excellence and outstanding achievement in software design and development. This year there are new categories for iPhone development.

It is expected that Steve Jobs will announce the iPhone 2 and focus on iPhone application development. But he may also give a peek at what features are contemplated for Mac OS X 10.6 or new Apple hardware. I'll post any salient news from the WWDC08 keynote when it comes out. [Bill Fox]

[6/9] Hands-On Report--Mac OS X 10.5.3, How Fast Is It?

This article is a continuation of my series testing the speed of Mac OS X that stretches back to version 10.0. When I got my Dual Quad-core 2.8GHz Mac Pro running Mac OS X 10.5.2 with the upgraded graphics card, an Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT, I was disappointed in its graphics performance relative to my former MacBook Pro with slower graphics, an Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT. But I was hopeful that the subsequent update of Mac OS X would improve the Mac Pro's graphics performance.

Apple released Mac OS X 10.5.3 on May 28 and I have been using it since, experiencing no problems. So, I ran my full set of speed tests on my dual quad-core 2.8GHz Mac Pro with 2GB of RAM running Mac OS X 10.5.3. As an aside, I have found that 2GB of RAM is plenty for what I do except when running Windows with Parallels Desktop for Mac so I have ordered a 4GB kit from my sponsor, Trans International. Here are the results:

Speed of Mac OS X 10.5.3 vs 10.5.2
Test Mac Pro Mac Pro
MacBook Pro 2.4GHz C2D
Altivec Fractal 1.3 (GFLOPS)
Cinebench R10 Rendering (8x)
-OpenGL Hardware Lighting
Let1kWindowsBloom 1.0+
Xbench 1.3 - CPU
- Threading
- Memory
- Quartz Graphics
- OpenGL Graphics
-User Interface Graphics
Startup (sec)
Shutdown (sec)
Dup. 500 MB Folder (sec)
Quake III Arena (frames/sec)
Halo 2.0.2 (frames/sec)

The mixed results show that Mac OS X 10.5.3 is overall no faster nor no slower than 10.5.2. However, my generally vastly faster Mac Pro still runs Halo 2.0.2 (Intel version) some 14 percent slower than my former MacBook Pro.

Over the years, my experience has been that ATI's top graphics cards have out-performed Nvidia's on the Mac for 3D games with only an occasional exception. Hopefully, ATI will release a fast after-market graphics card for the latest Mac Pro. [Bill Fox]

[6/9] Apple released 5 New Online Seminars for Enterprise and 2 for Small Business--All are Free!

For the Enterprise:

News and Sports Editing - Infinite Possibilities with Final Cut Pro--Join broadcast news industry pioneer Joe Torelli, and learn the steps to mastering Final Cut Pro in the fast-paced news and sports editing environment.

Apple and Telestream: Turn the media you have into the media you need--Apple and Telestream discuss powerful multimedia solutions that make it possible to deliver video content to any audience regardless of how it is created, distributed, or viewed.

Mac for Computer Forensics & e-discovery--Join Apple and a panel of experts in computer forensics as they discuss the challenges and opportunities in their field and why the Mac is their preferred choice for examinations.

Best Practices for Integrating Mac OS X into Active Directory--Learn how the built-in capabilities of Mac OS X can enable you to integrate Mac OS X and Active Directory in a way that fits best with your environment.

Best Practices for Mac OS X Client Management--Discover how you can implement important client management tactics in your enterprise.

For Small Business:

iWork for Business--See how iWork '08 allows you to create stunning presentations, create compelling word-processing documents, and present spreadsheets that get people excited about your data.

New to the Mac for business users--If you're contemplating a move to the Mac, this online seminar will give you useful tips and valuable information to help you make the transition seamless.

Apple's free online seminars are available 24/7. [Bill Fox]

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