Macintosh Highlights From Around The Web (July-Sept. 2004)

But you knew this already, right? Paul Murphy, over at LinuxInsider, offers a look at the age-old debate about which platform is a better value, comparing Apple's hardware with comparable hardware from Dell. In a conclusion likely to rankle PC fans, he says: "I've never met a PC user whose focus on the job ... wasn't significantly diluted by the need to accommodate the PC and its software, but I've never met a business Mac user who considered the machine anything other than a tool, like a telephone or typewriter, for getting the job done."

Say 'Cheese!' The folks at Virginia Tech have posted pictures of the Xserve computing project they've been working on in recent months. You may recall that the school has been updating its Apple hardware, replacing last year's dual G5 Power Macs with this year's G5 Xserves. The result: A supercomputer Mac fans can really love.

Buy an iMac, take it apart. That's what the legendary Kodawarisan has done with a new iMac G5. From nifty all-in-one computer to a pile of techno-bits in a matter of moments. He's posted pictures, in case you can't resist taking a look.

Into thin air.... If you're looking to buy a Power Mac G5, and are having trouble finding one...anywhere, you're not alone. A quick scan of the Power Mac G5 price tracker at MacPrices.com shows that virtually no one has any of the three pro desktop machines. The only exception as of today? Apple has the mid-range dual 2.0 Ghz G5 model in stock. And shipping times, even at Apple, of the rare dual 2.5 GHz G5 models is apparently three to five weeks. Just in time for Halloween....

Just how old is your Mac baby? Looking for an easy way to figure out when your Power Mac, Powerbook, iBook, iMac or (insert other Apple computer here) is? All you have to do is go to http://www.chipmunk.nl/klantenservice/applemodel.html and plug in the serial number for your machine. Click on the button below the text box and it'll tell you when your computer was made.

Got an Xserve G5? Then you'll want to make sure you download the firmware update 5.1.7f1 Apple released yesterday. According to Apple, "the update includes changes for initializing and running your Xserve G5. It provides enhanced reliability during reboot sequences as well as support for the Xserve G5 PCI Hardware RAID Card."

Security update du jour. In case you haven't run software update yet, be sure to do so. Apple yesterday released Security Update 2004-09-07, which is recommended for all users. According to a Knowledge Base article online, it updates Mac OS X's CoreFoundation; IPSec; Kerberos; libpcap; lukemftpd; NetworkConfig; OpenLDAP; OpenSSH; PPPDialer; rsync; Safari; and tcpdump.

Powerbook G5? Don't hold your breath. At least that's what Tom Boger, director of Apple's worldwide product marketing, told The Mac Observer on Wednesday. (Yes I know, I seem to be Mac Observer-fixated this week.) "The new iMac G5 is thin, but (the G5) is not thin enough for a laptop right now," he said. "There are great challenges in putting a G5 processor in a laptop. The issues range from power to cooling and its overall size.... You're not going to see a G5 in a laptop anytime soon." Read the whole story and decide if he's for real, or just offering marketing spin.

The new iMac, in pics! With the news now out about Apple's new slimline all-in-one iMac G5, the Mac faithful are clamoring for pictures. And Mac Observer has a whole slew of them, in case you're interested. Of particular note are the ones from the Paris Expo showing the innards of the new desktop machine. The new iMac goes on sale in mid-September starting at $1299.

Apple gets a solid consumer score. In the latest results from the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which is produced by the University of Michigan Business School, Apple Computer led the rankings with a score of 81. That's up 5% over last year's score, which in turn was 5% higher than in 2002. Gateway also moved up, while consumer satisfaction with PCs made by Hewlett Packard Co. dropped.

You say Safari, I say Mozilla.... Okay, so let's assume you use more than one Web browser to surf. There's Apple's Safari, the now discontinued Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla, Firefox, OmniWeb, Opera, Shiira and probably several more. But which one does the best job of rendering pages and does so fastest? PCWorld's Rebecca Freed offers a look at the browser battles on the Mac platform with those questions in mind.

That familiar switching sound.... We've all heard it. The oohs and aaahs from former Windows users trying out a Mac for the first time. Well, you can add one John Dodds to the list of those who've made the jump. In the first part of a two-part story, Dodds writes about his move to a 15-inch Powerbook for the Independent.

It's not the new iMac. But the fact that little is publicly known about the upcoming iMac, due out next month, hasn't stopped creative types from conjuring images of what the new hardware might look like. A German Web site, MacKompass.de, offers renderings of two would-be iMacs as eye candy while we wait for the real thing. Version 1, an obvious nod to the Apple Cube, is available here; A svelte Version 2 is online here.

Taking another look at the Powerbook 17.... With a Powerbook G5 nowhere in sight, the top-of-the-line laptop from Apple remains the 17-inch model released in April. In case you're curious as to how a non-Mac-oriented Web site sees the big 'book, check out Justin Ong's review over at the HardwareZone.com. His conclusion? "The 17-inch PowerBook G4 is easily one of the best looking desktop replacement notebooks we've ever laid our hands on."

Yellow Dog G5? If you're eyeing the upcoming release of Yellow Dog Linux, version 4.0, IBM has a how-to story online describing how to install the beta Linux OS on a Power Mac G5. David Mertz, in the piece, explains "how to set up a dual-boot environment with Yellow Dog Linux/Y-HPC and OSX on G5 systems" and some issues you might encounter along the way.

iBook really books! Without getting into a long story, I bought one of the new generation of iBooks for mom last week (the top-end model with the 1.2GHz G4 processor). And while I didn't have a chance to do extensive testing on it (we generally focus on the pro line of Powerbooks here at Computerworld), I can tell you it's a very speedy little machine. Compared to the recently discontinued 933MHz model, with which I have tinkered, it's much, much faster. So if you don't mind the 14-inch form factor and you're looking for portability, check out the iBook G4 line before buying.

Taking your wireless with you.... While we're generally on the subject of Apple's new Airport Express, it's worth noting that Ole J. Jacobsen, aka "Frequent Traveller," has written about taking the little access point on the road and using it at a hotel. The column, over at O'Grady's PowerPage, might be useful if you're planning to do the same.

RealNetworks hits a sour note with Apple. A plan by RealNetworks to allow its users to play music on Apple's iPods left Apple "stunned," and the computer maker said Real had basically "adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker...." The company went on to warn "...Real and their customers that when we update our iPod software from time to time it is highly likely that Real's Harmony technology will cease to work with current and future iPods."

Airport Express 'more than the sum of its parts.' With Apple's latest WiFi access point now getting into customers' hands, Ars Technica's Eric Bangeman takes an extensive look at the new wireless hardware -- and generally likes what he finds. "...For a piece of hardware that performs so many functions, it actually does them all fairly well," he said in his review. It's worth a read if there may be an Airport Express in your future. And be sure to check out our own Peter Smith's review right here.

A Powerbook in the Oval Office? From the looks of it, if Mass. Sen. John F. Kerry wins in November, he may just be taking his Powerbook with him to the White House. O'Grady's Powerpage has a blurb and a photo of Kerry, taken for Time magazine, with a late model aluminum Powerbook sitting on his desk. Who knew?

Goin' mobile! Apple announced today that its new Airport Express mobile WiFi access points are now shipping -- and 80,000 pre-orders have already been taken. Airport Express is being touted as something road warriors can take with them for portable WiFi when they're traveling. And for home users, the new hardware allows music to be streamed wirelessly to stereo systems.

Apple's not at MacWorld, but fans are still having fun. So says The Boston Globe's Hiawatha Bray, who takes a look at this year's summer MacWorld, which is in Boston for the first time since 1997. A number of vendors, including even Microsoft, are on hand for the show, which runs through tomorrow.

MacWorld Beantown... starts today. But with no Apple presence and no Steve Jobs keynote, it's looking like MacWorld Boston will be a lot smaller -- and draw less attention -- than last summer's event in New York. Still, it's a chance for the Mac faithful to get together and check out a number of software and hardware products. Not sure you want to go? Check out the schedule online and then decide. The show runs through Thursday.

Xserve RAID tools updated Apple has updated its Xserve RAID Admin Tools to version 1.3.1. The tools, which are used to set up and monitor storage volumes offer a series of fixes designed to improve reliability, according to Apple.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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