Macintosh Highlights From Around the Web

Looking for the latest in Mac news around the Web? Then from now on you'll want to check out our Mac Blogs, which have taken the place of this particular collection of Apple-related tidbits, news and insights. Best of all it's not just me ponticating. You can weigh in with your own comments.

Maybe we should call him Jonathan IveDesign How can I tell that Jonathan Ive indeed deserves the top design award from the Design and Art Direction (D&AD) group in the U.K.? Maybe it's the way people come over to my desk and ooooh and aaaah over the latest iMac G5 I'm reviewing. Or the way they did the same thing when I had a Mac mini. Or the look and feel of my own 20-inch Apple Cinema Display or my iPod mini. You get the picture.

In case you hadn't heard, Ive -- Apple's head of industrial design -- was given the group's President's Award last night in London. Apple itself also won three design awards for its line of Cinema Displays, its fourth generation iPod and the latest iteration of the iPod mini. According to this story in MacWorld UK, Apple CEO Steve Jobs climbed up on stage to congratulate Ive and praise his work.

Intel inside? I don't buy it. Doesn't this come up about once every year or so? Rumors begin to swirl that Apple is going to jump to Intel chips because it's fed cup/angry/annoyed at the slow pace of development by Motorola/IBM of the G4/G5/G-whatever processors it uses (see story). Experts weigh in saying the idea is intriguing, but it would mean porting Mac OS X (and all the apps that run on it) to a new architecture, so it'll never happen (see story). Mac fans gnash their teeth in horror, or chortle at the prospect of a whole new hardware world for Mac OS X. Well, here we are again.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple and Intel are in talks. Experts weighed in, fans gnashed teeth and nothing changed. I suppose it's possible that as soon as I finish writing this post that Apple CEO Steve Jobs will surprise everyone with the New Power Mac Pentium Edition. But I doubt it.

Blow out four candles, then buy something. My, my four years goes by quickly. In case you don't have your iCal marked for today, this is the fourth anniversary of the opening of Apple's first retail store. Quick quiz: Which one came first? (Answer below.)

I have to credit ifoapplestore.com for the birthday reminder. In case you haven't seen the site, it's a compendium of information about all things retail when it comes to Apple's popular stores. Not only can you find out what stores are open, and where they are, you can also poke around for the unofficial word on what stores are coming. As for the quick quiz answer: The first Apple retail store opened at Tysons Corner, Va. at 10 a.m. on this day in 2001.

Well, that was fast. Apple today released the first update to its new Tiger operating system, which hit stores shelves just 17 days ago. More information about the update to Mac OS X 10.4 is available online. Mac OS X version 10.4.1 offers "many reliability and compatibility improvements," according to an Apple Knowledge Base document.

Dashboard dos and don'ts. If you've had a chance to try out the new Dashboard feature of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, then you're likely tempted to download and install some of the new ones that are popping up online. But before you do so, be sure to check out this story about possible security issues with Dashboard "Widgets." This is especially true if you use the default settings in the Safari Web browser to download files.

About that new top-end Power Mac G5.... In case you're wondering how much faster the latest, fastest Power Mac G5 is, barefeats.com has some answers. It turns out from the benchmark tests that the new dual 2.7GHz Power Mac G5 is marginally faster than the model it replaced.

Still running Panther? Get this security update. Lost amid all the hoopla about the release last week of Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" was the release this week of a security update for Mac OS X 10.3. The security update addresses a variety of issues in Mac OS X 10.3.9. For the full rundown of what's fixed, check this Apple document.

The new Power Mac G5 is a beast! I wandered by the local Apple Store yesterday (I knew I shouldn't have), and wandered out a short while later with one of the new top-end Power Mac G5s. Yeah, that one -- the one with two 2.7GHZ processors. (You didn't really expect me to snag a single 1.8 GHz model, did you?) It may not be the mythical 3.0 G5 Steve Jobs promised for last year, but it's darn close. Here's a tidbit: With my Raptor 10k-rpm drives installed in a striped RAID configuration, a quick run of Xbench yielded a zippy little score of 298.2. Color me pleased. Read the review.

Forget the new Power Macs.... What about new iBooks? That's what Charles W. Moore ponders over at PowerBookCentral.com. In his column about Apple's all-white, entry-level laptop, Moore notes that the iBook range is overdue for an update, and wonders whether widescreen models could be coming up later this year. He also points out that more than four years since its introduction, the iBook still looks fresh and current. Not that's good industrial design.

Apple cans 'iCon' publisher's books. If you're looking for the new bio of CEO Steve Jobs by tech publisher John Wiley & Sons, you need not check for it at the local Apple store. According to this story from Reuters, Apple has pulled a number of books published by Wiley because it's unhappy with a new biography of Jobs called iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business. Apple declined to comment, but the publisher called the move "an unfortunate decision."

Amazon's new dual 2.7 GHz Power Mac G5? Maybe they shouldn't have posted this particular model online, but Amazon.com is offering details about a Power Mac G5 that Apple doesn't sell -- at least not yet. While there have been any number of rumors about an imminent update to the desktop machines, this would seem to come as close as you can get to confirming their existence without an announcement from Apple. Wanna see for yourself? Check out this Amazon link while you can.The Mac Observer also has a shot of the page posted online in case Amazon wises up.

No wonder he liked it. In case you missed this, The Washington Post has a story about how the tech editor for NBC's Today show praised a variety of tech products -- and received money from some of the companies whose products he was evaluating. Among them: Apple, Sony and HP. Corey Greenberg said he had been "aboveboard with NBC" about the payments. NBC said it did not know about them.

If you updated to Mac OS X 10.3.9 last week, and are now having Safari issues..., you might want to check out this support page from Apple. Java-enabled Web sites and Safari don't seem to get along after the update. According to Apple: "After updating to Mac OS X 10.3.9, some systems may have issues with Java applications and Java-enabled websites when using Safari. Safari may unexpectedly quit, and standalone Java applications may unexpectedly quit or not launch. You can perform a simple test to verify whether your computer is experiencing this issue. If it is, you will need to reinstall one or two software updates to resolve the issue." The details are available on the support page.

Up is down? So Apple Computer reports a stellar quarter, with bigtime profits from a 588% increase in iPod sales, among other things, and what happens to the company's stock? It's off almost 10% in heavy trading the day after the earnings report comes out. Apple shares closed today at $37.26, down $3.78, or 9.21%, on volume of 97.8 million shares traded. In fact, according to MacDailyNews, in after-hours trading, the stock is off another 6 cents. Good thing they didn't report lower earnings or -- gasp! -- a loss (see story).

The First iPod? Well if there can be a First Family and a First dog, why not a First iPod for the President? That's right, President Bush has an iPod and uses it while exercising, according to this story in the New York Times. And just what kind of tunes does the President listen to? Country music from the likes of George Jones and Alan Jackson, songs by Van Morrison and John Fogarty, and an eclectic mix of music from his chief media strategist in the 2004 campaign.

Viruses, yes. Spyware, no. Just how safe is a Mac? That's the issue Digit magazine looks at in a lengthy piece on the Mac OS and security. "Most Mac users gaze on smugly as reports of each new Windows security crisis break," says Digit. "And they have good reason – research from Sophos PLC showed that 68 viruses have affected the Mac while 97,467 have affected Windows. Of those 68, most are a decade old or older and don't directly affect OS X." So are Macs really more secure than Windows PCs? Take a look and then decide.

Ten things Apple did wrong since Jobs' return. Okay, so maybe there are more than 10, but Chris Seibold over at AppleMatters has compiled a pretty compelling list of business boo-boos by Apple since Steve Jobs returned as CEO. Remember the Blue Dalmation iMac, for instance? Or all those iMacs with DVD drives that came out just as everyone seemed to be downloading music and burning their own CDs? It's worth the trip down memory lane, and a healthy reminder that even Apple makes mistakes.

Forget Mac OS X 10.4; What about 10.5? Tiger isn't even out yet, and folks are already talking about what should be in Mac OS X 10.5. Take a look, for instance, at Gene Steinberg's piece on the need for a new user interface. As he says: "I do not know how Apple tests its user interfaces now, but I would suggest that novices be brought in on a regular basis to see how they work their Macs, and where they encounter trouble. Here a combination of inspiration and lots of perspiration might mesh and deliver solid ideas on what has to change. There has to be a better way."

Firefox better than Safari. Or at least, Al Fasoldt at the Newhouse News Service thinks so. In a column in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Fasoldt calls Safari "superb," but goes on to say that he's made Firefox his default browser anyway. In particular, he likes Firefox's bookmark management and its ability to save Web pages. (For what it's worth, I have them both on my Macs, and tend to go back and forth about equally.)

Apple has released Security Update 2005-003 (Server) 1.1 In case you missed Apple's latest security update for Mac OS X Server, it's out and available for download. According to Apple, the update provides security enhancements in a number of areas, including: AFP Server, Bluetooth Setup Assistant, CoreFoundation, Cyrus IMAP, Cyrus SASL, folder permissions, Mailman, Safari, Samba and SquirrelMail.

If software update hasn't pinged you yet..., then you should run it and snag the latest security fix from Apple for Mac OS X 10.3. The update, 2005-003, was released yesterday and covers a variety of security issues, the AFP servers, folder permssions and Safari. The update for client hardware weighs in at 15MB; the update for servers runs to 32MB.

Apple acknowledges trackpad issues on the new Powerbooks, sort of. Various Mac-related Web sites and forums have been awash in complaints about sluggish trackpads on the latest generation of Powerbooks. Now Apple has posted a knowledge base document offering a fix of sorts. It suggests "resetting" the trackpad by covering it with the palm of your hand for several seconds. Having said that, I've used a new 17-inch model since late January with nary a trackpad problem; The same is true of the 15-inch model Apple sent earlier this week for review purposes.

Apple a 'bully' for going after fan sites? That's how Robert Thompson, a media and popular culture professor at Syracuse University, puts it in this story by the L.A.Times . The topic at hand, of course, is Apple's decision to file suit against Web sites accused of leaking insider info on unannounced products. Said Thompson: "You come off looking like a bully doing stuff like this. You come off looking like the evil emperor." You'll need to register to see the story on the Times site.

Got a Blackberry? Got a Mac? If you're looking to sync the two, you'll want to check out PocketMac for Blackberry. "PocketMac For BlackBerry is the first program to allow Mac users to sync their crucial data between their BlackBerry and Entourage, Address Book, iCal, Now Contact, Now Up-To-Date, and even Stickies," according to the company. The software goes for $29.95.

You bought a new mini; now what? So you finally capitulated to reality and decided a Mac is must. But after years in PC-land, what do you need to know now? Ars Technica has a great switcher guide for newbies that covers the basics. As Eric Bangeman and Kurt Hutchinson note in the piece: "This guide is not intended to ... answer every conceivable question Windows and Linux users will have about their new platform. What it does intend to do is give you the lowdown on some basic things: window management, accessing your Windows box from the Mac and application behavior."

Firefox shows strength among Mac users, too. You may have seen recent stories about how the Firefox browser has been nibbling into IE's browser market share on the Windows side of the world. Well it's also gaining popularity among Mac OS X users, according to a survey by MacWorld UK. Don't worry, Apple's Safari is still far and away the most popular Mac browser, with almost two-thirds of respondents citing it as their fav. But almost a quarter of those who took the survey, 23%, went with Firefox.

Developers, circle these dates. Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference will take place June 6-10 in San Francisco, and the company is already touting Tiger as the main event of the show. That's not surprising, given that Apple has said its next operating system, Mac OS X 10.4, is due out in the first half of the year. Usually, that means something like the last hour of the last day of the time period given, or -- in this case -- midnight on June 30. But maybe the company will have polished off 10.4 in time for WWDC. More information is available on Apple's Developer Connection.

Now that's a backlit keyboard. With its latest Powerbooks, Apple promises a backlit keyboard on the 15- and 17-inch models that's up to 10 times brighter than the old models. As someone who routinely turned off the backlighting on the older models because it sometimes made the keys harder to see, I can report good news. While I can't say for sure that the new keyboard is 10 times brighter than before, it must be darn close. Even in a a well-lit room, the keys glow brightly enough to be easily seen. Now instead of routinely turning off the function, I turn it on. And as for that other new feature, the double-finger trackpad scrolling, I tried it last night and it works as billed. It's an elegant and simple solution that seems like just a minor tweak -- but it's actually really useful.

This just in from China..., my new 17-inch Powerbook. Since I wasn't expecting a Powerbook G5, I wasn't surprised that Apple didn't release one when it updated its Powerbook line last week. So I promptly ordered one of the 17-inch models on Monday and it arrived today. Now posted: A quick look at the new hardware -- although I have no plans to drop it onto the floor to see if the "Sudden Motion Sensor" technology really works.

Is that a Model T on your desk? Businessweek.com offers this look at the current PC market with an eye on the early days of automobiles -- and the parallels between Ford's Tin Lizzie and the mass-produced Windows-based PCs of today. And guess who looks good as consumers turn away from the PC-as-commodity and look for innovation? I'll give you a hint. It's not Dell.

Best widescreen laptop, but not best overall? Forbes.com takes a look at laptops and has come up with a list of those it deems worthy of plaudits. You'll be happy to know that Apple's 17-inch Powerbook is among those being singled out; But you'll be miffed to discover that it's not the best overall model -- at least in Forbes' eyes. Check out their look at the Coolest laptops.

A faster chip, a lower price. Anyone who follows Apple's hardware release cycles won't be surprised to learn that the company updated its Powerbook line across the board today. With no changes since last June, the upgrades were overdue. And while there's nary a G5 in sight, speed bumps and other improvements should keep most Powerbook fans at least mollified a while longer. If you've been waiting to buy a Powerbook, now's as good a time as you'll get for a while. Apple has the details online.

It's the image, stupid! Adam Robert Guha over at LowEndMac has an insightful look at why a Powerbook G5 may be some ways away--and it's not because of the heat. It's because a Powerbook G5 might well have to be two inches thick, run hot as an oven and last two hours or less on battery. Now really, does that sound like a Powerbook to you?

A Linux geek goes Mac. Jim Lynch, over at ExtremeTech, offers a look at his own entre into all things Mac, opting for a Power Mac G5 right off the bat and marveling over Mac OS X. "What you will read in this column are the impressions of a guy very much used to Linux and Windows....," Lynch says. Here's the story.

Smaller than a breadbox. That would be the new Mac mini that arrived today from Apple for an upcoming review. Wonder if it'll be a hit? Well, at least three co-workers (PC users, mostly) almost grabbed it from my hands as soon as it came out of the box. And without giving away one of the points in my review, one of them scoffed jokingly that anybody would want that "cheap" Mac. When's the last time you heard "cheap" and "Mac" in the same sentence? Maybe that accounts for the three- to four-week wait now at Apple's online store for the newest Mac.

That was fast! According to MacCentral.com, Apple has already cut the prices on build-to-order options for the new Mac mini. If you order the mini through Apple's online store, adding Bluetooth and AirPort Extreme wireless networking options now costs $99 -- $30 off the original price. Apple also cut the price of a 1GB RAM installation by $150 to $325. The 80GB hard drive upgrade for the 1.25GHz model, which was $80, is now $50. And Apple has replaced the 4x SuperDrive upgrade previously offered with an 8X unit instead. That upgrade will still cost you an even $100, however. (Late update: The 8X reference was apparently an online store typo. Looks like it's still a 4X unit.)

They're heeeere. If you ordered a Mac Mini the day they were announced last week, keep an eye out for the delivery truck. Mini buyers reported today that their new Macs are already arriving. Here are some pictures of one Mini unwrapping. And if you haven't ordered one yet, you might want to get in line. The current shipping times for new orders is now three to four weeks.

CIOs see Apple as 'irrelevant' to their IT plans. At least, that's how the CIO "jury" at Silicon.com feels about the company's hardware and software, according to this story. Among others quoted in the piece is Richard Yeo, CTO at easyGroup. Asked about whether Apple has a place in corporate IT, he was dismissive: "Proprietary hardware and software, overpriced, few applications."

About that PowerBook "G5".... If you're holding out hope for an update to the PowerBook line that includes the magic phrase "G5," you're going to be waiting a while it seems. Getting that hot little chip into a laptop will be the "mother of all thermal challenges," according to Tim Cook, Apple's vice president of worldwide sales and operations. Cook's comments came in response to a reporter's question during a conference call on Apple's latest earnings report. The Mac Observer, among other sites, has a story.

So now it's called 'lifestyle computing.' And according to mi2g's Intelligence Unit, the Mac mini unveiled by Apple CEO Steve Jobs will lead the way -- and put a dent in the sale of Windows-based PCs this year. In a statement released yesterday, the U.K.-based IT architecture firm said: "The Mac Mini points the way forward in providing an easy-to-use and affordable alternative to the familiar but malware-attracting Windows environment ... and the less streamlined and sometimes clunky Linux user interface...."

So the rumor-mongers were right. As had been rumored for more than a week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the wraps off the Mac mini G4 computer today. Bring your own keyboard, mouse and monitor and you're good to go. Price $499. Only hitch: It should have been out a month ago--just in time for the holidays. And yes, I know about the iPod shuffle, iWork and iLife '05. Good additions all--especially that Pez dispenser-sized iPod. But what about Apple's Powerbook line, which last saw an update last April? Not even a minor speed bump? Color me bummed.

Tomorrow morning's Mac news tomorrow night. So Apple will indeed provide a webcast of Steve Jobs' keynote address at MacWorld San Francisco after all. But if you're still hoping to tune in for the full skinny on whatever Jobs may have up his sleeve, you're going to have to wait a bit. Apple's Webcast of the speech won't be available until nine hours after Jobs starts speaking. That means it should be available from the Apple web site beginning at 9 p.m. EST. By then, whatever he has unveiled, will already be old news.

No live feed from next week's MacWorld Expo? It's not official (yet), but numerous Mac sites are reporting that Apple may not provide live video of Steve Jobs' keynote at next week's MacWorld San Francisco event. Online readers who have called their local Apple stores report that none of the stores will be showing the Stevenote either. Macintouch offers some of those reader comments in case you're interested (just scroll about halfway down the page). The move, if it turns out to be true, follows Apple's very public efforts to go after rumor sites that have allegedly leaked info about upcoming products. Color me bummed.

The meaning of B-I-G. I've seen the future (of LCDs) and it's big -- as in 30 inches on the diagonal. Yep, Apple has sent for a review purposes one of its massive 30-in. Apple Cinema Displays. Which means coming soon to Computerworld: a first look at what $3,299 buys you. Since I already have one of the 20-in. versions of the ACD, the comparison should be interesting. My first thought: Thank God I have a big desk. Second thought: I'm glad Apple included the Nvidia card I'll need to drive this thing on my Power Mac.