Sunday, May 24, 2009

Microsoft may lift application limit for Windows Starter

Published- May 22, 2009
By Ina Fried

With Windows 7, Microsoft may lift one of the biggest limitations of its Starter edition--the restriction that the operating system run no more than three applications at a time.

Blogger Paul Thurrott said in a posting Friday that Microsoft plans to remove the restriction, without elaborating.

Microsoft neither confirmed nor denied whether such a move will take place.

"We continue to work on developing Windows 7 and have nothing new to share at this time," a Microsoft representative said on Friday.

With Windows XP and Windows Vista, the Starter edition was sold only for use on new PCs sold in emerging markets. With Windows 7, Microsoft said it would also sell Starter in developed markets such as the United States as an added option for low-cost Netbooks.

Separately, enthusiast site TechARP wrote Friday that Microsoft plans to change its rules in terms of what hardware qualifies for the Netbook designation. Microsoft declined to comment on the report or its plans in that area.

Nice Job...

Russian Mac clones debut

Published- May 18, 2009
By Anonymous

Computers using Apple Macintosh technology are now being offered for sale in Russia, reports. Six computers with the Mac OS X operating system are available. All copies of the operating system are legally obtained and licensed, the producer adds.

The RuMac PRO, analogous to the high-end Apple iMac, costs $737 at today’s exchange rate. It has a 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 4 GB of operating memory. The comparable Apple product costs $3407 in Russia (according to the RussianMac website). In the United States, the iMac with a 2.93 GHz processor and 4 GB of operating memory costs $1799, according to Apple’s website.

The RuMac Multimedia/Home Theater with the same processor costs and memory $700. It has only four USB ports, compared to the RuMac PRO's eight, however. It is compatible with digital LCD television and can be used to play DVD’s. It has no Apple analog.

The RuMac Mini, with a 1.6-GHz Intel Atom processor and 2 GB of operating memory costs $365, compared to an Apple Mac Mini that costs $929 in Russia. An Apple Mac Mini with a 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2 GB of memory costs $799 in the US.

The RuMac Stardart, with a 2.8-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2 GB of operating memory costs $489, compared to $1858 for the Apple product in Russia. An Apple iMac with a 2.66-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2 GB of operating memory costs $1199 in the US.

The RuMac Book, with a 15.4-inch screen, 1.6-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 1 GB of operating memory costs $784, compared to $1548 for the comparable Apple in Russia. A 13-inch Apple MacBook with 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2 GB of operating memory costs $1299 in the US.

The RuMac miniBook, with an 8.9- or 10-inch screen, a 1.6-GHz Intel Atom processor and 1 GB of operating memory, costs $498 or $706, depending on screen size. It features WiFi and Bluetooth. It has no Apple analog.

Two American companies, Psystar and Open Tech, and the Argentine OpeniMac and German HyperMeganet companies also make Apple analogs. Apple filed suit against Psystar in July 2008 over the presence in its computers of preinstalled Mac OS X Leopard operating systems, claiming that, since the end-user agreement for Mac OS prohibits third-party installations of the system, the company is infringing on Apple’s copyright. Psystar has countersued, accusing Apple of anticompetitive practices, monopolistic behavior and copyright misuse.

Mac OS X Leopard, the successor to the Tiger that was introduced in 2007, is the only operating system that is compatible with the iPhone development platform.

RussianMac notes that all of its computers are “adapted” for Mac OS X Leopard, without clear elaboration of the situation, other than that “software designed for OS X Leopard works flawlessly” on its computers.

Just woooooooooooooooow....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"Why Linux Is Not (Yet) Ready for the Desktop"

Published-May 18, 2009
By Thom Holwerda

We all know them. We all hate them. They are generally overdone, completely biased, or so vague they border on the edge of pointlessness (or toppled over said edge). Yes, I'm talking about those "Is Linux ready for the desktop" articles. Still, this one is different.

Instead of some vague exposition of why Linux on the desktop sucks (which almost always comes down to: "it does things differently from Windows"), this article presents a very simple and clear list of things that are currently lacking or underperforming in the desktop Linux world. No vague idealistic nonsense, just a simple, to-the-point list of what's wrong with desktop Linux, and what needs fixing.

Written between April 30 and May 18 2009, the document "discusses Linux deficiencies", however, "everyone should keep in mind that there are areas where Linux has excelled other OSs". The author also adds that "a primary target of this comparison is Windows."

While most of the items on the list are fairly accurate and reasonable, there are a few things on there that seem debatable in my eyes. For instance, the note about Gtk+ and QT being unstable is not something I've personally experienced - to me, it appears that some applications are simply unstable without it having anything to do with the toolkits. I'm also not sure if bringing up Win32 as an example of a good API is such a wise idea.

The codec complaint is also an interesting one. The author states that there is a "questionable patents and legality status" on Linux (when it comes to some codecs, that is). It goes on to say that "US Linux users cannot play many popular audio and video formats until they purchase appropriate codecs." I live in The Netherlands, so the DMCA can bugger right off into an abyss - I will install whatever codecs I need on Linux, "clean" or otherwise. No need for me to pay for anything, and I doubt any American Linux users care all that much about the DMCA either.

The list is filled with other interesting items, and I'm sure many Linux users here will be able to counter other points as well. As a result, use this opportunity to discuss the current state of Linux on the desktop (eh...), and of course also maybe introduce some projects or initiatives that might address some of the concerns on this list.


Laptops, computers stolen from two schools

Posted to Web: Monday, May 18, 2009 11:28PM
Appeared in print: Tuesday, May 19, 2009, page A7
By Jack Moran
The Register-Guard

Dozens of Eugene elementary students were forced to “unplug” Monday, after thieves broke into buildings on two campuses over the weekend and stole about 100 laptop computers and other electronic items worth more than $100,000.

Police ask anyone with information about the burglaries at Howard and at the campus housing both Harris and Eastside Alternative elementary schools to call 682-5171.

The Eugene School District is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the crimes.

At both campuses — which are situated several miles apart on opposite ends of Eugene — intruders shattered windows to crawl inside school buildings.

The burglars took about 95 Macintosh laptops from five first- and third-grade classrooms at Howard, located in north Eugene off River Road, at 700 Howard Ave.

Police said about a dozen more computers were stolen from the Harris-Eastside campus, located at 1150 E. 29th Ave. in south Eugene.

“We don’t know if the break-ins are connected,” Eugene School District spokeswoman Kerry Delf said. “These two schools are way across town from each other.”

Delf said a staff member at Harris-Eastside arrived at school Saturday to find that someone had broken into a building there.

The Howard burglary wasn’t noticed until Monday morning, Delf said.

The Howard thefts were particularly frustrating — not only because of the number of computers stolen, but because Howard is a “technology immersion” school where every student in first through fifth grade is issued their own laptop.

“It was a little bit overwhelming (Monday) morning,” Howard Principal Kim Finch said. “Our teachers had to adjust their lesson plans, which are based around (students’ use of) laptops.”

Finch said many Howard students don’t have computers at home, and that it is a “top priority” to get new laptops for students if the stolen ones aren’t recovered.

She said it’s unclear if the district’s theft insurance will cover the entire cost.

“The last thing any of us need with the budget crunch is to purchase new equipment,” Finch said. “On the other hand, this is something that is very important for our students and our staff.”

All of the stolen laptops are tagged with school district identification numbers, police spokeswoman Jenna LaBounty said.

Anyone thinking about purchasing a used computer can call police at 682-5115 to check its serial number to determine if it has been stolen, LaBounty said.

The weekend break-ins are the latest — and most significant — in a series of property crimes this year in which Eugene schools have been targeted.

In January, school district officials spent several thousand dollars to make repairs after metal thieves cut and stole a section of underground wiring that powered the lights at Cal Young Middle School’s athletic fields in north Eugene.

Later that month, a 13-year-old boy was arrested for lighting fires in three boys’ restrooms at Roosevelt Middle School, causing at least $2,500 in damage.

And nearly $10,000 in damage was done to Kennedy Middle School in January by vandals who damaged the school’s main circuit breaker and other electrical equipment.

It does look like an inside job....

Symantec, McAfee target iPhone for new products

Published- May 18, 2009
By Jim Dalrymple

Security companies Symantec and McAfee will be the latest big-name developers to make products for Apple's iPhone, as the two look to cash in on the popularity of the device.

Speaking to Reuters, McAfee CEO Dave DeWalt said his company is developing security software for the iPhone, though no other details on the product were provided. DeWalt also said the company is working on a "much more comprehensive suite for the Apple family."

Symantec is throwing its hat into the iPhone ring too, but it won't be developing traditional security software. Instead, Symantec is looking at a backup service that would give people access to files stored on their computers or on the Web.

The service sounds a bit like Apple's own MobileMe service, which stores data in the cloud. But it's unclear whether Symantec will offer the same type of data syncing available from Apple.

Symantec Senior Vice President Rowan Trollope told Reuters that his company has no immediate plans to introduce security products for the iPhone.

Neither company gave a time frame for the release of products.
Originally posted at Apple

This would be a big help for the companies...

Russian clone-maker the latest to take on Apple

Published- May 20, 2009
By Jim Dalrymple

RussianMac is the latest company to release a Mac clone and test Apple's resolve to stop companies from selling its operating system.

On its Web site, RussianMac says that a full version of Mac OS X Leopard comes pre-installed on its computers. The company also confirms that the operating system is able to receive automatic system updates from Apple once installed.

This is where Apple seems to have the clone-makers over a barrel. Apple's Mac OS X End User License Agreement (EULA) clearly forbids anyone from installing the software on hardware not sold by Apple. This effectively closes the door on companies determined to make a Mac clone.

However, RussianMac maintains that it does not violate the terms of the EULA agreement because the operating system was purchased directly from Apple. That still doesn't get around the condition of installing it on an Apple-branded machine.

Legit or not, it is a popular argument. Germany-based PearC is using that defense to sell Mac clone computers in that country.

Of course, in the U.S., Psystar is the case everyone has heard about. The company first made headlines in April 2008 when it released its first Mac clone with Mac OS X pre-installed.

Apple filed a lawsuit against Psystar in July 2008, claiming the company was violating copyright and software licensing agreements.

The legal battle is ongoing between Psystar and Apple. The two are set to meet in court on November 9. Most legal experts expect Apple to ultimately prevail in the case.

Because the laws in each country are different, it's unclear whether Apple could be successful in Russia or Germany.

Time will be the judge for its success

Apple working to fix browser security flaw in Mac

Published- May 21 2009
By Connie Guglielmo

Apple said it’s working to fix a security flaw in its Macintosh operating system software that may allow malicious programs to attack Mac computers as users browse the Web.

A flaw in the Java software in Mac OS X lets hackers plant malicious code on Web sites that can be used to access and attack Apple’s computers, according to an advisory from Intego, a maker of security software for the Mac. Mac users can pick up the code merely by visiting infected sites, Intego said.

“We are aware of the issue and we are working on a fix,” said Monica Sarkar, a spokeswoman for Apple. She declined to provide further details.

Intego said Apple has been aware of the problem for at least five months. While it hasn’t found any malicious programs that take advantage of the problem, Intego said “publicity around this vulnerability will mean that hackers are likely to attempt to exploit it quickly before Apple issues an update.”

Java, a program developed by Sun Microsystems that is included in most Web browsers, should be disabled, Intego said.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, fell $1.58 to $125.87 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The stock has gained 48 percent this year. (Bloomberg)

A good decision....

Tech Data opens lab to push Apple business products

Published- May 19, 2009
By Tampa Bay Business Journal

Once prized more in the creative industry than anywhere else, Apple Inc. is pushing harder into the work environment with the opening of a 450-square-foot Apple Lab at Tech Data Corp.’s Clearwater headquarters.

The lab is part of the 6,000-square-foot technology services center Tech Data operates to demonstrate products to clients and to train resellers and technical employees on a particular channel’s latest technologies.

Through the new center, Apple resellers will have a chance to demonstrate Apple-based services to support the information technology needs of small and medium businesses as well as larger corporate environments.

“With the rising popularity of the iPhone, iPod and Mac computers in the consumer market, users are very interested in learning how Apple products can be incorporated into their business,” said Brian Davis, Tech Data’s vice president of client systems product marketing, in a release.

The Apple Lab is supported by Tech Data’s Apple Specialized Business Unit and features a complete line of products available to businesses such as the Mac Pro, Xserve and the iMac, as well as more consumer-friendly products such as the iPod and Apple TV.

Macintosh sales slipped for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) in its second fiscal quarter by 3 percent while the Microsoft Windows-based personal computer market dropped 6.5 percent, according to published reports. iPods, however, rose 3 percent while iPhone sales — which are becoming more popular with executives — rose 123 percent year-over-year.

Tech Data (NASDAQ: TECD) generated revenue of $24.1 billion in fiscal 2009 and income of $123.6 million, or $2.40 per share.

Just woooooow!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sleeker, faster, glossier

Published- August 9, 2007
By Anonymous

Apple has updated its iMac computers with a slimmer design, faster chips and glossy screens, hoping to further propel sales that already outpace the rest of the PC industry.

The all-in-one desktop computers now have aluminum casings, replacing the white plastic facade that has defined the computer lineup for years. Apple also eliminated a 17-inch display option, and will have only 20-inch and 24-inch versions.

Priced at $A1698 and $A2599, respectively, the computers are also $300 to $400 cheaper than their predecessors.

Analysts have been anticipating an iMac revamp for some time from the trendsetting company. Apple last introduced a new iMac in September 2006 when it debuted the large 24-inch model.

The success of the iPod, Apple's retail stores and the company's switch to Intel-based computer chips have all helped propel the Macintosh maker's computer sales and profits to record levels. In recent quarters, Apple's sales have been growing three times faster than the rest of the PC industry.

"The iMac has been very successful for us and we want to make it even better," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in announcing the new products. "We've managed to make it even thinner than before.''

"Apple has grown two to three times the market for the past several quarters,'' said analyst Shannon Cross of Cross Research. "This product launch should position them well for the back-to-school and holiday seasons.''

Apple recently launched the iPhone mobile device in a bid to build a third major product line alongside its Macintosh computers and iPod media players, but desktop and laptop sales still account for the bulk of its revenue.

In its third quarter, Apple sold 634,000 desktops for revenue of $US956 million, accounting for about 18 percent of total revenue.

Apple laptop sales totaled $US1.58 billion in its most recently reported quarter. The MacBook laptop line was not affected by Tuesday's announcement.

Sales of Macintosh computers have grown faster than the overall PC market, but Apple's share of the market by unit sales is estimated to be less than 5 per cent.

Apple has also used the iPod and, now, the iPhone as "halo'' products to draw customers into stores and get them interested in its computers.

Jobs also said that the company was adding a software "button'' to the iPhone that allows users to upload photos taken with the built-in camera on the iPhone to Apple's .Mac online data and web-hosting service.

Hoping that until this time, it's sleeker, it's faster, and it's glossier....

Companies I love: Apple Inc

Published- May 17 2009
By Tony Cookson

My only experience with Macintosh computers is troubleshooting Macs in my former job as a User Support Associate at Montana State University's computer labs. Most of the computers in the lab were PCs, but a select few were Macs. I loved getting questions and helping people who came to the labs, but I loathed helping people who had problems with the Mac computers. I dreaded Mac questions because (1) I had no idea what I was doing and (2) neither did they. In fact, I suspect that the only people who wandered into the Mac section didn't know what they were getting themselves into (i.e., they couldn't tell a Mac from a PC).

I am a PC and I will never be a Mac. I am too accustomed to the Windows interface, and let's face it, Microsoft did an amazing job designing Windows. Even if you don't think that Windows is great, I suspect that no company in the last 30 years has had such a profound effect on our lives. Without an easy-to-use interface, personal computers would have never appealed to ordinary people. It would be hard to imagine the internet, high-tech boom -- let alone ordering flowers or food online!

But, this is a post about why I love Apple, not why I love Microsoft. I detest using Macs. I have a Verizon phone, not an iPhone. I don't really see the point of iPods or iTunes. Instead, I choose to sing my own "I tunes," listen to the radio or listen to internet radio. Moreover, as I type this post, I use Internet Explorer, Microsoft Windows, a Gateway computer, and a Dell monitor. About the only thing I consume from Apple is their advertisements. In this world, how can I love Apple?

One word: competition. Especially recently, Apple has provided much needed competititon to the personal computer market. As a result, companies like Windows, Intel, Dell, HP, and the rest of the PC universe have been scrambling for improvements to their own products. On account of competition, we get faster processors, more efficient operating systems, better monitors, and lower prices. These are improvements that I get to enjoy, even if I never resort to switching from PC to Mac.

Some day I might try some product produced by Apple. That day isn't today, but that doesn't stop me from loving Apple. Because Apple exists, I get a better PC at a lower price. As an added bonus, I also get to enjoy Mac's quirky advertisements!

you may see this link for the full version of the texts above...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Unusual History of Microsoft Windows

Published- May 16, 2009
By By Mary Bellis

On November 10, 1983, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, Microsoft Corporation formally announced Microsoft Windows, a next-generation operating system that would provide a graphical user interface (GUI) and a multitasking environment for IBM computers.

Introducing Interface Manager
Microsoft promised that the new product would be on the shelf by April 1984. Windows might have been released under the original name of Interface Manager if marketing whiz, Rowland Hanson had not convinced Microsoft's founder Bill Gates that Windows was the far better name.

Did Windows Get Top View?
That same November in 1983, Bill Gates showed a beta version of Windows to IBM's head honchos. Their response was lackluster probably because they were working on their own operating system called Top View. IBM did not give Microsoft the same encouragement for Windows that they gave the other operating system that Microsoft brokered to IBM. In 1981, MS-DOS became the highly successful operating system that came bundled with an IBM computer.
Top View was released in February of 1985 as a DOS-based multitasking program manager without any GUI features. IBM promised that future versions of Top View would have a GUI. That promise was never kept, and the program was discontinued barely two years later.

A Byte Out of Apple
No doubt, Bill Gates realized how profitable a successful GUI for IBM computers would be. He had seen Apple's Lisa computer and later the more successful Macintosh or Mac computer. Both Apple computers came with a stunning graphical user interface.

Side Note: Early MS-DOS diehards liked to refer to MacOS (Macintosh operating system)as "WIMP", an acronym for the Windows, Icons, Mice and Pointers interface.

As a new product, Microsoft Windows faced potential competition from IBM's own Top View, and others. VisiCorp's short-lived VisiOn, released in October 1983, was the official first PC-based GUI. The second was GEM (Graphics Environment Manager), released by Digital Research in early 1985. Both GEM and VisiOn lacked support from the all-important third-party developers. Since, if nobody wanted to write software programs for an operating system, there would be no programs to use, and nobody would want to buy it.
Microsoft finally shipped Windows 1.0 on November 20, 1985, almost two years past the initially promised release date.

"Microsoft become the top software vendor in 1988 and never looked back" - Microsoft Corporation

Apple Bytes Back
Microsoft Windows version 1.0 was considered buggy, crude, and slow. This rough start was made worse by a threatened lawsuit from Apple Computers. In September 1985, Apple lawyers warned Bill Gates that Windows 1.0 infringed on Apple copyrights and patents, and that his corporation stoled Apple's trade secrets. Microsoft Windows had similar drop-down menus, tiled windows and mouse support.

Deal of the Century
Bill Gates and his head counsel Bill Neukom, decided to make an offer to license features of Apple's operating system. Apple agreed and a contract was drawn up. Here's the clincher: Microsoft wrote the licensing agreement to include use of Apple features in Microsoft Windows version 1.0 and all future Microsoft software programs. As it turned out, this move by Bill Gates was as brilliant as his decision to buy QDOS from Seattle Computer Products and his convincing IBM to let Microsoft keep the licensing rights to MS-DOS. (You can read all about those smooth moves in our feature on MS-DOS.)
Windows 1.0 floundered on the market until January 1987, when a Windows-compatible program called Aldus PageMaker 1.0 was released. PageMaker was the first WYSIWYG desktop-publishing program for the PC. Later that year, Microsoft released a Windows-compatible spreadsheet called Excel. Other popular and useful software like Microsoft Word and Corel Draw helped promote Windows, however, Microsoft realized that Windows needed further development.

Microsoft Windows Version 2.0
On December 9, 1987, Microsoft released a much-improved Windows version 2.0 that made Windows based computers look more like a Mac. Windows 2.0 had icons to represent programs and files, improved support for expanded-memory hardware and windows that could overlap. Apple Computer saw a resemblance and filed a 1988 lawsuit against Microsoft, alleging that they had broken the 1985 licensing agreement.

Copy This Will You
In their defense, Microsoft claimed that the licensing agreement actually gave them the rights to use Apple features. After a four-year court case, Microsoft won. Apple claimed that Microsoft had infringed on 170 of their copyrights. The courts said that the licensing agreement gave Microsoft the rights to use all but nine of the copyrights, and Microsoft later convinced the courts that the remaining copyrights should not be covered by copyright law. Bill Gates claimed that Apple had taken ideas from the graphical user interface developed by Xerox for Xerox's Alto and Star computers.
On June 1, 1993, Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the U.S. District Court of Northern California ruled in Microsoft's favor in the Apple vs. Microsoft & Hewlett-Packard copyright suit. The judge granted Microsoft's and Hewlett-Packard's motions to dismiss the last remaining copyright infringement claims against Microsoft Windows versions 2.03 and 3.0, as well as HP NewWave.

What would have happened if Microsoft had lost the lawsuit? Microsoft Windows might never have become the dominant operating system that it is today.

On May 22, 1990, the critically accepted Windows 3.0 was released. Windows 3.0 had an improved program manager and icon system, a new file manager, support for sixteen colors, and improved speed and reliability. Most important, Windows 3.0 gained widespread third-party support. Programmers started writing Windows-compatible software, giving end users a reason to buy Windows 3.0. Three million copies were sold the first year, and Windows finally came of age.

On April 6, 1992, Windows 3.1 was released. Three million copies were sold in the first two months. TrueType scalable font support was added, along with multimedia capability, object linking and embedding (OLE), application reboot capability, and more. Windows 3.x became the number one operating system installed in PCs until 1997, when Windows 95 took over.

Windows 95
On August 24, 1995, Windows 95 was released in a buying fever so great that even consumers without home computers bought copies of the program. Code-named Chicago, Windows 95 was considered very user-friendly. It included an integrated TCP/IP stack, dial-up networking, and long filename support. It was also the first version of Windows that did not require MS-DOS to be installed beforehand.

Windows 98
On June 25, 1998, Microsoft released Windows 98. It was the last version of Windows based on the MS-DOS kernel. Windows 98 has Microsoft's Internet browser "Internet Explorer 4" built in and supported new input devices like USB.

Windows 2000
Windows 2000 (released in 2000) was based on Microsoft's NT technology. Microsoft now offered automatic software updates over the Internet for Windows starting with Windows 2000.

Windows XP
According to Microsoft, "the XP in Windows XP stands for experience, symbolizing the innovative experiences that Windows can offer to personal computer users." Windows XP was released in October 2001 and offered better multi-media support and increased performance.

Windows Vista
Codenamed Longhorn in its development phase, Windows Vista is the latest edition of Windows.

A valueable piece of infromation....

Apple Mac OS X 10.5.7 Update - Don’t Install If You Use VMware Fusion And ATI Graphics

Published- May 15, 2009
By Anonymous

The title pretty much speaks for itself.  Apple’s newest Mac OS X update, 10.5.7, is having issues if you use VMware Fusion and an ATI 3D graphics card.  Problems reportedly include but may not be limited to: system crashes, slow performance, and incorrect rendering.

Macs that use nVidia graphics are unaffected.

And again, it’s only when you combine VMware Fusion with ATI cards.  If you don’t use VMware Fusion, you should be fine.

So who would use VMware Fusion and why?  Well, anyone who wants to run Windows of course.  (Or Linux, or whatever OS you like while also running Mac OS X.)  VMware Fusion is a virtual machine for Intel-based Apple Macintosh computers that allows you to run Windows (or whatever) relatively seamlessly while you use your Mac.  So if this doesn’t sound even remotely familiar to you, then you’re probably safe.

Meanwhile, everyone involved (Apple, VMware, and ATI) are all looking into the issue and hope to have the update problems resolved shortly.

Now everybody must take care of their PC, hihihihi....

Monday, May 18, 2009


Published- May 15, 2009
By: Brooke Yan

Laptops comment for about twenty-five percent of sales. It’s not tough to assimilate why. Small screens as good as close keyboards have been transposed by bigger, crisper displays as good as some-more serviceable pass layouts. Processors have held up in speed, as good as innovative brand brand new processors yield a tiny genuine advantages. Fast CD as good as DVD recording drives have been common, as have been plenty tough drives. And a flourishing seductiveness in wireless computing plays to a laptop’s categorical strength: a portability. A laptop is a most available approach to take full value of a flourishing accessibility of high-speed wireless Internet entrance during airports, schools, hotels, as good as even restaurants as good as coffee shops.

The Centrino record that’s executive to Intel’s newest laptop processors has wireless capacity built in, as good as delivers commendably-long battery life. The thinnest laptops upon a marketplace have been reduction than an in. thick as good as import usually 2 to 5 pounds. To get these light, neat models, however, you’ll have to compensate a reward as good as have a couple of sacrifices.


Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq (now owned by HP), IBM, Sony, as good as Toshiba have been a heading Windows laptop brands. Macintosh laptops have been done by Apple. Laptops can be grouped in to multiform simple configurations:

Budget models. These have slower processors as good as reduce shade peculiarity than others, though have been befitting for slight bureau work as good as home software. Price range: $800 or less.

Workhorse models. These have faster processors as good as some-more built-in devices, so there’s reduction need for outmost attachments. They’re not lightweight or battery-efficient sufficient for revisit travelers. Price range: $1,000 as good as up.

Slim-and-light models. These have been for travelers. They can be reduction than an in. thick as good as import as tiny as 2 or 3 pounds. They in all need an outmost expostulate to review DVDs or bake CDs. Price range: $1,500 as good as up.

Tablet-style. These lay in your hands similar to a clipboard as good as have handwriting-recognition software. Some modify to a “normal” laptop with a keyboard. Price range: $1,800 as good as up.


A diskette expostulate is apropos a monument in all computers. As an alternative, we can have have have have have make have use of of of of of of of a USB mental recall expostulate (about $20 as good as up), which fits upon a keychain as good as binds as most interpretation as countless diskettes. Or we can save files upon a writeable CD or camera mental recall card. Most laptops have slots which can review a single or some-more sorts of mental recall cards.

Windows laptops in all have a 1.5- to 3.5-GHz processor. Pentium 4 processors have a aloft speed ratings; a brand brand new Pentium M as good as Celeron M processors have a slower rated speed though essentially perform upon a customary with pick processors. Macintosh Power Personal Computer processors have been totalled upon a opposite basement altogether. In short, a opposite sorts of processors have approach speed comparisons difficult. It doesn’t compensate to try since any sort of processor is expected to broach all a speed you’ll need.

Laptops come with a 40- to 160-gigabyte tough expostulate as good as 256 megabytes or some-more of pointless entrance mental recall (RAM) as good as can be upgraded to 1 gigabyte or more.

Today’s laptops have have have have have make have use of of of of of of of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. In Consumer Reports tests, batteries supposing 2 to 5 hours of successive have have have have have make have use of of of of of of of when using bureau applications. (Laptops go in to nap mode when used intermittently, fluctuating a time in in between charges.) You can magnify battery hold up rather by dimming a arrangement as we work as good as by stealing Personal Computer cards as good as branch off wireless inclination when they aren’t needed. Playing a DVD film uses some-more battery energy than usual, though any laptop should be equates to to fool around a film by to a end.

A laptop’s set of keys can be utterly opposite from which of a desktop computer. The keys themselves competence be full-sized (generally usually lightweight models prune them down), though they competence not feel as solid. Some laptops have additional buttons to assist your entrance to e-mail or a Web browser or to carry out DVD playback. You can insert an outmost keyboard, which we competence find simpler to use.

A 14- to 15-inch display, totalled diagonally, should fit most people. A couple of incomparable models have a 16- or 17-inch display. A fortitude of 1,400×1,050 (SXGA+) pixels (picture elements) or some-more is improved than 1,024×768 (XGA) for observation a excellent item in photographs or video, though competence cringe objects upon a screen. You can have have have have have make have use of of of of of of of settings in Windows to have them larger. Many models have been right away offering with a arrangement which has a “glossy” aspect instead of a lifeless one. Those demeanour improved in splendid ambient light, as prolonged as we equivocate approach reflections.

Most laptops have have have have have make have use of of of of of of of a tiny touch-sensitive desk desk desk pad in place of a mouse–you slip your finger opposite a desk desk desk pad to pierce a cursor. You can additionally module a desk desk desk pad to reply to a “tap” as a “click,” or to corkscrew as we brush your index finger along a pad’s right edge. An pick indicating complement uses a pencil-eraser-sized joystick in a center of a keyboard. You can insert an outmost rodent or trackball if we prefer.

Laptops embody during slightest a single PC-card container for expansion. You competence supplement a wireless network label or a digital-camera memory-card reader, for example, if those have been not built in. Many laptops suggest a tie for a advancing station, a $100 or $200 bottom which creates it easy to bond an outmost monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, or phone line. Most laptops let we insert these inclination anyway, though a advancing station. At slightest dual USB ports, for easy hookup of, say, a printer, digital camera, or scanner, is standard. A connected network (Ethernet) pier is common, as is a FireWire pier for digital-video transfer. Many models have a customary or discretionary inner wireless-network (”Wi-Fi”) adapter. The infrared pier found upon a couple of models can be used to synchronize interpretation wirelessly in in between a mechanism as good as a personal digital partner (PDA).

Laptops typically come with reduction module than desktop computers, nonetheless roughly all have been bundled with a simple home-office apartment (such as Microsoft Works) as good as a personal-finance program. The tiny speakers built in to laptops mostly receptive to advice tinny, with tiny bass. Headphones or outmost speakers broach most improved sound.


Decide if a laptop is right for you. If you’re upon a really parsimonious bill as good as aren’t close for space, a desktop mechanism competence still be OK. Otherwise, cruise a laptop.

Windows vs. Macintosh. Many people select Windows since it’s what they’ve regularly used. Apple’s iBook will fit we if you’re meddlesome in print editing, music, video, as good as pick multimedia applications. Apple computers have been additionally reduction receptive to most viruses as good as spyware than Windows-based computers. The Apple PowerBook is comparatively costly as laptops go, however.

Buy à la carte. Dell as good as Gateway pioneered a idea which each mechanism can be tailored to an particular buyer’s needs, most similar to selecting a options for a car. This configure-to-order indication is right away usual have use of for laptops as good as desktops.

You can additionally squeeze a preconfigured mechanism off a shelf. (You can do a same online if we opt for a default choices of apparatus a manufacturer offers.) That’s excellent if we do not have really despotic mandate for how a laptop is given or if we wish to take value of an tasteful sale.

Configure-to-order menus uncover we all a options as good as let we see how a shift in a single affects a altogether price. You competence confirm to have have have have have make have use of of of of of of of a less-expensive processor, for example, though outlay some-more for wireless capacity or improved graphics. Configure-to-order will mostly give we choices we won’t get if we buy off a shelf. And configure-to-order equates to reduction possibility of unaware critical details.

Downplay a processor speed. Speed is no longer a be-all of personal computers. For years, processors have delivered all a speed most people need. That’s still really most a case. Spend a income upon some-more mental recall instead. A Pentium 4 processor with a speed of 2.4 GHz as good as a Pentium M during 1.4 GHz warranted a same speed measure in a tests. The opposite sorts of chips right away upon a marketplace have approach speed comparisons difficult.

Look closely during warranties as good as insurance. Get a longest manufacturer’s guaranty we can afford; most suggest a single or dual years upon top of a simple one-year warranty, for a price. If we intend to transport a lot, buy shade word from a manufacturer. If we take full value of a manufacturer’s guaranty as good as insurance, we won’t need an lengthened guaranty from a retailer.

Copyright © 2002-2006 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc.

For a ultimate report upon this as good as most pick products as good as services, revisit

Find More

Laptops with Easy Deal

This piece of information is very useful...

Software upgrade company wins $100K contest at MIT

Published-May 16, 2009
By Hiawatha Bray

When home computer users have to reboot their machines to install a software upgrade, it's a nuisance. When a big company must do the same for hundreds of computers, it can cost a small fortune.

On Wednesday, a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates won a small fortune - $100,000 - for developing a way to upgrade software while the computer keeps running. Their new company, Ksplice, took top prize in the 20th annual MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition.

Rodney Brooks, former director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and keynote speaker at the awards ceremony, said the yearly competition helps inspire students to turn their bright ideas into profitable products. "My students and students all around campus are abuzz about this," said Brooks. "It really gets them thinking about what it takes to create a company."

Brooks used his expertise in robotics to help launch iRobot Corp., the successful military and consumer robot company in Bedford. Last year, he resigned as iRobot's chief technology officer to begin a new start-up, Heartland Robotics, which will build industrial robots.

More than 120 companies have been spawned by contestants in the MIT competition. The school estimates the firms created 2,500 jobs and $12.5 billion in market value. Among the notable contest alumni is Terrafugia, a 2006 finalist that has developed an automobile that quickly converts into a light aircraft. At the Wednesday event, the company displayed one of its aircraft, which made its first successful test flight in early March.

This year's entrepreneurship competition attracted 260 applications, the most ever. Six companies made it to the finals. Among them were Levant Power Corp., a Boston firm that makes shock absorbers that convert a car's vibrations into electricity for use in powering the vehicle; Cambridge Eyenovations, developer of medicated contact lenses for use in treating glaucoma; and Global Cycle Solutions, a maker of bicycle-powered devices for rural communities in developing countries.

The winning entrant, Ksplice, was inspired by a security breach on an MIT server. The break-in could have been prevented if the server's Linux operating system had been updated. Ksplice cofounder Waseem Daher said that a fellow student, Jeff Arnold, had been planning to do the update late at night, allowing him to shut down the machine while nobody was using it. But by then, the breach had taken place.

"It was a real pain," said Daher, then a master's degree student in computer science and electrical engineering.

The experience got them thinking, Daher said: "Why do we have to reboot in order to update?" Arnold developed Ksplice as his master's thesis in computer science. Then he, Daher, and several other colleagues decided to turn the concept into a business.

Ksplice can insert code updates in an operating system even as it's running, without disrupting the computer's ongoing activities. For instance, a large retail website could apply security updates with Ksplice at midday, while customers are placing orders. There would be no need to shut down the site and lose thousands of dollars in sales, or to leave the software unpatched and risk a security breach.

 All I can say is WOOOOOOOOOOooooWW!!!

Bel Canto USB Link 24/96 USB-S/PDIF converter

Published- May, 2009

By John Atkinson

The speed with which audiophiles have adopted a computer of some sort as their primary source of recorded music might be thought breathtaking. But with the ubiquitous Apple iPod painlessly persuading people to get used to the idea of storing their music libraries on computer hard drives, the next logical step was to access those libraries in listening rooms as well as on the move. A few months back, I wrote a basic guide to the various strategies for getting the best sound from a computer: "Music Served: Extracting Music from your PC." Since then, Minnesota manufacturer Bel Canto Design has released a product that aims to simplify matters even further.

The USB Link 24/96 is a small box, about the size and weight of a pack of cigarettes, with a USB Type B jack at one end and a 75 ohm BNC jack at the other. The user hooks the Bel Canto's USB input up to a USB port on his PC or Mac computer, which supplies power to the Link, thus illuminating a red LED next to the Link's BNC jack. He then uses a 9" length (footnote 1) of Stereovox XV2 S/PDIF datalink (supplied) to feed his audiophile DAC. (This cable is fitted with BNC connectors at both ends; an RCA adapter is provided.) No driver programs are required—the Link uses the native drivers provided with the Mac OSX and Windows operating systems. The computer automatically recognizes the Link as "Bel Canto 2496 USB," and once the Link has been selected as the default audio output device, programs such as iTunes will direct their output to it, and thence to the owner's high-end system.

The Bel Canto USB Link 24/96 disables the computer's volume control, ensuring that the maximum sound quality is obtained from music files. The sample rates supported run up to 96kHz, with a depth of 24 bits.

Under the hood
The USB Link 24/96 is housed in a small aluminum extrusion with black plastic endcaps. Undoing the four Phillips-head screws at each end allows the multilayer circuit board to be slid out. All the components used are surface-mount types. The USB data are fed to a Texas Instruments TAS1020 chip, which converts the audio data to i2C format. The TAS1020 is clocked by an adjacent 6MHz crystal oscillator; despite its thumbnail size, this complex TI chip includes an embedded microprocessor that runs, I believe, code developed by Centrance, obviating the need for the host computer to run a proprietary driver program with the USB Link. The i2C audio data are then fed to a Crystal CS8406 chip, which converts them to the S/PDIF serial format and drives a small pulse transformer adjacent to the output BNC jack, in order to galvanically isolate the computer and audio system and thus avoid injecting high-frequency noise via the linked grounds.

While the Bel Canto USB Link 24/96 is a simple device, reviewing it wasn't so simple. Not only are there two different computing platforms to be considered, PC and Apple Macintosh, there are also the various flavors of their operating systems, and the multitude of possible music-playback programs. I settled on using the Bel Canto with two computers: a dual-core Pentium PC running Windows XP with Service Pack 3, and a G4 Mac mini (footnote 2) running OS10.4.11. I played music files using iTunes 8.0 and the open-source Audacity DAW freeware, both of which are available for both computer flavors. On the Mac, I also used my regular music-editing program, BIAS Peak Pro 6.0.5; on the PC, I also used Winamp and Foobar2000, both of which I prefer to iTunes on that platform because they allow the audio data path to be optimized, and Windows Media Player.

With the Mac, the Bel Canto needs to be selected with the Audio Midi Set-Up utility and have its sample rate set to match that of the music to be played. (Go to Applications/Utilities/Audio Midi Set-Up; in the right-hand portion of the panel, select the Bel Canto as the output device; then click on Properties at the left.) If you don't do this, the Link has no way of knowing what the file's sample rate is—unlike a specific audio serial format, such as AES/EBU or S/PDIF, USB doesn't include a data field to specify sample rate, but defaults to the sample rate of whatever was the last file played, using the host computer's sample-rate converter to transcode the audio data. Some programs, such as Peak, use the Mac's CoreAudio interface to switch the USB datastream to whatever is required, but with iTunes on the Mac, you need to manually change the sample rate with Audio Midi Set-Up whenever you select a file with a different sample rate. Otherwise, you'll get no audible benefit from playing a hi-rez file.

Windows XP is more friendly in this respect; the sample rate of the USB Link 24/96 automatically follows that of the audio file selected with Windows Media Player, Foobar2000, and Winamp (though not with iTunes, at least that I could see). None of my PCs runs Windows Vista, but during the review period, Erick Lichte, musical director of Cantus, visited so that we could do some further work mixing the group's next CD. Erick's VAIO laptop runs Vista, and as he had some hi-rez files of pianist Robert Silverman playing Brahms he wanted me to hear, he plugged the USB Link 24/96 into his laptop's USB port, loaded the files into the Soundforge program, and pressed Play.

Nothing. No matter what Erick did, we couldn't get the files, which were recorded at the sample rate of 88.2kHz, to play through the Bel Canto, even though CD files did. It turns out that Vista's audio codec has a bug that doesn't allow playback at 88.2kHz.

Sound quality
As a format converter, Bel Canto's USB Link 24/96 shouldn't have a sound of its own, of course; it should be a neutral intermediary. I mainly used Bel Canto's own e.One DAC3 for my auditioning, as that would seem a natural match. As you can read in my November 2007 review, the DAC3 also has a USB data input. Why, then, should a DAC3 owner consider a USB Link 24/96? Because the DAC3 is limited to 16-bit files sampled at 44.1kHz. The Link allows a DAC3 to handle computer-sourced hi-rez files, and I found it did so with ease, other than occasionally emitting three or four clicks when I switched sample rates on the Mac.

I couldn't hear much difference in sound quality between feeding the DAC3 USB data sourced from iTunes on the Mac as it played an AIF or WAV file, and feeding it AES/EBU data from the original CD as played by my Ayre C-5xe universal player. Perhaps the Ayre produced a slightly more solid-feeling bass, with slightly better-defined, better-extended low frequencies, but it was not a night-or-day difference. Changing from the DAC3 to my early sample of the Benchmark DAC1, even that difference between the two sources disappeared, though I slightly preferred the sound of the two Bel Canto devices overall to that of the USB Link 24/96 or Ayre driving the Benchmark, which had a slightly less silky high end. My own 24-bit/88.2kHz files, such as the hi-rez masters for Cantus's While You Are Alive (CD, Cantus CTS-1208) and Attention Screen's Live at Merkin Hall (CD, Stereophile STPH018-2), sounded convincingly better than the "Red Book" CD versions, with my Mac mini feeding the combination of Bel Canto's USB Link and DAC3.

Footnote 1: The conventional wisdom with datalinks is that they should be either very short, around 9", or at least 2m in length, to minimize jitter due to impedance-mismatch-induced reflections.

Footnote 2: A major advantage of the Mac mini is that although this has a fan, this rarely comes on, unless the computer is doing some major number crunching. And even when it does come on, it is still quiet enough not to be heard. It is not a big deal, therefore, to place a Mac mini adjacent to your D/A processor in the equipment rack, controlling iTunes with the Remote app running on an iPod Touch or iPhone. By contrast, the typical PC is too noisy for use in the same room as a high-end system, unless you can put it in a closet.

USB-sourced audio data do not necessarily have low jitter, though Bel Canto does claim that the USB Link 24/96 offers low-jitter clock recovery from the USB data (footnote 3). This may be a moot point with the Benchmark and Bel Canto D/A processors, of course, which are modern designs featuring superb rejection of timing errors in the datastreams they're fed. But what about older products? I retrieved from storage a sample of the Assemblage DAC-1 that I'd built from a Parts Connection kit in early 1995, when we published a review by Wes Phillips (Vol.18 No.4). Costing $449 back then, the Assemblage uses the respectable Burr-Brown PCM1702 DAC chip, but a data-receiver circuit, based on a Crystal CS8412 chip, that was never as good at eliminating datastream jitter as I had expected.

Driving the Assemblage with the Ayre, converting the latter's AES/EBU output to S/PDIF with a dCS 972 format converter, the sound was okay if a little grainy, with a less well-defined soundstage than the Bel Canto or Benchmark DACs. Not bad for a 15-year-old design, I thought, though the Assemblage will run at only the 44.1 and 48kHz sample rates. However, switching to the USB Link 24/96–derived datastream resulted in a reduction in sound quality. The soundstage flattened a bit, the midrange became slightly coarser, adding a bit of clanginess to piano sound, and the lows lost definition, double bass sounding slightly more wooly.

I returned to the Bel Canto DAC3, with levels matched to within 0.1dB at 1kHz. The soundstage came back into focus and away went the coarseness. And back into the closet went the Assemblage DAC-1.

Other products provide the same USB-to-S/PDIF conversion as the Bel Canto USB Link 24/96, and one of them is the M-Audio Transit USB, which costs just $99.95; another, recommended by a poster on Stereophile's online forum, is the E-Mu 0404 USB ($199.95).

The M-Audio Transit USB is housed in a plastic box a little smaller than the Bel Canto Link; it has a USB input at one end and, at the other, analog and optical digital inputs and outputs. I bought a sample a couple of years ago and have found it a reliable means of getting audio data out of PCs and Macs. Inside, the Transit USB uses the same TAS1020 chip driven by a 6MHz crystal oscillator as the Bel Canto, but feeds its output to an AKM4585 chip, which provides A/D and D/A conversion as well as S/PDIF input and output. Unlike the Bel Canto, the M-Audio needs to have a driver program installed; like the Bel Canto, its sample rate needs to be set manually using this program. Nor is the Transit compatible with Windows Vista, I am told.

The E-Mu 0404 USB is a complete two-channel recording device with microphone and line inputs, 24/96 A/D conversion, a headphone amplifier, a MIDI interface, and optical digital I/O. It, too, uses a driver program with both Macs and PCs, but while it will convert USB data to S/PDIF optical at sample rates of up to 96kHz with PCs, it is limited to 48kHz with Macs.

Both the M-Audio and E-Mu devices provide the same basic conversion as the Bel Canto, with the added complication of the user having to install a driver program, but at significantly lower cost. When I played music CDs through them and the Benchmark DAC1, I could hear no appreciable differences among the three USB-S/PDIF converters. With the Assemblage DAC-1, the Bel Canto Link gave a sound that was cleaner than the E-Mu's but, to my surprise, was not appreciably different from the cheap M-Audio's, even with high-sample-rate files.

Summing up
Provided it is used with a D/A processor that offers effective jitter rejection, the USB Link 24/96 does what Bel Canto promises it will do, and can be recommended. However, I can't pretend that the $495 USB Link doesn't come under strong competition from M-Audio's $100 Transit USB. Both handle sample rates up to 96kHz, and for a Mac user like me, the potential advantage of the Bel Canto of not having to manually set playback sample rate with Windows is moot. But with its aluminum enclosure, the made-in-America Bel Canto does feel like a high-end product; with the Chinese-made M-Audio, plastic is as plastic does.

Do you need such a product? The beauty of the Internet, in combination with something like Bel Canto's USB Link 24/96 to feed the music from your computer to your high-end audio system, is that eventually everything will be available at a click or two of a mouse button. Back in spring 1970, I was driving home from a gig, listening to a BBC broadcast of Fleetwood Mac performing live on, if I remember correctly, John Peel's radio program. The music, "The Green Manalishi (with the Two Prong Crown)," was like nothing I had heard before—lead guitarist Peter Green was evolving his band from British Blues Revival to a unique form of progressive rock. I pulled over and listened to the rest of the broadcast. I have tried in vain to find a reissue of that broadcast, either on LP or CD. Oh well.

As I finish writing this review, I am using the combination of the Bel Canto USB Link 24/96 and e.One DAC3 to drive my system with a live concert streamed from one of my favorite music sites, Wolfgang's Vault, which started off making available the late Bill Graham's live recording archive but has since expanded to include live rock recordings from many sources. It wasn't that BBC concert, but it was an April 1970 Fleetwood Mac performance, this one from London's Roundhouse, the last London gig Peter Green did with the band before his breakdown. Mono the sound might have been, with analog tape noise. And, of course, streamed audio suffers from all the ills of lossy data compression. But, oh wow! Thanks, Peter Green. Thank you, the administrators of Wolfgang's Vault. And thank you, Bel Canto, for providing the USB Link 24/96 and e.One DAC3, which so effectively communicated the music.

Footnote 3: As with almost all the products available on the market, the Bel Canto Link allows the host computer to control the flow of data. A PC is not optimized for uninterrupted streaming, and has operating-system housekeeping chores to attend to—while the sample rate of the output data, averaged over a longish period, will indeed be the specified 44.1kHz or 48kHz, there will be short-term fluctuations or jitter. It is possible to operate the USB interface in what is called "asynchronous mode," which allows the DAC to control the flow of data from the PC, which in turn very much reduces the amount of jitter, but there are very few products currently available, from Wavelength, dCS, and Ayre, that feature this mode.

A new product I guest...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

YOUR TECH: iPhone's database not worth price tag

Published- Wednesday, May 13, 2009
By Mark A. Kellner

When is a $5 iPhone application not worth $5? When it's the new Bento for iPhone from FileMaker Inc., the Apple Inc. subsidiary.

Wrapping your head around the idea of a "personal" database might seem a challenge, let alone one for your iPhone. Compete Inc., a marketing consultancy in Boston, said in an April 27 report that "the four most commonly downloaded applications, by category, for iPhone users were Games (79 percent), Entertainment (78 percent), Weather (57 percent), and Music (55 percent)." Business applications, so-called "productivity tools," were way down on the list.

So, why a database application for the iPhone? Because we all have databases, whether we acknowledge them or not. Got a list of everything in your house, you know, in case it burns down and you need to file an insurance claim? That's a database. Tracking sailboats for a potential purchase? Another database. Got a wish list of desired acquisitions for your comic book collection or your music library? You get the idea.

Many of us rely on databases far more than just casual access: We're selling (or buying) real estate or antiques. We're tracking candidates for a job, or employers to approach. We need to have this information on hand wherever we might be, thus the need for portability, and the potential for something such as Bento for the iPhone.

On regular Apple Macintosh computers, Bento (which, yes, is named for the iconic boxed Japanese lunches) is a simplified database, one in which you can combine photos and text boxes and other elements to make a whole, as it were. Not only can you list a house for sale, but you also show its picture, do some calculations and total things up, in an elementary fashion. The makers bill it as a "compliment" to a spreadsheet program such as Apple's Numbers or Microsoft Corp.'s Excel 2008 for Macintosh.

So far, so good: Many of us are database people whether or not we realize it, and Bento is a good way of helping Mac users track these things. But unless you're schlepping a notebook computer around, there will be a time you'll be somewhere without that data.

Hence the iPhone version of Bento, which also runs on the iPod Touch model from Apple. The software sells for $4.99 in the iTunes App Store and installs quickly and easily. It's designed to work with data from the Mac's Address Book application, and some data from the iCal calendaring program.

Here's where things start to break down, in my opinion. How long they'll stay "broken" is an open guess: This summer is expected to see the launch of Apple's iPhone 3.0 operating software (and perhaps a new iPhone model), with many improvements in the iPhone's operations.

For now, we're stuck with the almost year-old iPhone 2.0 software and with Apple's restrictions on the Address Book and iCal applications. Other programs for the iPhone, even other programs from the wholly owned FileMaker Inc. unit of Apple, can't "talk" to elements of the Address Book and iCal, per the parent company's dictates, and can't totally supplant Address Book's database and sync functions.

Why is that a problem? Because a key feature of Bento for iPhone is its ability to sync data from the phone to a computer, and back again, via an 802.11 wireless, or Wi-Fi, connection. If I can't update the Address Book file in Bento on my desktop and have it change when synchronizing with the iPhone, why bother having the software?

Right now, the best answer I can come up with - based on testing the program and talking with FileMaker's Jon Siegler, vice president of product management - is that future versions of the Bento for iPhone program (and, by implication, Address Book) might allow such synchronizations. Also, Apple's Mobile Me service, a $99-per-year add-on for Mac users, has its own way of synchronizing Address Books, Mr. Siegler pointed out, and that can bridge the gap.

No, it's not perfect. I'd rather see the one of the most-touted uses of Bento for iPhone - the ability to have, manage and expand your Address Book more easily - fully synchronized.

But change may yet come this summer, and hope springs eternal, as the saying goes. For now, if you need a hand-held way to track your inventory of Faberge eggs, this application is a good idea - but that's about it, in my view.

A valuable information I think...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How-To: Reverting back to Mac OS 10.5.6

Published- May 14 2009
By Anonumous

The latest update to Mac OS X includes many enhancements, security fixes, and many people are noticing an overall speed increase, especially on older PowerPC machines. These benefits and the fact that problems, so far, have not been severe, have us recommending this update for most people. Despite this, some people may wish to revert back to the previous OS version.

In our previous articles on the update, we outlined a couple of known incompatibilities and more are sure to be found. Macintosh news Web site "xlr8yourmac" has noted some problems with Adaptec SCSI cards, and potential problems with Apple's 56K modem.

Because of the potential for hardware and software incompatibilities, before applying any OS update we recommend you back up your system using cloning software (Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper), or use a full system restore solution such as Time Machine (set up with no exclusions, especially for system folders). For the sake of restoring to previous versions of the OS and also having access to documents created or edited after updating, we recommend you use Time Machine for the backup.

In the event you run into a problem with the update that you cannot overcome, and choose to restore back to the previous version, the following steps will get you there.

For cloned disks:
If you have a cloned disk, first locate any newly changed documents since the update and back them up. The number of documents will depend on how much the system has been used since updating, and this is the reason we recommend using Time Machine for the backup. However, if you have only one or two documents, then you should be able to back them up easily. Next, make sure the clone drive is attached and reboot the system with the option key held down. From the boot menu, select the clone and click the arrow to boot normally. When the OS has loaded, use the installed cloning program to clone the drive back to the internal one, and restore to the point before the update when the clone was made.

For those with Time Machine backups:
With Time Machine, unlike a clone that only has one instance of the hard drive's "state," you can restore back to a previous state and still maintain changed documents that have been backed up. As such, before updating, be sure to run Time Machine to create a "restore" point. Then, when you're ready to restore to the previous install, be sure to run Time Machine again to save any changed documents. Reboot off your Leopard installation disk and using the "Restore From Backup..." option in the "Utilities" menu, select the "restore" point that you created before updating and restore it. Copying may take some time, but your system should be back to where it was before the update. Be sure to run permissions fixes on the drive after restoring, to ensure files are properly accessible. Check the installation to ensure all software and hardware works, and then you can use the Time Machine interface to locate and restore any files you edited or created after updating the software.

The long way
If you do not have a full system backup of your drive, you will have to reinstall the OS and then update to 10.5.6 using the "Combo" updater. Using your Leopard DVD, perform an "Archive and Install" method of installation, ensuring the option to preserve user accounts and data is checked, and then download and apply the 10.5.6 update. This will get your system back to 10.5.6, but keep in mind that some customized settings may need to be set up again, and some applications will need to be reinstalled. Overall, however, the system will largely be the way it was before you updated to 10.5.7.

This could be of some sort of help...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Massive security updates released for Apple computers

Published- May 13, 2009
by Chuck Miller

In one of its largest security updates this year, Apple has announced a series of patches for its Mac OS X to address more than 60 vulnerabilities, some of which could enable malicious hackers to remotely hijack Macintosh computers.

“Nearly every component of Apple's OS and its applications are touched by security-related fixes in the latest massive update from Apple,” said Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, a network security firm, in an email to “This is a real wakeup call for everyone that has been touting the Mac OS as more secure than Windows.”

The updates, released Tuesday, included patches for Apple's Safari browser for both the Mac and Windows platforms.

Many of the vulnerabilities were in open-source code used with the Mac, such as Apache Web server and WebKit (part of Safari). An input validation issue in Apache's handling of FTP proxy requests could result in a cross-site scripting attack if a user visited a malicious website via an Apache proxy, Apple said.

Also, Apple patched a request forgery issue in Apache. “A user who can publish files with specially crafted names to a web site can substitute their own response for any web page hosted on the system,” the advisory said. “This update addresses the issue by escaping filenames in content-negotiation responses.”

Regarding the fix for the open-source WebKit software, the Apple advisory said that without the patch, “visiting a maliciously crafted website may lead to arbitrary code execution.”

“As we have seen in the past with both OSX and the iPhone,” Storms said, “attackers utilize public disclosure of open source application vulnerabilities to find holes in Apple products.”

Among other fixes included in this update are patches for an unchecked index issue in the OS kernel's handling of work queues, which may lead to an unexpected system shutdown or arbitrary code execution with kernel privileges. The update addresses the issue through improved index checking.

Another issue fixed could have let a remote user cause an unexpected system shutdown. Specifically, when IPv6 support is enabled, an implementation issue in the handling of incoming ICMPv6 "Packet Too Big" messages could cause an unexpected system shutdown. The update addresses the issue through improved handling of ICMPv6 messages.

With another patch, Apple fixed a BIND susceptibility to spoofing attacks if configured to use the DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC). “On systems using DNSSEC protocol, a maliciously crafted certificate could bypass the validation,” the advisory said, “which may lead to a spoofing attack. The update addresses the issue by updating BIND for OS X.”

But the question is, will this action really help the improvement of Mac's against the spreading of the new virus? Hope so...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Harmful Software Threatens Computers

Published: Monday, May 11, 2009 at 11:27 PM
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 1:45 AM
Reported by: Devona Moore
Edited by: Jill Glavan

COLUMBIA - Macs are becoming a big hit on college campuses, making them an even larger target for computer bad guys.

A harmful program called "iBotnet" is being used to attack Mac computers. Users catch the virus by illegally downloading faulty versions of popular Mac programs like "iWork" and "iLife". Worms enter the computer, copy passwords and other important information, allowing the program administrator to control the computer from another network.

Many mac users believe that their computers are immune to harmful programs such as this, but Mitch Racket of the MU Division of IT says any hardware connected to the Internet is at risk of harm.

"A Macintosh is a computer just like a windows computer is. They are definitely not immune to viruses, they just tend to be targeted less," Racket said.

Although Macs are not immune, they have a better reputation for security. PCs are known to be more susceptible to harmful software.

"They also have a fairly strong security principle behind their operating system," Racket said.

According to an online study, in 2008, 40% of college students owned a Mac computer.

University officials discourage students and general public from illegally downloading programs and encourage computer users to take the necessary actions to protect them.

But I don't think people would totally be following this piece of advice, as people are already used in doing this things...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Experts: Malicious program targets Macs

Published-April 22, 2009
By John D. Sutter

(CNN) -- Mac computers are known for their near-immunity to malicious computer programs that plague PCs.
Some security experts say viruses are moving toward Mac as those computers become more popular.

Some security experts say viruses are moving toward Mac as those computers become more popular.

But that may be changing somewhat, according to computer security researchers. It seems that as sleek Mac computers become more popular, they're also more sought-after targets for the authors of harmful programs.

"The bad guys generally go toward the biggest target, what will get them the biggest bang for their buck," said Kevin Haley, a director of security response at Symantec.

Until recently, the big target always was Microsoft Windows, and Apple computers were protected by "relative obscurity," he said.

But blogs are buzzing this week about what two Symantec researchers have called the first harmful computer program to strike specifically at Mac.

This Trojan horse program, dubbed the "iBotnet," has infected only a few thousand Mac machines, but it represents a step in the evolution of malicious computer software, Haley said.

The iBotnet is a sign that harmful programs are moving toward Mac, said Paul Henry, a forensics and security analyst at Lumension Security in Arizona.

"We all knew it was going to happen," he said. "It was just a matter of time, and, personally, I think we're going to see a lot more of it."

The malicious software was first reported in January. It didn't gain widespread attention until recently, when Mario Ballano Barcena and Alfredo Pesoli of Symantec, maker of the popular Norton antivirus products, detailed the software in a publication called "Virus Bulletin."

Mac users at large, however, should not be alarmed by the incident, experts said. The program infects only computers whose users downloaded pirated versions of the Mac software iWork.

The harmful software is a Trojan horse, meaning it tries to sneak into the computer with some sort of permission from the user. Computer worms travel differently. They wiggle their way into computers and replicate without the owner's approval or knowledge.

The Mac program is called a botnet because infected computers become part of a network that is controlled by the program's author.

The Mac botnet is significantly less threatening than computer worms like the much-publicized Conficker.c, said Jose Nazario, a senior security researcher with Arbor Networks. Conficker was thought to have infected up to 10 million computers, compared with thousands for the iBotnet, researchers said.

There's also some question as to whether it is the first botnet to target Mac. Others have targeted both PCs and Apple computers.

"This isn't the first botnet that's been built using Mac computers," Nazario said. "This is an interesting one in that it's a little more flexible and includes some new features. ... It's getting a lot of press mostly because it's Mac and people are talking about how Macs are immune to malware -- and, sure enough, they're not."

The potential damage that could be caused by the Mac botnet is also less severe than other attacks, said Darrell Etherington, a contributor to theAppleBlog, which is not affiliated with the computer company.

"It's a very low-level attack," he said. "Some people won't even notice the effect of it."

It is in the interest of software companies like Symantec, who spread the news, and McAfee, which has downplayed the presence of the Trojan, to raise concerns so they can promote their antivirus software packages, he said.

"Yes, it is going to become a bigger problem and, yes, people have to become more aware, but I think that what McAfee and Symantec would like is for the panic to start and for people to start rushing to antivirus software," which isn't necessary yet, Etherington said.

In a statement, Apple said it is working to prevent security problems.

"Apple takes security very seriously and has a great track record of addressing potential vulnerabilities before they can affect users," the statement says.

Only about 7.4 percent of computer users work on Macs, according to Gartner, a technology research firm.

That user base is proportionally more affluent than PC users, Etherington said, which may make Mac a bigger target. But overall, Macs are still far less vulnerable to attack than PCs, he said.

Haley said news of the Apple botnet is significant in part because it's something other authors of malicious code can build from.

"I don't think it's a tipping point; I think it's an evolutionary step. We see virus authors often use what somebody else has done," he said. "There's a model. There's something out there to follow."

This article contains words from experts, which could be of some help to relieve fear from the mac users..

Monday, May 11, 2009


Macintosh, or Mac, is a series of several lines of personal computers designed, developed, and marketed by Apple Inc. The Macintosh was introduced on January 24, 1984; it was the first commercially successful personal computer to feature a mouse and a graphical user interface rather than a command-line interface.

Through the second half of the 1980s, the company built market share only to see it dissipate in the 1990s as the personal computer market shifted towards IBM PC compatible machines running MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows. Apple consolidated multiple consumer-level desktop models into the 1998 iMac all-in-one, which was a sales success and saw the Macintosh brand revitalized. Current Mac systems are mainly targeted at the home, education, and creative professional markets. They are: the aforementioned (though upgraded) iMac and the entry-level Mac mini desktop models, the workstation-level Mac Pro tower, the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops, and the Xserve server.

Production of the Mac is based on a vertical integration model in that Apple facilitates all aspects of its hardware and creates its own operating system that is pre-installed on all Mac computers. This is in contrast to most IBM PC compatibles, where multiple sellers create hardware intended to run another company's software. Apple exclusively produces Mac hardware, choosing internal systems, designs, and prices. Apple does use third party components, however; current Macintosh CPUs use Intel's x86 architecture. Previous models used the AIM alliance's PowerPC and early models used Motorola's 68k. Apple also develops the operating system for the Mac, currently Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard". The modern Mac, like other personal computers, is capable of running alternative operating systems such as Linux, FreeBSD, and Microsoft Windows, though other computers cannot normally run Mac OS X.

An article from