Microsoft Releases Office 2004 11.5.4, Office 2008 12.1.7 Updates

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Date: Wednesday, April 15th, 2009, 07:17
Category: Software

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On Tuesday, Microsoft released updates for both its Office 2004 and Office 2008 suites for the Mac.
Microsoft Office 2004 version 11.5.4, a 9.7 megabyte download through the AutoUpdate program, offers stability and performance fixes and repairs a vulnerability in which an outside party could insert malicious code.
The program requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later to install and run.
The company also released Microsoft Office 2008 12.1.7, a 267.7 megabyte download through the AutoUpdate program that offers improvements to enhance security, stability, and performance, including fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.
Additional details regarding the update can be found here.
Microsoft Office 2008 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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Apple Stores May Switch To iPhone Software for In-store Purchases

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Date: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 13:16
Category: Apple, Retail Store

With the release of iPhone 3.0 enabled hardware and software, Apple may be planning a switch from its EasyPay handheld devices to iPhones for checking out customers at their retail stores.

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An AppleInsider report speculates that Apple may be planning to move away from the current Windows Mobile-based PDAs in favor of iPhones or iPod Touches using credit card scanners enabled by the new 3.0 software which allows devices connected to the 30-pin dock connector to finally talk to applications.

Apple has reportedly had issues with the EasyPay system in the past, resulting in checkout delays and frustrated customers. Overall, however, the mobile checkout system has worked out well for the retail stores which were reported to average 3.6 million visits per week during Apple’s December financial conference call. Developing its own point of sale system around the iPhone could be costly, but would allow Apple Stores to show off the versatility of their mobile hardware.

It is interesting to note that in the current batch of Apple’s iPhone commercials, one of the highlighted apps is CCTerminal which allows you to process credit card transactions online using an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Thanks to Chuck Freedman for bringing this to my attention, although I’ve actually been musing about this possibility since the 3.0 sneak peek. Yes, I do spend too much time at the Apple Store.

How-To: Work Around Delays, Hangs in Time Machine

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Date: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 09:23
Category: How-To

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Let’s face it, Time Machine is a spiffy and useful thing as well as one of the main bells and whistles of Mac OS X 10.5. This isn’t to say it’s without its bugs and despite Apple’s best efforts, there are times where backups appear to hang or stall out sans warning.
You may be familiar with the situation, as described by poster “PaulArthurUK” in the Apple Discussion forums:

“When time machine starts to back up my machine, it hangs (the clock icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen spins, but the backup disk is not being accessed and currently Time Machine shows no backup in the last five days). Once it has hung, various applications start to behave oddly and generally I am unable to shut them down, even via force quit.”

Per MacFixIt, there are a variety of reasons why this could happen. The most common is when the backup daemon is doing a “Deep Traversal” of the source drive to ensure its catalog of changed files correctly reflects the status of the source disk. When this happens, Time Machine will stick at “Preparing…,”. This can take a long time, depending on the size of the node being traversed, but usually speeds up once the deep traversal is completed.
To easily check out Time Machine logs and track down problems and exactly what Time Machine is doing, download the “Time Machine Buddy” widget, which will display the TM logs in the dashboard.
Time Machine’s hanging may affect other chunks of the operating system, causing widespread slowdown. This type of behavior usually indicates the system resources are not accessible to the system when the system is expecting them to be.
Other scenarios that may cause a slowdown include the following:

Drive malfunction: If the drive is making clicking sounds, or doesn’t appear properly either on the Desktop or in Disk Utility, then there may be a problem with the drive. For external drives, low power to the drive can cause the system to hang.
Volume corruption: While the disk may be fine, if the formatting or partitioning of the drive has problems, then the drive will not be properly accessible by the system.
Drives being put to sleep: The energy-saver setting to put drives to sleep whenever possible can cause them to go into a state where they won’t wake up properly. This depends on the drive itself, but while the system waits for the drive, you can experience a hang.

User can try running Disk Utility to check for and repair errors on the drive or perform these tasks more thoroughly with a third-party disk utility software such as “Disk Warrior,” “Drive Genius,” “Disk Tools Pro,” or “Tech Tool Pro.” Checking both the boot drive and the Time Machine drive for errors is recommended.
Beyond drive-specific issues, there can be incompatibilities both with other system resources and third-party applications, which can cause Time Machine slowdowns. Antiviral software can interfere with Time Machine’s functions, especially if you have live scanning or “on-access” scanning enabled. Turning off these settings in the antivirus software may help this situation. Additionally, if you have Spotlight enabled for the Time Machine drive (it is enabled by default), this can sometimes endlessly try to index the drive. As such, you can try adding the Time Machine drive to Spotlight’s privacy list, and then remove it to restart indexing.
A similar trick can also be performed via Mac OS X’s Terminal application, which will ensure the spotlight stores are deleted and started anew via the following steps:

Open Terminal
Type the following command and include a space after the command:
mdutil -E -i off
Drag the Time Machine disk to the Terminal window to enter the full path to the disk, such as the following:
mdutil -E -i off /Volumes/TMDisk/
Ensuring a space is between the “off” and the drive path, press enter
Repeat this command, changing the “off” to “on” in order to enable spotlight on the drive again.

Finally, if you are backing up over a network (especially a wireless network), backups can be slow by nature. At 54Mb, speeds of most wireless connections, you will run at a maximum of 6MB per second, which translates to 14 hours for a 300GB backup when running at optimal conditions. Given network overhead and other interferences, this can easily double and result in the backup taking a day or two. For the initial backup to a networked device, you might try plugging in the Ethernet connection, which should be at least double the speed, but up to 20 times faster than wireless.
A final fix for slow backups can be to restart Time Machine on the drive by removing it and re-adding it in the Time Machine preferences. Doing this seems to clear various bottlenecks in Time Machine and start backups running at faster speeds again.

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Rumor: Apple May Have Ordered Four Million Additional iPhones for Chinese Marketplace

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Date: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 08:40
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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This is a bit strange but there may be something to it.
According to ChinaTimes, component suppliers have stated that Apple has placed orders for shipments of four million iPhone units expected to be ready by the end of the quarter.
The units will allegedly be a combination of three new models, consisting of an EDGE-only device, a 3G-capable model and a model made for the market in China, possibly on TD-SCDMA.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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QuickerTek Releases External Battery/Charger for MacBook Air Notebook

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Date: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 07:38
Category: Accessory, battery, MacBook Air

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Accessory provider QuickerTek announced the release of a new external battery/charger for Apple’s MacBook Air notebook on Tuesday. The external unit powers the pack while simultaneously charging the internal battery and QuickerTek has cited 12 to 16 hours of run time or about 6 to 10 extra hours of power. According to MacNN, the charger is also said to charge the internal battery in only three hours.
The unit measure 7″ x 3.5″ and is housed in a machined aluminum case with an anodized finish. QuickerTek claims the cells are capable of up to 1,000 full recharges.
The MacBook Air external batter can be purchased for US$349.95 but customers must also have a QuickerTek-modified MagSafe adapter, available for US$100. An existing MagSafe adapter can be converted for US$25.

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SpamSieve Updated to 2.7.4

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Date: Monday, April 13th, 2009, 17:05
Category: Software

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Michael Tsai’s must-have shareware program, SpamSieve, has just been updated to version 2.7.4. The new version, a 5.8 megabyte download, makes the following fixes and improvements:

  • Improved compatibility with pre-release versions of Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard).
  • SpamSieve is better able to recover from corpus files that were damaged due to disk errors.
  • Improved the Entourage installer’s error handling.
  • Improved the error reporting when saving the corpus.
  • Improved the troubleshooting instructions.
  • Fixed a problem where messages trained as good in Apple Mail could be moved into the inbox of a disabled account.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause harmless error messages to be logged to the Console when playing System 7 sound files.
  • The crash reporter now warns before sending a report without an e-mail address.
  • You can now press Enter to click the Send Report button in the crash reporter.
  • SpamSieve is available for a US$30 registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run. The new version can either be downloaded directly from the web site or brought up to the current version via the program’s built-in update feature.

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    Jobs Apparently Still “Closely Involved” in “Key Aspects” of Apple

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    Date: Monday, April 13th, 2009, 06:04
    Category: News

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    According to “people familiar with the matter,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs remains “closely involved” with “key aspects” of running Apple according to a Wall Street Journal article.
    Though currently on medical leave since January, the paper is reporting that Jobs is working hard from home and is still involved in both strategy and key products, including details surrounding the new interface elements in iPhone 3.0.
    Apple’s comment on the situation is a blanket statement that “Steve continues to look forward to returning to Apple at the end of June.”
    Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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    Apple Releases VoiceOver Kit 1.0.1 Update for iPod Shuffle

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    Date: Monday, April 13th, 2009, 06:50
    Category: iPod shuffle, Software

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    Late Friday, Apple released its VoiceOver Kit 1.0.1, an update containing several fixes for the newest generation of its iPod Shuffle media player. According to Macworld UK, the update, a 17 megabyte download contains corrected pronunciations for several artist names as well as a series of unspecified minor bug fixes.
    The update is currently not listed on Apple’s Web site, but it is available via the Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

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    This Is Only A Test

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    Date: Saturday, April 11th, 2009, 17:08
    Category: Uncategorized

    I’m using strongMarsEdit/strong to help troubleshoot some editor issues I have been seeing with the new strongPowerPage/strong web site. I have noticed that there are occasionally some link issues, at least with MarsEdit, which I may have to bring up with the developer.

    img src=”http://www2.powerpage.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/resizedimage368447-journalism.jpg” alt=”ResizedImage368447-Journalism.jpg” border=”0″ width=”100″ height=”121″ align=”right” /

    The trick now is to see if the tags and image links work correctly with alignment, etc. One of the advantages of a href=”http://www.wordpress.org”WordPress/a is the ability to use offline editors like MarsEdit.

    There have been a couple of updates to MarsEdit recently which might have improved compatibility with WordPress 2.7, so maybe emthat/em will solve all the issues.

    Review: USB Squid at ThinkGeek

    Posted by:
    Date: Friday, April 10th, 2009, 18:26
    Category: Hardware, Review

    If you are like me and own a MacBook Air, you find out pretty quickly that one USB port is often not enough. Almost everything requires a USB port, Ethernet, CDs and DVDs, thumb-drives, and external hard drives. Since I often prefer a wired connection when I can, for the extra speed (yes, still faster than wireless), I have to use Apple’s USB Ethernet adapter. If I need to plug in anything else, I loose my network connection. I soon grew tired of this and went looking for a solution.
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    And I found it at ThinkGeek! They sell a device called the USB Squid which was the perfect solution and works great! Basically its a USB 2.0 compatible splitter. You plug one end into your computer of choice, and it offers four USB jacks on the other end. As ThinkGeek points out, “The USB Squid is not a real squid, as squids have 8 legs and 2 tentacles. Heck, it’s not even an octopus – they have 8 arms. The USB Squid has four arms, so it’s sort of more a quadropus.”
    Unlike other tiny USB hubs I looked at, the USB Squid doesn’t require an external power supply. Obviously it won’t work if you device needs something other than bus power, but all of my everyday devices worked fine with the Squid. The four jacks also have interlocking ridges on the outside in case you want to “hook” the plugs together into a vertical or horizontal block, but I found that the moulding was a little inconsistent and sometime the plugs didn’t remain attached to one another. A minor quibble in my opinion.
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    The USB Squid is manufactured by a company called Buffalo in China, but there is no way to tell what they call the device since the package is covered only in Chinese characters and no English (except for a reference to “Windows Vista”), as it is something ThinkGeek imports for sale in the US. The USB Squid is 11″ long (from plug to hub) and is currently in stock and $19.99 at ThinkGeek. If you occasionally need an extra USB port and have a little space in your kit bag, I highly recommend grabbing one of these.

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