Mac OS X 10.6.3 release seems imminent, upgrade tips posted

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Date: Monday, March 22nd, 2010, 04:16
Category: News

snowleopard

Following a flurry of developer releases for the upcoming Mac OS X 10.6.3 update, a public release seems imminent with sources guessing it could be released today or this week.

With that in mind, the cool cats at CNET have offered the following preparation steps to take prior to the update:

Back up:
Always back up your system before updating it. The best practice is to perform a full and restorable backup by using Time Machine or a cloning system (SuperDuper, Carbon Copy Cloner) and then testing the backup to be sure you can access it in the event of an update failure.

To test your Time Machine backup, boot to the OS X installation DVD, select your language, and choose the option to restore from backup that is in the Utilities menu. In the restorable backup list, you should see the most current backup you made. To test a bootable drive clone, boot to it either by selecting the clone in the Startup Disk system preferences and rebooting, or by holding the Option key at start-up and selecting the drive from the boot menu.
Once you have confirmed the backups are healthy and have booted back to your main hard drive, unplug the drive from your system (if you can–some people use internal drives for Time Machine) or unmount it at the very least (just drag it to the trash) so the system will not interact with it during the update. Then proceed with the update.

Clear up current issues:
If you are having major problems with your current OS installation, try addressing them first. While OS updates can be the solution to many problems, if you are having major stability problems (i.e., random crashes, odd noises, inability to authenticate) then be sure to address them before applying the update.

Run general maintenance:
At the very least, run some general maintenance on the system before updating. For the most part you can do this by booting into Safe Mode (which runs a few maintenance routines at start-up) and then running a permissions fix using Disk Utility. In addition, you can also clear caches and other temporary files using programs like OnyX, Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner, IceClean, Yasu, and Cocktail.

Unplug peripheral devices:
If you have external USB or Firewire devices, unplug them from your system before updating. While it is rare that peripheral devices interfere with installations and updates, it can happen especially upon the first reboot as the system reconfigures drivers and boot caches. Once you have installed the update and have completed the first boot, then plug in your devices again.

Installation options:

Software update:
This is the most common method of updating, and will download the minimum number of files needed for your system and current software setup. It is the fastest and easiest method, but will keep a large number of the unchanged files on your system.

Standalone Delta update:
As with other versions of OS X, Apple will provide the 10.6.3 update as a standalone installer. This may be a larger download than what is available via Software Update because it includes update files for all computer models and software setups. It will be available at Apple’s support downloads page, and we will also provide a link to the delta updater when it is released.

Using this update allows you to take extra recommended precautionary steps during the installation, such as booting into Safe Mode and installing when unplugged from the network to avoid any interruptions.

Standalone Combo Update:
Similar to the Delta updater, you will have the option for the full Combo update. This update will contain the full set of files that have been updated since the OS X 10.6.0 release. Using it to install the update will ensure all updated files are replaced, even if they have not been changed since 10.6.2. Using the combo updater is a fairly standard troubleshooting step that can help fix various OS problems, and is a good way to keep your OS installation as fresh as possible.

As with the delta update, we recommend you install this when booted to Safe Mode and after running standard preparatory maintenance routines such as permissions fixes.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know if you happen across any tips, tricks or fixes during your update.

Apple Posts Second Private Mac OS X 10.6.3 Developer Beta, Final Release Seems Imminent

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Date: Friday, March 19th, 2010, 04:29
Category: News

snowleopard

Late Thursday Apple posted the second private beta of its Mac OS X 10.6.3 update in as many days, a move that suggests that the software is rapidly approaching a release candidate.

The latest pre-release carries build number 10D572, just one complete compile removed from build 10D571, which was seeded to software developers on Tuesday.

Apple typically seeds external betas of Mac OS X updates at such a rapid frequency only when the software is entering a final candidate stage, or if a serious and potentially-hazardous glitch was discovered with the preceding build.

Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story have said that Apple is now asking developers to focus their testing efforts around Mail, images, security certificates and photos, in addition to graphics drivers and QuickTime, both of which have remained a priority throughout the better part of the beta program.

An emphasis on fonts and iCal that accompanied Tuesday’s beta was reportedly dropped with the distribution of build 10D572. Meanwhile, an issue with recurring events in iCal’s interaction with Exchange server was repaired.

The 10.6.3 update is also said to include an update to QuickTime X that improves security and compatibility while also enhancing overall reliability of the media software.

The update will also include tweaks that enhance the performance of Apple’s 64-bit Logic pro audio suite and deliver better compatibility with third-party printers and OpenGL-grounded applications.

Other fixes baked into the release target issues with mail messages displaying the incorrect background color and problems copying files to a shared Windows volume.

The latest distributions weigh in at just shy of 790MB in Combo Update form and 725MB as a barebones Delta image.

If you’ve played with the build and have any comments about it, please let us know.

Recent Study Finds Neither Adobe Flash, HTML5 Has Significant Performance Advantage

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Date: Thursday, March 11th, 2010, 06:36
Category: News

As the war between Adobe Flash and HTML5 heats up, a recent comparison with numerous different browsers on both Mac and Windows produced wildly different results based on the operating system and browser, making neither a clear winner.

Per Streaming Learning Center, which conducted the study in response to recently alleged comments from Apple CEO Steve Jobs that reportedly called Flash a “CPU hog”, the test found that HTML5 is significantly more efficient than Flash on the Mac when running the Safari Web browser, those same advantages do not exist on other Mac browsers, or in Windows.

“It’s inaccurate to conclude that Flash is inherently inefficient,” author Jan Ozer wrote. “Rather, Flash is efficient on platforms where it can access hardware acceleration and less efficient where it can’t. With Flash Player 10.1, Flash has the opportunity for a true leap in video playback performance on all platforms that enable hardware acceleration.”

The report noted that Apple has not enabled the hooks to allow GPU-based acceleration for H.264 video decoding. Anand Lai Shimpi, founder of AnandTech, asserted “it’s up to Apple to expose the appropriate hooks to allow Adobe to (eventually) enable that functionality.”

Adobe’s update to Flash 10.1 on the Mac improved CPU efficiency within Safari by 5%, but the Web format still trails far behind HTML5 due to hardware acceleration. With Google Chrome, neither were particularly efficient, and Firefox saw slightly better performance than Chrome.

On Windows, Apple’s Safari browser doesn’t play HTML 5 content. But the Google Chrome browser in Windows played Flash 10.1 content with 58% more efficiency than HTML5.

HTML5 has yet to receive native support in Firefox or Internet Explorer, but the update from Flash 10 to Flash 10.1 improved CPU performance for the browsers by 73% and 35%, respectively. Flash 10.1 in Windows offers added hardware acceleration.

“When it comes to efficient video playback, the ability to access hardware acceleration is the single most important factor in the overall CPU load,” Streaming Learning Center noted. “On Windows, where Flash can access hardware acceleration, the CPU requirements drop to negligible levels.

“It seems reasonable to assume that if the Flash Player could access GPU-based hardware acceleration on the Mac (or iPod/iPhone/iPad), the difference between the CPU required for HTML5 playback and Flash playback would be very much narrowed, if not eliminated.”

Google added native YouTube support in January. The beta opt-in program is available only for browsers that support both HTML5 and H.264 video encoding.

Scrutiny over Flash has grown in recent months since Apple introduced its multimedia iPad device, which does not support the Web format from Adobe. Apple, instead, has placed its support behind HTML5.

Mac OS X Market Share Up 29% According to Recent Report

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Date: Monday, March 1st, 2010, 05:07
Category: News

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If you’re still being told that the Mac is on its way out (a la the mantra of the 90′s), a new set of statistics released today show that the market share of Mac OS X in Web use has grown by 29.4% in the last year, while Windows has decreased 3.8%.

According to AppleInsider, web statistics company Quantcast found that Mac OS X represented 10.9% of total Web consumption in North America in January. Despite its losses over a year prior, Windows remains the dominant format with 86.8% of all Web use.

The analytics company noted that Windows share held steady for the last three months, following the introduction of Windows 7. But January repented a decline once again following a strong holiday season during which Apple sold 3.36 million Macs.

Mac OS X share also grew 7% between December and January, and also saw 5.2% quarterly growth. Windows saw a 0.9 percent increase in both monthly and quarterly share.

The report cited that the greatest growth in Web use has been on mobile devices wherein mobile operating systems increased their presence by 123.8% year-over-year in January. Even with that tremendous growth, mobile devices still represent just 1.3% of total Web use.

Quantcast also revealed that Mac OS X 10.5 remains the dominant version of Apple’s operating system. In January, Leopard represented 52.1% of all Mac users.

Adoption of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard remained rapid, with 27.3% of Mac users running Apple’s latest operating system, which was released in August and got off to a strong sales start twice as high as the debut of Leopard and four times better than Tiger.

In January, 17.2% of Mac users were running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, while 3.4% were on an earlier version.

For Microsoft, Windows XP remains the dominant platform, with 51.8% of users running the operating system. In fact, Quantast found that Windows XP actually gained share in January, due to strong sales of netbooks.

Windows Vista commands 37.4% of PC users, while Windows 7 has been adopted by 10.2%.

Apple Releases Updated Mac OS X 10.6.3 Dev Build, Official Release Seems Close

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Date: Thursday, February 25th, 2010, 05:21
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday Apple released a new version of its Mac OS X 10.6.3 beta to its developer community. The build, labeled 10D561, currently lists no known issues, which suggests that a formal release via Software Update may be in the near term.

Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the latest beta claim no changes have been made to the software’s enhancements checklist, which includes an update to QuickTime X that improves security and compatibility while simultaneously enhancing overall reliability.

Other changes present since earlier betas include tweaks that enhance the performance of Apple’s 64-bit Logic Pro audio suite and improved compatibility with third-party printers and OpenGL-grounded applications.

Those familiar with Wednesday’s beta say Apple is now asking developers to focus their evaluation efforts on Bluetooth, iChat, and USB, in addition to two previously listed focus areas: graphics drivers and QuickTime.

An earlier emphasis on AirPort testing has reportedly been omitted from build 10D561.

Mac OS X 10.6.3 currently weighs in at just over 716MB in Delta form, down slightly from the 737MB package distributed with the previous seeding.

If you’ve had a chance to play with the new build, let us know.

iSync Plugins 7.1.2.7 Released

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, February 24th, 2010, 05:45
Category: iPhone, Software

132853-nmisync

iSync plugins, nova media’s shareware iSync extension package for Mac OS X and all-around useful utility that provides access to dozens of cell phones and handsets, received a small update over the weekend. Version 7.1.2.7, a 5.4 megabyte download, adds support for the following cell phone models:

- Nokia 5230
- Nokia 6700 slide
- Nokia X6
- Samsung SGH-D900E
- Sony Ericsson Pureness X5

iSync 7.1.2.7 retails for US$9.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.4.11 (under Mac OS X 10.4), Mac OS X 10.5.8 (under Mac OS X 10.5) and Mac OS X 10.6.2 (under Mac OS X 10.6) to install and run.

Adobe CTO Defends Against Rumored Flash Criticism From Jobs

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Date: Thursday, February 18th, 2010, 05:22
Category: News, Software

adobelogo

Adobe Chief Technical Officer defended the Flash platform this week against rumored comments from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, and also said performance improvements for the scrutinized, embattled Web platform are coming to the Mac.

Per BoomTown, Lynch stated that unlike Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ rumored comments, the Adobe staff wasn’t lazy and said he and his team work very hard on their company’s product.

“It feels pretty busy around here, so I’m not sure what that’s about,” Lynch said. “And that’s a rumor. I haven’t heard that necessarily he did say that. But maybe he did, whatever.”

He went on to say that regardless of whether Jobs said anything disparaging about Adobe, he and the company are receptive to public criticism. He said they are working to improve the Flash experience for users.

“We’re totally open to hearing feedback like that,” Lynch said. “And that’s one of the really important things to do in a situation like this, when people are complaining about something — not going into internal mode, or whatever, (but) really listening to what people are saying. We do that with our customers, we do that with our critics, and often there are kernels in there that we ought to do something about, and so we are.”

Lynch then revealed that Adobe is working to improve the performance of Flash on the Mac. Currently, he admitted, video renders are more processor intensive on Apple’s hardware than they are on Windows machines.

He also made note of Adobe’s forthcoming Creative Suite 5 for Mac, which he said is “just terrific.”

“We work with Apple all of the time,” Lynch said. “We’re one of the biggest Macintosh software makers around.”

Lynch said that 19 of the top 20 smartphone makers (Apple being the only one absent) have signed on to the company’s Open Screen Project and its push for Flash on mobile devices. He also said that 85% of the top Web sites on the Internet feature Flash content.

But Flash’s spotty performance history on the Mac platform and processor-intensive requirements have led Apple to support alternatives such as HTML5. The Cupertino, Calif., company has even encouraged developers to “stick with standards” and use CSS, JavaScript and Ajax instead of Adobe Flash.

Lynch told Swisher that Adobe is supportive of the progression of HTML, including HTML5. This week it was said that an Adobe official was attempting to hold up advancement of the HTML5 spec, though those claims were later disputed.

“I know that there are certainly some who are working on HTML5 who are out to kill Flash,” Lynch said, adding that he doesn’t see the push for HTML5 as a move to “kill” Flash.

As always, feel free to hurl your two cents in on this.

Happy President’s Day From the PowerPage!!!

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 15th, 2010, 06:39
Category: Announcement

GeorgeWashington

It’s February 15th, President’s Day is upon us and the staff of the PowerPage will be taking a day off to rest and recoup from the trials and tribulations of Valentine’s Day and Macworld Expo.

Swing back tomorrow for the latest Mac mobile news, rumors and information as we get in.

In the meantime, sit back, relax and enjoy the day off!!!

MWSF: iPhone Explorer Allows iPhone/iPod Touch to be Used as a Hard Drive

Posted by:
Date: Saturday, February 13th, 2010, 04:28
Category: Macworld Expo, Software

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Albeit there have been some utilities that have allowed your iPhone and iPod touch to double as a flash drive, this one may have it down pat.

And for free.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, myPod Apps’ iPhone Explorer can be installed on your Mac or PC and allows you to view the folder structure, and drag and drop items to or from the iPhone to your desktop or back the other way.

Users can create, delete and rename folders on your iPhone. If your iPhone is jailbroken, they can access the real root and then recover things like your address book, emails and SMS messages.

iPhone Explorer requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and iTunes 8 or later to install and run.

Take a gander, see what you think and feel free to hurl your two cents in as well.

MWSF: Microsoft Announces Office for Mac 2011

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Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 09:10
Category: Macworld Expo, News

microsoftlogo.jpg

With Macworld Expo underway, representatives from Microsoft announced Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, which should arrive in time for the 2010 holiday season.

Per Macworld, the new version focuses on better compatibility across platforms, improved collaboration tools, and a more refined user interface. Also, as Microsoft announced last August, the suite will include Outlook for Mac, which replaces Entourage as Office’s e-mail client. The new version of Office will also offer renewed support for Visual Basic, which was dropped in the 2008 version of the productivity suite.

“Nowadays, compatibility means more than just file formats,” said Microsoft’s Kurt Schmucker. “It’s also workflow, collaboration, and user interface.”

To that end, the new version of Office will incorporate document-collaboration features that take advantage of Microsoft’s online storage features. With Office for Mac 2011, Mac users will be able to share files and collaborate on documents with other Mac and Windows users via Microsoft’s SharePoint, SkyDrive, and Office Web Apps.

Those online tools will allow users to collaborate on documents with other Windows and Mac Office users in real time, similar to the features found in Google Docs. For example, users could create a document in Word on your laptop, save it to SkyDrive, then share it with others. A pop-up in Word will display who’s working on the document; click on that list, and you’ll be able to send them a message (as long as everyone is using Outlook or Microsoft’s Messenger IM application). The paragraphs your collaborators are working on will be locked out until they’re done. Users will also be able to edit those same documents from any computer, using Office’s Web apps. Mac users will have the same experience in the their versions of Safari and Firefox as Windows users get with their browsers, Schmucker said.

Microsoft also says it’s learned from user feedback about Office 2008 and has tweaked the user interface accordingly in Office 2011.

A new Ribbon at the top of each document window replaces Office 2008’s controversial Elements Gallery, which took some fire from Mac users for its size and inflexibility. This new Ribbon is designed to give users quick access to each program’s most commonly used tools. Unlike the Elements Gallery, the ribbon is customizable and, if you want more screen space, completely collapsible.

The new suite will also feel more Mac-like than Office 2008. For example, the Ribbon is built entirely using Apple’s Cocoa development framework, and takes takes advantage of Apple’s Core Animation system. (As a result, Ribbon tabs will slide smoothly when you rearrange them.) Click on Ribbon tools and they’ll expand smoothly into popovers that don’t obscure the document you’re working on.

Summarizing the interface changes, Microsoft’s Han-Yi Shaw likened Office 2008 to a teenager—“a little quirky”—but said the new edition is Office matured. “This is the version that everyone wanted,” he said.

Shaw added that the Mac team at Microsoft worked hard to adopt Apple technologies while also making sure their product was recognizably Microsoft Office. “We’re at a cross-section of Mac and PC, and because we’re die-hard Mac users, we look at the [Office] technology and try to translate it,” he said. “Following the Apple design philosophy really takes you in the right direction.”

The new Outlook will support PST imports (allowing you to move an Outlook installation, including all your old e-mails, from a Windows PC to a Mac) and will also support Microsoft’s Information Rights Management (IRM), which allows senders to specify what recipients can do with messages (print, forward, and so on). Previously-Windows only, IRM is required in some corporate settings. IRM support in Office 2001 is aimed at Mac users in cross-platform environments, Schmucker said: “It’s been a blocker for some companies because the Mac support was not there.”

The company has also re-engineered the Outlook message database system to be a series of small files, so it’s more easily backed up with Time Machine and searched in Spotlight. “Outlook’s new database is more reliable, faster, and fully supports Time Machine and Spotlight,” Schmucker said.

Finally, power users will be be able to make use of the Visual Basic macro language. Visual Basic was dropped from Office 2008 in part because it was to technically difficult to port it to the Mac’s then-new Intel CPUs. Microsoft says it began work on that port as far back as 2008, before the last Mac Office shipped. That work is now complete and the Mac suite will be using the most up-to-date version of Visual Basic.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.