Odds and Ends (2)

By Graham K. Rogers

It is high time I put together another "bits and pieces" article. Not because there is nothing for me to write about, but precisely the opposite. Much is going on with Apple at the moment, particularly after the recent Developers' Conference, and it is timely to pass on some of the items I have found interesting of late.

The two most exciting things for me to come out of the Conference were the announcement of Panther, the upcoming OSX release of version 10.3; and confirmation that the G5 does exist and that Apple have abandoned Motorola for IBM chips.

After Jaguar comes Panther. And I bet Cheetah will not make an appearance any time soon (Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Wildcat?). The release is slated for later in the year and a UK price of 99 (including VAT), would suggest a price round here of about 5,400 baht plus tax, which is identical to the Jaguar release here last August.

As with Jaguar, there are some major changes to the OS itself and to the interface. Although it was reported initially to be a 64-bit OS, it is actually 32-bit but uses a temporary "bridging" technique for certain software to take advantage of. With Panther, Apple seem to be moving away from Aqua to the "brushed metal" look that can be seen in applications such as Safari and Address Book.

Among the proposed features are: improved security (see below) for a home directory, with 128-bit AES encryption; better PDF handing; and (my favourite), the ability to switch to a different user acount without the need to log out or exit programs: that will save a lot of frustration in my house.

Although pre-release versions were seeded at the conference, unless the local Apple office breaks their communications blackout, I will be waiting in line like everyone else.

You can have a look at a preview of Panther at this site

The New G5
As soon as I saw that this had been announced, I was logging on to Apple's website (http://www.apple.com/) where a number of images, and .pdf files could be found: there is one file of almost 100 pages on the Developer Website giving all the under-the-hood details.

Steve Jobs' claim that it was faster than anything else that "you know who" could produce was greeted by cheers inside the Hall but by hoots of derision outside. As a point of independent data, NASA -- the same people who have excellent online libraries, do massive amounts of valuable research, oh, and run a space program -- ran a series of tests to compare a G5 with a G4, but a couple of Pentiums were also thrown in for good measure.

Using a single CPU and OSX 10.2.7 (this was released for the G5 and not for us ordinary mortals), the G5 was faster. A 2.66 Pentium running red Hat Linux, 7.1 just pipped the G5 at the post with 255 Megaflops as opposed to 254. The test was available at this site.

Needless to say, I went straight to the man with the order book at work and asked for two of these. I may never get them but, if you don't ask. . . .

OSX Security A week or so ago (Friday 4 July) we were all startled into a yawn by another FBI warning that the Internet was about to crumble to dust as the hackers were out to get us all again. There was actually a grain of truth to this as from other sources I found that a worldwide hacking competition -- intention to deface websites just for fun -- was due for the following Sunday (6th).

It was pretty much a non-event with the hackers bitching among themselves and crippling the site that was to keep score in the competition.

What had amused me about the event itself was that there were prizes for the best/most hacking and to help decide, points were to be awarded in the following manner: websites running Windows, 1 point; websites running Linux, Unix, BSD, or AIX (IBM's Unix), 3 points; websites running HP-UX (Unix from Hewlett-Packard), or OSX, 5 points (information from Mac news Network.

And with Panther, the security is to be improved.

Burning CDs I recently had a problem at home when trying to burn a CDROM in iTunes. After two disks hit the (real) trash basket in my office, I took the unusual step of thinking about what was happening. When I had made backup disks using Roxio Toast I had had the same problem, which was solved by reducing the burn speed. I had a look in iTunes preferences and the same solution was presented. Instead of "Maximum Possible" I selected x 4 (faster speeds are available) to see if this was the cause. Problem solved.

Bluetooth Suggestions The useful utility, Jonas Salling's "Clicker" won a prize at the Apple Developer Conference. I was not alone in raving about this when it was released a few months ago, allowing me to control the iMac from an Ericsson mobile phone. One of the features was that it was disabled when Address Book was started up: one at a time is the rule here.

A local user was recently havin problems getting the Address Book to stay connected to the phone and, by a process of elimination, we concluded that his new Bluetooth headphone was interfering with the signal even when it was not directly linked: just being on was enough. One at a time.

If the bluetooth adapter is in a USB port when Address Book is started, the Bluetooth icon in the application should show blue instead of grey. It should also do this when the computer is reactivated from Sleep.

Mac Hints had a suggestion on this recently for those experiencing difficulties with this re-establishment.

In the Address Book preferences file -- in Users>username>Library>preferences -- enable the boolean option "ABCheckForPhoneNextTime."

You could also do this in the Terminal by typing "defaults write com.apple.AddressBook ABCheckForPhoneNextTime -boolean true" (without speech marks).

Just to confirm (in the interests of academic honesty), that information came from Mac Hints; and you should read the book. I have and will be reviewing it shortly.

For further information, e-mail to Graham K. Rogers.

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