Year: 2009

How important are Mac buyers to Apple?

In the last years, we have seen Apple busy developing iPod MP3 players, iPhone mobile phones, and PCs --in that order. The latest new Macs Apple conceived have been met with great enthusiasm but the finish and quality of build were less than what Mac users hoped for; cracked screens, problems with the graphics cards, and more misery hit the buyers of the most powerful iMac ever made. So how important are creative designers and computer users in general to Apple these days?I have always considered the reluctance of Apple to focus more on corporate users and less on gadget users as something of a paradox. Here’s a company that develops its own motherboards, chipsets, etc, but which refuses to disclose future plans even under NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) to large corporate customers for obscure reasons and lacks the support organisation to service those types of customers. Instead, Apple chose to become an entertainment provider that controls both the hardware (iPods, iPhones, iMacs) and software side (software, music, video, etc) of the business. Great show, but …

LaunchBar 5 Review

With LaunchBar 5, you can avoid using a mouse in 95% of the cases and speed up your daily routine by a an order of magnitude. LaunchBar is one of the most respected, longest-in-service application launchers for Mac OS X. Version 5 has Snow Leopard compatibility, a clipboard history and ClipMerge, Quick Look support, and much more.In essence, LaunchBar 5 still is a common application launcher. You tap command-spacebar (or another key conbination) and a couple of characters and you’ll get a list of possible files that you can open. It’s pretty much the same as when you call up Spotlight and tap your way through to find what you want to launch or open. The big difference is that LaunchBar 5 is much more responsive than Spotlight—by more than a small margin—and that it intelligently learns from your key combinations to offer you choices based on your input. Spotlight doesn’t do that—you’ll always have to remember the first few characters of a file’s name at least to get instant result. If you don’t like …

EyeTV DTT Deluxe Micro-Stick: how much smaller can it get?

When Elgato releases a new EyeTV DTT stick or a satellite receiver device, I'm always paying attention. The quality of build has never let me down, and that was no different this time around. The only thing you can ask yourself is how much smaller Elgato can keep making these things before they become too small to handle.The previous EyeTV DTT Deluxe Micro-Stick was about two-and-a-half times the size of the new one, which means the new one is barely bigger than the plastic grip you’ll find on the average USB connector. The biggest difference is the EyeTV DTT Deluxe is in gorgeous looking matte rubberised plastic—the same as the new Turbo H.264 stick—has a solid feel and comes with a tiny but powerful telescopic aerial. The box also has all the usual Elgato stuff such as a license for the excellent EyeTV, a remote control with batteries included, a larger antenna which I don’t find better than the more stunning telescopic antenna. I tried the new EyeTV DTT Deluxe and was expecting less than …

Foxtrot Professional Search review

CTM Development may be best known for their Powermail application, but the search technology used in Powermail drives their stand-alone search product Foxtrot Search. This desktop and local network search application is available in a personal and professional edition. I tested the professional edition.Foxtrot Professional Search enables you to create multiple indexes—e.g. one per volume—and search through local and networked volumes. With a multi-user license, you can also share your local indexes over a local network. Finally, the application allows you to search web pages for terms and sentences in its own, built-in web browser. Before you can use Foxtrot Professional Search, the application must be given the opportunity to at least create one index. On my system with 250 GB worth of files, this took about a quarter of an hour to complete, which is pretty fast. After that, the application is ready to search for content and metadata. The difference between Foxtrot Professional Search and Spotlight is that the former allows you to create more granular search commands, including boolean search terms, complex …

BusyCal Review: Finally real time management on Mac OS X

Apple's iCal can be quite limited in functionality. It lacks good synchronisation with third party calendars, for example. It's also a bit limited if you want to use it for alerts and time management. Enter BusyCal by Busy Mac. This application seamlessly synchronises with iCal, yet offers much more in terms of synchronisation with other people's calendars on the network, and even syncs with Google Calendars. BusyCal is a real time management tool with a simple interface.I am always weary of replacing an Apple application by something else. You never know if a developer is going to continue churning out updates and upgrades, or if Apple suddenly decides to change a technology so the third-party replacement does no longer work. In BusyCal’s case, I thought I’d just install it, try it out, write the review and throw it off the system again, but after having played with it for several weeks now, that’ll be hard. When installing BusyCal, you can set a preference to let BusyCal be your default calendar software. If you allow that, …

1Password version 3 review

In case you have missed it, Agile Web Solutions has released a public beta of its version 3 of 1Password, and if you thought (like I did) they couldn't improve this industry leading password and license manager anymore, they've proven us wrong. 1Password 3 is nicer to look at, better structured, and has time saving features even.To keep your login data secure, you need a good password manager. Preferably one that can encrypt your passwords using the best algorithm and managing those passwords in the most simple and efficient ways. In order not to end up with many different managers to keep your sensitive information secure, you’ll also want to manage credit card data, software licenses, identities, and everything else you care to write down and classify as sensitive. 1Password has all of this. Other software like it can also deliver the same functionality, but often some elements are missing or the management concept is flawed. In some cases, you aren’t sure which algorithms the developer used to protect your data. In other cases, the …

Data Rescue 3 clones disks and recovers your own file types

For many years now, Prosoft Engineering has been developing Data Rescue. This application is to data recovery what DiskWarrior is to disk catalogue recovery: it has become an industry standard and an essential tool for Mac users who want to be sure they can recover from disaster in 99% of the cases.Data Rescue 3 is the latest version of Data Rescue and it’s the most advanced data recovery tool that is available to professional disk recovery experts and Mac users in general. It can be used on disk drives with volumes that refuse to mount, on disks with damages partition maps, on some non-HFS/HFS+ file systems, on large volumes and even on password-protected ones (as long as the data itself isn’t encrypted). The most obvious visible change from the previous version is the “Arena View” which Prosoft Engineering also uses in its Drive Genius product. The Arena View can be left for what it is, but although it takes some getting used to, it’s actually a very efficient way of representing the available functionality modules …

Backup Apps: Retrospect disappoints, BRU Server as expected, PresStore revelation of the day

Backing up is like New Year's resolution: you are determined to do what you've set out to do, but half way the year you realise old habits die hard, the carefully developed backup plan took too much time, or was to complicated to perform, and the whole backup strategy starts collecting dust --until it's too late. In many cases, people don't backup because it's too difficult, too tedious to set up, takes too much time, and demands attention. In order to convince the average user to backup on a daily basis, the backup software should make backing up a no-brainer that runs in the background, silently, unnoticed --until the day comes you need to restore one or more files.Macs used to have little choice when it comes to backing up. The only professional backup tool that was available once was Retrospect. Retrospect worked fine on versions of Mac OS prior to version X. However, when Mac OS X was released, the program seemed outdated, and when EMC acquired it, there was no further development on …

Do you buy a device for its design or its quality of build?

A week ago LaCie's PR firm invited press reviewers to present its newest range of external hard disk drives. Press that couldn't make it and even those of us who for health reasons can't attend much anything these days didn't get the presentation.That was a shame, because I for one would have loved to ask the LaCie managers attending this event if they believe their products have reached a quality level at which design has become the sole selling proposition—I received the announcement of LaCie’s new products two days later, and they turned out to be Philippe Starck designed external hard disk drives. The announcement of the presentation said LaCie was going to reflect upon twenty years of innovation and design—“en passant” showing the attending audience some new products. When I read which these were a couple of days later, I couldn’t but ponder over what exactly drives today’s sales of commodities such as external hard disk drives. Apparently, LaCie believes it’s design. The Philippe Starck designed hard drives that were presented are described as …

TechTool Pro 5 has many functionalities you will rarely need, except for one

I have always been a fan of TechTool Pro. I got it on CD in my AppleCare box, and when version 5 came out, I begged Micromat to get me a NFR fast. After over half a year of begging, they finally sent me their latest and greatest. Perhaps my expectations were too high after those six months of waiting, but I am slightly disappointed. That doesn't mean TechTool Pro 5 isn't a good tool. It means there are at least equally good ones, except fro one set of features that is TechTool's unique selling proposition.The idea of an interface with car-like dashboard clocks telling you how your USB bus, CPUs, and FireWire bus is holding on, is a great idea. The only problem with such ideas is that if they stop at just showing you some rough representation of the bus’ health, it’s pretty useless. I think that’s a bit the problem with TechTool Pro 5’s interface. The USB bus clock shows me the USB bus is OK, but that information I can easily …