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T
he law is an ass, said Dickens. Or, more accurately, ‘a ass’,
as Mr Bumble spoke it. To that, I would add ‘sometimes’. Most
often it’s actually pretty spot on. No doubt you could name me
half a dozen miscarriages of justice – or more – without reference to
any third source, but that’s because we remember such things. What
we don’t remember are the judgements that are fair, just and accurate,
unless the alleged crime is committed on so spectacular a level that
the judgement becomes a footnote to the evil that earned it.
So, let me draw your attention to a ruling that disproves the ass
rule: the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and its
judgement on Apple’s liability for hearing loss. Specifically potential
hearing loss, for the plaintiffs, Birdsong and Waggoner, didn’t claim
to have had their hearing impaired or to know anyone who had. Yet,
according to Reuters, they ‘sought financial damages and an order
requiring Apple to improve safety and disclosures, provide better
headphones and test iPod users for hearing loss’.
I’m with them on the issue of better headphones, but until Apple
finds itself up against someone who can prove hearing loss as a direct
result of using an iPod and its supplied earbuds, which could
not have been caused by any other personal audio player,
then compensation should not even be discussed.
How is the iPod different to the Zune, the Zen or
Sony’s trailblazing cassette-based Walkman, other
than in its cultural impact? It isn’t. It’s still designed,
at its most basic level, to play music at varying levels
of volume through earphones (in this case, specifically
in-ear earphones). End of story. Anything else –
playing video, taking photos, sending emails and
so on – is mere decoration.
So why not bring the whole industry before
the bench: Creative, Microsoft, Sony and
co standing next to Apple? They all make
media players. My guess: the chances of
a successful ruling against them all would
have been slimmer, even, than a ruling
against Apple alone. For that reason, the
claim never really had a chance.
Finding against Apple would, by association,
apply to any company producing any device
that makes use of in-ear headphones without
accurate level meters. That includes your
Mac, a Windows laptop, your hifi, your
mobile’s hands-free kit, your TV… the list
goes on. And on, and on.
The onus is on us – consumers – to
protect ourselves, not on Apple to make
a volume-limited iPod, or the EU to pass
laws that require lower default volumes.
Who doesn’t, by now, know that extended
exposure to high volumes can – and likely
will – lead to hearing damage? Nobody.
So if the law is indeed any kind of an
ass, in this case it’s a smart ass.
Nik Rawlinson is the editor.
This issue, he’s been defrosting
everything in sight with a tepid kettle
– cars, chickens, frozen sprouts...
The law’s not
always an ass
Common sense prevails as US court
rules against claims of hearing loss.
www.storemags.co co com & www.fantamag.com
004
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MACUSER, 15JANUARY2010–VOLUME26–NUMBER02
contents
004
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Apple buys Lala prompting analysts
to suggest it plans a music streaming
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www.macuser.co.uk/news
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Mac business section.
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news
FORTHELATESTBREAKINGNEWSGOTOWWW.MACUSER.CO.UK
Apple buys Lala music
streaming service
A
pple’s purchase of Lala, a company
that runs an obscure music streaming
service, has prompted rumours that it
plans a full-scale overhaul of iTunes.
Streaming music services such as Spotify,
which let you listen to vast collections of
streaming music for free if you agree to
advertisements or for a monthly fee, are
growing in popularity, especially among
smartphone users, who often don’t have the
storage capacity to carry large collections of
music around with them.
Spotify and other streaming services
already offer iPhone apps that let users listen
to music on the go for a monthly subscription.
Apple’s acquisition of Lala may give it a
fast way to enter this market, should it so
desire. Lala’s service, which so far is only
available in the US, lets consumers stream
and download music from a library of 8 million
tracks. However, its service is a sort of hybrid
between Spotify and iTunes.
Lala allows you to listen to a song once for
free, after which you can purchase the right
A
pple has accused Nokia of
infringing 13 of its patents in a
lawsuit that follows a similar suit
launched by Nokia against Apple last October.
In a terse announcement, Apple made
it clear it was a reaction to Nokia’s suit.
‘Responding to a lawsuit brought against
the company by Nokia, Apple today filed a
countersuit claiming that Nokia is infringing
13 Apple patents,’ it said.
‘Other companies must compete with us
by inventing their own technologies, not just
by stealing ours,’ said Apple general counsel
and senior vice-president Bruce Sewell.
Sewell’s statement was a direct riposte
to Nokia vice-president Ilkka Rahnasto,
who lambasted Apple last October when
it sued Apple. ‘The basic principle in the
mobile industry is that those companies
who contribute in technology development
to establish standards create intellectual
property, which others then need to
compensate for. Apple is also expected to
follow this principle,’ said Rahnasto.
In its countersuit, Apple denied it
unlawfully copied any of the technologies
named in Nokia’s earlier suit against it.
While Nokia’s allegedly
infringed patents centre around
to listen to a streamed track on any of your
devices for 10¢ (about 6p) each, or an album
for $1 (about 61p). For an extra 79¢ (about
49p), you can download the single track
outright as DRM-free MP3.
Lala based its appeal on a strong social
networking feature that lets people share
their playlists with other members, who can
legally listen to them free of charge one time.
Moreover, Lala’s business model differs
from other music streaming services in that
if you cancel your monthly subscription,
you haven’t thrown away your playlists. You
can still listen to the songs you paid for,
streamed, in perpetuity.
Apple’s decision to snap up Lala prompted
many industry observers to conclude that the
company has plans to add a similar streaming
service to iTunes, which has remained
strictly a download service. Lala’s unusual
pricing model half way between a streaming
service and a download service could offer
Apple a more seamless way to
move into this market.
Page 009
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Apple retaliates
with countersuit
against Nokia
▲Lala’s pricing model lies somewhere between iTunes and Spotify, which may have attracted Apple’s attention,
as it could offer the company a seamless way of moving into the music streaming market.
Apple COO Tim Cook warned a year ago that the
company would ‘go after’ iPhone rip-offs.
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Apple claims Nokia breaches 13 patents
AT&T warns US
iPhone users of
‘fair use’ plans
Apple’s Lala buyout prompts speculation
that it plans to move into music streaming
network technologies relating to wireless
data, speech coding, security and encryption,
Apple’s allegedly infringed patents deal
mainly with the iPhone’s user interface.
A year ago, Apple COO Tim Cook
issued a warning that Apple might not stand
for rivals ripping off the iPhone. Talking
to financial analysts, he said: ‘We like
competition, as long as they don’t rip off
our IP [intellectual property] and if they do,
we’ll go after them.’
At the time, Cook’s words were widely
interpreted as a warning to Palm, which
was developing the Pre, a touch-based
smartphone that boasted an iPhone-style
interface. However, up until now Apple
hasn’t sued any other handset maker,
suggesting that its actions are defensive,
rather than marking a new campaign
of legal actions.
In its countersuit, Apple asserted that
Nokia, which has been losing market share
in the smartphone industry, was trying to
use the courts to claw back what it had
lost in the market.
‘Nokia’s demands appear to be driven
by declines in its own mobile phone
business,’ said Apple in its suit.
Nokia lost money in its last financial
quarter and recently announced cutbacks
in the range of phones it offers.
‘Nokia remained focused on traditional
mobile wireless handsets with conventional
user interfaces. As a result, Nokia has rapidly
lost share in the market for high-end mobile
phones. Nokia has admitted that, as a result
U
S carrier AT&T has warned its
iPhone and other smartphone
users that it may start to penalise
customers who use their handsets to
download large amounts of data by
charging them a fee.
AT&T’s warning will resonate with UK
networks, some of which, such as Orange,
have instigated ‘fair use’ data plans to try
to limit smartphone owners downloading
massive amounts of media content onto
their handsets.
The US network said that only 3% of
its smartphone customers accounted for
40% of data traffic, which was mostly due
to video and audio downloads.
As the most active consumers of media,
iPhone users were responsible for the
majority of the surge in data traffic that
has vexed AT&T.
Ralph de la Vega, head of AT&T mobility
and consumer markets, said this had
contributed towards the company’s network
‘performing at levels below our standards’ in
New York and San Francisco.
‘The first thing we need to do is educate
customers about what represents a megabyte
of data. We’re improving systems to give
them real-time information about their data
usage,’ said de la Vega. ‘Longer term, there’s
got to be some sort of pricing scheme that
addresses the [heavy] users.’
He explained that a similar approach with
broadband customers had worked, as they
had modified their bandwidth-consumption
patterns to avoid being charged.
‘What’s driving usage are things like video
or audio that plays around the clock. We have
to get to those customers and get them to
recognise they have to change their patterns,
or there are things we will do to change those
patterns,’ warned de la Vega.
‘[The acquisition of Lala] gives Apple
a shortcut into the social and streaming
music arenas. This is where the momentum
of digital music has shifted and where
Apple needs to be if it’s going to remain
relevant in the digital music landscape,
even if revenue
hasn’t yet shifted
there,’ observed
Mark Mulligan,
vice-president and
research director of
Forrester Research.
However, this
doesn’t necessarily
mean Apple will
integrate Lala’s
current service into iTunes. First, Lala’s
downloading service relies on Adobe Flash, a
technology that Apple has studiously avoided.
Second, Lala is believed to have a licence
to stream music that only applies to the US
and that’s also non-transferable to another
company, even one that buys it. Finally,
Lala’s business model hasn’t proven to be
profitable, which is one of the reasons it was
for sale by its founders.
Indeed, The New York Times cited a
source close to Lala, who suggested that
Apple was more interested in snapping
up technology and
engineering talent to
help it expand iTunes’
offerings in the video
streaming sector.
Apple is known to be
talking to broadcast
media in the US to
establish iTunes as an
on-demand alternative
to cable TV services.
Apple is also rumoured to be looking at
making iTunes a more cloud-based service.
For example, iTunes users could in the future
store their music on an Apple server so
that they could listen to their music on their
iPhone, rather than having to physically
download playlists via a USB cable.
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of the iPhone launch, the market changed
suddenly and [Nokia was] not fast enough
changing with it,’ said the Apple suit.
The suit continued: ‘In response, Nokia
chose to copy the iPhone, especially its
enormously popular and patented design
and user interface.
‘As Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia’s executive
vice-president and general manager of
multimedia, stated at Nokia’s GoPlay event
in 2007 when asked about the similarities of
Nokia’s new offerings to the already released
iPhone: “If there is something good in the
world, we copy with pride.”’
Nokia said it would ‘respond in due
course’ to Apple’s suit.
‘Lala based its appeal ona strong
social networking feature that
lets people share their playlists
withother members, who can
listento themonce for free’
▲Apple claims Nokia ‘chose to copy the iPhone,
especially its enormously popular user interface’.
‘I don’t know anyone who works
at Apple who doubts these things;
nor do I know anyone at Apple who
knows a whit more. I don’t know
anyone who’s seen the hardware or
the software, nor even anyone who
knows someone else who has seen
the hardware or software.’
Daring Fireball’s John Gruber
comments on the secrecy surrounding
any possible Apple tablet device.
Quote, unquote
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www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
Apple blocks 1000 apps
A
pple has banned a Chinese app
developer from the App Store after
discovering it had faked glowing
reviews for many of its iPhone apps.
Apple has banned Molinker from its online
store after complaints that the Chinese app
developer had posted fake glowing reviews
of its 1000-odd iPhone apps. Apple’s action
meant it removed nearly 1% of the App
Store’s collected offerings in one go.
iPhoneography, an iPhone photography
and videography blog, alerted Apple, and a
friend of the site, known as SCW, discovered
that Molinker’s apps seemed to have an
unusually large number of glowing five-star
reviews from just a few reviewers, who
commented on nothing else. They sent
Apple senior vice-president for worldwide
product marketing Phil Schiller an email
that included the following text: ‘Please
investigate, for I have just looked at 44 of
the reviewers who posted reviews for this
Molinker Inc app “NightCam Pro” and every
review except two of the 44-plus are all fake
five-star reviews…
‘If you investigate, all have only reviewed
only Molinker apps. [It’s a] little odd that 42
of the 44 US reviews are poorly written and
that all users have only written reviews for
either all Molinker photography apps (giving
five-star reviews to Molinker apps only, [and]
no other apps by any other developer) or the
same two apps.
‘Ten reviewers only reviewed
NightCam Pro and ColorMagic,
24-plus reviewers have only written
reviews for six to seven other Molinker
photography apps ([giving them] five
stars) and one or two are real reviews
giving a one-star review.’
Schiller replied: ‘Yes, this
developer’s apps have been removed
from the App Store and their ratings
no longer appear either.’
Not only have apps of dubious
quality been removed from the App
Store, but Apple, whose strict control
of the App Store has created much
bad publicity for it, emerged with credit
for acting quickly.
Molinker confirmed that it had
received an email from Apple, ‘which
told us our contract is changed to
pending status’.
NNNNNeeeeewwwwwsssss flflflflflaaaaassssshhhhh
Adobe brings an end
to PowerPC Flash
Adobe has revealed that the next
revision to Flash will only run on Intel
Macs, bringing an end to support for
PowerPC processors.
With the release of Flash 10.1,
expected in the first half of 2010,
support for G4 and G5 PowerPC-based
Macs will be restricted to maintenance
and security patches. There will be no
support for G3 Macs.
‘This unavailability is due to
performance enhancements that can’t
be supported on the older PowerPC
architecture,’ said the company.
Meanwhile, it has released
an update for the current, Intel-
and PowerPC-compatible Flash
Player to address a number of
security vulnerabilities. ▲The next version of Flash will only run on Intel-based
Macs, ending its support for PowerPC processors.
▲Apple has taken all of Chinese developer Molinker’s apps off
the App store after it received a tip that the company’s apps
had fake five-star reviews on the store.
▲Apple has taken all of Chinese developer Molinker’s apps off
S
afari will be one of 12 web browsers
offered to Windows users, after
Microsoft and the European
Commission (EC) reached an agreement
on measures designed to provide a level
playing field for browser makers.
Microsoft has until mid-March 2010 to
develop updates to Windows 7, XP and Vista
that will install Choice Screen, an application
that presents users with the dozen browsers
to choose from, arranged randomly. Choice
Screen will be sent to around 100 million
Europeans who have Internet Explorer set as
their default browser. Users who have changed
the default won’t receive the software.
Apple’s Safari is likely to be one of the
five browsers that will be displayed on the
opening screen, alongside Internet Explorer,
Firefox, Chrome and Opera.
‘The software will prominently display
the Final Releases of the five highest-ranked
web browsers based on usage share in the
EEA (that is, only these browsers will be
immediately visible without requiring any
user action under typical user settings),’
the settlement states, adding that those
five will be displayed in a random order. The
remaining seven browsers will be displayed
if the user scrolls sideways and will also be
randomly displayed.
The settlement also ensures that PC
makers can install any browser they choose
without retaliation from Microsoft.
‘Today is an important day for Internet
users in Europe,’ said Neelie Kroes, European
Commissioner for Competition Policy. ‘Today,
the EC has resolved a serious competition
concern in a key market for the development
of the Internet, namely the market for web
browsers. Now, for the first time in over
a decade, Internet users in Europe will
have an effective and unbiased choice
between Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and
competing web browsers.’
Microsoft’s general counsel, Brad Smith,
said he was pleased the agreement had
brought the company’s disputes with the
EC to an end. ‘We are embarking on a
path that will require significant change
within Microsoft. Nevertheless, we believe
these are important steps that resolve
these competition law concerns. This is
an important day and a major step forward,
and we look forward to building a new
foundation for the future in Europe.’
Microsoft and EC
reach accord in
browser dispute
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Down on the farm
A
pple’s purchase of an obscure
music streaming startup, Lala
(see page 7) has been widely
characterised as the latest sign that
Apple finally ‘gets’ the cloud.
And according to Morgan Stanley, Apple’s
iPhone/iPod touch/iTunes platform is the
most rapidly adopted new technology ever
and in ‘pole position’ to dominate the mobile
Internet sector. This, according to Morgan
Stanley, is the defining technological wave,
just as desktop Internet was in 1990s and
personal computing
was in the 1980s.
Morgan Stanley
noted that the rate of
adoption of the iPhone
and iPod touch during
the first two years after
their launch was five
times that of Netscape
in the 1990s. ‘Apple
has a two- or three-
year lead’ over the competition, according to
Morgan Stanley. It already has an installed
base of 57 million handsets, 100,000 apps
and 200 million iTunes subscribers.
One of the reasons cited for Apple buying
Lala is to encourage this large installed user
base to consume streaming media, and not
necessarily streaming music. Apple is known
to be in negotiations with content companies
to help establish a new kind of TV network,
with on-demand programming downloadable
via iTunes. With the acquisition of Lala, Apple
gains engineering expertise and experience
operating a hybrid billing system, which
includes elements of subscription billing.
If the rumoured tablet arrives, Apple will
be desperate to ensure that it has a large
selection of video content available to stream,
or else the tablet could be an expensive flop.
That’s why Apple is building an enormous
server farm in North Carolina. The company
is gearing up its infrastructure to be able to
serve vast amounts of media content for
streaming to its mobile Internet devices.
Another reason why Apple is moving away
from its download-and-keep model towards
a streaming media from the cloud model is
down to the limitations of solid state storage.
The 16GB iPhone is not going to be much
of a media platform if it has to store all your
music and videos locally. The holy grail is to
create the illusion that your mobile device has
limitless storage. All your iTunes content will
be stored on Apple’s servers and available to
you, whatever device you’re using (so long as
it’s Apple) wherever you are.
The fly in the ointment is the fact that all
this media streaming is extremely hard on
the network operators.
For example, AT&T
recently warned its
users that they need
to change the way
they use their iPhones
(see page 9). Even
though the company
has spent nearly
$18 billion (about
£11.2 billion) in the
US alone trying to upgrade its network to
keep up with bandwidth demand, it is having
trouble keeping its network working properly;
and AT&T said that iPhone users account for
40% of data traffic on its network, while only
accounting for 3% of its customers.
The cloud is not so great if you’re the
company charged with keeping it working,
it would seem. And if you want to use your
mobile device to download TV shows in the
future you can expect to pay extra to your
network for the privilege, too.
‘All your iTunes content will be
stored onApple’s servers and
available to you, whatever device
you’re using (so long as it’s Apple)
wherever youare’
Paul Nesbitt has never ceased to be amazed by the
sheer oddness of Apple over the decade that he
has spent writing about its alternating moments of
madness and genius for MacUser.
‘Game over’ for
Microsoft in the
mobile market
M
icrosoft’s efforts in the smartphone
market are doomed and the
company should get out of the
consumer market immediately. That’s
the message from US tech analyst Mark
Anderson, who runs the Strategic News
Service website and whose clients includes
HP, Nokia, T-Mobile and Microsoft itself.
‘Except for gaming, it is “game over” for
Microsoft in the consumer market,’ he told
The New York Times. ‘It’s time to declare
Microsoft a loser in phones. Just get out of
Dodge.’ He blamed a fundamental lack of
understanding of the consumer electronics
market (gaming excepted) at Microsoft for
his grim appraisal.
Anderson’s predictions follow a report
– The Smartphone Satisfaction Study
– published last year by US consumer
electronics industry consultants, CFI Group.
Based on surveys of more than 1000
smartphone users, it found that the iPhone
had a commanding lead in consumer
satisfaction (ranked 83 out of 100), while
Windows Mobile phones scored lowest at 66.
Windows Mobile 6.5 suffered from poor
reviews when it was launched last October.
According to analysts, Microsoft faces a
fundamental problem that goes beyond
the perceived quality of its current mobile
OS. While Apple, Rim and even Palm are
recognised as clear OS brands, Windows
Mobile phones are branded as hardware.
What worked in the PC industry does not
seem to be working in smartphone market.
It’s a problem that Google also faces with
its similar strategy of licensing its software
to third-party phone makers, and rumours
are rife that the search giant is preparing
its own Google-branded handset to address
this (see page 15).
‘Microsoft and Google have to create a
product that is consistent enough so that
buyers ask for it by name and stay loyal
to it. What makes this problematic is that
the hardware vendors want buyers unique
to them, and only ask for Motorola, HTC or
Samsung phones,’ said analyst Rob Enderle.
‘This civil war for customer control
between Microsoft and Google, and their
hardware counterparts will only benefit
Apple and Rim, which do not have this
conflict. They know who owns their
customers. They do,’ observed Enderle.
‘If Microsoft delays much longer on
producing a decent mobile platform with
software, services and partners, then it
will be out of the game,’ warned Endpoint
Technologies analyst Roger Kay.
012
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www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
EAR
DAMAGE
LIMITATION
T
he European Commission (EC)
wants all MP3 players sold in the
European Union (EU), including the
iPhone, as well as the iPod, to ship with a
default maximum volume of 85 decibels
(dB). While some music players hit volumes
of up to 120dB, Apple already limits the
maximum volume on iPods to 100dB in
Europe to meet French regulations.
The EC’s proposals are a response to
an October report published in 2008 that
warned that as many as 10 million EU
citizens could suffer hearing loss as a direct
consequence of listening to loud music
for prolonged periods through their music
player’s headphones.
The EC estimates that ‘between 50
and 100 million people use music players
every day’ in the EU.
Specifically, EU researchers warned that
people who listen to music at a volume of
more than 89dB for more than five hours
a week could suffer permanent damage to
their hearing after five years.
‘I am concerned that so many young
people, who are frequent users of personal
music players and mobile phones at
high acoustic levels, may be unknowingly
damaging their hearing irrevocably,’ warned
EC consumer affairs commissioner Meglena
Kuneva after the report came out.
An EC spokesperson told the BBC’s
The Politics Show that after a process The Politics Show
of consultation, it hoped to implement
some kind of regulations as early as April.
Currently, music player manufacturers
aren’t obliged to limit volumes by default,
and some players are capable of playing
music at volumes of up to 120dB, according
to researchers.
Stephen Russell, the secretary general
of ANEC, a European consumer lobby
group, agrees. ‘There are up to 10 million
Europeans, mainly young people, who are
at risk of losing their hearing permanently
in the next five years due to their personal
listening habits’ he said.
‘The units on the market at the moment,
some of them are capable of generating
a volume of beyond 115 decibels; now, if
we compare that with health and safety
legislation, workers aren’t allowed to be
exposed to that levels of volume for more
than 30 seconds,’ he added.
Hearing consultant Dr Robin Yeoh
told The Politics Show: ‘The experts and
professionals in these fields are seeing a
The EC aims to limit
the volume of personal
music players to protect
European youngsters
from permanent
hearing loss.
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Google pits Nexus
One against iPhone
G
oogle launched its first mobile
phone on 5 January. The Nexus One
runs the company’s Android 2.1 OS
and incorporates many key Google services,
including Gmail, Maps and YouTube.
The Nexus One, manufactured by HTC,
bears a passing similarity to the iPhone,
being 4mm taller, 3mm narrower, around
1mm thinner and 5g lighter. It has a clickable
rollerball and supplements it with four soft
buttons at the bottom of the 3.7in multitouch
OLED screen. In other respects, however,
the hardware represents a significant hike
on the iPhone’s abilities, with a 5-megapixel
camera compared with the 3-megapixel one
on the iPhone 3GS, and the ability to record
video at 720 x 480 pixels at 20fps compared
with 640 x 480 pixels at 30fps on the iPhone
3GS. It features an on-screen keyboard, and
supplements this with voice recognition,
allowing you to speak into any text field.
While the iPhone features 802.11b/g wifi
networking, the Nexus One adds the faster
802.11n standard. It features 512MB of
onboard Flash and Ram, as well as a 4GB Micro
SD Card. The latter is expansible to 32GB,
when it will match the maximum capacity of
the iPhone 3GS. The iPhone wins back some
ground with longer media use and standby
times, although the Nexus One boasts similar
or better talk times, depending on network
(see table, below).
Google calls the Nexus One ‘an exemplar
of what’s possible on mobile devices through
Android, when cool apps meet a fast, bright
and connected computer that fits in your
pocket’. The launch marks a change in
Google’s approach, as the company had
previous restricted its activities in the mobile
phone arena to licensing the Android OS to
other handset manufacturers and developing
applications for competing
platforms. That pits the
Nexus One against 20 rival
handsets on 59 networks in
48 countries worldwide.
A
pple has won a permanent
injunction against Mac cloner
Psystar, preventing it from selling
computer hardware running Mac OS X.
The cloner is henceforth banned from
‘copying, selling, offering to sell, distributing
or creating derivative works of Mac OS X
without authorisation from Apple’.
The injunction issued by US District
Judge William Alsup brings to an end a
17-month legal dispute that began when
Florida-based Psystar began selling its Open
Computer PCs running a version of Mac OS
X that had been hacked so that it would run
on non-Apple hardware.
The injunction also prevents Psystar from
‘intentionally inducing, aiding, assisting,
abetting or encouraging any other person or
entity to infringe Apple’s copyrighted Mac OS
X software,’ and from ‘playing any part in a
product intended to circumvent Apple’s
methods for controlling Mac OS X’.
This suggests the company must stop
selling its $50 (about £31) Rebel EFI
application, which enables some PCs to run
Snow Leopard, the latest version of Mac OS X.
Alsup declined to mention the application
in his ruling, but said: ‘Psystar will be selling
Rebel EFI at its peril, and risks finding itself in
contempt if its new venture falls within the
scope of the injunction,’ he said.
The fate of Rebel EFI is likely to be
determined in a separate lawsuit,
where Psystar claims Apple is running an
illegal monopoly by tying Mac OS X to its
own hardware.
US judge bans Psystar
from selling Mac clones change in demographics. We’re seeing
much [fewer] people working in heavy
industry, they’re much younger and the
suspicion is that a lot of them have been
exposed to recreational noise, whether it’s
clubbing, discos, but certainly personal
music players play quite a big part in this.
Once you damage the nerves of your
inner ear, that’s permanent: there’s no
medication, no surgery, no therapies that’s
going to reverse it.’
However, Conservative MEP Martin
Callanan told The Politics Show that
the EC proposal was ‘a legislative
sledgehammer aimed at cracking a very
small nut’.
‘Kids have always listened to their
music loud and this isn’t going to stop
them,’ he said.
iPhone 3Gs Nexus One
Talk time (2G) 12 hours 10 hours
Talk time (3G) 5 hours 7 hours
Standby Up to 300 hours 250 hours (3G)
Internet use (3G) 5 hours 5 hours
Internet use (wifi) 9 hours 6.5 hours
Video playback 10 hours 7 hours
Audio playback 30 hours 20 hours
iPhone 3GS vs Nexus One
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ANALYSIS:
Sales of the century
G
iven the sheer volume of speculation
surrounding the as-yet-unannounced
Apple tablet, and the acres of space
on the Internet devoted to the iPhone and
its apps, you’d be forgiven for thinking that
these are the only products on which Apple is
currently focused. Far from it. Despite reports
that CEO Steve Jobs has been devoting a
considerable percentage of his working hours
to the new device, the company is still very
much interested in growing its Mac business.
If you doubt that, you need only take a
look at analysts’ estimates for sales of Macs
in Apple’s last financial quarter, October to
December 2009. First, there was the news
that NPD had estimated that sales of the
iMac were up 74% year on year in October
and November. It credited that rise with the
introduction of the
new range of iMacs.
A spike in sales
is common after
Apple refreshes a
Mac line, but those
new iMacs weren’t
available until 20
October, meaning
their effect on sales
was non-existent
for nearly half the
period in question.
Another set of estimates, this time from
Broadpoint AmTech, pointed to overall Mac
sales of 3.3 million units, representing an
increase of 8.5% over the same quarter in
2008. Broadpoint credited an increase in
desktop sales as helping to achieve what
would be Apple’s biggest ever Mac sales in a
quarter if these figures were to be confirmed.
The company said that sales of desktop Macs
increased by 19% year on year. That these
estimates came at a time when growth in the
overall market in personal computer sales
was growing at less than 3% a year made
them all the more remarkable.
Those figures have been achieved despite
widely reported problems with the graphics
cards in 27in iMacs and complaints that
the Mac mini is no longer the inexpensive
bare-bones desktop Mac it seemed to be
when it was first launched in 2005. And, of
course, there was no new Mac Pro in October.
In fact, Apple has barely marketed the Pro
at all since it switched to Intel. The chassis
remains the same basic design as that of the
Power Mac G5 and updates are confined to
one speed increase per year.
‘Apple knows, as youand I do, that
it’s only by using a Mac that you
really “get it”. It’s a strategy that has
beenhugely successful and is a
significant factor inthe growth
of Mac sales inrecent years’
Kenny Hemphill has been at MacUser since
the week Apple bought NeXT and Steve Jobs
returned to the company, and the Internet was
something that ran on one Mac in a cupboard
in the corner of the MacUser office.
None of this was achieved by accident,
of course. Despite apparently spending
the lion’s share of its marketing resources
on the iPhone, Apple has been pushing
the Mac as hard as ever. The rollout of
new retail stores may have stalled during
the economic downturn, but Apple now
has a significant presence in high streets
and shopping centres in major population
centres around the world.
The reason for such an aggressive march
into retail isn’t to sell more iPods or iPhones,
it’s to give as many people as possible the
chance to get their hands on a Mac. Apple
knows, as you and I do, that it’s only by using
a Mac that you really ‘get it’. It’s a strategy
that has been hugely successful and is a
significant factor in the growth of Mac sales
in recent years.
The sales
figures for the
first quarter,
assuming that NPD
and Broadpoint
were reasonably
close with their
estimates, will
go some way to
reassuring Mac
users, developers
and the company itself that broadening its
portfolio hasn’t had the effect of reducing its
ability to successfully develop and market
its existing products.
That’s in stark contrast to the initial
years of Jobs’ current reign as CEO, when
he reduced the product line-up to a two-by-
two matrix consisting of professional and
consumer desktops and notebooks. In those
days, Apple was in dire financial straits, cash
was running out, sales were poor and the
company could ill afford to be distracted by
trying to compete in markets where it had
little experience.
The picture couldn’t be more different
today. With tens of billions of dollars in the
bank, one of the most valuable brands in
the world and sales breaking records almost
every quarter, the company is in rude financial
health. It can afford to spread its wings and
enter new markets, provided it chooses them
carefully. So far, it has done precisely that,
choosing markets where there’s demand
that isn’t being fully satisfied and where
Apple’s expertise and experience means
it can develop products that will succeed
where others have failed.
It did that in the MP3 player market with
the iPod and in the smartphone market with
the iPhone. And it, apparently wisely, chose
to ignore the netbook market because it
didn’t meet those criteria. Whether it’s as
successful with the tablet as it has been
with the iPod and iPhone remains to be seen.
Whatever the outcome, though, you can be
sure that the Mac is as important as it ever
was to both Jobs and Apple.
Forget the much-hyped and as-yet-unconfirmed tablet. The big news is the
unprecedented growth in Mac sales at a time of economic hardship.
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
coming soon
WATCHOUT FORREVIEWS OF THESE PRODUCTS INTHE COMINGISSUES
This issue’s round-up of the latest new products features two stunning
LED backlit displays from BenQ, LaCie’s tiny but capacious hard drive and
Belkin’s elegant solution for wirelessly streaming music around your home.
018
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BenQ G2222HDL
and G2420HDBL
Price G2222HDL £149 (£1271 ex VAT);
G2420HDBL £169 (£144 ex VAT)
Contact BenQ + benq.co.uk
BenQ’s latest additions to its range of widescreen LED
backlit displays are these 21.5in and 24in monitors. Both
have a maximum dynamic contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1,
16:9 aspect ratio screens and can display video in 1080p
high definition. When connected to your Mac, their native
resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels. Each has six preset
viewing modes: Standard, Movie, Game, Photo, sRGB,
and an Eco mode that BenQ claims is specially designed
to save both power and money.
& www.fantamag.com
LaCie Rikiki
Price From £65 (£56.51 ex VAT)
Contact LaCie + lacie.com/uk
LaCie’s Rikiki is, as its name suggests, small. In fact, it
measures a mere 109.7 x 75 x 13.4mm, so it will easily
fit into any laptop bag. Its brushed aluminiumfinish
means it’s pretty robust too, which is an important
consideration for any portable hard drive. It connects to
your Mac using USB 2 and comes in three capacities –
250GB, 500GB and an extremely capacious 640GB.
Belkin Bluetooth
Music Receiver
Price $50 (about £31)
Contact Belkin + belkin.com
There are dozens of ways to streammusic wirelessly
around your house, fromApple’s relatively inexpensive
AirPort Express to Sonos’ pricier, but hugely flexible,
systems. Belkin’s Bluetooth Music Receiver is one
of the simplest we’ve seen, though. It’s a Bluetooth
receiver that connects to your hifi systemusing either
RCA phono plugs or a 3.5mmjack. It works with the
second-generation iPod touch and the iPhone 3G and
3GS. It’s on sale in the US for $50 (about £31), and is
expected here in March.
Datacolor Spyder3Print SR
Price £279 (£237 ex VAT)
Contact Datacolor + datacolor.eu
Datacolor’s Spyder3Print Strip Reader, initially only
available as part of the Spyder3Studio bundle,
is now available in its own right. The SR is a
spectrocolorimeter that Datacolor says ‘incorporates
significant advancements in ICC printer profile
technology’ and has a ‘new soware algorithm [that]
ensures fast, easy and accurate measurements for
outstanding colour and black-and-white prints’.
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www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
EMAIL US AT MAILBOX@MACUSER.CO.UKTOHAVE YOURSAYABOUT ALL THINGS APPLE
mailbox
SSSSttttaaaarrrr lllleeeetttttttteeeerrrr
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From Simon Leyshon
As a keen reader of your wonderful
magazine, I’m always willing to try out your
tutorials when there’s something that
interests me. However, I’ve tried at least
two Automator workthroughs and have
failed on each occasion because the
instructions in your magazine presume
knowledge I don’t have or are incomplete.
Can you provide an idiot-proof guide?
MacUser replies: Using Automator is
a bit like switching to predictive text
on your phone: you just have to trust it
and follow where it leads. Developers
build Automator hooks into their
applications, allowing you to call on
their functions without actually running
the programs themselves. In this way,
you can combine the output of one
application (for example, a search of
your calendar) with the input of another
(opening a particular file at a specified
time, or playing a track in iTunes, say).
These strings of commands are called
workflows, and can be saved in various
ways so they run as a standalone
program, can be attached to a folder,
appear in the Scripts menu and so on.
It all hangs off the menus in the
left-hand column, which allow you to
pick the application whose features you
want to use – say the Finder (Files and
Folders) – and the list of the tools each
one offers – such as Eject Disk, Find
Finder Items, New Alias and so on.
When we run Automator tutorials in
the magazine, you need only select each
application we use from the left-most
column, drag out the relevant command
from the right-hand column, and enter
any optional text specified within the
workthrough. Once you get used to
thinking of Automator as a first port of
call for performing functions not already
built into your Mac rather than searching
for a shareware, freeware or commercial
download, you’ll appreciate its power.
Beginner’s guide to Automator
Hopping mad at Apple
From Nicholas Tong
A few days ago, I got a call from my credit
card provider regarding a suspicious and
potentially fraudulent attempt to take money
from my account. I was informed that
something called ‘MobileMe’ had tried to
remove the sum of £1, and that my provider
had declined the transaction because of its
unorthodox nature.
Today, I received an email from Apple that
stated: ‘Your annual subscription is set to
renew on January 11, 2010 CET. However, it
appears that the credit card information
saved in your account may be invalid or out
of date. Please update your credit card
information in your MobileMe Account to avoid
interruption of service.’
I assume that Apple was trying to check
the validity of my account by making a covert
withdrawal without informing me or asking for
my consent. Although the sum in question is
small, I’m little short of outraged that Apple
should be using such sly, underhand,
dishonest methods, when an email reminding
me of the impending subscription renewal
and asking me to check that my payment
details are up to date would surely suffice.
020
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JJJJooooiiiinnnn tttthhhheeee ddddiiiissssccccuuuussssssssiiiioooonnnn
The Mailbox pages of MacUser are not
the only place you can have your say.
Whether you’ve got an axe to grind,
or just want to gush about your latest
Mac purchase or cool accessory, we’re
interested in your opinions. Go to the
MacUser forums at www.macuser.co.uk
to start talking with other Mac users
from across the globe about anything
and everything Apple and Mac.
M
Dennis Publishing Ltd, 30 Cleveland St, London, W1T 4JD
EDITORIAL
Editor Nik Rawlinson nik_rawlinson@dennis.co.uk
Deputy editor Kenny Hemphill reviews@dennis.co.uk
Contributing editor Howard Oakley
Technical editor Keith Martin
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Senior reporter Paul Nesbitt
Columnist Simon Brew
ART
Art editor Camille Neilson
Freelance designer Heather Reeves
Redesign by Steven Savage
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Chris Robson, Charles BigEast
PRODUCTION
Production editor Jon Lysons
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Digital production manager Nicky Baker
ADVERTISING
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020 7907 6623 alex_skinner@dennis.co.uk
Account director Nicky Crawford
0207907 6624 nicky_crawford@dennis.co.uk
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020 7907 6812 gary_rayneau@dennis.co.uk
Classified sales executive Craig Chambers
020 7907 6652 craig_chambers@dennis.co.uk
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020 7907 6151 john_perry@dennis.co.uk
PUBLISHING&MARKETING
Publisher Paul Rayner 020 7907 6663
paul_rayner@dennis.co.uk
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Emily Hodges 020 7907 6270
DENNIS PUBLISHINGLTD
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Chairman Felix Dennis
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MacUser, incorporating Apple User, DTP, MacShopper and MacBuyer, is published fortnightly
by Dennis Publishing Ltd, 30 Cleveland Street, London W1T 4JD, a company registered in
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This issue is dedicated to the gym as we attempt to regain our ’09 waistlines.
The paper used within this magazine is
produced from sustainable fibre,
manufactured by mills with a valid chain
of custody.
appeal. On the Mac, though, it’s the default
music manager, and Apple can use the
latest iteration of each operating system
to improve and streamline the application.
The pay-off is a better user experience and,
unfortunately, periodic demands that we
also update the operating system.
Skype extravagance
From Ian Runcie
In his search for freebies (see MacUser 4
December 2009, p98), Simon Brew wasted
his money on an extravagant purchase of
microphone and speaker combo for use with
Skype. The built-in mics and speakers on
today’s Macs work just fine.
Finding your format
From The MacUser forums, at macuser.co.uk
powerful5 > I occasionally email newspaper
items copied by ‘Grab’ to PC users. When
[I send them] in Tiff format some receive
content and some don’t. Is it preferable to
send as a Jpeg to ensure they open or by any
other format acceptable to Windows?
MacOS10 > Jpegs should be fine, although
Tiffs are a standard, universal format, so they
may require extra software to view them, such
as Photoshop.
Jpegs are
viewed natively
on Windows
without any extra
software, so it
may be best to
go with that.
big_D > Tiffs
can also be
viewed natively
on Windows but, when emailing, it’s better to
use Jpeg, because it uses compression. A Tiff
will be large in comparison. How large are the
Tiff files you’re sending? If they’re very large,
it could be that some of the ISPs are deleting
them or bouncing the mail, because they
are too large for the remaining space in the
person’s inbox.
Bargain hunters
From The MacUser forums, at macuser.co.uk
monty666 > Been wondering for a while if we
should have a thread where we can all post
links to hardware and software bargains that
we come across on the web?
nickminers > There’s always Apple’s own
Refurb store, but if there’s anyone here who
doesn’t already know about it, they haven’t
really been paying attention.
MacOS10 > The Apple Store prices for
software do seem to be overpriced, compared
to even the RRP, but when you also shop
around on the Internet, you can often get
software a lot cheaper – especially if you buy
a bundle. I’m still on PowerPC Macs at home
(and mainly at work, with just two Intel Macs),
so when (or if) we upgrade our software, it’s
going to be expensive as we’ll have to buy
new hardware as well. Thing is, our current
setup does pretty much all we need it to: until
we start getting CS4 files supplied to us, we
have nothing much to worry about yet.
‘I’mlittle short of outraged that Apple should be using
suchsly, underhand, dishonest methods, whenan
email reminding me of the impending subscription
renewal and asking me to checkthat my payment
details are upto date would surely suffice’
Perhaps Apple was trying to save me the
bother of checking, but I don’t like it. Its
actions show a high-handed and
contemptuous disregard for business ethics
and the concerns of customers. I’m fuming.
MacUser replies: It’s more likely that Apple
was attempting a pre-authorisation check.
This is common when placing orders online,
in which the retailer requests authorisation
for a small sum of money without actually
drawing down the funds. It would appear
that in this instance your bank declined to
approve the request, resulting in the email
you received from Apple.
Preferential treatment
From Ben Ling
Christmas Day found me opening a lovely new
16GB iPod nano to replace my ageing, but
indestructible, white first-generation iPod.
Only when I got home to plug it into my
(also ageing) iBook G4 did I find that it’s
incompatible with my operating system.
Running anything later than Mac OS X 10.3
on my little laptop slows its processor down
to a snail’s pace. Why should I have to stump
up £125 for a new operating system just so I
can get iTunes 9 and a functioning iPod?
I’m now using my new iPod on a Windows
laptop, which cost a third of the price of my
iBook and is just as old, since iTunes 9 works
on XP. Why do I feel that Windows users are
getting a better deal, while I’m expected to
cough up for a more up-to-date OS?
MacUser replies: We, too, have fallen foul
of the minimum OS requirements for new
iPods when we stored a music collection on
a Power Mac G3 for streaming at home. This
worked fine until we upgraded an iPod and
found that we could no longer fill it with our
music. Thus began the process of migrating
the whole music library.
Unfortunately, Apple has no control over
Windows, so iTunes is a guest on those
machines. It therefore needs to have good
backwards compatibility to ensure mass
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showcase
MAC-USINGCREATIVES SHOWOFF THEIRWORKANDREVEAL WHAT MAKES THEMTICK
was having more fun and getting more work
behind the camera than in front of it.
How did you get your first big break?
It seemed like more of a slight sprain at the
time rather than a big break, but probably the
first two posters I designed and photographed
for the Edinburgh Festival, both of which were
for shows that proved to be hits and set the
seeds for what I do now.
01 School for Scandal
This was for a production by the Comedians’
Theatre Company, and was shot over two
different days in a rehearsal room, as we
couldn’t get the whole cast together at once.
I shot each actor separately with the light
source in the same place and positioned
Steve Ullathorne is a photographer and poster designer specialising in
comedians and theatre. He has designed more than 300 posters for
various shows and has had three solo exhibitions as part of the Edinburgh
Festival. His work has also appeared in many newspapers and magazines.
What was your first Mac and what
equipment do you use apart from your Mac?
A Blueberry iMac because it was pretty. Now a
MacBook Pro with only a few months of Apple
Care left. I also use a Wacom graphics tablet,
an Epson printer, a Nikon D700, a Nikon
D300, a Canon G10 and far too many lenses.
Can you offer any tips for success?
Try to find an area to specialise in that makes
you happy. If you don’t succeed, you’ve
enjoyed the journey; if you do succeed,
it’s the icing on the cake.
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
An actor, which I did for 17 years before
realising (much to my agent’s relief) that I
CONTACT DETAILS
Name Steve Ullathorne
Current employment Self-employed
Email steve@steveullathorne.com
URL SteveUllathorne.com
Tel 07961 380969
CONTACT DETAILS
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create a room, a bit of dodging and burning to
make the light source seem right and ended up
with a new take on an old Lionel Ritchie video.
04 Mary Shelley’s House
This is from a series I’ve done called
‘Restyles of the Dead and Famous’. I start by
photographing the house where the person
lived, then start playing in Photoshop to
create an image that illustrates who they are
or something about them. For Mary Shelley,
it had to be Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s
monster. I created the window supports by
drawing onto a new layer with a graphics
tablet using a film still as reference and
slowly building up shadows to match the face
in with the original stucco of the building,
finally adding the moon into the window and
tweaking the lighting a bit with curves.
05 George Orwell’s House
This is George Orwell’s house on Portobello
Road. I shot the house and the CCTV camera
on separate days in different towns, but the
lighting wasn’t working at all: the house looked
too flat and the shadows were wrong, so I
went back and photographed it again early in
the morning to get the shadows to match the
CCTV camera, layered them up, added the
shadow of the camera on the house and hey
presto – Big Brother is watching.
What or who are your influences?
Every job is different and throws up new bits
of research and inspiration. Classic posters
by Saul Bass are always something I go back
to when I start getting too complicated with
tricks and Photoshop effects.
What mistakes have you learned from?
Back everything up more than once. Storage
is cheap, so don’t just rely on one backup
drive. And use Time Machine as well.
What’s your ideal project?
I really like following productions all the way
through. I shot the poster for School for
Scandal, designed the adverts and then did
the production stills after it had opened. I also
like working with new comedians and creating
an image for them that becomes memorable.
I’d like to do more location work, but my real
ideal would be to do what I’m doing but to
have the Edinburgh Festival moved somewhere
warmer and drier than Scotland.
Tell us something good…
Somebody ripped off one of my poster
designs and all I could think was – well, that
means it was good.
them in Photoshop. This didn’t seem ideal
at first, but it turned out to have the hidden
bonus that I could group the characters in
a position that’s physically impossible in
the real world! After extracting each actor
from the background, I layered them up in
Photoshop and then I painted in smoke,
clouds and shadows between each layer
to create a bit of depth and texture.
02 Susan Calman
This was Susan and her agent’s idea for her
Edinburgh Festival poster. I shot her in the
studio in London in both poses, and then
came the fun part. I kept the original Pretty
Woman poster open on the Desktop as a
reference and tried to get that tie looking like
both Susans were holding it. In the end, I
made it using five different shots to get the
light right on the curve. The boots were the
wrong size and Susan couldn’t do up the zips,
so they’re made out of four different shots. In
all, 17 layers to get something to look simple.
03 Patrick Monahan
Patrick is the most energetic comedian I’ve
ever met. For some reason during the shoot,
he did a head stand. Luckily I had the camera
around my neck and grabbed the shot, flipped
the image in Photoshop, added in the hanging
light, bookcase and the corner of the wall to
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reviews
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OnOne Plug-in Suite 5 25
This massive collection of Photoshop tools
will keep you experimenting for hours
Revo Domino D3 28
A compact DAB radio and iPod dock that’s
easy to use and sounds fantastic
Western Digital 28
My Passport for Mac 500GB
This great-looking 500GB hard drive is
small enough to fit in most pockets
Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR 29
Fuji’s compact has the versatility of a DSLR
and comes with a 12-megapixel sensor
LaCie LaCinema Classic HD 30
This stylish and capable multimedia hard
drive is hard to beat for the price
Eye Candy 6 32
Alien Skin’s powerful but effective set of
Photoshop filters are beautifully presented
Socialite 33
A useful tool for anyone who spends a lot of
time on social networking sites
Cheetah3D 5 34
Must-have 3D modelling and animation tool
gets new materials and faster rendering
Yep 2 35
iTunes-style document organiser with good
built-in document scanning feature
HP Color LaserJet CP1515n 36
Solid colour laser printer aimed at home
and small business users
JBL Creature III 37
This eye-catching desktop speaker system
won’t look out of place next to your Mac
Photoshop.com Mobile 38
Adobe’s online photo editor makes it on to
the iPhone, and it’s full of useful features
Super Monkey Ball 2 38
This game’s 115 levels will keep you glued
to your iPhone for hours on end
Driver 38
This challenging, mission-based iPhone
game is well worth a few pounds
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A perfect product with great features
at a great price.
A product with minor flaws but which
is nonetheless excellent.
A good product that does everything
it’s designed to do.
A product that’s outclassed by
others in its field.
A poor product that we can’t
recommend in its current state.
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LABS
WINNER
EDITOR’S
CHOICE
Editor’s Choice
This award can be given at the
editor’s discretion to a product
judged as outstanding and a
must-buy in the issue.
Labs Winner
Given to the products that in
the opinion of the reviewer are
the best in their field at the
time of testing.
Best Value
Only the very best products
make it into our Hot Kit
section. They are the products
on which the editorial team
would spend their own money.
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OnOne Plug-in
Suite 5
Price $499.95 (about £308);
upgrades $199.95 (about £123)
Contact OnOne Software +
ononesoftware.com
Needs Mac OS X 10.5 + PowerPC
or Intel processor + Photoshop CS2
or later
Pros Wide range of image-editing tools
+ Vast number of presets
Cons Often awkward interface
+ ‘Regular’ mode too simplistic
Verdict A huge range of tools that
will have you experimenting.
Photoshop tools
P
lug-in Suite 5 from OnOne is its latest
collection of Photoshop tools that bring
automation to a variety of everyday
compositing and adjustment tasks. The
suite comprises new versions of PhotoTune,
FocalPoint, PhotoTools and PhotoFrame, as
well as the latest (but not updated) versions
of Mask Pro and
Genuine Fractals.
The emphasis
here is on ease
of use. PhotoTune
3 offers a range
of quick fixes for
photographs,
with the user first
choosing whether the image is a portrait
or a general shot. Several steps follow,
in which you can drag a single slider to
control contrast, brightness, colour cast
and skin tones: two variations are shown,
with the slider exaggerating the difference
between them, and clicking on whichever
looks more appealing will carry that one
through to the next stage.
There’s also a Pro mode, in which you drag
directly on the image to effect the changes.
The Tone pane has you dragging up or down
to change brightness, and left or right to
adjust the contrast; the Color pane places
six colour markers around the image, and
dragging towards any of these will increase
the colour component in that direction.
It’s an interesting model, but suffers from
the rather bizarre design choice of making the
image itself move slightly as we drag. It’s also
highly sensitive, which means dragging by only
‘PhotoTune 3 offers a range of quickfixes for photos,
withthe user first choosing whether the image is a
portrait or a general shot. Youcandrag a single slider to
control contrast, brightness, colour cast and skintones’
▲ To adjust the color in PhotoTune, drag the image towards one of the colour markers – but be careful not to drag too far.
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a couple of pixels will produce
dramatic and often excessive
changes. Fortunately, there
are also conventional sliders
that can be used instead. A
sharpness slider is similarly
over-enthusiastic, although
checkboxes to prevent the
sharpening of shadows,
highlights or skin are a
useful addition.
PhotoTools 2.5 presents a
vast range of special effects,
including various vintage
appearances, warming and
cooling filters, lens zooms,
shadow adjustments and
some curious ‘artistic’
processes. Before and After
panes show the differences,
and the effects are built
up into stacks that can
be managed and faded
individually. With previews
that show the difference the
filters will have, it’s possible to
spend hours tinkering with the image: most
spectacular are the effects that simulate
high dynamic range photography, as well as
an intriguing set of lighting effects that cast
shadows and directional vignettes on faces.
FocalPoint 2 lets you apply blurs to images
selectively, producing soft focus backgrounds.
The ‘focus bug’ is its term for the controller,
an insect-like graphic whose legs are dragged
to change the size, shape, blur amount
and fade of the focus area. You can set the
amount of highlight bloom, grain and contrast;
it’s also possible to paint focus areas with a
brush tool directly onto the image. As well as
setting the aperture shape and curvature, you
can also choose from more than 20 standard
Nikon and Canon lenses to simulate.
This filter is easy to use, and can create
impressive results.
Photoframe 4.5 includes several huge
sets of fading effects to apply to the edges
of images, including torn paper, natural
fading, acid burns, and so on. These can
be combined with many different textures
and backgrounds, enabling you to create
complete composites directly within the filter.
The results range from the dazzlingly good
to the unbearably cute, and it’s easy to be
distracted by the sheer volume of textures
and styles on offer.
The suite also includes the current version
of Genuine Fractals, which allow images to
be enlarged using fractal compression. This
produces better results than are possible
simply using Photoshop’s enlargement
algorithms, although the quality of the
enlargement is dependent upon the type
of the original image. Graphic images
work best, detailed photographs are less
successful. Also in the bundle
is Mask Pro, which can produce
effective cutting of complex
objects from their backgrounds
– provided you have the time to
put into using it.
The tools in the suite are
accessible through a separate
OnOne Photoshop menu, or
– for CS4 users – an OnOne
panel. In theory, at least: in
our installation both PhotoTools
and PhotoTune failed to show
up in the panel.
It’s certainly a powerful set
of tools, although the difference
between the regular and Pro
modes is marked: the first gives
not enough control, the second
swamps you with a bizarre array
of menus, panels and dials. If
you have the time to experiment
and the inclination to fathom
the non-standard interface, this
could be a useful (if pricey) set
of plug-ins.
Steve Caplin
Hundreds of presets make
PhotoTools both powerful and
occasionally overwhelming. Two
variations are shown, with the
slider exaggerating the difference
between them.

▼ FocalPoint 2 simulates depth of field with a variety
of preset lens types, or just build your own.
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YOU’RE THERE IN YOUR HEAD
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T
he Revo Domino D3 is a lovely
DAB and iPod dock, with particular
emphasis on web connectivity. It
combines DAB, FM, Internet radio, local
file streaming and iPod dock features with
something new: direct connectivity to a
last.fm account.
The gently curved rubberised exterior gives
it a classy finish, although the black model
we reviewed showed up fingerprints in certain
T
he first thing you notice about
Western Digital’s My Passport
for Mac when you slide it out of
its yellow packaging is its size – it’s tiny
compared with some other portable hard
drives we’ve seen. Western Digital says
that this is its smallest drive to date,
measuring just 110 x 83 x 15mm. The
drive’s curvaceous corners, shape and
light conditions. The box looks solid, but
weighs very little. The five-way joystick is a
pleasure to use, but sometimes needs a firm
push to select a menu option. We got better
at this with a little practice, though.
The D3 is compact and it will be easy
to find a space for it in most kitchens and
bedrooms. The layout is contemporary and
easy to take in, with an OLED display on one
side, a speaker on the other and the primary
controls in the centre. Four more buttons
for controlling a docked iPod sit on the top.
stylish charcoal casing made from recycled
materials all make it feel rather like a black
lacquer cigarette case.
Weighing in at just 200g, it’s barely
noticeable when stuffed into the back pocket
of a pair of jeans. However, at £89.99, it
might burn a hole there, as the drive is
at the pricier end for 500GB portables.
It’s available in other sizes, from 250GB
to 640GB, so you might be able to find a
version that better suits your pocket.
As its name suggests, this version
of Western Digital’s My Passport range
is especially geared towards the Mac
community and is already formatted to
journaled HFS+. To set it up is simple: just
plug in and play with the supplied USB cable,
although you should note that this
drive is USB only and won’t work
with FireWire. The supplied USB
cable is on the short side,
which during testing we
found somewhat
Thanks to the supplied
remote control, you’re
unlikely to need to use these buttons much
anyway. The remote itself is sleek and slim,
and doesn’t feel cluttered despite being
home to 28 separate buttons.
The sound generated by the D3 is good
and a lot fuller than you might expect from
such a small radio.
Integration with last.fm is a nice idea.
It’s free for one month, after which you’ll
need to pay a £3 per month subscription
annoying, and although the USB Micro Cable
connection felt reasonably secure, so it’s
unlikely to pop out should you accidentally
give it a tug.
Because the drive is already formatted for
Macs, using it with Time Machine is a breeze:
simply direct Apple’s backup application to it
and the app will do the rest. However, if you
prefer to avoid using Time Machine, the drive
does come with the preloaded SmartDrive,
provided in the form of virtual CD, which
comprises Western Digital’s backup and
protection tools. The protection is in the
form of 256-bit hardware-based encryption
and enables you to set a password for
Western Digital
My Passport for
Mac 500GB
Price £89.99 (£76.58 ex VAT)
from microanvika.com
Contact Western Digital + wdc.com
Needs Mac OS X 10.4 or later
+ USB 2 port
Pros Small form + Easy to use
+ Reasonable read/write speed
Cons Expensive + No FireWire
Verdict A small and stylish portable
hard drive, but it’s USB only and on the
expensive side.
Portable external hard disk
Revo Domino D3
Price £170 (£145 ex VAT)
Contact Revo Technologies
+ revo.co.uk
Pros last.fm account access + Stylish
and high quality + Good sound
Cons Tiny text display
Verdict A good-quality machine for
Internet radio and iPod playing; not
suited to the myopic, however.
DAB and iPod dock
The Domino D3 makes a good
home for your iPod or iPhone, and
adds a great deal more listening
options into the mix.
The My Passport for Mac looks great, with its
charcoal colour scheme, and its small form means
it really does live up to its portablility tag.
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fee to use the service, which isn’t bad
value if you’ve invested a lot of time creating
your last.fm playlists over the years. Even
without a last.fm account, you can register
your D3 with an online radio portal, which
makes it easier to create lists of preferred
Internet radio stations. With so many global
stations to choose from, this is a good idea
for saving time when scrolling through what
are otherwise very long lists.
There’s just one flaw with the D3: the text
on the built-in display is tiny and there’s no
way of adjusting its size. We were struggling
to read it from just a few feet away. This
meant we kept picking up the remote control
and taking a few steps forward, just so that
we could see the on-screen feedback, which
rather ruins the idea of having a remote.
Granted, this isn’t a huge problem, but it
places limits on where you might wish to keep
your radio. As a bedside unit, it will still be
fine, because you’ll always be close enough
to see it. Placed in your office or kitchen, it
might start to annoy if you can’t read what’s
on the display from just a few feet away. This
is the only drawback on what’s otherwise a
smashing little DAB/dock.
The D3 automatically checks for software
updates and can download them over its wifi
connection. We were pleased to see that the
software update process is entirely automatic
and just requires an OK from the user, much
like updates in Mac OS X.
Giles Turnbull
the device. Once set, the only way you
can access the contents of the drive is by
entering your chosen password, which then
allows the drive to appear on your Desktop.
Unfortunately, you can’t use the encryption
feature with Time Machine.
The backup application is visually pleasing
and consists of two columns of data – one
showing the files on your Mac and the right-
hand column showing the backed up files
on the hard drive. Once the software has
assessed the contents of your Mac, you
click on Run Backup and watch the drive
fill up with your data, although you can still
continue to use your Mac, as it backs up
in the background. You can also set the
software to back up incrementally so you
don’t need to consciously remember to back
up your Mac. The software is simple to use,
although there is a manual on the drive
should you need assistance. In practice,
though, SmartDrive is perfunctory and all
of its features are self-explanatory.
Performance for this USB drive was
acceptable, but not spectacular, with the
random read test coming in at 17.01MB/
sec and the random write test clocking in
at 27.20MB/sec. All-in-all, this is neat and
tidy little drive. Heavy users might wince a
little at the test results, but for most the
My Passport for Mac will make a perfect
way to carry documents around.
Jon Lysons
B
ridging the gap between a compact
and DSLR, superzooms combine
much of the versatility of the latter
in a smaller package, although the design is
something of a compromise. With a physically
smaller sensor, picture quality at high ISOs
can’t match that of a DSLR. Noise and
clipped shadows and highlights are common
when shooting in anything but perfect
conditions, but Fuji’s S200EXR promises
to change that.
Blown highlights and blocked shadows,
typical of the limited dynamic range of little
fingernail-size sensors, are curbed by two
separate exposures, while unsightly noise
is reduced by clever pixel binning. The
downside to this is that the 12 million-pixel
resolution of the EXR CCD is halved, but
the resultant colour blotching is lessened.
In normal lighting, the sensor uses all 12
million pixels for highly detailed images.
If all this sounds rather complicated, the
S200EXR can simply be used in the point-
and-shoot EXR Auto mode, letting the camera
decide which sensor setting to apply, as well
as selecting the most appropriate scene
mode. You’re kept informed at all times, but
don’t have much control.
Fortunately, each of the
three modes can be selected
manually, although it’s not made clear in the
menu or the printed manual when using the
manual priority or various scene modes. You
can, for instance, choose the Dynamic Range
mode easily enough, but you’re left wondering
if the High-ISO and Low Noise mode works at
other times. And looking at the file sizes and
noise, it appears not. It’s pretty confusing and
intimidating even for advanced users.
Still, we like the Film Simulation Bracketing
(FSB) mode, where three consecutive shots
record different colour and tone, aping the
look of Provia, Astia and Velvia film. Each
can be set manually, across the whole range
of exposure modes. Those punchy greens
and reds of Velvia are a welcome sight, but
out-of-camera Jpegs are very soft and require
additional sharpening in an image editor.
Two other modes are worth seeking out,
too. Pro-Focus takes two snaps and combines
them to give that shallow depth-of-field effect
that’s easy with the large sensors and wide
apertures of DSLRs. Another, Pro Low-Light,
takes a series of four-snaps and combines
them to give low-noise images, but it’s a
confusing option when you can use EXR
mode at your fingertips.
Fortunately, the S200EXR has a Raw
capture option to wring the best quality out of
the files using a Mac. The option is difficult to
find in the menu, though. We also saw some
barrel distortion at the wider end of the 14.3x
IS zoom and there’s some fringing, but we’ve
few real complaints about picture quality.
The real stars of the show here are the
sensor and lens. If we’ve any misgivings it’s
that the electronic viewfinder is no match for
the detailed 2.7in screen below, although
that now is no longer the flip-out
type of the original S100FS.
It’s also worth noting that the
camera’s body is larger
than some of the latest
entry-level DSLRs.
Kevin Carter
don’t have much control.
Fortunately, each of the
three modes can be selected
the detailed 2.7in screen b
that now is no
type of the ori
It’s also worth
camera’s
than s
entry-
Kev
Combining much of
the versatility of a DSLR
in a smaller package,
Fuji’s S200EXR features
a rather special 12-
megapixel resolution
sensor, with a whopping
14.3x optical zoom.

FujifilmFinePix
S200EXR
Price £315 (£274 ex VAT)
Contact Fuji + fujifilm.co.uk
Needs Mac OS X 10.3 or later
Pros Wide-angle to super-
telephoto 14.3x optical zoom
+ Picture quality + Low noise with
EXR + Colour tone options.
Cons Confusing operation + Barrelling
+ Some fringing.
Verdict If you leave the S200EXR set
to the EXR mode most of the time, you
won’t be disappointed with the results.
Digital Compact
The FinePix S200EXR takes high-quality pictures,
which can be seen on the 2.7in display.

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T
he LaCinema Classic HD is LaCie’s
latest addition to its burgeoning
range of hard drives designed to play
media files on your television. This model
uses the Neil Poulton-designed case which
LaCie employs on many of its desktop hard
drives, and houses a 1TB disk. At first glance,
you’d be hard pushed to tell it apart from a
regular hard drive.
It’s smaller and lighter than it looks in
pictures and won’t look out of place in any
home entertainment set-up. The LaCinema
Classic HD is set apart from LaCie’s other
media hard drives by its support for high-
definition video, specifically HD resolution
files encoded in H.264, WMV 9, DivX or
Mpeg-2. That’s a broad range, which covers
most of the HD files you are likely to have on
your Mac. But inevitably, there are caveats, we
found that some files just wouldn’t play, despite
apparently being encoded with supported
codec. We also had difficulty with H.264 files
encoded using QuickTime’s Apple TV setting.
Those anomalies aside, the LaCinema
worked very well in our tests. The drive
connects to your TV using either HDMI or
composite RCA connectors. Cables for both are
supplied in the box. It has USB male and mini-
female connectors on the back, as well as a
10/100 Base-T Ethernet port. USB and Ethernet
cables are also supplied, and there’s a male
USB socket on the front, so you can connect a
USB memory stick and access files on it.
There are a number of ways to copy
media files to the drive. The simplest is to
connect the LaCinema to your Mac using
USB, copy the photos, video and music you
want to share onto the drive, then disconnect
it and hook it up to your TV. That works
perfectly well, but is inconvenient when you
want to add more files.
We placed the LaCinema next to our TV,
connected the two using the HDMI cable,
then connected the Ethernet port to a
powerline adaptor and used that to connect
to our router. The LaCinema immediately
appeared in the Shared sidebar on our Snow
Leopard Mac. We were then able to copy files
to and from it on the Mac and have them
immediately available on the TV.
The third option is to stream media from
a Mac, PC or network attached storage drive
with support for UPnP. To facilitate this, the
LaCinema comes with a licensed copy of
TwonkyVision Media Server. Install it on your
Mac, and it makes audio, video and photos
on that Mac available for sharing.
Whichever method you choose, you’ll use
the LaCinema’s remote control to navigate
the on-screen menu system. These menus
look fantastic on a high-definition TV. They’re
crisp and sharp, and they’re easy to work
your way through. It’s not as swish as the
navigation system
for Apple TV, and
when you come to
the listing for files
and folders it’s very
definitely functional
rather than stylish,
but it works and
its pretty quick. It
also has support for album artwork, so if
the music you copy across or share has the
relevant image file in the album folder, it will
be displayed as the music plays.
High-definition video looks stunning
when played back from the LaCinema on
an HDTV. Obviously though, it’s no hi-fi, so
MP3 files streamed from your Mac or played
back from the hard disk are no match for a
dedicated music player. We also experienced
odd behaviour when streaming music in
that some, but not all, albums displayed
two versions of each track. That could be
related to the server software rather than
the LaCinema, though.
Overall, we were very impressed with the
LaCinema Classic HD. It’s small enough to
keep in the living room next to the TV and
versatile enough to allow you to either copy
media files to and from it or stream them
from your Mac. At £205, it’s not an impulse
purchase, and there are improvements
that could be made, like the ability to view
YouTube videos or images from Flickr directly.
But if you’re looking for a way to watch HD
videos you store on your Mac on a TV in a
different room, the LaCinema is hard to beat.
Kenny Hemphill
The LaCinema is
small and good looking
enough to keep in any
sitting room.
LaCie LaCinema
Classic HD
Price £205 (£175 ex VAT)
Contact LaCie + lacie.com/uk
Needs 500MHz processor or better
+ Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later + USB port
+ Ethernet network
Pros Support for high-definition video
+ Easy to set up and use + Versatile
Cons Occasional glitches with
streaming and file compatibility
Verdict A stylish and very capable
multimedia hard drive which is hard
to beat for the price.
Hard drive
The USB socket on the front of the LaCie is perfect
if you want to access files on a USB memory stick.
‘The LaCinema Classic HDis set apart fromLaCie’s
other media hard drives by its support for high-
definitionvideo, specifically HDresolution
files encoded inH.264, WMV9, DivXor Mpeg-2’
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E
ye Candy has long been the filter
suite of choice for Photoshop users
who want to create realistic textures
and surfaces. This version doesn’t include
any new filters, but it does bring greater
ease of use, faster operation, and an overall
slickness that makes it a pleasure to use.
Where the previous version of Eye Candy
was split into three separate bundles, they’re
now all back together in a single package.
The filters include real-world surfaces such
as chrome, wood, reptile skin and fur, stone
and brick, as well as special effects including
fire, smoke, rust and coronas. There are
distortion filters to create glass, motion
trails, perspective shadows, back lighting
and extrusions. All the filters take account of
the shape of the object being treated – so
the Snow filter, for instance, will place snow
effects sitting on top of lettering or selections
in a thoroughly realistic manner.
More than 1500 presets, neatly
categorised, help you to explore and
experiment with the different settings.
Thoughtfully named and intelligently sorted,
the presets offer a huge range of styles within
each filter that make the process of choosing
and applying variations that much easier. All
effects, by default, are created on a new layer
above the current one – which means that
text doesn’t need to be converted to pixels,
as was previously the case. This approach
encourages experimentation, making it easy
to create and compare several different
versions of the effects.
Eye Candy 6 now includes Extension
Panels (for Photoshop CS4 only), which are
standard Photoshop panels that include a
graphical catalogue of all the effects. Two
additional panels are provided: one is the
intriguing Gallery Wrapper,
designed for those who want
to print their images in such a
way that they can be wrapped
around blocks or canvases,
and works by extending and
mirroring the image at the
edges. It’s also a great way to
create custom wallpaper.
The third panel is the Button Maker,
which automatically creates web buttons
without any selection necessary: choose a
text layer, and the filter will create a glass or
bevelled button the right size to match it. A
great idea, but poorly executed: you have a
choice of just four shapes, four bevel styles
four shadow styles, and –
inexcusably – four ghastly
textures, one of which has to
be selected. But as this is an
add-on that isn’t really part of
the suite, we won’t let it affect
the overall rating.
The Eye Candy interface
has always been calm and
restrained, a refreshing change
from the graphical excess that
afflicts so many Photoshop
plug-ins. It’s now more
streamlined than ever, with all
extraneous buttons removed.
Choices such as background
preview colour now tend to
appear only in a Preferences
pane, although for a few filters, it can be
selected directly within the filter.
The Fire filter has been enhanced to give
it softer edges and more customisability. The
wide range of presets makes it far easier to
use, as is the case with all the filters in the
suite. It’s now simply more realistic than it
was before. Top of the list though, has to be
the Chrome filter, which can create a dazzling
array of metallic surfaces, from pitted gold to
polished silver, scratched aluminium to liquid
mercury. With a huge degree of user control
over bevel shape and size, reflection maps,
surface corrosion and lighting, this filter could
be a nightmare to navigate: but the thoughtful
design of the interface makes each step
logical and understandable.
For the first time, Eye Candy filters are
scalable. Where we used to have to set units
in inches or millimetres, they can now be
specified in percentages. This means that
we can create our own favourite presets, or
use existing ones, and apply them to artwork
of any size without having to worry about
resetting the units.
Eye Candy 6 continues to provide 99%
of the Photoshop artist’s filter needs,
thoughtfully packaged and beautifully
presented. It’s the kind of suite you might
buy for just one effect, and then find yourself
using a dozen others: even such routine
tasks as creating perspective shadows and
bevels are so much easier than creating them
manually. Eye Candy remains the single most
useful Photoshop add-on bar none.
Steve Caplin
Eye Candy 6
Price $249 (about £153)
Contact Alien Skin + alienskin.com
Needs Photoshop CS3 or later
Pros Powerful but intuitive set of real-
world filters + Speed improvements
+ Effects now scalable
Cons Button maker panel should not
have been included
Verdict Simply the best set of
Photoshop plug-ins there is.
Photoshop plug-in
▲The Chrome filter allows you to create an array of metallic surfaces.
▲Eye Candy 6’s interface is calm and restrained, yet offers a huge range of effects and variations. The chrome,
fire, glass and snow effects shown here were all made from simple circular selections.
‘The wide range of presets makes it far easier to
use, as is the case withall the filters inthe suite.
It’s nowsimply more realistic thanit was before’
▲The Ch e filt all u t te of metallic fac
EDITOR’S
CHOICE
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S
ocialite is a desktop aggregator
for Twitter, Facebook and other
web services. At first it feels like
a customised web browser, but it’s a little
smarter than that. When adding a Twitter
account, for example, it automatically notices
and uses the Pin that Twitter offers to
authenticate third-party applications, saving
you a copy-and-paste moment.
Supported networks are Digg, Facebook,
Flickr and Twitter. Socialite can also import
RSS feeds, added manually or imported from
Google Reader.
Adding networks is mostly just a case
of entering a password and following the
prompts. The combined view of Unread items
– culled from all the networks you’ve added
– is a lovely way to catch up with what your
friends and colleagues have been up to. Any
item from any network can be flagged and
will show up in the Flagged items view. This
proves unexpectedly handy for collating items
you want to deal with later.
Flagging items is a local function inside
Socialite. You can separately star your
favourite Twitter items, or ‘like’ stuff you
see from Facebook contacts.
What’s nice about Socialite is the level
of detail that’s gone into producing it. Every
network has its own relevant preferences, and
you can adjust how often they’re refreshed.
More useful details include support for
Instapaper, a superb online service that saves
web pages for you to read elsewhere (including
your iPhone) when you get time. There’s also
support for a number of photo upload services
popular with Twitter users. Finally, Socialite
understands that Twitter users need short
links, and works smoothly with no fewer than
nine different link-shortening services.
The items display is a bit drab and item
control buttons are a bit on the small side,
but these are minor concerns. Socialite does
what you’d expect it to, and throws in lots
more extras besides. If social networks are
important to you, this app is worth owning.
Giles turnbull
Socialite
Price £13.12 (£11.16 ex VAT)
Contact Realmac Software
+ realmacsoftware.com
Needs Mac OS X 10.5 or later
Pros Slick + Packed with great details
Cons None
Verdict A useful tool for anyone who
spends a lot of time on the supported
social networks.
Social networking aggregator
The little details in Socialite make busy social networks much easier to deal with.
& www.fantamag.com
I
t may have been delayed a little due
to the necessity of its developer, Martin
Wengenmeyer, completing his PhD but
Cheetah3D 5, the latest version of the 3D
modelling and animation application last
updated at the beginning of 2008 (see
MacUser, 15 February 2008, p29), is finally
here with most of the promised improvements.
The clean, uncluttered interface looks
exactly as it always has, which is no bad
thing, but you might be a little disappointed
not to see the promised Pivot tool on the
main toolbar. It did make the cut, but you’ll
have to customise the toolbar to get its icon
up there. Once you’ve done that, you can set
pivot point locations to your heart’s content,
which should make most animation tasks
considerably easier.
The first thing this reviewer normally
does with each new release of Cheetah3D
is load a standard model and hit the render
button. Version 5’s renderer has been
revised extensively, with support for the
hyperthreading technology in Intel’s new Core
i7 chips, better use of multi-threading under
Snow Leopard and a completely rewritten
irradiance cache. The new hyperthreading
feature means a quad-core i7 processor
(found in some new iMacs) will be able
to spin off eight separate render threads,
which should increase speed. Indeed,
initial tests show Cheetah3D rendering
faster on a 2.8GHz quad-core iMac than
on a 2.66GHz eight-core Mac Pro. The
renderer has also been rewritten to cope
with 16 threads for systems with dual
hyperthreading processors.
So has all this tinkering produced the
claimed increase in render speed? You bet.
The old renderer was never a slouch, but
the new version can turn out results two
to four times faster on average. On one
scene we tested using radiosity and HDRI
lighting, the new renderer completed its
task a staggering 10
times faster than the
previous version. Much
of the speed increase
can be attributed to
the more efficient
multi-threading under
Snow Leopard, but a
lot of it is also down
to the new irradiance
cache. Thanks to
this, the radiosity
pre-calculations now
occur in a fraction of
the time, and it also
produces far cleaner
results with better
shading drop-off and
fewer artefacts, even
when used at lower
quality settings ---
something that can
boost speeds greatly. Another small touch
– but welcome nonetheless – is the fact
that the Completed Renders queue is now
persistent across restarts.
The most eagerly awaited feature in
version 5 is, of course, the new materials
system. The only outward clues you get to its
existence is the fact that there’s now a ‘node
editor’ view available for any of the interface
view panes, and there are many more
material presets available. The node editor is
where you can build Cheetah3D’s new nodal
shader networks. The basic idea is that the
output from one node ‘drives’ the input of the
node to which it’s attached. So you’ll start off
with a standard material node and then plug
in various of the other types of shader node
to get the results you want to achieve.
There are six main classes of node:
constants, filters, maths, state, texture and
shader. The maths class alone contains
21 separate operations that can act on an
input. The shader class contains the base
material definitions: carpaint, dielectric
(glass), material, membrane, metal, shadow,
solid, toon and velvet. Finally, the texture
nodes are where you’ll find effects such as
brick, lizard skin, fractal, turbulence, cell
noise and voronoi. One feature that didn’t
get included in this release is support for
sub-surface scattering and glowing materials,
although this should be included in one of
the forthcoming releases.
Linking all these together works
seamlessly in the sort of fluid, drag-and-
drop manner we’ve come to expect from
this application. However, it can be a little
daunting for the uninitiated, since the
materials system isn’t properly documented
yet. At the moment, it’s a case of either ‘suck
it and see’ or play around with the predefined
shader networks to see what works. As
always, the Cheetah3D forum is a lively and
helpful place to get your questions answered.
Tim Danaher
Cheetah3D 5
Price $149 (about £114); upgrade $69
(about £42)
Contact Cheetah 3D + cheetah3d.com
Pros New materials system + Greatly
improved rendering speed and quality
+ New modelling tools
Cons Some promised features
missing from materials + No materials
documentation + No Area Render tool
Verdict While a few features may
be missing, this is still a must-have
purchase, especially as the $69
upgrade fee applies to all versions
back to version 2.6.
3D modelling and animation software
▼The complexity of shader networks and the results
that can be achieved with them are almost limitless.
In this complex scene, Cheetah3D 5’s renderer is completing the image while version 4.7’s is only just
starting. The new renderer completed the task in less than half the time, with better-quality results, too.
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Y
ep, from the same team at Ironic
Software that brought you Leap
2 (see MacUser, 20 November
2009, p34), describes itself as an iTunes-
or iPhoto-style organiser for documents.
Previously, it had a clear niche as a browser
for PDF files. The most important change in
this version is that PDFs are no longer the sole
focus: Yep now offers to track all PDF, iWork
and Microsoft Office documents.
Like the recent Leap update, Yep 2
doesn’t do any document storage of its
own, nor does it even maintain a database. It
simply tracks documents and their associated
metadata, offering a different view of your
existing file system.
It does this in two ways. Managed
documents are those that stay in their
previous locations on your hard disk, but
are tracked henceforward by Yep. Filed
documents are those that are created
within Yep, or imported into it, and are then
moved to a date-organised folder called Filed
Documents inside your Documents folder.
This is where items that you drag on to the
Yep Dock icon will be stored.
On first launch, Yep offers to scan certain
folders to look for documents to track. It will
take note of existing document tags, including
any created in its sister application, Leap. It
won’t move any documents yet, although you
can move them from the contextual menu
with a Ctrl-click.
The built-in document scan feature
remains one of Yep’s strongest. While your
scanner does its work, you can add tags and
descriptions. It’s faster than scanning outside
Yep and manually saving each file.
One problem with Yep 2 is its similarity to
Leap 2. Both do broadly the same job. Yep is
also a document scanner, though Leap can
search deeper and covers every imaginable
file. If you already own Leap, it’s hard to see
why you’d need Yep as well, unless document
scanning features are important.
Giles Turnbull
Yep 2
Price $39 (about £25)
Contact Ironic Software +
ironicsoftware.com
Needs Mac OS X 10.5.7 (version
10.6 recommended)
Pros Useful document tracker
+ Fast paper scanning and filing
Cons Too close to sibling app Leap
+ URL saving won’t work
Verdict Yep now does a lot more than
it used to, which makes it harder to
choose between Yep and Leap.
File organiser
Now expanded to cover almost all text documents, Yep lives up to the description ‘iTunes for documents’.
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
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A
ll the main consumer printer
manufacturers produce a low-cost
colour laser and HP’s cheapest
offering for Mac users is the Color LaserJet
CP1515n. It’s designed for the home or
small office and is network-ready, as well as
having a standard USB interface. It has a
comparatively large footprint, but sits quite
low on the desk for a colour laser.
Decked out in two-tone grey, the printer
has simple, cuboid lines, broken up by the
large radius curve to its front edge, into which
a small control panel is set on the right side.
This consists of a two-line by 16-character
LCD display, two status LEDs and five buttons
for operating the control menus and stopping
a current job. The LCD panel is quite deep set
with a shiny acrylic cover, making it awkward
to read under overhead lighting.
A single, 150-sheet paper tray is located
at the bottom of the front panel, with a single-
sheet, special-media slot directly above.
There’s a small panel around this slot that
lifts up and locks, so you can get your hand
in to release any paper jams. The system
appears to be quite effective, although we
experienced no jams during testing.
At the back are sockets for USB and
Ethernet networking, and connection to a Mac
is very straightforward, as is the installation
of the printer drivers, although you may have
to add the printer manually to the list of
available devices under Print and Fax.
The Color LaserJet CP1515n is a simple
machine, but has the advantage of using
an inline laser mechanism, which is both
easy to maintain and quicker than the older
carousel-style engines, which have been
largely superseded even in budget printers.
The main advantage of a colour laser
printer over a colour inkjet is in the printing
process itself. Laser print is a dry technology,
where the toner powder is rolled and heated,
so it sticks to the paper, rather than being
sprayed wet, as with inkjet ink, onto each
sheet. This should result in sharper, better-
defined characters and smoother, brighter
colours. That’s certainly true here. In our
tests, black text was well defined and free of
any toner spatter, and characters from the
600dpi engine were well formed and showed
no signs of jagged edges.
The same was true of colours in business
graphics, with smooth and regular colour fills
giving bright, attractive highlights to pages.
Black text registration over colour was very
good, with no signs of haloing and reversed
text, white on black, was fully formed with
no broken ascenders or descenders.
Photographic prints didn’t suffer from the
over-vivid colours we often see from colour
lasers. In fact, if anything, they had a slightly
dowdy, over-dark appearance. Quite a lot
of detail in the darker areas of images was
lost to black, and you may need to resort to
software to achieve more natural colours.
HP claims speeds of 12 pages per minute
(ppm) for black print and 8ppm for colour,
but in our real-world tests, we saw around
half these speeds. Our 10-page black text
document took one minute 44 seconds to
complete, giving a speed of 5.77ppm, and
the five-page black text and colour graphics
test took one minute six seconds, equivalent
to 4.55ppm. Neither of these speeds is
particularly impressive and are easily matched
by inkjet machines costing a lot less.
The CP1515n uses four combined drum
and toner cartridges that are very easy to set
once you’ve pulled down the front cover and
slid out the single tray that contains them
all. Cartridges are only available in a single
capacity – 1400 pages for colour ones and
2200 pages for black. At typical Internet
prices, this works out at 2.3p for ISO black
pages and 13.2p for ISO colour ones. The
black print cost is pretty much in the centre
of the field for machines in this price bracket,
but the colour cost is a bit high, with some
printers and all-in-ones offering similar pages
for a couple of pence per page less.
This is a good, basic colour laser printer
that’s easy to maintain and produces fine text
and business graphics, though you may have
to fiddle to get the photo colouring you need.
In all, this is very much an entry-level machine.
Simon Williams
HP Color
LaserJet CP1515n
Price £149 (£130 ex VAT)
+ printerland.co.uk
Contact HP + hp.com/uk
Needs USB or network socket
Pros Good-quality text and graphics
+ Low total cost of ownership
Cons Slow print + Dowdy photos
+ No LCD backlight
Verdict This entry-level printer won’t
disappoint the small business user.
Pri (£1 (£130 VAT)
Colour laser printer
▲The CP1515 has simple but functional lines, with a
backlight on the LCD display the only missing feature.
▼The LaserJet CM1515n is easy to set up and has
sockets for both USB and Ethernet.
‘Characters fromthe 600dpi
engine were well formed and
showed no signs of jagged edges’
PRINT SPEED TEST RESULTS
HP Color LaserJet
CM1515n
Time (min:sec)
Speed (ppm)
Better Worse
0 2
0 6
Worse Better
10-page A4 black text 5.77
Five-page colour text and graphics 4.55
10-page A4 black text 1:44
Five-page colour text and graphics 1:06
15 x 10cm photo 0:47
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
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037
Perfect Time, Perfect Place
One Unique Opportunity
Pre-register FREE now
(save £30) at www.ipex.org
I
Save £10 on show catalogue
I
Free show planners
I
Fast track entry
Join us on:
18-25 May 2010
NEC, Birmingham, UK
J
BL’s Creature speakers have long
been one of the most peculiar and
pleasantly eye-catching designs
around. This 34W, 2.1 desktop speaker
system lives up to its name more than ever
before, with tentacular legs at the corners
of the subwoofer and satellite speakers
that curl back underneath themselves in
an organic fashion.
The subwoofer’s footprint has shrunk
slightly but the satellites have grown, however
you’d have to be hard-pressed for space
for it to make a difference. They no longer
emit light from their underbelly, which is a
positive change if you plan to watch iTunes
rentals from across a dimly lit room. The right
satellite still sports touch-sensitive volume
controls that no longer click on contact.
At the subwoofer’s back is a logical
arrangement of ports, not that you’re
in danger of mixing up the left and right
speakers due to their different plugs. There’s
a 3.5mm analogue input and a connection for
the external power supply, also improved from
a floor-standing brick of the first model to a
self-contained mains plug.
We would have liked JBL to extend the
visual theme with a purposely designed cable
tie in case you place the subwoofer on top of
a desk. The power button is located among
the ports, which isn’t a big deal if you can
reach the mains socket, but it would have
been better positioned on the front side to
make it easier to reach.
Two dials on the subwoofer’s front adjust
bass and treble. Set to the midpoint, the
sound was reasonable if a little heavy on the
bass, but noticeably lacking in the midtones.
We resorted to iTunes’ equaliser, starting
with the Small Speaker preset that worked
wonders with older models. However, we had
to pull the bass of that preset back again, but
the raised midtones did the job.
Spend a little time adjusting your Mac’s
audio output and you’ll be very happy with the
Creature III. However, the Creature II can still
be snapped up online for as little as £60. For
a significant saving of 40%, we think you’ll be
just as happy with them.
Alan Stonebridge
JBL Creature III
Price £99.99 (£85.10 ex VAT)
Contact JBL + jbl.com
Needs 3.5mm jack for input
Pros A good improvement upon your
Mac’s internal speakers + Stylish
looks + Compact
Cons Require a little more work to get
good sound + Creature II still available
at 60% of the price
Verdict After a little tweaking of your
Mac’s output, you’ll be very happy with
the sounds the Creature pumps out.
Desktop speaker system
The overall design is
similar to older models, but
the curved legs live up to
the Creature name.
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
038
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B
efore you rush to download
Photoshop, understand that it’s based
on the online photo editor rather than
the Mac version. You won’t find drawing tools
or even layered compositions here. Instead,
it offers a collection of filters and effects to
apply to your iPhone snaps.
S
uper Monkey Ball 2’s premise is
simple: tilt platforms to roll your
monkey in a transparent ball towards
the finish line. Bananas that litter each course
provide points and extra lives, although many
are deviously placed on narrow ledges and
Super Monkey Ball 2 has a massive 115 new levels
to challenge your senses of speed and balance.
D
river puts you behind the wheel as
an undercover cop to infiltrate the
criminal underworld. You’ll undertake
increasingly dangerous missions, from a run-
of-the-mill escape from a bank job to a thrilling
climax where national security depends on
your driving skills.
near pinball-style bumpers that will send your
simian careening dizzily.
The iPhone’s accelerometer makes it
an ideal controller – tilt the phone and the
in-game world leans with it. The first version
met a mixed reception when it rolled out
of the App Store, although subsequent
updates remedied that, not least the on-
screen tilt meter to help bring the ball to a
dead stop. It’s disappointing that an option
to calibrate that centre position still doesn’t
exist in the sequel.
Aside from new levels to traverse, the best
additions are multiplayer and mini-games.
The only mini-game available now is Monkey
Bowling, though Monkey Golf and Monkey
Target are promised in an update.
Its multiplayer mode works over local wifi
and shows other players as ghosts on your
screen. As if single-player mode didn’t provide
enough tension with moving platforms,
Adobe has come up trumps with a logical
interface and simple interactions. Editing
tools are in the top toolbar, while the bottom
one changes to show undo and redo, or
confirm and reject at different stages, along
with a Save button to upload images to
photoshop.com or to the camera roll.
Tools are divided into composition, colour
manipulation and a group that contains only
sketch and soft focus effects. The intensity
of most is remarkably easy to adjust by
sliding your finger left and right on the screen.
There’s also a group of instant looks, some
of them genuinely useful, but the pop art
and rainbow effects are gimmicky duds.
Not every tool is as impressive as it
should be, though. The Rotate tool snaps
to 90° turns, so there’s no way to maintain
a photo’s aspect ratio while simultaneously
rotating in smaller increments and having
the app crop to fit as you do. Nor is there
an adjustable sharpness filter, but worst of
all is the inability to zoom into images to
closely inspect results.
You’ll find those in Photogene (£1.79),
but its interface is busier and uses sliders.
Photoshop is a better choice if you want to
make quick fixes to lacklustre shots. That’s
exactly how we’ve used it before uploading
images to Facebook.
sloping surfaces and the desperation of
getting your monkey’s momentum just right,
the addition of other players heightens that.
Skilled friends may race ahead, but you’ll
enjoy competitive laughs when they get into
a mess. Ultimately, it’s the new multiplayer
and mini-games that make this a better buy
than the original game.
It first appeared on the PlayStation in
1999, but it has been given a lick of paint
to ensure it looks sharp and bright on the
iPhone’s screen. Buildings are flat and car
and character models look boxy by today’s
standards, but each of the four cities (Miami,
San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York)
reflects the real-world equivalent well enough
to keep you enveloped in the game.
The gameplay has been eclipsed by the
more varied in-car and on-foot missions
of the Grand Theft Auto games, but the
basis of that modern classic is here: an
excellent story broken down with a mission-
based design, desperate car chases as you
try to outwit pursuing police, and a great
soundtrack on the multi-channel car radio to
top it off. The tightly focused structure means
that it’s digestible in short chunks when
you’ve got a few minutes to kill.
Of the three control systems (virtual
analogue stick and directional pad or
accelerometer, which turns your iPhone into
the wheel), we found the d-pad offers the
best control. It enables you to tap repeatedly
for minor adjustments, or hold down to make
sharper turns. The accelerometer left us in
a spin too often, even when tilting by the
slightest amount, but whichever you choose,
Driver will tax your driving skills to the max.
Alan Stonebridge
Photoshop.com
Mobile
Price Free from the App Store
URL bit.ly/7YwU01
Verdict A simple way to tweak snaps,
but some features are lacking compared
with apps that cost next to nothing.
iPhone app
Super Monkey
Ball 2
Price £4.99 from the App Store
URL bit.ly/88pbsT
Verdict It’s questionable if you’ll finish
all 115 levels, but the mini-games are
reason to keep it on your iPhone.
iPhone app
Driver
Price £3.99 from the App Store
URL bit.ly/5aIb96
Verdict Driver is as challenging as ever,
but it’s well worth a few pounds if you
want a proper narrative that works in
short bursts.
iPhone app
Photoshop is simple and intuitive, but it’s missing
features that would make it indispensable.
Driver looks and sounds great, but it’s tough going
no matter which control scheme you choose.
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
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ENTEROURCOMPETITIONFORFREE AT WWW.MACUSER.CO.UK
M
acUser has teamed up with
Samsung to offer you the chance
to win a Samsung SMX-C10 digital
camcorder aimed at consumers.
The Samsung SMX-C10’s unique design
really makes it stand out from its competitors.
Its ergonomically angled lens makes it more
comfortable to hold for longer periods, as it
reduces overall stress on the wrist and elbow.
It features a 230,000-pixel, swivelling 2.7in
LCD screen, allowing you to effortlessly frame
subjects and review footage.
This little camcorder has an impressive
10x optical zoom, as well as Hyper Image
Stabilisation, a feature that helps reduce
blurry footage. It also boasts animated
thumbnails for easy file selection, while the
built-in Intelli-Studio software enables you to
connect the camcorder to any computer via
USB and edit, upload and play videos without
having to install supporting software. It also
has a time-lapse option.
H.264 compression allows you to record
over three hours’ worth of high-quality video
footage on the 8GB card. In addition, the
SMX-C10 offers substantial battery life to
provide more than two hours and 40 minutes
of recording time on a single charge.
For more information on Samsung
camcorders, visit samsungcamcorder.co.uk.
Your chance to get
your hands on a stylish
digital camcorder that’s
comfortable to hold
and easy to use.
W
I
N
!
Howto enter
Simply answer the question below
and enter for FREE online at
www.macuser.co.uk
QUESTION
What size is the Samsung
SMX-C10’s swivelling LCD screen?
1.7in
2.7in
3.7in
The first name out of the hat
will win a Samsung SMX-C10
digital camcorder.
Closing date: 28 January 2010
On completing and submitting this competition, you will automatically be
entered into a draw for one of these prizes. No correspondence will be
entered into and the winners will be notified by post or email within 28 days
of the closing date. The competition is not open to employees of Dennis
Publishing or participating companies. No cash alternative will be offered.
The prize(s) described are available at the date of publication. Events may
occur that render the promotion or the rewarding of the prize impossible
due to reasons beyond MacUser’s control, which may at its discretion vary
or amend the promotion and the reader agrees that no liability shall be
attached to MacUser as a result thereof. Proof of emailing will not be
accepted as proof of delivery and no responsibility can be accepted for
entries lost, delayed, mislaid or for any technical failure or for any event,
which may cause the competition to be disrupted or corrupted. Where
necessary, in order to determine an outright winner or winners to a
competition, the editor reserves the right to request entrants to take part in
an eliminating contest (or ‘tie breaker’). Where for any reason there are
more winners than prizes on offer, the editor reserves the right to conduct a
simple draw to determine the winner or winners of the prizes. Unless
otherwise stated, entry to all competitions is restricted to entrants of 18
years of age or over. Names of winners will be available on receipt of a
request, enclosing a stamped self-addressed envelope, to: Competitions
Manager, Dennis Publishing, 30 Cleveland St, London W1T 4JD. If the
winner of a competition is unable to take up a prize for any reason, the
editor reserves the right to award it to an alternative winner, in which case
the first winner chosen will not be eligible for any share of the prize
whatsoever. The editor’s decision is final, and it is a condition of entry to any
competition that the entrant agrees to be bound by these rules whether
they be published or not, and that the decisions of the editor and judges on
any matter whatsoever arising out of or connected with the competition are
final. No purchase of the magazine is necessary.
SAMSUNG
SMX-C10
WIN!
039
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
Go to www.1and1.co.uk for many other fantastic offers.
*Special offers available as of 01/01/2010 and for a limited time only. Get 6 months free on selected web hosting and eShop packages when you sign up for a 1 year package!
Terms and Conditions apply, please see website for further details. Prices exclude VAT.
Call 0871 641 21 21
Calls cost 6p per minute from a BT landline, calls
from other operators and mobiles may be higher.
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be and create a professional image.”
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& www.fantamag.com
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Safari may be one of the more popular web bro oowwwwwwwssssssssseeeeeeeeer rrrrs
for Mac users, but it isn’t necessari iiiilllllllyyyyyyyyy ttttttttthhhhhhhhhhe eeeeee bbbbbbbbest, so we eeeeee
ccccche eeeeckkk oooooout ttttt tttttthhhhhhhhhe compet ttiition to find the sexiest suuuuuuurfer.
042
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Words Kenny Hemphill
Main image Charles BigEast (charlesbigeast.com)
A
s Mac users, most of us, without giving it much
thought, use Safari for browsing the web. After all,
it was developed by Apple and comes free with
every Mac. Why bother with anything else? Well, several
reasons as it happens. While Safari is a speedy and very
capable browser, some of its competitors have better
features, are even faster for some tasks and present
a better overall user experience.
In addition, despite its popularity on the Mac and the
fact that there’s now a Windows version, Safari is still
very much a minority browser. Although it’s based on the
popular WebKit, there are still quite a few sites, such as
some online banks, that either don’t support it or have
pages that render incorrectly in Safari. In these cases,
a Gecko-based browser such as Firefox or Flock may be
the answer. Mozilla’s open-source licence means it’s
constantly being updated and refined, while Firefox’s surge
in popularity in recent years means it’s a very real threat
to Internet Explorer’s dominance and is consequently
supported by many more sites than Safari.
The great news is that, with the exception of iCab,
which costs $20 (about £12.31), all the browsers featured
here are free, so there’s nothing to stop you downloading
them and giving them a whirl.
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www.storem em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em em emag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ag ags. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s. s.co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co co com m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m m & & & www.fantamag.c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .c .com om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om om
044
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C
amino has been around on the Mac
for over a decade, yet it only reached
version 2 in November last year. It’s
based on the same Gecko rendering engine
as Firefox and Flock, which means it supports
all the standards you would expect, not to
mention partial support for HTML 5.
It was created by a Google employee,
Mike Pinkerton, as part of the program that
allows the company’s employees to spend
20% of their work time on personal projects.
He is still very much involved in the small
team that maintains Camino.
New features in version 2 include Tab
Overview, which displays thumbnails of
open tabs in the browser window, and new
G
oogle’s Chrome is the newest
browser in our round-up. In fact, at
the time of writing, the beta version
for Mac OS X had only just become available.
However, such is the profile of the company,
and the interest in the Windows version of
Chrome and Google’s recently announced
Chrome OS, that we decided to take a look.
Chrome, says Google, came about
because the company wanted to build
a browser that was designed from the
ground up to provide a platform for modern,
media-rich websites and applications.
Having invested a great deal of time and
money in web applications in recent years,
Camino 2
Chrome
Price Free
Contact caminobrowser.org
Pros Content and ad-blocking features
+ Full Content Zoom + Saves sessions
Cons Can’t drag tabs between windows
+ Bookmarks bar is inelegant
Verdict Camino is usable and fast, and
can block Flash content and adverts.
Price Free
Contact google.com/chrome
Pros Good performance + Incognito
mode for private browsing
Cons No unique headline features
Verdict It may only be in beta, but
Google’s browser is shaping up nicely.
phishing and malware protection, which
checks sites against Google’s Safe Browsing
blacklist of potentially dangerous websites.
Tabs can be dragged and dropped to
re-arrange them and the tab bar is scrollable.
However, you can’t drag tabs between open
windows as you can in Safari.
We particularly like the Annoyance Blocking
feature, which does a good job of blocking out
not just banner adverts, but Flash animations,
too. This makes a real difference to the speed
at which many sites load.
Camino 2 has support for Apple’s Keychain
and the Growl notification system. There’s a
Full Content Zoom feature that allows you to
enlarge all the content of a web page, rather
than just the text. Sessions can be saved,
and recently closed tabs re-opened.
We found Camino to be speedy and had
no problems with any of the sites we tested
it with. The Bookmarks bar isn’t implemented
as elegantly as it is in Safari, and we’d like to
be able to drag tabs between windows, but
the ability to block Flash content is a big plus.
it was perhaps inevitable that Google would
eventually build the means to run them, too.
The browser employs a new Google-
developed JavaScript engine, called V8, which
the company claims will ‘power the next
generation of web applications that aren’t
even possible in today’s browsers’.
We found, in our tests, that Chrome was
fast and worked happily with all the sites
with which we tested it. There are some neat
features, too – for example, open a new tab
and thumbnails of recently opened tabs are
displayed, along with the ability to display
them as a list. Tabs can be re-arranged and
dragged between windows.
To search using Google, you use the
address bar, rather than a separate window.
There’s an Incognito mode that lets you
browse sites and download files without
recording the details in your browsing or
download histories. It also removes all
cookies downloaded while in Incognito mode.
There are also various themes available to
change its look and feel. There’s a great
deal to suggest that when Chrome is finally
released, it will have much to offer Mac users.
When you open a new tab, Chrome
displays thumbnails of recently opened
tabs, which is a handy feature.
Incognito mode lets you
browse without the application
recording the details in your
browsing or download histories.
Tab Overview displays
thumbnails of open tabs.
The Annoyance Blocking
feature can block Flash
animations and adverts.
Web browser
Web browser
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
Enterprise Class Storage
Thecus N8800 - 8 Bay 2U NAS Server
Equipped with eight 3.5” SATA hard drive bays the N8800 provides enterprise storage capacity and performance to
match. This combination brings a powerful yet cost effective network attached storage solution that is perfect for all
sizes of organisations.
2x
GbE
Ports
UpTo
14TB
Raid
5, 6 &
10
Thecus N7700 - 7 Bay NAS Server
The N7700 is an enterprise class NAS server that makes no
compromises and brings all the latest technologies to users.
• Stackable Storage - Connect Up To 5 Additional N7700’s
• iSCSI Ready - Supports iSCSI Initiators For Direct Access
• Microsoft Active Directory Integration
• Online Raid Expansion and Level Migration
UPS
Support
UpTo
16TB
2x
GbE
Ports
iSCSI
Ready
Raid
5, 6 &
10
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• Stackable Storage - Connect Up To 5 Additional N8800’s
• iSCSI Ready - Supports iSCSI Initiators For Direct Access
• Microsoft Active Directory Integration
• Multiple File System Support - ext3 & ZFS Support
• Remote Replication & Version Control
• Dual Gigabit Ethernet Connectivity
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
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F
irefox is the second most popular
browser on the Mac, after Safari,
and the second most used on
the Internet after Internet Explorer. Part of
that popularity is due to a huge marketing
effort by Firefox supporters in its formative
years, and part of it is due to an increasing
dissatisfaction with Explorer.
Whatever the reasons, Firefox is worthy
of its popularity. Developed by the Mozilla
Foundation, and based on the open-source
Mozilla code that sprang from Netscape,
Firefox uses the same Gecko rendering
engine as Camino and Flock.
Perhaps Firefox’s best feature is what it
calls the Awesome Bar. To you and me it’s an
F
lock shares the same Mozilla code
and Gecko rendering engine as
Firefox, but you’d never know. Where
Firefox fulfils its function as a web browser
admirably and relies on third parties to add
extra functionality, Flock has from the outset
sought to be more than just a web browser.
It’s pitched by its developers as a web
browser for the Web 2.0 era, and its key
strengths are support for all the popular
social networking and bookmarking sites, as
well as the likes of Flickr, YouTube and, of
course, Twitter.
You can create and edit blog posts for
Blogger, WordPress and TypePad blogs from
Firefox 3.5
Flock 2.5
Price Free
Contact getfirefox.com
Pros Huge range of worthwhile add-ons
+ Awesome Bar + Good performance
and compatibility
Cons None
Verdict Its Awesome Bar, add-ons and
speed make Firefox hard to beat.
Price Free
Contact flock.com
Pros Best browser for social networking
fans + Excellent Twitter support + Blog
post editor
Cons Interface is cluttered
Verdict Social networking aficionados
will love it, others probably won’t.
address bar, but with a neat twist. Instead of
typing a URL into the bar, you can start typing
almost anything related to the site to which
you’re navigating. If you saw a site selling
personalised photo books, for example, and
can’t remember the address or find it in your
History, start typing ‘photo books’ into to the
Awesome Bar and see what happens. Firefox
uses your recent history, bookmarks and the
tags you associate with bookmarks to figure
out what you’re looking for. And it becomes
more accurate over time.
Firefox’s other great strength is the vast
number of add-ons that have been developed
by third parties. Whether it’s toolbars such as
the one for StumbleUpon, or applications such
as FTP tool, FireFTP or coding app Firebug,
these additions make Firefox stand out.
Performance was excellent in our tests,
and, of course, it has the basics, such as
tabbed browsing and security, well covered.
If you want a browser that does more than
just surf the web, and want to be sure it will
work with every site, Firefox is a great choice.
within Flock, as well as for self-hosted blogs.
Using the features is simple. For example,
log into Facebook and your friends’ status
updates are displayed along with their picture
in the People sidebar. In addition, while
you’re logged into Facebook, you can use
Facebook chat from any Flock window or tab.
When you’re logged into Flickr, your photos
are displayed in the media bar and you can
use the media uploader to upload images to
Facebook or Flickr from within Flock.
Flock 2.5 also has new Twitter features:
its sidebar has three tabs that are split into
the latest tweets from people you’re following,
@ mentions and direct messages.
You can drag images from the media bar
to add links to them to tweets or Facebook
updates, and checking a box in a tweet adds
it to your Facebook status.
As a regular browser, Flock performs well
and is perfectly usable. However, we found
that the sheer number of tabs, icons and
buttons made the interface very cluttered
and tricky to use. If you’re a fan of social
networking sites, Flock is brilliant. If not,
choose another browser.
Flock’s social media features include
the ability to post to your blog from
within the browser.
Flock’s People sidebar
displays the status of all your
Facebook friends.
Firefox benefits from loads
of useful third-party add-ons,
such as FireFTP, to extend
its functionality.
The Awesome Bar lets you
type anything related to a
particular site and Firefox uses
your recent history to work out
what you’re looking for.
Web browser
Web browser
EDITOR’S
CHOICE
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
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lthough it’s been around for
a decade on the Mac, iCab
languished, seemingly forgotten,
until it was re-launched two years ago. Now
written in Cocoa, it uses the same WebKit
engine as Safari and is satisfyingly speedy
when loading and rendering pages.
As far as features go, iCab is one for the
purists. It has no truck with the kind of social
features on which Flock prides itself, nor does
it have Firefox’s add-ons. It does, however,
have a couple of features you won’t find in
any other browser. The first of these is Kiosk
mode. This allows you to run iCab full-screen
and block out other applications. While it may
T
he Omni Group was one of the
first developers to throw itself into
developing Cocoa applications for
Mac OS X. It prides itself, as a Mac-only
developer, on understanding exactly what
Mac users want. And OmniWeb is a very
good example of that.
While, on the face of it, there are no
unique features or clever tricks in OmniWeb,
the way its tools are presented is the key
to its attraction. For example, tabs aren’t
just labels at the top of a browser window.
OmniWeb has a slide-out drawer that
presents its tabs as thumbnails, allowing
iCab
OmniWeb 5
Price $20 (about £12.31)
Contact icab.de
Pros Kiosk mode useful for some
+ Can open source code in external
editor + Good error handling
Cons Price + Lacks mass appeal + link
and download managers redundant
Verdict Its largely quirky features may
appeal to some users.
Price Free
Contact omnigroup.com
Pros Tabs previews + Shortcuts are a
real timesaver + Shared Workspaces
Cons Hasn’t been updated for two
years + No stand-out features
Verdict A capable browser, if a bit old,
that’s definitely worth a try.
be useful in some environments, such as
classrooms and shopping malls, for most of
us, it’s largely redundant.
The same can be said for many of iCab’s
other features: they’ll be of interest to small
groups, but most of us will happily ignore
them. The link manager, for example, allows
you to display all the links on a page in a
sidebar and then click on them to open them
in the main window. Why? The same can be
said of the download manager, which allows
you to download HTML pages for viewing
offline. That was useful when all we had was
dial-up Internet access, but not in the era of
always-on broadband.
However, web developers will find use
for the source code manager, which allows
you to open the source code of any site in
an external editor, such as Coda, and the
error handler, which details HTML errors
meticulously. And they may even find a use
for the feature that enables you to create
a Zip archive of web pages. For most of us
though, $20 just isn’t a price worth paying.
you to see easily the pages to which they
refer. You can drag and drop tabs to rearrange
them, as well as drag tabs between open
windows. If the list of tabs gets long, you
can view them as a list instead.
Then there’s Shortcuts. At first glance,
it looks just like Firefox’s search bar, but it’s
much more useful. You can set up Shortcuts
so that when you type a search query into the
bar, it searches that site. However, you can
also give the Shortcut a keyword. Type that
keyword into the location bar and OmniWeb
navigates to the site.
Workspaces is a handy tool, too. It allows
you to save a complete browsing session,
including open tabs and windows, history
and window location. Workspaces can be
re-opened later or shared with a colleague.
The bookmark manager is a great deal
more useful than most, allowing you, among
other things, to easily see which bookmarked
pages have been updated since your last
visit. And if web adverts drive you mad, the
useful ad-blocker allows you to drill-down and
specify specific ad servers to block, if you
want to do that.
OmniWeb 5 is a few years old and
getting a little long in the tooth. It’s still a
very capable browser though, and now that
it’s free, it’s well worth checking out.
Kiosk mode lets you run
iCab full-screen, with no other
applications getting in the way.
The link manager displays all
a page’s links in a sidebar, but
its usefulness is questionable.
The Shortcuts feature lets
you set up keywords for instant
navigation to a specific site.
OnmiWeb has a nice slide-
out drawer that shows tabs
as thumbnails.
Web browser
Web browser
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
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O
pera is one of the best-known
alternative browsers, having been
available on the Mac and PC for
more than a decade, and has in recent years
focused on its browsers for mobile devices.
Its desktop application though, is well
worth trying out, particularly if you haven’t
used it for a while. Its most interesting
features are its Unite services. These mini
applications enable you to stream music
and share photographs directly from your
Mac, with Opera acting as server. Other Unite
applications include file sharing, in both
directions, a whiteboard, instant messaging
and a webcam broadcast tool.
Unite on its own would be enough to make
Opera worth a download, but there are plenty
I
f you only use one web browser on your
Mac, the chances are that it’s Safari.
Apple’s web browser, which now runs on
Windows and the iPhone as well as Mac OS
X, has become a stable, mature browser with
a few unique features.
Perhaps the most visually arresting of
these is Top Sites. This populates new tabs
and windows with visually rich previews of the
websites you visit most. It looks absolutely
fantastic, but we found that running on Mac
OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard on some Macs, it
took an unacceptably long time to load and
slowed down other work.
Opera
Safari 4
Price Free
Contact opera.com
Pros Unite features are excellent
+ Speed Dial + Visual tabs
Cons Mouse gesture support didn’t
work well
Verdict Some nice features and good
performance make this worth a go.
Price Free
Contact apple.com/uk/safari
Pros Excellent developer tools +
Cover Flow + Smart Search
Cons Top Sites slow to load + Crashes
occasionally + Compatibility issues
Verdict Some decent features don’t
make up for its performance glitches.
of other neat features. You can drag the
handle at the bottom of the tabs bar to see
thumbnails of each open tab instead of just
the page title. Speed Dial allows you to open a
new tab and have it populated with thumbnails
of your favourite sites. You can specify both the
sites and the way they’re laid out. And you can
keep your Speed Dial settings, bookmarks and
notes synchronised across all the machines on
which you run Opera.
There are performance features, too.
Opera Turbo uses the company’s proxy
servers to compress pages before they’re
delivered to you to make downloading them
quicker. Moreover, you can save sessions, so
you can start from where you left off when
you last closed the browser.
On top of all that, there are the usual
content-blocking and security features, as
well as an email client, feed reader, and
inline spell checking.
We found performance to be excellent,
and had no problems with compatibility.
We’re not too sure about the mouse gesture
support, which was flaky in our tests, but the
Unite tools alone make it worth a test drive.
More successful is the Cover Flow preview
of the contents of your history or bookmarks.
This enables you to flip through web pages in
the same way you would albums in iTunes.
Safari 4’s developer tools are excellent.
Turn them on in Preferences and you can
easily examine the structure of a page, its
code and even test code on the fly.
We particularly like Safari’s Smart Search
Field, which offers suggestions from Google
as you type a query into the browser search
bar. Our only complaint here is that there’s
no way to specify google.co.uk, rather than
google.com as you preferred search engine.
The Smart Address Field works in a similar
way to Firefox’s, allowing you to start typing
and have Safari suggest the URL you’re
hunting based on your bookmarks and
search history. And Full Page Zoom scales the
contents of a page, while keeping text sharp
and preserving the layout of the page.
We found speed to be excellent, once
we’d turned off Top Sites, although we had
compatibility problems with our online bank.
However, we experienced crashes more often
than we deemed acceptable.
There’s no doubt Safari has excellent
features, but compatibility issues and
performance glitches mean its not the best
browser available for your Mac.
Speed Dial will populate a
new tab with thumbnails of all
of your favourite sites.
The Unite features enable
you to stream music directly
to your Mac, with Opera acting
as a server.
The Cover Flow preview of
your history or bookmarks lets
you flip through web pages like
albums in iTunes.
The Top Sites feature slows
everything to a crawl.
Web browser
Web browser
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
In the current economic climate, not
everyone can afford a spanking new
Mac, so we set ourselves a budget of
£199 to see how far it could stretch…
GRAB A
MAC
FOR ONLY
£199
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www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
Words Nik Rawlinson
Photography Danny Bird
Model Stephen Catherall
F
orget the January sales. Resist the
urge to spend more than you need
on a load of new kit just because it
costs less than it used to. Times are tight,
remember, even with record low interest
rates, and money watching is the watchword
as we enter 2010.
If you’re in the market for a new Mac, the
chances are you’re holding off until prices fall
or the economy looks a little more friendly.
That’s why we wanted to see whether it
was possible to kit ourselves out with a fully
working Mac setup that would enable us to
perform all of our daily work for less than
£199. It sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it?
Did we succeed? Read on to find out.
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Hardware
If we were writing this feature focusing on PCs rather than
Macs, we’d have a far simpler task on our hands. PCs, it
has long been a acknowledged, are cheaper to buy than
Macs in almost all cases. The massive growth of so-called
netbooks, which strip down the hardware specifications to
a minimum in an effort to cut costs, was the tech news
story of 2009. Apple has resolutely refused to take part in
this digital bunfight, insisting that it’s impossible to build
a machine at the price of a netbook that would actually
be pleasant to use.
The smart money, of course, is on Apple spending its
time developing a tablet device instead, which will perform
many of the core functions of a notebook – such as email,
browsing and media playback – but without a physical
keyboard. The likelihood is that any such tablet will instead
feature an on-screen soft keyboard like the one in the
iPhone. Over the past three years, since the iPhone’s
introduction, this has proved itself to be better, more
effective and more accurate than we might have expected,
and it’s one of the iPhone’s strongest selling points after
the App Store downloads.
However, it’s unlikely any of us would want to spend
a whole day sitting in front of an on-screen keyboard. A
proper physical keyboard and separate mouse or trackpad
aren’t just luxuries, but essential tools to getting your work
done on time without sustaining repetitive strain injuries.
In sourcing a low-cost Mac setup, we’ll look to either a
notebook or desktop machine that works not only for,
but also with, the user.
This brings us back to price and our seriously limited
budget. As we’ve already said, Macs are traditionally
considered more expensive than PCs. However, they
also tend to last a lot longer than PCs and have a longer
useful working life. A domed iMac, for example, which
may be seven or eight years old, is still capable in many
cases of running Leopard. Sadly, that’s as far as it can
go, as Snow Leopard is written to be installed solely on
Intel-based Macs. Over time, this will present issues as
Apple terminates support for Leopard and stops delivering
security updates and compatibility fixes, but that needn’t
worry us in the short to medium term. A PowerPC-based
machine running Leopard remains a terrific workhorse for
all but the most demanding user and will likely form the
basis of our low-cost setup.
We must be realistic and accept that our pre-owned
machine will start to show its age more quickly than
anything we could buy in a high-street Apple reseller’s
store today, but that’s the price you pay for making a
saving, and you can console yourself with the thought that
when the time finally comes to retire your second-hand
machine, the savings you’ll have made in extending its life
can be put towards your next purchase.
The ecological benefits of maintaining an older
machine aren’t to be sniffed at, either. Although you may
not benefit from some of the energy saving innovations
found in the latest, greatest models, you’ll have delayed
yet another deposit being made to the world’s growing
technological dumping grounds.
‘Apple will terminate support for Leopard and stopdelivering
security updates and fixes, but that needn’t worry us inthe short
to mediumterm. APowerPC-based machine running Leopard
remains a terrific workhorse for all but the most demanding
user and will likely formthe basis of our low-cost setup.’
An old, domed iMac is
quite capable of running
Leopard, although being
PowerPC, it can’t stretch
to Snow Leopard.
If you just need to do
a bit of word processing,
home accounting and
the like, the original
iMac G3 would be just
fine, and you can pick
one up for as little as
99p on eBay.
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such as Premiere, but there remains a healthy library
of PowerPC-compatible software at your disposal. These
Macs are great for using online, and are the oldest
desktop Mac on which you can reliably run iTunes 9, which
is required by the latest iPods, including the nano with
FM radio. However, be careful to buy the later iteration of
the domed iMac, released in September 2003, as the
earlier models didn’t have any USB 2 ports, and these
are required by recent iPods.
The best bargain we found when we were researching
desktop Macs was a 1.8GHz iMac G5 – the flat white
iMac without the dome – with 2GB of Ram. It had a 17in
screen but no iSight camera. It sold on eBay for just
£63.50. The catch? It was missing its hard drive due to
a hardware failure. The seller had assured bidders that,
apart from this, the computer was in perfect working
order and, as they had 100% positive feedback, we were
inclined to trust them. This machine wouldn’t be able to
run Snow Leopard, but it would be perfectly happy with
Leopard, and at less than £65, left a lot of room in our
budget to buy a new drive. An internal device wouldn’t be
difficult to fit in an older iMac, the design of which means
the back of the casing is easily removed, and a new
7200rpm, 500GB model could be yours for less than £50,
again from eBay auctions.
If you’d rather buy a computer you can use as soon
as it’s out of the box, then you’ll have to pay a little more,
but you should still be able to get yourself a perfectly
serviceable machine within our strict budget.
Before switching to the glass and aluminium casing
of the current iMac design, or even the aluminium and
plastic of its predecessor, Apple produced a short run
of Intel Core 2 Duo-based iMacs in the old white plastic
casing, and if a 17in screen would meet your needs, then
a little bit of patience and perseverance watching the
auctions should let you pick one up for less than £200.
At the time of writing, one seller in London had just sold
a 1.83GHz, 17in white iMac with a slightly stingy 150GB
hard drive and 768MB of Ram at that price. Mac OS X
10.5 Leopard was pre-installed. If you went for such a
Mac, we would recommend upgrading the hard drive and
adding more memory to the spec if your budget allowed,
but in all other respects it’s an excellent machine, which
could even be upgraded to Snow Leopard and will run a
host of Intel-only applications. It should also have many
years of productive use left to offer.
A desktop Mac
Our goal isn’t only to save money, but also to find
ourselves a fairly up-to-date machine at the lowest
possible price. The only way we can realistically do that for
less than £200 is to buy a desktop machine. Nice though
a MacBook or MacBook Pro may be, these machines are
still so new that the premium they command pushes them
into a higher price band.
If all you need is a very cheap machine for word
processing and emails, you can pick up an iMac G3 – the
original casing, which looked like an old-fashioned TV – for
as little as 99p on eBay. Despite these machines being
low powered, typically with processors at around 500MHz,
with a 20GB hard drive and 512MB of Ram, they’re just as
capable today of handling your correspondence and home
finances as they were when new, as long as you’re happy
to run older software, too. However, because these Macs
will be running older versions of Mac OS X, you should
be careful when using them online, as they may be more
susceptible to phishing and other threats than a fully
patched and updated Mac.
Dome iMacs – the second iteration of the line – remain
supremely stylish and would look great on any desktop.
These are relatively cheap now, and you should be able
to pick one up, including its keyboard and mouse, for less
than £60 – particularly if you’re prepared to collect from
the seller. We wouldn’t recommend using a machine of
this age for demanding applications such as Photoshop,
and, of course, it wouldn’t run Intel-only applications
‘The best bargainwe found whenwe were researching desktop
Macs was a 1.8GHz iMac G5 – the flat white iMac without the
dome – with2GBof Ram. It had a 17inscreenbut no iSight
camera. It sold oneBay for just £63.50. The catch? It was missing
its hard drive due to a hardware failure’
You can pick up an
Intel Core 2 Duo-based
iMac in the old white
casing for less than
£200. It could even
run Snow Leopard.
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A laptop Mac
You won’t find a G5 in a portable Mac. Such a machine
was long rumoured and much hoped for, but ultimately
the challenge of taming such a powerful chip in so slim
a casing proved too much, and events overtook it when
Apple switched to Intel processors. If you want to bag
yourself a fairly up-to-date portable Mac, then, your
choices are between Intel and G4 chips.
You won’t find a working MacBook for less than
£200, so if Intel is important to you, you’ll have to up
your budget considerably. Even a white MacBook with a
broken screen described as ‘technically working’ sold
on eBay at the time of writing for £235.
This is surprising, as you can pick up a fully working
version – albeit still a first generation model, so now
fairly old – for about £250 plus postage. We were
able to source a 2GHz Intel Core Duo MacBook with
512MB memory and Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger pre-installed
for £249 plus £15 postage. Alternatively, for £1 more,
you could buy yourself a far more capable 2GHz Intel
Core 2 Duo machine, with an 80GB hard drive and 2GB
of memory. Again, it was an ageing white plastic model,
but this remains a highly capable machine, which is
perfect for use on the move.
If you have less-demanding needs, you shouldn’t
immediately discount the idea of a PowerBook. Although
they are a little long in the tooth, the rigid aluminium
casing means these machines still have a lot of life left
in them if all you want to do is run your daily business life
on them – using office applications, emailing, browsing
the web, and so on. A 12in PowerBook G4 – arguably the
most desirable portable Apple ever created – with a 40GB
hard drive, 1GB of memory, an 867MHz processor running
Mac OS X 10.4 will generally close at around £175.
The specs of that PowerBook G4 sound very
conservative when compared with those of a recent
MacBook, but look at the price and compare it to a
netbook. It undercuts most netbook prices, yet remains
far more capable, not much larger, and with a much
more usable keyboard and trackpad than almost any
netbook you could name.
No wonder Apple is reluctant to create a netbook of its
own. It’s already been there and done that.
Software
Unless you’re the kind of person who won’t buy clothes
without a brand name, there’s no reason to pay for
software any more. Admittedly, there are many tasks that
can’t be completed without using specific applications,
and many, such as Photoshop or Final Cut Studio, are
worth the expenditure if you can make good use of their
impressive feature sets. However, for most home users,
it’s possible to meet the vast majority of computing needs
using free or low-cost applications. If we’re serious about
kitting ourselves out with a complete Mac setup at the
lowest possible cost, we need to look at those areas
where software savings can be made. The most obvious
are office and productivity tools.
Open Office has long been held up as the paragon of
free office tools. The suite, which started out on the PC,
and is now available in Mac and Linux editions, comprises
a word processor, spreadsheet, database and graphics
application, and while it’s Microsoft Office compatible and
they are a little long in the tooth, the rigid aluminium
‘If youhave less-demanding needs, youshouldn’t immediately
discount the idea of a PowerBook. Althoughthey are a little
long inthe tooth, the rigid aluminiumcasing means these
machines still have a lot of life left inthemif all youwant to
do is runyour daily business life onthem’
If you want Intel
inside, you’ll have to up
the ante in the budget
stakes for the likes of
a white MacBook.
They may be
getting rather old,
but PowerBooks
still have much to
offer if your needs are
fairly conservative.
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will meet the needs of most Mac users, you can’t deny
that the interface, with its PC overtones, leaves a lot to
be desired. The pinnacle of office suite design on the Mac
is Apple’s own iWork, comprising Pages, Numbers and
Keynote. However, this costs £69, and while we think it’s
worth it, if you’ll only be writing the occasional letter and
balancing the family budget from time to time, it makes
sense to look for a cheaper alternative.
Enter Lotus Symphony, which has a history as long as
that of Open Office. The various constituent applications
have had many different owners over the years, and its
success can be put down to the well-respected, but
now defunct, spreadsheet called 1-2-3. This was the
standard spreadsheet application until Microsoft delivered
Excel, and it’s the one on which Lotus built its fortune.
Lotus is now part of IBM, and Symphony is IBM’s play in
the office suite market. It comprises a word processor,
spreadsheet and presentation application, and reads
and writes Microsoft formats (although it uses its own
macro language). As a bonus, it also looks great on
the Mac, which makes it a far more pleasant working
environment than Open Office.
It’s a free download from symphony.lotus.com and, as
it works on Windows, Linux and the Mac (although only
for Intel machines running Mac OS X 10.5 or later, thus
limiting the number of secondhand Macs that can run the
suite), you can be confident that work produced on one
platform can be opened on another.
For anyone with an older Mac, there are alternatives,
such as Bean, a stripped-down, lightweight word
processor. The developers are keen to point out that
it’s not a replacement for Microsoft Word, as it doesn’t
handle footnotes or style sheets, and isn’t entirely
compatible with Word’s file formats. However, it does run
on PowerPC and Intel processors with Mac OS X 10.4 or
later, including Snow Leopard, and will happily read and
write most common file formats, including, RTF, RTFD,
Word 97, 2003 and 2007, and Open Office. It’s fast, light
on resources and free, from bean-osx.com. The limitations
when using Microsoft Office documents produced within
Office itself shouldn’t affect you if you mostly or solely
work with text: .doc files open without images, margins or
correctly defined page sizes, while .docx files lose their
images and some formatting.
Free spreadsheets aren’t so easy to come by unless
you want to follow the Open Office/Neo office route –
particularly if you want to ensure good compatibility with
Excel formats. Mariner Calc may be starting to look a little
old these days and in need of an interface refresh, but
it’s still a widely used spreadsheet application with good
compatibility, and there’s even an iPhone edition.
However, with broadband becoming cheaper as an
increasing number of players enter the market, and faster
as technology moves on, it makes sense to consider
online applications, as well as those installed locally.
Google Docs and Spreadsheets is an obvious contender
for the average home Mac user and has the added
benefit that you can access your files wherever you have
an Internet connection. The downside, of course, is that
none of your data is stored locally and if your broadband
connection goes down, you have to stop work.
‘Withbroadband becoming cheaper as anincreasing number
of players enter the market, and faster as technology moves on,
it makes sense to consider online applications, suchas Google
Docs and Spreadsheets, as well as those installed locally.’
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Apple’s iWork suite
of productivity tools is
excellent, but will set
you back £69. If you
do more than the odd
letter, it may be worth
the investment, though.
Open Office is a free office suite comprising a word processor, database, spreadsheet and
graphics application. However, the downside is that it looks decidedly un-Mac like.
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Google isn’t the only provider of online office software,
though. Zoho (zoho.com) provides a wide variety of online
applications including a word processor, spreadsheet,
presentation tool, planner, customer relationship manager
(free for three users) an online meeting tool (free for one-
to-one meetings), not to mention an invoicing tool through
which your first five invoices can be sent for free. To our
mind, this outranks Google’s office tools by a wide margin,
and if you want to standardise on just one provider, Zoho
is definitely the way to go.
Belt-and-braces users, who want reliability, the
assurance that they can carry on working even without
their broadband connection, and quality software at a
good price, though, should still be looking to Apple’s
excellent iWork suite, which is the perfect blend of style
and performance, and offers compatibility with leading
office suites alongside its own file formats.
Happy shopping…
£199 sounds like a ludicrously low limit to set when
sourcing a complete Mac setup, but as we’ve seen, a little
smart shopping and compromise can bag you a decent
outfit without breaking the bank.
We’re naturally reluctant to buy older machines, as they
obviously won’t last as long as new Macs, but when the
savings are so great, it’s easier to justify upgrading again
in two or three years time when your new acquisition no
longer meets your needs. We’re also fortunate that the
quality of free and cheap software is now such that it’s
often no longer necessary to splash out on market leaders
such as Microsoft Office.
The fact remains that when buying second-hand, you
must accept that the kit you buy will almost always be
out of warranty and may exhibit some signs of wear and
tear. Key components such as the hard drive may also be
halfway or more through their expected working lives. You
should therefore be particularly careful to always ensure
you have an adequate backup routine in place. If the
machine you’re buying doesn’t come with Leopard or Snow
Leopard, it goes without saying that you won’t be able to
rely on Time Machine and so should implement a backup
routine of your own.
You must also be careful to comply with any end-user
licence agreements associated with software pre-installed
on your machine. Just because it was present on the hard
drive when you acquired your secondhand Mac doesn’t
mean you own that copy.
Maintaining a little common sense though, and
ensuring that you keep your wits about you should be
enough to keep you safe and to enjoy many years of
use from your bargain Mac setup.
If second-hand isn’t your thing, then there
are plenty of options for reducing the cost of
buying new. Many companies offer discount
schemes to their employees; check with your HR
or personnel department to see whether your
own company is signed up to such a scheme.
Apple also offers discounts to many unions, so
if your profession has a recognised trade body
and you’re a member, check with your union
representative to see whether you can source
a discount this way. If not, check websites
such as voucherfinder.co.uk for discounts
on online shopping.
If you have a Mac of your own that you need
to dispose of in the process of upgrading, why
not use it to offset the cost of a new setup?
Computer Warehouse (computerwarehouse.co.uk)
offers cashback of up to £600 if you register with
its trade-in scheme and submit your old machine.
The amount you can expect to receive ranges
from £25 for a 1GHz iMac G4 with 15in screen
and Combo Drive to £425 for an aluminium iMac
2.9GHz Core 2 Duo. A Power Mac G5 with dual
2GHz processors and a SuperDrive will raise
£200, while a 1GHz iBook G4 should bag you £50.
These prices are lower than you would be able to
sell your machine for on eBay.
But the hassle it saves in listing your machine,
dealing with bidder enquiries, commission on
PayPal transactions, packaging the product, taking
it to the Post Office and dealing with any potential
fallout should the buyer be unsatisfied will, for
many, be worth it. This deal, then, is as much
about saving you time and frustration as it is
about saving you money.
Other ways to find a bargain
As far as online
office applications
are concerned,
Zoho’s offerings
are difficult to beat.
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Words Alan Stonebridge
M
any months before Snow Leopard’s
release, Apple cautioned that the
latest version of Mac OS X wouldn’t
be big on front-end features. As it turned out,
there are plenty of enhancements to the
Dock, Exposé and Stacks to make using a
Mac an even better experience. It’s surprising
to discover that there are more features,
many of them hidden out of sight and waiting
to be activated in Terminal.
There’s also the issue of QuickTime X,
a brand-new version of Apple’s venerable
media player that offers features for which
you previously had to pay. However, it has lost
some staple features. Movies no longer play
automatically and there’s no setting to remain
in full-screen mode when another application
comes to the foreground. In fact, those
features are available. Read on to find out
how to get them back, to enable other hidden
features and to discover how Snow Leopard’s
less visible features can work for you.
We reveal the hidden secrets that lie within
the latest version of Mac OS X and how
you can get it working smarter for you with
just a little bit of tinkering in Terminal.
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SNOW
LEOPARD
Hints & Hacks
Remove QuickTime X’s
title bar.
Unlock auto-play
in QuickTime X.
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Access more
features from
the menu bar.
Give list-based
stacks a new
look and feel.
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Improve Quick Look’s
presentation of folders
The Quick Look feature lets you conveniently
peek inside a file by pressing the spacebar,
but it’s less insightful for folders, where it
tallies the files inside and how much disk
space they take up.
A hidden feature called x-ray folders
replaces the blue folder icon with an
animation that flicks through previews of the
files inside. Turn it on by opening Terminal
(found in Applications/Utilities) and type in
the following:
2
Alt is for alternate
menus
The Alt key can reveal some useful features
that are tucked away behind the scenes.
In an application’s menus, holding it subtly
changes some items, such as File > Close
to Close All. Similarly, hold it before you click
one of the icons at the right of the menu bar
and you’ll discover some neat stuff.
On portable Macs, the battery status
shows an extra item that tells you whether
the battery is healthy or needs replacing.
The MobileMe and Bluetooth menus uncover
diagnostic tools to help with syncing troubles.
The speaker icon enables you to switch
between connected inputs and outputs.
Previously, the quickest method was to hold
Alt and press a volume key, but you’d still
have to click the Input or Output tab to swap
between them. Now the number of clicks
required is fewer.
3
Alt is also for alternate
keyboard
behaviours
In Snow Leopard, Apple has
extended the Alt keypress
behaviour to some of the
other keys in the top row
of your keyboard. Hold it
when pressing one of the
brightness keys and the
Display settings will appear,
which is handy if you
need to call on its Gather
THE FINDER AND THE DOCK
4
Keep your Dock
icons at a good size
The more windows you minimise
into the Dock for later, the smaller
everything in the Dock becomes. The
problem is worst on 13in MacBooks,
where there isn’t much breathing room
for applications and stacks. Dig into
the Dock’s preferences and you’ll find
a new setting that minimises windows
into the application icon. It’s turned
off by default, yet it works well with
the improved window arrangement in
Exposé. We think you’ll make better
use of Exposé after enabling this.
Windows feature when working with multiple
monitors. Naturally, the Exposé key opens the
Exposé and Spaces pane, while on portable
Macs with a backlit keyboard, combining
Alt with the keys that control its brightness
opens the Keyboard preferences.
defaults write com.apple.finder
QLEnableXRayFolders 1
Press Return. Make sure the Finder isn’t
copying or moving any files, then restart it
with this command:
Press Return again and wait while the
Finder restarts itself. Next, select a folder
that contains files such as PDFs or Jpegs,
and press the spacebar. This view helps
you deal with folders with similar contents
and filenames, such as photographs hastily
copied to your Mac to clear space on a
memory card. You can use the arrow keys
to instantly skip to the next folder, rather
than having to click in and out of them to
see the first few images.
2
1
killall Finder
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6
An alternative list
view for stacks
Stacks work much better in Snow Leopard,
but Apple has still left one useful option out
of sight. Stacks that are set to display as
a list expand across the screen when you
roll over a folder, just like a menu except
that they typically expand from right to left
if the stack is close to the right edge of
the Desktop. You can make them behave
more like the grid view by typing the following
commands into Terminal:
column, instead of across the screen. To go
back up a level, click on the back arrow at the
top left of the stack.
7
Add a rollover highlight
to items in stacks
Stacks display a highlight of the current item
when you’re using the keyboard. In Leopard, a
simple Terminal command made the highlight
visible when the mouse pointer rolled over
a stack, too. However, that command has
changed ever so slightly (by one character)
in Snow Leopard. Type the following into
Terminal to turn it on:
8
Set the screensaver’s
password delay
Snow Leopard lets you choose how soon
you’re asked for your password when waking
your Mac from its screensaver. You’ve
probably got it set to ask immediately.
However, if you take a lot of phone calls,
you might want more flexibility, especially
if you need to look something up during a
conversation. You could tweak the timing
of the screensaver to a precise number of
minutes, but the related option in the Security
pane isn’t nearly as flexible. Enter this
command in Terminal and replace the last
part with your chosen time in seconds. Log
out and in again to check it has worked.
5
Change the scope
of file searches
When you search for files in the Finder (Command-F), it
shows matching results across your whole Mac. Just above
the results, you can tell it to restrict these to the current
folder and any subfolders it contains. Until now though,
there’s been no way to make that the default scope for
searches. That’s possible in Snow Leopard if you dig into
the Finder’s preferences and look under the Advanced
settings. The last item there lets you choose whether to
search your entire Mac, the current folder or whichever
of those was chosen the last time you searched.
defaults write com.apple.dock use-new-list-stack
-bool YES
killall Dock
Now you’ll have to click to look inside
a folder, which opens in the same vertical
defaults write com.apple.dock
mouse-over-hilite-stack -boolean Yes
killall Dock
7
6
defaults -currentHost write com.apple.screensaver
askForPasswordDelay -int timeInSeconds
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If you’ve just upgraded to a new Mac,
it’s frustrating to find you can no longer
minimise a window by double-clicking its
title bar. That long-established shortcut
has been switched off, ceding some
ground on this source of ire for anyone
switching from Windows who would
Now you can tuck the Quick Look
window at the side of the Desktop and
refer to it as you work, without opening
a bulkier application just to refer to a
document as you work, although you can’t
copy and paste from it. PDFs will scale
and text files reflow to the window’s width,
but Microsoft Office documents remain at
a fixed size that should still fit on a large
monitor. Just like a regular application
window, you can roll the pointer over it and
scroll through large documents without
clicking and, more to the point, you can
keep typing into the application in which
you’re currently working.
expect the action to maximise a window.
The setting that governs it has been in
Mac OS X for a quite while now, but Apple
has finally switched the default around.
You can get the traditional behaviour
back if you look under Appearance in
System Preferences.
9
Add new columns
to Finder searches
and Smart Folders
Quick Look lets you compare the content
of two similar search results, but the
date opened and file size can give a more
immediate clue as to which results you
want. However, file size doesn’t appear
in a Spotlight search window, and neither
can it be turned on by Ctrl-clicking the
column headings.
To fix that, install a property list editor
such as the one that comes with Xcode
(found on your Mac OS X install disc). Use
it to open the Finder’s preferences, which is
stored at ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.
finder.plist (that’s the Library folder within
your Home folder).
As long as you’ve searched for
files before, you’ll see a key called
SearchViewSettings. Click on the arrow next
to it and do the same for ListViewSettings
within, and again for Columns. There you’ll
find several columns that don’t normally
appear in the search window. Click on the
arrow next to size and tick the box in the row
labelled ‘visible’, then save the file.
Search for something and file sizes will
now be displayed. Bear in mind that Apple
has hidden this with good reason – if you sort
on that column, matches found later don’t
appear in the correct place in the list.
11
Restore a traditional Mac behaviour
for minimising windows
10
Pin the Quick Look
window in place
Normally, the Quick Look window
disappears if you switch away from the
Finder to another application. However,
you can actually make it stick around for
reference as you write an email. That
way, you don’t have to open another
large application just to keep a document
open. To achieve this, enter the following
two commands into Terminal, followed by
Return each time:
defaults write com.apple.Finder
QLHidePanelOnDeactivate 0
killall Finder
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12
Distinguish between
recent items
In the Apple menu, you’ll find links to items
that you’ve recently opened that let you
continue working on an unfinished document
in a couple of clicks. However, what if you
want to copy a finished document to a
server or email it when you get your Internet
connection back? Can’t remember where
it was saved?
Rather than opening an application
to find out, simply press and hold the
Command key while the Recent Items menu
is open, and the links change to open the
folder where each file is stored, rather than
opening the file itself.
13
Make Finder windows
easier to tell apart
Finder windows can be tricky to distinguish
at a glance. The following Terminal command
shows the full path to the current folder in
the title of a Finder window:
The Finder is a highly useful tool for
searching stock audio libraries to find the
right sound for your project, especially if
you restrict the search to the folder where
you’ve stored your audio files. However, if
you start playing an icon preview of one
file and then continue to browse, it will
stop playing the moment that icon rolls
out of the view.
The following commands in Terminal
ensure that audio (and other types of
14
Force audio and video icon
previews to keep playing
defaults write com.apple.finder
_FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool YES
killall Finder
Why is that better than turning on the
path bar by choosing View > Show Path Bar?
Well, the window title also appears as a label
beneath the window in Exposé, so the full
path will be displayed there, too. That makes
it easy to pick the one you want when copying
or moving files.
media) keep playing as you browse a long
list of results, allowing you to flag others
that you want to check out with a colour
label in the meantime.
defaults write com.apple.Finder
AutoStopWhenSelectionChanges 0
defaults write com.apple.Finder
AutoStopWhenScrollingOffBounds 0
killall Finder
12
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iCAL, MAIL AND DICTIONARY
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Prevent Dictionary
from opening up
lots of windows
In previous versions of Mac OS X, looking
up a word’s definition from the context
(right-click) menu would re-use a single
window. In Snow Leopard, it always opens
a new window. Press Command-Q and it
remembers the windows that were open,
and they’ll then reappear when you next
open Dictionary.
However, it forgets about them if you
use Command-W to close them one at
a time. Closing the last window this way
quits Dictionary altogether. If you prefer
Dictionary to re-use the last window opened,
enter this command in Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.Dictionary
ProhibitNewWindowForRequest -boolean Yes
Afterwards, only one window will appear
when you look up a word, although you can
still open additional windows (Command-N).
However, if you avoid using that shortcut,
you’ll have reined in Dictionary so that it
only ever uses one window.
16
Tear off iCal
event inspectors
Snow Leopard’s version of iCal lets you tear
off the summaries that appear when you
click an event in the calendar. It turns them
into Inspector windows, and you can happily
create more than one. Even better, iCal
remembers and reopens them even if you
quit the application. That’s overkill for things
you’re doing in the next few days or in this
month, but it’s invaluable for planning a big
event later in the year. The Inspector gives
you instant access to the details, and they
can be edited directly in that window. If you
need to check other dates around that time
to fit in meetings, the Show button takes you
to the correct month in iCal’s main window.
17
Reorder accounts
in Mail’s sidebar
If you’ve got several Imap accounts configured
in Mail, any folders that you’ve created on the
server will appear near the bottom of Mail’s
sidebar. Perhaps one of those accounts is
for your personal email and the other is for
work, and you’d like the work-related folders
to appear first on your office Mac and the
personal ones to appear first on another.
Dragging the accounts in Mail’s preferences
only changes the order of the mailboxes at the
top of the sidebar. However, Snow Leopard’s
version of Mail lets you drag the folder groups,
named after the accounts to which they
belong, so they appear in the order you prefer.
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18
Make movies play
automatically
QuickTime got an overhaul in Snow Leopard,
which led to some helpful features being
pruned from its preferences. Automatically
playing a movie when it’s opened is one that
we took for granted until it disappeared.
Until Apple gets around to adding it to the
Preferences dialog box, thankfully there’s
a Terminal command to switch it on.
Close QuickTime X before entering it.
19
Reduce the delay
before playback
controls disappear
QuickTime’s playback controls disappear if
you roll the pointer off it in windowed mode,
and they disappear after a short duration of
no mouse movement in full-screen mode. If
they don’t disappear quickly enough, enter the
following command in Terminal and substitute
a number in seconds as the last part (it can
be a fractional value, such as 0.5):
20
Stay in full-screen
mode
All good movie players should have an option
to remain in full-screen mode if another
application comes to the foreground. That
way, you can quickly read a new email or
talk to someone with iChat applications,
while allowing a movie to take up most of
the screen, rather than sticking it in a small
corner of the screen.
So does that mean that QuickTime X
isn’t a good movie player? Not at all. Apple
simply disabled the capability and failed to
provide a clear way to toggle the setting.
Nevertheless, it’s still there, ready and
waiting for you to turn it on in Terminal.
Quit QuickTime and enter this command:
21
Straighten out
QuickTime’s corners
If you use QuickTime X in windowed mode,
you’ve probably noticed that its corners are
rounded. It’s clearer in the revamped version
of Apple’s media player because the movie
runs to the very
edge of the
window, so a
few pixels are
being left out.
If that annoys
QUICKTIME X
you, change the window to a strict rectangle
by quitting QuickTime and entering this
command in Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.QuickTimePlayerX
MGPlayMovieOnOpen 1
defaults write com.apple.QuickTimePlayerX
MGUIVisibilityTimeout timeInSeconds
defaults write com.apple.QuickTimePlayerX
MGFullScreenExitOnAppSwitch -boolean NO
The controls will return as soon as you
move the mouse.
defaults write com.apple.
QuickTimePlayerX MGCinematicWindowDebug
ForceNoRoundCorners 1
22
Hide QuickTime’s
title bar
QuickTime X’s title bar doesn’t really need to
be there, since its windows can be moved by
clicking on a movie and dragging it. Use this
Terminal command to turn it off:
defaults write com.apple.QuickTimePlayerX
MGCinematicWindowDebugForceNoTitlebar
-boolean TRUE
23
Automatically show
closed captions
and subtitles
Not many of Apple’s movie trailers and iTunes
rentals have closed captions, but you might
have other content that does. You can ensure
they’re displayed every time you open a movie
by entering this command into Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.QuickTimePlayerX
MGEnableCCAndSubtitlesOnOpen 1
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ENTEROURCOMPETITIONFORFREE AT WWW.MACUSER.CO.UK
WIN!
A COPY OF
DJAY3
SOFTWARE
C
reated exclusively for the Mac, djay
seamlessly integrates with your iTunes
library and transforms your Mac into
a full-blown DJ system. In fact, MacUser
thought its unprecedented ease of use and
powerful mixing features were worthy of our
coveted five-mouse rating (see MacUser, 6
November 2009, p36).
It features seamless iTunes integration, a
simple drag-and-drop interface, audio effects,
MacUser has teamed up with Algoriddim to oer
you the chance to win one of 11 copies of the five-
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Howto enter
Simply answer the question below
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QUESTION
What is DJ short for?
Dame Judy
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Disc Jockey
The first 11 names out of the hat will
win a copy of djay, worth £40 each.
Closing date: 28th January 2010
On completing and submitting this competition, you will automatically be entered into
a draw for one of these prizes. No correspondence will be entered into and the
winners will be notified by post or email within 28 days of the closing date. The
competition is not open to employees of Dennis Publishing or participating
companies. No cash alternative will be offered. The prize(s) described are available at
the date of publication. Events may occur that render the promotion or the rewarding
of the prize impossible due to reasons beyond MacUser’s control, which may at its
discretion vary or amend the promotion and the reader agrees that no liability shall
be attached to MacUser as a result thereof. Proof of emailing will not be accepted as
proof of delivery and no responsibility can be accepted for entries lost, delayed,
mislaid or for any technical failure or for any event, which may cause the competition
to be disrupted or corrupted. Where necessary, in order to determine an outright
winner or winners to a competition, the editor reserves the right to request entrants
to take part in an eliminating contest (or ‘tie breaker’). Where for any reason there are
more winners than prizes on offer, the editor reserves the right to conduct a simple
draw to determine the winner or winners of the prizes. Unless otherwise stated, entry
to all competitions is restricted to entrants of 18 years of age or over. Names of
winners will be available on receipt of a request, enclosing a stamped self-addressed
envelope, to: Competitions Manager, Dennis Publishing, 30 Cleveland St, London
W1T 4JD. If the winner of a competition is unable to take up a prize for any reason,
the editor reserves the right to award it to an alternative winner, in which case the
first winner chosen will not be eligible for any share of the prize whatsoever. The
editor’s decision is final, and it is a condition of entry to any competition that the
entrant agrees to be bound by these rules whether they be published or not, and that
the decisions of the editor and judges on any matter whatsoever arising out of or
connected with the competition are final. No purchase of the magazine is necessary.
speed changes, time-stretching, pitch-shifting,
live microphone with pitch and echo effects,
and much more besides.
Djay supports all major audio formats,
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FORMOREDEALSGOTOWWW.MACUSER.CO.UK/CLASSIFIEDS
070 PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
074 LOCAL DEALER GUIDE
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www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
TOADVERTISE, CONTACT CRAIG_CHAMBERS@DENNIS.CO.UK OR CALL 020 7907 6652
Apple dealers are thriving all over the
UK, ready to answer your Mac queries
Call 020 7212 9090 Fax 020 7212 9091
URL albion.co.uk
Albion Computers
Central London
Apple Premium Reseller and Authorised Service Provider with
over 20 years’ experience Specialist in cross platform
integration Education and Business IT Solutions Expert
Call 020 71831969 Email sales@wcscomputer.co.uk
URL wcscomputer.co.uk
Whellams Computer Services
Central London
Professional Mac support and solutions company,
specialising in the print and publishing industries Flexible
support contracts Support for Xserve, backup and networks
Call 020 7697 2200 Email sales@mrsystems.co.uk
URL mrsystems.co.uk
MR Systems
Central London
Experienced Apple Authorised Service Provider
Remote support and helpdesk
Competitive prices
Call 01689 897722 Email service@macessentials.com
URL macessentials.com
MacEssentials
South East
Authorised Service Provider & Reseller Call-out and
walk-in services for business and home users Repairs,
upgrades, installations 15 years of exceptional service
Call Trams Sales: 020 7820 7117; Rapid Sales: 020 7820 7110
URLs trams.co.uk and rapidgroup.net
Trams LTD
Central London and Christchurch, Dorset
One of the UK’s premier Apple resellers and Authorised
Service Providers. With 20,000 items available online, we
provide a comprehensive range of products and services
Call 020 7636 6667 Email help@micromend.co.uk
MicroMend Ltd
3 Tottenham Street, London, W1
(Near Goodge Street Tube station)
Walk-in computer repair centre Fast turnaround
Apple Authorised technicians Data Recovery Service
iPod repairs
URL squaregroup.co.uk Email sales@squaregroup.co.uk
Call 0800 08 27753
Square Group Ltd
Central London High Wycombe Derby
Apple Premium Reseller Video, Print & Publishing &
Education Apple Solution Experts Apple Authorised Service
Provider Training Centre
URL macwarehouse.co.uk
Email sales@macwarehouse.co.uk Call 0800 611116
MacWarehouse
South East
Your one-stop shop for everything Apple at exceptional
prices. With all the Mac expertise you need to support your
growing business
Call 0845 094 9820 Email info@i-aberdeen.co.uk
URL i-aberdeen.co.uk
i-Aberdeen
Aberdeen
Fully managed and cost-effective ICT service Specialists in
Apple setup, maintenance and repairs Broadband,
networking and web solutions Cross-platform support
local dealers
Scotland
North
Wales
Midlands
South-west
South-east
London
Nationwide
LOCATION
FINDER
URL encompassuk.com
Email sales@encompassuk.com Call 01462 790773
Encompass
Home Counties
Authorised Service Provider Mac OS X server specialist
Mac OS X Leopard roll-out Digital colour specialist
Consultancy (network design) Cross platform
URL icentre-chelmsford.com
Email lee@icentre-headoffice.com Call 01787 477664
iCentre:
The Meadows Shopping Centre, Chelmsford
iCentre is the perfect environment for test-driving the latest
Apple iPods, Macs and software, while also offering 1-2-1
demonstrations, advice and a full range of accessories
URL serviceweb.co.uk Email sales@serviceweb.co.uk
Call 01227 794768 Fax 01227 792765
Serviceweb Ltd
Kent
Authorised Reseller and Service Provider On-site and carry-in
service Software and hardware installations iPod service
Xserve specialist Showroom Windows-to-Mac migration
Call 0845 6863500 URL cancomuk.com
Cancom
Brighton Cambridge Edinburgh Guildford
Kensington High Street
Europe’s largest Apple Reseller Apple Solutions Expert
in Education Authorised Apple Service Provider
Configure your Mac on our advanced website
Call 0800 756 9905 Email support@coretechnicalsolutions.co.uk
URL coretechnicalsolutions.co.uk
On-site and workshop repair services Helpdesk and
remote support Apple Certified technicians Sales
and installations Businesses and Home users
Core Technical Solutions
London, Surrey and surrounding areas
Call 020 8400 1250 Email info@computerwarehouse.co.uk
URL computerwarehouse.co.uk
Computer Warehouse
London and the South East
Visit our shop and showroom in West London Open to
the public Monday to Saturday Apple Solutions Expert in
Audio, Video & Education Full finance and leasing options
074
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URL supportplan.com
SupportPlan (UK) Ltd
Central London
Supporting Mac and Windows in creative environments
since 1991 Apple Authorised Service Provider Apple
Solutions Expert for Print & Publishing Web solutions
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Call 01782 563999 Email sales@slelectrotech.co.uk
URL slelectrotech.co.uk
SL Electrotech (Instrumentation) Ltd
Loomer Industrial Estate, Staordshire
Apple Authorised Service Provider & Reseller Fast turnaround
On-site and workshop repair services Helpdesk and remote
support Showroom Apple Business Solutions and Consultancy
Call 01527 570535 Fax 01527 570355
URL atg-it.co.uk
Apple Tree Graphics LTD
Bromsgrove, Worcestershire
Apple Centre Retail and business showroom
Training for major software packages Pre-sales and
consultancy Network design and installation
Call 01603 631801 or 01603 623623
URL bitesystems.co.uk Email sales@bitesystems.co.uk
Bite Systems
Weavers House, Mountergate, Norwich, Norfolk
Apple Authorised Reseller and Authorised Service Provider
Retail and business showroom Showroom open Mon-Fri
9am-5.30pm, Sat 10am-1pm On-site repairs and installations
Call 0870 444 4990 Fax 0870 444 1373
URL mccdigital.com
MCC Group
Warrington Chester Liverpool Stoke-on-Trent
Apple Premium Reseller Apple Solutions Experts
for Education/Creative Apple Authorised Service Providers
Training Installation Maintenance
Call 01723 374196 Call 01904 796580
Buy Online jcsltd.co.uk
Jennings Computer Services Ltd
Scarborough and York
Authorised Apple Reseller & Service Centre Apple warranty
repair Out-of-warranty repair Mac, iPod, accessories,
upgrades Cross-platform support Online store
Call 0161 605 3838 Email sales@gbmdt.co.uk
URL gbmdt.co.uk
GBM Digital Technologies LTD
Manchester
Retail and business sales specialists with a technical
support team to provide maintenance, installation and
support services for business and education
Call 0151 291 6240 Email info@thebookyard.com
URL thebookyard.com
The Bookyard Ltd.
Liverpool, Nationwide Service
Online store offering new and used Apple spare parts with
next-day delivery Old or faulty Apple hardware purchased and
recycled Expert diagnosis & repairs with nationwide collection
Call 01539 898232 Email support@evodata.co.uk
URL evodata.co.uk
Evo Data UK Ltd
North West
Troubleshooting Hardware/software Repairs Full Mac
Server network installations Re-designs Support contract
Guaranteed response times Mac products and equipment
Meet your local dealer…
We catch up with your local dealer to find out
all about the services it offers Mac users. This
issue, we talk to Core Technical Solutions
about its commitment to customer service.
M
ac specialist Core Technical
Solutions is based in Clapham
Junction, London, in a new repair
and support centre that opened in November
as an addition to its Surrey-based office.
Primarily a support company, Core
has evolved to offer customers complete
solutions, from pre-sales advice through
to installation and after-care support.
Core offers same-day repair and support
services for businesses and home users
throughout London.
The new shop on St John’s Hill is five
minutes’ walk from Clapham Junction railway
station. The store offers customers the
opportunity to try out the latest equipment
and talk to engineers about any issues or
upgrades they’re considering – and you don’t
even have to book an appointment.
Core’s support team are all Apple
Certified to offer the highest standard
of repair and support. They’re available
on-site for home users and businesses in
and around London and Surrey, for both
one-off repairs and ongoing support. A full
consultancy service is also available for
businesses that require an audit on their
current IT infrastructure.
Services offered include same-day
repairs, on-site repair and support for
business and home users, annual support
agreements, networking, Mac server
installations, Kerio mail server installation
and data-recovery services.
The company says that many of its
customers value the fact that it is their
one-stop shop for products, installation
and support services.
Staff at Core never cease to be amazed
at how many businesses fail to protect their
data – either data backup isn’t taken care
of or it’s performed half-heartedly. As such,
one of its main focuses with respect to its
business customers is to ensure they have a
comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place
and maintained, so their business wouldn’t
suffer if hardware and data storage failed.
Core says it achieves this through systems
monitoring, and both on-site and off-site data
backup solutions. It says its engineers take
care of everything so customers can rest
assured their critical data is protected.
Core Technical Solutions
London, Surrey and surrounding areas
Call 0800 756 9905
Email support@coretechnicalsolutions.co.uk
URL coretechnicalsolutions.co.uk
On-site and workshop repair services
Helpdesk and remote support
Apple Certified technicians
Sales and installations
Businesses and home users
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
Top 5 displays
LG Flatron M2294 Wide LCD TV Monitor
Rating 4 Reviewed 07/11/08 URL lge.com
AG Neovo E-W22 LCD
Rating 4 Reviewed 15/02/08 URL ag-neovo.co.uk
Eizo CG301W
Rating 4 Reviewed 01/02/08 URL eizo.co.uk
Samsung SyncMaster XL2370
Rating 4 Reviewed 06/11/09 URL samsung.com/uk
APPLE LED
CINEMA DISPLAY
The first LED-based Cinema
Display is designed for
MacBooks with a Mini
DisplayPort, and it can be
used to charge them, too.
Reviewed 16/01/09
URL apple.com/uk
Top 5 external hard drives
Western Digital My Book Studio II 4TB
Rating 5 Reviewed 03/07/09 URL wdc.com
Freecom Hard Drive Pro 1TB
Rating 4 Reviewed 02/01/09 URL freecom.com
LaCie 5big Network 5TB
Rating 4 Reviewed 21/11/08 URL lacie.com/uk
Amacom ezSecure 160GB
Rating 4 Reviewed 26/09/08 URL originstorage.com
SEAGATE
FREEAGENT
DESK FOR MAC
An inexpensive 1TB external
hard disk that delivers good
performance. It has one USB 2
and two FireWire 800 ports.
Reviewed 02/01/09
URL seagate.com
hot kit
FORMOREDETAILSGOTOWWW.MACUSER.CO.UK/REVIEWS
Don’t shell out for a product until you’ve checked out our top-fives, from
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Rating 5 Reviewed 03/07/09 URL nikon.co.uk
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Rating 4 Reviewed 16/01/09 URL sony.co.uk
Olympus E-30
Rating 4 Reviewed 05/06/09 URL olympus.co.uk
Canon EOS 500D
Rating 4 Reviewed 05/06/09 URL canon.co.uk
NIKON D300S
A 12.3 megapixel sensor, 8
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HD video and dual memory
card slots all packed into a
sturdy metal body make the
D300S a winner.
Reviewed 11/09/09
URL nikon.co.uk
Top 5 video applications
CAMTASIA
FOR MAC
Camtasia can record video
and audio from your Mac’s
iSight and mic, add transitions,
effects and share the finished
video easily on YouTube.
Reviewed 11/09/09
URL techsmith.com
ScreenFlow 2
Rating 5 Reviewed 20/11/09 URL telestream.net
Final Cut Studio 2009
Rating 4 Reviewed 28/08/09 URL apple.com/uk
DV Kitchen
Rating 4 Reviewed 24/10/08 URL dvcreators.net
Aer Eects CS4
Rating 4 Reviewed 10/10/08 URL adobe.co.uk
Top 5 super-zoomcameras
CANON
POWERSHOT G11
The PowerShot G11 is the
most compelling compact
we’ve seen. It has a 28-140mm
optically stabilised zoom lens
and a 10-megapixel sensor.
Reviewed 04/12/09
URL canon.co.uk
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1
Rating 4 Reviewed 16/01/09 URL panasonic.co.uk
Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR
Rating 4 Reviewed 05/06/09 URL fujifilm.co.uk
Sigma DP1
Rating 4 Reviewed 15/08/08 URL sigma-photo.com
Canon PowerShot SX1 IS
Rating 4 Reviewed 09/04/09 URL canon.co.uk
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
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Daylite 3.7.3
Rating 5 Reviewed 06/06/08 URL marketcircle.com
Nisus Writer Pro 1.3
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Microso Oce 2008
Rating 4 Reviewed 18/01/08 URL microsoft.com
Studiometry 6
Rating 4 Reviewed 22/05/09 URL oranged.net
MERLIN 2.5
Merlin is a top-notch project
management application. It’s
powerful, easy to get to grips
with thanks to its manual and
templates, and works well with
Mail, Address Book and iCal.
Reviewed 01/02/08
URL projectwizards.net pro projec pro
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Guitar Rig 3 Kontrol
Rating 5 Reviewed 15/02/08 URL native-instruments.com
Logic Express 9
Rating 5 Reviewed 23/10/09 URL apple.com
Reason 4 Premium
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Hear
Rating 4 Reviewed 09/05/08 URL joesoft.com
LOGIC STUDIO
Its headline grabbing new
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Reviewed 28/08/09
URL apple.com app app app
Top 5 web publishing tools
BBEdit 9
Rating 4 Reviewed 30/01/09 URL barebones.com
Coda
Rating 4 Reviewed 29/02/08 URL panic.com
Flash CS4
Rating 4 Reviewed 10/10/08 URL adobe.com
RapidWeaver 4
Rating 4 Reviewed 04/07/08 URL realmacsoftware.com
DREAMWEAVER
CS4
For years, Dreamweaver has
been the de facto standard for
professional web development.
It’s now fully integrated with
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Reviewed 26/09/08
URL adobe.com

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* Contents subject to change.
The makeover issue
With a new year upon us, the time is right to
smarten up your act, and with a Mac at your
side the possibilities are almost limitless. We’ll
be picking the best applications to smarten up
your website, photos and business life, helping
you start the year on the right foot and make
2010 your most productive, creative year yet.
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method
OURGUIDE TOESSENTIAL CONCEPTS FOREVERYDESIGNER
A
lthough it’s used mainly for photo
editing, Photoshop includes a range
of tools for taking measurements
directly from photographs. The Extended
Edition has additional sophisticated
measuring capabilities, but even the basic
edition of Photoshop can read measurements
out of an image, as long as you have some
way of determining the basic scale.
In the first example, we’re going to use
the Vanishing Point filter to work out all the
sizes in a kitchen. There’s no need for tapes
and rulers: a single snapshot will give us all
the information we need.
We can begin by choosing Filter >
Vanishing Point. As always, we need to start
by defining the corners of a rectangle, and we
can do this by clicking on the four corners of
one of the cupboard fronts [01]. Holding down
the X key allows us to
zoom in on the image,
which is a great help
when positioning the
corners: it’s important
to be as accurate
as possible.
Once the initial
rectangle has been
made, we can stretch
the sides out to fit the
whole width of the unit. We can then ‘tear off’
90° planes by holding down the Command
key as we drag a centre handle. Some further
adjustment may be necessary when creating
the first 90° plane, as Photoshop can have
trouble reading the angle correctly in such
a distorted view. Once this plane has had
its corners adjusted to fit the scene though,
we can go on to tear off planes at 90° to
this one, until the whole kitchen has been
mapped out [02].
The next step is to set a measurement
scale. We know that kitchen appliances come
in standard 60cm widths, so we can make
Use Photoshop to take
measurements from a photo
Using one of Photoshop’s lesser-known features you can
take measurements directly from a photograph. Here’s how…
Steve Caplin is a designer and
illustrator working for a range of national
newspapers. His best-selling How to
Cheat in Photoshop, now in its fourth
edition, is published by Focal Press.
‘Eventhe basic editionof
Photoshopcanread
measurements out of animage,
as long as youhave some wayof
determining the basic scales’
use of that fact. Zoom in and switch to the
Measurement tool (the one that looks like
a ruler at an angle), and drag it across the
width of the dishwasher. Keep an eye on the
angle indicator on the far left of the rule –
this should read either 0 or 90°.
Once you’ve made sure that the line
extends to the whole width of the machine,
go to the Length field at the top of the dialog
window. Here, type in 60 as the measurement
[03]. If you wish, you can also tick the Link
Measurements to Grid checkbox, which will
turn all the grids into 1cm increments – but
as this is a tiny unit for such a large room,
this might just end up being confusing.
Now, it’s possible to use the Measurement
tool to find the dimensions of any item in
the room [04]. Click and drag to measure
cupboard fronts, tile height, the height of
units from the ground,
and so on – we can
even use the tool to
measure the size of
the breadboards. This
approach can also
be used to measure
elements on the
outside of houses,
such as the width
of windows: all you
need is one known measurement, and the
rest can be read out of the scene.
Those with the Extended Edition of
Photoshop can use a further set of measuring
tools. The simplest is the Count tool, which
is located beneath the Eyedropper in the
toolbar. This is useful for keeping a count of
the number of objects in a scene, marking
each one with a unique number so as not
to lose track. In this example, we’ve used it
for a trivial purpose – to count the number
of geese in a flock [05]. Clearly though,
we could use the tool to count a far higher
number of objects with ease.
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The Ruler tool measures the distance
between two points. But what if we want
to measure a more complex length, such
as the length of this earthworm [06]? Once
again, the Extended Edition of Photoshop
has a clever solution.
We’re fortunate that the photographer
of this worm saw fit to include a €1 coin to
set the scale. A quick check of Wikipedia
tells us that this coin is exactly 23.25mm in
diameter. If we choose Custom Scale from
the Analysis menu, we can use the Ruler tool
(it’s activated automatically when the dialog
is opened) to drag a straight line from side to
side on the coin. The dialog tells us that the
pixel length is, in this case, 233mm; all we
have to do is to type in 23.25 as the Logical
Length, setting the Logical Units value to ‘mm’
[07]. Now, anything we measure in the image
will be interpreted in terms of this scale.
But how does that help us measure the
length of the worm? We can’t make the ruler
bend round curves. What we can do though,
is use the Pen tool to draw a path down
the centre of the worm, from tip to tip. With
the path still visible, make a new layer and
switch to a hard-edged Brush, then hit the
Enter button on the keyboard. This will stroke
the path with the current brush size and
foreground colour, producing a stroke that
runs all the way down the worm. For greater
accuracy, use the Eraser tool to square off
the round ends of the stroke.
Now, load that stroke as a selection, by
holding down the Command key and clicking
on its thumbnail in the Layers Panel. Opening
01
04
05
02 03
06
07
08
the Measurement Log panel will reveal an
empty set of fields. Make sure the Ruler tool
is not active (or the dialog will simply record
the length of the last measurement with that
tool), and press the Record Measurements
button in the panel. This shows a large
amount of data about the measurement,
including the Perimeter value [08].
In this example, the perimeter is shown
to be 809.888207mm – note how the scale
converts the pixels into units that relate to
the size of the coin. This, of course, is the
size of the entire perimeter. To get the length,
we need to divide this in two, producing
a figure of 405mm (rounding up slightly).
This figure also includes the width of the
stroke, though. We can measure that using
the Ruler tool, and we find that its width is
2mm. Subtracting that from our previous
measurement gives a length of 403mm.
Certainly the most painless way to measure
the length of an earthworm – at least, as far
as the worm is concerned.
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create
GET MORE FROMYOURMAC ANDAPPLICATIONS WITHOURSTEP-BY-STEPGUIDES
Retouch your photos to make
stunning modelling shots
DIFFICULTY
RATING
W
hen you’re not taking portraits
of someone, but talking to them,
somehow your brain overlooks
their skin problems, blemishes and moles.
But that’s not true of the camera. Photos
of people may uncover all sorts of flaws,
and high-resolution cameras and ultra-sharp
lenses are even more likely to be revealing.
It’s not surprising to learn, then, that
some portrait photographers favour certain
lenses not for their sharpness but for their
lack of it. In the past, some photographers
have been known to stretch a nylon stocking
over their super sharp lens, but these days
it’s more likely to be a soft-focus filter. Call
it a distortion of the truth, but revealing fine
detail in portraits isn’t what it’s all about.
In this tutorial, we’ll show you a range of
different techniques for cleaning up common
problems found in portraiture. We’ll deal with
blemishes, spots and scars, and the common
problem of specks on the imaging sensor.
We’ll also look at a quick way of adjusting
skin tones with the least interruption to our
workflow in camera Raw.
For more potent techniques, we’ll use
Photoshop for skin smoothing, which is
particularly useful for freckles, large pores,
pock marks or acne. Even if the skin is
flawless, skin smoothing is an essential
skill for the retoucher. Finally, we’ll look at
how to reduce the redness of sore eyes,
and brighten them using a quick, easy
and effective technique.
It’s easy to overlook spots and blemishes when taking a photo, but today’s
cameras aren’t so forgiving. We show you how to clean up your images.
Kevin Carter is a freelance
photographer and journalist.
He has contributed to MacUser
for almost a decade.
Kit required Bridge, Photoshop
Before Aer
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3. Adjust Tint, Saturation and Luminance
Inching the Tint slider left lessens Magenta, but it changes
the background colour. We could tweak the colour more with
Camera Raw’s Tone Curve option, but in this instance we’ve used
the HSL/Greyscale Tab and gone straight for the Saturation
settings. It’s time to experiment, but due to the strong magenta
in the dress, we’re going to adjust the Orange slider (judging by
eye) to reduce the saturation in the skin tones. Next, to lighten
the background and lessen the green tint, click on the Luminance
tab and ramp the Green slider over to the left. Again, this is a
creative decision, so ultimately it’s a personal choice.
6. Adjust target
area and deal with
large blemishes
The Radius slider adjusts
the area altered by the
retouching tool. We
only need to cover a
blemish, but greater
control is had by clicking
the red circle (the area
being retouched). Hover
over its edge until the
cursor shows a double
arrowhead, then drag
to suit. The green circle
shows the area being
sampled. Camera Raw
does a good job of matching, but sometimes needs fine-tuning,
done by clicking the circle’s centre and dragging to a spot of
similar shading and colour. You can have several retouched points,
and when sourcing a new blemish, the previous point (red circle)
turns black. You can return to any of the retouched spots to
redo. For large blemishes such as scars or the fibre in our shot,
overlapping the retouching points helps. To undo the last point,
click it, press Alt and click it again to delete.
1. Open Camera Raw from Bridge
The first step towards a pleasing skin tone is an accurate white
balance measurement. This can be applied in-camera using a
custom setting, photographing a colour chart beforehand or
altering white balance in a Raw converter. Our shot has pleasing
colours, but we’ll open our Raw file in Photoshop’s Camera Raw
plug-in and use the White Balance tool to make some adjustment.
4. Blemish Removal
To keep the file size down, we’re going to remove the odd blemish
in Camera Raw using the Spot Removal tool. A fibre on the
camera’s sensor has cast a shadow on the image and that also
needs to be removed. Select the Spot Removal tool from the
toolbar and select Heal from the Type menu. Both options source
and copy pixels to the retouched area.
2. Look for a neutral grey
The background looks good, so we’ve made several readings using
the Colour Sampler (S), and chosen the one closest to RGB values
of between 125 and 130 for each channel. Even so, our model’s
skin tones still have quite a strong unrealistic magenta tinge.
Inching the Tint slider from the right to lessen Magenta helps,
but it’s making the background change colour noticeably.
5. Spot Heal
The main difference between Clone and Heal is that the latter tool
samples from a similar texture to the area being retouched. Before
we adjust the sliders, let’s examine our image at 100%, so double-
click the Zoom tool. As we want to remove the blemish, we’ll leave
the Opacity slider ramped over to the right.
Fix skin tones using Camera Raw Clean up image and skin imperfections
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11. Fine-tune Surface Blur
From the Filter menu, select Blur > Surface Blur and choose a
value of around 8 to 12 pixels in the dialog box. Inch the slider
back and forth while viewing the close-up of the skin, or the area
of the skin you want to enhance. Double-click the Zoom tool and
make sure the Preview checkbox is ticked, so you can view a
much larger area of your image. Leave the Threshold to the default
15 value and click on OK when you’re satisfied with the result.
9. Set Photoshop to open image at 16-bit
Although using the Spot Removal tool is quick and easy, if your
model has pock marks, freckles or severe acne, there’s another
option, and it’s also handy if you just want to smooth the skin.
You’ll have to open your image in Photoshop, and if you haven’t
already set ACR to open as 16-bit, alter it now, as the more colour
data you leave in the image the better. You’ll also need to uncheck
Open as Smart Objects. Click on Open Image.
10. Duplicate Background layer
With the image you want to enhance open in Photoshop, select
New > Layer via Copy (Command-J), as we want to duplicate the
Background layer. You should have two layers, one labelled Layer 1
and the second called Background in the layers panel. We want
to smoothen the skin, so click on Layer 1 in the Layers panel
and select Surface Blur. You could choose Gaussian Blur as an
alternative, but the Surface Blur option generally works best.
12. Select paint brush
Next, you want to selectively paint back in detailed areas. For that,
you’ll need to add a layer mask to your blurred Layer 1. From the
menu choose Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All, or select the Add
Layer Mask (also called Add Vector Mask) icon at the bottom of the
Layers panel. To select a brush from the picker, click on the Brush
icon or thumbnail in the Options bar.
13. Paint fine detail back in
You’ll need a mid-sized, soft-edged brush for areas such as the
eyes, nose and eyebrows, and you can use the left and right
bracket keys when you need switch to a larger brush (left to
decrease, right to increase) for larger areas such as for the hair
and clothing. Next, select D for the default foreground, then X to
change to black to start painting back in detail and texture.
14. Adjust Opacity
It’s a good idea to start with the eyes and mouth, the plan being
to avoid the skin areas. Once you’ve finished doing that, you can
fine-tune the skin smoothness using the Opacity slider in the
Layers panel. If you feel the skin looks unrealistically smooth, pull
back the slider from 100% to 50% at first and adjust from there.
Again, it’s a creative decision, but you do want it to look realistic.
For this particular image, we’re gong to plump for 90%.
Retouching using Layers in Photoshop – skin smoothing
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17. Paint the Mask
Don’t worry if you inadvertently stray
over the pupil or lashes: simply press
Command-I to invert the mask and
continue to paint back over the slip-
up. Don’t forget to paint both eyes,
and zoom out a little to scrutinise
the effect. If you were a little heavy-
handed with the Lightness setting,
adjust the Opacity slider in the Layers
panel until it looks right. When you’re
done, to preserve the layers, save the
image as a PSD.
15. Add Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer
We’re now going to brighten the eyes a little. Our sample photo
looks quite good, but under close scrutiny the eyes look a little
bloodshot. If you’re opening an image from scratch, start with a
Background layer and add a new Adjustment Layer. If you’re
continuing from previous edits, press Command-Alt-Shift-E to
flatten to a new layer while keeping the other layers intact. Click
on Create New Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers
panel, and add a Hue/Saturation layer (as a Layer Mask).
16. Remove Redness and add Lightness
To lessen the redness of the eyes, select Red from the Edit menu
and pull the Saturation slider all the way over to the left. Next, head
back to the Master setting of the Hue/Saturation Layer in the
Adjustment panel and increase the Lightness of the image up to
around 35 or more if you want a stronger effect. With the image now
white, select the Brush tool again, check to see the Foreground is
set to Black and begin to paint the white of the eyes black.
18. Finish up
Here’s the finished image next to the original uncorrected image,
showing the difference between the two. It’s a subtle enhancement
overall, but the series of adjustments are what distinguishes a
professionally retouched photograph from an average one that’s
come straight out of the camera.
Brighten eyes
Summary
For retouching portraits
● Find neutral grey for accurate
white balance in Camera Raw
● Fine-tune using Tint slider
and/or Tone Curves
● Correct skin tone using HSL
● Remove blemishes and dust
spots with Spot Healing tool
● Smooth skin using Layers
in Photoshop
● Brighten eyes using Layer Mask
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DIFFICULTY
RATING
T
witter has become the hottest site
to be seen on, with millions of users
ranging from well-known celebrities,
such as Stephen Fry and Demi Moore, to your
Gran. With it being so popular, everyone wants
to stand out from the crowd, and one of the
best ways to show that you’re serious about
developing a following is to customise your
profile with a unique background design.
Displaying a unique design has a range
of benefits. First, it shows that you’re a
serious Twitter user, and not some newbie
stopping by to see what all the fuss is
about or, worse, an annoying spammer
aiming to exploit the service. It also helps
introduce your personality if it’s tailored to
your interests, so it will draw in the type of
people with whom you’d like to network and
who may also have similar interests.
Customise your Twitter profile
with a unique background design
If you want your Twitter account to stand out from the crowd, you’ll need
to create a unique, personalised background. We show you how…
Due to the fairly limited options available,
there are three main approaches to Twitter
background design. The repeating background
has been a favourite in web design for years,
and a tiling swatch graphic fills any size of
screen with a pattern or texture.
Then there’s a background image that
fades to a colour. If you don’t set the
background image to tile, it’s aligned to
start at the top left corner. This approach
allows a rich design that fades out to merge
into the solid background colour.
The third approach is to create an
exceptionally large background image that
covers the whole screen. While that provides
the most options for creativity, the main
drawback is the large file size, and you’ll
need to bear in mind that the image will
cut off on smaller display resolutions.
Chris Spooner is a freelance designer
and blogger who has a passion
for all things creative and writes
design articles on his websites blog.
spoongraphics.com and line25.com.
Kit required Photoshop, Illustrator
or similar apps
1. Set up the document
In order to ensure that your Twitter design isn’t
cropped too much on lower-resolution monitors, it’s
handy to base the design on a template. Download a
layered Photoshop template from macuser.co.uk/
create/2602_twitterbgtemplate.zip. We’ll create
our design using the widescreen 1680 x 1050
resolution, which provides plenty of space for your
design. You can see what portion of it will be visible
at different resolutions by toggling the layer visibility
2. Import a photograph
It’s important to put forward your character and
personality in social networks. Showing a photograph
of yourself makes it much easier for users to relate
and connect. Open up your best profile shot and
place it in the document. For the best results, use
a photograph with a plain background colour. Here,
we’ve positioned the photo so that the figure is
creeping in from the left, both to keep within the
template confines, and to add a touch of creativity.
1920px
1680px
1280px
1024px
The width of the background varies between
resolutions. The difference between a large iMac and
a netbook with a 1024-pixel-wide display is significant
in that more of your background will be covered.
Design with that in mind as much as possible.
Your tweets
appear in the
centre column.
Its width is
fixed at all
resolutions.
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
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5. Getting a little more advanced
Draw a large and a small circle. Create a smooth curve between
the two by clicking and dragging two points with the Pen tool.
Ensure this path doesn’t have any fill or stroke styling by using the
shortcuts Shift-X and Shift-/. With all three objects selected, go
to Object > Blend > Blend Options and change the settings to
Specified Steps with a value of 80. Next, go to Object > Blend and
select Make. The result should be a calculated transition between
the smallest and largest circles that also follows the curved path.
3. Blend the photograph
Create a new layer and
completely fill it with a colour
sampled from the background
of the photo – in this case,
it’s a grey tone. Add a layer
mask and use a large soft
brush to erase out the colour
fill to show the underlying
photo. The aim is to create
a seamless blend between
the solid colour and the varying
tones of the photograph.
Using a layer mask as opposed
to the Eraser enables you to
tweak the masked areas by
switching between a black
and white brush.
4. Create some resources
Switch over to Illustrator to create a small library of bright vector
graphics. Start with a few circles, filling each one with a bright
gradient. Drag the colour blocks from the swatches palette onto
the gradient slider to determine the colours of the gradient fill.
6. Build a resource library
Continue drawing shapes of different colours in Illustrator to create
a small library of resources. Additional objects could include
lightning bolts drawn with the Pen tool, a range of circles with
diagonal lines, or any other creative shapes and objects you
might come up with. Bear in mind that the objects need to reflect
the personality or message that you’re trying to communicate.
Experimentation is the key here.
7. Decorate the design
Now our library of colourful
objects is ready, so copy each
individual shape from Illustrator
and paste it into the Photoshop
Twitter background document.
Scale, rotate and position each
graphic into place around the
figure. It doesn’t matter if the
objects overlap or obscure
the figure at this point –
simply create an interesting
composition by mixing the
colours and altering the stacking
order of each layer.
8. Continue decorating
After a short while, the stack of
objects will grow until the whole
outline of the figure is covered
in colourful graphics. Make any
final adjustments to the layers
by altering the stacking order
or moving graphics around to
create an equal scattering of
colours and shapes. Select
all the objects and group them
together (Command-G) to
keep the document organised.
Name this group Illustration.
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11. Finishing touches
Change the blending mode of the Illustration layer to Hard Light
and drop to opacity to about 50% to tone down the bright effect.
Select one of the graphics and double-click the layer to open the
Layer Style options. Add a subtle drop shadow by dropping the
Opacity right down to 26%, change the Distance to 1 pixel and the
Size to 10 pixels. Right-click this layer and select Copy Layer Style,
then add the Layer Style to the remaining layers by right-clicking
and selecting Paste Layer Style.
9. Draw a mask
Make the Illustration group of
layers invisible, then use the
Pen tool to draw an outline
around the figure. Click to add
a point at each side of a curve,
then go back and add a point
to the centre of this path. Hold
down the Command key while
dragging this middle point into
position. Another technique is
to click and drag the Bézier
curve of each point, then
reset the curve by clicking
the end point, while holding
the Alt key before continuing
to draw the next curve.
10. Apply the mask
Click on the Illustration group
and add a Layer mask. With
the Pen tool still selected,
right-click and choose Make
Selection. In the options box
enter a feather setting of 0.5
to help avoid a harsh edge
around the mask. Fill the
selection with black to render
this area of the layer mask
invisible. By masking out
all the bright objects that
originally overlapped the
figure, we’ve now created the
impression that the vector
shapes are creeping out
from behind the figure.
12. Export the design
Once the design is complete, crop out the blank space in your
artwork. Then to go File > Save for Web & Devices. As this design
includes a photograph and a range of gradient colours, a Jpeg
would be the best file type option. Adjust the compression to
balance between quality and file size. A compression of between
70% and 80% should retain good image quality while keeping a
relatively small file size of around 70KB.
13. Upload to Twitter
Log in to your Twitter profile and go to Settings. Select the design
tab and scroll down to the custom background options. First,
select ‘Change background image’ and upload your exported file.
Turn off the ‘Tile background’ option. Finish off the design by
selecting a range of colour samples from the design. Set the
background colour to the same colour code as that in your image.
14. Final result
Save all the changes and go to your Twitter profile to check it out.
If you’ve paid close attention to the original template, your design
should look great at most monitor resolutions. Adjust the size of
your browser to preview how the design will look.
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
Will lasers light the way?
‘Our attentionspanseems to
have shrunkfromthe couple
of hours required to enjoy
a blockbuster to a few
minutes for a video clip’
Online delivery is making optical discs an endangered species, but laser
technology will still have a key role to play in home entertainment
EMAILYOURPROBLEMTOHELP@MACUSER.CO.UK
If you need technical advice,
write to us explaining the
problem in full. Please include
all the details of hardware and
software you use.
Email help@macuser.co.uk
Post Help, MacUser,
30 Cleveland Street,
London, W1T 4JD
There’s a wealth of information
and help available online. Here
are some useful sites that may
be worth turning to along with
the MacUser site.
Apple’s pages provide helpful
information; try the search
options to find specific help.
URL info.apple.com
Keep abreast of software
releases and fixes, and track
down new utilities and tools.
URL versiontracker.com
WE CAN HELP YOU THEY CAN HELP YOU
Y
our Mac may be composed of
chips, but it takes light to make
it work. That light shines not only
from the screen in front of your eyes, but
from lasers onto optical media, inside many
printers, and along the vast mesh of fibre-
optic cables that connect you to the online
world. When Charles H Townes and Arthur L
Schawlow were granted a patent for the first
laser, just 50 years ago, they were mocked for
having found a solution looking for a problem.
To add to that insult, rival Theodore H Maiman
pipped them to the post by demonstrating
the first working laser later in 1960. Even
then, it was another
14 years before the
public came into daily
contact with laser
devices, in the form of
barcode scanners.
Lasers differ from all
previous light sources
in that the fine beams
they emit usually
consist of coherent (in
phase) light waves of a single wavelength. At
low power, less than 1 milliwatt, they make
ideal pointers for presentations. Up to about
10 milliwatts they can read the microscopic
binary data in the spiral track of a CD or DVD,
and more than 100 milliwatts is sufficient to
burn data to recordable optical discs. In 1988,
lasers of similar power transmitted data along
the first transatlantic fibre-optic cable, showing
the way for the backbone of the Internet.
It remains a moot point whether we’ll rely
on lasers to deliver our movies from Blu-ray
disc, or to pour them down cables. When
the format war ended two years ago, Blu-ray
received a substantial boost and has become
a steady earner. With more than 1500 pre-
recorded titles available in the UK, and former
HD DVD champion Toshiba selling Blu-ray
players, take-up has probably exceeded
that of DVD during its early years. Even Alain
Resnais’ inscrutable Last Year in Marienbad
has now been issued in Blu-ray format.
However, the movie market has changed
greatly since we were agog at the giant leap
forward from VHS to DVD, and recession
has swept the world. Portable Blu-ray players
seem to have little to offer over cheap and
ubiquitous DVD, digital rights management
constantly sours the scene and even Apple
has fought shy of building the drives into
new Macs. Recall that Apple was a pioneer
of optical media, introducing its first external
CD drive in 1988, and
being the first major
manufacturer to drop
floppy disk drives in
favour of CD-Rom ones.
By contrast, online
delivery through the
BBC’s iPlayer and the
iTunes Store has started
to sparkle.
As our attention span
seems to have shrunk from the couple of
hours required to enjoy a blockbuster to a few
minutes for a video clip, so we have opted for
lower-resolution, higher-immediacy shorts. If
Hollywood’s strategists are looking to the new
wave of 3D movies to pack people into movie
theatres, they seem to have forgotten how to
sell flat 2D versions of those same titles to a
wider public. Perhaps they’re working on how
to convince us to replace shiny new HD TVs
with 3D systems? They also seem bereft of
the compelling narratives that we enjoyed with
the likes of Tolkien and Harry Potter.
The only thing that we can be sure of is
that, one way or another, lasers are likely to
remain key to our entertainment in the future.
Until, perhaps, someone else comes along
with a solution looking for a problem.
Howard Oakley has used Macs in science
and medicine for 20 years, and developed
commercial software.
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Deauthorising computers
From Will Parfitt
Q When my wife tried to use Home Sharing
in iTunes to connect her new iMac to
mine, I was told that I have authorised 5/5
computers to connect to my music library,
although I don’t have that many computers.
Is this because I should have deauthorised
our old computers. If so, how can I do that?
A Music bought through iTunes
can only be played on a maximum
of five computers, and this warning
is a clear indication that your
purchases are still authorised on
computers you no longer use.
Ideally, what you should do now is
open iTunes on each old computer
that you wish to deauthorise.
Go to the Deauthorize Computer
command in the Store menu and
it will give you one of your five
‘lives’ back. If you no longer have
all the old computers, you can
deauthorise all computers once a year: Apple
acknowledges that we’re all human and often
forget to clear authorisations before disposing
of old computers.
Once you’ve got all five lives back, you can
then authorise just the current computers
that you need to. To do this, use the View My
Account in iTunes’ Store menu, and click on
the Deauthorize All button in that account.
BBBBuuuuggggg bbbbuuuusssstttteeeerrrr
iPhoto 8.1.1 fixes problems in face
recognition, improves its performance and
issues in book ordering, and enhances
iPod touch support. Go to support.apple.
com/kb/DL970.
Mac OS X 10.6.x may keep displaying
the character or keyboard viewer when
trying to authenticate or fast-switch
users. Don’t dismiss the window by its
close button, but use the Hide Viewer
command from the Input menu. This
should be fixed soon, with details at
support.apple.com/kb/TS3104.
Boot Camp Drivers Update 2.2
for Windows fixes problems with the
trackpad, and turns off the red digital
audio port LED when not in use. It also
supports Apple’s Magic Mouse and
wireless keyboard. It’s available from
support.apple.com/kb/DL967.
iMovie 09 8.0.5 won’t display movies
imported into iPhoto in the iMovie Event
Library after you’ve changed the Advanced
Importing preferences in iPhoto, so the
checkbox to ‘Copy items to the iPhoto
Library’ is deselected. Selecting that item
should resolve this, according to support.
apple.com/kb/TS3124.
LED Cinema Display iSight Firmware
Update 1.0 fixes a bug with the iSight
camera in Apple’s LED Cinema Display that
could prevent apps from recognising it. It’s
at support.apple.com/kb/DL966.
Mac OS X Server Admin Tools 10.6.2
fixes bugs in each of the applications,
including one that prevented creation of
users with names containing a period.
Visit support.apple.com/kb/DL968.
Mac OS X Server Workgroup Manager
may reorder user name aliases and
substitute the chosen shortname with an
alias. The suggested workaround is to use
Postfix virtual files instead, keeping just
one shortname per user. A fix is expected.
Snapz Pro X 2.2.2 fixes problems
capturing audio on 13in MacBook Pros. Go
to ambrosiasw.com/utilities/snapzprox.
WireTap Studio 1.1.0 fixes crashing
when opening MP3 files, a memory leak, is
compatible with 13in MacBook Pros, and
more. You can find it at ambrosiasw.com/
utilities/wiretap.
Mounting concerns
From Gail Everett
Q I just had a nasty moment with my iMac
and its slot-entry optical drive. A music CD
wouldn’t mount and I had to eject it using
Disk Utility. No matter what type of disc I
inserted after that, none would mount until
I had restarted. Everything now seems
fine, and my logs mention ClamXavSentry
but little else of note, while the ClamXav
log warns that it’s out of date. What’s
wrong and how can I eject discs if they get
completely stuck?
A Stuck optical discs are most commonly
the result of a physical problem such as
peeling sticky labels, or a software issue, and
seldom require a new drive. If a disc doesn’t
mount and nothing seems able to eject it,
restart with the mouse button held down:
this normally spits out all apart from those
that are physically stuck in the drive. You
now need to identify the software clash that
caused your problem. One clue is ClamXav,
which relies on a scanning engine clamd. If
that’s out of date, it could be trampling over
sensitive parts of Mac OS X. Download the
latest release from clamxav.com, install it,
and allow it to update its engine. Restart, run
ClamXav again to update its virus library, then
check that its preferences aren’t set to scan
removable media such as CDs, which could
have been the root cause of your problem.
Slow Leopard
From Harold Smart
Q Since upgrading our server and
client Macs to Mac OS X 10.5, users
are complaining of slow AFP log-in
times, particularly when the number of
simultaneous log-ins rises above 20. What
can we do to improve this situation?
A There are plenty of factors that can cause
this. You could add another server to split the
One possible cause of problems mounting removable discs is
having them scanned for viruses on insertion, particularly if this
uses an out-of-date scanning engine.
The Store menu in iTunes enables you to authorise and deauthorise individual computers. However, you have
to access your iTunes account to reset all five authorised machines at once.
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A high-speed USB 2 port can provide
a maximum of 2.5W of power to a
connected device, although recent
support for special Dedicated Charging
Ports allows some to deliver 10W. This
comes at 5V, compared with FireWire’s
up to 60W at up to 30V.
de
With the Spaces menu turned on, the last option
in its commands should be to open the Exposé &
Spaces pane in System Preferences.
Getting best performance out of AFP sharing under
Leopard Server can take careful tuning of account
options. Snow Leopard promises to perform better.
load, restart the server during the small hours
when there are no users active, or redirect
as many cache files as possible to local hard
disks rather than those on the server.
Users with very large numbers of files,
particularly older documents, stored in their
network Home folders can choke servers,
too. However, one of the most important
single factors can be the use of ACLs: if you
can, turn off as many of these as possible,
doing without them completely whenever you
can. For instance, applying just three ACLs
to network Home folder shares can push the
server’s CPU load to 100% and keep it there
for many seconds, imposing a very obvious
delay on log-ins.
One final technique that can help spread
the load is to avoid automounting groups
folders, putting them in the Dock instead, so
that they’ll only be mounted when clicked.
It isn’t clear whether Snow Leopard Server
overcomes these problems: we’ll keep you
posted as our experience grows.
Lost in Spaces
From John Duncan
Q At first I was able to access System
Preferences from the Spaces menu on
my new iMac. After a few restarts and an
upgrade or two, I can’t do this any more
and have to use its icon in the Dock. How
can I restore the previous functionality?
A When Spaces is enabled, the last item
in the extra Spaces menu should be to
open the Exposé & Spaces pane in System
Preferences, which gives you easy access to
other panes there. This should still appear
and work. You may be able to restore it by
repairing permissions in Disk Utility, and
checking whether you’ve installed any third-
party add-ins that might have messed it up.
These often appear as Login Items, Startup
Items or InputManagers in the various Library
folders. Downloading and installing the latest
Combo update for Mac OS X could also
resolve this strange problem.
Can I use the FreeAgent?
From Geoff Dunn
Q I want an external hard disk for my Mac
G5 DP 1.8GHz running Mac OS X 10.4.11,
such as the Seagate FreeAgent Desk For
Mac that you so favourably reviewed (see
MacUser, 2 January 2009, p49). However,
your review lamented its lack of software,
suggesting that it should be used with Time
Machine, which I don’t have. Could I still
use this drive with my Mac?
A You don’t need any extra software to use
this drive or similar external hard disks.
However, if you intend making backups to it,
you need to decide how you’ll maintain them.
You could make manual copies of important
documents, your Applications folder and the
like, although as this is prone to human error
you may prefer something more automated.
There are several backup software products
that will work well in this situation. Among our
favourites are Carbon Copy Cloner (free from
bombich.com) and SuperDuper! ($27.95,
about £17.15, from shirt-pocket.com/
SuperDuper/SuperDuperDescription.html).
You should also think carefully about what
you’re going to do with your PowerPC-based
Mac in the future. Apple dropped support
for Mac OS X 10.4 when Snow Leopard was
launched, so will no longer have the benefit of
patches to close security holes. For the next
year or two, Apple will be maintaining Mac
OS X 10.5, the last release that will support
PowerPC systems with respect to security
updates. You should plan either to replace
your G5 in the near future, or, if you want to
keep using it, particularly on the Internet,
upgrade to Leopard as soon as possible.
Identity crisis
From Lionel Ogden
Q Reading your answer to Graham Williams’
question about user identity (SUID) errors
in Disk Utility (see MacUser, 6 November
2009, p95), I wondered which applications
do set their own SUID so can be safely
ignored. Is there a list available?
Backup software such as Carbon Copy Cloner will
make good use of the additional space provided
by an external disk drive.
From Duncan Brack
Q I want to generate a PDF file that has no
margin or border from a Word document.
Whether I use the driver for my Konica
Minolta laser printer or Adobe PDF 9.0, I
can’t seem to get rid of a 4mm border.
A With your document open, select File >
Page Setup. In the Paper Size pop-up menu,
select Manage Custom Sizes. Click the ‘+’
tool to create a new custom size, set it to A4
with dimensions of 20.99 x 29.70cm, a user-
defined non-printable area, and each of the
margins set to 0.00cm. Name this size and
click on OK. Ensure
your page is set up to
extend to the borders
fully in the Print dialog,
then select the PDF
tool and its Save as
PDF command. To
remove borders from
files that have been
generated, there’s
a script at ctan.org/
tex-archive/support/
pdfcrop/?action=/tex-
archive/support.
Inline email images
To eliminate borders in PDF files, configure a custom paper size from the Page
Setup dialog, using the right paper size with margins set to zero.
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Tray-loading optical drives are relatively
tolerant of small, thick or labelled
discs, but slot-loading types are much
more likely to suffer stuck discs, and
require an engineer’s attentions to
clear them. Don’t risk putting small,
irregularly shaped or otherwise iffy
discs in a slot-loading drive.
tively
When upgrading to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, it’s important to eliminate old and duplicated fonts using
Font Book, or Microsoft Office applications may refuse to play ball.
Disk Utility’s detailed report can disclose a
long list of permission repairs that have been
performed, but SUID warnings are of limited value.
A The reason that Disk Utility can’t be
more helpful is that there’s no useful list of
processes that use the SUID technique, and
so could appear in the detailed report when
repairing that elevation of file ownership. SUID
only happens when a process is running:
if you have a background tool that pops
up every hour and performs some routine
maintenance tasks that need to be run as
the root user, then most of the time it will be
inactive and won’t be singled out for such
warnings. However, if you happen to repair
permissions while it’s running, it will be
noticed and listed as an SUID item.
Many background processes included
in Mac OS X can perform the technique, so
depending on how your Mac is configured,
you could see any of them when repairing
permissions. Plenty of third-party products are
the same, so the list is long and indefinite.
By comparison, the current list of possible
Trojans that do it is much shorter: none. This
may change one day, when we’ll need to
recognise the Trojans, but for now processes
that do this can be assumed to be benign.
The first Mac laptop was…
From Ron Smith
Q A colleague insists that Apple’s first
laptop Mac was the PowerBook, but I think
there was an earlier model. Who’s correct?
A The first true laptop Mac was the
PowerBook 100, launched in October 1991,
but it replaced a long-lived heavyweight mobile
known, unsurprisingly, as the Macintosh
Portable, which was available from September
1989. Weighing more than 7kg and
measuring 10 cm thick, that portable pinned
you to your seat rather than resting on the
lap, but attracted a devoted following among
those with a physique to match.
Office and Snow Leopard
From Mike Bird
Q I’m about to upgrade to Snow Leopard,
but I’m unwilling to upgrade Microsoft Office
from its 2004 edition. Does Office version
11.5.5 run properly under Snow Leopard?
A There are always a few users who seem
to find issues, but by and large most who
have used Office 2004 under Snow Leopard
find it works fairly normally. Before you install
Snow Leopard, you should bring Office up to
date with the latest patches. You should also
clear out all items from Library/InputManagers
folders, which are seriously deprecated.
The most common cause of problems in
Office 2004 and 2008 under Mac OS X 10.6
are creaky old fonts, as well as duplicated
fonts. Before and after the installation, run
Font Book and eliminate all duplicates. Check
through the contents of /Library/Fonts and
~/Library/Fonts and move out any older or
suspect items. Then try launching Word 2004
and the other components. Despite these
precautions some users find Excel 2004
won’t run for long before it crashes, for which
there’s no other helpful workaround yet.
From Russell Caplan
Q I’ve just purchased a Freecom DVD
RW Recorder LS Pro with Lightscribe,
which is a modestly priced dual-layer
DVD writer. Although it comes with its
own power supply, it can also work off
the FireWire bus alone. How can this be
when I have many external hard disk
drives that must be run from their own
mains adaptors? When should I power it
from its adaptor? Would running it from
FireWire alone affect the quality of the
disks that it burns?
A FireWire can provide significantly
greater power than can USB (see ‘Did
you know…’ boxout, p94), but some
Macs can provide more FireWire bus
power than others: a Mac Pro should
Power play: adaptor
versus FireWire
be able to deliver a total of 25W or
more from its FireWire ports; on recent
iMacs, you should get 7W from each
port, falling to 4W on older iMacs, and
sometimes less on notebooks.
If you know the power draw of your
drive and any other peripherals you need
to power from the port, you can see
whether there’s enough power available,
otherwise you’ll need to use the external
supply. In practice, the time when you’ll
least want to use the power supply – that
is, when running mobile from a notebook
– is the time when your Mac is least likely
to be able to deliver the requisite power
through its FireWire port.
Hard disks normally draw higher power
unless the drive is a special low-power
portable model, which tend to be more
expensive. Burning optical discs is the
operation that will draw most power to
your drive, and so this is normally a wise
time to opt for the adaptor. However, as
data is burned in digital format, they either
work or the disc is spoiled. As long as you
verify the data after burning, you should
be quite safe.
In MacTracker’s comprehensive listing of hardware
specifications, many Mac models have power output
figures given for their USB and FireWire ports.
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macbusiness
A
lthough hard to define rigorously,
Web 2.0 is centred on interaction,
as opposed to Web 1.0, with its
largely static pages. This interactivity is
commonly accomplished using the same core
technology of HTML, but with higher layers
of Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML),
Adobe Flash, Soap, various frameworks,
and server-side scripting languages such
as PHP, Ruby, and ASP. Web 3.0 has yet to
reach consensus, but the current favourite
is that it will be the Semantic Web, in which
information and services are given ‘meaning’
using technologies such as RDF and OWL.
Because of its more complex components,
its greater demands on browsers and its
common reliance on browser plug-ins, Web
2.0 has long offered much greater potential
for security problems. In the simpler Web
1.0 model, your browser connects to a
remote HTTP server and calls for a particular
page. The server sends that page in HTML,
which is in turn rendered by your browser.
Provided the web server remains secure,
there’s limited scope for exploitation by the
malicious. Web 2.0 is, by its very nature,
rich in data that may contain sensitive
personal information, which is often stored
on public sites. Safeguarding those data and
controlling access to them is a central issue
that’s made more controversial by complex
differences in legal requirements imposed by
different jurisdictions. Preserving privacy and
establishing identity are closely related issues
of importance.
Web 2.0 security is the concern of
everyone who uses its facilities, and everyone
involved in the development and operation
of its services. Whether you’re a casual
Facebook user or the owner of a small
commercial site driven by Ajax, you need to
understand how they can be compromised,
and how to safeguard your interests in an
increasingly hostile online world.
Web 2.0 security
Most of us now use Web 2.0 services daily, but it seems to be plagued by
security breaches. Is it safe for users or businesses using it to trade?
Disappointingly, given experience with
security issues, these new services haven’t
been built using inherently secure tools or
protocols. XML and Soap are widely used in
Web 2.0, but are open protocols that use plain
text, an ideal candidate for eavesdropping,
interception and forgery. Several components
used in most Web 2.0 systems have proved
vulnerable to the injection of malicious code:
this has occurred with XML, XPath, JSON
and JavaScript, as well as SQL for underlying
database servers. These can be blocked by
careful validation of XML and other user inputs,
but some vulnerabilities exist by design, such
as in JSON returns, which are valid JavaScript
thus an open invitation to the malicious.
Ready access to data brings its own
problems. Many locations in which you now
access Web 2.0 services rely on wireless
networking, which is notoriously vulnerable to
intrusion and other attacks. Robust security
techniques applicable to wired networks,
FACINGABUSINESSDILEMMA?EMAILHELP@MACUSER.CO.UKTODAY
Users and Web 2.0 service operators need
to keep abreast of the latest vulnerabilities
and threats. Computer security intelligence
is a murky area, in which the largest and
key players have greatest interest in not
revealing all that they know, an approach
they justify in terms of not offering up
such sensitive information to the enemy.
Unless you have a direct line into the
likes of Yahoo’s internal security team,
you’ll have to rely on publicly available
information on Web 2.0 threats from large
US resources such as NIST’s Computer
Security Resource Centre (CSRC) at csrc.
nist.gov. The jewel in its crown is the
National Vulnerability Database (NVD) at nvd.
nist.gov, to which you should add Common
Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) at cve.
mitre.org, and the Computer Emergency
Readiness Team (CERT) Vulnerability Notes
Database at kb.cert.org/vuls.
The latter two are now owned
by the Department of Homeland
Security, which has become
the focal point within the
US government.
You could easily spend hours
browsing those comprehensive
resources, but for most Mac
users, it’s more helpful to access
digests of more relevant news
prepared from them. More focused
information is available from
groups such as the Secure Enterprise 2.0
Forum at secure-enterprise20.org, which
claims membership of Global Fortune 500
companies. Major threats to users are
also a regular part of the news pages in
MacUser, with additional coverage in Bug
Buster and Mac Business.
There are hundreds, even thousands, of
other sites that present news and digests
of web security information. You should
be circumspect about most, keeping
pinches of salt to hand, and sadly the most
promising Mac-oriented site, Secure Mac at
securemac.com, appears to have gone into
hibernation for the winter.
Keeping watch
NIST’s Computer Security Resource Centre is one of a trio of primary
resources that record and disseminate security information. European
and national sites pale by comparison with these.
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In other fields, the two most important
tools for managing threat and improving
safety are legislation and standards. Given
that UK and European law appears to be
struggling to lay down effective principles by
which such radically different businesses
and social phenomena should operate, that
leaves us with the standards process.
Simple devices and services that are
uniform in their engineering are amenable
to tight standardisation – for example, it’s
relatively easy to specify the construction
and performance of lifejackets or broadband
modems. When you can’t even define
exactly what Web 2.0 is, standards can
only lay out the processes that should be
undertaken to secure Web 2.0 development
and operation. Some parties think the
best way ahead is the International
Telecommunications Union (ITU), with the
strong support of Bell Laboratories, in the
form of ITU-T X.805, based on an earlier
framework developed by Bell.
X.805 isn’t the whole solution, but
needs to be applied during development of
Web 2.0 systems, and in their selection and
integration. It latches into other international
standards such as ISO/IEC 27001, which
governs policies and processes involved,
and outputs into the demonstration of
compliance with legislation such as the
Data Protection and Gramm-Leach-Bliley
Acts. In principle – and it’s big in principles
– X.805 could be a significant step forward,
particularly for companies that want to
develop fully integrated Web 2.0 solutions.
However, it seems to have attracted few
enthusiasts outside Bell Laboratories and
some other large corporates. Compliance
will be expensive – potentially very
expensive – and not the sort of thing
that will feature in the budgets of future
Facebook or Twitter-like developments.
For the moment, the key Web 2.0
services haven’t made any public
announcements as to whether they see
this standards-based approach as their way
ahead, or even if they believe it to be worth
considering. As long as these major players
appear to give X.805 a cold shoulder, its
high ideals will remain unfulfilled.
Better standards?
such as using a computer’s MAC to assist in
authentication, cease to be usable when you
might wish to access the same service from
many different types of device over different
networks. If you can authenticate from a Mac
at work and an iPhone on the other side of
the world, then it’s possible for someone else
to authenticate as if they were you. Strong
systems of authentication can make this so
difficult as to be practically impossible, and
that’s one task set of those implementing
robust Web 2.0 systems.
Many Web 2.0 services allow the use of
weak passwords and never require them to
be changed. There are ample ways to attack
such a system and it’s small wonder that
intruders have gained access to the accounts
of the famous – for instance, on Twitter – by
exploiting weak authentication methods.
Apparently, good protection methods such
as Captcha, where the user has to enter
the characters shown in a distorted image
displayed on a web page, have shown
themselves vulnerable to directed attacks.
Protection of privacy is a universal
concern that’s reflected in quite different
attitudes and legislative requirements. In
the UK, the Data Protection Act 1998 is our
national implementation of the pan-European
requirements of the Personal Data Protection
Directive, and places emphasis on the rights
of the individual whose data is being stored
and handled. The US, governed by the
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 and sundry
legislation such as ‘HIPAA’ (covering medical
information), places greater emphasis on the
responsibilities of the organisation holding
the data. It’s important to recognise that one
of the fundamental requirements of the Data
Protection Act is that personal data must not
be transferred outside Europe unless the
destination country protects such information.
Operators must also be wary of the ability
to pool small amounts of leaked data – say,
about employees – that can be used in an
attack against an important individual.
After authentication failure, the most
frequently reported breaches of Web 2.0
security result from cross-site scripting (XSS)
attacks. In these, the attacker exploits the
user’s ability to edit content on the site.
Typically, these inject malicious mixtures of
HTML and JavaScript to obtain information
or hijack legitimate users to malicious sites.
The most famous example is the MySpace
Samy worm. Technically, it can be very difficult
to ensure protection from XSS attacks while
providing the attractions that bring users to a
site, and using an established code base for
a site is no guarantee that it will not contain
embarrassing vulnerabilities.
Cross-site request forgeries (CSRF) haven’t
had as much publicity as XSS attacks, but can
be as dangerous. They depend on luring a user
to visit an apparently innocuous website that
silently generates requests to other genuine
sites to which the user is authorised. This can
be accomplished through a malicious cookie,
and in robust sites should be blocked, as the
requests originate from a different domain.
However, bugs in that safety mechanism have
allowed attackers to obtain Twitter profiles, say.
Implementation of the ‘same origin policy’ is
here a critical feature of Web 2.0 systems.
For the user, the greatest and ever-present
danger comes from phishing attacks. Early
clumsy emails that were obvious forgeries
are giving way to smarter attacks that can
prove difficult to distinguish from the genuine.
Complex generation of Web 2.0 content can
make it easy for a malicious site to appear
genuine, and before the unsuspicious user
has time to wonder what’s going on, they
have been relieved of key information such
as credit card details. Service providers,
although supporting users to discriminate
between the genuine and false, see the
primary responsibility resting with the user,
and sometimes employ devices that can
confuse or blur such distinction.
This may paint a gloomy picture, when
in truth Web 2.0 servers handle millions of
innocent transactions every day. For security
experts, it remains a war of attrition, fighting
constantly to keep valuable services running
despite repeated attempts to subvert them.
Much of this is a consequence of security
being secondary, not at the heart of design,
nor at the front of the minds of users.
Hopefully, these lessons will make Web 3.0
more secure from its outset.
The ITU has high hopes of its end-to-end security standard
X.805, but until it has been embraced by the key players in
Web 2.0, it will have little impact.
SSSSSuuuuummmmmmmmmmaaaaarrrrryyyyy
● By its nature, Web 2.0 offers greater
potential for security problems.
● Being rich in data, particularly
personal information, Web 2.0 services
are attractive to the malicious.
● High awareness and security
precautions are essential for those
using Web 2.0 services, and those who
offer those services.
● Authentication is a major issue, with
many using passwords that are easily
guessed and never change.
● Other means of attack on Web 2.0
users include cross-site scripting and
cross-site request forgeries.
● Phishing attacks remain frequent
and are becoming increasingly
sophisticated. Unfortunately, Web 2.0
service providers don’t always help
users distinguish the real from the
bogus, and most see these issues as
primarily the responsibility of users to
avoid getting caught.
● All users and businesses must keep
abreast of the latest threats.
● Although new standards may
improve security in time, as Web 2.0
wasn’t robustly designed at the outset,
security will remain a major concern.
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ONE MORE THING:
Rage against the brand
E
ver since the result of The X Factor
became the determining factor in
deciding the fate of the Christmas
number one, I’ve never owned the song
that’s hit the festive top spot. I’d like to be
able to tell you that this is because of a
moral stance, and that I’m making a stand
for quality music above manufactured
pop nonsense. I’m not, of course, but I’m
perfectly comfortable with you thinking that.
Sadly though, there are a number of
exhibits on my previously-discussed CD rack
that would barely require John Noakes, yet
alone John Grisham, to tear the case apart
in court. I was always a sucker for the novelty
Christmas number one, although not as
much as my brother, who bought – and this
is absolutely true – two copies of Mr Blobby.
By the time you read this, the battle
between whoever won The X Factor and Rage
Against The Machine will be over. I quite like
Rage Against The Machine, purely for getting
Nicky Campbell into trouble on Radio 5 Live. I
listened to one of his phone-ins once, and it’s
enough to make you yearn for Jeremy Kyle.
As has been worked out by surprisingly
few people, no matter
whether punters opted
for the homogenous
X Factor winner or
Rage Against The
Machine, the same
parent company would
benefit. Sony seems
to be the Unilever of
the entertainment
industry, spreading its
tentacles into places that even The Borrowers
would struggle to get to. My Christmas single
choice was The Muppets singing Bohemian
Rhapsody, yet I wouldn’t be surprised if
Kermit The Frog had to wash the bogs at Sony
HQ in his spare time.
The Sony trick, of course, as is the case
with Unilever, is to hide the brand wherever
it’s viable to do so. Sure, Sony’s hardly likely
to suddenly scrub out its logo on its posh
tellies, where the brand name serves it well.
But in the case of Rage Against The Machine,
how would it aid Sony to let the public in
on the secret that the record people were
buying to rebel against the big hot corporate-
produced favourite was ultimately sending
money to the same place? Far better to
accentuate the myth that it’s going to some
mad fund of real-music rebels instead. I do
accept, incidentally, that’s it not quite the
‘Sony seems to be the Unilever
of the entertainment industry,
spreading its tentacles into
places that evenThe Borrowers
would struggle to get to’
same, and that there’s a charity benefit to
the Rage Against The Machine song, so I do
know it’s not a completely similar scenario.
But behind both songs, you’ll still find a Sony
spreadsheet totting up the cash.
The conspiracy theorist in me wonders
whether Sony had any hand in the promoting
of the ‘alternative’ Christmas number one
itself? It’d make sense. Counter-programming
has always been an effective tool, as has
convincing the general public that they’re
rising up against something. That said, just
in case Sony’s lawyers are reading, I’m not
actually suggesting that it would do such a
thing. You can call off your hounds now. That
said, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if I found out
that Sony owned bloody Facebook as well.
It does, of course, hint at the conundrum
that big brands face, Apple included. As
soon as that corporate logo goes on the box
or packaging, the expectation changes. As
soon as Apple puts its name to something,
you rightly expect a product in tune with its
brand values somewhere along the line. And
while there are benefits to having a big brand
name, there’s a degree of straitjacketing in
there, too. Google,
to me, is about the
only big name that
can get away with
putting its name to
pretty much anything,
simply by putting a
Beta tag on it. But
when certain firms
come to play, Apple
included, they do end
up representing the establishment, no matter
how hard they try to convince us otherwise.
Still, there’s little denying that iTunes,
and the way it lets the music industry do
business, was instrumental in deciding the
fate of 2009’s Christmas number one. For a
couple of days, the Internet was squealing
with excitement that at iTunes, Rage Against
The Machine was winning. In fact, I was
catching daily updates that pretty much told
me exactly how many copies apart one song
was from the other on a given day, as if that
was supposed to motivate me to go and buy
40,000 copies of my chosen track. That said,
having checked the odds 24 hours before
the announcement, my song of choice sits at
41/1 to be Christmas number one.
What to do? Spend the best part of
£250,000 to at least try and skew the result
in The Muppets’ favour? Or spend the last
£10 in my pocket at the local Spar in a valiant
attempt to buy enough legal products to wipe
the whole sorry mess from my head? Given
that my local Spar has a three for a tenner
offer on Echo Falls wine (I’ve no idea what it
tastes like, but having examined the label,
I’m fairly confident it’s not made by Sony), I’m
afraid I’m going to have to let Kermit down.
Sadly, in the face of classy screw-top
bottles of wine, what’s a man to do?
Simon Brew followed the battle for Christmas number one with interest.
Until it became clear that The Muppets weren’t going to win…
Simon Brew forgot to write this bit before he
indulged in his Echo Falls. He was last seen
drunkenly filling in an application form for the
next series of X-Factor.
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com
www.storemags.com & www.fantamag.com

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