What's New - Dec 17, 2003

By: Mikio Moriyasu - Revised: 2006-07-03 devin


What's new for the Mac in the previous month:
  • General issues, workarounds and fixes
  • New Software and hardware
  • Software and hardware updates/patches

New Apple Software

AirPort 3.2 - Provides support for the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) specification.

Apple Remote Desktop 1.2.4 Update - delivers improvements to security, performance, and reliability.

Java 1.4.1 Update 1 for Mac OS X 1.0 - Adds improved Java applet support for Safari and other web browsers; many other enhancements.

Mac OS X Server Admin Tools 10.3 - The Server Administration Software contains software tools that you can install on a computer other than your server.

Power Mac G5 Firmware Update 5.1.4 - Provides changes for initializing and running your Power Mac G5.

Security Update 2003-11-19 for Jaguar 10.2.8 1.0 - Includes the following updated components: gm4, groff, Mail w/CRAM-MD5 authentication, OpenSSL, and more.

Security Update 2003-12-05 for Jaguar 1.0 - Updates Safari to prevent unauthorized access to a user’s cookies.

Security Update 2003-12-05 for Panther 1.0 - Updates Safari to prevent unauthorized access to a user’s cookies.

New Third Party Software

(Updates are assumed to be for Mac OS X, not much is being updated for Mac OS 9 nowadays...)

Default Folder X 1.9.3b4 is an enhancement for open/save dialog boxes. The new release works around a bug in Adobe Photoshop CS that could cause it to crash when Default Folder X was running under Mac OS 10.2 with Talking Alerts turned on in the system's Speech preferences.

Emailchemy 1.5.5 reads email files from the proprietary formats of the most popular email applications and converts them to standard formats that any application can use. Version 1.5.5 is a maintenance release that features new output formats in the conversion wizard for easier import into Mozilla and Eudora.

Firewalk X 2.3.4 is a full featured firewall. The new release fixes a problem that damaged installed file permissions

Little Snitch 1.1rc5 shows an alert on outgoing network connections.

MemoryStick v1.3.1 is a utility for monitoring RAM usage. Version 1.3.1 added a tooltip to display total swapfile sizes, and fixes a couple of bugs.

MimMac 1.0.1 creates bootable system backups, merging, data backup. The new release fixed a rare situation where a file type conflict with folders or file packages would cause the progress information to become inaccurate.

Rosetta 1.6.2 decodes most archive formats and rejoins binary files.

SoftRAID 3.0.2 is a software RAID application. The new release has the same feature set as version 3.0.1, but fixes bugs which were related to Power Mac G5s.

StuffIt Deluxe 8.0.2 is a comprehensive archiving tool. Version 8.0.2 resolves the conflict between StuffIt AVR and other non-Apple kernel extensions resuting in kernal panics.

TechTool Pro 4.0 - is built from the ground up for Mac OS X. The program was completely created in Cocoa, ensuring maximum performance and stability in Mac OS X.

Timbuktu Pro 7.0 Makes remote collaboration and communication across networks, the Internet or dial-up connections fast, flexible and safe. Now with Mac OS X 10.3 Panther support.

TinkerTool v3.1 provides access to a number of user settings that are normally unavailable in OS X. This update adds a number of new features and fixes a few minor bugs.
VersionTracker Pro X 3.0 is a desktop app that finds, downloads, installs updates to your software. The new release's Download and Install feature provides convenient installation of selected updates.

Software Notes

There is an apparent bug in Mac OS X 10.3's Quartz implementation that causes rendering problems in the Web browser Camino. Essentially, the problem involves Quartz' anti-aliasing capabilities and manifests in iframe text boxes with Camino. The bug allows text to flow outside the boundary of any text box using a QuickDraw view.

After upgrading to Panther, several users with Virtual PC 6.1 and Windows 95 or Windows 2000 were not able to use emulation printing. Microsoft's technical support indicates that it may be addressed in a future release noting, however, that they are focusing their resources on improving Network Printing over Emulated Printing. In the meantime, they recommend one of two workarounds:

Rollback your operating system from MacOS 10.3 to MacOS 10.2.8
Use PDF printing software in Windows to save the output to a PDF document which can then be prtined using the Apple Preview application.

Users of Macromedia software have been prompted to re-enter their serial number - in some cases triggering the anti-piracy measures to think that too many copies are in use - after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.3. Macromedia technical support is providing access to a special FTP site for users who need to re-download updates after receiving a "download limit exceeded" message.

Some users of Illustrator CS are reporting problems using the serial numbers supplied with the the application. In one report, the serial number provided is "not valid". To get a new serial number within 24 hours, contact Adobe Customer Service at 1-800-833-6687 or send an email toaifiles@adobe.com.

Hardware News

Apple acknowledges that the PowerBook G4 15" (FireWire 800) has an issue with the flat-panel in "white spots" appear on the display making it difficult to use. In Apple Knowledge Base article #86632, Apple indicates that users experiencing faint white spots on the PowerBook G4 (15-inch FW 800) computer's display should contact AppleCare.

The PowerBook G4 (15-inch FW 800) models affected are the ones introduced in September 2003. For assistance identifying which model of computer you have, see technical document #88248, "PowerBook G4 Computers: How to Identify Different Models"

According to Apple's documentation, the new 50 watt-hour battery in the 12.1-inch display G4 iBook model uses six lithium ion cells and provides up to 6 hours of operation, depending on configuration and usage. The battery is compatible only with 12-inch iBook having two USB ports, is priced at US$129, and available from the Apple Store.

US Robotics modem owners are finding it difficult to obtain official word on whether or not drivers will be updated for Panther compatibility. One owner recently received the following response to a support inquiry: "Thank you for contacting U.S.Robotics. Your satisfaction is of the utmost importance to us. Unfortunately, model USR9000 is not going to work under Mac OS 10.3."

HP technical support had identified a number compatibility issues between Panther and some of their product drivers. The most seriously affected are the drivers for their All-in-One devices. HP warns that users may experience reliability issues when using these devices and their drives with 10.3. HP has indicated that they are currently working with Apple to develop drivers that will provide full functionality for their products.

On a related note, Mac OS X 10.3 does ship with integrated print-only drivers for many HP products.  A list of these products is available in Apple Knowledge Base article #25588.

For those with subscriptions, MacFixit has released their "Special Report: Troubleshooting the Power Mac G5" which covers these and other issues:
  • Working with Optical audio out
  • TechTool Pro 4.x launch failure workaround
  • Noise Issues: Beeping, buzzing and more
  • Plastic door strips must be removed
  • Blank screen from "cold start"; workarounds
  • Some RAM modules may be too tall for the Power Mac G5
  • False fan error message
  • Crashes during iDVD encoding, solution
  • ATI Radeon 9800: features missing, noisy
  • M Audio cards effectively not compatible with the Power Mac G5; fix coming
For those with subscriptions, MacFixit has released their "Special Report: Troubleshooting the PowerBook G4 15" (FireWire 800)" which covers the following and other issues:
  • New FireWire target mode feature
  • Retrospect Problems
  • The White Spot issue
  • Screen dimness; illumination problems
  • Bad RAM and replacement
  • Loose AirPort card can cause startup crashes
  • Startup disc problems

Retail News

The December 22 issue of Fortune magazine names the iTunes Music Store its Product of the Year. Read More.

ESPN has released their first annual "Favorite Things of the Year;" among them is the Apple iPod. Read More.

According to a Macworld UK online poll, a quarter of readers have asked Santa for an iPod, prompting the headline "Santa facing iPod hell." Read More.


William Carrel says he has discovered and detailed a security flaw in Mac OS X's handling of DHCP that can result in root access being granted. As described, the problem occurs through "a series of seemingly innocuous default settings can cause an affected Mac OS X machine to trust a malicious machine on a network for user, group, and volume mounting settings." Read More.

Panther's FileVault system, which protects each user's home folder with on-the-fly 128-but AES data encryption, has been found to contain a data-damaging glitch, The bug manifests itself as a request to regain lost disk space in the encrypted directory. If the user responds in the affirmative, FileVault's reclamation process damages the user's keychain data. Simply refusing to allow the software to reclaim lost disk space keeps the bug at bay. Read More.

All versions of Safari may be vulnerable to the same exploit originally reported as a flaw in Mozilla and Netscape 6.x. This exploit can be used to steal cookies with a specific path set, and can be used to steal cookies with the secure flag set. Security Update 2003-12-05 corrects this issue so you should upgrade if you haven't already.

There is a known issue in Illustrator CS where the native Illustrator 10 format is not shown as an available option. Selecting the option "text" will save in the proper format.

On a related note, there are also some reported problems saving PDF files in Illustrator 10 where text appears jagged when opened with Adobe Reader. Turning on "smooth line art" in Reader's preferences seems to eliminate the problem in most cases.

MacFixit reports there is a potentially serious issue where Mac OS X remains authenticated when you login, when you authenticate an action in the Finder, and can also occur when you authenticate in various other situations. The problem is that authentication lasts for five minutes, allowing you to accidentally perform actions that would otherwise be prohibited. The proposed workaround is to edit the /etc/authorization file through the terminal or a third-party text application.
  • At the end of the file, the timeout value (in seconds) can be set to any value in order to shorten the authorization validity period, including for the privileges you get right after login.
  • A value of 0 is not recommended because the Finder will request authorization for every action. Because a single Finder action may actually represent several UNIX actions so user will be prompted several times for password.
  • Because this is a modification of a default value, the the possible consequences on the whole system could be bad.
Some users are reporting problems when sharing an Internet connection through a host system running Mac OS X 10.3.x (Panther) on a client system running Mac OS X 10.2.x (Jaguar).
  • Some of those experiencing the problem report that the only operating system having problems using a Panther-based Internet connection is Mac OS X 10.2. Mac OS 9 and Windows XP clients are operating without issues.
  • Others report that incorrect IP addresses are being distributed to the problematic Mac OS X 10.2 client computers.
  • According to Apple Knowledge Base article #107786, the problem may be due to a Firewall. The article states that Internet sharing requires port 80 to be open in the Firewall (if it is in use).
  • One workaround is to set IP manually rather than through DHCP-assignments n the Network pane of System Preferences.
  • Apple Support in Europe indicates that the problem is "...a known issue", and should be addressed in Mac OS X10.3.2 .
After examining a number or reader reports, MacFixIt recommends resetting the PMU (power management unit) if you are experiencing apparent power management issues. The PMU performs the following functions:
  • Tell the computer to turn on, turn off, sleep, wake, idle, etc.
  • Manage system resets from various commands.
  • Maintain parameter RAM (PRAM).
  • Manage the real-time clock.
In order to reset the PMU, you will need to do the following:
  • Disconnect power (and all other external devices for good measure)
  • Open the case (on some PowerBooks resetting the PMU can be accomplished by simultaneously pressing and then releasing Shift-Control-Option-power on the keyboard while the system is off
  • Press the PMU reset once (pressing the rest button more than one time could have bad consequences, like causing the PMU to no longer operate properly)
Additional instruction on resetting the PMU can be found in Knowledge Base article #95037. Knowledge Base article #95165 describes the process on a flat-panel iMac.

The MPEG-2 component in QuickTime 6.4 expired on December 14th, leaving users without the ability to playback MPEG-2 files. The issue is nothing to do with which Mac or which version of Mac OS X is being used. The problem also has nothing to do with when the MPEG-2 component was purchased. There are a limited number of workarounds
  • Set the date back to December 14th but this will compromise scheduling tools and other applications.
  • Some have noted that QuickTime 6.3, released in June, will still play MPEG-2 files with the date set accurately.
There are two ways to obtain the MPEG-2 playback component of QuickTime - purchase it standalone and download the package from Apple's Web site or receive it alongside Final Cut Pro 4 or DVD Studio Pro 2. Apple Knowledge Base article #93407 explains how to download an updated version of the MPEG-2 component with either ownership scenario, but there is no indication that the currently available version fixes the expiration bug.

Mac OS X in Brief

The Up-to-Date program for Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) - whereby you can receive a Panther upgrade for US$19.95 if you purchased a qualifying new Macintosh computer (or any G5) on or after October 8, 2003 - ends on December 26, 2003. Your order must be postmarked or faxed by December 17, 2003.

eWeek is reporting that Apple is handing out version 10.3.2 of its server OS to developers. "Apple Computer Inc. is readying a minor update to Mac OS X Server that will deliver a grab bag of system enhancements and bug fixes..." Read More.

It is worth noting that the "Secure Empty Trash" function in Mac OS X 10.3 (intended to permanently erase files) can delete files that are currently in use. While this is will result in differing behavior among different applications, for critical system files, the results could be much worse, and possibly require re-installation of Mac OS X 10.3.

Macs as vulnerable as Windows machines? Lance Ulanoff makes some arguable statements about Mac security in relation to Windows counterparts: "Ultimately, those on the Mac fringe have to face facts: Panther and Jaguar were not better at outrunning vulnerabilities than Windows." Read More.

Panther's Software Update now allows users to continue installing updates after the restart window appears. Simply drag that window out of the way and continue with other updaters. Users can even launch a second updater while the first updater is optimizing the hard disk and the second updater window will have a message that it is waiting until optimization is finished and then when optimization is finished, then proceed normally.

Panther's FireWire target disk mode will recognize and mount the on the host computer desktop what is in the optical drive of the target machine. Ejecting the CD from the host computer will cause the CD to be ejected from the target machine.

Mac OS X 10.3's Disk Utility, does not have the degree of functionality present in Mac OS X 10.2's Disk Copy. Disk Utility sports no preferences and therefore, no settings for imaging options such as default segment size, maximum segment size, and burning defaults. The good news is that Mac OS X 10.2's Disk Copy can be successfully used under Mac OS X 10.3.

On a related note, these and other limitations make it difficult to use Disk Utility to create an external FireWire drive with multiple partitions to boot machines into either Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X.
  • Disk utility in Panther on machines the only boot into Mac OS X, does not have the checkbox to load OS 9 drivers. A volume partitioned in Panther can not be used to boot OS 9. In fact, if the volume is selected for boot while in OS 9 and the Mac restarted, none of the FireWire volumes mount.
  • If you use Panther disk utility to erase any partition in the volume, all volumes are marked "ignore permissions on this volume".
  • If you partition the disk in Jaguar (Mac OS X 10.2.x), with Mac OS 9 drivers, but erase a partition in Panther before copying an OS 9 system to it, a Mac booting from the OS 9 system will hang.

General News

The Boston Globe reports that scientists are scrambling to perfect the fuel cell as a methanol-powered source for energy-hungry laptops and other portable devices. Read More.

Running an insecure Wi-Fi hub from a home or office is risky business that can leave a person or company open to a host of legal and technical problems. Read More.

Fortune compares the new Dell Digital Jukebox Music Player and the Dell Music Store to Superman's nemesis Bizarro calling them the "...Bizarro version of Apple's iPod" and the "Bizarro counterpart to Apple's brilliant iTunes." Read More.

CNN revealed on an episode of "Crossfire" their new "Election Express" a studio on wheels that features a PowerMac G5. CNN added that the G5 is, "...the most powerful computer. We can make and edit stories right here. You could make an entire documentary on that.".

Cool Stuff

iNitrozac and Shaggy have released a compiled set of the well-known "Joy of Tech" comments. The book features several never-before-seen comics, exclusive notes from the artists, an appendix of the JoyPolls, and an introduction by David Pogue. Read More.

Dr. Bott has released a brushed aluminum briefcase for the PowerBook G4 15" (FireWire 800). The TiCase15 II features cutouts hold the power supply, power cable, accessories, and even a slot for an iPod." Read More.


Joy of Tech
  • When Superheroines Complain
  • Exterminators
  • Thanksgiving Leftovers
  • Santa's Workshop


MacWorld Conference & Expo

  • Location: The Moscone Center, San Francisco California
  • Date: Conference Jan 5-9 2004
    • Expo January 6-9 2004
  • Registration: Click here for registration information.
  • Conference Program: Click here for program information.

macosxlabs.org Webcast

  • Subject: New Radmind Features
  • Presenters: Patrick McNeal
  • Moderator: Matt MacInnis, Apple Computer
  • Date: Tuesday, January 20, 2004
  • Times:
    • 10:00 am - 11:30 am PST
    • 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm EST
    • 18:00 - 19:30 GMT
  • Viewing Instructions: Click here for instructions on how to view the webcast
Mac OS X Server Essentials v.10.3

  • Location: Alpine School District Training Center
    • 490 North State St. Lindon, UT 84042
  • Date:
    • Mac OS X Server Essentials: January 19 - 22, 2003
    • (9:00 am - 5:00 pm)
  • Type: Training
  • Fee:Your Apple Sales Team is proud to bring you a unique opportunity to complete these courses at a dramatically reduced rate. Sign up for the Mac OS X Server Essentials v.10.3 course for $1650 per attendee. This is a $350 savings versus attending the very same course at an Apple facility.
  • Registration:
    • To enroll or if you have any questions, please call Justin Flemer at 800-848-6398 (hit option 1 and then option 2) or email flemer@apple.com
To learn how this class will prepare you for the Apple Certified Help Desk Specialist Certification as well as the Apple Certified Technical Coordinator Certification, please click on the following link: