What's New - Jan 21, 2004

By: Mike Yocom - Revised: 2006-07-03 devin

Download Slides – PDF-File, 3.0 MB


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

AppleWorks for Mac OS X 6.2.9 - This update to AppleWorks 6.0 and later supports mice with scroll wheels and improves the performance and reliability.

DVD Studio Pro X 2.0.3 - This is a professional DVD authoring tool. The new release adds support for Cropped D-1 and 1/2 D-1 MPEG-2 video resolutions and changes the behavior of the dual-layer break point for DVD-9 projects.

Final Cut Pro (Simplified Chinese) 4.1.1 - Whether you work in film, HD, SD, or DV, FCP has the creative tools. This update supports Simplified Chinese.

Final Cut Express 2 - This feature-rich DV editing software is designed for the complete beginner, aspiring filmmaker, educator and experienced DV editor alike.

iCal 1.5.2 - Organize all the calendars in your life.

iLife '04 - iLife offers all of the tools you need to kick back and create something spectacular. With GarageBand 1, iTunes 4, iPhoto 4, iMovie 4 and iDVD 4 you have five superb tools in your creative hands. Available for $49 (US).

iTunes 4.2 - iTunes is already the best jukebox software in the world, with the best music store inside — and it keeps getting better.

GarageBand Jam Pack - This is an add-on music content package for Apple’s revolutionary new GarageBand music creation software

Mac OS X Server Update 10.3.2 - Delivers enhanced functionality and improved reliability.

QuickTime 6.5 - Apple’s award-winning software for creating, playing, and streaming high-quality audio and video over the Internet.

Security Update 2003-12-19 (Jaguar) 1.0 - Delivers a number of security enhancements.

Security Update 2003-12-19 (Panther) 1.0 - Delivers a number of security enhancements.

Soundtrack 1.2 - Update includes new features, general fixes/performance enhancements and is strongly recommended for all users.

Xserve RAID Admin Tools 1.2 - The Xserve RAID’s remote management software that simplifies setup and monitoring of storage volumes.

New Third Party Software

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

Data Rescue X v10.4 has a new user interface and the addition of content based recovery allowing the recovery of deleted pictures from digital cameras and media cards.

Mac Pilot 1.1 is a tool to access hidden options in OS X and applications. The new release has a "Display Expose" button.

Samba 3.0.2pre1 is an open source implementation of CIFS/SMB networking

Software Notes

Roxio introduces Toast with Jam 6.0 at MacWorld 2004. Macintosh users can drag and drop, burn and share data, audio, photos or video easily with Toast 6. With the Jam software, they can create DJ-quality CD mixes and masters. Incorporates Peak Express. Read More.

Omni Group's forthcoming OmniWeb 5, which promises to meld the rendering speed of Apple's WebKit framework (which powers Safari) with a slew of fabulous browsing features. Read More.

The current iteration of Virtual PC (6.1) is incompatible with the now-shipping Power Macintosh G5s. A Microsoft spokesperson recently told MacFixIt: "We are working on adding G5 functionality into the next version of VPC, which is currently being developed by the Mac BU."

In a related bit of news, Microsoft also announced that VPC 7 will be bundled with Office 2004 for the Mac Professional Edition and as a stand- alone product in the first half of 2004.

eWeek reports on a new open-source productivity suite that runs natively in Mac OS X. Ported over to Mac OS X by developers Benjamin Reed and Benjamin Meyer, KOffice is a comprehensive suite of applications originally created for Unix's KDE graphical desktop. Read More.

Apple Store orders of iLife '04 may ship after this week because of an unexpected supply delay. Purchasers are encouraged to remember that "...product availability can change rapidly, and it is possible that your order may ship much sooner than we (The Apple Store) anticipate."

Hardware News

Revised iPods - New entry level model
  • 15 GB (New) US$299
  • 20 GB US$399
  • 40 GB US$499
New iPod Mini - The second member of the iPod family
  • 4 GB US$249
  • Anodized aluminum case (five colors)
  • New (Patent Pending) scroll wheel
  • Same big iPod interface/software
  • Face is the size of a credit card and only 1/2" thick.
New G5 Xserve - G5, need one say more.
  • Single 2.0 GHz G5 US$2999 - 1GHz bus; 512MB RAM 8GB Max); 80GB drive module (up to 750 GB three drive bays); Slot-loading CD-ROM (Combo optional); 2 Gigabit ethernet; 2 FireWire 800; 1 FireWire 400; 2 USB 2.0, 1 D8-9 serial port; 2 full-length 64-bit 133 MHz PCI-X slots.
  • Dual 2.0 GHz G5 US$2999 - 1GHz bus per processor; 512MB RAM (8GB Max); 80GB drive module; 2 Gigabit ethernet; 2 FireWire 800; 1 FireWire 400; 2 USB 2.0, 1 D8-9 serial port; 2 full-length 64-bit 133 MHz PCI-X slots.
  • Dual 2.0 GHz G5 US$3999 - 1GHz bus per processor; 1 GB RAM (8GB Max); 80GB drive module (up to 750 GB three drive bays); Slot-loading CD-ROM (Combo optional); 2 Gigabit ethernet; 2 FireWire 800; 1 FireWire 400; 2 USB 2.0, 1 D8-9 serial port; 2 full-length 64-bit 133 MHz PCI-X slots.
Upgraded XServe RAID - Now supports Windows and Linux based computing environments as well as industry standard SFP connectors.
  • 1TB US$5999 - 4 250 GB drives
  • 1.75TB US$7499 - 7 250 GB drives
  • 3.5TB US$10999 - 14 250 GB drives
Apple offered a preview of its new computational clustering technology called Xgrid at this year's MacWorld 2004. Xgrid is designed to fully utilize all IT resources, including desktops and servers, by creating a grid enabled “virtual” IT environment that takes advantage of unused computing capacity to run batch and workload processing. Read More.

FireWire Depot has debuted the "Disk Jockey" a hard disk copy and diagnostic tool that allows users to copy data between IDE hard disk drives while maintaining all of the attributes of the original hard disk, including hidden folders, multiple partitions and operating system files. The Disk Jockey can also erase hard disk drives quickly and securely using either a one-pass or three-pass erase per the National Security Administration (NSA) guidelines. Read More.

AppleCare will deliver new optical drives only for iBook customers in the US that already need repairs. Only The following iBook computer models that shipped with specific versions of the combo drives are eligible for the optical drive enhancement program:
  • iBook (16 VRAM)
  • iBook (Dual USB)
  • iBook (Late 2001)
  • iBook (14.1 LCD)
  • iBook (14.1 LCD 16 VRAM).
The Washington Post provides some background information on the now infamous "iPod's Dirty Little Secret" video, which was created out of frustration with one user's dying iPod battery. Read More.

The Washington Post also notes that although lithium ion batteries are the most lightweight, powerful and low-maintenance batteries around they have one drawback: a limited lifespan. Apparently, they start aging like the way a new car depreciates once it leaves the lot. Read More.

PC Magazine has published its own benchmarks and evaluation of the Power Mac G5 dual 2 GHz. "Think Macs are slow? The Apple Power Mac G5 has the horsepower to hang with any of the leading Windows PCs." Read More.

Apple has posted two new technical documents: an overview of the new Xserve G5 and a white paper discussing the Power PC 970 (G5) architecture:

Owners of a either a Sony internal DRU-530A or an external DRX-530UL Dual RW DVD/CD-recordable drive are in for a late holiday gift. The company is issuing a free firmware upgrade that will allow them to achieve up to 8X DVD-R and 4X DVD-RW recording speeds. Downloads of the free firmware upgrades can be done from Sony's Storage Support Web Site before the end of February.

IBM is using the PowerPC 970 “G5” chips in a line of new blade servers; a dual1.6GHz 64-bit server running AIX or Linux and 512MB of RAM will sell for US$2699.


In all versions of Mac OS X, attempting to unlock a locked keychain by using a very long password crashes SecurityServer, the background-only process that handles all authentications and authorizations; once that happens, there’s no real way to make the system usable again aside from rebooting; Apple is aware of the problem but has not promised a date for a fix.

It seems that the USB input/output component update included with Mac OS X 10.3.2 breaks Parallel to USB connectors (popular for a number of networked/workgroup HP printers) under most circumstances. One solution is to try downgrading the IOUSBFamily.kext files to the versions included with Mac OS X 10.3.1. These files are located in /System/Library/Extensions. Doing so, however, can not only reverse enhancements delivered by Mac OS X 10.3.2, but also cause problems with other USB devices.

There is an apparent "design flaw" in the hinge of newer iBooks that results in failing displays. There is not enough room for the wires to pass through and handle the friction they receive by opening and closing the lid. The problem generally manifests in one of three ways:

Video "artifacts" progressing to eventual system failure
"Black screen" or "dimming" of the backlight, when screen is opened past a certain angle
"Black screen" or "dimming" of the backlight at random times, which can be temporarily solved by tapping on, or applying pressure to, the iBook case directly below the fn and control keys (to the left of the trackpad)

Apple is apparently installing a new part when machines are sent in for service, a sign that there may now be a more definitive fix than before.

Alsoft' indicates that currently shipping DiskWarrior CDs are not bootable on any G5s, nor any other Macs released after September, 2003 (though users have had varied success). Users can successfully run a DiskWarrior rebuild process using an extra Mac that supports FireWire target disk mode, Simply designate the G5 as the target disk (hold down T during startup), and it will appear as a normal FireWire volume on the host computer, which can be used as a valid, non-startup volume with DiskWarrior.

When run on Panther, Retrospect 5.1 (version 6 has been announced, but not shipped) may inconsistently autolaunch causing inconsistent or incomplete backups. One reasonable workaround involves the following steps:

Enable fast user switching in System Preferences
Log into administrative account from which you run Retrospect scripts and don't log out
Fast switch to your normal account.

Once this procedure has been done, your admin account is always running in the background. As long as your computer is running and as long as your admin account that runs Retrospect is logged on, Retrospect should run its scripts on schedule.

On a related note, Retrospect Version 5.1 also displays these launch issues under Mac OS X 10.3.x:

Retrospect is not able to autolaunch at the Panther login screen. Computers left at the login screen can be successfully backed up with the Retrospect client software.
Retrospect may not launch on the first attempt after logging out or restarting. Trying to launch Retrospect a second time should be successful.

David Kilbridge offers a number of links that include take-apart and repair instructions for Apple Pro mice. Most users who have performed repairs, however, say that they are tedious and often not worth the effort.

"Opening and Repairing an Apple Pro Mouse"
"Modding the Apple Pro Mouse MOD apart"
"An Optical Mouse on the inside..."
"Apple Pro Mouse Repair - Unofficial, Warrantee Voiding"
"Dave's Tech Tips"

Kilbridge also notes an easy test for a damaged mouse cable can be performed by launching Granted Software's freeware USB Monitor (Mac OS X only) and manipulating the cable at the mouse housing. If the transparent window indicating a USB connection or disconnection appears, the cable is bad.

Mac OS X 10.3.2 may break ZIO and their smart card readers. ZIO technical support is offering a new and unsupported "beta" driver to users through a private download link. Others report regaining use of the card reader by reinstalling driver version 1.04 after the Mac OS X 10.3.2 update. Apparently, the Mac OS X 10.3.2 update removed some of the extensions necessary for the ZiO device to work. Re-running the installer replaces the extensions. Users are also having similar problems with other smart card readers as well.

Users of the ADVC 100 (manufactured by Canopus) report that QuickTime 6.5 with Mac OS X 10.2.8 and and Final Cut Pro 4.1 works well, without lost frames of video but QuickTime 6.5 with Mac OS X 10.3.1 or 10.3.2 and Final Cut Pro 4.1 skips frames.

On a related note, on systems running Panther, the "Capture Now" function in Final Cut Pro 4.1 has issues when delivering digital video to external FireWire drives. The dropping of frames is obvious, as file sizes of captured video segments will be much smaller than normal.

Mac OS X in Brief

For those with subscriptions, MacFixit has started to troubleshoot issues users have encountered while using the latest software and hardware updates from Apple including: Mac OS X version 10.3.x, Mac OS X Server, iLife '04 apps, Safari,

Individuals who purchased or received new Macs for the holidays that are equipped with Jaguar can still get a Panther upgrade for US$19.95 from Apple's Mac OS X Up-to-Date program. Apple has been extended the final date to January 31, 2004.

Apple Knowledge Base Article #25647 confirms that the Panther upgrade CDs purchased through Apple's Up-to-Date program for qualifying pre-Mac OS X 10.3 equipped hardware are not "downgradable." In other words, once you have installed Mac OS X 10.3.x from the Up-to-date Panther CD, then upgraded to Mac OS X 10.3.2, the Up-to-date CD will not allow the user to re-install a fresh copy of Mac OS X 10.3.x using the "Archive and Install" option.

General News

RealNetworks sued Microsoft on antitrust charges, accusing the software giant of illegally using its Windows monopoly to limit consumer choice in digital media. This has resulted in "...substantial lost revenue and business for RealNetworks," Read More.

The New York Times reports on how a father is keeping tabs on the location his daughters using cell phones equipped with special tracking software. "On the train returning to Armonk, N.Y., from a recent shopping trip in Manhattan with her friends, Britney Lutz, 15, had the odd sensation that her father was watching her. He very well could have been. Ms. Lutz's father, Kerry, recently equipped his daughters with cellular phones that let him see where they are on a computer map at any given moment. Earlier that day, he had tracked Britney as she arrived in Grand Central Terminal. Later, calling up the map on his own cellphone screen, he noticed she was in SoHo."

An emerging IEEE standard designed to increase WLAN speeds to at least 100M bps for data and actual throughput rates, 802.11n, won't likely be ratified before late 2005. Broadcom Corp, however, is planning to jump the gun by releasing "prestandard" products. Read More.

The Deseret Morning News relays the story of how a Macintosh discreetly equipped with an iSight camera and motionsensitive image capture software caught two students stealing equipment from a Brigham Young University computer lab. Read More.

CNET reports that Apple, unlike some high tech companies, "drinks its own juice" by using it's own products. Read More.

Cool Stuff

A Japanese site documents step-by-step how the owner of a Power Mac G4 Cube built a new case that matches the mighty G5's perforated aluminum casing. Read More.

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Alpine Electronics demonstrated a solution that enables consumers to connect and control their iPod from their in-vehicle sound system. Read More.

GeeThree's $130 Sweet Multiport, which uses one of your Mac's open front drive bays and an empty PCI slot to provide a slew of front-mounted ports, including 2 FireWire ports, 1 USB port, and a 5-in-1 memory card reader. Read More.

Griffin Technology will be releasing SightLight, a clever little LED-based light that fits around an iSight camera to improve your look in iChat AV video chats. It has several brightness settings and is powered from FireWire. It's due out in a few months for $40. Read More.

Griffin Technology will also be releasing the iTalk, a device that turns your iPod into a voice recorder. It's also $40 and due out in April. Read More.

Phlink from Ovolab consists of a small USB device that plugs into your Mac and into your phone line, and custom software that turns your Mac into a flexible answering machine and automated response system for $150. Read More.


Joy of Tech
  • Return of the King?
  • iSea Monkeys?
  • That Empty Feeling
  • Rejected "1984" add revamps
  • "Goth" filter
  • Homeland Security...On Mars?


macosxlabs.org Webcast
  • Subject: New Radmind Features
  • Presenters: Patrick McNeal
  • Moderator: Matt MacInnis, Apple Computer
  • Date: Wednesday, January 21, 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