What's New - Oct 20, 2004

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

Download Slides – PDF-File, 3.4 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

Security Update 2004-09-16 (Mac OS X 10.2.8 with iChat 1.0, Mac OS X 10.2.8 with iChat 2.0, and Mac OS X 10.3.5 with iChat 2.1) — Delivers a number of security enhancements and is recommended for all Macintosh users. This security update patches the listed versions of iChat to fix CAN-2004-0873. For more details on the vulnerability, see Apple Security Updates knowledge base article.

Java 1.4.2 Update 2 — Provides improved behavior for applets in Safari, and increased stability for desktop Java applications.

Power Mac G5 Uniprocessor Firmware Update 5.1.5f2 — This update improves general system reliability and restores sleep functionality. This fixes some issues caused by last month's Power Mac G5 Uniprocessor Firmware Update 5.1.5f1. This update only applies to single-processor Power Mac G5s.

Logic Pro 7 is for music creation and audio productivity. The full version is available for $999, and to upgrade from previous versions of Logic is $299. Logic Express 7 is a mid-range music creation and audio productivity application that fills the space between GarageBand and Logic Pro. The full version is $299, and the upgrade is $99.

Security Update 2004-09-30 (Mac OS X 10.3.5 Client & Server) — Delivers a number of security enhancements and is recommended for all Macintosh users. This update contains updates to AFP Server to address CAN-2004-0921 and CAN-2004-0922, to CUPS to address CAN-2004-0558 and CAN-2004-0923, Netinfo Manager to address CAN-2004-0924, postfix to address CAN-2004-0925, QuickTime to address CAN-2004-0926, and Server Admin to address CAN-2004-0927. For more details on the vulnerabilities, see Apple Security Updates knowledge base article.

Apple Remote Desktop 2.1 (Admin and Client) — Delivers enhanced functionality and improved reliability. Recommended for all users of Apple Remote Desktop.

New Third Party Software

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

MacLinkPlus Deluxe v15.000 is a file translation utility. This upgrade adds support for the latest versions of: Microsoft Office, WordPerfect, and Stuffit, as well as number of other enhancements.

Stuffit 9.0 is a file compression utility that supports a wide range of compression formats. Stuffit Expander 9.0 is free, while the other versions (Deluxe, Standard, and Express) are all for sale.

Mactracker 3.0b2 provides detailed information on every Apple, Motorola, PowerComputing, and UMAX Mac OS computer ever made, including items such as processor speed, memory, optical drives, graphic cards, supported Mac OS versions, and expansion options. Also included is information on Apple mice, keyboards, displays, printers, scanners, digital cameras, iPod, AirPort Base Stations, Newtons, and Mac OS versions.

VirtualPC 7 is an emulator for Intel-compatible computers. This new version adds support for G5 Macs, amongst other improvements.

SoftRAID 3.1 adds bootable volumes to the software RAID package.

CronniX 3.0b2 is a Aqua frontend to the powerful Unix tool "cron". Cron is a Unix system service that allows scheduled execution of scripts, programs, applications - in short anything that can be started from the command line. This includes OSX applications and AppleScripts.

CLIX 1.4 is a database of 455 command-line commands for investigating system status, cleaning out junk files, and more.

MacOS Classic Sound Pack v1.1 is a collection of old system alert sounds that have been converted to work in Mac OS X, for those of you that miss boing, quack, or wild eep.

Software Notes

Microsoft Office 2004 SP1 addresses several stability issues with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Entourage, and Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications for Office 2004. Security updates have also been released for Microsoft Office v.x (10.1.6) (Mac OS X) and Microsoft Office 2001 (9.0.5) (Mac OS 8.1—9.x).

VirtualPC 7 will not work on machines with 2 GB of RAM or more. The exact error is "Unhandled PowerPC exception 0x700 - Program Fault" and the PC resets over and over. A couple of workarounds exist:
  • Reduce memory to below 2 GB
  • Move the VirtualPCOSServices files to the Desktop and then restart the Mac. (They are located at /Library/Extensions/virtualpcosservices.kext and /Library/StartupItems/VirtualPCOSServices.)
Microsoft is aware of the problem and it will be fixed in VPC 7.1, which is expected out soon.

Hardware News

iBook G4
  • 12.1″ 1.2 GHz, 30GB hard drive, Combo; $999
  • 14.1″ 1.33 GHz, 60GB hard drive, Combo; $1 299
  • 14.1″ 1.33 GHz, 60GB hard drive, SuperDrive; $1 499
All models include: Airport Extreme, 256MB DDR SDRAM (expandable to 1.25GB), two USB 2.0, FireWire 400, VGA video out, S-video and composite video out support, 10/100BASE-T Ethernet, ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 with 32MB of VRAM and AGP 4X.

Fourth Power Mac G5 Configuration
  • Single 1.8 GHz G5
  • 600 MHz front-side bus (3:1)
  • 80GB SATA hard drive
  • 256MB 400 MHz DDR SDRAM (4GB max.)
  • NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 ULtra with 64MB VRAM
  • 8x SuperDrive
  • $1 499 ($1 350 Education)
A fourth Power Mac G5 has been added, lowering the low-end of the Power Mac G5 line to $1 499. The new system is a single-processor system with a 3:1 CPU to front-side bus ratio — the other Power Mac G5s have a 2:1 ratio, the iMac G5 also has a 3:1 ratio — and a 4GB RAM limit.

Xserve RAID
  • 1TB RAID 0, four 250GB ATA/100 ADMs; $5 999
  • 2.8TB RAID 0, seven 400GB ATA/100 ADMs; $8 499
  • 5.6TB RAID 0, fourteen 400GB ATA/100 ADMs; $12 999
All configurations include: 8MB cache per Apple Drive Module, dual independent RAID controllers with 512MB cache per controller, and optional dual-channel 2GB Apple Fibre Channel PCI-X card ($499).

Freescale Semiconducter, which was recently spun off from Motorola, has announced a series of Dual-core PowerPC processors, which could potentially be used in future PowerBooks until a PowerBook G5 can be released.

A couple of fairly technical articles, one an overview of the recent Fall Processor Forum at ExtremeTech, the other an interview with IBM's Pratap Pattnaik at Ars Technica about IBM's POWER5 processor — the PowerPC G5 is a derivative of the POWER4 — are available for good reading. Both demonstrate that almost every microprocessor manufacturer is headed in the direction of multi-core processors.

Retail News

According to an article from Forbes, Piper Jaffray is predicting that Apple Computer's market share will grow over the next two years.

Apple recently increased the storage capacity of .Mac to 250 MB of combined mail and web space, as compared to 100 MB of web and 15 MB of mail space, along with some other enhancements.

The Fourth Quarter results from Apple are in. Highlights include: 106 million USD profit for the quarter, 276 million USD profit for the year, and more than 2 million iPods were shipped during the quarter.

The iTunes Music Store (iTMS) continues doing well, recently passing the 150 million downloads mark.

"Mini" retail stores have been announced by Apple. The first six opened on October 16, and are about half the size of the smallest, "regular" retail store — putting them at less than 500 sq. ft.


There are reports of a number of iMac G5 issues, including excessive fan noise, incompatible system discs, clicking power supplies, and intermittent problems ejecting optical media.

A number — but still a minority — of iMac G5s have problems with excessive fan noise. The 17″ models seem to be more susceptible than the 20″ models. This does not seem to be related to similar issues on Power Mac G5s, where some units ship without having had a thermal calibration performed in the factory. It should be noted that it is normal for the fans on Power Mac and iMac G5s to spin at full speed when booting off Hardware Test discs or when booting in FireWire Target Disk Mode.

Some iMac G5s have a clicking noise emanating from the power supply. The clicking seems to be worse when the monitor brightness is turned all the way up. (On iMacs, screen brightness can be adjusting using the F14 and F15 keys.) Apple claims that this is only a problem on 220V power supplies. Units with clicking power supplies require that the power supply be replaced, fortunately this is considered to be a user-serviceable part on the iMac G5 — unlike previous iMacs.

It appears that the system discs that ship with the iMac G5 cannot be used in any other model of Mac. The installer quits with an error that the bundled software cannot be installed. No option is given to skip the bundled software and just install the updated OS.

Finally, some people have reported having intermittent problems ejecting some optical discs. Possible culprits include: black or very dark disks and extra thick labels — which can include paper labels that have absorbed a little moisture. Oddly enough, the most successful workaround that people have found to date is to turn off the iMac, lay it on its face (front), restart it, and then hit the eject button.

Power Mac G5 Uniprocessor Firmware Update 5.1.5f1 and 1.6 GHz models — a few problems with this firmware update were reported, prompting the release of the 5.1.5f2 version mentioned in the New Apple Software section. They include instability and inability to put machines to sleep.

MacFixIt reports that Mac OS X with fast user switching enabled displays strange behavior upon wake up. The specific set of preferences that consistently trigger the problem are: login window displayed as list of users, fast user switching on, and requiring log-in to wake from sleep or screen saver. Log in with one user, and put the machine to sleep. Then, wake the machine up and log in with a different user. After twenty-one seconds the machine goes to sleep again, regardless of activity. Workarounds include:
  • Activate screen saver before putting the computer to sleep
  • Switch to the login window before putting the computer to sleep
  • Log in as the person that put the computer to sleep, then switch users

Mac OS X in Brief

AnandTech has an article that works as a nice, and very thorough, case study for one man trying the switch from Windows to Mac OS X. The test system used is a Dual 2 GHz Power Mac G5 (the old high-end, not the current mid-range). Comparison topics include setup (both the hardware and the initial OS setup), Finder vs the Windows XP Explorer, keyboard shortcuts, multi-tasking, Exposé, drag and drop, virtual memory caching, stability, applications sets, Mail vs Outlook, iCal, Safari, and so on.

John Welch has a good blog entry "On why the Mac's small population is not a defense against an attack." It's a good analysis of a real-world virus that exploited a hole that only existed on 12 000 machines, but it was able to infect all 12 000 in only forty-five minutes. It helps underline why Mac administrators still need to be mindful of security, even if there hasn't been a successful Mac OS X virus yet.

BusinessWeek has an interview with Steve Jobs during the period when he was working part-time while recuperating from pancreatic cancer. The main topic is Apple's innovation.

Apple has posted a Tiger Early Starter Kit for those interested in getting a head-start on developing Tiger applications.

General News

An article on CNet says that Marc Andreessen, formerly of Netscape Communications, feels that the browser wars may be back on, as Firefox and Safari are gaining popularity at the expense of Internet Explorer.

Although products aren't expected for five to ten years, a new optical disk technology could allow 5.25″ optical disks to store up to 1 TB of data.

Another John Welch blog has a good analysis of the recent purchase of Dantz by EMC. (Dantz makes Retrospect, one of the major backup solutions for the Mac.)

Cool Stuff

WAZ Tempe has begun using two-seat, electric cars as mobile wireless repeaters. The idea is the car is driven out to an area when a hole is discovered to temporarily shore-up the signal in that area.

Segway has designed the Concept Centaur, a concept, four-wheeled counterpart to the current Segway Human Transport.

Researchers in Singapore have developed a life-saving, Bluetooth shirt. When a person wearing the shirt falls down, the shirt contacts the victim's mobile phone or computer through Bluetooth, which then contacts the victim's family or friends.


Joy of Tech
  • Zero-G
  • Pollution
  • iPod Thieves


MacEnterprise (formerly MacOSXLabs) Webcast
  • Topic: Wireless Security
  • Presenters: Tommy Hann, Apple Computer
    Terry Simons, University of Utah
  • Date: October 26, 2004
O'Reilly Mac OS X Conference
  • Location: Westing Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
  • Dates: October 25—28, 2004
  • Registration Information
  • Sessions
2004 T+L2 Conference
  • Location: Colorado Convention Center, Denver, CO
  • Dates: October 27—29, 2004
  • Registration Information
  • Sessions
MacExpo 2004 (London)
  • Location: Business Design Centre, Islington, London, UK
  • Dates: November 18—20, 2004
  • Registration Information
  • Sessions