Apple Update iLife Apps

Apple released patches for several apps in the iLife ’08 Suite. iPhoto 7.1.4 is the only one that contains feature enhancements in addition to the typical “compatibility” and “stability updates”:

This update contains new holiday greeting card and postcard themes for use with Apple print products.

There’s also iMovie 7.1.4, iWeb 2.0.4, and a general iLife Support 8.3 update. All three contain the terse description:

This update improves overall stability and addresses a number of other minor issues. It is recommended…

I applied the update to all my Macs without incident. No reboot is required. iPhoto is the only app I use and I haven’t noticed any issues with it.

iWeb 2.0.3 Released By Apple

Apple has released and update for iWeb. iWeb 2.0.3 has the wordy description of:

This update addresses compatibility with Mac OS X.

It’s available through Apple software update and as a direct download. No reboot was required when I installed the update.

Since there’s not much else to say about this update I’ll throw in a little rant. Apple released iWork updates yesterday and an iWeb update today. There’s no security implications mentioned. Couldn’t they have released them at the same time so I’d only be interrupted once? It’s not like they needed extra time for the release notes. While I really want to keep my software updated all these updates (including non-Apple updates) are getting tiresome. To tear down my own rant – Apple software update defaults to checking once a week (if I remember correctly) so if I had left the default I would have probably gotten the updates all at the same time.

Apple Updates iWork, iWeb, iTunes (Windows) & Firmware

Hot on the heals of yesterday’s iLife updates Apple has released updates to four applications and a bunch of firmware.

iWeb 2.0.2 was released. You’ll need the iLife Support 8.1 update that was released yesterday before you can install this one. It’s a 18.4MB download through Software Update (Intel) and a 17MB standalone download. Apple tells us…

This update to iWeb addresses issues with upgrading iWeb 1.x websites, and fixes some common publishing problems, and supports general compatibility issues.

All three iWork Apps were updated. Numbers went to version 1.01. It’s a 27.3MB download through Software Update and a 26.1MB standalone download. Apple’s description is:

This update primarily addresses issues with tables and performance.

Pages was updated to 3.0.1 and was a 29.1MB download through software update. It’s a 27.8MB standalone download. Apple description actually hits double-digits for this update:

This update primarily addresses issues with change tracking and performance.

Keynote 4.0.1 is a 32.4MB download through Software Update and a 31.1MB standalone download. Apple couldn’t reach double-digits with this description:

This update primarily addresses issues with builds and performance.

I guess Apple couldn’t quit get iWeb 2.0.2 out the same day as the other iLife ’08 updates. It’s a 18.4MB download through Software Update and a 17MB standalone download. Their description is downright verbose:

This update to iWeb addresses issues with upgrading iWeb 1.x websites, and fixes some common publishing problems, and supports general compatibility issues.

Apple also released firmware updates for iMacs (v1.2) and MacBooks (v1.1) which I needed and installed. There were also updates for Mac Pros (v1.2), MacBook Pro (v1.4), and XServe (v1.0). The updates are relatively small (all less than 5MB). The links jump to the bulletin for the firmware update.

Apple also updated iTunes for Windows (not for Mac) to 7.4.3. The update addresses the initial setup of the iPod touch according to the bulletin. I don’t run iTunes Windows so didn’t need this.

I didn’t have any problems after installing any of the updates. None of the application updates required a restart, although the apps being updated need to be shut down. The firmware updates do require a restart and your given the instructions:

1. Quit all other open applications.

2. Click Shut Down in the iMac EFI Firmware Update window and wait for your computer to shut down.

3. Press and hold the power button on your iMac until the power indicator light flashes repeatedly or you hear a long tone, then release the power button.

A status bar indicates the progress of the update.

Important: Do not interrupt the update.

Your computer restarts automatically when the update is completed and opens the iMac EFI Firmware Update.

4. Click OK, if the firmware is now up-to-date.

If these instructions appear on your screen again, the firmware update was not successful. Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4.

Apple Updates iWeb ’08

Apple released an update to the still fresh iWeb ’08. It updates iWeb to version 2.0.1. In typical terse Apple fashion they describe the update as: “These update addresses issues with upgrading and publishing iWeb 1.x websites.”

I did have a problem after I upgraded iWeb but no idea if this fixes it. I upgraded iWeb which the upgraded my Domains file (the file is specific to iWeb, it’s not a networking file). I then deleted the website but the domain file still contained the source for the website (1.5MB worth of files) even though the file was no longer listed in iWeb.

Apple Updates Hardware and Software

Apple made their Mac announcements today. As with most Apple events it generated tons of speculation. What they did announce was:

New Hardware

Apple replaced their iMac line with new models. They dropped the 17″ iMac and replaced it with a 20″ low-end iMac. A 20″ iMac and a 24″ iMac are available at the mid-level with 2.4GHz processors.

A 24″ iMac at the high-end that has a 2.4Ghz processor. Most of the reports I saw left this 4th iMac out but it’s at the Apple store (click the pic on the left to see the specs).

They also upgraded the specs of their Mac Mini line.

Since I have a fairly new iMac these aren’t changes I can get excited about. My expectation is my current iMac will at least last until the next iMac refresh.

Software Updates

Apple also updated their iLife and iWork suites. Both now carry the ’08 moniker.

iLife ’08 will begin shipping with all new Macs in addition to being available for $79. There aren’t any new apps in iLife, although the existing apps do get upgraded. Features getting the most press are:

  • iPhoto: You can now organize photos into “events”. They also added a Web Galleries feature (which may be .Mac only).
  • iMovie: Sees to be completely redesigned. All videos are now in a common library and YouTube uploads are supported.
  • iWeb: New web widgets which allows taking snippets of contents from other sites. Support for Google maps and AdSense is now included. You can use personal domain names for .Mac and you can change themes for installed sites.
  • Garageband: Add a new feature called “Magic Garageband” which generates tracks based on the parameters you define.
  • iDVD: Adds “Pro-Quality encoding”, new themes among other enhancements.

iWork ’08 is a $79 application. The big news here was the addition of a spreadsheet called Numbers. The do claim compatibility with Excel (including Excel ’07) but Excel macros are not supported.

Pages and Keynote also have their share of updates. The updates aren’t of the type to make people run out and buy iWork if they don’t have it already, but existing users are likely to be happy.

Personally, I’m happy to see the software updated. I’ve already ordered the iLife upgrade because I like the software. I have to admit that the decision was made before I had any idea what would be in it.

As for iWork, I’ll probably buy it because the price is right and I have low resistence. I had the previous version but struggled to find a use for it. I find TextEdit or even Google Docs more than enough for my limited needs. Numbers may prove useful for me since I often want a spreadsheet but hesitate to store some data on the web in Google Spreadsheets. I want to like and use iWork, I really do. Yea, talked myself into it, I’ll buy it.

.MAC Updated

.Mac was also updated. The big news here is now you get 10GB of storage for the same price. Attachments to email can now be up to 20GB. The personal domain feature mentioned as new in iWeb also requires .Mac.

I had dropped .Mac awhile back. Earlier this week I signed back up for a 60-day trial. I’ve been looking at some software that can use .Mac to sync data between Macs. I now have a MacBook which I want to have most of my data so syncing data has become important again. I’m not convinced it’s worth the price but the enhancements help. The “Back to My Mac” feature in Leopard may be what tips it in favor for me.

All the new software is available for immediate shipment, some new hardware is listed at 3-5 days.

Anyone been waiting for a refresh to buy an iMac? Was it worth the wait? Like or dislike the software updates?

Bits and Pieces

Another week has gone by. It being tax time and all (yea I waited) I didn’t have time to put together any additional articles but I do have a bunch of little things I’ve either started or have noticed around the web. Rather than a lot of small posts, or ignoring them completely, I decided to summarize them here.

Software News

Hawk Wings had news of Correo 0.2 which is an open source e-mail client based on Camino and Thunderbird. With my move off of mail.app due to some problems it’s nice to see a product that seems to address my main reason for not using Thunderbird (despite it’s cross-platform abilities) which was the lack of OS X integration. It’s definitely seems worth looking at. My e-mail requirements are minimal but reliability is a key one so I’ll probably avoid moving to it at least until it’s a little further along in the development stage, but my curiosity will probably force me to look at it pretty soon. You can download Correo or visit the blog to learn more.

TextExpander is a app I’ve heard about and has piqued my interest in the past but I never downloaded it. It was again mentioned on a recent Macbreak Video and in a Hawk Wings entry (about the new html snippets) so I took the hint and downloaded the evaluation software. Well, I’ve only had it installed for a day and already I’m hooked. I also downloaded their snippet files for autocorrect and html codes. One of the things that had turned me off was that it’s a $29 app. While that’s a low price the app seems to do something that’s so simple it seems pointless to pay. Well, it’s a huge productivity boost (especially for someone with my lack of typing skills) and is worth the twenty-nine bucks. The only downside is learning the shortcuts. Simple enough for ones that are used all the time but the other ones may be a bit tougher. They offer suggestions since the shortcuts also have to be avoided when typing real words.

On the Web

There were some web articles I came across but haven’t mentioned yet.

Information Week published and article about managing application compatibility in Vista. Much of it is in problem/solution format while they also cover additional options such as the Application Compatibility Toolkit from Microsoft. The target audience is IT support people rather than end-users/consumers but it’s an interesting read if your considering Vista.

I was looking for some icons and came across Real Word Graphics. The have several icon sets that can be downloaded for free. They also sell an icon editor (which I haven’t looked at). I was also able to use their online fav-icon creator to create a favicon for another site.

It was also in the news that Apple’s Boot Camp beta would be expiring. At the time the article was posted Leopard was still officially due for a “spring” release which was expected to be in June. Since then Leopard has been officially delayed until October but the terms of the beta state that it expires September 30th even if the product isn’t released. Apple has said that the Windows installation will continue to work aftert the beta ends, but support options will be limited. There won’t be any driver updates and the Boot Camp Assistant software sill stop working. Boot Camp will become part of Leopard when it’s released and there have been rumors that it will also be a separate product for older OS X versions. Price rumors for the separate product are $29.

Computerworld had a good review of four external drives. They liked the Western Digital drive the best (although performance was mixed) but also gave good marks (along with some bad) to drives from Seagate, LaCie and Iomega. Also, while not the exact drive that was reviewed (the one with the triple interface) my local Staples newspaper circular has WD Mybook drives on sale this week so check them out if they’re local for you.

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Also in the news this weeks was Corel’s release of an update to their WinDVD software. A while back some hackers accessed the encryption keys which would allow duplication of HD DVD and Bu-ray disks. The encryption keys were revoked so the software will stop playing DRM protected discs that use those keys. I’ve read conflicting information as to whether this just affects new disks or if it also applies to old discs. But the Corel spokeperson says it also affects old disk. They said…

Our recommendation is for anyone using HD DVD or Blu-ray disc playback to download the update in order to ensure that both their existing titles and newly purchased titles will continue to play,” Hughes said. “If someone inserts an HD or Blu-ray disc with the new licensing keys, it will result in HD/BD playback of previous titles being disabled until (users) install the free update.

To me, this is just foolish. Blu-ray and HD DVD don’t seem to be catching on (at least based on their availability in stores). Rather than trying to improve the product they’re making the product hard to deal with by requiring their customers (the ones who paid) to go out and update their software. The product they bought (Blu-ray/HD DVD discs) will stop working without this update. The manufacturers didn’t even think ahead by trying to put some automated update ot notification service in their software. The first time a paying customer will learn their disks don’t play may very well be when they try to play a disk. I suspect they’d return the disk if it is new. I doubt they’d know to update their software.

ZDNet had an article on Microsoft acknowledging that hackers have found a way to bypass Windows activation. To me this just seems to prove that the people who really want to bypass such protection can get by it. These are the people who can profit from it in a big way, not the typical MS customer. So it becomes another speedbump on the consumers road to using Microsoft’s product.

Quest News

I’ve been playing around with using iWeb to create a website hosted outside of .Mac. I’ve also been looking at Google Co-op as a custom search tool. The current results of both efforts are here. (Warning: That’s a development site and likely to change frequently and be down at times.)

The iWeb template I chose was a tad heavy on the graphics so it takes a bit of time to load. Unlike something like WordPress there’s no way to easily change an existing template that I can see. So I’ll be looking for a lighter theme before I continue much farther along. I also used iWebHancer which allows me to use HTML code within iWeb. The feedburner headline animators, Google Custom Search and the Amazon ads were all possible because of iWebEnhancer. The instructions for use are simple and are on the site. A tip – when they say type the placeholder as it appears, they mean it. Somehow mine was entered all caps and it didn’t work. I really like iWeb and I’m itching to do something with it. If I decide to keep using iWeb I’ll be adding iWebhancer to the toolkit. For an example of how far iWeb can be taken visit RoughlyDrafted.com.

I just started looking at Google Co-op to create custom searches. It’s fairly easy to use but takes some trial and error to get used to. Once I get more comfortable with it I suspect it will become the search tool I use on my websites.