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Tom Briant

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Sweet Spot for Macs

I read a posting on today, which discussed how to downgrade from Lion to Snow Leopard. Why would you want to do that? Because Lion is in its awkward infancy as a consumer application, that’s why. Microsoft Office 2011 apparently has troubles with it. If you use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device that connects to your Mac using the AFP protocol,…you need to wait for an upgrade of some sort. Apple changed the rules regarding AFP and apparently some hardware vendors didn’t get the message. Or shell out the money for the Lion Developer Previews.

Which brings me to my point: If you bought a Mac between 2007 and June 2011, your Mac now lies in the lucky Sweet Spot, where it can boot both Lion and Snow Leopard. All those peripherals that depend on Snow Leopard’s retention of the Rosetta technology for PowerPC programs are still good with Snow Leopard. But you can also take a document that you needed Snow Leopard to acquire and use the new features of Lion upon that document.

In a sense, you’re back to where many users stood after the introduction of OS X. They needed their Classic OS programs to work. Unfortunately, some of those Classic OS programs only worked under full-blown Classic, not the OS X Classic environment. So you had to dual-boot between the two operating systems. As time went on and people didn’t upgrade old vital programs, those machines that could dual-boot became rarer and rarer, and more sought after.

So if your Mac can run both Snow Leopard and Lion, hold on to it! You have a valuable Mac .

I’ll bet this situation will occur again when Apple decides to switch processors from Intel to? I didn’t say it would be the ARM processors used in the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad and I certainly don’t know when. Based on Apple’s past pattern of behavior, though; I would say a switch would happen if Intel can’t wring out of the silicon the performance that Apple desires…and someone else can.

If that switch happens, remember to start updating your programs. Apple’s operating system will only retain the ability to run the programs for the Intel processor for a finite amount of time. Don’t be caught off-guard like the users of Quicken have been.

You Can’t Go Home Again

The article also makes another point. The new MacBook Air and the new Mac mini require drivers in the new Lion operating system to run. You can’t run Snow Leopard on these new machines. So I hope you didn’t get rid of your previous Mac if you need to need old programs on it. Did you check the Roaring site to see whether your vital program would run under Lion? If not…how will you bribe your kid or spouse to return the old machine? All I can say at that point is “”

Trackpad versus Touchscreen

Apple clearly differentiates between its computers with touchscreens, the iOS models; and the computers with trackpads. For those of you who want to try out a TrackPad, get over to the Apple Store and try out the Magic Trackpad, which Apple has placed by all of its desktop models. It’s sweet, as the kids say.

Windows computer makers, by contrast, have begun offering touchscreen desktop models. Both H-P and Dell offer all in ones with touchscreens in the basic system or as an option.

Which fashion of touch input device will users prefer? (I should mention the Wacom Bamboo Touch tablet, which has a USB interface and works with either Macs or Windows) I find the trackpad more convenient. I also have my monitors located at least a foot back from my head. Your mileage may vary.

A lot of pundits and ordinary users reference the touchscreens in the movie Minority Report. As I recall, Tom Cruise stood next to the displays, not sitting; and stood within a few inches of the display. I would compare it to working at a chalkboard or an easel.

I would also compare costs of the opposing touch devices. The Magic Trackpad cost me $70, with the Bamboo Touch going for $59 or less. A touchscreen monitor, on the other hand, costs a lot more than a comparable monitor without the touchscreen feature.

I will say that the two modes may come together. I can envision a 24” monitor that functions as a tablet when set on an easel. You would use it for graphics functions or presentations. Later on, you would set it in its cradle on your desk, where it would function as a conventional monitor. You might use a smaller tablet, a 7” to 10” size one, as a trackpad in this mode.

Any other ideas? E-mail me at

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Joey Rule will present at our August 2011 meeting

MacValley's upcoming General Meeting on August 3rd will feature Joey Rule of MacTalk. Joey is the Director of Sales and Training for MacTalk ( and he is very familiar with iPhoto. I had a phone conversation with him, and the two words that came to my mind as we talked were energy and professionalism.

Especially when Joey told me, "It's so great to teach people that want to learn. I'm looking forward to this presentation."

Wow! What enthusiasm this guy has! And he sure has it all together. This kind of presenter is what makes MacValley's General Meetings memorable.

To find out about MacValley's General Meeting time, location, and to download a Google map, go to:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's here at last!

Lion has finally come to the desktop. I will not attempt to review it, because (1) I don’t have a machine to run it on, and (2) far better reviewers spent weeks reviewing it under non-disclosure agreements. Now they can release those reviews.

I’d start with the PC Magazine review. Yes, that bastion of Windows succumbed to Lion’s charms. It comes down to “you’d better have a good reason for running Windows, because OS X is just so much better.”

If you’re just too kool for skool, check out Wired magazine’s review. They said, “It’s OK...but it tries to be too much like iOS” And you say that like it’s a bad thing!

Finally, if you want every little detail about OS X, go to John Siracusa’s review over at Ars Technica. He gives the interface the kind of detail an art expert would give to a possible new Rembrandt. He’ll answer all your questions.

Actually, he won’t answer all your questions, so here are a few answers since the release this morning.

Physical media from Apple? Yes, indeed. Apple will sell you a USB stick with Lion on it for $69.99 starting in August. Of course, if you don’t’ feel like spending that much, go here to Lifehacker to learn how to make your own installation DVD or USB flash drive.

Just remember-Don’t install Lion just yet. Make the installation media following the instructions and a couple of copies of the installer on other media for safekeeping. “Other media” means another partition or even better, a whole different external drive >8 Gb or larger.

Once you’ve done that, Then Proceed to the moment of installation. I’ve seen an installation of Lion and it’s so simple and elegant and fast.

Even if you don’t plan to upgrade to Lion just yet, Apple has goodies for you today. A new version of iTunes, 10.4, and a new version of Safari, 5.1 for Snow Leopard and 5.06 for Leopard. Alas, nothing for Tiger.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is the Wait for Lion finally over?

Macworld reports that Tim Cook, Apple Executive, said that Lion would appear in the Mac App Store July 20th. He said it out loud and on the record.

So two things to say.

1. Your editor will not attempt to download Lion ASAP. He has only a 2006 MacBook Core Duo. He has to wait until next spring to buy a new Mac Mini.

2. So comment away on your experiences with Lion. Fill my in-box at with screenshots. Annotate them with the new features in Preview.

3. Regarding comments. I love them! But if you submit them during the day, from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm; I won't get to post them until I get home from work. And my place of work seriously frowns on blogging from your work computer. And no, I don't have an iPhone to do this at my desk. But I'll have them up by 9:00 PM.

4. So let's hope that Lion really and truly comes out tomorrow. I hope Apple rented as much server and bandwidth as they could afford. And they have the kind of serious cash that talks in these kind of situations.

Tom Briant
Editor, MacValley Voice and associated media

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Disk Drill from Clever Files-get it!

Disk Drill Basic and Disk Drill Pro

By Thomas Briant

Our user group recently received a request from Clever Files, the developer of Disk Drill, to test it out and give them an honest opinion.

Tom’s honest opinion: Download it for the great deletion protection features in the Basic version and consider upgrading to the Pro Version for the file recovery tools needed for when you deleted precious files.

The Basic Version:

The Basic Version is a teaser version with lots of pop-ups urging you to upgrade. You get a taste of this program’s power when you decide to protect a partition with the Recovery Vault with a blue shield icon.

With a few mouse clicks I protected the Users folder of my test system, which Disk Drill selects by default. You can add more folders to protect.

I then ran a simple test of the Recovery Vault. I deleted a picture from the Pictures folder and then emptied the Trash. I then went back to Disk Drill to try to recover it. In a few minutes, Disk Drill recovered the picture with the original name in the original file structure. I save the picture and surrounding folders to my Desktop, as Disk Drill warns you about the consequences of restoring a file to the same level from which you deleted it. This feature sold me on Disk Drill

I then tried another feature of the free version, backing up a partition to a disk image. You would use this to back up an ailing drive’s contents to a healthy disk drive of larger capacity. Disk Drill warns you if you try to back a partition to a smaller drive or partition.

You can scan for lost data on unprotected partitions to see if you have a chance of recovery from the Basic version. If you find the data, then you want to spend the money for a license code.

The Pro Version

Once you upgrade to the Pro version, you can recover files on unprotected drives. You can scan in two modes: Quick scan for recently deleted files and deep scan for the stuff you thought was lost forever.

I took an unprotected partition, added a folder of pictures to it. I then deleted the folder and emptied the Trash.

I then ran Disk Drill in Basic Mode. A Quick Scan found the missing pictures. The Preview feature showed them to be the ones I wanted. When I attempted Recovery, up popped the message that I needed to upgrade to the Pro version. So I entered the Pro license code that Clever Files sent to me and attempted recovery.

Complete success! I recovered all the pictures with their original names and with the same file structure.

The Competition:

Clever Files is based in Dallas, Texas. Any mention of Mac utility software from Texas must include a mention of Alsoft’s Disk Warrior. So does Disk Drill compete with Disk Warrior?

Disk Drill specifically goes after the file recovery market, while Disk Warror goes after the drive resurrection market. Disk Drill doesn’t pretend to restore life to sick disks, like Disk Warrior can.

Disk Warrior doesn’t offer any free features. You have two choices, buy it or leave it, with that program.

Disk Drill also offers the ability to recover data from Windows formatted drives. Disk Warrior works strictly on Mac disks.


If you have ever deleted a file that you needed to get back, get Disk Drill for the Recovery Vault feature so that you won’t do it again. Get Disk Drill Pro for the recovery of files on partitions that you didn’t protect, like SD cards for your camera.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Carmeggdon dispatch and no Lion yet

Dispatch from MacVallley’s Carmeggdon command post :)

For our out-of -state readers, Carmeggdon refers to the closure of part of a vital freeway in Los Angeles. This closure means inconvenience to many individuals. It is not as bad as an earthquake by any means. I know, I lived through the 1994 earthquake.

Back to Apple related topics. Still no Lion in the Mac App Store or new MacBook Airs in the brick and mortar Apple Stores. (Sigh) I had hoped to spend this weekend salivating over the new goodies.

And on the topic of new stuff, it appears that Apple will release an update to its LED Cinema display, now with Thunderbolt ports

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lion Watch for 7-11-2011

Lion draws nearer. Today, Apple sent a nice e-mail to Mac developers, asking them to submit Lion-specific applications for the Mac App Store to Apple. They also released updates to iLife ’11 to enable full-screen Lion support.

In other news, the World Wide Web Consortium has put out a request for “prior art” that would invalidate patents Apple got for parts of the HTML5 standard. W3C wants the HTML5 standard to be unencumbered by patent trolls or even members of the W3C (ahem, Apple!). Hence the family fight.

In a case of “get it before they ban it”, if you want a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable to hook your Mac up to a HDTV, hurry up and get it before they disappear. HDMI Org, the group that oversees HDMI specifications, has deemed Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cables outside of its standard and will not allow them to be sold.

And finally, HP plans to take on the MacBook Air with an ultra-thin notebook of its own. Intel came up with the idea of “Ultrabooks” which would measure less than an inch in thickness and sell for under $1,000. Intel claims that ultrabooks will account for 40% of the chipmaker’s consumer laptop products by the end of 2012. Initially using existing “Sandy Bridge”, the market should heat up once the next-generation “Ivy Bridge” processors, with 3-D microprocessors, come on-line.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lion Watch for 7-10-2011

Well, it's a hot Sunday in the Valley. Apple has not released Lion yet.

Perhaps the Apple Stores will pull an all-nighter to get ready for Lion's release this week.

Well, the MacValley FaceBook page is up. Please stop by and check it out. Ask questions, make observations. Polls will be posted. Right now, when do you plan to upgrade to Lion? ASAP? After a few upgrades to 10.7.1 or 10.7.2? When you get your next Mac? The board wants to know, so we can plan the presentations!

Until tomorrow afternoon....

Tom Briant
Editor, MacValley Voice and associated media

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lion Report for Saturday, 07-09-2011

Good evening, this is your Lion report for Saturday.

Lion did not come out today.

I put links to two blog postings from SubRosaSoft regarding turning the Lion GM installer into a bootable installer for a >8GB flash drive and a DVD up on the MacValley Twitter feed.

Stay cool. See you tomorrow

Tom Briant

Friday, July 8, 2011

Virus Protection for Mac owners and their Windows using relatives

I was asked this week if you need to buy anti-virus protection if you install Windows 7 on Bootcamp.

The answer is that you need anti-virus protection. Yes, Yes, Emphatically YES!

Do you need to buy it? No Microsoft makes the perfectly good, perfectly free Microsoft Security Essentials. Go here and get it if you run Microsoft Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP.

If you run Windows on a virtual machine, get anti-virus protection, too.

Why doesn't Microsoft stick it on every damn Windows machine? Probably something to do with "anti-trust". If Microsoft put free anti-virus on every Dell, it would wipe out the market for Symantec's Norton Anti-Virus. On the last two Windows machines I've bought, Norton Anti-Virus comes as a 60-day trial. After 60 days, you have to buy a subscription. Symantec hopes you're lazy and just fall in line.

If you don't want to pay Symantec and don't like or trust Microsoft, then go open-source and go to Clamwin. This is an open-source donation-ware Windows anti-virus. It covers every Windows system from Windows 98 to Windows 7. I use it on my windows xp box and it detects phishing immediately.

Do you need anti-virus protection for a Mac? The need isn't as critical as with a PC, but with the growing popularity of the Mac, you should consider it. You have two free options.

The first is Clamwin's cousin, Clamxav for Mac OS X. Go here and download it.

The second is Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac. Sophos is a big deal in the corporate anti-virus world. For some reason, they made a consumer version for Mac OS X and give it away free. Go here and get it.

Of course, your own good judgment is just as important. If you see unsolicited e-mail for hot Asian women or Ukrainian women looking for an American husband, assume that it's spam and delete it. Don't open it, just delete it.

Lion Watch, the presentation at MacValley, and WebOS

Another Day of Lion Watch. Still not out yet.

The presentation on Wednesday night that I made was a success. Everyone learned something, lots of people asked questions.

One question that I remember was, “Can you run 10.4 Tiger on the same system as Lion?” I must admit I don’t know.

Elena-Beth Kaye brought up the point that a Mac’s minimum operating system may be the one it came with. Apple may not let you go back and install an earlier system. Good point.

So my answer right now is, “I don’t know for sure. If you have a Core 2 Duo purchased in 2007 that came with Tiger and will handle at least 2 Gb of RAM and you have sufficient hard disk space for the Lion installation-then I would presume that you could run Tiger and Lion in separate partitions with this machine.”

If your machine originally came with Leopard or Snow Leopard, then the earliest system you could run may be the one that came with your machine. If your Leopard or Snow Leopard machine has at least a Core 2 Duo, at least 2 Gb of RAM and sufficient hard disk space; then it should run Lion, too. But I can’t say for certain that it would run Tiger.

And if you bought a new machine with Lion installed, you have no guarantee that it would run Snow Leopard.

Lion Watch!

The latest rumor is that Apple will bring it out next week. Apple will refresh its stores, add more memory to Macs in stock, and prepare for visitors who need to borrow Apple’s in-store Wi-Fi to download the Lion installer.

So stay tuned for another episode of Lion Watch! On this blog.

Funniest iPad competitor this week

The funniest competition to the iPad came this week from HP. They introduced their new TouchPad and their new celebrity spokesman. This is a funny train wreck.

Who is that new spokesman, meant to reach a youthful audience? None other than British comedian and actor Russell Brand.

If your first response is “Who?”, remember those billboards for the remake of the movie Arthur around town? Yes, he starred in that flop. He married singer Katy Perry. Maybe she would have been a better choice.

As for reviews of the TouchPad, they weren’t good. This is not an iPad killer by any means. It’s just not ready.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Table of Apps for Lion

Roaring Apps has compiled a list of apps for Lion. Those with a green checkmark do work, those with a red X don't work, and those with a yellow exclamation point are not known yet.

Big Lion Presentation coming July 6th to MacValley

This Wednesday, MacValley will present me, Tom Briant, on the topic of getting ready for Lion 10.7.

I will cover whether your system can handle Lion.

I will then cover about what to do if your life depends on Office 2004 and Quicken 2004. For those of you still using Appleworks 6.2.9, yes, I will cover what to do to keep it running. You really need to upgrade, though.

Come with your questions about Lion. The July Voice should be up later this afternoon, so read the articles and come with your questions.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hot News and Rumors for July 1, 2011

Fresh Hot Apple Rumors and News

1. Apple has released a Golden Master of 10.7 to Developers. This should indicate that Apple will release the consumer client and server versions of Lion soon.

Of course, "soon" is a total weasel word. The release of Lion could come from now to 11:59 PM on July 31st. But we hope and pray that it means sooner. Even those of us planning to wait until our next tax refund to buy a new Mac with Lion installed.

2. Adobe moves in on a perceived opportunity as controversy surrounds Final Pro X. "Want to switch? Here's a 50% savings off" It is the editorial position of MacValley that fierce competition between Adobe and Apple over non-linear video editing software…is a good thing. Better to have the marketing departments slug it out than bring out the lawyers.

3. The MacBook is in short supply. Could this mean…REFRESH IS AT HAND!?

4. The HP WebOS based TouchPad is here. Finally. Is it better than all the Android tablets? How does it compare to the iPad 2? See for a comprehensive review of all the available tablets. You want to go here.

5. The new Thunderbolt interface has finally had some peripherals released. They're Awesome!. Check out Macworld's review of a hyperspeed, and hyperpricy, RAID hard drive array.

In two years, we'll see Thunderbolt hard drives with cables at Apple Store for $100. I hope.

6. Well, I'm presenting at MacValley at the Wilkinson Senior Center on Wednesday, July 6th. Got any questions? E-mail me!



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