Sunday, March 27, 2011

10.6.7; Firefox 4


10.6.7 is out

I no sooner send out my first mailing this month and an hour later Apple releases the 10.6.7 update.

As always, wait a week before getting this, to give Apple a chance to discover some horrible mistake and replace it with a fixed version. If I experience or read about any problems with it, I will report, but if I say nothing after a week you can go ahead and get it.

Here's the direct link for the Combo update but be aware that it's 1.06 Gb in size. Just downloading it made my MacBook Air feel heavier.


After studying the reports from others who installed the 10.6.7 update, it seems the only people who were reporting problems were those who had the same Mac I have: the fastest MacBookAir. They were getting freezes upon opening iTunes 10.2.1.

I made a SuperDuper clone backup first, then turned off the backup drive so I would have a way to return everything to the way it was. This is why clone backups are good to have in addition to Time Machine backups.

Then I repaired permissions and Verified Disk with Disk Utility.

Then I restarted, holding down the Shift key until I got Safe Boot in the login window. This was advised by other bloggers, although I have seldom done it before myself.

Finally I applied the Combo update, which I had downloaded from Apple (also recommended). After it finished and restarted, I repaired permissions again.

I took a breath and launched iTunes and plugged in my phone. No freezing; no problems.

Owners of the new laptops released earlier this month cannot use the Combo Update. You will have to use Software Update to go to 10.6.7. Same precautions apply.

If you don't have a backup drive, you might want to skip the update until you can get one. If you have Time Machine only, you can still use that should you have to restore your 10.6.6 system; it's just more of a nuisance.

Firefox 4

Now officially released, here is a page of reports on how people are responding to Firefox 4.0 and how to get it.

It doesn't say on the FF page, but this requires you be running 10.5 or 10.6 on an Intel Mac. The reader reports also discuss how to keep both 3.1.6 and 4 going together so you can switch back and forth, but you will need a separate Profile for each. Info on how to do that is at Note: if this seems very complicated, you are correct. I may decide not to bother and just delete FF3.

Firefox 4 for PowerPC

There is a 3rd-party build of FF4 for older Macs called TenFourFox. You can get it and read all about it here. This is not by the Mozilla people, but is a good way to keep a modern browser (for banking, commerce, etc.) on older Macs.

Google Chrome 10

I did all this reading and downloading on the newly-released Google Chrome version 10. This is faster and smoother than Chrome 9 was. Intel Mac users might want to get this as well. It never hurts to have various browsers to switch to in case your primary one (in my case Safari) has any trouble with a particular site. To get it, just go to Google and there will be a Get Chrome link.

1Password Review

This is a review of a password-management program that I wrote for the April issue of PMUG Mouse Tracks. If you hate dealing with passwords as much as I do, you will want to learn and use this program.



by Michael Pearce

I got hooked on this program after the publisher presented at PMUG last year. It finally motivated me to quit using the strategy of using the same password for all junk sites, and a more complex one for banking and commerce.

Everyone does this. Nobody likes to deal with passwords, and most people forget to write down their important ones, letting the web browser store and fill them for you. This is why so many get hacked; and figuring out what you use for one web site lets the maliciously-minded explore other sites with the same one. Each site stores another piece of your identity so it can be possible to discover your home address, phone number, mother's maiden name, first pet's name, work place and everything else needed to attack your bank's site, or crack your Amazon or iTunes account.

1Password eliminates this problem entirely by generating, filling and storing a different complex password for every web site you subscribe to. You need only create and memorize a single passphrase to access the application and it does the rest. For this, the most secure route is to create an pass-sentence of 3 or 4 words, no spaces, with the first letter of each capitalized. No dictionary attack is going to figure that out.

The program will not only store all your website logins, but it will also store your credit card info and fill it out for you on any web form. It has a Secure Notes section where you can write out all that information in English so you can look it up directly whenever you need to. Notes can also store all your serial numbers in case you need to reinstall an application and re-enter your number. All this is encrypted so no one, even if they steal your laptop or break into your house, can get into the 1Password database without your secret passphrase.

If you have an iPhone you can also get a version for it, and coupled with the Dropbox application, store a copy of your database on the phone and on the Dropbox web site.

I have never needed to access that remotely stored info, and don't use the phone for web very often, but many do and they will find this added security very handy. The only difficult part will be using the iPhone's pathetic keyboard screen for typing your passphrase. You might be able to use Smile Software's TextExpander to do that for you, but that could increase your risk a tad.

The Strong Password Generator, an option in the 1P button in your web browser, is simplicity itself. Pick the number of desired characters and the complexity and it creates one for you, saves it under the name you choose along with your login name for the desired web site. Afterwards, when you go to the site's login window, just click the button and choose Fill and Submit Login and it does the work for you. When the browser asks you if you want to save the info for you, click Never for This Site and it won't ask again.

After you have finished creating new passwords for all your logins, go into the browser preferences (Safari: Autofill) then click Usernames and Passwords' Edit button. Click Remove All and you are done. If you then uncheck the box next to Usernames and Passwords it will stop asking, even when you visit new sites for the first time.

This button is added to your Safari window. A similar one is added to Firefox.

This menu appears with appropriate items for the web page you want to log into.

First thing you see when you start 1Password.

One of the options when open: This is where your login information for all your websites is stored. You can update this at will, or when on the site (for instance, when you change your password.)

This window generates a new password that is random and virtually uncrackable. You have several options that can be imposed on it, depending on site requirements.

Mac magazines

(March 21)

Now reading the April issues of Mac Life and Macworld. I highly recommend that new users, who may not think these are for them, start reading both. There is more useful information in each issue than I can teach in multiple sessions, and it's clearly written for everyone; not just hardcore Mac geeks like me.

If you want to start somewhere, get the Macworld and read "100 Things Every Mac User Should Know." This is the best collection of hints, tips and how-tos I have seen in some time. Every one is useful, and I guarantee that all of you will find at least ten in the list that will make your Mac experience better.

MacLife explores the world of Google Apps and how useful they can be, and not just because they can save you the $149 you'd spend on Microsoft Office. Also reviewed: battery pack cases for iPhones. I have been using the Mophie pack since I first got my 3GS and I never have to worry about running out of power. There are brands here I was not aware of.

Included is an article on how to make a Mac-based home theater. I have done this myself and the article is spot on. Sure, the AppleTV is cheaper, but a MacMini and your HDTV are a match made for each other.

Photographer? Macworld discusses how the MacBook Air is the perfect tool for that photographer on the go.

Some of these articles can be read on the magazines' respective web sites, but there is nothing like a nicely-formatted dead-tree version you can keep handy for easy referral. Start getting the Mac magazines; you will thank me later.

New MacBook Pros released

(24 Feb)

Happy Birthday, Steve Jobs: in celebration Apple has revised all 3 models of MacBook Pro. Read all about them at Apple's site.

The 13" was advanced the most: It now has the Intel Core i5 instead of the earlier Core2Duo, like the rest of the line. Still $1199, you get that processor, 4Gb RAM, 320Gb internal HD and the Intel HD Graphics 3000 card.

Spend $300 more and move up to the 2.7 GHz i7 processor and a 500Gb drive. Then it gets interesting:

Go to the store's Configuration page and you can start boosting it up. Add $200 for 8Gb RAM. Add $100 more for a 750Gb hard drive. Take a deep breath and realize, that's 3/4 Terabyte in a laptop! Or, if you really want speed, use a Solid State Drive like the Air does and replace the stock HD with 128Gb SSD for $200, 256Gb for $600, or go nuts with a half-terabyte SSD drive for $1,200 more. That'll take it to $1799 with the HD or $2899 with the SSD.

You can do all this with the 15" and 17" models as well, for proportionately more.

This means, of course, that unsold stock of previous models will drop a tad. The 13" model would be perfect for most people if you add in a non-Apple large display for under $200. Mine is a 24" Asus.

If you like very light and not as quick for under $2 grand, I did it with the current MacBook Air.

Time to polish up the ol' credit card. If you like paying even higher interest, you can finance through the Apple Store, but if you pay if off in 12 months, there is no interest charge. They do it through the Barclay Bank Visa.

While it's so new there is no real support for it yet, the Thunderbolt port, which serves as the Mini DisplayPort, can also connect to high speed RAID drive systems and transfer data faster than any other format.

This looks like why Apple has been ignoring USB 3.0 and has not been talking about FireWire 1600, the logical next step beyond 800.

In order to use it with an external display, one would have to be designed to plug both devices into a single port, and that does not yet exist.

While a fully maxed-out 15" model with 512Gb SSD and 8Gb RAM would push the price near $4 grand, it would substitute for any model iMac and any MacPro, as long as you didn't need the Pro's expansion slots.

Read more about Thunderbolt here.

Nice as it is, I feel no motivation to trade in my newly-acquired MacBook Air. If I wanted to, I could make HDTV movies on it using one of the USB-based video cameras. But if I were a pro filmmaker the new laptops might be on my shopping list.