The MacCast » 2007 » April

Innovative new Belkin USB Hubs

Written by: Jack Hodgson

Categories: News

Belkin Docks

If you’re like me, your desk is a tangle of cables amidst a swarm of hubs and docking boxes. Now Belkins has a solution for at least part of this problem.

Beginning in May, Belkin will be offering a family of desktop USB hubs, and an iPod dock, which go into that round, cable access hole that is cut into many desktops.

The “Front-Access In-Desk USB Hub” fits into a 3-inch access opening. It features a stylish, angled column of four USB ports for easy connection of your digital camera, mouse, or any other USB device.

Belkin also offers in-desk USB hubs which have the ports flush with the surface of the desk. A 3 port unit for the 2-inch access hole, and 4 ports for the 3-inch.

Finally the “In-Desk Dock for iPod” provides a convenient docking port for a wide range of iPod devices.

Each of these Docks supports USB 2, and has a suggested price of US$39.99.

Stuff, Guts, and Video 008B

Written by: James Alguire

Categories: Mac Pro

by James Alguire

In the last episode on saving filters and effects I missed one cool option for saving several filters at once. I did mention organizing several related effects into one bin, but Final Cut Pro can do that for you, at least with multiple filters. Simply load the clip with the group of filters to be saved (see Figure 1).

Clip with filters applied
Figure 1: A ciip with several filters loaded in the Viewer Window.

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Google Docs – Free Web Applications

Written by: Chris Christensen

Categories: Reviews

spreadsheetTwo of the “killer” applications that led to wide adoption of personal computers were word processors and spreadsheets. There are many different projects from Christmas letters to personal budgets that can be created with these applications. The two most popular applications on the Macintosh in this area are Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, but if you want to buy these applications they can be fairly expensive. The latest Mac version of Microsoft Office (which also includes Powerpoint) costs more than $300.

So what if you could get a word processor and a spreadsheet for free? Better yet, what if I could share those documents with my mother in Cleveland? What if I could help her with her monthly budget spreadsheet by both of us going to the same website with an internet browser? What if I want to work on a novel with a friend in Paris? What if my mother or my friend could see as I made changes in the shared document in real time? If that sounds too good to be true then you have not yet had a chance to use Google Docs.

Google bought a shared document product from a company called Writely and then also created internally a spreadsheet application to create Google Docs. These applications work surprisingly well. They even have revision control so that you can roll back changes that your friend makes to the novel. I could have used this when my best friend from high school and I “collaborated” on a story (He kept killing off characters I introduced).

You will need to use the Firefox browser (or other modern browser) on the Mac as these applications will not work with Internet Explorer or Safari.

Apple offers 8 Core Mac Pro

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Cool Stuff, News

8 Core Mac Pro

Just in case you missed it… Apple quietly added the 8-core “Octo” Macs to it’s line up of Mac Pro systems.

More details available on Apple’s Mac Pro website.

Maccast 2007.04.04

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Podcast

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MC20070404.mp3 [34.9MB 01:16:15 64kbps]

A podcast about all things Macintosh. For Mac geeks, by Mac geeks. Show 182. Apple Unveils Higher Quality DRM-Free Music on iTunes, Other iTunes Store & iPod News. Apple opens first retail Store in Italy, Boot Camp update adds Vista support, AirPort Base Station Update 2007-001 for Mac, Cingular offers iPhone ship date details. Follow-up: Recycling your old computer. My experience with AppleTV. Apple TV OS hacked to boot on MacBook. Changing or creating keyboard shortcuts. Review of File Salvage. Using times zone support in iCal. Can you lock the Mac to one wi-fi access point? Teach Mac.

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At a press conference today in London, England, EMI and Apple announced that they will sell unDRMd music starting in May, 2007. Sorry for the scattered look of all of this, but I wanted to get it posted as fast as possible:

Quick notes:

Jobs: Need to take online music distribution to the next level:

* need to address interoperability

* audio quality: new versions of songs, higher quality 256kbps AAC $1.29 / track. easily upgrade entire library for $0.30/song; album = same price.

EMI: DRM music is going to be available to all retailers.

Jobs: Apple reaching out to other labels–hopes 1/2 of songs will be DRM free by the end of the year. The right thing for the customer in the future is to tare down the walls of interoperability.

Q: Is this more complicated for consumers?
Jobs: People are going to have a choice and set iTunes to pick one. We don’t want to take away anything–want to give consumers the choice. We think consumers are going to choose the higher quality.

Q: How will this impact the iPod/iTunes relationship?
Jobs:Always been able to play the mp3s. We compete on best music store.

Consumer groups:
Jobs: not offering anything here today that consumers can’t get already on a CD.

Are you giving green light to file sharers?
EMI: “need to trust consumers” this doesn’t diminish fight against piracy, key is to give consumers a compelling experience, trust them, educate them, grow sales rather than diminish them.

EMI: hopes that this will grow sales–the main point of doing it.

Jobs: EMI is pioneering something that I Think is going to be very popular.

Jobs: We’re not offering something different. All CDs are provided unprotected and in high quality. Protecting CDs–Sony tried that, it didn’t work out so well.

Q: Are other majors standing in the way of this?
Jobs: There are always leaders ad there are always followers. opportunity for everyone to win: customers win; music companies get more money by providing more value.

Video DRM free?
Jobs: Video is different. They don’t offer video DRM free today, so I wouldn’t hold them parallel right now.

Do you expect fall in iPod sales:
Jobs: No link broken. Always been able to rip and copy to iTunes and put on the player they want to. No real link. Success based on whether people think we have the best and easiest to use music store and music players. Not going to do anything different. Want to be the best music store and the music player.

What’s the point of DRM on cheaper tracks, why not remove it completely?
Jobs: For customers that are price sensitive, we don’t want to tell them that we’re taking something away from them.
EMI: not everyone cares about sound quality.

Will consumers feel cheated?
Jobs: music lovers have a choice, they can go whatever way they want to go. More choice. Life is a balance between total freedom and simplicity. Try to strike the maxims–we think we’ve done a good job of that.

How will it work with other music services?
EMI: we only set wholesale prices. We hope this will help to generate growth.

File size on iPods because of larger file size?
Storage sizes go up prices go down.

How can you justify 20% increase in price?
Jobs: exactly same price as yesterday. New product offers more features, higher sound quality; more flexibility, so higher price. Consumer gets to choose.

Official press announcement here:

Review: Scrivener

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Reviews

ScrivIcon.jpgI’d like to share some brief thoughts about an application I discovered about a month ago (via the magazine MacUser here in Britain) called Scrivener. You can find it on the web at

I’d been using Word or Pages to write my essays for some time, but was always aware that I didn’t feel entirely comfortable writing in those environments. But then I happened to read a review in MacUser UK for Scrivener. It is a brand new app from Keith Blount, a writer who learned Cocoa and became a developer so that he would have an application he could enjoy writing in. Naturally I was intrigued, so I downloaded the trial copy.

From the start, it was obvious that Scrivener had a very different philosophy to the staple word processors. In some ways, it isn’t even a word processor; it’s a draft-builder. Instead of worrying about formatting, Scrivener lets you work on your draft—the actual text—and manage the whole book/essay/play as a large project rather than a continuous flow of paragraphs and pages.
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Stuff, Guts, and Video 008

Written by: James Alguire

Categories: Mac Pro

by James Alguire

You spent hours fiddling, adjusting and tweaking the parameter settings for a particular effect (filter, transition, or motion) until it looks great. Now twenty-five additional copies of the same effect are needed. But rather than spending several more hours replicating the effect each time, Final Cut Pro provides several ways to easily save effects to reuse in the current project or future projects.
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