We just wrapped up the latest version of the Small Dog Electronics Dog Food for Thought Pawcast and I think we are finally getting the hang of this podcasting thing. Ed and Tony have been working hard to make sure we have the right gear and that the sound quality is good. You will still hear a bunch of scuffling and snuffling and perhaps a bark or two since there are dogs everywhere around here, even in our podcast studio.
We let our employees bring their dogs to work and we might at any time have as many as 15 dogs running the show around here. The dogs are such an important part of our corporate culture that you will find dog water bowls and beds in every nook and corner. Every employee has a stash of dog treats so the dogs make their way from desk to desk for a treat and a pet and dog and employee benefit.
Rob Berkey called me down to help out in the store yesterday during one of the “waves” of customers. There were a bunch of children in the store with their parents. Hammerhead as usual followed me down the spiral staircase and he broke out in the silliest grin with his butt wagging as he saw the kids. He loves children. The kids and Hammer kept each other entertained while I sold the parents a new iMac with the Intel processor.
We have the iMacs with Intel set up right next to the G5 iMacs. Unless the customer has some specific software that does not perform well under Rosetta, it is a no-brainer to sell the Intel iMac. I love restarting both iMacs simultaneously then loading up Safari and surfing to the Small Dog site. The Intel iMac is easily a couple times faster in boot up and launch.
We are heading into President’s Day with a real snow deficit. The weather has remained warm and dry and I know that the ski areas and all of the businesses that are dependent on the snow are hoping for a big dump to salvage the season.
Apple Introduces 1GB iPod nanos!
In a move that was expected yet caught everyone by surprise, Apple announced the 1GB iPod nano in white or black for $149. At the same time, they lowered the price on the iPod Shuffles by $30. We are selling the large batch of 512k Shuffle returns for $47.50 now. (Hint: If you listen to our podcast this week, there is a coupon that reduces that price even more!)
We should have some 1GB iPod nanos in stock within the next week. If you would like to place an order, call toll free at 800-511-Macs or order using one of these links:
1GB iPod nano black – $149
1GB iPod nano white – $149
Purchase any iPod nano from Small Dog Electronics or PodJungle.com and get a free Mobilejuice SkinArt protective skin! Just enter coupon code NanoSkinArtWhite if you want a white skin or NanoSkinArtBlack if you want a black skin.
Podcast Details Ed @ smalldog.com
We’re keeping up with the Dogfood for Thought Pawcast. We’ve received some great and useful feedback, which we appreciate.
The easiest way to listen to the Pawcast is to subscribe to it through iTunes. To do this, launch iTunes, go to the Advanced menu, and select Subscribe to Podcast.
Paste the following URL into the dialog box and then click subscribe:
You can also listen to the Pawcast though your web browser. Just go to:
Enjoy, and please email comments and suggestions to podcast @ smalldog.com!
Fetching iTunes Album Art
I like that iTunes and my iPod can display the album art for the song that is currently playing. The problem for me was that much of my music comes from the hundreds of CDs that I have ripped into MP3s. I was looking for a way to get the album art and found a great little AppleScript called (appropriately) Fetch Art. It works well and even found the artwork for some of my more obscure music such as Flash and the Pan. It uses album art from Amazon.com and the ID3 tags in your MP3 files to determine the appropriate CD cover to download. If your ID3 tags are incorrect or incomplete, you may not get any art for that song and occasionally will actually get the wrong art if it was unable to correctly find the album on Amazon.
You can download this shareware gem at:
Why the Mac Is More Secure Than Windows – Security by Design, Part 2
Last week we talked about some of the basic security features built into Mac OS X. Apple’s success may be driven by the music business these days, but perhaps even more important than the supposed “halo effect” in terms of building Apple’s Mac business is the inherent security advantages of the Mac and Mac OS X. It is the most common discussion we have on the phone or in the showroom with customers who are coming to us for their first Mac purchase. Fed up with the constant Windows battle against viruses, spyware, and adware, many people are looking for a better alternative.
The Mac is that alternative. I wish I could paint the pictures of customer’s faces when I tell them that they do not need virus software and that there are no viruses for Mac OS X. It has gotten so bad that Microsoft is about to start selling their Windows OneCare subscription for $50 a year just to keep Windows systems current with all their inoculations and security updates. Apple has security updates from time to time but they are free and Apple makes it easy by automatically allowing you to download them and install them with the Software Update System Preference.
Secure Network Communications
Communicating on a network or the internet (work) is a security challenge. Mac OS X integrates powerful security standards into Safari and OS X Mail, including Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and support for Digital Certificates. In addition, Mail supports a choice of local and network-based authentication methods.
Mac OS X includes SSL versions 2 and 3, which are the most common transport mechanisms, and also includes TLS or Transport Layer Security, which is the next-generation security standard for the Internet. As usual, Apple is one step ahead! Safari and other Internet applications automatically start these transport layer mechanisms to provide a secure, encrypted channel between two systems to protect it from prying eyes. Safari and Mail go one step further and support 40- and 128-bit SSL encryption.
Keeping Your Surfing to Yourself
With Safari, as with many browsers, the pages you visit are stored in cache so that it is faster to visit them next time. With the optional Private Browsing feature, the history and cached information are not saved. This provides a way to keep your surfing habits private and not recoverable at a later date. You can also use the “Clear History” function at any time to wipe your trail.
Certificates: We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges
The use of Digital Certificates allows your Mac to support secure communication. It’s like your passport. These certificates allow Authentication (prove you are who you say you are, electronically, of course), Data Integrity (prevents changes or alterations), Encryption, and Nonrepudiation (digital certificates enable the recipient to verify the identity of the signer in connection with a particular message — sort of like your electronic “witness”).
The certificate is made up of a public and private key as well as information about you and the Certificate Authority (CA) that issued the certificate. To send encrypted messages to your mother, your keychain must contain a digital certificate for Mom; this allows Mac OS X to use the Mum’s public key for encryption. When she gets the encrypted message, the key is used to decode the message. It’s like having your own built-in secret decoder ring! Every time you send digitally signed email, your certificate and your public key are included with the message, allowing recipients to send you coded messages in return.
Okay, so how do you get one of those stinking badges? Before you can start sending out digitally signed messages, you must obtain a digital certificate that identifies you and copy it to your keychain. Fortunately, Keychain includes Certificate Assistant — nice of Apple to take care of this for us! Certificate Assistant is an easy-to-use utility that helps you request, issue, and manage certificates. It contains all the tools necessary to create, manage, and issue certificates for yourself, a small group of friends, or a small office. Certificate Assistant includes many features of a commercial Certificate Authority without the cost. The certificates created by the Certificate Assistant can be used to send encrypted email, log in to protected websites, or participate in secure, encrypted iChat sessions.
For secure web transactions, Safari uses X.509 digital certificates to validate users and hosts, as well as to encrypt the communication on the net. An example is online banking. Your bank issues you a certificate from Certificate Authority. This allows your browser to check the validity of the certificate and set up secure sessions with SSL encryption to verify the site’s identity and encrypt your communications with the bank’s website. For quick access to these certificates you can add them to your Keychain. Whenever you receive a certificate on the web or in email, you can import it into Keychain to use at another time.
Personal Firewall: Make Your Mac Invisible
By monitoring incoming network traffic, Mac OS X can act as a firewall to protect your home network from unauthorized access. The integrated firewall is based upon IPFW, a FreeBSD technology that protects the most mission-critical UNIX computers on the internet. Personal firewall settings are managed in the Sharing System Preference, with simple checkboxes to enable and disable monitoring of services. In addition, the personal firewall can be customized for communications such as Internet Relay Chat (IRC) or other services. Stealth mode, when checked, hides your Mac on the internet by dropping unsolicited communications packets, making it appear that no Mac is present. The firewall also supports logging, which is useful in tracking down unwanted activity. You pay for this stuff on Windows, but on the Mac it is part of the basic operating system. It is no wonder we refer to Mac OS X as the most advanced and secure operating system on the planet!
Open Source UNIX-Based Security
Apple built Mac OS X with open source software such as FreeBSD, Apache, and Kerberos among many others. These have had decades of public scrutiny by developers and security experts around the world. Strong security is a benefit of open source because anyone can freely inspect the source code, identify theoretical vulnerabilities, and take steps to protect the software. Apple and Apple’s engineers are active in this community by routinely releasing updates to Mac OS X that are subject to independent developers’ review and then Apple incorporates changes from that community. The strength of open source commitment contrasts sharply with a closed, single-vendor (like some guys over in Seattle) approach that has a long, well-documented history of exploited vulnerabilities.
This is the approach that gives Apple such a lead in security. It is a commitment to excellence and a commitment to making an operating system that frees you to use the technology rather than spend your productive or leisure time protecting your technology from those who would exploit it. As I researched Apple’s commitment to “Security by Design,” I learned that the commitment was much more than a casual approach to security but rather it was part of the heart and soul of Mac OS X. There are a lot of features of Mac OS X that are amazing, from Spotlight to Dashboard, but the security features, most of which are invisible to you, are the reason that more and more people are moving to the Mac.
Apple makes our job as computer salespeople easy with the strong feature set and the stark contrast with the headaches of that other operating system with its spyware, viruses, trojan horses, and other security holes. For that operating system, security is an afterthought; for Mac OS X, it is built in by design.
Checking out the iMac Intel Dawn @ smalldog.com
We finally received our demo iMac Intel units in our retail showroom, so I got a chance to sit down and use one. We’ve set up the 20-inch iMac G5 next to the 20-inch iMac Intel to get a feel for how the two compare.
The first step was hitting the power switch. The iMac Intel goes from power off to up and running much faster than the iMac G5. I found a web site that has a video of the two starting up. It says that the Intel version beats the G5 version by a minute:
The two computers did not have extra software or a huge amount of pictures or music installed, so the testing was more of a preliminary feel, launching what apps were there and checking out as much as I could.
For Universal Binary applications, the iMac Intel is fast. There was no discernible difference between it and the Power Mac on my desk. Things like launching Safari and using the iLife ’06 applications didn’t feel any different on the $1500 iMac than they did on the $3000 Power Mac. This is where the promise of Intel lies. Smaller and less expensive computers will have lots of processing power. Just imagine the performance to be reached with the higher-end computers. The switch to the new processor could be a quantum leap for performance, especially now that a company that is so forward thinking begins thinking about how to put performance to work.
Next I launched the few older applications that were installed on the Mac, mostly Microsoft Office. The iMac Intel slowed in comparison to my Power Mac, performing more like the iMac G5. It was hard to really stress either computer since I didn’t have a huge amount of data. I should bring one of my massive spreadsheets down to see what happens then.
If you intend to use the iMac Intel as its target market does — largely consumer and small business users who surf, send email, and use Office products and iLife applications — you will be really pleased with the new iMac.
When it comes to the more processor-intense software, such as Photoshop running under Rosetta, there is a substantial slowdown on the iMac Intel compared to the Power Mac and a noticeable change between the two iMacs. By noticeable, I mean that I can feel a difference between the two but it is in no way unbearable. I could indeed use Photoshop running on an iMac Intel. If you are using an older Power Mac with slower processor speeds, you would probably be quite happy making the switch to the iMac Intel.
My initial impressions were similar to initial benchmark tests. Links for several are below. What excites me about this move isn’t the current performance but the promise of future performance. Once more software is native on the Intel processor, things will really start to take off!
AppleCare in Action Ed @ smalldog.com
AppleCare. Like any form of insurance, it’s one of those things you want to own, but don’t want to use. As Apple says, the “AppleCare Protection Plan extends your computer’s 90 days of complimentary support and one-year warranty to up to three years of world-class support — and provides you with long-term peace of mind.” Until recently, I’d never had a serious problem with any of my Apple computers and never had to use my AppleCare coverage. However, when my G5 1.8 GHz iMac started making a loud buzzing noise, it was time to call Apple’s tech support line.
I retrieved the iMac’s serial number (which is required for AppleCare support) and dialed 1-800-275-2273. After the first ring, I was directed into an automated system. I generally dislike automated telephone systems because they’re often cumbersome and slow, but this system was fast and easy to use. The robotic voice was quite friendly, and after entering some information about the iMac I was directed to a human being.
I didn’t catch his name, but he had a slight Indian accent and I presume he was based in India. Some people strongly dislike talking to tech support based outside of the U.S., but as long as the tech knows what he or she is doing, it doesn’t bother me. In fact, in my experience, many foreign technicians are friendlier and more eager to help than their U.S.-based peers.
The AppleCare rep asked me several questions about the exact location of the strange sound, recent software updates I may have run, whether or not the machine became louder the longer it was on, etc. I was impressed that he seemed familiar with the computer, but he was not able to definitively diagnose the problem. He put me on hold for about two minutes while he contacted another technician.
The new guy sounded very American and, like the first tech, was quite friendly. He asked a few more questions, then decided that I probably had a defective processor fan. At this point, he gave me some options. Apple could send me a pre-paid shipping package so I could send the iMac to a service station for warranty repair. Or he could issue a service number and I could bring the machine to an Apple store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.
Now, I work for Small Dog Electronics, which is Apple Authorized Service Provider, so the solution was obvious. However, in many circumstances, shipping the machine back to Apple would make sense. Mail-in repairs take anywhere from three to ten business days to process, with most repairs only taking three days.
The New York Times recently ran an article about the value, or lack of value, of extended warranties. The article indicated that these warranties are worthwhile for laptop computers, which are subject to abuse and are very expensive to fix. In my iMac’s case, the AppleCare has already paid for itself. I use the machine on a semi-professional level, and while I can get by on my laptop, it would be difficult to be without the iMac. AppleCare considerably cuts down on that concern.
As an Apple Specialist, Small Dog Electronics is able to sell AppleCare, which is usually priced to be competitive with other resellers, including Apple. You can see our AppleCare plans here:
Take Control Ebooks Available Through Small Dog Electronics By Holly @ Smalldog.com
Have you ever gotten a new piece of software and the instruction manual that came with it left you feeling like it barely covered what the software does? Have you ever wanted to buy an instruction book but weren’t sure the Table of Contents and the back cover gave you enough detail to determine if it was what you were looking for, especially for the price? Well look no further. The answer is simple: Take Control eBooks.
Written by the husband-and-wife team Adam and Tonya Engst, Take Control Ebooks have been providing readers with high-quality, timely, real-world, and cost-effective documentation on Mac OS X and Macintosh applications and hardware since 2003. “Our approach to ebooks shines in situations like this,” said Take Control publisher Adam C. Engst. “Whereas most print books about Tiger didn’t hit the shelves for weeks or even months after its release, we had four titles available at the exact moment Tiger shipped. Our policy of providing free updates to our ebooks means that customers can download updated versions as we learn more about various applications in real-world usage and as problems come up.”
If you’re wondering if these books differ from others or if they really cover the material you need to know, all of the ebooks have FREE PDF samples available to download! These samples aren’t just a page or two — often they’re 15 pages or more! That’s a lot of free information you can put to use immediately. According to the Take Control website, “PDF-format ebooks use carefully designed layout and typography for easy onscreen reading and printing, and they include bookmarks, clickable links, and a Check for Updates button that lets you check for and download free updates. We offer free samples of all our ebooks and a money-back guarantee.”
When you combine the ability to sample a portion of the complete ebook with its amazingly affordable price — most are $5, several are $10, and a few are $15 — you really can’t go wrong. All of the Take Control ebooks also include a coupon worth $5 off any order at Small Dog Electronics!
Here’s an excerpt of the ebook Take Control of .Mac:
“To steal a phrase from Steve Jobs, ‘Oh, one more thing…’
“We’ve released a slew of great ebooks over the last few months, but we have one more for you this year – the 182-page “Take Control of .Mac,” which provides comprehensive documentation of Apple’s .Mac service, from the inimitable perspective of Joe Kissell, who spent many an hour testing, tweaking, and troubleshooting in .Mac in order to provide readers with lots of real-world advice and step-by-step directions.
“In this 182-page ebook, Joe helps readers get set up and provides a general orientation to .Mac. He then delves into the major .Mac services: Mail, iDisk, .Mac Sync, Backup, HomePage, and Groups. Readers will learn the best ways to read email via the .Mac Web interface or in an email program, how to share files with others via an iDisk, and the ins and outs of synchronizing data between multiple Macs. Joe also provides real-world advice about techniques for protecting important data with Backup; creating a full-fledged Web site with photos and movies shared from within iPhoto and iMovie; and using .Mac Groups to establish private online areas for sharing messages, photos, calendars, and files with family, friends, or colleagues. Joe even shows how you can buy a .Mac membership or renewal for less than the usual $100-per-year price, and gives an overview of other services that offer different features or more disk space.”
Take Control of .Mac: http://www.smalldog.com/tcebooks/control_dotmac.html
To see the full line of topics available in the Take Control Ebooks Series, visit this page on Small Dog’s website:
Please note that when you click the red button that says “Buy from Take Control,” you will leave Small Dog’s website and be immediately taken to the Shopping Cart at Take Control with the ebook you’ve chosen in the cart.
Nikon Coolpix Cameras
The latest additions to Nikon’s COOLPIX lineup establish a whole new category of advanced performance and photographic fun. The P1 and the P2, with 8.0 and 5.1 effective megapixels of ultra-sharp resolution, along with Nikon’s advanced in-camera image processing, ensures vivid pictures and incredible detail. When you are finished shooting you can quickly and easily transfer your images from the camera to your computer with PictureProject Software. Select either a camera direct-to-wireless computer (Ad Hoc) or through a WLAN router (IEEE802.11b/g) to transfer. The camera and computer synch together so only new images are transferred, no duplications. You can even transfer movies made on your P1/P2 camera.
Nikon Coolpix L1 6.2 MegaPixel 5x Zoom – $305 Nikon’s Coolpix L1 combines 6.2 effective megapixels and a generous 5x optical Zoom-Nikkor lens (38-190mm zoom in 35mm equivalent) for stunning 14 x 19-inch prints. The incredible, bright 2.5-inch LCD makes for easy composition and image playback. The L1 incorporates Nikon’s Exclusive Feature System, including Face-Priority Autofocus for great portraits, In-Camera Red-Eye Fix to automatically fix red-eye, D-Lighting to lighten overly dark images, and 15 Scene Modes to automatically set the camera for great pictures in standard situations, like portraits and panoramas. On-Screen Help eliminates the guesswork by providing explanations for main menu functions. Easy to use and feature-packed, the Coolpix L1 is a camera that suits any lifestyle.
Nikon Coolpix S4 6.0 MegaPixel 3x Zoom – $362 Nikon’s Coolpix S4 combines 6.0 effective megapixels and an amazing 10x optical Zoom-Nikkor lens for stunning 14 x 19-inch prints. The versatile swivel design fits in a pocket! An incredible, bright 2.5 inch LCD makes for easy image composition and playback. Nikon’s Exclusive Feature System includes Face-Priority Autofocus for great portraits, In-Camera Red-Eye Fix to automatically fix red-eye, and D-Lighting to lighten overly dark images, and 16 Scene Modes to set the camera for great pictures in situations like panoramas. New On-Screen Help eliminates the guesswork by providing explanations for all main menu functions. The Coolpix S4 gets you closer to the action!
Phase One Capture One LE – $76 Capture One LE RAW workflow software is the affordable way to get into professional RAW shooting. Why should you start shooting RAW: Two reasons: Image quality and workflow. With Capture One LE you will quickly see the benefits of working with RAW files. If you wish to you have the opportunity to upgrade to Capture One PRO to obtain more workflow tools. Phase One’s RAW workflow is renowned for its excellent image quality and efficient workflow tools. Which is why many professional photographers have chosen Capture One.
Phase One Capture One Pro – $415 Capture One PRO is a RAW Workflow software designed for the professional digital photographer. The main reason why Capture One PRO is the perfect choice for high volume photography is that it is designed to handle many images at a time. On top of this, Phase One’s RAW workflow is renowned for its excellent image quality. Capture One PRO has unlimited batch capability, multiple output files from each conversion, advanced color editor to create color profiles to suite your own color demands, IPTC/EXIF (meta data) support and much more. Capture One PRO has with its many professional users clearly set standards for RAW conversion software.
Here are the specials for this week, valid through February 16th. Be sure to use the wag URL to get this special pricing.
While Supplies Last!
LaCie 80gb FireWire mini HD — perfect for adding extra storage to your Mac mini or for any other Mac!
LaCie Mini HD 80gb 7200RPM FireWire – $105
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16432/mymac
iPod Nano accessory bundle – $52 with free shipping!
Includes: Small Dog iPod nano Leather ClickCase – Ebony Small Dog CAR Tune FM transmitter and iPod Charger Mobilejuice iPod nano ScreenShield with Wheel film
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag50034/mymac
iPod 5G Video accessory bundle – $60.50 with free shipping
Includes: Small Dog iPod 5G 30G/60G Ebony Leather ClickCase Small Dog CAR Tune FM transmitter and iPod Charger MobileJuice iPod ScreenShield – 5G iPod
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag50035/mymac
Factory-Refurbished PowerBook 17-inch G4/1.33GHz 512/80/SuperDrive with additional 1gb of RAM and 17-inch Mac Case Sleeve in Black – $1625!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16433/mymac
Need OS X Tiger and iLife 2006?
Get both along with a EZQUest Monsoon 160gb drive for $315!
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16434/mymac
Small Dog Groove Cube (n) and iPod shuffle (u) – $79
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag50033/mymac
PowerBook 15-inch G4/1.5GHz 512/80/combo/AP/BT w/Ogio Jackpack – $1399
To order: http://www.smalldog.com/wag16374/mymac
Free Shipping on Used iPods!
Choose any of the used iPods, nanos, shuffles, or minis and get free shipping by entering coupon code UsediPod when placing online orders.
Apple iPod MP3 Player, 30gb (2003) B Condition . . . . u 1 209.00 iPod photo 30gb (2005) A condition . . . . . . . . . . u 3 209.00 iPod 20gb (color display) A Condition . . . . . . . . . u 16 239.00 iPod 20gb (color display) B Condition . . . . . . . . . u 4 239.00 Apple iPod MP3 Player, 40gb (2003) A Condition . . . . u 1 259.00 Apple iPod MP3 Player, 30gb (2003) B Condition . . . . u 1 209.00 Apple iPod MP3 Player, 20gb Used B condition . . . . . u 1 179.00 Apple iPod 40gb Clickwheel – A condition . . . . . . . u 1 249.00 Apple iPod 20gb Clickwheel A Condition . . . . . . . . u 18 199.00
iPod nano +——-+ iPod nano 2gb White B condition . . . . . . . . . . . . u 6 169.00 iPod nano 2gb White A condition . . . . . . . . . . . . u 4 179.00 iPod nano 4gb Black A Condition . . . . . . . . . . . . u 3 235.00
iPod Mini +——-+ iPod mini 6gb Silver (2005) A condition . . . . . . . . u 12 235.00 iPod mini 4gb Blue (2005) A Condition . . . . . . . . . u 7 179.00 iPod mini 4gb Silver (2005) A Condition . . . . . . . . u 1 179.00 iPod mini 4gb Pink (2005) A Condition . . . . . . . . . u 3 179.00
iPod Shuffle +———-+ iPod shuffle 512mb . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . u 147 47.50
We had our Aquarian dinner on Tuesday. Hapy, Jessica, and I all have birthdays in February and my mom took us all out for Japanese food in Burlington on Tuesday. Grace gave me a couple handfuls of hippo finger puppets that she had made for me and some great tickets to see the Boston Celtics this Sunday. So it’s a road trip on Sunday! Knowing my luck, there will be a big snowstorm, but I’ve driven in a blizzard to Boston for a game before and I’ll do it again!
I’m leaving in a couple of weeks for my usual winter getaway. This year I am heading off to Hawaii. I just bought an Ikelite underwater strobe to go with my Olympus C-8080 so that I can take some pictures while we scuba dive. I was answering sales calls the other day and after talking to a customer for a bit and helping him choose a hard drive, I asked for his email address and it turns out that he works for Ikelite. After I finished his order he gave me some great tips on taking better pictures. I’m looking forward to taking one of the night dives with the Mantas! I’ll be posting my pictures on my web site and will give the URL here in Kibbles from Hawaii.
Thank you for reading this issue of Kibbles & Bytes and for supporting Small Dog Electronics by purchasing from us. We will never lose track of the fact that it is you, our loyal customers, who pay our salaries and allow us to work here in the Green Mountains with our friends and our dogs. Have a great weekend!
Your Kibbles & Bytes team,
Don, Dawn, Ed, and Holly