Mac 101: Keep Your Mac Running with Regular Maintenance

If your Mac is running slow or things don’t seem to be working properly, it may just be that you need to give your computer some TLC. Here are a few ways to look after your Mac to make sure it doesn’t get too ill.

Coping With the Loss of Hard Drive Space

Despite storage becoming so cheap, it is still a good practice to keep tabs on your hard drive’s capacity. I’ll help you to arm yourself with the tools to figure out where that space is going, and how to maintain and protect it in the future.

Adobe Creative Suite 5 Details Revealed

I was only just talking about how long its been since Adobe (s adbe) released a new major update to its flagship Creative Suite product with an imaging professional friend, and now there’s a sign that we won’t have to wait much longer for said update to arrive. AppleInsider got an exclusive look at some of the new features coming up in various CS5 programs, some of which look mighty appealing to my hobbyist eye.

Photoshop CS5 will finally become 64-bit, for starters, something which Photoshop CS4 for Windows could claim nearly two years ago in 2008. The new 64-bit Photoshop CS5 has be completely rewritten in Apple’s (s aapl) Cocoa development framework, after Apple’s decision to scrap a 64-bit version of Carbon blocked the simultaneous release of a 64-bit Photoshop CS4 for Mac. But that’s not all. Many other new goodies are also forthcoming. Read More about Adobe Creative Suite 5 Details Revealed

Gas Cubby by FRAM: A Mutually Beneficial Partnership

Over a year ago I had the pleasure of profiling David Barnard’s App Cubby and their growing selection of iPhone applications. David’s attention to detail and the feedback of his many customers has allowed him to grow Gas Cubby into a great app for tracking your automobile’s maintenance, costs, and data. When it was selling for $10 I thought it was worth it, but now with Gas Cubby by FRAM, you can pick it up for free.

While the iPhone gains momentum like the juggernaut it appears to be, the App Store has continued to draw criticism, and yet, developers are still flocking to the platform. The result is that fart apps aren’t cutting it anymore, and every developer must bring their ‘A’ game if they want to have a chance at making it in this business. As with the rest of the business world in this economy, making it as an iPhone App Developer also means being able to evolve. Read More about Gas Cubby by FRAM: A Mutually Beneficial Partnership

Fat Spaniel: Solar Software Gets Smarter

fatspanielIn news highlighting that solar software is getting smarter, solar software startup Fat Spaniel Technologies is moving beyond just monitoring solar projects. The San Jose, Calif.-based solar software company plans to announce on Tuesday that it has developed a set of software called Lifecycle Management solutions that also interpret data from its customers’ projects, anticipating and solving problems to help make the most of those solar assets. The company says that some of its software can reduce total maintenance costs by up to 30 percent.
The first two of these products, Solar Plant Vision and Solar Operations Services, are geared toward operating and maintaining solar projects. Aside from helping keep solar plants at their most productive and cost-effective, maintenance is crucial to make sure that these projects retain their value as assets, said Tom Tansy, vice president of marketing at the company. This is especially important considering that most solar projects change ownership after about 5-7 years because of the way they are financed, and keeping track of those assets, including their service and performance histories, is important.
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$80 Upgrades a Windows 7 Starter Edition Netbook to Home Premium

windows-7-starter-upgradeI’m not sure how many netbooks will come with Microsoft Windows 7 Starter Edition after October 22, but I do know how much it will cost to upgrade those devices to higher editions of the operating system. The Windows 7 Team Blog offers up the details for just such a situation, using the Windows Anytime Upgrade option. The cost to move from the Starter Edition (or Home Basic) to Home Premium is $79.99. The upgrade nets you Aero Peek, taskbar previews, customizable desktop themes, and remote streaming, to name a few of the features.
I’ve personally beta-tested the Windows Anytime Upgrade feature, and it performed very well for me. In under 10 minutes, my “transaction” was processed and the new features were installed and unlocked. So I don’t foresee major upgrade issues for netbook owners running Microsoft Windows 7 Starter Edition (s msft). The question is one of value for the upgrade features. Microsoft did drop the concurrent three-app limitation from Starter, but there are still quite a few restrictions.
I suspect that most companies selling netbooks will build in at least a $50 to $60 premium for a netbook running Home Premium over Starter Edition — if the price difference is less than the $80 upgrade cost, it will make sense to order the Home Premium option at point of purchase.
By the way, you can use Windows Anytime Upgrade to get Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate Edition, as well. Upgrade costs from Windows 7 Home Premium are pggged at $89.99 and $139.99, respectively. And the Windows 7 Family Edition is now official as well. $149.99 gets you three licenses of Windows 7 Home Premium for use in the same household.

Comparing Apples & Volvos: User Maintenance Forgotten

volvoapple1

Apple (s aapl) computers have frequently been compared to Volvo (s volv) automobiles, more due to the perceived political and ideological leanings of a prominent cohort of their respective users (ie: urban liberals) rather than commonality of design and engineering philosophy. Indeed, while Apple has tended to be a design trendsetter, hanging out on the bleeding edge of the avant garde, Volvo’s design has typically been conservative, even stolid and deliberately boxy.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been an admirer of Volvo cars since I first got up close to a 122s at a fall exhibition in New Brunswick back in 1963. Over the years I came to admire the ruggedness and performance of the old Volvo 122s and 544s especially, including ones that were raced on weekends in sports car club events. There was of course the Volvo P1800 sports coupe, and the derivative ES 1800 sportswagon had some Apple-esque pizzazz, but they were largely designed by Italy’s Carrozzeria Pietro Frua and initially built for Volvo by England’s Jensen Motors. Contemporarily, I think the ES 1800-inspired Volvo C30 is cool, and the forthcoming Volvo XC60 T6 crossover is going to be a choice piece of iron, with a spectacular interior done in white with blue instruments, Light Nordic Oak, and brushed aluminum accents that looks like Apple’s Jonathan Ive could have conceived it.

However, there’s another Volvo-Apple similarity I don’t find at all congenial — namely a predilection of both firms to discourage user maintenance and tinkering, taking a superciliously paternalistic stance that any messing about inside their products is better left to “trained experts.” Examples from Apple are the difficult-to-open-and-service iPods, iPhones, and Mac minis, and the not intended to be user-replaceable batteries in the MacBook Air and new 17″ MacBook Pro (although I’m confident there will be ways).

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