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Mac Browser Benchmark Bake-Off 2014

Wednesday April 23, 2014

If you follow me on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter, you may have seen a sneak peek at this year's annual Mac browser benchmark, where we test the most popular Mac web browsers to determine which one is the fastest.

Mac Browser Benchmark Bake-Off 2014

HTML5 Benchmark Results

That sneak peek showed just one of the six tests we ran on our selected browsers, and while it included an interesting graph, there wasn't enough information to reach any type of conclusion about the 2014 Browser Benchmark results.

But now that the benchmarking is complete, and we've put all the resulting data through our browser benchmark spreadsheets, we can finally reveal the results, which may surprise a few long-time readers of our benchmarks.

Mac Browser Benchmarks 2014 - Who's Number One, and Does it Matter?

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New Apple Security Update for OS X and Safari

Tuesday April 22, 2014

New Security Update 2014-002 is now available for OS X Lion, Mountain Lion, and Mavericks; it also includes updates to Safari 7.0.3.

New Apple Security Update for OS X and Safari

Courtesy of Apple

The security update fixes a number of bugs that could impact Mac users. They include a networking fix that prevents a potential denial of service attack, removes the potential for a maliciously crafted JPEG from terminating a viewing app, and fixes a buffer overflow issue with PDFs that could have lead to arbitrary code execution.

Additional information on the OS X security issues can be found in Apple's Knowledge Base article: HT6207.

Safari 7.0.3, which is part of the security update, fixes an issue where an attacker could strip the Safari security settings for the use of cookies. This could have allowed private cookie data to be retrieved by the attacker.

You can find more information about the Safari update in Apple's Knowledge Base article: HT6196.

Security Update 2014-002 is available in the Mac App Store, and by selecting Software Update from the Apple menu.

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Apple Unveils New Campaign to Show Off Its Green Goals

Monday April 21, 2014

Apple today released two short videos, as well as an update to the environmental section of its web site, just in time for Earth Day 2014.

Apple Unveils New Campaign to Show Off Its Green Goals

Courtesy of Apple

The first of the videos is a short ad narrated by Tim Cook. Entitled Better, the video looks at the programs and initiatives Apple has in place to promote the use of renewable energy at Apple facilities, use recyclable materials, eliminate waste, and reduce its carbon footprint.

You can watch the Better video here.

The second video focuses on the Apple Campus 2's development and design. Apple's plan is for the new spaceship campus center to be 100% powered by renewable resources, including one of the largest on-site corporate solar installations. In addition, the Apple Campus 2 will be energy efficient. Heated and cooled using natural ventilation for three-quarters of the year, it will only need active heating and cooling on extreme winter or summer days.

You can watch the Apple Campus 2 video here.

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Apple Steals & Deals: Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday April 20, 2014

This week sees the iPad mini with Retina Display making its first appearance in the Apple refurb store. Currently only available in its Wi-Fi-only clothing, we're hoping for the Wi-Fi + Cellular models to be following on soon. The other good news is that a number of current Mac mini models are looking for good homes.

Apple Steals & Deals: Sunday, April 20, 2014

 

Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Best Deals of the Week

There are three best deals this week; a 2013 MacBook Pro at a whopping 29% off the retail price; a 2011 27-inch iMac, the last year to include a superdrive, available for 33% off its original selling price; and to round things out, a 2012 Mac Pro with 12 cores for the low price of $3,239.00.

Apple Refurbished Store

Quantities are limited, so if any of these tickle your fancy, be fast on the trigger to make a purchase.

MacBook Air

  • 2013 11.6-inch MacBook Air (Review) 1.3 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 128 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 5000: $849.00
  • 2013 11.6-inch MacBook Air (Review) 1.3 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 256 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 5000: $1,019.00
  • 2012 13.3-inch MacBook Air (Review) 1.8 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 128 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 4000: $849.00
  • 2013 13.3-inch MacBook Air (Review) 1.3 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 128 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 5000: $929.00

MacBook Pro

  • 2012 13.3-inch MacBook Pro (Review) 2.5 GHz Dual-Core i5 with 500 GB hard drive and Intel Graphics 4000: $999.00
  • Deal of the Week: 2013 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (Review) 2.5 GHz Intel Quad-Core i5 with 128 GB SSD and Intel Graphics 4000: $1,059.00
  • 2012 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (Review) 2.3 GHz Intel Quad-Core i7 with 256 GB SSD and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M graphics: $1,599.00
  • 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display (Review) 2.4 GHz Intel Quad-Core i7 with 256 GB SSD and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M Graphics: $1,659.00

Mac mini

  • 2012 Mac Mini (Review) 2.3 GHz Quad-Core i7 with dual 1 TB hard drives, Intel HD Graphics 4000, and OS X Server: $849.00
  • 2012 Mac Mini (Review) 2.3 GHz Quad-Core i7 with 256 GD SSD, Intel HD Graphics 4000: $929.00

iMac

  • 2012 21.5-inch iMac (Review) 2.9 GHz, Quad-Core i5 with 1 TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M graphics: $1,199.00
  • Deal of the Week: 2011 27-inch iMac (Review) 2.7 GHz, Quad-Core i5 with 1 TB hard drive and AMD Radeon HD 6770 Graphics: $1,129.00
  • 2013 27-inch iMac (Review) 3.2 GHz, Quad-Core i5 with 1 TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 755M: $1,529.00

Mac Pro

  • Deal of the Week: 2012 Mac Pro (Review) dual 2.4 GHz 6-core (12-cores total) GHz Xeon with 1 TB hard drive and ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics: $3,239.00

Mac Accessories

  • 2013 AirPort Extreme with simultaneous dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology: $169.00
  • 2013 AirPort Time Capsule with 2 TB drive and simultaneous dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology: $255.00

iPad mini (Review)

  • 16 GB Wi-Fi iPad mini $249.00
  • 32 GB Wi-Fi iPad mini $249.00
  • 64 GB Wi-Fi iPad mini $419.00
  • 16 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad mini $359.00
  • 32 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad mini $449.00
  • 64 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad mini $529.00

iPad Air (Review)

  • 16 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad Air $529
  • 32 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad Air $619
  • 64 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad Air $699
  • 128 GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad Air $789

iPad mini Retina (Review)

  • 32 GB Wi-Fi only: $419
  • 64 GB Wi-Fi only: $509

Want to find out more about Apple refurbished Macs? Take a look at the process my wife and I experienced when we took the Apple refurbished store for a spin.

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1Password 4: Tomís Mac Software Pick

Saturday April 19, 2014

1Password 4 from AgileBits is a password manager that makes keeping track of all the passwords you use just about as easy as it can be. 1Password comes with extensions for all the popular Mac web browsers, so you can integrate it into your favorite browser for seamless access to current web site accounts. It can also save login credentials for new accounts that you create.

1Password 4: Tom's Mac Software Pick

1Password 4

1Password isn't just a web login utility. It encompasses a stand-alone app that allows you to store logins, secure notes, credit card info, identities, passwords, software licensing information, bank accounts, and just about any other type of information that needs to be kept in a secure encrypted environment to prevent prying eyes from viewing it.

Keeping all of your personal data behind an encrypted gatekeeper is a great idea, provided you can make use of the information quickly and easily. 1Password makes retrieving the information a breeze, at least for the rightful owner of the information. With the use of a master password, you can unlock 1Password for a session whose length you define. Once the session is finished, 1Password locks itself back up, preventing further access unless you supply the master password again.

1Password has won numerous awards, including our own Readers' Choice Awards in 2013. 1Password works with Macs, Windows PCs, and iOS devices.

1Password 4 is normally $49.99, but it's available for $24.99 for a limited time. A demo is available.

See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks.

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Weekend DIY - Customize the Dock With Recent Application Stacks and Dock Spacers

Friday April 18, 2014

This weekend's project is a good one if you want to add functionality to your Mac's desktop via the Dock. With a bit of Terminal magic, you can add a capability to the Dock that allows you to keep track of apps and documents that you've recently worked with.

Weekend DIY - Customize the Dock With Recent Application Stacks and Dock Spacers

Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Once you finish adding the Recent Applications stack, you can use the same technique to add a Recent Documents stack.

Now, with all the new Dock features you've added, you may want to consider reorganizing your Dock; you know, move the Dock icons around to place them into groups that make sense to you.

As part of the Dock shuffle, you can add Dock Spacers to help make your groups of icons really stand out.

Add a Recent Applications Stack to the Dock

Add a Dock Spacer to Your Mac

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Rumor: Mac mini Undergoing Dramatic Changes

Thursday April 17, 2014

The Mac mini is getting very long in the tooth; October 2012 was the last time it was updated. On average, the Mac mini is updated just a tick less than once a year. It's now been nearly a year and a half since the last update, which makes me wonder what Apple has been doing with the Mac mini during that time.

Rumor: Mac mini Undergoing Dramatic Changes

Courtesy of Apple

The Mac mini is not only the least expensive desktop Mac, but also a popular choice for many businesses and former PC users who want a powerful Mac, but who don't want or need the added cost of an iMac's built-in display, or a Mac Pro's raw processing power.

Mac pundits, including myself, expected an updated Mac mini sometime in early 2014, which would have met the normal upgrade cycle. Apple could easily throw in a new Intel Haswell processor upgrade, and Intel Iris or Iris Pro graphics, without breaking a sweat. This hasn't happened, so what's going on?

Apple may be giving the Mac mini more than just a basic upgrade this time around. Looking at recent Apple designs, and the direction they point to, here's what I think Apple will do with a new Mac mini.

Apple could just drop the model altogether; after all, desktops aren't the moneymakers they once were. But the Mac mini could be part of a new direction in Apple's desktop designs, one that started with the 2013 Mac Pro. That includes updating the storage system to SSD only; no mechanical spinning drives of any type. Instead, the new Mac mini would have a PCIe-based SSD, as seen in the Mac Pro and current MacBook Airs.

Without the need for a mechanical hard drive, the Mac mini could shrink, and I mean in a big way. There is no reason why a Mac mini couldn't be the size of an Apple TV, or perhaps a puck shape, a smaller take on the Mac Pro's cylinder design.

The only interface needs are power, HDMI, Thunderbolt, and USB 3. The number of each type of port depends on how small Apple wants to make the Mac mini. I would expect to see four USB 3, two Thunderbolt, and one HDMI. Of course, there would be the required Bluetooth and AC Wi-Fi, but perhaps no Ethernet port.

As for processors and graphics, Haswell and Iris Pro will likely be the choices. There could be a model with a higher-end graphics card to provide a bit of a GPU boost to overall performance.

What do you think a new Mac mini will look like? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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Don't Worry, It's Only a Mac Kernel Panic

Wednesday April 16, 2014

If you want to know what strikes fear into the heart of Mac users, it's the kernel panic image that a Mac displays when the OS throws its hands up and simply stops working.

Don't Worry, It's Only a Mac Kernel Panic

 

Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

As strange as it may sound, if you see the kernel panic image, it's time to relax, because there's nothing you can do to remedy the problem. It may be of little comfort, but when there's nothing you can do about a situation, the best thing to do is take a deep breath and move on.

Feeling better now? Ready for a bit of good news? A very high percentage of kernel panics are caused by one-time events that you may never see again. Kernel panics are usually the result of two or more poorly written apps vying for the same computer resource at the same time. This isn't supposed to happen, but sometimes it does.

A kernel panic can also occur because of a memory leak, once again caused by a poorly written app (or plug-in or add-on). In this case, the misbehaving app keeps using more and more memory until there's none left, and poof, your Mac crashes.

How about more good news? Restarting your Mac will probably bring you right back to the desktop, with no problems other than losing unsaved data from any apps that were open when the kernel panic occurred.

If you restart your Mac and run into problems, our guide to Troubleshooting Mac OS X Kernel Panics should get you going again.

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Microsoft Adds Office 365 Personal Subscriptions

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Microsoft today announced the availability of a lower-cost option for its Office 365 suite.

Microsoft Adds Office 365 Personal Subscriptions

Courtesy of Microsoft

The core apps in Office 365 for Mac (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and One Note) are available in various subscription tiers, including home, business, and enterprise. Office 365 Home is available for $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month, and includes a 5-user license that lets you run up to five copies on your Macs, PCs, iPad, or Windows tablet.

The newest tier being offered is a single-user subscription license that allows you to install Office 365 on a single Mac or PC, plus one copy on your iPad or Windows tablet. Pricing for the new Office 365 Personal tier is $69.99 per year or $6.99 per month.

Remember, this is not a new version of Office for the Mac; it's essentially Office for Mac 2011 with a new pricing structure. If you would prefer the old non-subscription prices, you can find Office for Mac 2011 available online from various resellers.

Microsoft has said it's working on a new Mac version of Office, but so far hasn't provided a release date.

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Apple Buys Hydroelectric Facility; Is an iDam The Next Big Thing?

Monday April 14, 2014

No, as fun as it would be for Apple to start selling micro-hydroelectric systems, there will be no iDam in our future. Apple's interest in purchasing a small hydroelectric facility near the Haystack Reservoir is to help provide renewable energy to the Prineville, Oregon data center currently under development.

Apple Buys Hydroelectric Facility; Is an iDam The Next Big Thing?

 

Apple Data Center, Prineville, OR - Image courtesy of Google and Europa Technologies

Apple is already powering the new data center with renewable energy in the form of wind energy contracts from suppliers in the area. But Apple has also indicated that its plans are for the site to be 100%-powered by renewable energy sources. To that end, Apple plans to build a 200-acre solar farm on nearby land in Prineville.

Apple's interest in the 3 to 3.5 megawatt hydroelectric facility seems to be an interim energy source as it continues working its way through the permitting process to develop the large solar farm. As currently permitted, the micro-hydroelectric facility doesn't run in the winter months, when the agricultural canal that feeds the facility is shut down because of freezing weather.

When it began the Prineville data center project, Apple said that the data center would be powered by wind, solar, and micro-hydroelectric sources. With this purchase, two of the three renewable energy sources are in place.

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