Tag: os x

OpenOffice 3.0 Beta launched

OpenOffice 3 Beta

OpenOffice, the free opensource office suite, released OpenOffice 3.0 Beta yesterday. This latest release now runs on Mac OS X without requiring X11 to be running as well. And there are versions for Windows and Linux obviously.

There are a host of new features like ODF Support, Office 2007/8 import/export and support for up to 1024 columns on the spreadsheet app to name but a few.

With the killer combination of Google Docs (Google’s great hosted office app), OpenOffice and OOo2GD (an app to synch between OpenOffice and Google Docs), the justification for spending any amount of money on Office software has just disappeared!

There is also a large number of extensions available for OpenOffice. Everything from template packs, through to report builders and Wiki writers!

Download it, try it out. If you are worried that it will be a big change in UI from Microsoft Office – wait until you see the Office 2007 UI!!! And did I mention OpenOffice is free?

Firefox 3.0b4 review

Firefox 3.0b4 was released overnight and it is a significant improvement over the already superb 3.0b3!

The browser space is really improving of late, what with the release of the surprisingly good Internet Explorer 8 beta, the nightly Webkit releases, and now Firefox 3.0b4.

I ran Firefox 3.0b4 through the Sunspider browser speed test and it completed the test in an amazing 4,683.6ms on my OS X MacBook Pro! That is spectacular performance compared to the already extremely zippy Webkit which comes in at 5,744.8ms and Firefox 3.0b3 which comes in at 9,822.4ms. Flock 1.09 lags waaaaaay behind at a laggardly 16,945.0ms

On trying the Acid3 test (Firefox 3.x passes Acid2) it scores a creditable 65/100, up from 61/100 for b3 but still seriously lagging behind Webkit’s 87/100.

The full release notes comprehensively detail the many updates in this beta version of Firefox and are well worth a scan. Noteworthy improvements include:

  • Improvements to the user interface: better search support in the Download Manager, ability to zoom entire page or just the text, continuing look and feel improvements on Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X and Linux.
  • Richer personalization through: location bar that uses an algorithm based on site visit recency and frequency (called “frecency”) to provide better matches against your history and bookmarks for URLs and page titles, as well as an adaptive learning algorithm which tunes itself to your browsing habits.
  • Improved platform features such as: support for HTML5’s window.postMessage and window.messageEvent, JavaScript 1.8 improvements, and offline data storage for web applications.
  • Performance improvements: changes to our JavaScript engine as well as profile guided optimization resulted in significant gains over previous releases in the popular SunSpider test from Apple, web applications like Google Mail and Zoho Office run much faster, and continued improvements to memory usage drastically reduce the amount of memory consumed over long web browsing sessions.

I have been using Firefox 3.0 as one of my main browsers (along with Webkit) since 3.0b1 and despite the warnings

Firefox 3 Beta 4 is a developer preview release of Mozilla’s next generation Firefox browser and is being made available for testing purposes only

I have found it to be rock solid and a much better browsing experience than Firefox 2.x

The only downside to Firefox 3.0bx is the lack of working plugins but once you try it for a couple of days, you will find it difficult to go back to Firefox 2.x – even with all your plugins!

Screaming fast browser II

I wrote a post the other day giving speeds of various browsers running the SunSpider JavaScript Benchnark tests.

Since writing the post Firefox has released Firefox 3.0b3 and Robert made me aware in the comments of the previous browser speed post that Opera 9.5 beta was released so I decided to check those two browsers as well.

on Vista the performance times came in at:

Opera 9.5b – 16,293.6ms

Firefox 3.0b3 – 19,345.4ms

WebKit r30123 – 8,920.2ms

While on OS X:

Firefox 3.0b3 – 9,822.4ms

Opera 9.5b – 8,953.6ms

WebKit r30123 – 5,744.8ms

So while the Opera 9.5b browser is the second fastest browser tested and is showing very respectable times, it is still taking nearlt twice as long as the Safari Webkit browser to render pages.

Note, I re-tested the WebKit so that the results of these browsers would be directly comparable. It is also worth noting that Firefox 3.0b3 is significantly faster on Vista than was Firefox 3.0b2 while on OS X Firefox 3.0b3 is only marginally faster than Firefox 3.0b2.

Screaming fast browser?

After reading Seth Weintraub’s post on how the upcoming versions of Safari are blisteringly fast I decided to download the latest nightly (WebKit r30123) and check it out for myself.

To check the different browser versions I used the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark.

The results were pretty amazing – on Vista the performance times came in at:

Internet Explorer 7 -   66,870.6ms

Firefox 2.0.0.12 -       34,121.0ms

Firefox 3.0b2 –           29,293.6ms

Safari 3.04 -               21,930.4ms

WebKit r30123 -          9,094.2ms

While on OS X:

Flock 1.08 -               30,476.8ms

Firefox 3.0b2 –           10,863.4ms

Safari 3.04 -               13,534.0ms

WebKit r30123 -          5,720.0ms

That’s pretty spectacular performance – and seeing as I use Safari quite a bit on my iPod Touch, I may just have to switch default browsers for a while to see how I get on with Safari Webkit!

UPDATE – post updated with results for Firefox 3.0b2 on Vista

Apple releases 10.5.1 update to Leopard

Apple released an update to OS X 10.5 (Leopard) today. The standalone update is 110mb but when I downloaded it this morning through Software Update it was a 38mb download for my machine.

According to the Apple info page on the update, it:

includes general operating system fixes that enhance the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac

The page goes on to include details of fixes for Airport, Mail, iCal, System and Finder as well as other fixes.

Personally, I love Leopard. I know some people have had issues with it but I have had the opposite experience. The upgrade to Leopard has actually fixed two previous problems I was having with 10.4 and my laptop is now running faster too. Hopefully 10.5.1 will resolve most of the early issues people have had with Leopard.

First OS X trojan spotted – no need to panic just yet!

There is a great deal of chatter on TechMeme this morning because a trojan has emerged which infects Apple’s OS X!

The trojan is found in pornographic sites masquerading as a video codec.

It isn’t a huge threat because to become infected you need to go through several steps:

When the users arrive on one of the web sites, they see still photos from reputed porn videos, and if they click on the stills, thinking they can view the videos, they arrive on a web page that says the following:

Quicktime Player is unable to play movie file.
Please click here to download new version of codec.

After the page loads, a disk image (.dmg) file automatically downloads to the user’s Mac. If the user has checked Open “Safe” Files After Downloading in Safari’s General preferences (or similar settings in other browsers), the disk image will mount, and the installer package it contains will launch Installer. If not, and the user wishes to install this codec, they double-click the disk image to mount it, then double-click the package file, named install.pkg.

If the user then proceeds with installation, the Trojan horse installs; installation requires an administrator’s password, which grants the Trojan horse full root privileges. No video codec is installed, and if the user returns to the web site, they will simply come to the same page and receive a new download.

The trojan takes over the Mac’s DNS settings and from time-to-time re-directs the Mac to phishing or pornographic websites.

According to Intego, the security company reporting this trojan:

The best way to protect against this exploit is to run Intego VirusBarrier X4 with its virus definitions dated October 31,2007. Intego VirusBarrier X4 eradicates the malicious code and prevents the Trojan horse from being installed

Right – I can see why they are talking it up then! Stlll, if you do find you Mac bringing you to websites you didn’t ask for and you (or someone using your Mac – ahem!) have recently installed a video codec, maybe you should look into this further.

This is the first major malware reported which is specifically targeted at OS X since the operating system was released in 2001. I guess it is a sign of OS X’s increasing popularity.

OS X Leopard hacked to run on PCs

With Apple’s move to Intel chips for its Macs, the last significant difference in the hardware architecture between Macs and PCs disappeared. This meant that Apple’s much vaunted OS X operating system is designed to work on PC hardware.

Leopard, Apple’s latest version of OS X was released on Friday 26th last and in just over 24 hours, a hack to allow Leopard to be installed on PCs has been published.

The installation is not trivial but the instructions are very easy to follow and it certainly looks do-able.

No doubt Apple will quickly release an update (10.5.1) which will address this but in the meantime, all you non-Mac users, enjoy a secure, reliable, easy to use OS on your choice of Intel-based hardware.