TweetFollow Us on Twitter

22.10 KoolTools

Volume Number: 22 (2006)
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: KoolTools

miniStack

by Jordan Ticktin

Mac mini's use 2.5" hard drives, so they are limited on the capacity (160GB as of this writing). But, the mini is capable of so much more. So how do you get the mini more storage? Simple. You add an exterior hard drive. One example is Newer Technology's miniStack.

What It Is

Newer Technology's miniStack is a hard drive solution for your Mac mini, but it also gives you the ability to act as a USB and FireWire hub. It has 3 USB ports, 3 FireWire ports, a USB uplink port, 2 different types of connections to the Mac mini, and a security slot to secure the miniStack to your desk with a Kensington MicroSaver Security Cable.



Figure 1: The miniStack V2 with all of its slots showing.

The miniStack takes up virtually no space because it fits seamlessly together with (under) your Mac mini.



Figure 2: Newer Technology's miniStack (with Mac mini on top)

The power management system is designed to work with your mini, and conserve power. When the miniStack's switch is set to on, it will turn on and off whenever your Mac mini does.

There are two different ways to connect a miniStack to a Mac mini: via USB and via FireWire. The miniStack gives you a couple of choices to optimize for your scenario.

    1. You flip the connection switch to auto in which case you will connect with either USB or 1394 (FireWire) to the Mac mini ... automatically choosing as appropriate;

    2. Or, you flip the switch to 1394a and you connect the miniStack to the Mac mini though only FireWire, which will make it run faster.

The miniStack reviewed is the second generation design. In version 2, you no longer have an option to manually set the fan speeds; the miniStack automatgically controls the fan to keep the unit cool. It also has a large passive heat sink to radiate heat away from the hard drive.

To give you more flexibility in your setup, one of the USB ports and one of the FireWire ports are now on the left side instead of the back. Newer Technology touts the miniStack as 34% faster than the mini's internal hard drive.

Depending on what you want, there are a couple of ways that you can purchase this product from Newer Technology:

    1. If you want it without a hard drive (no software included): $79.95

    2.If you want it with a hard drive in it (EMC Retrospect Backup and Intech HD Speedtools included):

    • 80GB $119.00
    • 160GB $139.00
    • 250GB $159.00
    • 320GB $189.00
    • 400GB $269.99
    • 500GB $295.99
    • 750GB $499.99

    This product has a two year repair/replacement warranty.

What We Thought

To put this product to the test, we thought we'd try it as a small file server ... that is a physically small server that has three quarters of a terabyte of disk space. After running it for several weeks under Mac OS X Server, we were quite satisfied with the results.

Obviously, a Mac mini is not a high throughput machine, nor is an external FireWire drive as efficient as an internal drive, but that's no fault of the miniStack. If you need a physically small file server, that's relatively quick, can have a good amount of disk space, and doesn't need high throughput, a mini combined with a miniStack is a great solution. (Although remember, the mini's 2.5" internal drive is not intended for server use ... so make sure you back up your boot drive.)

Or, if you just want a ton of disk space for your mini, this is simply a great solution ... not just because it's elegant, but because of all the additional ports it has as well.

For more information on Newer Technology's miniStack, visit <http://www.newertech.com/ministack>.




CompuRover AW Bag

by MacTech Review Staff

For any serious photographer, functionality is the key to finding a great bag. But what happens if you are both a serious photographer, and a heavy laptop user ... as many of us are. Carrying a SLR setup along with a laptop is a bag challenge if you are on the go, particularly if you are looking for a backpack.

The CompuRover AW backpack from Lowepro is a great quality pack that allows you to carry relatively heavy equipment. This three-compartment backpack is designed to carry a digital pro SLR with lens attached, 2-4 additional lenses, a 17" notebook computer, digital accessories, and any additional personal items. Better still, because the backpack has a waist belt, the weight sits on your hips, not on your shoulders. Carrying 30 pounds of camera and computer equipment is not an issue, as we did recently to test the bag.



Although the placement of the camera pocket is at the bottom of the bag, there is enough padding to protect the camera lens if it is facing downwards. While initially the camera section seemed to be in a funky position, it became clear quickly in use that this was designed for quicker access ... with the option of zipping, buckling, or both to close the case. In addition, there's a built-in trekker tripod mount for attaching tripods up to 10 lbs.

If you spend hours hiking or walking with your equipment, as we did in testing this bag, then comfort is paramount. We found the waist belt is very comfortable, even under weight. In fact, the more weight, the better the bag felt. The shoulder straps are well padded. And, of particular comfort was the extra padding between your back and where the laptop goes. The only thing that we wished for was to be able to pull some of the adjustment straps at the top of the shoulder straps even tighter, but this is a minor nit.

There's no doubt that the CompuRover AW is well built, sturdy, and even water-resistant. One of the coolest things that we found was it's built in all weather cover which acts like a "poncho" for your back pack, securing it with a elastic band around the edge. Better yet, the bag was particularly easy to take on and off, even fully loaded.

In case you are wondering where the laptop goes, there's a side-access laptop pocket that we slid a 17" PowerBook into. Being flat against your back, it was very comfortable, not to mention fast to access at airport security checks.

The backpack's top pocket is smaller than expected for such a big bag, but that's the price you pay for all that padding around the camera and laptop pockets. The price (US$229.99) and slightly excessive weight of the bag are drawbacks, but well worth it when you realize that you are protecting several thousands of dollars in equipment. In fact, the padding was so good that when we were caught in the recent upgraded airport security, we felt comfortable checking the bag as luggage (although we don't recommend this).

If you are not going to mostly fill this bag, then it's overkill, and you'd be better off with a different option. But, if you need to carry a laptop and SLR setup, then you need a way to carry that weight, and this bag is a great solution. More information available from <http://www.lowepro.com>




PDF Shrink 4.0

by MacTech Review Staff

Working here at MacTech Magazine, in a production environment that deals with massive image files, and emailing each other PDF files for review can be a bit daunting. We needed something that could quickly compress a PDF that did not include having to use a utility to compress it so that it would be immediately viewable in email clients. Yet, we wanted something that would preserve the PDF format. This is when we found PDF Shrink from Apago Inc.

What is it?

PDF Shrink boasts as much as a 90% size reduction of most PDF files, but it all depends on what is in the file, and the options for compression. Apago posts actual results of compression when creating PDFs from a variety of different applications. Of course, your mileage may vary.

PDF Shrink 4.0 includes optional encryption of PDF content, support for JPEG 2000 image compression, and a wizard for creating customized settings, if technical terms like compression codec and "dots per inch" make you squirm and scratch your head in frustration.

Since images make up a rather significant part of the size of a PDF file, this software can modify the resolution and compression level of the images to match different requirements. Fonts also unnecessarily increase PDF file size, so PDF Shrink 4.0 has been designed with an option that allows you to remove embedded base 14 fonts, if required. Another cool option in PDF Shrink, is being able to delete unused elements such as metadata, thumbnails, and duplicated data.

A new encryption feature in PDF Shrink 4.0 protects your documents. Select from several options, such as whether to allow changes and printing and content extraction to restrict use or add a password to prevent unauthorized access. All you have to do is tell the Shrink 4.0 how you intend on using your PDF, and it selects the appropriate settings for you. There is also an Advanced mode for directly specifying your settings.

To use PDF Shrink, you can choose from a number of different settings. Either drag-and-drop a PDF to the application icon or dock, or drag-and-drop to a setting. You can also print through PDF services, create a droplet, or use AppleScript.

What we think

One of the things we like best about PDF Shrink is it's speed and easy to use interface. Being able to just drag and drop a PDF file onto your favorite setting is incredibly easy and time saving.

If we could change anything, it would be to have more options for image compression, but there are other tools, including ones from Apago that serve this well. This is a very useful product and well worth the price for most people's use.

PDF Shrink 4.0 retails at US $35. Upgrades from earlier versions of PDF Shrink for current users available for US$14. Visit <http://www.apago.com/upgrade/> to purchase upgrade. However, if you bought PDF Shrink after May 1, 2006, the upgrade is free.


 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

LooperSonic (Music)
LooperSonic 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: LooperSonic is a multi-track audio looper and recorder that will take your loops to the next level. Use it like a loop pedal to... | Read more »
Space Grunts guide - How to survive
Space Grunts is a fast-paced roguelike from popular iOS developer, Orange Pixel. While it taps into many of the typical roguelike sensibilities, you might still find yourself caught out by a few things. We delved further to find you some helpful... | Read more »
Dreii guide - How to play well with othe...
Dreii is a rather stylish and wonderful puzzle game that’s reminiscent of cooperative games like Journey. If that sounds immensely appealing, then you should immediately get cracking and give it a whirl. We can offer you some tips and tricks on... | Read more »
Kill the Plumber World guide - How to ou...
You already know how to hop around like Mario, but do you know how to defeat him? Those are your marching orders in Kill the Plumber, and it's not always as easy as it looks. Here are some tips to get you started. This is not a seasoned platform... | Read more »
Planar Conquest (Games)
Planar Conquest 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $12.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: IMPORTANT: Planar Conquest is compatible only with iPad 3 & newer devices, iPhone 5 & newer. It’s NOT compatible with... | Read more »
We talk to Cheetah Mobile about its plan...
Piano Tiles 2 is a fast-paced rhythm action high score chaser out now on iOS and Android. You have to tap a series of black tiles that appear on the screen in time to the music, being careful not to accidentally hit anywhere else. Do that and it's... | Read more »
Ultimate Briefcase guide - How to dodge...
Ultimate Briefcase is a simple but tricky game that’s highly dependent on how fast you can react. We can still offer you a few tips and tricks on how to survive though. Guess what? That’s exactly what we’re going to do now. Take it easy [Read more... | Read more »
SoundPrism Link Edition (Music)
SoundPrism Link Edition 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ***Introductory price for a the first few days after launch - if you're reading this, get it while it's fresh out of... | Read more »
Pre-register now for hack and slasher An...
Fincon, which won Facebook's Studio to Watch award in 2015, has announced that pre-registration is now open for the massive 3.0 update for its award-winning hack and slasher Angel Stone. Angel Stone is a post-apocalyptic action RPG in which the... | Read more »
Google has named Piano Tiles 2 as its Be...
Google has named Piano Tiles 2, which launched back in August last year, as its Best Game of 2015. If you're yet to play it, now's a good time to do so. It's a sequel to the hugely successful viral hit Piano Tiles (Don't Tap the White Tile) but... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple refurbished 2014 13-inch Retina MacBook...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $400 off original MSRP, starting at $979. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free... Read more
Macs available for up to $300 off MSRP, $20 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and... Read more
Watch Super Bowl 50 Live On Your iPad For Fre...
Watch Super Bowl 50 LIVE on the CBS Sports app for iPad and Apple TV. Get the app and then tune in Sunday, February 7, 2016 at 6:30 PM ET to catch every moment of the big game. The CBS Sports app is... Read more
Two-thirds Of All Smart Watches Shipped In 20...
Apple dominated the smart watch market in 2015, accounting for over 12 million units and two-thirds of all shipments according to Canalys market research analysts’ estimates. Samsung returned to... Read more
12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up...
B&H Photo has 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $180 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 12″ 1.2GHz Gray Retina MacBook: $1499 $100 off MSRP - 12″ 1.2GHz Silver... Read more
12-inch 1.1GHz Gray Retina MacBook on sale fo...
B&H Photo has the 12″ 1.1GHz Gray Retina MacBook on sale for $1199 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model... Read more
Apple now offering full line of Certified Ref...
Apple now has a full line of Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are... Read more
Free GUI Speedometer – The Ultimate Digital D...
Miami, Florida based RMKapps has announced the official release of GUI Speedometer 1.0, their digital dashboard display developed for iOS devices. GUI Speedometer allows users to track their precise... Read more
FutureCalc: Ergonomic iOS Calculator App For...
London, United Kingdom based Independent software developer and entrepreneur, Hovik Melikyan has announced the release and immediate availability of FutureCalc 1.0, his new ergonomic calculator app... Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac Pros available for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The following... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Macintosh OSX - Net2Source Inc. (Uni...
…: * Work Authorization : * Contact Number(Best time to reach you) : Skills : Apple Macintosh OSX Location : New York, New York. Duartion : 6+ Months The associate would Read more
Computer Operations Technician ll - *Apple*...
# Web Announcement** Apple Technical Liaison**The George Mason University, Information Technology Services (ITS), Technology Support Services, Desktop Support Read more
Restaurant Manager - Apple Gilroy Inc./Apple...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
Simply Mac *Apple* Specialist- Service Repa...
Simply Mac is the largest premier retailer of Apple products in the nation. In order to support our growing customer base, we are currently looking for a driven Read more
*Apple* IOS / OS X Level 3 Support Analyst -...
Needed: Apple Support Analyst (OS X / IOS); 50k-60k/yr +…Horizon Technology Partners has an immediate opening for an Apple IOS / OS X LEVEL 3 Support Analyst. Your Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.