Eternal vigilance

Our readers love it when we write about Mac security. But the response to July’s Protect Your Mac feature was unusually strong. Maybe because now that you can run Windows on a Mac, you can get Windows viruses, Trojan horses, and so on. But OS X itself isn’t invulnerable just because of its Unix-based architecture, its security tools, the Mac’s relatively small market share, and—last but not least—the collective computer savvy of Mac users. Should the Mac’s market share ever grow, will all that be enough? Turn on that firewall and antivirus app just in case.

Is it safe?

Michael Tennes —In “Protect Your Mac” (July 2006), I was surprised that you overlooked one of the most important security measures to protect your data and your privacy: setting an Open Firmware password. If someone boots your Mac from an OS X installation disc, that person can set or reset the system password and have full administrator access to your entire system. Setting a firmware password with Apple’s Open Firmware Password utility can make that much harder.

Good point. But even an Open Firmware password isn’t 100 percent secure. For example, anyone who can physically open your Mac can reset it.—Dan Miller

Pam Bishop —Why would you recommend paying $30 for Allume’s Internet Cleanup program when the Reset Safari command in the Safari menu does the same thing—trashing caches, cookies, and so on?

No, it’s not at all difficult to clean up after Safari manually. But we like to explain all the options. As our review of Internet Cleanup noted, it can still do more than Safari alone.—Scholle Sawyer McFarland

Geoff Hart —You made one crucial omission in your advice about security measures for Macs running Windows: spyware. Last time I updated the software on my PC, something like 40,000 spyware programs were out there “in the wild,” and no one piece of software can protect against all of them. Some spyware infections are every bit as bad, and as hard to remove, as viruses and Trojans. If you use Windows, antispyware software is no longer optional. If you’re running Windows on a Mac, two popular (and free) programs can do the job: SpyBot Search and Destroy and Ad-Aware Personal. But if you plan to use Windows extensively, you’ll need something stronger. See windowssecrets.com for recommendations.

Getting the boot

Michael Sparks —I have my reservations about the arrival of Boot Camp (“Boot Camp FAQs,” July 2006). So what if I can run Microsoft Office in Windows XP on a Mac? It’s still running on an old and unstable operating system. Why would I want to dumb down my Mac so it can be exposed to thousands of viruses, or even get the Blue Screen of Death? Also, if enough Mac users stop buying Mac software and start buying more Windows-based software to run on their Macs, we will lose our programming edge.

For people who can leave Windows behind, great—they’ve got a Mac. For those who must run Windows software (in many industries, there are simply no Mac versions of required software), they can now buy a Mac that runs both. That said, the best solution for Mac users who need to run Windows software is Parallels Desktop. You should turn to Boot Camp only when your peripherals won’t work in Parallels or you need fast graphics for games and such.—Rob Griffiths

Scott Benton —Your coverage of the new Rosetta emulation technology for Intel Macs (which lets those systems run software written for PowerPC chips) has been far too kind. My partners and I run a small design and production studio. We recently bought two Intel-based iMacs, loaded with 1GB of RAM and plenty of hard-drive space. But we’ve been completely unable to run the current versions of Adobe InDesign CS2, Illustrator CS2, and Photoshop CS2 on them. Rosetta failed miserably with even a small amount of multitasking, and died an even speedier death when we tried to work over our network. Our G5s and even some older G4s significantly outpaced the Intel iMacs. We’ve subsequently traded in those two iMacs for one G5 tower, and we’ve been much more productive since.

Voice of caution

Francois Bacave —Your article on VoIP and Internet telephony was very useful ( Reviews, July 2006). But it failed to mention one important thing about VoIP service: because it relies on a computer that needs electrical current, it won’t work if your power goes out. At home, a traditional phone is still a necessity unless you keep your cell phone charged at all times.

Surfing Safari

Bob Gulian —Reading Macworld, one might think that Safari is the only browser available for OS X. But it’s not. Camino is an OS X rewrite of Mozilla’s Firefox. It fully supports industry standards such as ECMAScript and the W3C Document Object Model (DOM) specification; Safari falls short in its support of both. Camino starts up and loads Web pages faster than Safari. In short, Mac users have a world-class, free alternative to Safari. You might want to mention that to your readers more often.

We focus on Safari because that’s what the overwhelming majority of our readers use. But we do cover other browsers—see our review of Camino (   )—and we will continue to do so.—Dan Miller

iPod ideas

Andre Kemp —Looking at your reviews of the latest iPods, which now have radio transmitters, video connectors for your TV, and voice recorders, makes me wonder: when do we get the iPod camcorder? Somebody must be able to figure out how to connect an iSight or a Web camera to an iPod and—bingo!—create a 60GB camcorder.

Jesus Garcia —In your July 2006 issue, you mentioned the Risse Racing Mork Mount ( iPod Gear ). I feel compelled to point out that listening to music while cycling outdoors is not a good idea. When you are on a bike, you need to be aware of what’s going on around you (people walking and running, other bikers, and, most importantly, cars). Listening to an iPod while you ride can make that harder.

I agree. As I noted in the full review, “we don’t recommend listening to an iPod when sharing the road with cars and pedestrians; but for dedicated bike paths and roads, music can be a great riding companion ” (   ). Warnings or not, people are going to listen to iPods while riding; at least with the Mork Mount they can keep their eyes on the road.—Dan Frakes

We blush

Richard F. Thompkins —Your piece on Disk Utility ( Disk Utility’s Hidden Talents, Working Mac, July 2006) was just magnificent. I’m showing it to some old Mac hands who never knew what that program could do. Thank you so much.

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