0 mice; Tri/Edre, www.tri-edre.com; $50
According to its documentation, Clone’X is a utility that “allows you to easily clone the System [Folder] (Mac OS X, Mac OS 9, or Mac OS 8.6) that runs your computer.” The reality is something entirely different. Clone’X thrashed our System Folder every time we tried to restore it to our machine — making our Mac unbootable.
Clone’X is easy enough to use. Open the program, click on the Clone button, choose your source and destination drives, and then click on the Clone button again. Clone’X creates a copy of your current System Folder and, if you choose, a copy of all your applications. Twice, we attempted to make a clone of our System Folder and restore it on top of our existing System Folder — we burned one clone to CD-ROM and another to a FireWire drive. The results were disastrous. Neither Mac would reboot after we completed the restore process with the clone. The clone we created on the FireWire drive hung up at the OS X startup screen, and the system we restored from CD no longer appeared as a bootable system in the Startup Disk system preference — so we had to reinstall OS X from our installation discs. Overall, Clone’X is a program to be avoided, unless you enjoy whiling away your hours reinstalling OS X. — jeffery battersby
; Intego, 512/637-0700, www.intego.com; $60
Internet-filtering tool ContentBarrier 10.0.1 helps concerned parents set up custom filters that prevent their children from surfing certain parts of the Web. The program ships with four filter modes, but they offer little beyond either complete or significantly limited Web access, so you’ll need to use the customizable filter. This filter lets you limit or allow access to specific types of pages or URLs on an individual basis. It works fine within the confines of a small user base — a home, for example — but if you have more than two or three computers, you’ll want a more centralized, server-based filtering solution.
The program’s useful Antipredator feature scans the content of instant-messaging sessions for phrases such as “Are you alone?” and “Can I see you?” It closes chat sessions if a filtered phrase appears. Unfortunately, the phrase database is very limited and doesn’t contain cryptic but typical phrases such as “Do u want 2 meet me?” You can customize the phrase database — and you’ll have to. And while the program’s log records the name of the user that received the potentially dangerous message, it doesn’t record the name of the sender, so ContentBarrier can’t be configured to e-mail a parent or program administrator if the filter is triggered. — jeffery battersby
; Trygve H. Inda, www.timepalette.com; $20
It’s one thing to know in the abstract that people in other parts of the world are heading out to happy hour as you’re waking up with the sun; it’s quite another to see it happening. Trygve H. Inda’s EarthDesk 2.0 makes a real-time map of the world on your computer desktop, so you can see when the sun rises — or sets — across the globe.
EarthDesk’s extensive preference pane lets you choose the type of map projection you’d like to display (the 11 options include Mercator, Robinson, and Globe), and the lighting you’d like — full moon or no moon. You can add your favorite cities to a list and choose to center the map around one of those, or you can set the map to always center on wherever the global sunrise or moonrise lines happen to be.
The desktop image updates regularly; you set the frequency. We have one important complaint: although we listed several cities as our favorites, EarthDesk let us center the map around only one. It would have been nice to see all our favorites called out on the map. — lisa schmeiser
; iView Multimedia, www.iview-multimedia.com; $30
If you find that iPhoto is too sluggish when it’s dealing with a large catalog of images, or if you want an inexpensive media-cataloging application that handles a wide variety of formats (including JPEG, MP3 audio files, and all media files compatible with QuickTime), look no further than iView Media.
As a photo-cataloging application, iView Media outperforms iPhoto in many ways — generating clearer thumbnails, displaying more information about the images, and creating catalogs far more quickly. Like iPhoto, iView Media can export pictures as HTML pages and back up media in its catalogs to CD-ROM or DVD-ROM. Unlike iPhoto, iView Media helps you identify and manage duplicate images, and it lets you search for images by such factors as file size, image width and height, and resolution.
Although iView Media is a flexible and affordable asset manager, it isn’t perfect. iView Media can’t export slide shows as QuickTime movies, as iPhoto and the $90 iView Media Pro can. The program also crashes when it encounters a corrupt file.
Despite these shortcomings, iView Media is a solid choice for people who need to manage media and who are on a budget. — christopher breen
; @Last Software, 303/245-0086, www.sketchup .com; $495; upgrade, free if you bought SketchUp in 2003.
We thought that the 3-D–drawing program SketchUp 2.2 (; June 2003) was great because it made 3-D modeling accessible to everyone. However, we noted some missing features — such as animation export, better transparency controls, and the ability to add text and dimensions. SketchUp 3.0 addresses each concern — and then some.
SketchUp now lets you export animations as QuickTime movies, and it lets you export still images as JPEG, PNG, and TIFF files. This greatly increases your ability to use SketchUp for presentations and to move creations to other applications or Web sites.
SketchUp’s new dimensioning capability is almost perfect: in only two clicks, you can add a new dimension to a model. In addition, the dimensions are associative (so if you change the model, the dimensions are automatically updated).
You can now control the transparency of materials, too: with one command, you can make all the roof material in a building model transparent, so you can see inside the model.
@Last has added all these features and enhancements without violating the basic premise that makes SketchUp so successful: it is still extremely intuitive and easy to use. — greg miller
To the Trash 1.1
; Mireth Technology, www.mireth.com; $20
If you tremble at the thought of emptying your Mac’s Trash, To the Trash can be your security blanket. To the Trash automatically deletes specific files, from one day to several millennia after you drop them on the program’s icon. To the Trash lets you time-stamp the files you want to delete; it then places them in a temporary storage folder. A second application that works in tandem with To the Trash — Trash Collector — takes over from there: it watches the calendar and permanently deletes the time-stamped files at the appropriate time.
To the Trash works well, but because it consists of two separate applications, it can be a pain to manage. If you don’t start Trash Collector, your files never get deleted. After you do start Trash Collector, it sits idly in your Dock, waiting for the calendar page to flip. It would make more sense for To the Trash to handle these deletions without requiring that you open Trash Collector. Also, deleting a file’s alias actually deletes the original file, and there’s no way to retrieve deleted files, short of digging through To the Trash’s storage folder, a task only slightly less onerous than re-creating the document from scratch. — jeffery battersby