OS X "Mavericks"

Version 10.9

Highly recommended for all OS X "Maverick" users with limited RAM environments or those who wish to protect their privacy

Due to the difficulty in this OS X version to clear the inactive RAM after quitting memory-hungry applications resulting in poor performance issues on your Macintosh computer (especially if you have a traditional hard disk with limited RAM), you are strongly advised to download and run a manual or automatic (preferred) RAM memory purging utility. Available for OS X are the following tools:

  1. Boost&Memory 1.1.0 costs US$4.99.
  2. Dr. Cleaner Free and is the only app to optimise memory when an app is quit.
  3. FreeMemory 1.8.4 is free only from the App Store.
  4. iFreeMem 3.5 costs £10.
  5. MacPurge 1.2.2 is free.
  6. Memory Clean 5.0 is one of the better apps and is totally free (but only from the App Store).
  7. Memory Diaz 1.0.2 from the same makers of FreeMemory comes this app, which is free only from the App Store.
  8. MemoryOptimizer 3.2.0 is free (and discontinued).
  9. MemoryTamer 1.2.1 costs US$2.49 from the App Store.
  10. Purge 1.0 is free.
  11. purgeRAM 1.1 is a free AppleScript app from SUNRISE ()requires administrator privileges to run).
  12. RAM Cleaning 1.0 is free and does exactly the same thing as the SUNRISE version..

The situation can be best summed up this way by a MacUpdate user:

[Memory cleaning apps] works as intended. The bigger issue is how Apple chooses to allocate memory. I have 24 GB of memory in my i7 iMac. Safari alone will use a big chunk of it. No other browser eats memory like Safari. This has been true since Safari's intro. Fortunately I have an SSD drive on the iMac, so there is no loss of performance when memory becomes lean.

But it's a different experience on my MacBook Pro with a standard 7200 drive. There, even though I have 16 GB of memory, beach balls when memory gets low. I don't mind closing apps. However, it's more the closed apps retained in memory that's the problem. Here, Memory Clean does what Apple doesn't - retrieves this otherwise unavailable memory.

NOTE 1

Beware of the fact that some commercial apps will constantly call home to check whether they are registered. This is more of a concern as this can be an opportunity to send more information about your computer, who you are, where you are located, and the apps you have used, which kind of defeats the purpose of memory cleaning and protecting your privacy. It is also possible such apps could have been developed by programmers working for Apple, Inc. So ignore those shareware/commercial apps like the plague.

NOTE 2

Any automatic RAM clearing tool must work on the basis of a user either specifying an inactive memory threshold below which the clearing of the memory is run, and/or setting a timer for when the apps will run their memory clearing process. The ability to detect the quitting of non-system-related applications to enable a software programmer to automatically run a memory clearing app is apparently not achievable according to the way the OS X has been designed by Apple. So all memory clearing apps will remain imperfect. However, to Apple, this may be all that is needed for the company to grab the data from RAM should there be a time delay.

NOTE 3

The SUNRISE manual RAM clearing solution can be used in OS X "Snow Leopard" or earlier versions if you have Developer Tools and Xcode installed on your computer.

NOTE 4

There is still a general misconception about the purpose of memory clearing/cleaning tools and whether there is any benefit. There are, in fact, two main benefits:

  1. It is for people with limited RAM environments where the inability of the latest OS X to release the memory causes a reduction in performance of their Macs. The problem is worse for people who still use the traditional magnetic hard drives where OS X regularly swaps contents in RAM with cache files on the hard drive when you perform various tasks in your applications.
  2. Where users do have adequate RAM, you may not notice a performance drop because OS X is able to utlise more RAM to run your applications at reasonable speed. However, memory clearing/cleaning is still useful for a number of these users because the latest OS X Mavericks and Yosemite now wants to retain enough data about the applications you have launched and used in the RAM irrespective of whether those application have been quit. This was not the case in previous OS X versions except for the fact that the Preview.app was a prelude to this feature as Apple tested the idea with users. More specifically, you may have noticed in your 20 years of Mac experience how Preview.app does not like to let go of the files that you last opened and later closed but for some reason you cannot trash the files. When you look at the Preview icon in the Dock, you suddenly see no dot next to the icon as if suggesting it has quit. It hasn't. You have to click on the icon, the dot appears very quickly and then you quit Preview properly. Then the file can be trashed. All this is part of Apple's attempt to see what happens if data about the files you thought was closed can be kept in RAM without your awareness. If so, Apple can go the next step of sending the data through from RAM to its servers while you are online using the latest OS X. So essentially, memory clearing/cleaning is also about protecting your privacy.

However, if you are not terribly concerned about sharing your privacy with Apple and you have plenty of RAM, memory clearing/cleaning apps on the whole have no real benefit.

About version 10.9

The remarkable eagerness of Apple, Inc. to get the next OS X out before the end of the year (i.e. 2013) has never ceased to amaze the high-tech observers and Mac users. Why so quick? Is profit not as high compared to the era when Steve Jobs was making the decisions? Do we need to encourage people to spend more money on an OS X upgrade? And are the latest changes truly an upgrade, or more like a few useful updates just to make the diehards in the Mac world salivate with envy? The only problem is, it is getting to the point where most average Mac users don't really care too much about OS X, so long as they can do their work efficiently and effectively, that's all most people ever want to know. Given how many years OS X has been around, with some people already commenting it is starting to look a bit tired and old and needs to be refreshed, most people have been dragged kicking and screaming to use it and finally enough people have OS X that people are wondering what really could be improved at this point?

Well, it seems Apple, Inc. has managed to find a few improvements and has announced some of them on Tuesday 11 June 2013.

The first improvement, if you may call it that, is the decision to name OS X by a non-feline name. Either Apple has run out of names in the cat family, or they think it is time to give OS X a truly fresh start. But the word "Mavericks"? Not sure what this would inspire in people. How about OS X "Kick Ass" to kick the ass of the competition (especially Microsoft) with an amazing new interface, awesome 3D effects that animate, built in voice recognition (i.e. we don't have to send our text or commands to Apple to have it converted to editable text), the ability to select which system extension features we truly and definitely want (and so streamline the OS to something that users really prefer on their own computers for a genuinely personal and high performance experience), be able to scroll the windows directly on the touch screen and not just on the trackpad, etc.

Leaving the name changing aside, the second improvement is apparently to deny a couple of third-party developers a chance to make money in selling a plug-in designed to add tabbed browsing to Finder windows. Now Apple has decided to include such a feature directly into OS X (we hope the developers have been paid well for their idea). Nice. However, it isn't entirely clear if you can remove the feature if you are comfortable and efficient without it. It is kind of an all or nothing approach from Apple these days. But no doubt the feature will be useful to a number of users who are looking for more efficient ways to do their work.

Okay, what else?

More like a fix rather than a new feature, we discover Apple has finally solved the problem (admittedly since OS X 10.7) of only being able to display the screen on one external monitor while all other displays turn grey. Now you can have independent screens working and showing information without affecting each other. Even nicer is the ability to use your Apple TV as an extra monitor.

Another improvement that looks deceptively like a standard fix or general update is the way Safari has been refined to give better JavaScript performance, lower memory usage, and other claimed improvements. Presumably Apple see these changes as sufficiently substantial to the point where it is needed to be seen as an upgrade. Hence the decision by Apple to make this version of Safari part of OS X 10.9 experience. Seem like a logical decision if you are working at Apple, not so for the average user. But heck, it is better than a kick up the backside. At any rate, these improvements will help to make it faster and smoother to scroll your browser window when viewing complex web pages (the advertisers will love this). One efficiency improvement that most users will love is allowing bookmarks to be more accessible in a sidebar that pops out when you need to see them.

The next improvement is mainly in battery life. Now we are getting somewhere useful. As we know, very little improvement has been made in the world of battery technology (short of sticking a portable nuclear-powered battery pack). But Apple has managed to pull a bit of a magic rabbit out of the hat with a new application called App Nap designed to put to sleep those applications that are not "seen" by the user. For example, if you are running Safari and it needs to hog the CPU for processing, say, graphics intensive stuff from a web page, this can stop suddenly if you switch to another window or application, thereby preserving your battery time. Useful? Perhaps if battery time is critical in your line of work. But then one of the things many people tend to do is switch to another application only because they want the original application to do its job in the background of getting everything ready. So if it needs the CPU for processing, then fine. Let users do something else while they wait for the machine to get ready. Now it seem the application people will want to wait on in the background must suddenly stop altogether until you decide to look at it again. A strange improvement. How about some real improvements to the battery itself? Is there anything we can do here? As for the App Nap, we don't think it needs to be uniquely available on OS X 10.9. Why can't the app work on all OS X versions? Indeed, sell it as a separate application.

A slightly more controversial improvement is the introduction of iCloud Keychain. After some people felt comfortable enough in seeing the benefits of transferring passwords from a computer to portable devices using third-party solutions such as LastPass and Dashlane, Apple has decided it too will join the party with its own inbuilt solution. No doubt a dangerous piece of technology, but it seems Apple is touting the encryption of the sensitive data sent across the networks will be world-class. It may not be military-grade, but at least it will have enough encryption to help ease some people into the technology.

Notifications in OS X has become a little more useful. Instead of clicking on them to open the appropriate app to find out more details and perform actions, those actions can now be performed directly within the notification window. It will also perform actions in the background as soon as you see the notifications saving you time.

General "cleaner look" improvements to Calendars, Contacts and other Apple-specific applications. A map application for looking up directions like you see on iPhones with iOS will be incorporated into OS X. And you will be able to read Apple's own proprietary iBook files if you prefer your laptop to be a reading device.

Well, yes. That's nice.

Other improvements are likely to come between now and when it is released. Hopefully a considerable number of major improvements will come soon. But until then, it remains to be seen how many users will make the jump to OS X "Mavericks". Indeed, if the silly situation of numerous existing applications running on OS X "Lion" 10.7 and higher can't run properly under OS X "Mavericks" and need to wait on third-party developers to modify them to make them work (and probably pay for upgrades), this can become a major problem. People may wait for developers of the more popular freeware and shareware applications to get updated for free in most cases, but commercial applications are likely to be a different story. Any high costs associated with commercial software and a decision by people like Adobe, Inc. to make their applications workable again by forcing people to buy an upgrade could see many people choosing alternative software, or else stick with the current version of their OS to run their expensive software. Already there is a gap between people who want the latest technology and those who already have the technology and are trying to do something useful with it (which would explain why nearly a third of Mac users are staying on OS X "Snow Leopard"). There will be fewer and fewer people making the transition to the latest OS X, and even more so when OS XI (now called OS X 10.10 "Yosemite") is virtually just over the horizon. Unless there are significant benefits to be had in making the move, we should expect the gap to widen considerably over the next 5 years.

Apple plans to release OS X "Mavericks" towards the end of 2013, with most of the usual bugs to be cleaned up as users get the hang of the latest changes. Well, that's all part of following the principles of the Agile Manifesto for software development. It is mainly about delivering working software frequently and quickly to the customers, often on shorter and shorter time scales, and so long as the software basically works, then that's usually the measure of progress and success in the IT world. However, from the perspective of a growing number of end users, this can be a pain in the arse with regular updates and later regular upgrades to pay just to make the software seem workable again (i.e., most of the bugs ironed out, and hopefully no new ones introduced to bring us back to the beginning once again), forget whether the user really wants to have more features in a new upgrade.

For system requirements, OS X :Mavericks" should be able to run on the following Macs:

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later), (17- inch, Late 2007 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

Now if only all applications can run on this version OS X properly without an upgrade or update too. An amazing feat if it is possible.

Official release to the public of OSX 10.9

On Tuesday, 22 October 2013, Apple released the official public version of this formidable OS X version known as "Mavericks".

Is Apple getting ahead of schedule in releasing this version? Usually this sort of thing would come at around the end of November to encourage people to buy new Macs during the Christmas festivities. Then again, maybe Apple is anticipating possible bugs and need the extra month or so before the Christmas holidays to iron them out when hopefully more people will be using this release. Or could it be that the minimum 5GB RAM requirement to run this OS is designed to force everyone with a 4GB RAM Macintosh computer to upgrade the memory or buy a new machine? Mind you, if you want to buy a new Macintosh computer, Apple has seriously miscalculated the RAM requirements for their current range of laptops selling in the stores just prior to Christmas 2013 since too many of the machines still have 4GB as the standard. Worse still, those MacBook Air laptops with RAM permanently soldered onto their motherboards and cannot be upgraded still show 4GB as the maximum memory available. Makes one wonder how many consumers will purchase them (or even use OS X "Mavericks" if they do)? You can only see a couple with the minimum 8GB put onto them. But the few dozen or so of the other machines on display continue to tout the standard 4GB of memory. Something is amiss? Apple should have at least had the entire range of machines bumped up to 8GB RAM as standard and selling since the beginning of 2013 in anticipation of the release of OS X "Mavericks". Oh well, maybe Apple will have a fire sale one day to get rid of the old stock while most people are unaware of the latest OS X requirements. Certainly some Apple resellers are looking toward a fire sale to get rid of old model stock of the Mac Pro Tower (the one with 2.4GHz Quad-Core processors with 12GB RAM and a 1TB HDD and SuperDrive — apparently priced to go out the door in a mad rush from AUD$3,499 based on the basic configuration model). Should be extended to all models with non-upgradeable 4GB RAM. That should solve the problem. But hopefully at much lower prices.

Another interesting decision from Apple is to release this OS version for free. The last time that ever happened was in the 1990s when OS 7 was released. Now it seems the company has come to its economic sense by realising the economic hardship of most American users and has decided to help them ease into this version with a freebie. Is this the reason? We don't know. One thing is certain, it would have been difficult to get enough users to make the transition if there had been a price attached to it (even at $25 and downloadable from the App Store as it was for the previous version) even if there were no economic problems in the U.S. to worry about. Just to make things more difficult is the presence of too many different versions of OS X with most users settling on OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard", and just enough people game enough to try OS X10.7 "Lion" and OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion". To get people to make the move to OS X 10.9 "Mavericks" would have required a Herculian effort by the company no matter how convincing Apple could make it look. Now the bitter pill to swallow has been sweetened somewhat with what is effectively a good decision — make it free (yay!) — and a necessary one too. This is the only way people will at the very least consider trying it out (and hopefully not bother about going back down to earlier versions). Yep, Apple needs to have the big guns blazing with this latest version to really attract users and keep them there.

And hopefully no irritations by way of bugs and the loss of useful features, or adding features that get in the way of an efficient and effective use of OS X.

Possibly the most stable OS X yet as most developers claimed to have had trouble finding any bugs in the Gold Master release versions (just prior to the official release). This version could be the best one yet from the company. But as usual, always wait until a number of bugs are fixed in the updated version (probably just before Christmas 2013) before jumping on the bandwagon. And if you do decide to make the move, make sure you have a way to return to your previous OS X version in case there are any issues.

Now we must wonder what else has Apple added to this OS version that is so important to get as many people to make the move, and for free? Scary stuff.

This version can only be downloaded from the App Store. Due to the greater than 5GB size required to download this monstrosity, don't be surprised if people start sharing the OS X package file with everyone else just to help them save on the bandwidth.

Afterthoughts

Alright, it has been a month for users to get the hang of OS X "Mavericks". Is there anything we can learn from this experience?

Word has it that some users have formulated an opinion about their experiences of this latest OS X. Generally the views are positive in the sense that they can actually do some useful things with it and on the whole has not detracted in any way from doing their work.

At the same time, we can't discount some negative views for a balanced insight. In this regards, it seems the most telling aspect of OS X is that it is "bloated" and may run "slow" after a while. In the latter case, this is quite surprising considering this is opposite to what developers have said when they tested it. But on careful analysis, we realise one important thing: what most people don't know is that developers tend to have at least 8GB, if not 16GB or 32GB of RAM running on their systems, so everything would look okay from their perspective. But for the public, it can be a different story. Many people don't seem to know how critical the RAM is for running software at reasonable speeds and these are the people who still have 4GB as the maximum RAM on their systems. Indeed, many will be wondering why they had ever upgraded to the latest OS.

As a typical comment from one user (going by the MacUpdate profile of LeeL7168):

"OS X Mavericks, in MY experience is 'Bloated' & V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W.... if your Mountain Lion or OS X 10.6x Snow Leopard, is working well... DON'T Update.. Keep what you have!"

Curiously, this user has also added another "top-of-the-list" annoying feature of OS X "Mavericks". He wrote (as of December 2013):

"iCloud, is the Main Problem.. if you Can, Goto System Preferences, look for your 'Contacts' (next to iCloud icon) click..then Click on the 'iCloud' indicator.. look for all the programs 'LINKED' to iCloud.. UNCHECK either ALL of them, or the ones want. If all Linked programs /Apps.. are unchecked, you won't be Seeing that !#%$&* iCloud 'POP-UP' !! There is Also Another way to get rid of iCloud POP-UP Completely with OS X Mavericks terminal, HERE: http://derflounder.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/disabling-the-icloud-sign-in-pop-up-message/"

Very interesting.

Is Apple going too much over the top with this iCloud thing, thinking this is the greatest piece of technology ever created by Apple? Yawn! Perhaps this is the whole purpose of OS X "Mavericks" — to merely spy on Mac users more easily and determine if people are doing the right thing. If so, Orson Welles 1984 and the age of Big Brother is probably much closer than you think.

All this iCloud stuff is a bit overrated, seriously.

Beyond that, there has been one option for the Dock that has seen many Mavericks users disappointed. Most people prefer a simple 2D appearance to their Dock. But for some incredible reason, Apple has decided to do away with the 2D option, in favour of 3D. Why? As a result, one developer has decided to do something about it. The tool you should install (and is freeware) is called cDock 4.1. This should bring back some familiarity with previous OS X versions of the Dock.

Apple protecting its own contacts.app on OSX and iOS for a reason

This is becoming more evident than ever before following the release of Filemaker Pro 13, an application formerly owned by Claris Corporation, but was sold to Apple, Inc.

FileMaker Pro is one of those applications where users can create the contacts database of their dreams (or any kind of database). More powerful than Apple's own contacts.app in OS X and iOS. Only problem is, there is the potential for users to do away with Apple's own free contacts.app supplied with OS X and iOS. For Apple, this is not necessarily a good thing. Providing contacts.app to users for free is the only way Apple can gather information about users — specifically, their names and addresses, and links to other people who might be using a Mac. Very important stuff for software manufacturers such as Apple to identify people who may not have purchased legitimate digital products and need a way to find out who these people are.

Fine, if this is the only purpose. However, the fixed location of contacts.app and the ease by which scripts can be run to access data stored in the app means many other people can find out who you are. So it isn't just law enforcement agencies with a panache for gathering this kind of information. It can also include marketers looking for innovative ways to send personalised adverts targeted to your specific habits and buying trends. And why stop there? Anyone with the know-how can effectively access this data, including organised crime syndicates, Russian hackers and the rest who want nothing more than to use your identity and personal details to do their dirty work in order to survive, and ultimately get rich quickly if they can.

This is why contacts.app is not fully encrypted. In fact, there is no encryption, and certainly not to a military-grade level. Furthermore, you cannot move the app to another location, or even allow the app to be modified by you to how you like it to look and even rename fields to something different. Only Apple will modify the app and only if it helps the company to gather the information they need. So it isn't just iCloud where Apple can learn everything about you. There is a lot it can learn straight from your computer through the apps Apple provides for free. Free in Apple's language means getting something they want for free from you in return for giving you free Apple applications for you to use. It is not exactly "no strings attached" kind of free software.

Then there is FileMaker Pro. Now here you can design what you want, move the application where you want it, add encryption, and even make the data available on your iOS devices.

But since the day when Apple purchased FileMaker Pro from Claris Corporation, the company found itself in a dilemma. It knew how much power was available to the company to gather personal information by creating simple apps of its own for users to use and get these apps to share information on the network direct to the company. But at the same time, FileMaker Pro was not designed to do this, nor is it easy or legally acceptable to send all the data in these custom databases made by users straight to Apple in order to find out the right information. Even if the company could find a way, how would we know if the company would stop at just gathering your name and address? Why not business confidential information? Because of the legal ramifications, FileMaker Pro is not designed to secretly send data to Apple or anyone else unless you specifically tell the database that this is what you want.

Because of this, Apple had to find ways to detract most users from purchasing easily FileMaker Pro. Set the price to a reasonable level and hopefully most people will use the free contacts.app. Furthermore, those developers with FileMaker Pro Advanced are capable of producing for free a runtime solution of a contacts database (runtime means you don't need to purchase FileMaker Pro to access the database). FileMaker developers had the power for a number of years to completely replace and provide far greater power than Apple is willing to provide in the free contacts.app of OSX and iOS. Sure, Apple did attempt to do something similar with Bento 1.0 to 4.0. But again it could not easily gather data from these databases to achieve the company's goal of identifying users. The purpose of Bento was mainly to undercut the prices of FileMaker Pro developers' own contacts and other general information databases and so try to force the developers out of the business or give away their solutions (and eventually stop supporting the products if they don't receive any profits for all their efforts).

But that's not all. FIleMaker Pro can also serve databases to a limited number of users (between 5 and 9 concurrent users) on the internet or a FileMaker network using a feature called Web Publishing. With the advent of iOS and portable Apple devices such as the iPad and iPhone, there is this option of developers offering solutions for free to let users access their databases and the data they contain on the web. So why use contacts.app on iOS if users can access their own databases on a web browser?

This would also undermine the profits somewhat of Apple's own FileMaker Server, which sells for more than AUD$1,000. Very expensive for what it does especially since FileMaker Pro can achieve the same thing, limited only by the number of users who can access the databases. In early versions of FileMaker Pro (version 9 or less), up to 9 users could access databases simultaneously. Apple changed this situation to 5 users in the newer FileMaker Pro versions. Thus the only benefit of forcing people to have FileMaker Server is to expand the number of users to around 1,000 (something that could easily be implemented in the standard FileMaker Pro application, but clearly not to Apple's liking and aim to make a profit with the Server version). The other advantage of the Server edition is that you can speed things up by not having the extra things that go into developing databases, just serve the databases and nothing else. So if you are serious about serving databases online, the Server edition would be the way to go. But for average consumers who need to access their own data from a FileMaker database, the standard FileMaker Pro application is fine (and no the runtime solution does not provide online access to the data).

These observations told Apple something had to change.

Initially, Apple left a number of bugs in the feature known as Instant Web Publishing (IWP) for publishing databases to the web in FileMaker Pro 9 to 11, making it harder for users to do what they want. The bugs were eventually removed in version 12, but Apple reduced the number of users who could access the databases simultaneously to 5, presumably to encourage greater sales in FileMaker Server. Still, this wasn't enough.

In a survey conducted by FileMaker in mid 2012, Apple was asking how many people were using the Runtime creation engine in FileMaker Pro Advanced (without it and the application would effectively be FileMaker Pro standard and hence the Advanced version could be put on the scrap heap). It was hoped the company could remove this feature if there was not enough support for it, and so force users to purchase FileMaker Pro standard to run any database solutions created by those allegedly few developers using the feature.

By December 2013, Apple released FileMaker Pro 13. The company may have dropped the idea of removing the runtime feature (in other words, the Advanced package is available). However, in order to deal with the web publishing problem of ordinary consumers looking for an alternative to Apple's own contacts.app, IWP has been stripped down to just the information it needs to store in a database about how to be published on the web. Apple names this feature as WebDirect. As for serving the databases on the web, this is now strictly done with FileMaker Server. It means only organizations with the money can afford to publish databases to the web.

Perhaps Apple should have renamed this feature WenIndirect as, indirectly speaking, you need FileMaker Server to send databases direct to the web.

Also, Apple will not allow FileMaker Go, an application to access FileMaker Pro databases on iOS devices, to run on Android devices. Apple needs people to purchase Apple products in order to benefit from accessing FileMaker databases. As for web browsers accessing FileMaker databases from a FileMaker Server, support for Android is limited.

So what exactly do we get from FileMaker Pro 13?

The biggest improvement has to be in allowing developers to create databases that are more iOS friendly and will work better with FileMaker Go. While we may gain in this area, Apple has stripped down IWP to WebDirect forcing developers and clients to purchase FileMaker Server. Thanks. We appreciate the giveth in one hand, and taketh on the other approach taken by Apple in this regard. We understand this decision is to force developers who create contacts management systems to not sell them too cheaply to the masses and certainly not to allow easy web access to these systems where they might compete with Apple's own free contacts.app of OS X and iOS which have a specific purpose for Apple (i.e., to gather information about users and ensure they do the right thing). If we have to live with this "nanny state" situation, FileMaker Go should have been made available on Android portable devices. But again we understand this is to ensure users purchase iOS devices for the benefit of Apple and its shareholders.

A number of interface changes are fairly apparent in the inspector window including a useful style inspector panel to streamline the process of transferring styles to other text elements quickly and easily. All very useful to the developer (and ultimately to the benefit of users in terms of quicker solutions). It is good to see the ability to add shadows to graphic elements (although not totally powerful enough to, say, add shadows behind text by flowing with the shape of the characters).

FileMaker Pro 13 seems to have removed in the bugs and other instabilities when working in multiple scripts from different databases. However, Apple has managed to introduce flaky code to cause instabilities and unexpected quits during launching and trying to open up a database. It doesn't happen all the time, but enough for developers to notice the heightened number of crashes during launching.

A handful of new script commands such as Set Script to Animation were added to provide some usefulness in certain situations where they are needed.

And most appreciated is seeing the Advanced version still available.

There is at last an option to encrypt the data in databases (yay!). Although this requires another level of password authentication for users and requires the developer to maintain the full access privilege account (not needed in runtime solutions for greater protection of the intellectual property of the databases, but that seems somewhat superfluous given the security bug found in Data Viewer in the Tools menu of FileMaker Pro Advanced application). What developers are looking for is encryption of data stored in the databases so when people have a copy of FileMaker Pro 13 Advanced (well, we can't always control what people may bring into an organisation to access databases), they cannot see the data held in fields of any table under the Data Viewer in non-full-access privilege accounts. This is a major security problem in FileMaker Pro 10 to 12 (earlier versions did not have this problem because the Data Viewer was more secure with the button to view data in any field greyed out until Apple came along). FileMaker Pro 13 has not improved the situation — the data can still be accessed with or without this database file encryption.

You win some, and you lose some.

Also, it is a pity that FileMaker Pro 13 doesn't work on Windows XP. Not exactly sure why because things like Set Script to Animation doesn't work on Windows. If users and developers are forced to upgrade their WIndows OS just to make FileMaker Pro 13 run on Windows 7 or higher, one should expect to see a number of new features to work in Windows. If not, what's the point of upgrading Windows? Indeed, what's in Windows 7 that FileMaker Pro needs to make the application work? There is probably a good reason for dropping support to XP machines but Apple is not saying. If there is a good reason, it is probably to do with something Microsoft is doing at the moment to ensure Apple and other companies don't provide further support to older OS versions. Maybe Microsoft has decide to drop its own support for XP as a means of forcing users to upgrade to a newer OS version? Whatever the truth, it now means that users will have to enable web publishing (i.e. WebDirect) of databases for people of legacy machines to access databases using web browsers. Except now we can't test WebDirect in FileMaker Pro 13 Advanced unless we pay more to have FileMaker Server 13 or higher running and that would be very expensive.

Sort function hasn't improved since the very earliest FileMaker Pro versions starting with version 2. It would be nice to see this improve to one where we can simple enter the table and field name to sort by, even add multiple fields as a text list specifying the order of sorting, and add at the end whether we want Ascending and Descending and FileMaker Pro can work it all out. This approach would simplify sort scripts considerably.

General performance is good and certainly has slowed down in any way from the previous version. Much appreciated.

Overall, FileMaker Pro 13 is not quite bristling with an overwhelming number of innovative and useful features. In fact, some of the features suggested as an improvement (e.g., WebDirect) are more like a step backwards. But as they say, beggars can't be choosers. Apple has to protect its own investment and profits of its own products. So in a sense the other more positive changes are probably the price we must pay for the loss or limited flexibility of other features.

We may not be able to say FileMaker Pro is the best Apple has ever produced. Rather it is probably the best that Apple is willing to provide without compromising its own business in making a profit while ensuring they can continue to gather personal details about its users.

And FileMaker Pro 13 could also be a way for Apple to be anti-competitive to those FileMaker developers who would like to sell databases to consumers (apparently not illegal from what we see of an email from a Filemaker representative).

Does OS X 10.9 require a clean install and not an upgrade install?

It is amazing how many people will defend Apple's OS X 10.9 thinking it is the best OS the company has ever produced. Unless you are an employee of the company trying to convince people in online blogs of various web sites about how great the OS is, the reality is that you do need a new Mac computer built towards the end of 2013, and it needs to have at least 8GB of RAM together with fast enough graphics processing power, to rip through the features of OS X just to make it bearable. The OS might be the world's best from Apple, but not a lot of users are seeing it as such.

With talk by users as of December 2013 of sluggish performance after about 2 months of use, the staunch Apple supporters will defend the latest OS to the hilt claiming users should reinstall OS X 10.9 as a clean install, not as an upgrade install from an older OS version (apparently after they too had experienced the exact same problem themselves and had experimented on ways to solve the problem, and now it is presumed the solution has been found: try the clean install option and things should work fine). These supporters will also recommend users should buy iDefrag as a tool to defragment the hard disk (doesn't OS X do this work automatically?). Defragging helps to bring together fragmented digital data so that the read/write head of a magnetic hard drive doesn't have to move around so much (which can slow things down) searching for the data.

What else will the supporters recommend? Oh wait, why not buy a new Mac to solve the performance issue? Sounds logical enough, surely?

And how do we know for sure whether these extra costs to get things bearable once more will solve the problem? Seriously, is there anything else users have to buy extra to get OS X 10.9 working fast and doing its job of launching applications and organising files and apps for all times? Otherwise people will be wondering why does the OS have to slow down after 2 months of use (or is it while using several applications in a typical computer session)? What exactly is the OS keeping a record of and needs to store on the computer and on the iCloud that users are not aware of? The mind boggles at the thought.

There appears to be a reason why OS X 10.9 is free for download. Maybe the supporters should investigate what is slowing it down beyond suggesting a mere defragging issue and recommending a clean install and see what the OS is trying to store extra on the hard disk and on iCloud when people are doing their work.

OS X 10.9.1 Update

On 16 December 2013, predictably just before Christmas, we see Apple has released an update for its latest OS. Surprisingly, despite numerous comments from users about the slowing down of the OS after 2 months of use, Apple has seen no need to address this issue to ensure fast and reliable usage for as long as users require it. Instead the update focuses on fixing some noticeable bugs in Apple's own applications, such as Mail.app needing better support for Gmail users as well as more reliable searching and a fix that prevented contact groups from working properly in Mail. Fixes for VoiceOver, Safari, iLife and iWork apps, and OS X can now remember the password after the first prompt of requesting this information when unlocking "Local items" keychain (thus you won't be annoyed by constant nagging of the prompt to re-enter the password) Includes Safari 7.0.1, and there are fixes for issues relating to non-English systems.

As for the big problem of slow performance, this update will not address it as far as we can tell at the present time. Either Apple is happy with the way the OS is operating and achieving the goals set out by the company, or the company is not aware of the issue. Given how many people have noticed the issue and the amount of testing one must presume had taken place by Apple employees prior to the release of this OS, we are led to believe it is probably the former case.

Makes one wonder the kind of hardware specifications people are going to need to run the upcoming OS X 10.10 "Yosemite" when it comes out (probably in the next couple of years). Must be a radical departure in design and features, or it will have to be a much more refined and efficient OS than we have ever seen. But if it slows down any further, it will be a miracle for Apple to give away the OS to anyone these days. For something that merely allows people to launch applications and organize their files and make everything look pretty and personalised, the OS is now looking too sophisticated for what it is suppose to do and is probably going to require an extraordinary amount of hardware resources to run it.

Is Apple losing the plot?

The sophisticated nature of the OS probably explains why Apple has managed to introduce a new bug with this update, this time in relation to the audio. According to a MacUpdate user named Bob Jacobson, he said:

"There's a new bug revealing itself on the forums: audio cuts out when you put your Mac to sleep or otherwise disturb its functioning. People have proposed all sorts of solutions, but I found that by going to System Preferences/Sound and clicking on standard input and standard output, it brings sound back right away. Everyone's waiting for a patch."

Probably a natural mistake by Apple or something that wasn't anticipated from the update, so expect the next update to address this issue. Although whether the performance issue of the OS will be fixed is another question altogether.

Update is only available from the App Store, or check your local Mac expert for a copy of the.pkg file.

OS X 10.9.2 Update

Released on 25 February 2014, this update focusses mainly on goofy mistakes in Apple applications such as not showing the correct unread email counts in Mail, while at the same time realizing the company needs to make the applications more useful. So it has expanded the ability to make and receive FaceTime audio calls as well as provide waiting support for audio and video FaceTime calls. On the more useful network-related front, we see greater reliability when connecting to a file server using SMB2, and the update stops unexpected disconnections from VPN (Virtual Private Networks). On the hardware front, Apple appears to have fixed the audio problem introduced by the previous update. And beyond that, it seems a little more VoiceOver navigation in Mail and Finder was apparently needed.

Still no improvements to performance and memory requirements for this massive OS. In fact, as one MacUser, iTonyD, pointed out:

"Though Apple brags about compressed memory tricks, the operating system needs about 8 gigabytes of RAM memory to operate without continuously paging to disk with more than a couple of programs running at the same time."

And there are still concerns about incompatibility of the OS with running even slightly old software applications (i.e., runs perfectly fine on OS X "Mountain Lion", but curiously not so on "Mavericks" for some reason). As the above MacUser is willing to state:

"Avoid unless you know that all of your software and hardware has been changed to be compatible. Apple never has and never will care about supporting older hardware and software and this is especially true with Mavericks....

Apple doesn't care if their latest whizbang makes the stuff you've been using for years not work anymore. Even old versions of files created with their software are not compatible or convertible to new versions."

The company will have to care when OS XI (or OS X 10.10 "Yosemite") gets released, or it is all downhill from that moment on. For now it seems Apple is trying to see how much it can learn about users, gather information and store it on its billion dollar servers, and sift through the mountain of information to see if there is anything it can learn (perhaps to make a better OS, or give the right improvements to Apple applications to make them more useful, or see how much software piracy exists in the Mac community). Whatever it is the company has put into OS X "Mavericks" to slow it down, people are already wondering what's going on and why they can't focus on doing their work?

Expect massive improvements to come in the next OS release, together with a range of new Macintosh computers designed to provide the power needed to run it.

Of course, to be fair, there have been the usual separate updates arriving a day or two later in relation to:

(1) iTunes 11.1.5, which "Fixes a problem that may cause iTunes to quit unexpectedly when a device is connected and improves compatibility with iBooks for Mac on OS X 10.9."; and

(2) Apple Mac Pro SMC Firmware Update 2.0 for the late 2013 model, with Apple claiming, "This update enables Mac Pro to enter Power Nap without running the fan for most Power Nap activities, and addresses a rare issue where a low-speed USB device may not be detected at boot."

Together with an OS X 10.9.2 Server update, there is not a lot on offer from Apple. It seems the company is pleased with its products at the present time (expect a few security updates and general updates to its range of Apple applications). Unless, of course, you want to consider Adobe doing its bit to work quietly with Apple to provide an update at the same time to its Adobe Flash Player 12.0.0.70 to enable more access to computer systems. Or else we must assume this isn't the case.

Apple Security Update 2014-002

More security improvements. Apple has decided to divide the security updates into three separate updates to cover Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks given the amount of changes Apple has done to each operating system. The easiest is probably to use the Software Update menu to download your particular security update. But if for any reason you lose access to this and need an alternative approach, try this link.

OS X 10.9.3 Update

Not a heap of changes. Apple seems pretty contented with the work done to OS X at the present time. The only improvements are:

  1. Giving Mac Pro (Late 2013) and MacBook Pro with 15-inch Retina Display (Late 2013) improved 4K display support.
  2. Adds the ability to sync contacts and calendars (but not for Notes and Mail) between a Mac and iOS device using a USB connection.
  3. Improves the reliability of VPN connections using IPsec.
  4. Usual security improvements and minor tweaks to Safari 7.0.3.

The ability to sync contacts and calendar data from a Mac to an iOS device using a USB connection is a particularly interesting one. There was a time not so long ago when Apple did provide the USB option via iTunes. A lot of users were happy, and everything was chugging along quite nicely. Then all of a sudden, the USB transfer feature mysteriously disappeared without informing users, forcing all data to be transferred through Apple's own servers. Now, with the latest Mavericks update, there is a change in the air from the company. Is this because enough users have complained to force Apple to reinstate this feature? Highly unlikely considering plenty of users were upset in the past and made it clear to Apple how distasteful it was to lose the USB transfer option. And for years the company ignored all requests to bring back the option. Another classic example where the monopoly of Apple on the Mac environment can see many users be forced to do what the company wants. There is no competition from alternative OS makers on the Mac. So you get what you paid for from a company that essentially does not care what users think and can do pretty much what it wants. Yet strangely, Apple has decided to reintroduce the feature.

This isn't being done for altruistic reasons. There has to be a motive behind it.

Now it seems Apple is discovering what users are learning in relation to their OS and iOS devices and how their personal data is being used by the company. It is not as straightforward as transferring a little bit of data through Apple servers just to be helpful to users in syncing data between their Apple devices and nothing else. Indeed, why would any company want to spend a billion dollars on servers for performing this task unless there is a significant return on its investment. Users can technically use their own ISPs or home grown servers and an IP address and tune the iOS devices to this IP address to get the synced data. But Apple wants the data to go through its own servers and no where else. Not even to allow consumers to purchase the standard FileMaker Pro 13 to create their own servers to deliver personal data in their databases directly to their iOS devices, let alone any form of encryption of the data before going through Apple servers. There is another reason. Selling iOS devices is just a tiny part. The real benefits are in identifying users of Apple products, how they use Apple products, what are they using by way of applications, and even just generally any confidential information that might be useful to help Apple achieve its own commercial advantage. All this is just the start of what this company can do with unencrypted data from users going through its servers. It is the tip of the iceberg. However, now that more and more users are suspecting Apple is doing more than it should in a way that isn't looking like it is respecting privacy, the company has now decided it will provide users the option to transfer some data via the USB method. Well, it is all about legally protecting itself against a growing number of people making allegations that the company is interested in gathering sensitive personal and confidential information about its Mac users through its servers. It means the perception this marketing company now wants to portray with the public after quietly reintroducing this feature is to make people think the company is eager to protect the privacy of users and there is no concern about people's data being compromised. Yeah, and we can all believe in the Easter Bunny too. Still this won't stop all data from reaching Apple servers, especially the unencrypted kind.

A very clever move.

If the company does care about protecting people's privacy, how about encrypting the data during the transfer, whether through USB or Apple servers? It certainly is not impossible to achieve. If one needs an example, check out Tresorit 1.0.136.190. As the service providers of this encrypted cloud service stated:

"Tresorit is an end-to-end encrypted, secure cloud storage and file sharing solution designed to store, sync and share confidential data.

Simply turn any folder to a Tresor and place a file into it and they will automatically sync with every computers connected to the same account. An encryption is performed before the data gets uploaded to the cloud. Decryption is only possible with permission from the owner and already encrypted contents can be shared without re-encryption, but in a 100 percent secure way."

Unfortunately, the idea of encrypting data is not to Apple's liking. It prefers unencrypted data. Indeed, if OS X or the iOS can continue to secretly push data through to Apple servers (albeit to a lesser degree now) when the users least expect it while online, Apple can continue to gather information about its users, what they do, and their ideas given enough time. It will just take a bit longer than Apple had hoped.

Okay. So have all the bugs been fixed? Well, it would not be for the sluggish performance of Mavericks-enabled Macs due to compressed RAM data being kept in RAM despite quitting applications. While users might consider this a bug, Apple believes everyone should purchase high amounts of RAM to make things look normal again (all extra profit for Apple if people buy RAM from this company).

There are other bugs noted by users and still awaiting a fix, but these are not considered serious enough to make users want to step down a version once they have made the move to Mavericks and have adequate RAM and a fast enough machine to make everything look okay again.

However, it is possible certain updates can create more bugs than usual. For example, Apple has managed to introduce a bug (or perhaps it has made enough changes to affect third-party software) that causes the Users folder to disappear on restart after installing the OS X 10.9.3 Combo update. Even if the Delta update is applied, one user has claimed "...the problem between iTunes 11.2 and Find My Mac hides the Users folder" Is it a major issue? Well, the importance of accessing the Users folder is fairly evident with an immediate release by a third party developer called UserFolderRestore 1.5 to make the folder visible again. It seems some people think it is a big deal.

The problem of the disappearing Users folder is not unlike the Library folder in the Users folder disappearing in OS X Mountain Library and higher OS versions and third-party developers offering their own free utilities to allow users to make the folder visible again. On that occasion, it was a deliberate act from Apple as it seems the company feels it is more secure hiding the Library folder. Or more likely the company does not want users modifying the Library folder contents that might be useful for Apple to determine which applications have (or had) been installed. But now we have the mystery of the disappearing Users Folder for Mavericks users to contend with.

Could Apple be "testing the waters" so to speak just to see if hiding the Users folder will be a good idea? No one knows for sure. Although if one thinks about it, it would be a brilliant idea to hide the Users folder at this time. There are likely to be all sorts of changes to the access of certain folders in the next OS upgrade (presumably for the greater security of all users), and this would be a good way to find out what the users think about some of the changes to come. Apple would want to make sure the next upgrade is a good one and won't ruffle the feathers of too many users. Already there are enough irritations in Mavericks OS X to keep most users sticking to older OS X versions for the moment. And the biggest irritation relates to the limited RAM on people's own Macs. In particular the amount of RAM Mavericks manages to use up in handling the memory requirements of applications including the Finder is pretty horrific. And to add to the problem, Mavericks does not clear the compressed RAM data after an application is quit, so the machine will perform sluggishly after a while until the compressed data is cleared (usually achieved through a restart or running a RAM cleaning tool). The last thing Apple wants to do in the next upgrade is create a bigger divide in Mac users based on their OS versions. OS XI will have to be near perfect, look great and be virtually free of bugs. Of course, new features may get added and these could be buggy. But even then, if Mavericks is already a RAM hungry application with all the features it has got now, not many people are going to like to see more RAM used up in the next OS upgrade. It has got to be clean of bugs, lean and fast, and not use up too many resources of the computer to achieve the basic tasks of an OS these days. If the next OS does not meet up to the expectations of experienced OS X users, it will signal the beginning of the end for Apple in selling computers.

As far as the disappearing Users folder is concerned, we must assume this was a mistake on the part of Apple programmers. If so, an update to fix the bug should arrive soon, probably in the OS X 10.9.4 Update, to be released sometime in September 2014. Or should we blame it on third-party software developers for making unstable software? We wonder about that. In the meanwhile, it is yet another thing to keep Mavericks users on their toes.

Apart from that, one MacUpdate user has noted "Wi-fi not working properly since update." suggesting another bug has managed to get introduced. One wonders how many new bugs will users discover with this update?

UPDATE
17 May 2014

Although no official statement from Apple, Inc., the company appears to have provided a fix for the disappearing Users folder. Within a matter of days of releasing iTunes 11.2 and the OS X 10.9.3 Update, iTunes 11.2.1 appeared where MacUpdate.com writes, "Rumored to restore visibility of the Users folder".

On the positive side, Apple was quick to fix the issue when users have noted it (even if it preferred to keep it quiet in order to maintain a perception of everything is alright). A rare thing these days we hear. But always something worth acknowledging considering how easy it could have been for the company to have ignored users requests for fixing this oddity.

OS X 10.9.4 Update

The full combo 958.2 MB update file to bring OS X "Mavericks" to version 10.9.4 has been released as of 30 June 2014. Again not a lot of changes worth noting, except to fix up new bugs created from the last update, and a couple of other ones that have eventually got around to the attention of the company. But nothing to improve the performance, free up the RAM memory after quitting applications, or reduce the RAM requirements for the OS. Apple must believe "Mavericks" is near perfect at this point, or the better stuff is being left in the upcoming upgrade to OS X 10.10 "Yosemite".

The main fixes that the company is prepared to mention for this update are:

  1. Fixes an issue that prevented some Macs from automatically connecting to known Wi-Fi networks.
  2. Improves the reliability of wake from sleep.
  3. Includes Safari 7.0.5.

Combating software piracy at another level?

For something that has been mentioned by Mavericks users on numerous occasions and yet Apple seems not yet able to explain why or come up with a fix, the observation being made of the RAM not clearing after quitting an application is revealing another possibility.

Previously it has been suggested that this problem could be a way for Apple to encourage users to purchase new RAM-rich Macs to make the Mavericks experience seem bearable. Now some observers have suggested it may have something to do with Apple's way of detecting software piracy.

One of the things users of pirated software tend to do is avoid running the illegal software at times when their Macs are connected to the network (especially the internet). Being on the network has, in the past, been the best way for software manufacturers (including Apple) to detect this activity. Either these users must use their software while online, or during the moment when the applications are being updated through the App Store. But what if these users avoid the network altogether? How would Apple and other software manufacturers detect this activity? Because one of the biggest problems is that once the software has been run and used for whatever purpose, the user has the power to quit the application, thereby freeing up the RAM for other applications and so destroying whatever data may have existed in RAM from the previous application(s).

Now it is looking like Apple has found a sneaky way to retain this information about applications in RAM (initially tested by Apple with Preview.app where closing a document need not necessarily clear the last page inserted just to see how users would deal with it) to the point where perfectly legitimate users of licensed software are wondering why the RAM does not clear itself, resulting in the Mavericks experience quickly getting sluggish in performance and almost locking up the OS (bad enough in limited RAM environments) until the whole machine is rebooted. But if Apple does nothing, which is quite happy to do we hear despite users complaining about this, the company is hoping everyone will purchase more RAM. Solution solved.

Very interesting.

Only two problems with this idea:

  1. Fewer Mac users will make the move to OS X Mavericks because of the poor performance issue (let alone the upcoming OS X 10.10 "Yosemite"), mainly because they are not told the true RAM requirements needed to run the latest OS and any big application (and it is more than 8GB), not to mention how many still have older Macs (well, perhaps 2 to 5 years old machine, but already quite old in the eyes of Apple).
  2. Mac users can now use RAM cleaning tools to ensure the RAM is freed up for other applications.

In fact, you will find Apple sales representatives still touting 4GB as the minimum RAM to run "Mavericks" (and "Yosemite"). The reality, however, is quite different. You need no less than 8GB, preferable 12 to 16GB, and better still, you should max out the RAM to 32GB (which we hear is the maximum you can go, but you need to get the Apple computer maximised prior to purchasing the machine because the RAM is not replaceable by the user — it is all soldered to the logic board) to get good performance out of your Macintosh computer when running this OS version. And since RAM is permanently soldered onto the logic board at time of purchase, you need to do your homework and make sure you have enough money to pay for this extra RAM (you might as well do it properly right at the beginning).

And all this effort simply to help Apple detect software piracy while people are online and hopefully able to access application information in RAM. The likelihood of Apple succeeding would have to be very slim as time passes mainly because people can now download and run for free the automatic RAM memory purging utility called MemoryTamer 1.0. It will work on OSX 10.7 or higher, including "Yosemite" 10.10. Sounds more like a waste of time (but at least Apple is trying its best to get ahead of the game).

The company would be better off storing the data directly on the hard drive or SSD (perhaps with permissions set to make it harder to remove, and perhaps made invisible). Then Apple might be successful at getting more users to use OS X Mavericks if the performance is good. Even though users will find ways to detect this file and remove it from their machines, at least it will be much harder without sacrificing performance for people who do have legitimate software while Apple does its thing quietly in the background.

It is now clear the reason why Apple is giving away OS X Mavericks. It has to, not only because fewer users are making the move (because they need good performance and less crap in the OS to do what they want), but also for the company to test new ways of determining if the software from users are legitimate.

Now who is the clever dick that came up with this non-clearing RAM idea?

Java 6 for OS X 2014-001

The core Java 6 components installed by this update is the same for version 2013-005. The only difference is that Apple is not happy with the security of Java 7 plug-in for web browsers and this update will remove it in favour of a more secure version. Actually, Apple is again being cryptic about what is contained in this update to the point where there is no documentation available. We have to rely on information provided by other users to determine the changes made to the hard drives of various Macintosh computers. Still, one has to assume this is an improvement in terms of better security.

To download the latest Java 6 update for OS X, click here. And if you require Java 6 for Windows, click here

In case readers are not fully aware, Oracle has already released Java 8 (download Windows or OS X versions), suggesting that this might be a slightly more secure version compared to Java 7. Then again, the security problem may relate entirely to the internet plug-in of Java 7 and nothing else. In reality, no one knows for sure and one would imagine Apple and Oracle will never tell you where the insecurities lie in each Java version (you are only required to update to the latest version for "improved" security). At any rate, if you are still trying to figure out whether to install Java 6, 7 or 8, always check your Java applications and Applets (especially for those users who need to run important applications built on Java, which wouldn't be a lot of people we might add) to determine which ones will work for the Java versions you wish to install for your system. And no, Oracle has not yet provided an uninstaller application file for all the various Java versions on offer (you have to follow a set of complicated removal instructions courtesy of Oracle).

ZZzzzzzz.....

If you have to use Java 7, you can choose one of these latest installers: Windows or OS X.

Please remember that all these Java installers will only work for 64-bit machines (except for Java 6 where both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are provided). Check online for links to older installers to run on 32-bit Windows machines.

OS X 10.9.5 Update

Apple releases OS X 10.9.5 update on 17 September 2014. Full combo version available here (937MB). No major improvements other than to increase the reliability of accessing files on an SMB server, and of VPN connections that use USB smart cards for authentication. The latest Safari 7.0.6 has been thrown in for good measure to make it look like a major update. Essentially Apple believes OS X "Mavericks" is perfect and cannot see any memory management issues of not clearing the inactive RAM after an application is quit.

UPDATE
18 September 2014

Sorry, a correction is needed on the previous statement. Safari 7.0.6 is not the latest as indicated by Apple in the OS X 10.9.5 update. Apple has just released on 18 September 2014 the latest Safari 7.1, available as a separate download for Maverick users.

So what are users to make of OS X 10.9.5 update? Or should we get the OS X 10.9.6 update any day soon now?

Apple likes tinkering with the APIs of OS X with each upgrade to force users to either purchase new applications and/or upgrade to the latest OS X for increased stability

Too many upgrades of OS X in relatively quick succession (well, at least every couple of years or so since the release of OS X "Mountain Lion") is creating a fairly major problem for users and now third-party developers who compile their applications using the latest Xcode and OS X version thinking everyone has already moved over to the latest and greatest thing, and then users wonder why the applications don't work with sufficient stability thinking it is a problem with their version of OS X? We learn it is not the users fault, or the developers. The developers think their applications should work on a previous version of OSX, but this is not necessarily the case when users discover unexpected behaviour and sudden crashes. An example would be OpenOffice 4.1.0 and 4.1.1 (all users of OS X "Mountain Lion" are recommended sticking to OpenOffice 4.0.1) with the sudden quit of the application because it cannot "index" (i.e., "index is out of bound") the word file while a user switches to other applications (a necessary task for conducting research work and grabbing relevant quotes from various sources) as well as scrolling quickly to the top of a long text document. Another application to have developed the instability bug is Apple's own FileMaker Pro 13 (both the Advanced and Standard versions). It is likely this application may be stable on the latest OS version, but not on "Mountain Lion" and earlier versions.

The problem has got worse in recent times (and expected to continue with the release of OS X "Yosemite"). Why is this occurring? Apple is currently going through what is believe to be a phase of constantly changing the APIs (or Application Programming Interface, essentially common software libraries created by Apple to make applications look consistent and perform common tasks). Without APIs, developers would have to design and program a bunch of new APIs to make the software work independently in almost any OS X version. In order to keep the software applications compact on the storage units and be consistent in the way each API performs its tasks, Apple provides ready-made APIs to simplify the life of many third-party software developers, or so we are told.

There is only one tiny problem with this approach: it assumes Apple is capable of supplying stable and reliable APIs for a very long time. But because Apple can continue to tinker away and make tiny modifications, there is a risk some APIs will not work on older OS X versions at time the applications are compiled by the developers and ready for prime time use by users.

As a result, third-party developers need to be on their toes to check this situation. However, because it is a bugger of a time to find moments of instability in the applications when users of slightly older OS X versions are using them, developers may benefit from the following utility:

"Deploymate helps you identify unavailable, deprecated and obsolete API usage in your Xcode projects. Every once in a while, a new version of iOS and OS X is released, and along with them are new sets of APIs for developers to use. The problem is, if you use these new APIs your app will crash on older versions of iOS and OS X. Every experienced Cocoa and Cocoa Touch developer knows how easy it is to make the mistake of using the newest APIs without checking their availability - especially since Xcode will not warn you about it. This problem is extremely painful since no one wants their app to be live in the AppStore crashing for all users running older OS versions. Fortunately, Deploymate can detect these problems early, before you even hit the store. Deploymate will analyze your Xcode project and tell you straight away if you're using an API in your iOS or OS X project that isn't present on the minimum OS your app is configured to support."

The fact that Deploymate 1.2.4 exists and costs only US$29.95 tells us Apple has not done its homework of providing such a utility to all third-party developers for free (since Xcode is free and Apple seems to want developers creating applications to get users to buy Apple products and use them). Now, at last, someone is trying to solve the problem and make life easier for the developers. If only Apple is not so fastidious about expecting all users to use the latest OS X and not use tricky methods to force users to make the move.

All software developers of Apple-related applications should consider purchasing this utility.

A summary of OS X

Here is a summary of what we have learnt about OS X:

  1. OS X 10.0 to 10.1: Designed mainly to showcase the new interface design, listen to user requests for improvements, and increase sales of the OS and Macs.
  2. OS X 10.2 to 10.6: Provide various interface improvements, streamline system preference panes, better performance,and so on. Final changes to 32-bit OS. Enough changes to force people to pay or wait for updates and upgrades of commercial applications (mainly upgrades for Adobe-related products).
  3. OS X 10.6.8 to 10.7.5: Introduced the first phase of software piracy detection by getting users to create an account with the Mac App Store and gather personal details through the Apple applications (e.g., Address Book etc.). Software updates are generally made through the Mac App Store while users are online. Removed Classic OS 9 Environment, and finalise OS conversion to 64-bit. Further application updates required to keep users on their toes.
  4. OS X 10.8 to 10.8.5: Introduced the second phase of software piracy detection by getting details of applications, personal details, and other data to be automatically and invisibly pushed to Apple servers and made to look like it is a good idea for keeping iOS devices synced with Macs.
  5. OS X 10.9 to 10.9.4: Introduced the third phase of software piracy detection by retaining details of applications in RAM for the OS to transfer the information to Apple servers when the Macs are online. This is made to look like people need more RAM to run the OS should there be any sluggish performance in the OS. This is also the first OS X version to be freely downloadable to help attract as many users to try it out as possible and hopefully stick to it. The last time Apple released an OS for free was in OS 7.5.5.
  6. OS X 10.10: Nothing new to add other than refinements to the interface and some further updates to the previous version (mainly to entice users to make the move to the latest OS X). It is likely users of older OS X versions will have to consider upgrading to this version to make their latest applications work again with stability (as well as new machines with higher RAMs to make the performance seem respectable again). Basically Apple has not had enough time to radically change OS X to release OS XI so it was better to continue the OS X legacy for a little while longer.

Best OS X version is Snow Leopard 10.6.8 with all the essential things completed while retaining the Classic Environment. For better performance, later versions are okay so long as adequate RAM is supplied, especially for OS X 10.9.

OS X bash UNIX shell security bug

A UNIX security bug has been identified on 24 September 2014 in relation to the bash UNIX shell command used by OS X and Linux. The problem, known as the Shellshock security flaw and identified by security experts as CVE-2014-7169, allows third-party hackers to use the bash UNIX shell command to control your OS remotely via an untrusted software application downloaded from the internet and run continuously as a malware daemon app in the background while your computer is online. Apple, Inc. has issued a security patch on 29 September 2014 for three OS X versions to cover this main Shellshock issue and another known as CVE-2014-6271, but not all UNIX Shellshock exploits have been patched according to ZDNet:

"Testing by ZDNet showed that while the patch fixed the issues outlined in the original CVE-2014-6271 report and CVE-2014-7169, OS X remains vulnerable to CVE-2014-7186."

Indeed, there appears to be a number of other Shellshock exploits not mentioned by ZDNet that can be patched right now. And the worse one that will permit more serious remote code execution is identified as CVE-2014-6278. This one has not yet been patched by Apple. In fact, the Apple patch merely raises the UNIX bash version from 3.2.51(1) to 3.2.53(1), but the current and most secure version is now 4.3.27(1). It means Apple has not updated certain open source software components of its OS such as UNIX and its various commands for a long time. Perhaps too much focus on iPhone 6 and iOS8 (and still they have not been tested properly, especially the iPhone 6 Plus, by the company's own Quality Assurance department assuming it does actually exist somewhere deep in some hidden room)? And now with the imminent release of OS X Yosemite, we can see where the company's priorities lie. Fingers crossed (but don't hold your breath) that Apple will soon provide a complete and user-friendly security patch. Alternatively, here is the manual method of updating to the latest bash shell script command for OS X "Lion" and higher versions (please note that this method does work on OS X Snow Leopard):

  1. Download bash-4.3.27-10.4u.zip.
  2. Uncompress the ZIP file.
  3. Move the file bash-4.3.27-10.4u to the home directory folder you are currently logged into (it will be in your Users folder). Remember, you must have Admin access for the next steps to work.
  4. Open Terminal.app in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder.
  5. Type the following UNIX shell commands in the order shown to back up your current bash and sh commands and copy the new file into the right location, and make sure you make no spelling mistakes:

    exec tcsh
    chmod +x bash-4.3.27-10.4u
    sudo mv /bin/bash /bin/bash_old
    sudo cp bash-4.3.27-10.4u /bin/bash
    sudo mv /bin/sh /bin/sh_old
    sudo cp bash-4.3.27-10.4u /bin/sh
    bash --version
  6. You should see the version of bash has been updated to 4.3.27(1).
  7. As a further test, type:

    env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable' bash -c "echo this is a test"
  8. You should see the text "this is a test" and nothing else. If it says "vulnerable", it means you have not applied the patch correctly. Try again.
  9. Restart your computer.
  10. Delete bash-4.3.27-10.4u from the home directory folder (you don't need it anymore).
  11. In Finder, choose Go to Folder under the Go menu. Type /bin and press the Go button. Now trash the bash_old and sh_old files, restart the computer, and empty the trash.

Now you should have the highest security protection available at this time.

If you intend to use this basic Apple patch or the above complete manual patch method, remember that it will only be useful if your computer regularly accesses the internet and especially if you host various network services using Apache as well download and run various software applications. Even if you do not apply the patch, Apple claims the default settings of OS X has already provided reasonable protection to Mac users, so it isn't critical. It is only for those advanced UNIX users with serious network needs that ought to apply the patch. As an Apple spokesperson said:

"Bash, a UNIX command shell and language included in OS X, has a weakness that could allow unauthorized users to remotely gain control of vulnerable systems. With OS X, systems are safe by default and not exposed to remote exploits of bash unless users configure advanced UNIX services. We are working to quickly provide a software update for our advanced UNIX users."

The support provided by Apple to patch this security issue only goes back to OS X Lion. OS X Snow Leopard users will miss out. Here are the download locations (3.2MB file size):

  1. OS X Lion security patch.
  2. OS X Mountain Lion security patch.
  3. OS X Mavericks security patch.
  4. OS X Yosemite should receive the abovementioned full manual fix of the latest bash version. But if not, Apple has mentioned providing some kind of a fix to this issue in the Yosemite Gold Master 2 edition. Therefore, the final official 1.0 release to the public when it comes out before the end of 2014 will have the same fix applied.

Not much information is revealed publicly by the company about the security bug from the Apple web page (OS X Mountain Lion, OS X Lion, OS X Mavericks), but you can learn more from here.

Security Update 2014-005

This update was made available by Apple on 22 October 2014.

Apple describes this update as:

Impact: An attacker may be able to decrypt data protected by SSL

Description: There are known attacks on the confidentiality of SSL 3.0 when a cipher suite uses a block cipher in CBC mode. An attacker could force the use of SSL 3.0, even when the server would support a better TLS version, by blocking TLS 1.0 and higher connection attempts. This issue was addressed by disabling CBC cipher suites when TLS connection attempts fail.

But then Apple added the OS X bash Update 1.0 that does not provide the latest bash script update. It means you will have to manually do the update of the proper and latest script as described above. Unless Apple can do the work properly, don't bother trying to mix together outdated security patches with the latest security fixes. Apple is acting like it has no idea or is just plain lazy, or it has its own agenda of how people's computers should be updated.

OS X NTX Network Time Security Fix

A security fix has been released since 22 December 2014 for the ntpd time grabbing network service. The problem relates to the way "an attacker [might send arbitrary code through the NTP network] to trigger buffer overflows".. For Mavericks users, you can download from here. Mind you, the likelihood of getting attacked through the NTP server is extremely slim if users merely turn on the NTP service on OS X for a few seconds to update date and time and then turn it off. The NTP service is not meant to be left on permanently while users are online. But then again, there are some users who prefer everything to be simple and fully automatic and constantly checking online for the most accurate information just to ensure time is accurate to a tiny fraction of a second as if it would make a difference in their lives (we certainly don't want users to miss out on that all-important meeting).

Security Update 2015-001

It is good to see Apple is capable of finding more security-related issues with OS X. The same security issues were already patched up in the OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 Update which includes Security Update 2015-001 with the added improvements made to Safari via the OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 update component. While no one else can benefit from the Safari improvements, at least it is nice to see Apple has seen the light in fixing up other security issues in the system files under OS X Mavericks and Mountain Lion through this Security Update 2015-001 (62.3MB).

Cheers.

Security Update 2015-004

Security Update released on 10 April 2015 (already included in the OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 update) targets a wide variety of vulnerabilities to Apache, HTTP Protocol, WebKit, the Kernel of OS X, Screen Sharing, Admin Framework (to prevent unauthorised access to your OS X and personal files as an Admin user without proper authentication) and enhancing the security of various network-related certificates when gaining access to servers in a secure manner. Other security holes found in FontParser, NVIDIA graphics driver, and hypervisor framework are plugged up, and there is a reasonable effort to minimise memory corruption when handling the graphics file format SGI.

The biggest vulnerability fixed by this update relates to an unpublished OS X API used by system processes. A user with the right knowledge and logged in as a non-admin account can exploit this API to gain admin rights, where the user can manipulate OS X files, applications and personal files of other users. Noted by TrueSec's Emil Kvarnhammar in October 2014, all OS X versions from 10.7 and up contain this vulnerability. OS X Snow Leopard users are safe and will not need the update.

As a result of this vulnerability, Apple requested Kvarnhammar not to disclose the details until Apple had a fix. As Apple stated to Kvarnhammar, Apple needed this extra time "due to the amount of changes required in OS X". This explains the amount of fixes mentioned above.

At first Apple intended to provide the security update only for OS X Yosemite, as TrueSec reported:

"Apple indicated that this issue required a substantial amount of changes on their side, and that they will not back port the fix to 10.9.x and older."

Wisely, Apple changed its mind and have provided the fix for older systems. The fact that TrueSec even revealed this interesting insight tells us that Apple is in trouble with OS X Yosemite — not enough users have made the upgrade — and Apple is doing all it can to entice users to upgrade by nearly any cunning means possible.

Not necessary but thrown in for good measure, the update also provides a fix for those hackers able to bypass the Code Signing process in order to run applications. These people will face new restrictions as a result.

And while you are updating your OS, it is probably worth checking that you have the latest Safari (if you are a fan of this browser), which is version 7.1.5.

Security Update 2015-006

An important security update focussing on various vulnerabilities in the Apache server, Bluetooth, system kernel etc.

To receive the security update file, click here (257.2MB).

Apple EFI Security Update 2015-002

Not to be left entirely in the cold, Apple has provided Mavericks users on 22 October 2015 with an 82MB Apple EFI Security Update 2015-002 file. it is not entirely clear if this is also included in the Yosemite Security Update 2015-004 or the El Capitan 10.11.1 update or is unique to Mavericks users. All we know is that the update does provide the following fix:

"...The Apple EFI Security Update improves security of Mac OS X 10.9.5 systems by addressing an issue where EFI could potentially be overwritten without authorization."

At any rate, if there are other security improvements in later OS X versions, it is likely Apple will not provide them (or even let users know, since how else can we entice Mavericks users to upgrade, right?).

Security Update 2016-003

Yes, you can benefit from the security improvements in OS X 10.11.5 released on 16 May 2016. Download Security Update 2016-003 (354MB).

Apple Secutity Update 2016-003

Unless you do a lot of internet work and visit strange web sites where you don't know what kind of malicious code might get run on your system using Java or some other means, try this Safari 9.1.3 update (), released on 1 September 2016.Direct download link will be available soon — for some reason we have to wait on Apple for that one despite being available on the App Store. Or else consider extracting the app from the OS X Security Update 2016-001 for El Capitan using unpkg 4.5.

Apple Security Update 2016-004

In the wake of the macOS 10.12.1 update, Apple has released Security Update 2016-004 for Mavericks. It is highly recommended that you backup your data first before applying this update (or make sure you have an alternative OS startup disk in case anything should go wrong).

Improvements are all to do with better memory handling and better validation checking for specific situations, such as running apps and opening PNG files which could contain maliciously-crafted code designed to arbitrarily run in memory and do thinks you have no control over (such as getting your OS to send personal data to a third-party).

These improvements only come if the company has a desire to fix things. With macOS Sierra already out, the desire is there to ensure the latest software is perceived as being reasonably secure and so encourage users to make the upgrade.