Stories by Ryan Faas

Leopard tamers: 9 terrific interface tweaks

When Apple shipped Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" in October, Macintosh users were divided about some of the interface changes Apple had made from prior Mac OS X releases. Chief among these love 'em or hate 'em changes were the newly translucent menu bar and the 3-D, shelf-like Dock, as well as the new Stacks feature, which, when you mouse over a folder in the Dock, displays the folder's contents as a column of icons or a rectangular grid.

The top 25 overlooked and underrated features in Leopard

About five months ago, Macintosh lovers finally got their hands on Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard," which boasts more than 300 new features spread across its interface and underpinnings. Some of those features are well-known -- the Dock's "stacks" function, Spaces, Time Machine and Screen Sharing, to name some of those most talked about by users and columnists alike.

The new Apple TV: A true multimedia device

Although the Apple TV first shipped on March 21, 2007, it didn't get an overhaul for almost a year. During that year, the device, which promised to bring digital media (music, photos and video) from the computer to the living room, tried to establish itself in a marketplace rife with competitors. Systems such as Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Netgear's EVA series, not to mention TiVo, are all striving to dominate that elusive space.

Making Leopard servers simple

Leopard Server, the newest version of Mac OS X Server, sports many updated features. One of the most innovative is a new interface that simplifies server setup and management. This interface is designed primarily for small businesses or small workgroups within a larger organization that need server functionality but don't have the resources to hire a full-time systems administrator.

Mac Gift Guide: 10 picks for your favorite Apple fan

With Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday now behind us, the holiday shopping season is in full swing. But shopping for Mac users and Apple fans can sometimes be a challenge -- especially if you want to get something other than the obvious choices, or if you're not as big an Apple fan as the person you're shopping for. With that in mind, here are 10 great gift ideas for the Mac user on your list.

Leopard Server vs. Windows Server

Comparing any Mac OS release with Windows is often like comparing aphids and orangutans. That is particularly true when looking at Apple's Mac OS X Leopard Server and Microsoft's Windows 2003 Server. Although they ultimately provide very similar features -- directory services, file and print services, various Internet services, and so forth -- the two platforms seem to be designed from completely different mind-sets.

Leopard's Time Machine: Backups for the rest of us

Since Apple first announced the initial 10 features of Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" in August 2006, the one that has captured the most interest of Macintosh fans is Time Machine. Apple has billed Time Machine as the backup tool for people who hate the task. That's almost everyone, according to Steve Jobs, who says only 4 percent of computer users regularly back up their data.

User accounts and file sharing in Leopard: What's new

Apple has made some major improvements in Leopard when it comes to creating and managing user accounts, file sharing and remote access. The biggest change, though, is something most Macintosh users may never see because it was accomplished so seamlessly: Apple has retired the proprietary NetInfo database that has stored and managed local accounts since the beginning of Mac OS X.

Hands on: Getting down to iWork '08

With iWork '08, the latest generation of its office suite, Apple has given Mac users a powerful alternative to Microsoft's Office for Mac. This new version finally offers an alternative to Excel called Numbers, a spreadsheet tool unlike any that has come before it. It also adds some great new features to iWork's other two applications -- the presentation program Keynote and the word processor Pages -- including a few that many users felt were lacking in previous releases.

Understanding Mac OS X Open Directory

Directory services are a critical component of any enterprise environment. These services provide a database for central account management for both user and computer, as well as a framework for sharing that information among workstations and servers. Mac OS X's native directory service is called Open Directory.

Mac OS X 'an ideal platform' for SMBs

Historically, Macs and small business aren't often associated with each other. Yet smaller firms seem to be one of the markets Apple is targeting with Mac OS X Leopard Server. Leopard Server's new Server Preferences interface is designed primarily for small businesses, which often need some of the features of a server but don't have the budget for dedicated hardware or an IT specialist. Apple has also been targeting small businesses with a special section of its Web site and with special events in its retail stores to educate users and business owners about how Mac OS X can be used.

Mac virtualization: VMware vs. Parallels

Both Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion deliver on the core goal of allowing Macintosh users to run Windows applications without needing to reboot their computers.

Leopard: Shining the spotlight on Spotlight

In recent columns, I've talked about the new features coming in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, including Time Machine and Spaces. Both are major additions that will make computing more reliable and help organize the way you work within Mac OS X.

MACWORLD - Why Apple dropped 'computer'

Perhaps one of the most telling statements about the newly renamed Apple Inc. that CEO Steve Jobs made during his Tuesday keynote at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco was that the company will now be referred to as simply as Apple, not as Apple Computer.

What does 2007 hold for Apple?

It's clear that 2006 was a momentous year for Apple. The company's entire Mac lineup was converted to Intel processors, Boot Camp and Parallels Desktop offered every Intel Mac owner the ability to run Windows on their computers and iPod sales continued to surge -- the release of the Zune notwithstanding. Coupled with a successful year on those fronts, Apple tantalized users with a preview of the next version of Mac OS X 10.5, a.k.a. "Leopard," and a set-top box for streaming photos, music and video to your TV. And it continued to keep everyone guessing about the next generation iPods and a possible iPhone.