Our Weekly Utilities Update report is a list of all the updates for many Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. Though utilities can be any tool that helps you perform a routine task (including image manipulation and synchronization), our focus in this column is to bring you those tools that help in troubleshooting Mac hardware and software problems. This week there are relatively few updates, with a couple available for both maintenance and hardware management utilities, as well as a new version of MacPorts.
There are two updates to maintenance-related utilities this week. The first is Purity (formerly MacDust), which is a $9.95 utility for cleaning up clutter from temporary or unused files. These files can sometimes can litter a drive and take up space that could potentially lead to small performance degredations if VM space is compromised or fragmented (more notable on drives that are more full). The program is now at version 1.04.2, a small point update from version 1.04.1.
The second utility is TinkerTool System, which is a $14 all-in-one maintenance tool that, unlike free options such as OnyX, adapts its interface and options for the specific hardare and operating system you are running. The new version is a relatively decent update that adds new features for viewing diagnostics, evaluating memory usage statistics, and adds more cleaning support for new browser versions. Beyond that there are a number of fixes for bugs found in the current routines and scripts.
The popular scanning utility VueScan has been updated to fix problems with WIA scanners and the Canon MP970 and MP990, as well as some small improvements with dust spot sizes and automatic detection of scanner modes. The utility is $39.95, and is useful for getting old Scanners up and running again.
Also in hardware utilities is MonitorTest ($15.00), which is a pattern-generator for displays that can help you detect a number of common problems with displays, including dead and stuck pixels, adjust the clock and phase, and change the geometry of old CRT displays (I still have a couple of those around). This version is now compatibe with Snow Leopard.
Lastly, the a couple of useful utilities (especially for administrators) that have seen updates this week are Splunk and MacPorts. Splunk is a system log analyzer that can be useful for tracking down the prevalence of errors or other events in the system, but it is targeted for IT professonals. MacPorts is a free package manager for the OS X Unix layer, and offers a number of precompiled command-line and X11-based utilities that can be useful, especially for those who are accustomed to a Unix environment. The new version has a number of small fixes.