VLC 0.8.6 Released, Becomes Universal Binary

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Date: Wednesday, December 13th, 2006, 10:32
Category: Software

Video Lan Client (VLC), the popular free “catch-all” media player for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux (where QuickTime falls short or isn’t licensed to play a format, this has become the easy substitute), has been updated to version 0.8.6 according to an article on arstechnica.
VLC 0.8.6, which is about an 11 to 22.7 megabyte download, is now a Universal Binary program capable of running natively on both Apple’s PowerPC and Intel hardware architectures and includes support for the Apple Remote, Windows Media Video 9 files, VC-1, VP5/VP6, Flash video, TTA, WavPack lossless audio and Shoutcast TV files. H.264 support has also been rewritten for this version.
VLC is an open-source project. For information as to how to beta test or contribute code to the effort, click here.

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The Apple Core: What’s on iTV? NetFlix or MacFlix?

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Date: Wednesday, December 13th, 2006, 08:00
Category: iTV

I’ve been thinking about iTV a lot lately and something occurred to while watching 60 Minutes on Sunday. Apple could use Macworld Expo to announce a partnership with Netflix on the iTV.
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.

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New Software Snags Pictures of Would-Be Laptop Intruders

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Date: Wednesday, December 13th, 2006, 07:34
Category: Software

The Unofficial Apple Weblog and MacOSXHints have done their homework today to bring up a few nifty tools for laptop security using what’s already there to catch would-be intruders incorrectly entering passwords to try to gain access to your computer; your Intel-based MacBook or MacBook Pro’s built-in iSight camera.
Authsight by Jonathan Zdziarski, uses a monitoring daemon program which turns on the iSight camera after an invalid password has been entered and begins to take pictures of the intruder. The program is script-based and requires the iSightCapture command line tool to function.
Several commercial security solutions are available via the TUAW link and the article makes a good overall point; this is the time of year when the most laptops are stolen and a few additional precautions aren’t a bad idea. Short of renting a mastiff and its shotgun-wielding owner to guard your hardware this year, a few cool freeware, shareware and commercial applications could provide the peace of mind you’re looking for this holiday season.

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MacBook “Thin” Rumors/Specs Surface

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Date: Wednesday, December 13th, 2006, 07:58
Category: Rumor

Macosrumors.com has recently published an article to add to the fevered pre-Macworld rumor mill this time of year.
The article, which cites sources strong but anonymous sources in both Cupertino and southeast Asia, discusses a “MacBook Thin” portable model which may be en route for the new year.
Since the introduction of Apple’s Intel-based hardware and laptops, an ultra-thin 12″ laptop has been in demand, especially given the fact that the consumer-level MacBook features a 13″ monitor – something which had never been done in previous generations of entry-level/consumer models for Apple laptops.
According to the article, the key goals of the “Thin” project were to scale down the features of the MacBook Pro without compromising them for the smaller size of the unit. The new “MacBook Thin” is expected to be a variant of the MacBook Pro family yet contain many of the pro-grade ports such as Firewire 800, ExpressCard expansion slot and a higher-end ATI graphics card.
To date, the final shipping name of the “MacBook Thin” is unconfirmed, but the purported specs are as follows:
-12-inch widescreen display, 1280×800 resolution.
-2.16 or 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processors
-1GB of DDR2-667 memory standard. Max. capacity 3GB.
-Standard “Pro” ports: USB2, Firewire 400 & 800, Gigabit Ethernet, Digital/Analog Audio minijack I/O ports.
-ExpressCard expansion slot (believed to be /34 type)
-Similar storage to “Pro”: 2.5in SATA HDDs at 120GB & up, ‘Combo’ or ‘Super’ optical drive.
-ATI Radeon Mobility X1600 or nVIDIA GeForce GO 7600 graphics systems with 256MB of VRAM.
-Mini-DVI display connector with full second display capabilities
-Built-in iSight, stereo microphone, Airport Extreme and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR.
-Battery life is expected to be “best in class” at about 6.5 hours real-world, some reports have suggested up to 8 hours is possible.
As of now expectations for Macworld Expo run high and given that an iPhone and iTV products as well as a new preview version of Apple’s Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” operating system and several software updates are expected, the “MacBook Thin” will probably see a later release date.
Please let us know your comments, ideas and whether you’ve heard anything to this end.

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Micromat, Publishing Your Mac’s Serial Number

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Date: Wednesday, December 13th, 2006, 01:00
Category: Uncategorized

iconmagg5.gifEditor’s Note: This article was originally run without the long version after the jump due to a technical error. This is the entire article and the PowerPage regrets the error. – Ed.
Did you know that when you install TechToolPro 4 it is constantly running an anti-piracy service? Did you know that it was sending your serial number out to every other Mac on your network? I didn’t think so.
Micromat slipped some broad and sweeping anti-piracy measures into a TechToolPro update awhile back. TechToolProtection, the daemon that constantly runs on every Mac installed with TechToolPro, does much more than “protect” your Mac, as its name implies.
TechToolProtection starts a Bonjour service that is constantly broadcasting critical pieces of information about your Mac to other systems… information that anyone on a network subnet can read.
But, that’s the least of your worries. It also broadcasts your Mac’s serial number. This is something that even Microsoft refuses to do with their most stringent anti-piracy measures. Even Microsoft agrees that publishing your machine’s serial number can place it at-risk for security attacks, as well as accessing your personal information.
Gaining your Mac’s serial number can be used for pretexting with Apple, accessing insurance information about you, and places your identity at risk. Not to mention that should there be a recall on your Mac, anyone can claim parts for your Mac, and pocket the cash selling them.
There are known knows, and there are known unknowns about TTP’s anti-piracy measures. We don’t know what else is being broadcast, but Micromat has indicated to myself and others that it is not encrypted.
Finally, we do know that there is no need for this. Net Monitor uses the same Bonjour method of sniffing out piracy, and does not broadcast your Mac’s serial number. Also, it does not run 24/7, but only when the app itself is running, minimizing the chances of your serial number being pirated by someone else.
Want to see this in action? Download Bonjour Browser (don’t bother opening TechToolPro). If you see “_ttp4daemon.tcp.” running, congratulations, anyone can rip off info about you and your Mac.
Want to put a stop to this? Post in Micromat’s forum or send a note to them letting them know you care about your privacy. Or, don’t, and let someone more nefarious take care of you. A temporary workaround is barring TechToolProtection from starting up, or, close it after startup (and every startup) from Activity Monitor.
I approached Micromat with this issue in-depth, and their response was “you’re the only one complaining”. I tried to respond to them that this was simply because nobody knew about it yet… but that did not go too well. I also want to add that I own and use TechTool Pro on a weekly basis, and endorse its ability to repair and fix your sick Mac. I just wish Micromat would be as ardent about your privacy and system resources as they are about their feature set.
Contributed By: Christopher Price – PCS Intel

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