The Apple Core: Solid State Disk show promise for notebooks, tablets

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Date: Thursday, January 4th, 2007, 11:14
Category: The Apple Core

sandisk-ssd-uata-5000.jpgOne of the most exciting announcements I’ve seen in the run up to Macworld Expo and CES (who’s the genius that scheduled these over each other anyway?) is the Solid State Disk or “SSD.”
SanDisk has announced a 32GB Ultra ATA 5000 1.8-inch SSD “drive” (it’s really flash memory). Look for these bad boys to appear in computers “in the first half of 2007.”
Hmmm, time to revive the thin MacBook Pro/iTablet rumors?
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.


Adobe to Bring Premiere Back to the Mac

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Date: Thursday, January 4th, 2007, 09:34
Category: News

According to an article on Macworld News, Adobe will announce today that it will revive its Mac version of Premiere, its popular video editing program aimed at the professional market.
The new version will only run on Intel-based Macs and be included witin Adobe’s Production Studio suite that includes Adobe Encore DVD and Adobe Soundbooth.
Adobe discontinued Premiere for the Mac back in July of 2003, citing increased competition from Apple, which was focusing on its Final Cut Pro editing program. After Premiere’s withdrawal from the Macintosh platform, the firm continued to develop After Effects, its motion-graphics program, for the Mac video market.
As mentioned in the article, Apple’s decision to incorporate Intel chips into its hardware allowed Adobe to start over from scratch instead of porting old code over to the new hardware architecture, commented Simon Hayhurst, Adobe’s director of product management for dynamic media.
Adobe representatives have kept silent as to which specific features the new version of Premiere would contain, though they did mention that the Mac version would contain the same feature set present on the Windows version. Premiere and the Adobe Production Studio will be released to market around the middle of this year and Macworld Expo attendees will be the first to see it in action as the company demos the software at its booth.
No word has been given as to whether a public beta will be released for download and final pricing has yet to be set.
If you’ve heard anything more about this or have comments, let us know.


Apple iBook G3 Logic Board Repair: Now Recommending Fire and Alcohol

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Date: Thursday, January 4th, 2007, 08:53
Category: iBook dual USB

It’s not subtle but apparently it works. Mark Hoekstra has published a full rundown on as to how he fixed a 600 MHz iBook G3 with the infamous video problem (which Apple offered a logic board replacement program via a range of serial numbers to help rectify).
Since the program ended back in 2005, Mark found a forum thread over on MacNN that described how the video chip is loosely soldered onto the logic board via a Ball Grid Array.
When these solder points don’t hold, one solution is to reflow the solder using either a heat gun or even a blow torch. Given that Mark didn’t have one, he incorporated tea light candles and alcohol.
This is not recommended by any means, but it makes for an interesting sight:

In the end, the process resoldered the graphics chip to the logic board and the iBook was back to its functional self.
If you’ve seen or heard about any similar fixes, let us know.


Hybrid Blu-Ray/HD Disc Could Sway DVD Wars

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Date: Thursday, January 4th, 2007, 08:26
Category: News

Conscious of the fact that the HD DVD and Blu-Ray DVD wars are now in full swing, Warner Brothers plans to formally introduce a new disc capable of playing both formats according to article in today’s New York Times.
The new disc, called the Total HD disc, will premier at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Since last year, the Blu-Ray format, backed by Sony and others, has gone head to head with the HD-DVD format, backed by Microsoft and Toshiba. While the two formats offer a slew of new features, executives cited in the article mention a hesitancy to adopt to a single standard – a conflict reminiscent of the Beta/VHS conflict of the 1980’s.
As a result, studios have chosen sides and are releasing movies in either format. For example, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Pictures are releasing current works in Blu-Ray DVD format while Universal Studios, Warner Brothers and Paramount are releasing only in HD-DVD, the decision depending on which companies own which firm and which format they’ve sided with.
A crossover or hybrid solution may be more popular than initially anticipated. Electronics makers such as LG Electronics and other tech firms are expected to announce new DVD players with drives for both the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD format at CES. The players are expected to initially be more expensive than single-format players but solve the problem of which standard to adopt.
Time Warner president Jeffrey L. Bewkes commented that Warner’s Total HD disc has a better chance of catching on than dual-format players and that consumers were willing to pay more for a higher quality, as proven by the studio’s “Superman Returns” selling for $19.99 in standard DVD format at Best Buy as well as $29.99 in Blu-Ray format and $34.99 in HD-DVD format.
Everything else is speculation until next Tuesday, but if the formats could be bridged either by a hybrid disc or DVD player, I’d add it to my shopping list.
If you’ve heard anything about this or have ideas or comments, let us know.


CardRaider Helps Resurrect Deleted Memory Card Files

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Date: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007, 16:21
Category: Software

Memory cards are terrific up to a point. And if you’ve ever accidentally deleted your picture files from them, that point usually involves repeated cursing.
CardRaider, which has been recently released from ecamm, may actually help recover from this. In cases where files have been deleted from a memory card, the user can plug the card into a USB reader (or the camera itself if it uses a USB connection) and search through the card to recover lost photos, then port the photos over to an iPhoto library.
CardRaider searches through sectors of a memory card that have not been written over, so odds are you can’t add additional photos in the space the deleted ones occupied. It might not be the ultimate catch-all, but it could be useful in cases where some great photos might have been lost by accident.
CardRaider is available for a $19.95 registration fee with a 1.9 megabyte demo available for download.
CardRaider is written as a Universal binary which support both the PowerPC and Intel-based hardware architectures and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later to run.
If you have any comments or feedback on this, let us know.


Apple and HP May Ship LED-Backlit Laptops This Spring

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Date: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007, 15:50
Category: News

Apple and rival Hewlett-Packard look to be planning to introduce LED-backlit displays on their laptop computer products according to a report on DigiTimes.
The LED-backlit systems would improve the image quality of the LCD screens used in the laptops and provide more even lighting as well as improve the overall color range on the screen. The idea of LED-backlit laptop displays has been approached with a certain degree of caution due to higher power requirements in the past, but could represent the companies focusing on media-centric strengths.
The article’s cited source refused to to discuss the exact models that would receive the new displays but mentioned that part manufacturers Cree and Nichia would be the main suppliers for the necessary components.
If you have any comments or feedback on this, please let us know.


Launchpad Raises and Protects MacBooks

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Date: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007, 09:28
Category: Accessory

Anyone using a MacBook Pro for extended periods of time is familiar with the decent amount of heat generated by Apple’s Intel notebooks. While the Core 2 Duo models are cooler, the original Core Duo chips output enough heat to fry on egg on them.
Because the heat problem is a well-known issue, Apple and all other notebook OEMs with a legal department stopped calling the beasts “laptops” a long time ago, in favor of the less-litigious “notebook.” Apple even went far as to release a knowledge base article (Article ID: 30612) stating:

For prolonged use, place your iBook, PowerBook, MacBook or MacBook Pro on a flat stable surface. Do not leave the bottom of the computer in contact with your lap or any surface of your body for extended periods. Prolonged contact with your body could cause discomfort and potentially a burn.

The problem is that MacBooks and MBPs are just so darned easy to use while kicking back on the couch watching 30 Rock while slurping glorious bandwidth from a zippy WiFi connection. So what’s a hippy to do?
I always use protection when using my MBP on my lap and almost never use mine bare back. My favorite stand these days is Launchpad A15 (US$50) from a group called 604 Labs.
The Launchpad comes in three flavors for 12, 15 and 17-inch “notebooks” and in sliver and black. The angled surface created by the Launchpad is more comfortable and ergonomic for typing on a desk but it also keeps the notebook a comfortable distance away from your twigs and berries for those times when you just must use it on your lap. Cooling holes in the aluminum surface allow heat to dissipate quickly.
Sure, there are a million various wedges and stands out there that will help ensure that you’re able to have a Father’s Day (one day) but what makes the Launchpad unique is that it doubles as a protective shell for your precious iron. When traveling, you can place your MacBook or MBP inside the cavity created by the underside of the Launchpad and then stick the whole shebang inside your bag.
While I wouldn’t advocate testing it, the setup feels bulletproof. Launchpad provides an extra layer of protection around your fragile computer while on the road.
Launchpad slightly increases the footprint of your notebook while tucked inside so it may not fit inside the tightest of sleeves, but it should fit inside most looser fitting bags. I’ll be bringing mine out to Macworld Expo, so feel free to ask me about it if we cross paths. Just don’t try to test the bulletproof claim, ok?


The Apple Core: Month of Apple bugs being fixed

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Date: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007, 08:00
Category: The Apple Core

As Chris deftly reported, today is the third day in the Month of Apple Bugs (a.k.a. MOAB). The good news is that a modern day Robin Hood named Landon Fuller has come to the rescue with a mission to patch each of the bugs exposed by LMH and the MOAB.
Read the rest of the story on my ZDNet Blog: The Apple Core.


“Month of Bugs” Project Pins Down QuickTime and VLC Vulnerabilities

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Date: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007, 08:08
Category: News

According to an article on Macworld News, two Mac users (“LMH” and Kevin Finisterre) have begun a self-described initiative called the Month of Apple Bugs to “improve Mac OS X” by locating security flaws in Apple’s operating system as well as third party applications.
The duo published their first finds recently. Known as “MOAB-01-01-2007”, the first document describes a vulnerability in QuickTime’s Real Time Streaming Protocol features:
“By supplying a specially crafted string (rtsp:// [random] + semicolon + [299 bytes padding + payload]), an attacker could overflow a stack-based buffer, using either HTML, Javascript or a QTL file as attack vector, leading to an exploitable remote arbitrary code execution condition,” said the programmers.
The reported bug presently affects QuickTime 7.1.3, which is the current version for both the Mac OS X and Windows operating systems. The team suggests that the user disable QuickTime’s rtsp:// URL handler or uninstall QuickTime in the short term in their write up of the bug.
The second published bug focuses on VLC, the popular open source media player program.
The bug, which is present in version 0.8.6 of the program for Mac OS X (both the PowerPC and Intel version are affected by this bug, according to the report), allows an M3U file to be created which can be either opened locally or via a web server, compromising the security of the machine.
The only workaround to date is to disable VLC’s udp:// URL handler uninstall VLC or update to a new version of the program once it becomes available.
Where identification is concerned, “LMH” is the handle for an as-yet unidentified person helping with the project while Kevin Finisterre is the founder of Digital Munition and has been credited with the creation of the InqTana worm, a proof of concept that exploited a Bluetooth vulnerability present on some Macs and raised a relevant security issue in February of 2006.
If you have any comments or feedback about this, let us know.


One Laptop Per Child Project Aims to Begin Production in July

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Date: Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007, 08:00
Category: News

An article on Engadget describes how the One Laptop Per Child project, headed by Nicholas Negroponte and the MIT Media Lab in collaboration with other organizations and vendors with the goal of creating a laptop that can be used by third world nations and purchased by governments, hopes to begin producing several million units around July.
The computers, also known as the 2B1 and the XO-1 (previously the “$100 laptop”) will be manufactured by Quanta computer, will be handed over to kids for testing next month. The units include bleeding edge technologies such as improvements in battery conservation, mobile ad hoc networking which can make the most of limited Internet connection resources in a classroom and Flash drives instead of hard drives to be durable and thrive in third world education environments.
The units will function off a Fedora Core Linux operating system and be commercially available after production for about $225, a change from an original plan of only selling the laptops through government agencies.
If you have any comments, feedback or ideas about this, let us know.