New Mac Virus Discovered by Sophos

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Date: Thursday, March 26th, 2009, 17:51
Category: News

Early this week, security firm Sophos discovered a new Trojan Horse virus which they are calling OSX/RSPlug-F. They even have a video of the virus in action! The virus’ method seems to be a variation of the malware DNSChanger which was detected some time ago.
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As indicated by the blog entry, the virus is activated by browsing to particular web sites and downloading an infected program. Once the user selects the download, the virus is downloaded via a remote download server and OSX/RSPlug-F will try to change your DNS server settings which could lead to your Internet traffic being redirected through malicious servers.
Blogger Graham Cluley’s states, “One of the ways in which the OSX/RSPlug-F Mac Trojan horse is being distributed by hackers is in the form of a poisoned HDTV/DTV program called MacCinema.”
The biggest problem is that being disguised as a useful piece of software, users are that much more likely to give the program authorization to do whatever it wants. Since many programs on OS X request an administrator’s password the first time they are run, users may simply be in the habit of entering their password and hitting ok without a second thought. Another interesting thing about this particular distribution, it affects both Macs AND Windows. If you are using Windows, the web site will conveniently download a Windows executable file instead of the OS X program variant.
To keep up to date on the issue, you can follow the Sophos Analyses page or MacFixit.

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OnLive Gaming Service Announced, Will Be Mac and Windows-Compatible

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Date: Thursday, March 26th, 2009, 08:28
Category: News

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Over at the Game Developers Conference, the OnLive broadband gaming service was announced. The effort, developed over seven years, focuses on offering a variety of game choices to subscribers by handling the each game’s video and audio on remote servers and streaming the results to players. According to Gamasutra, the service is stated to be compatible with Mac and Windows-based machines (via a web browser), or without a machine at all via the use of a “micro console” attachment which connects directly to a television.
“What OnLive does is seamless and completely transparent, and it does not have any requirements for the local system,” said OnLive founder and CEO Steve Perlman.
OnLive’s service, which is planned to combine a relatively low monthly subscription fee with other per-game business models not yet fully determined, requires only a one-megabyte download to a computer, or a small plastic dongle (called a “micro-console”) to connect to a TV; no GPU is required.
Once subscribed, users will be able to run any of the service’s games, regardless of system requirements.
A variety of major publishers including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Warner Bros., Take-Two, Eidos, and Atari have already signed on and OnLive has announced a partnership with Epic Games that will see the Unreal Engine 3 easily adapt to OnLive’s APIs.
“Not only have we solved the problem of compressing the video games, we’ve solved the latency problem,” Perlman said to Gamasutra. “We knew, in order to make this thing work, we’d have to figure out a way to get video to run compressed over consumer connections with effectively no latency. Our video compression technology has one millisecond in latency — basically no latency at all. All the latency is just for the transport, and we’ve also addressed that.”
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you ever wanted to stream your console games to your Apple notebook, you might not have long to wait.
Let us know what you think in the comments or forums.

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Users Reporting Dropped Internet Connections During Time Capsule Backups

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Date: Thursday, March 26th, 2009, 08:18
Category: Software, Time Capsule

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In the category of “it should be working perfectly forever but isn’t”, a number of users have reported that their Time Capsule units are dropping Internet connections during the backup process. According to MacFixIt, the AirPort Utility does not see the Time Capsule during the dropped out period. Even so, the backup continues and completes despite the Internet connection not working. Time Capsules may also be dropping Internet connections more frequently than during backup sessions as multiple users report anywhere from 5 minute to 30-minute increments between drops.
One user, identified as “Zzooomm”, described the situation as follows:

“Time Capsule V7.4.1 loses Internet/Wireless Connection with my MacBookPro2,2 Core 2 Duo 10.5.6 during backup. It appears the backup continues successfully. Opening Airport Utility shows my second Airport Extreme but not the Time Capsule. Within 10 minutes of completing the backup, the TC reappears. Suggestions?”

Strangely enough and on an apparently-unrelated note, Apple has acknowledged that the Real Player Downloader has been causing communications complications between airport cards and Time Capsules. To repair this, head over to System Preferences, Accounts, Login Items, highlight the RP Downloader and click the (-) button. This is a solution that many of the users on the discussion threads acknowledge solves the issue.
If you do not have the Real Player Downloader installed and are still having problems, be sure you have Apple’s latest update to the Time Capsule firmware, 7.4.1. If you do not have it, download the update from Apple and install it.
If you have the firmware updated and do not have Real Player Downloader installed and are still having issues, try resetting your Time Capsule following instructions in the User’s Manual or read this Apple Knowledge Base article.
If you’ve seen this issue on your end or have an opinion to offer on it, let us know in the comments or forums.

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Apple Releases 17″ Unibody MacBook Pro Graphics Firmware 1.0 Update

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Date: Thursday, March 26th, 2009, 08:17
Category: MacBook Pro, Software

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Late Wednesday, Apple released its Graphics Firmware 1.0 update for its 17″ unibody MacBook Pro notebook. The update, a 770 kilobyte download, addresses the appearance of vertical lines or distorted graphics on the notebook display.
Like other patches, the update can also be located and downloaded via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.
If you’ve tried the firmware update and have any comments to offer, let us know in the comments or forums.

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Twitter to Offer Paid “Pro” Accounts

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Date: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009, 17:05
Category: News

Today, Silicon Alley Insider confirmed that the social, micro-blogging service Twitter will be offering a fee based “Pro” version marketed towards businesses and power users.
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The company recently started introducing unobtrusive ads in order to generate some revenue from the highly popular service. High service demands, often resulting in the famed “Fail Whale”, and increased popularity require Twitter to start finding a way to fund updates and meet the demands of a growing user base.
Although no additional features have been announced, the article suggests, “There’s a lot of stuff companies would pay Twitter for, such as a way to verify the company rep’s legitimacy; to more analytics and information about who is reading their Twitter page; to better tracking features to see what people are saying about their company.”. Twitter will still offer access to free services, but whether those accounts’ capabilities would be changed is unknown.
Most analysts agree that the addition of this model would be a good way for Twitter to generate much needed revenue without burdening the users with overly intrusive advertising.

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Sprint to Deploy WiMAX Networks in 10 U.S. Cities Throughout 2009

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Date: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009, 14:00
Category: News

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Telecommunications giant Sprint has announced plans to deploy WiMAX services in 10 major cities throughout 2009, with at least five additional major markets due to get services in 2010.
According to Macworld, the company plans to deploy services to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Portland, and Seattle. The comapny also expects to launch WiMAX services in Boston, Houston, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. throughout 2010. Sprint’s WiMAX services are only available currently only available in Baltimore, where Sprint kicked off its nationwide WiMAX deployment last September. Comcast, one of Sprint’s partners in the Clearwire WiMAX coalition, recently announced that it planned to start reselling WiMAX services from Clearwire sometime this year.
Sprint’s WiMAX division, now referred to as “Sprint 4G”, has stated that it plans to release several new WiMAX devices in 2009 and 2010, such as a single-mode WiMAX data card, WiMAX-embedded laptops and a small-office WiMAX broadband modem. The company’s currently offer peak downlink speeds of 12Mbps and average downlink speeds between 2Mbps and 4Mbps.
Through the release of WiMAX services in major cities, Sprint is looking to stay ahead of rival carriers AT&T and Verizon, which each plan to launch their own 4G mobile data services based on Long Term Evolution (LTE) in roughly two years’ time. The LTE standard is the latest variation of Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM) technology and is seen as the natural progression of High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA), the GSM technology that is currently used by carriers such as AT&T to deliver 3G mobile data services.
If you’ve seen any Sprint WiMAX network prep work taking place in your city, let us know in the comments or forums.

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Apple Activates iTunes Genius Recommendation Engine for Movies, TV Shows

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Date: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009, 07:15
Category: Software

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Apple this week activated its iTunes Genius recommendation engine for both movies and television shows, a feature it had originally planned to bring out alongside the iTunes 8.1 release.
According to AppleInsider, the Genius engine, Apple’s proprietary recommendation engine used for collaborative filtering and iTunes’ built-in rating system, allows users to generate recommendations based on their current music catalog.
During the iTunes 8.1 release a few weeks ago, Apple had promised to expand the feature to video files before pulling the plug for undisclosed reasons.
As of Tuesday, users reported Genius iTunes Store recommendations for movies and tv shows appearing alongside their iTunes libraries.
When selecting an TV Show from your iTunes library, for instance, the Genius sidebar now lists additional episodes from that show’s same season, additional shows from other seasons, and then 10 recommendations for similar shows.
If you’ve seen this feature in action, please let us know in the comments or forums.

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TomTom Home Updated to 2.6.1.238

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Date: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009, 07:38
Category: Software

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TomTom Home, the desktop/driver software for the TomTom GPS devices, reached version 2.6.1.238 late Tuesday. The new version, a 42.4 megabyte download (courtesy of VersionTracker), offers the following bug fixes and new features:

  • Link to our new online Route Planner.
  • Fresh new menu icons.
  • HOME now shows in the bottom right corner which TomTom device you have and offers a button to disconnect it.
  • It is now easier to get the latest maps by clicking the new Add Maps button.
  • After buying a new map you can now choose Install later.
  • Greek added as a new language.
  • Deselected update items are moved to the bottom of the list and remain deselected until you select them again.
  • TomTom HOME now stores all username and password combinations (if auto-login is chosen). You can automatically log in with any previously used device.
  • You need to fill in fewer fields when creating an account.
  • Improved device linking to better explain the process.
  • Fewer steps when using your activation or promotion code.
  • Bug fix: TomTom HOME now allows you to log in with e-mail domains of only one character long: e.g. username@c.dk.
  • It is now easier to install TomTom HOME themes and extensions that are already on your computer.
  • The new version requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run and is available as a free update.
    If you’ve tried the new version of TomTom Home or have a GPS program of choice, let us know in the comments or forums.

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    MacHeist 3 App Bundle Announced

    Posted by:
    Date: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009, 22:20
    Category: Mac Desktop, Software

    MacHeist, the purveyors of free software, clever puzzles, and low-priced, charity-giving software bundles has done it again! Having just wrapped the latest installment of the game-based software giveaway, the generous folks at MacHeist have put together a new bundle of 14 programs for $39.00 (currently a $558 value)!
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    The currently unlocked applications are as follows:

    • iSale – for list eBay auctions
    • Picturesque – photo touchup software
    • SousChef – a recipe database
    • World Of Goo – a fun, Lemmings-like game
    • PhoneView – an app that allows you to manage some of your iPhone’s data without jailbreaking
    • LittleSnapper – an iPhoto like image organizer with online service integration
    • Acorn – simple photo editor
    • Kinemac – 3D animation software
    • Big Bang Board Games (if you act early)

    If enough bundles are sold, WireTap Studio, BoinxTV, Espresso, and The Hit List will be added to the bundle. Not only that, but the first 25,000 buyers also get Big Bang Board Games for the Mac. The site gives 25% of each sale to charities such as the AIDS Research Alliance and World Wildlife Fund (more info on their web site). If you have any interest in even two of the bundled applications, it practically pays for itself, so there are two good reasons to check it out.

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    iPhone 3G Details, Specifications Emerge on China Mobile Web Site

    Posted by:
    Date: Tuesday, March 24th, 2009, 12:42
    Category: iPhone

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    iPhone photos and product specifications have now appeared on the web site of wireless carrier China Unicom, a sign that a deal may have been reached between Apple and the Chinese carrier.
    According to AppleInsider, the information provided on the web site does not specifically indicate whether the Apple handset will be available from China Unicom, but joins references to similar handsets like the Android-based G1 that will be supported by the carriers upcoming 3G network.
    The site changes emerged one week after China Unicom representatives met in the United States with Apple executives in what has been described as a “breakthrough” negotiation session aimed at bringing the iPhone 3G to China Unicom’s network.
    A spokesperson at China Unicom headquarters could not explain why the information had been posted on one of the carrier’s regional websites, though it’s reportedly not uncommon for the company’s branches to operate independently.
    A launch was said to hinge largely on China Unicom’s first trial run of its new 3G network this May. In contrast to China Mobile, which is endorsing the government’s TD-SCDMA wireless standard, China Unicom will be running its first trials for an iPhone-compatible WCDMA network. Such a standard would let Apple sell its current handset virtually unchanged with full feature support.
    Although Apple has long pursued a deal with China Mobile, the world’s largest cellular provider with over 415 million subscribers, talks reportedly stalled over the government-backed carrier’s insistence on controlling the local version of Apple’s App Store, among other demands.
    Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your minds in the comments or forums.

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