Review: Beach Buoy

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Date: Friday, April 10th, 2009, 08:18
Category: Review

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By Robert Kaneko
It’s spring! At least, it’s spring in the northern hemisphere. If, like me, you live in the Pacific Northwest, you may have despaired of spring ever arriving. However, as I type this, it’s sunny and 65°, so there is hope. With spring in mind, it’s time to start thinking about outdoor activities. However, many of our beloved gadgets don’t really like our outdoor activities. Sand, dirt and water seem to be particular problems. That’s where the Beach Buoy comes in.
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The Beach Buoy is a product available from Proporta. It is essentially a very rugged, very nice looking ziplock bag with a cord so you can wear it around your neck. It is rated to keep your iPhone, iPod Touch, or other expensive electronic gadget safe from water at depths of up to 5 meters/16 feet. The top of the Beach Buoy contains two double ziplocks.
The idea is, you place your device inside the Beach Buoy, seal both ziplocks, and then fold the ziplocks over, securing the folds with a Velcro flap.
The result is a very watertight (and sand-proof) container.
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Click the jump for the full review…

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Rumor: Apple Places Mass Order for 100 Million Flash Chips

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Date: Friday, April 10th, 2009, 07:55
Category: Rumor

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Recently, Apple placed a massive order for flash memory chips, the quantity of which seeming lower in density than one would expect from the company.
Citing supplier-based sources, DigiTimes has stated that Apple has ordered 100 million 8Gb NAND flash chips for delivery later this year with the bulk of this order to come from Samsung. Other suppliers such as Toshiba, Hynix, Intel and Micron may also provide some of the order.
The order is suspicious in that it’s for very low density chips. Contrary to some inaccuracies being reported around the Web, the parts in question are 8 gigabit chips, representing 1 gigabyte of storage each, not 8 gigabytes of storage each.
Though these parts could theoretically be used to facilitate the production of 6.25 million 16GB iPhones or 12.5 million 8GB iPhones, Apple has historically purchased higher density chips for its handheld offerings due to space constraints.
Apple is also thought to be using a single high-density 32Gb NAND chip in its most recent 4GB iPod shuffle, though this has yet to be confirmed . A tear-down analysis of the player performed last month found only a single chip inside — a multi-layered stack containing the CPU, RAM, and flash memory — making a face value determination inconclusive.
It’s also unclear from the report whether the 8Gb NAND parts are finalized chip packages, or bare memory chips that will later be stacked to form a higher density package.
Their inclusion in future Macs is yet another remote possibility, though rumors of Apple adopting small flash chips for an implementation of Intel’s Robson technology (which promised faster startup, application launching, and battery life by caching key pieces of code in the solid-state memory parts) fizzled some years ago. Apple now offers customers the option of configuring a handful of Macs with much larger flash drives, doing away with the need for a traditional hard disk drive entirely.

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Apple Discontinues .Mac Groups and Homepage…Again?

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Date: Friday, April 10th, 2009, 01:25
Category: MobileMe

Apple today sent MobileMe subscribers notices informing them that their .Mac Groups and the HomePage web application would be discontinued as of July 7th, 2009. According to the email notices, “As of this date, all Groups features – including your group email address, group HomePage, message board, and iDisk “Groups” folder – will no longer be available.”
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The email also links to this FAQ regarding the discontinuation of services, which is the original FAQ created the first time the services were slated to close down except for the addition of the July 9th date. The original shutdown date was October 10, 2008. While the Groups and HomePage application were thought to have been shut down since last October, files were still accessible by members. There is no indication in the notices regarding the reason it is being sent out again, or why services may not have been completely shut down after the October date.
The messages do state that current web sites published with HomePage will still be available via the web indefinitely, but that changes will not be possible after July 7th. If you would like to speculate what is going on, discuss it in the forums.

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Apple Quietly Admits Hairline Crack Issue on White MacBook, Offers Repairs

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Date: Thursday, April 9th, 2009, 07:44
Category: MacBook

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After months of contention, Apple has privately acknowledged an issue within some of its 13″ MacBook notebooks in which hairline cracks have arisen during normal usage patterns.
According to AppleInsider, Apple issued a bulletin to its authorized service providers in March that essentially reversed its stance on replacing the bottom casing of notebooks that may be experiencing these symptoms.
Initial reports surfaced in November that Apple was refusing to cover repairs for the bottom casing of the notebooks despite its willingness (on occasion) to address identical problems with the top portion of the casings containing the keyboard and palmrests.
The bulletin apparently identified four key areas prone to hairline cracking, including the case front below the palmrests and trackpad, the portions around the I/O ports, the back rear corners, and the back rear ventilation area.
Apple has also noted that other portions of the case could be affected by hairline cracking and has asked service providers to determine whether the cracks themselves were due to the owner’s negligence.
In the event that providers are unable to identify signs that the user is at fault for the cracks, they’re advise to escalate the notebook for coverage by Apple, regardless of whether its one-year limited warranty has expired.
The exception also applies to the black plastic 13-inch MacBook that was discontinued last year, but does not extend to any other member of the MacBook family, according to those familiar with the matter.

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Roxio Toast Titanium 10.0.2 Update Released

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Date: Thursday, April 9th, 2009, 07:19
Category: Software

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Late Wednesday night, Roxio released version 10.0.2 of its Toast Titanium authoring software. The new version, available here, adds the following fixes and changes:

  • Resolves crash issue that may occur with some FLAC audio files.
  • Resolves issue when converting QuickTime movies with text tracks.
  • Improved handling of corrupt PCM audio packets.
  • Toast 10 Titanium requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run and retails for US$99.99.

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    Skype 2.8.0.438 Released

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    Date: Thursday, April 9th, 2009, 07:20
    Category: Software

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    On Thursday, Skype released version 2.8.0.438 of its popular Voice over Internet Protocol communications program.
    The new version, a 41.4 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

  • change: spectator window for screen sharing.
  • change: My Account page embedded in the client.
  • bugfix: Skype didn’t hide on OS X login< ./li>
  • bugfix: copy/paste from chats was not working correctly.
  • bugfix: sometimes Skype froze for a couple of seconds when starting or stopping screen sharing.
  • bugfix: screen sharing windows could be left on screen when a call was joined to a conference.
  • bugfix: PiP didn’t appear in full screen when receiving screen sharing.
  • bugfix: the overlay didn’t appear for fullscreen screen sharing and then the exit fullscreen button didn’t work.
  • bugfix: fullscreen mode would exit after a held call was resumed.
  • bugfix: call could not be ended after being redirected to voicemail.
  • bugfix: the call window layout was broken if the dialpad was shown during a video call
  • bugfix: URLs inside brackets were not clickable.
  • bugfix: sometimes Skype crashed after deleting missed events without reading them.
  • Click the jump for the full story…

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    Seesmic Releases Preview of Seesmic Desktop

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    Date: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009, 17:22
    Category: Software

    Yesterday during a live presentation event, mirrored on Ustream, Seesmic demonstrated and released a preview version of their new social network gateway application, Seesmic Desktop.
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    Seesmic is best known for their video, social networking service where users can exchange or broadcast video messages from their computer. Seesmic is also responsible for developing Twhirl, running on the Adobe Air platform, which allows management of their Seesmic videos as well as other social networks such as Twitter, FriendFeed, and Identi.ca in a single desktop application. Using Adobe Air allows Seesmic Desktop (and Twhirl) to run on any system capable of running the Air platform and provides feature parity, a definite plus for a small software company. The software should run on OS X, Windows 98, and Windows Vista. Support for Ubuntu is hopefully coming soon.
    Tuesday night from their San Francisco location, Loic Le Meur, founder of Seesmic, demonstrated the new application that the company has been working on and describing the plans for the software. Seesmic Desktop will be eventually replacing Twhirl, but all of the features from the latter will be migrated to Seesmic Desktop. Le Meur stated that due to the small size of the company, it did not make sense to split their resources to maintain both applications. The preview version, released to members of Team Seesmic right after the demo, currently only manages multiple Twitter accounts, but other services will be added soon.
    Thomas Knoll, Seesmic’s Community Advocate, explained that there is much to do, but that they had decided that they wanted to get the software into people’s hands to “kick the tires” and get suggestions for which features to prioritize. Thomas says that the objective of Seesmic Desktop is not just to act as a social service aggregator, but to eventually leverage features that will allow users to manage “communities” within all of their networks.
    If you want to get your hands on the preview, go to the Seesmic web site and sign up for Team Seesmic. You will also need to install Adobe Air for your system.

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    Rumor: Video Recording Features, Voice Dialing Features Noted for iPhone OS 3.0 and Next-Gen iPhone

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009, 07:09
    Category: Rumor

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    After weeks of speculation, some new finds have brought additional credibility to Apple’s plans to include video recording features as well as Voice Dialing within the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0 firmware as well as the next-gen iPhone.
    According to MacRumors, an interface similar to the existing iPhone camera application has been discovered along with the addition of a digital toggle switch in the lower right-hand corner of the app for switching between still photos and video captures.
    “The video recording is not presently functional in iPhone 3.0 beta, and the interface is not accessible by default,” according to the report. “Only when configuration files were modified telling the firmware that a Video Camera was present will this interface appear.”
    In addition to the toggle switch, a square interface element on the left-hand side is also visible. This doesn’t appear to be specific to the video capture component of the application and is actually a fixture of the new Camera application due to ship as part of iPhone Software 3.0. It will display a thumbnail of the most recent image or video captured by the user.
    Other new discoveries regarding the camera include “auto-focus camera”, “magnetometer” (digital compass), and “Voice Control” features.
    Over on Boy Genius Report, additional screenshots of the iPhone OS 3.0 software show a large video camera icon with the caption “You can take videos using the camera.” The site also shows a screen in the “International” preferences panel of the beta software with the aforementioned “Voice Control” changes, which it believes may have something to do with Voice Dialing features.
    Yet another leaked iPhone 3.0 screen hinting at video features (left) and another that could imply voice dialing capabilities.
    Meanwhile, control icons for an iPhone video editing application were also uncovered in betas of iPhone Software 3.0, further corroborating reports that Apple would allow users to make rudimentary edits to their videos in a similar manner to the way the company’s new Voice Memo application allows trimming of audio recordings.

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    Recent Mac OS X 10.5.7 Beta Focuses on 100+ Fixes, Second Security Update for 2009

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    Date: Wednesday, April 8th, 2009, 07:44
    Category: Software

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    A recent Mac OS X 10.5.7 beta has made its way among Apple developer with Apple apparently also beta testingits second security update of the year for certain Mac OS X distributions.
    According to AppleInsider, build 9J44 of Mac OS X 10.5.7 was released to developers. The new beta arrives a little more than a week after the company issued build 9J39 and, per sources close to the story, offers a fix for a PDF font render along with four other fixes, thus bringing the number of documented code corrections to 104.
    Similarly, the lone issue affecting the last several builds has been the inability to install Apple’s Safari 4 beta, which hasn’t been tweaked to run on the new system update.
    Mac OS X 10.5.7, code-named Juno, is expected for a release sometime this month and reportedly weighs in at approximately 442MB. A combo updater capable of updating versions of Leopard prior to 10.5.6 and bundling earlier security improvements is currently about 730MB.
    Where the second security update is concerned, Apple has reportedly tasked security experts with evaluating its second security update to Mac OS X of the 2009 calendar year. The release is said to be in testing for versions of Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4 operating system and a version for Mac OS X 10.5 has yet to be reported.
    People familiar with the situation say Apple doesn’t brief its security testers on the improvements it bundles into beta security updates and instead asks them probe for holes blindly. As such, it’s not entirely clear what components of Tiger it targets, though the rumor is that it addresses a networking vulnerability.
    Apple is expected to recommend the update “for all users” saying it “improves the security of Mac OS X.” Four different distributions are currently being evaluated: Tiger client (PPC), Tiger server (PPC), Tiger client (Intel), and Tiger server (Intel).
    The latest known builds are reportedly 8S410 (PPC) and 8S2410 (Intel).

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    How-To: Reset Mac OS X’s Software Updater Function

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    Date: Tuesday, April 7th, 2009, 07:20
    Category: How-To

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    As nigh-indispensable as Mac OS’s Software Update feature can be to locate and install patches for the operating system and supported applications from Apple, there remains the fact that some items might not install or the updater may not seem to work at all.
    Per MacFixIt, a user identified as “The Dragon” posted this comment over in the Apple Discussion Boards:

    “After a longish while, the “Checking for new software…” progress bar [in Software Update] had reached about halfway, and the update list indicated it had found five updates. At that point however, the progress bar chose to freeze entirely. After a good while and no further progress, I Cancel the update, and attempt to relaunch. Software Update opens, but the aforementioned progress bar freezes immediately.”

    Like any other application, problems can occur if any required resources have become corrupt. From here, the application will start properly and not run correctly. These resources can include the program’s preferences files and caches. In addition, when updates are applied, a receipt is generated that Software Update reads to know what updates have already been installed. If an installation fails, but the receipt is left, software update may not try to install a needed update. Additionally, if a receipt is corrupt, then software update may try to repeatedly install the same update.
    Assorted fixes for the issue include the following steps:

    Fixes:
    1. Remove Software Update preference and cache files.
    If Software Update seems to be unable to complete an update, and either freezes or quits half-way through checking for updates, then try removing the application’s preferences and cache files from the following locations:
    /username/Library/Preferences/ByHost/ –> remove “com.apple.SoftwareUpdate.NUMBER.plist”
    /username/Library/Preferences/ –> remove “com.apple.SoftwareUpdate.plist”
    /username/Library/Caches/ –> remove “com.apple.SoftwareUpdate” (folder)
    /Macintosh HD/Library/Preferences/ –> remove”com.apple.SoftwareUpdate.plist”
    After removing these items, restart the system for the changes to take effect and try launching Software Update again.
    2. Remove faulty receipts.
    If an update continuously appears and is being applied, try removing the receipt for that specific update. The receipt should be located in the /Macintosh HD/Library/Receipts/ folder and will be named something similar to the update files (i.e., FrontRowUpdate2.1.7.pkg). Do not delete the receipt, but instead move it to the desktop or some other location and retry the update. If it still does not work, replace the receipt in its original location, since it may be required and isn’t the root of the problem.

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