Rumor: NVIDIA May Bring Changes to Dual Graphics Architecture for Future MacBook Pro Notebooks

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Date: Friday, February 19th, 2010, 08:50
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Apple may be planning an enhancement to its next-generation MacBook Pros that will allow for automatic switching between integrated and discrete graphics processors based on whichever is the more optimal technology (power consumption vs. performance) at any given time.

Per AppleInsider, Apple, which has offered two NVIDIA graphics processors in its 17″ and higher-end 15″ MacBook Pro models, one discrete processor and one integrated processor. Users of these machines have been able use the Energy Saver pane in System Preferences to select whether they prefer “better battery life” with the integrated graphics or “higher performance” with the discrete graphics, although switching between the two requires users to log out of their accounts temporarily.

A current rumor states that NVIDIA may bring its Optimus technology to the MacBook Pro, which would allow for seamless switching between graphics processors based on automatic software settings. NVIDIA reportedly developed the technology in response to a dispute with Intel over NVIDIA’s ability to build chipsets for Intel’s latest processors, a dispute that has led to NVIDIA exiting the chipset business. NVIDIA’s Optimus technology offers computer manufacturers a means of pairing NVIDIA’s well-regarded discrete graphics processors with integrated processors provided by Intel as part of its chipsets.

The report notes that the source is not 100% certain that the change will be made in time to appear in Apple’s next-generation MacBook Pro, which is widely expected in the near future. Apple’s pressing need for a solution to the situation presented by the Intel-NVIDIA dispute, however, makes it very likely that the technology will be included in the forthcoming models.

Suburban Philadelphia School District Denies Accusation of Spying on Students with MacBook Cameras

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Date: Friday, February 19th, 2010, 05:18
Category: Legal, MacBook, News

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A suburban Philadelphia school district has denied it spied on students by remotely activating the cameras on their school-issued MacBook notebooks.

Per Macworld UK, in a statement released late on Thursday, Christopher McGinley, the superintendent of Lower Merion School District of Ardmore, Pa., admitted that the MacBooks’ cameras could be turned on without the user’s knowledge, but said that the functionality was part of a security feature.

“Laptops are a frequent target for theft in schools and off-school property,” said McGinley. “The security feature was installed to help locate a laptop in the event it was reported lost, missing or stolen so that the laptop could be returned to the student.” When switched on, the feature was limited to taking snapshots of whomever was using the notebook and capturing the computer’s current screen.

Laptop cameras have only been activated for that purpose, McGinley continued. “The District has not used the tracking feature or web cam for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever,” he said.

This Tuesday, a high school student and his parents sued the district, claiming that the student’s MacBook had been used to spy on him in his home. According to the lawsuit, Michael and Holly Robbins of Penn Valley, Pa., said they first found out about the alleged spying last November after their son Blake was accused by a Harriton High School official of “improper behavior in his home” and shown a photograph taken by his laptop.

Doug Young, a spokesman for the school district, declined to answer questions as to whether Blake Robbins’ computer camera had been activated, and if so, under what circumstances. “I can’t speak to the lawsuit,” Young said.

The lawsuit speaks for itself, said Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This is utterly shocking, and a blatant violation of [the students'] constitutional rights,” Bankston said Thursday, citing the Fourth Amendment after reviewing the Robbins’ complaint. “The school district would have no more right to [use the laptop's webcam] than to install secret listening devices in the textbooks that they issued students.”

Bankston suggested that students should tape over the lens of their laptops’ cameras when not in use.

McGinley confirmed that the district had disabled the camera activation feature on Thursday, and would not switch it back on without the written consent of students and families. The Robbins’ lawsuit alleged that the district had not told students or their families of the activation feature when it handed out the MacBooks. All 2,300 students at the district’s two high schools have been given notebooks.

The district intends to contest the lawsuit, said Young.

Mark Haltzman of the law firm Lamm Rubenstone, and the Robbins’ attorney, did not return a call for comment on Thursday.

The Robbins family has asked for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, and requested that the case be granted class-action status so other students in the district can join the suit.

Apple Improves 27″ iMac Ship Time, Raises Cap on 3G Downloads

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Date: Friday, February 19th, 2010, 05:33
Category: iMac, iPhone, News

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Following Apple’s recent troubles with its 27″ iMac and a wait time of up to three weeks, AppleInsider is reporting that the company has dropped the ship time to five to seven days, suggesting that the company has managed to address the video issues that haunted the desktops. The change applies to both the Core 2 Duo and Core i5 powered versions of the computer.

Early adopters of the big-screen iMac have seen a number of hardware issues pertaining to the screen, with reports of flickering and yellow discoloration. The company released two software updates to fix the issues, and also reportedly offered some customers a 15 percent refund for their troubles.

Supplies of the 27-inch iMac have been constrained for months, with Apple in December even apologizing for delays, citing considerable demand form consumers. When it first launched in October, the new iMac was the best-selling desktop machine for the month. The 21.5″ iMac came in first place, while the 27-inch iMac took third in overall sales.

In other news, Apple quietly doubled the download limit for files from the iPhone App Store and iTunes via 3G. Users can now download files up to 20MB in size from a wireless carrier’s data network. The previous cap was 10MB for “over the air” downloads.

In addition to applications, the new limit also applies to multimedia files, such as podcasts available through iTunes. The update expands beyond AT&T in the U.S., with international reports stating the 10MB cap has also been lifted.

If you’ve played around with the new limit, let us know.