Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.4 update

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Date: Tuesday, June 15th, 2010, 15:42
Category: News, Software

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After months of anticipation, Apple released its Mac OS X 10.6.4 update for its Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) operating system on Tuesday.

The update, which ranges in size from a few to several hundred megabytes, includes the following fixes and changes:

General fixes and improvements:
- Improves compatibility with some Braille displays
- Resolves an issue that causes the keyboard or trackpad to become unresponsive
- Resolves an issue that may prevent some Adobe Creative Suite 3 applications from opening
addresses issues copying, renaming, or deleting files on SMB file servers
- Improves reliability of VPN connections
- Resolves a playback issue in DVD Player when using Good Quality deinterlacing
- Resolves an issue editing photos with iPhoto or Aperture in full screen view
- Resolves an issue with Parental Controls Time Limits for Open Directory or Active Directory users
- Resolves a display sleep issue with MacBook Pro (Early 2010) computers
- Resolves an issue with MacBook Pro (Early 2010) computers in which the right speaker may sound louder than the left speaker
- Includes Safari 5.0; for more information about Safari 5.0, see this webpage

Fixes and improvements for Aperture 3:
- Adds tethered shooting support for additional digital camera models
- Addresses IPTC metadata compatibility issues

Fixes and improvements for external devices:
- RAW image compatibility for additional digital cameras
- Resolves an issue with using third-party USB web cameras
- Resolves an issue with noise when using some third-party FireWire audio devices
- Resolves pairing issues with Apple remotes

Mac OS X 10.6.4 requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run and can be downloaded via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

E3 2010: Into the breach

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Date: Tuesday, June 15th, 2010, 15:47
Category: News

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By Joshua Simmons

E3 Day 1 Conference Impressions:

Nintendo:
This was clearly the year of the Nintendo come back after several previous lackluster E3 presentations. There were no vitality sensors, no fashion runway games for DS, and no Wii Music. What we did get started with a bang when Shigeru Miyamoto himself came out on stage to debut the new Zelda Wii title, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Using motion plus technology, Miyamoto demonstrated the possibilities of sword and shield play as well as several new items at Link’s disposal. The two most unique items would have to have been the beetle launcher, which sent a controllable beetle flying off of Link’s arm to collect far off items, and the whip, capable of cutting grass and grabbing items. As if a new Zelda wasn’t enough, we also got Mario Sports Mix, Epic Mickey, Golden Sun Dark Dawn for DS, a new Wii Kirby, and more footage of Metroid Other M. It was clear that Nintendo intended to deliver to its core demographic today and they did just that. Big surprises were also in store with a Goldeneye remake exclusive for Wii starring all previous Bonds, as well as a new retro remake of Donkey Kong Country.

Nintendo’s biggest gun this E3 was the much anticipated 3DS unveil, and it did not disappoint. Although, we in the audience were unable to get a sense of the much touted “No glasses” 3D tech, we did get an understanding of the handheld’s power with a glimpse at the surprise announcement, Kid Icarus. Other 3DS features included two front facing cameras for taking 3D photos, 3D effect adjustment dial, an analog stick, and the ability to play 3D movies on the device. Nintendo’s E3 2010 press conference was very impressive, and I’m sure hardcore Nintendo fans worldwide are quite satisfied.

Sony:
Although the surprises were in few this year, the Sony conference managed to consistently deliver exciting new prospects for the future with their lineup. They kicked things off with a special look at two Killzone 3 levels, presented in 3D to the audience which was met with hollering and cheering as Sev leaped to the air in a jet pack. The visuals were fantastic, and the game really conveyed the potential for Sony’s 3D tech. We also got news of several titles that will include 3D in the future such as Gran Turismo 5, Mortal Kombat, EyePet and more. Shifting from 3D to the Playstation Move, we were treated to a premiere demo of Sorcery. Sorcery uses the Move controller to guide a young apprentice through a castle as he battles goblins by flicking the Move to send spells from his wand. The 1:1 tracking of the Move was impressive as the wizard’s arm accurately reflected what the player was doing; it also demonstrated different movements to achieve varying abilities. We were also treated to a demo of Tiger Woods 2011, also used impressive tracking to register the player’s movement as he would swing the club.

After a surprise, and hilarious, appearance by Kevin Butler, Sony shifted the conference to the games. Although it was pleasant to see Little Big Planet 2 demonstrated for the audience, the biggest announcement came in the form of Portal 2 for Playstation 3. However, I personally was the most excited when the grand finale of today’s event turned out to be the unveiling of Twisted Metal for Playstation 3. Typically, we only get these kind of unveils in the form of a teaser, or small clip, but after driving out onto the stage in a replica Sweet Tooth truck, we were treated to a live demo of the game’s multiplayer modes.

These two conferences have left me quite excited for the year to come in gaming, and I’ll be sure to write deeper impressions in the days to come as I get to try out all the great games shown today in person on the show floor!

Review: Apple Store app

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Date: Tuesday, June 15th, 2010, 15:37
Category: Review, Software

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By Steve Abrahamson

I just downloaded the new Apple Store app from Apple, and I must say, it’s quite nice.

Most of the comments seem to focus around crashing problems by people trying to pre-order their new iPhone 4. It didn’t crash for me at all, and I’m guessing that’s because I wasn’t interacting with AT&T’s servers, which are totally bogged down today (again). Overall, I think this a great app.

First off, it’s fantastic for Apple fans like me to have in my pocket, so that when a friend or colleague asks something about an Apple product, I can get specs right away, in seconds, in the palm of my hand. It’s great for that.

But I did find three problems, one frightening:

1.) It never asked for my account info, it just took it from the phone’s mobile me settings. That’s OK (it’s a first-party app, after all), but the app should say it did. So when I was idly poking around the app, I almost accidentally purchased several thousand dollars of stuff on my iTunes account! The app needs to make it more obvious at the start that it’s grabbing your credentials, and explicitly ask for permission to use them for purchases. I expect my iTunes account to never see purchases of over 10-20 bucks – I buy computers with a different credit card.

2.) Under Stores, it doesn’t offer the option to tell the store to set something aside for streamlined shopping. For instance, if you know you want to go in and buy a MacBook Pro and an LED display, and you know exactly what you want, there’s no way to specify that and have it waiting for you at the store to just pick up. If they want to get customers in the door and back out again in the most efficient way possible (and they do – they’ve done a lot to streamline and remove friction from shopping at the stores), they should offer this through the app. It’d be ground-breaking for computer retail, and be a great way to service the people who don’t need to spend time, just money.

You can set up an appointment with a Personal Shopper, who’s going to expect to answer questions and demo stuff… but the only way to say you want this stuff waiting for you is to put it in the “comments” section, and they might or might not even have a chance to read that – you have no way of telling.

3.) When I did look for Personal Shopper appointments, it told me there were none available at the store I wanted to go to. It did offer to look for nearby stores, which is nice, but I’d rather it was simply able to look further ahead. Do their servers only take appointments a few days out? Maybe they need to increase that.

Overall, this is a fantastic v1.0 app, and like most of Apple’s apps, it’s free. There’s plenty of time for refinements, but today, out of the gate, it’s an excellent app that every iPhone customer should have in their hip pocket.

Steve Abrahamson is a technologist and Certified FileMaker developer in Chicago. He has a small development firm, Ascending Technologies (http://www.asctech.com), and is really just a technofetishist writing software as a cover.

Apple releases updated, slimmer Mac mini with HDMI, SD card ports

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Date: Tuesday, June 15th, 2010, 15:57
Category: Announcement, Mac mini

Apple on Tuesday updated its Mac mini desktop computer, adding an HDMI port for easy connectivity to an HDTV, as well as a built-in SD card slot for grabbing photos and videos from a digital camera.

The newly redesigned hardware is just 7.7 inches square and 1.4 inches thin. It also has a built-in power supply, which means it lacks a bulky external power brick, which Apple said means the tiny desktop Mac takes up even less space than before, with 20 percent less system volume than the previous model.

“The sleek, aluminum Mac mini packs great features, versatility and value into an elegant, amazingly compact design,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “With twice the graphics performance, HDMI support and industry-leading energy efficiency, customers are going to love the new Mac mini.”

The new Mac mini includes the Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics processor, which delivers up to twice the performance of its predecessor. It also comes standard with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 320GB hard drive, and 2GB of RAM at the $699 starting price.

In March, AppleInsider first reported that Apple was building its first Macs with an HDMI port for high definition video and audio output. HDMI, or High-Definition Multimedia Interface, is a cabling standard intended for home theater, built on top of the computer-oriented DVI, or Digital Video Interface, specification.

Weeks ago, AppleInsider revealed that supply of the Mac mini was dwindling ahead of the release of new models.

Availability

Shipping today, the Mac mini is available through the Apple store, retail stores, and authorized retailers. The $699 model includes:

2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB of shared L2 cache;
2GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable up to 8GB;
a slot-load 8X SuperDrive® (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) optical drive;
320GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 5400 rpm;
NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics;
AirPort Extreme® 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
Gigabit Ethernet;
four USB 2.0 ports;
SD card slot;
one FireWire® 800 port;
one HDMI port and one Mini DisplayPort;
HDMI to DVI video adapter;
combined optical digital audio input/audio line in (minijack); and
combined optical digital audio output/headphone out (minijack).

Build-to-order options and accessories include up to 8GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, 500GB hard drive running at 5400 rpm, Apple Remote, Aperture 3, Final Cut Express 4, Logic Express, iWork (pre-installed), Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse, Apple 24 inch LED Cinema Display and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

The Mac mini with Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server, for a suggested retail price of $999 (US), includes:

2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB of shared L2 cache;
4GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, expandable up to 8GB;
two 500GB Serial ATA hard drives running at 7200 rpm;
NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics;
AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR;
Gigabit Ethernet;
four USB 2.0 ports;
SD card slot;
one FireWire 800 port;
one HDMI port and one Mini DisplayPort;
HDMI to DVI video adapter;
combined optical digital audio input/audio line in (minijack); and
combined optical digital audio output/headphone out (minijack).

Build-to-order options and accessories include up to 8GB 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM, External SuperDrive, Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Mouse, Apple 24 inch LED Cinema Display and the AppleCare Protection Plan.

Environmental impact

Even with its doubled graphics performance, Apple said the new Mac mini is still the world’s most energy efficient desktop, based on products listed within the EPA Energy Star Small Scale Server database as of June 2010.

The new hardware uses 25 percent less power to less than 10W at idle, which is less than half the power used by competing systems. It also meets Energy Star 5.0 requirements, achieves EPEAT Gold status, has a highly recyclable aluminum enclosure, and uses PVC-free components and cables with no brominated flame retardants.

Included software

The new Mac mini comes with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard operating system, and iLife, Apple’s suite of applications for managing photos, making movies and creating and learning to play music. The $999 high-end model includes Snow Leopard Server, and allows a workgroup or small business to fulfill needs such as e-mail, calendar, file serving, Time Machine backup, Wiki Server, podcast production and more.