PowerPage Podcast Episode 136

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 7th, 2010, 16:51
Category: Podcast

PowerPage Podcast LogoEpisode 136 of the PowerPage Podcast is now available. You can either download it from the iTunes Store or directly (17.8 MB, MP3).

Panel: Jason O’Grady and Rob Parker

Topics: This week we discuss Steve Jobs’ keynote address at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. We took a break from our normal Wednesday podcast this week to analyze WWDC’s announcements including iPhone 4 and iOS 4 (formerly iPhone OS).

Apple announces iPhone 4 at WWDC keynote

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 7th, 2010, 12:39
Category: iPhone, News

In his long-awaited Worldwide Developers Conference keynote speech, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the fourth-generation iPhone, termed the “iPhone 4″. Per Macworld, the iPhone 4 is 9.3mm thick, or 24$ thinner than the iPhone 3GS and includes new camera with an LED flash on the black, but a second, front-facing camera as well. There are new volume buttons, a mute button, plus a second microphone on the top for noise cancellation. Just like the iPad, it now incorporates a micro-SIM tray.

Apple has also engineered three integrated antennas into the design: one for Bluetooth, one for WI-Fi and GPS, and one for UMTS and GSM.

The iPhone 4 features a new screen technology called a “retina display” which operates at 326 pixels per inch, double the 163 pixels per inch resolution of the iPhone 3GS.

The new display measures the same 3.5″ inches diagonally, but at 960 x 640 it has four times as many pixels as the previous model with an 800:1 contrast ratio that’s also four times that of the iPhone 3GS. It uses the same IPS display technology as the iPad and the iMac for good color fidelity, brightness, and viewing angle.

The new handset also sports the A4 chip, which boasts both a small footprint and good power management. Apple went with the micro-SIM design to save space, mostly for a new battery that, coupled with the new chip, Apple says provides 40$ more talk time. The company says talk time is up from 5 hours to 7 hours; 6 hours of 3G browsing; 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing; 10 hours of video; 40 hours of music; and 300 hours of standby.

Environmentally, the new iPhone is arsenic free, BFR-free mercury-free, PVC-free, and made from highly recyclable materials.

The handset includes quad-band HSPDPA/HSUPA networking with a maximum of 7.2Mbps down and 5.8 Mbps up.

There’s also 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking, an improvement from 802.11g in the previous model.

The iPhone 4 also add a three-axis gyroscope for measuring angular velocity and can figure out pitch, roll, and yaw; and rotation about gravity. The gyroscope plus the accelerometer provide six-axis motion sensing which can be combined with new CoreMotion APIs that developers can call for extremely precise position information.

The iPhone 4 has a new, 5-megapixel camera with 5x digital zoom and an LED flash. It also adds 720p HD video capture at 30 frames per second. The company has also created a version of its iMovie consumer video-editing application for the iPhone. With it, you can record or edit you videos (and add photos as well). Once the video has been recorded, users can add titles, changes themes, and use music from your iTunes library.

iMovie for iPhone will be available for US$5.

For Jobs’ “One More Thing” moment, he sat down on a chair to show off the iPhone 4’s video chatting capabilities. Using either of the two cameras, you can make video calls via a feature called FaceTime between iPhone 4 phones over Wi-Fi only (at least through 2010). Users can also switch between cameras and chat in landscape or portait mode.

The iPhone 4 will be available in both black and white, at US$199 for 16GB and US$299 for 32GB (with the same qualifications and two-year contract with AT&T as in the past). Apple will also add an 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$99.

Jobs said that AT&T is going to make “an incredibly generous upgrade offer.” If your contract expires any time in 2010, you’re immediately eligible for that pricing, for up to six months early eligibility. The iPhone 4 will be available from Apple and AT&T’s retail and online stores, as well as at Best Buy and Wal-Mart stores.

The iPhone 4 goes on sale in the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., and Japan on June 24th, with pre-orders starting on June 15th. It will ship in 18 more countries in July, in 24 more in August, and in 40 more by the end of September.

Apple also showed off some accessories: a US$29 dock and a US$29 case called a Bumper that comes in white, black, blue, green, orange, or pink.

AT&T offers early upgrade dates to customers

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 7th, 2010, 10:34
Category: iPhone, News

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Just hours ahead of Apple’s anticipated fourth-generation iPhone announcement, AT&T has begun moving some customers’ upgrade eligibility dates forward to allow them to buy Apple’s latest handset.

Per AppleInsider, a number of users have reported that their eligibility for an iPhone upgrade has been updated, allowing them to buy Apple’s next-generation iPhone as soon as it goes on sale, fully subsidized with a 2-year contract agreement.

Customers can see their upgrade eligibility by logging into their account on the AT&T website and selecting “Check Upgrade Options.” Upgrade status can also be checked by dialing *639# from the iPhone.

“As a valued customer, we can offer you an upgrade with a new 2-yr commitment and an US$18 upgrade fee,” AT&T’s message to eligible iPhone owners reads.

Though U.S. iPhone customers must sign a two-year contract with AT&T in order to receive the iPhone at a subsidized price, the wireless carrier frequently offers faster upgrades for its highest paying customers. Those with more services and a higher monthly bill typically are not required to wait the full two years before they become eligible.

Screen shot via TUAW

AT&T previously revealed that generally speaking, customers who spend more than $99-a-month per line are eligible for an upgrade between 12 and 18 months into their contract.

The latest round of upgrades follow previous updates by AT&T in May, when some users saw their upgrade eligibility date moved up by months, to June 21, 2010.

Moving up customers’ upgrade dates is the same approach AT&T has taken in the past. Last year, the wireless carrier offered early iPhone 3G adopters the opportunity to purchase an iPhone 3GS as the same $199 and $299 price points as new customers.

“Magic Trackpad” images leaked prior to WWDC 2010 keynote

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Date: Monday, June 7th, 2010, 05:06
Category: Pictures

Hours before Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference 2010 keynote, Engadget has gone and done something snarky by posting pictures of a device that appears similar to Apple’s wireless Bluetooth keyboard. The device appears to offer a large, multitouch input surface for Mac hardware.

“What we appear to be looking at is a brand new input device that Apple has dreamed up which connects to desktops (and laptops, if you like) via Bluetooth, much like the Apple Keyboard,” Topolsky wrote. “If you take what you see in the photos at face value, it would seem that the folks in Cupertino are making a play for finger-based input in a big way — taking the work they’ve done on Mac laptops and the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and translating it to the desktop realm.”

The images also came with a tip that the device would support handwriting recognition, along with “every feature you can find on a Magic Mouse (and possibly features of a MacBook Pro trackpad).” The information reportedly came from a person who claimed to be personally testing it.

The pictures would seem to suggest that the hardware could be announced by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs at today’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote.

The product name may already be known, too, as Apple filed a trademark for ownership of the name “Magic Trackpad” in February That naming corresponds with Apple’s Magic Mouse, a multitouch device introduced by Apple last fall. The entire surface of the Magic Mouse can track independent fingers for activities like scrolling and zooming, much like an iPhone or iPod touch.

So, without further ado, what may be the Magic Trackpad…



How-To: Work around Apple notebook blank screens

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 4th, 2010, 09:59
Category: How-To, MacBook, MacBook Pro

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As trusty and reliable as your MacBook or MacBook Pro may be, there are times where it will hate you and its screen will go blank. Sometimes this will take place as you’re working, other times after a restart or when waking up from sleep. The cool cats at CNET have assembled the following useful guide as to what may be the underlying concern and how to fix it:

Software issues:
The display going out could be a matter of a software configuration problem, either with the display drivers or with one of the active processes that interacts with them, such as the window server. There are a few ways you can overcome this. The first is to change the display configuration by either plugging in or unplugging an external monitor. This will cause the drivers to refresh the display output and desktop configuration; hopefully, this will reset the error. The second way is to try sleeping the system again by closing the lid and opening it. When you close the lid, you should see the battery and sleep indicator lights (green and white, respectively) turn on.

You can also use a key sequence to force the display to sleep and reset, which, hopefully, will force the display to reset properly and turn on. To do this, press and hold the Control and Shift keys, followed by the Eject key.

Lastly, if the display will not work even after rebooting, try loading into Safe Mode, especially if the display turns off after properly showing an initial gray screen. If safe mode works, you will need to troubleshoot the software setup by first uninstalling any recently installed drivers or utilities, and then by creating a new user account for testing purposes, since sometimes display problems can happen from an account-specific configuration problem. This will tell you if the problem is account-related or has to do with more global resources. If the problem persists in a new account, the next best step would be to boot off your Mac OS X installation DVD to see if the display works under a completely bare and fresh installation.

If the installation DVD works, then you will need to reinstall your OS by first reapplying the latest “Combo” update for your version of OS X (this is best applied when in Safe Mode), and then by run the installer from your OS X DVD and ensure that you have “Archive and Install” selected with the option to save user accounts and data (this is done by default in Snow Leopard).

If the display problems occur when booting from the installation DVD, it is likely you are suffering from a hardware malfunction and will need to troubleshoot the hardware setup.

Hardware issues:
Hardware issues that can affect the display output include firmware settings as well as the display hardware and controllers themselves. Many people have tried to reset the PRAM when they have issues such as the screen being blank when the computer is woken from sleep; however, many display settings are stored in the System Management Controller. Therefore, in addition to resetting the PRAM you may benefit from resetting the SMC on your machine. On most MacBooks you can do this by removing the power and battery, and pressing the power button for 15 seconds, but some models vary so look up how to do this for your particular machine.

Beyond firmware settings, you may have a problem with the display inverter or LED driver board, which is what runs the backlight on LDC displays. When this happens, the display should still be working, but will not be easily visible because of the lack of lighting. You can test this by shining a flashlight on the display at different angles, or preferably through the Apple logo on the back of the display. If you see graphics showing on the display, then your backlight is not working. If a restart or SMC/PRAM reset do not help, you will need to take the computer in for servicing.

Lastly, if you have recently had the computer serviced (especially if done by yourself), some of the display-related circuits may have been improperly connected or insulated upon assembly. Apple has foam and plastic insulation around circuits and connectors that can be shorted out by touching other components, so if you forget to put these back on when assembling the system, you can easily cause a component like the inverter to fail. Luckily this usually can be fixed by replacing the insulation, but you will need to have it serviced again to fix.

Work-arounds:
If you are unable to get your display working, you can still control your system in an attempt to save your work and safely shut it down. One way is to use Screen Sharing, which you may have enabled in the Sharing system preferences. You can then use Remote Desktop or Apple’s built-in Screen Sharing service to connect to and control your Mac.

Alternatively, if you have Remote Login enabled (SSH), you can use an SSH client on any other networked computer to log in and issue the “shutdown -h now” command to close down and turn off the computer. This will take familiarity with the Terminal, as well as knowing its IP address (unless you are on a Mac).

Here’s the basic procedure:
Launch the Terminal application with SSH support

Type the following command:
ssh USERNAME@Computer-Name.local

In this command, the username is the short account name on the system, and if you are using a Mac “Computer-Name.local” is the computer’s network name, such as Tophers-Desktop.local; however, it can also be the computer’s IP address.

Confirm connecting and supply your password (it will not be shown)
Issue the shutdown command by typing the following:
sudo shutdown -h now

This process will turn off the system, but will force applications to quit so you will lose unsaved data. However, it still is a better option than pressing and holding the power button to turn off the system.

If you’ve found any fixes or workarounds of your own, please let us know.

Review: Street Fighter IV for iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 4th, 2010, 05:01
Category: iPhone, Review

By Joshua Simmons

If someone had told me over a year ago when I picked up Street Fighter IV for the consoles that I’d play a near identical version for my iPhone, I would have feared for my hands and the onset of arthritis from trying to play such a complex fighter on the small touch screen. Thankfully, Capcom decided to have mercy on my digits and took the time to adapt the controls to a more comfortable scheme. It is worth stating I am also continually surprised by the games that are being release on the iPhone, Street Fighter IV being the latest example with its gorgeous graphics and little to no slow down. Of course, being one to enjoy Street Fighter games, and Capcom’s latest offering, I had to download this iPhone iteration and check it out for myself. So, how does it measure up to its big brother counterpart?

As mentioned, the graphics are superb and transfer well to the iPhone screen. Capcom effortlessly translates the new graphically style they employed in the console versions for this port; these aren’t your Street Fighter II 16-bit graphics. Even more impressive is they manage to do so with no slow down, or lag. I currently own the iPhone 3G model, which is typically slower and gets the shaft when it comes to higher profile games, and Street Fighter IV runs as smooth as possible whenever I pick it up. A few details in the character models are lost to fit the resolution of the screen, but this is still one of the best looking iPhone games to date. The soundtrack and audio are also excellent and what one would expect from a Street Fighter game. Something I am also thankful for in this game, that most iPhone games I have played don’t do, is the screen being orientated so that my hand isn’t covering the primary speaker the audio is coming out of while I am playing.

The gameplay and control scheme have been wisely adapted for this version, saving the screen from being cluttered with buttons. Instead of six attack buttons (light, medium, and heavy), we are given just two: punch and kick. There is also an onscreen joystick, as well as a button for specials and one for SFIV’s focus attack. This simplifies the gameplay a bit, and may seem disappointing to the hardcore, but it allows for an ease of play on the iPhone that is needed yet still leaves room for exploration. For example, Supers and Ultras can now be pulled off by not only performing a specific combo, but also by simply moving the stick in a certain direction and hitting the SP button, or Ultra meter. Lastly, a nice touch to the game is the allowance for customization of the control layout by individual buttons, not to mention the ability to adjust the transparency of the on screen buttons; which is useful if you prefer to see more of the action.

As great as the game is on the iPhone, it is not without its flaws, however. It is difficult to decide if the US$10 price tag justifies the amount of content in the game. On one hand, the game’s presentation exceeds that of anything else on the iPhone, but on the other it is limited in just what the gamer is getting out of it. With an offering of only eight fighters for the iPhone version versus the 25 in the console iteration, and 35 in the recently released Super Street Fighter IV, the roster is petite by comparison. As far as the game modes are concerned, the offerings are also scarce. You can play solo, which includes tournament, free sparring, and training modes yet lacks any story, time attack or survival. There is also a versus option via Bluetooth, however you will need a friend with an “idevice” as well as the game to play with. More desirable would have been a wifi versus option, but it stands to reason that it is just not possible at this time unfortunately. The game also lacks any unlockable extras, somewhat dampening its replayability.

Despite these few flaws and gripes, Street Fighter IV is an excellent game for the iPhone that offers something for everyone. The load screens can be a little too lengthy at times, but it is still easy to just pick up and jump into a fight while on the go. Regardless of a simplified interface and limited roster, the hardcore will be for the most part pleased with this offering. The graphics and audio are superb, and at just US$9.99, this is a most own game that will show off the power of your particular idevice. If anything, Street Fighter IV makes me even more excited to see just what else is in store for Apple mobile gaming in the future, especially considering the potential power of the soon-to-be announced 4th gen iPhone. Perhaps we will even be seeing a mobile version of Super Street Fighter IV? One can only hope.

Based on a 1 out of 5 point rating system, I would give Street Fighter IV for the iPhone a 4 out of 5.

Apple poised to release updated Mac mini models in coming weeks

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 4th, 2010, 04:29
Category: Mac mini, News

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With available inventories of the Mac mini computer becoming increasingly constrained over the past two weeks, Apple seems poised to introduce refreshed models that may serve as a harbinger for some new I/O ports on the device.

Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story have confirmed that the constraints are indicative of new models on the horizon, rather than intermittent delays resulting from the onset of the back-to-school buying season, which sometimes sees Apple curb the flow of Macs to its distribution channels in favor of filling large orders to universities.

The reports bear telltale signs that Apple is ramping down production of existing Mac minis and preparing its distribution for refreshed models which are said to include Nvidia’s MCP89 chipset, which is the successor to the existing MCP79 (or GeForce 9400M) chipset found alongside Intel’s Core 2 Duo processors across the majority of Apple’s 2009 Mac product line. An unannounced version of the Mac mini has been spotted with an HDMI connector instead of a DVI.

Apple last updated the Mac mini line in late October, introducing models with faster Core 2 Duo processors and adding a third server-oriented configuration that forgoes an optical drive in favor of two 500GB hard drives for a total of 1TB of storage. All three models were billed by the company as “world’s most energy efficient desktops.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Cocktail 4.6.2 (Leopard Edition) Released

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Date: Friday, June 4th, 2010, 04:32
Category: Software

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Late Thursday, shareware developer Maintain released version 4.6.2 of Cocktail (Leopard Edition), Cocktail, the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests.

The new version, a 1.9 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Fixed a bug where clearing the virtual memory swap files may cause kernel panics.
– Fixed a bug where the trojan RSPlug was falsely detected.
– Added clearing of the latest variants of the HellRTS and OpinionSpy trojan horses.
– Addresses an issue in which the system log server (syslogd) may not be properly restarted.
– Updated Automator actions.

Cocktail 4.6.2 retails for a US$14.95 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to run.

Additional fourth-generation iPhone component pictures surface

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 05:41
Category: iPhone, Pictures

An additional set of component pictures claimed to be from Apple’s forthcoming fourth-generation iPhone once again show a white external casing, this time with a previously unseen white back panel.

Web site PowerBook Medic obtained images of both the front and back panels for the newly designed casing. While the shown front panel matches what was previously pictured online, the back of the device shows space for a camera flash and a larger camera lens, as were found in the black models that were publicly disassembled.

The white back panel, covered with a plastic seal, lacks any markers that might indicate the storage capacity of the new device, and it does not feature a model number, suggesting it is still a prototype and not the final product.

The parts do clearly show the side-facing slot for a micro-SIM card, and the device’s previously revealed metal sides. The front panel also features a spot for a forward-facing camera.

Last month, the first glimpse of a white next-generation iPhone was seen when an alleged part was obtained. The same site later placed the white front panel atop other components to give an idea of what the device might look like when it is finally released.

Previous reports said the back panel is made of glass or a similar material designed to help improve reception of Apple’s next-generation handset.

Apple is expected to introduce its fourth-generation iPhone next week at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The event will kick off on Monday, June 7th, with a keynote hosted by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.


Verizon spokeperson confirms no iPhone for the immediate future

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 3rd, 2010, 05:53
Category: iPhone, News

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The mighty Beet.TV posted an interview yesterday in which Verizon spokesperson John Johnson confirmed that the iPhone is definitely not coming to Verizon, at least anytime soon. “Verizon has no plans to carry the iPhone in the immediate future, but you’ve got to look at the incredible excitement around the Android devices.”

Johnson then went on to extoll the virtues of Verizon’s network improvements and the Android OS.

Until then, we’ll see what Apple has to offer at WWDC in a few days before the rumor mill begins anew…