Rumor: iPhone 5 to launch in ‘early to mid-September’

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Date: Monday, July 25th, 2011, 07:58
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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The cool cats at Boy Genius Report are citing that AT&T is beginning preparations for an expected “early to mid-September” launch of the next-generation iPhone, in line with launch rumors and expectations and other reports of Apple beefing up its retail store staffing over a similar timeframe.

BGR has learned that AT&T has begun communicating launch plans internally for Apple’s next-generation iPhone 5 handset, informing employees across the company, and those who work in retail locations, to finish any sort of employee training as soon as possible. AT&T is asking managers to finish training in order to have employees available for the influx of foot traffic expected in September, a proven source has stated.

Apple has been preparing to increase staffing at its retail stores in the United States and United Kingdom, and rumors have suggested that Apple will use its traditional fall iPod media event to introduce the next-generation iPhone this year. That event has typically taken place in early September, although some reports have pushed that date up into late August this year ahead of a September launch for the device. Apple has announced that iOS 5 will debut this “fall”, and that software launch will undoubtedly occur right around the release of the next-generation hardware.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Security researcher to illustrate MacBook batteries’ vulnerabilities to malware

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Date: Monday, July 25th, 2011, 04:19
Category: battery, News, security

In the category of “weird but interesting and mildly disturbing”, a prominent security researcher has discovered a vulnerability in the batteries of Apple’s MacBook line of portable computers that could allow hackers to ruin the batteries or install malware on them that could corrupt a Mac.

Per Forbes, Charlie Miller, a renowned white-hat hacker who works for security firm Accuvant, plans to reveal and offer a fix next month for a MacBook battery vulnerability he has discovered. Miller uncovered default passwords, which are used to access the microcontroller in Apple’s batteries, within a firmware update from 2009 and used them to gain access to the firmware.

Apple and other laptop makers use embedded chips in their lithium ion laptop batteries to monitor its power level, stop and start charging and regulate heat.

During the course of his tests, the researcher “bricked” seven batteries, rendering them unusable by rewriting the firmware. Of more concern is the possibility that hackers could use the vulnerability to install difficult to remove malware, or, in a worst case scenario, cause the batteries to explode.

“These batteries just aren’t designed with the idea that people will mess with them,” he said. “What I’m showing is that it’s possible to use them to do something really bad.” According to him, few IT administrators would think to check the battery, providing hackers with an opportunity to hide malicious software on a battery that could repeatedly implant itself on a computer.

Miller admitted that he hasn’t tried to blow up any batteries, but he did say it might be possible. “You read stories about batteries in electronic devices that blow up without any interference,” he noted. “If you have all this control, you can probably do it.”

Another researcher, Barnaby Jack, who works for antivirus software maker McAfee, also looked into the battery issue a couple years ago, but said he didn’t get as far as Miller did.

Miller, who is a regular winner of security contests demonstrating Mac, Safari and iPhone exploits, has notified Apple and Texas Instruments of the issue. Despite requests from several other researchers not to proceed, he plans to unveil the vulnerability, along with a fix he calls “Caulkgun,” at the Black Hat security conference next month.

“Caulk Gun” will change a battery’s default passwords to a random string of characters. While the fix will prevent hackers from breaking into the battery, it would also block any future firmware updates from Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple initiates replacement program of 1TB Seagate hard drives for iMacs sold between May and July of 2011

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Date: Monday, July 25th, 2011, 03:21
Category: iMac, News

If you bought an iMac between May and July of this year, you might have a replacement hard drive coming your way.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is recalling some Seagate 1TB hard drives used in iMac systems sold between May 2011 and July 2011 because of an unspecified failure issue.

The program was initiated on Friday and affected iMac owners who provided an email during the product registration process are being contacted regarding the issue.

“Apple has determined that a very small number of Seagate 1TB hard drives used in 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac systems, may fail under certain conditions. These systems were sold between May 2011 and July 2011,” the company said.

Users who have not received an email from Apple can check the program’s web site to see if they are eligible for the replacement.

The company offers three options for replacing the hard drives: Apple Retail Store, Apple Authorized Service Provider and Apple Technical Support.

Apple recommends that customers take advantage of the replacement “as soon as possible.” Customers are also advised to back up their data prior to going in for service. They will also need to have the original OS installation discs that shipped with their product in order to reinstall the “operating system, other applications and any backed up data after your hard drive is replaced.”

The program will run through July 23, 2012, at which time Apple will evaluate whether further extensions are needed. The recall does not extend the standard warranty coverage of the iMac.

Apple released the current generation of iMacs in May, adding quad-core Sandy Bridge processors from Intel and the high-speed Thunderbolt input/output port. 1TB hard drives come standard on all but the entry-level model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Perian 1.2.3 released

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Date: Monday, July 25th, 2011, 03:39
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, the Perian team released version 1.2.3 of Perian, the open-source QuickTime components effort that allows QuickTime to support and play a variety of additional formats beyond what it would normally be able to handle.

The new version makes the following fixes and changes:
– AVI, FLV, and MKV file formats.

– MS-MPEG4 v1 & v2, DivX, 3ivX, H.264, FLV1, FSV1, VP6, H263I, VP3, HuffYUV, FFVHuff, MPEG1 & MPEG2 Video, Fraps, Windows Media Audio v1 & v2, Flash ADPCM, Xiph Vorbis (in Matroska), MPEG Layer II Audio.

– AVI support for: AAC, AC3 Audio, H.264, MPEG4, and VBR MP3.

– Subtitle support for SSA and SRT.

– Some Fraps videos only displayed black.

– Workaround checks for Front Row stopped being effective.

– Fixed compatibility with web video playback.

– Worked around System Preferences crashing during an update on 10.6.

– Further fixes to Matroska import.

Perian 1.2.3 is a 3.4 megabyte download and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.