AT&T begins data throttling on “Unlimited” data plans at 2GB mark

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Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, 08:55
Category: iPhone, News

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Sometimes it’s as if the wireless carriers WANT you to be disgruntled with them.

Per iLounge, AT&T has begun to throttle—or downgrade the data speeds of—customers on unlimited data plans that go over 2GB in data usage for the month.

As AT&T customer John Cozen wrote on his blog, “I received a message during my last billing cycle, warning I was in the top 5% of my region and would experience reduced data speeds next time I reach that level of data use. I immediately checked my data usage on the AT&T iOS app. 2.1 GB. Less than I expected considering AT&T offers a 3GB plan for US$30 a month. The same amount I’ve paid for the unlimited data plan since signing up with them many years ago. AT&T no longer offers an unlimited data plan, anyone still on it has been grandfathered in.”

“Data consumption by all smartphone customers, including the top 5 percent of smartphone data customers, varies by month and by market,” said Emily Edmonds, Director, AT&T Corporate Communications. “As of August 2011, the average data use across the country by the top 5 percent of AT&T smartphone customers was 2 GB per month.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this change on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Updated Mac OS X 10.7.3 user interface notes could point towards Retina displays for future Macs

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Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, 07:26
Category: Hardware, News

Analyze the new Mac OS X update’s source code and you find some interesting stuff.

Per Daring Fireball, a series of newly-upgraded high-DPI UI elements in Mac OS X 10.7.3 has led to some speculation that Apple is continuing to lay the groundwork for high-resolution Mac displays that approach the pixel density of its Retina Displays.

The article pointed to a series of Twitter posts (1, 2) outing UI resources that scale to larger sizes in the latest release of Mac OS X Lion, which arrived last week.

The new elements include the pointing-finger cursor in Safari, the “grabby hand” in Mail, and the camera cursor for taking screenshots and a few others. One straightforward reason for the change could be that Apple wanted to improve the look of the Universal Access zoom feature. But, reports from some Mac Mini users outputting to HDTVs over HDMI that upgrading to 10.7.3 caused their system to reboot into HiDPI mode have added to the mounting evidence that Apple is planning for high-definition Mac displays.

Apple added HiDPI modes to Mac OS X Lion last year, but they were previously only accessible by installing Xcode. HiDPI is modeled after the UI resolution doubling that takes place on Retina Display iPhones.

Gruber went on to wonder “whether we may be on the cusp of Apple releasing HiDPI Mac displays and/or HiDPI MacBooks. I.e.: retina display Macs.” He did, however, add that he has been anticipating “super-high-resolution Mac displays” for over five years, so his speculation should be taken with “a grain of wishful-thinking salt.”

Late last year, a rumor emerged that Apple was preparing new versions of its MacBook Pro lineup with double the resolution. The resulting display for a 15-inch MacBook Pro would be 2,880 by 1,800 pixels and is expected to set off “a new round of competition for panel specifications.”

Chipmaker Intel has indicated that its next-generation Ivy Bridge processors will support resolutions up to 4K, or 4,096 by 4,096 pixels per monitor. Multiple reports have suggested that the company will launch its Ivy Bridge Processors in the second quarter of 2012, and Apple is expected to begin adding Ivy Bridge chips to its Macs in soon after. Wallpapers as large as 3,200 by 2,000 pixels were also discovered in a developer preview of Mac OS X Lion last year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst sees Apple potentially forming partnerships with cable partners for exclusive “iTV” content

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Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, 07:38
Category: News

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An Apple-branded HDTV is potentially awesome, but without content, it won’t get off the ground.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Peter Misek with Jefferies presented his “what if” analyses related to content on the so-called “iTV” in a note to investors on Monday. In what he sees as the most likely scenario, Apple could gain access to non-exclusive content for its television set and forge deals with existing cable providers.

By potentially partnering with carriers and cable operators, Apple could enter the market on a level playing field with everyone else for content. With access to a variety of content through existing providers, as well as the content already available on the iTunes Store, Misek believes that Apple could package everything with a “superior user interface and ecosystem” and beat out the competition.

“We think that partnerships with carriers and MSOs are possible whereby they provide the video content,” he wrote, “as they already have deals in place (at least to sell video over their own pipes), whereas Apple has to negotiate for new over-the-top distribution rights.”

While partnerships with companies like AT&T, Verizon, Bell and Rogers, combined with the existing iTunes Store, are seen as the most likely option, Misek also presented three other directions Apple could potentially take. In one option, he said Apple could simply seed content, as Google does with its YouTube Original Channels.

In this scenario, Misek thinks Apple could select about 100 groups to create channels and provide upfront financing in exchange for a year of exclusivity. Given Apple’s current clout in the entertainment industry with its iTunes Store, he believes Apple could target mainstream TV shows and movies with this method.

In another option, he said Apple could buy access to exclusive content, much as Netflix has done for the “House of Cards” program, and DirecTV has with its exclusive “NFL Sunday Ticket” package. With “headline deals,” such as a rumored bid on the English Premier League rights, he thinks Apple would gain buzz.

But exclusive content deals for an Apple television could also open the company up to scrutiny from governments. He believes that antitrust concerns could limit exclusive content options for Apple.

The final possible scenario, as seen by Misek, is that Apple could become a Hollywood studio and produce its own content. But the analyst believes lower margins and higher risks would scare Apple away from that option, as the film and TV divisions of companies like Sony, Disney, Viacom and News Corp. have substantially lower margins than Apple.

Misek believes Apple’s rumored entrance into the television market will be primarily to bolster the company’s “halo effect,” in which consumers buy into the Apple ecosystem and purchase its other products. He does not believe that an iTV with subscription revenue, as well as gross margins on the sale of HDTVs, would have much of an impact on the company’s bottom line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Carbon Copy Cloner updated to 3.4.4

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Date: Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, 06:30
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Carbon Copy Cloner, the shareware favorite for drive cloning operations by Mike Bombich, reached version 3.4.4. The new version, a 6 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Made several changes to the preset configurations. Both the wording and some of the settings have been changed in response to user feedback and typical usage scenarios.

- New feature: CCC now provides support for archiving and cloning the Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Recovery HD partition. Choose “Disk Center” from CCC’s Window menu to find this functionality.
New feature: Scheduled tasks can now be configured to wake or boot the system when the task is scheduled to run.

- New feature: For users with a Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer application in /Applications, CCC’s Source menu now includes a handy “Create a Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installer…” choice that will clone the Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Installation disk image onto a physical volume.

- Window positioning of the scheduled task helper application is now retained on a per-task basis, so you can move these windows around on your screen and multiple tasks won’t be stacked on top of each other.

- CCC will now mention the lack of a Recovery HD partition in the Cloning Coach prior to running the initial backup task.

- The table of scheduled tasks in the Scheduler window are now sorted alphabetically by default.

- Fixed a scheduler issue in which tasks scheduled to run on the first (any weekday) of the current month would be scheduled to run in the following month.

- Fixed an issue in which CCC was not “remembering” the last preset that had been selected upon relaunching CCC.

- Fixed an issue with the German localization related to the application of a particular setting in custom presets.

- Fixed an issue in which a scheduled task had trouble mounting a disk image when uncommon permissions conditions were present (such as when a system is bound to an Active Directory directory service).

- The “This volume will be bootable” message is back, though with a caveat that I have to insist upon from a support perspective. Many external hard drive enclosures still manage to screw up the boot process, and it’s impossible for me to determine if that is going to happen for any particular user from within CCC.

- When backing up to a subfolder, CCC now overlays an icon of the underlying volume on the folder icon in the task status panel.

- Scheduled tasks that specify a network volume as the destination are now aborted when CCC receives a sleep notification.

- Growl notifications should now work properly on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion with Growl 1.3.

- Email notifications now include the sender’s full name.

- Fixed a couple minor bugs associated with email notifications.

- Fixed an issue in which the scheduled task window would be unresponsive while CCC waited for a response from an email server.

- Added support for sending email to servers that use a self-signed certificate. This support is disabled by default, see the documentation for details on enabling this functionality.

- Resolved a problem in which an errant filter would protect items in folders that were to be deleted, resulting in CCC reporting that it couldn’t replace a particular folder or application.

- Fixed a minor 5-second shutdown hang associated with CCC scheduled tasks.

- Numerous tweaks to the advice that CCC offers for various error conditions.

- Fixed some Mac OS X 10.7 Lion-specific problems with the mounting of sparsebundle disk image files that are hosted on a network volume.

- If you’re running an ad hoc task in CCC (e.g. click “Clone” in the main window), CCC will ask before deleting anything from the _CCC Archives folder. To avoid problems that would affect automation, this warning is not provided for scheduled tasks.

- CCC is more proactive about dealing with the 4GB file size limitation of FAT32 volumes. Files larger than 4GB will now be excluded by default, and you’ll get a warning of this exclusion before running the task.

- Fixed a hang that would occur at the end of a scheduled task while CCC tried to unmount the destination volume (network volumes only, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion only).

- Made some cosmetic changes concerning ZFS support.

- Mail account settings on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion are now properly imported and populated into the email notifications tab of the scheduled tasks window.

- The path to a disk image file is now properly provided as the fourth argument to postflight scripts.

- Fixed a 30 second hang that would occur while saving changes to scheduled tasks on Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. For every OS, though, saving scheduled tasks should be considerably faster.

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.4 retails for a US$10 shareware registration fee. The application requires Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later to run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.