Announcement: iPad 3 launch coverage tomorrow/the sixth circle of Comcast hell

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Date: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012, 10:42
Category: Announcement

Over at the Yerba Buena Arts Center in San Francisco, the iPad 3 shall be launched.

Whether or not it will paint your living room while you play frisbee with your labrador retriever in the back yard has yet to be determined.

But, rest assured, we’ll be delivering every available speck of coverage that we can on the new iPad and anything else that may be released tomorrow.

In other news, I’ve briefly visited one of the more interesting circles of hell. Following a recent move to the Bay area and the discovery of a nifty place to live, I was tasked with installing an Xfinity cable modem kit. Where this should have been relatively simple, it took Comcast a total of 75 minutes to diagnose that the cable connections in the house have yet to be turned on or activated in any way…

Kind of amazing if you think about it.

In other news, take a few minutes and check out Xander Kent’s and Jackson McBrayer’s killer 6th Circle webcomic for all things that are wrong, demented, twisted and just plain funny as hell.

Adobe Lightroom 4.0 released

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Date: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012, 09:27
Category: News, Software

If you loved Adobe’s Lightroom image editing program, you might think highly of version 4.0 which became available on Tuesday.

The new version, which is priced at US$79 for the upgrade version for Lightroom 3.x user (US$149 for the full version) and adds the following features and changes:

- Highlight and shadow recovery.

- Photo book creation with templates.

- Location-based organization including GPS data support.

- A white balance brush.

- Noise reduction and moiré removal tools.

- Enhanced video support including adjustments.

- Emailing from Lightroom.

- Video publishing to Facebook and Flickr.

- Soft proofing for color-managed printers.

Adobe Lightroom 4.0 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update

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Date: Monday, March 5th, 2012, 15:49
Category: News, Software

They may come from out of nowhere, but supplemental updates are a good thing.

On that note, Apple has released its Mac OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update. The update, a 38k download (provided you have Mac OS X 10.7.3 already installed), resolves an issue when restoring a Mac from a Time Machine backup.

As usual, the update can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature. The software requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

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

C-Spire offers iPhone 4, 4S units at $50 discount with two-year contract

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Date: Monday, March 5th, 2012, 12:22
Category: iPhone, News

Sometimes you CAN find a decent deal.

Of course, signing a multi-year contract sort of helps as well.

Per 9to5Mac, C-Spire Wireless is now selling the iPhone 4S for US$50 off the standard retail price. The discount, which is only available when signing up for a new two-year agreement, brings the price for the 16GB iPhone 4S to US$150 and the 32GB and 64GB models to US$250 and US$350, respectively.

In addition, the carrier is offering US$25 off the 8GB iPhone 4, bringing the price for that model to US$75. C-Spire launched the iPhone 4S on its network last November.

iPad 3 accessories begin to arrive at Best Buy ahead of next-gen tablet’s product launch

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Date: Monday, March 5th, 2012, 09:45
Category: iPad, News

Even if you’re one of the largest tech companies on earth, you never quite control when a soon-to-be-launched product’s accessory line arrives.

Per PhoneArena.com, a number of Best Buy stores have reportedly begun to receive cases sealed in boxes for Apple’s third-generation iPad ahead of Wednesday’s anticipated unveiling.

The cases have shipped in boxes with a pink sticker stating “Do not display until official iPad 3 launch,” an anonymous tipster told the site. Cases for the so-called “iPad 3″ are said to be shipping in bulk, as third-party manufacturers are planning for Apple to begin selling its next iPad soon after it is officially announced.

“The shipment is not of just a few cases — there’s over 1,000 Targus Versavu 360 stands for the next-gen iPad shipping to Best Buy, meaning that it won’t be long until the actual tablet hits shelves,” the report said.

Multiple leaked components from Apple’s supply chain have suggested the next iPad will feature an external design largely the same as the current iPad 2. The third-generation iPad is expected to be slightly thicker, with edges more tapered than the iPad 2.

Despite minor tweaks to the design, its expected that Apple’s magnetic Smart Cover will still work with the next iPad. But Apple’s protective accessory only covers the front, flat screen of the iPad, while many third-party cases cover the aluminum back.

The rumor that third-party cases are being delivered to Best Buy is supported by a picture that surfaced last week, showing the retailer’s inventory system listing “iPad 3″ accessories set to be in stock by next Sunday, March 11. The leaked inventory listings included ZAGG’s InvisibleSHIELD.

The next iPad is expected to be unveiled at Apple’s media event this Wednesday at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Calif. The event will kick off at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Leaked iPad parts/video suggest iPad 3 will retain similar design to iPad 2

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Date: Monday, March 5th, 2012, 08:17
Category: iPad, Rumor

The iPad 3 is en route…and it’ll probably have a similar design as the iPad 2.

Per MIC Gadget, a new report claiming to have pieced together several components for the third-generation iPad appears to show that Apple has planned few changes to the design of its popular tablet.

The site posted on Sunday hands-on footage with an alleged front glass panel, rear shell and some internal parts to the next-generation iPad, which is expected to be unveiled at an Apple media event later this week.

The report claimed the purported next-gen iPad components debunk highly speculative rumors that Apple will remove the home button from the device. Though some had pointed to Apple’s invitation to this week’s event as evidence of the arrival of an iPad without a home button, others have claimed that the image simply showed an iPad in landscape mode.

Alleged next-gen iPad cases purchased in Shenzhen, China were found to fit the purported “iPad 3″ rear shell, which reportedly has more tapered edges than the iPad 2, perfectly. According to the publication, case manufacturers have already begun shipping thousands of such cases to the U.S. this past week. The third-generation tablet is expected to be slightly thicker than its predecessor.

Though various reports have suggested that Apple will introduce an LTE iPad at its media event on March 7, the publication’s sources assert that the company is not yet ready to enter the LTE market. According to the report, Apple’s decision to hold off on 4G data will result in the release of the third-generation iPad with the same storage options and pricing as the iPad 2. Author Steve Lo further speculated that LTE-compatible Qualcomm chipsets will “most likely” make their way into the fourth-generation iPad.

The third-generation iPad is expected to have a high-definition Retina Display with four times as many pixels as the iPad 2. The device will also likely sport an upgraded processor, though there is some disagreement whether the new chip will be a quad-core or dual-core model.

Sunday’s report also affirmed expectations that Apple will announce an update to its Apple TV set-top box this week. The new device would reportedly feature an A5X processor employing “lower nanometer manufacturing” to run cooler and more energy efficient. Tipsters went on to claim that a new “one more thing” item, codenamed B28, could make an appearance at Wednesday’s event and may have something to do with Apple’s Siri voice assistant.

Inventory of the current-generation Apple TV appears to have dried up for several different resellers even as talk of an imminent update has picked up.

Since a video’s worth quite a few words, take a gander:



Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Updated JavaScript interpreter to help boost WebKit’s performance by 2, 2.5x

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 08:22
Category: iOS, News, Software

You can’t argue that WebKit’s been good for Apple and iOS in general.

Apple’s WebKit JavaScriptCore is now a “triple tier virtual machine,” offering the potential for 2-2.5 times faster JavaScript performance in Safari.

Per webkit.org, recent changes in Apple’s WebKit open source project (used by Safari on OS X and iOS, and to power a wide variety of other browsers) include the incorporation of the efficient new LLInt (Low Level Interpreter), which is now used by JavaScriptCore (JSC) to attempt executing code before passing it to the standard interpreters, either the bytecode virtual machine or the JIT (Just In Time complier) which builds native machine code on the fly.

“JSC will now will start by executing code in LLInt and will only tier up to the old JIT after the code is proven hot,” a change report on the new interpreter describes.

“LLInt is written in a modified form of our macro assembly. This new macro assembly is compiled by an offline assembler (see offlineasm), which implements many modern conveniences such as a Turing-complete CPS-based macro language and direct access to relevant C++ type information (basically offsets of fields and sizes of structs/classes).”

The new interpreter “is 2-2.5x faster than our old interpreter on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken [benchmarks],” the report states. “With triple-tiering turned on [to allow the LLInt to interpret code], we’re neutral on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken, but appear to get a double-digit improvement on real-world websites due to a huge reduction in the amount of JIT’ing.”

JavaScript performance in web browsers is a primary focus for optimization, as the faster and more efficiently code can be executed, the more fluid animations can run and the more sophisticated and responsive cross platform web applications can be.

The LLInt enhancements to JavaScriptCore appear to have been contributed by Filip Pizlo, who joined WebKit as a reviewer in December after acting as a “major contributor” to improvements to the JavaScriptCore JIT and Garbage Collector. Pizlo filed a bug report in January noting that “JSC should be a triple-tier VM,” and subsequently solved the issue by the end of February.

The new changes to JavaScriptCore will take some time to make it into the mainstream version of Safari, following similar WebKit enhancements of previous years. Enhancements in Apple’s next release of Safari 5.2 have been profiled in reports describing its new user interface and sharing enhancements and new privacy settings and website alert features.

In 2008, WebKit announced a rewriting of JavaScriptCore as a direct-dispatch register based, high-level bytecode virtual machine originally named SquirrelFish. It compiled JavaScript into native machine code. The project was later enhanced to gain the codename SquirrelFish Extreme.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may include Intel Sandy Bridge processors in near-term Mac Pro update

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 07:27
Category: Mac Pro, Processors, Rumor

Even if you’re hankering for a new iPad 3 or an updated MacBook Air, there’s always your Mac Pro tower to keep in mind.

Per The Inquirer, Intel’s new Sandy Bridge update for its Xeon line of high end CPUs is due next week, suggesting the potential for Apple to refresh the Mac Pro, which hasn’t changed since the middle of 2010.

The new Xeon E5 chips incorporate the Sandy Bridge micro architecture that first appeared in MacBook Pros and iMacs early last year, followed by a mobile variant used by Apple in the MacBook Air last summer.

Apple’s latest Mac Pro models currently use Intel Xeon Bloomfield or Gulftown processors based on the Nehalem and closely related Westmere microarchitectures.

The latest release of OS X 10.7.3 Lion included support for AMD’s high end Tahiti graphic cards, which are expected to arrive in the market around the same time as Intel’s new Xeon chips.

However, sources famliar with the matter have said that Apple’s management, as far back as last May, were in limbo over whether to put any additional resources toward the Mac Pro product line.

Internal discussions at Apple were said to focus on the fact that sales of the high-end Mac Pro workstations have dropped off so considerably that the desktop machines are no longer particularly profitable for the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T publishes full content of company’s data-throttling policy

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 07:02
Category: iPhone, News

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After a fair amount of consternation, wireless provider AT&T has published a Web page laying out precisely who will be affected by the policy, and what customers’ options are.

Per Macworld, unlimited data customers on the 3G network will be warned via text message when their usage approaches 3GB within a single billing cycle. If the 3GB ceiling is breached, users will find their data speed reduced for the remainder of the billing cycle; as of the beginning of the subsequent cycle, however, their speed will return to normal. Data quantity is truly unlimited, though, the carrier says—customers can continue to use as much as they want, even after the 3GB ceiling is passed. The company does not specify by how much customers’ speeds will be reduced.

Customers using the carrier’s 4G LTE network have a higher threshold; their speeds will only be dialed down once they hit 5GB.

AT&T says that the speed reductions will only affect the top 5 percent of its customers. The measures have been put in place because of the rapid increase in wireless data traffic created by the increased adoption of smartphones in the past five years; by AT&T’s figures, that number has skyrocketed from 7 million phones in 2006 to 39.4 million in 2011, yielding a wireless data traffic increase of 20,000 percent. According to AT&T, it has invested US$95 billion in its networks over that period, including US$20 billion in 2011; another US$20 billion is earmarked for 2012.

In addition, the network lays out where the majority of that data is getting eaten up, which is to say streaming HD movies. AT&T’s handy chart estimates that streaming HD movies gobbles up 306MB an hour, a sizable increase from the roughly 120MB of data that AT&T says one hour of standard video consumes.

Users can check their current month’s data usage by dialing *data# on their mobile phone’s keypad, or access previous months’ usage at their AT&T account online. The company also offers a mobile app for iPhones that provides the same data.

As for customers’ options, AT&T lays out a few suggestions, including using Wi-Fi when available, since that data does not count against the carrier’s data plans. And, of course, customers can continue using their current unlimited data plan, if they don’t mind the speed reductions. Users can also switch to one of the company’s current tiered data plans, which offer 300MB for US$20 per month, 3GB a month for US$30, or 5GB per month for US$50. But, in those cases, users must pay overage charges for exceeding the data cap: US$20 for another 300MB on the lowest plan, US$10 per gigabyte on either of the higher plans. That would seem to give little incentive for unlimited data customers to switch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases App Store 2.1 update for iOS, includes carrier selection and account management features

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Date: Thursday, March 1st, 2012, 08:12
Category: News, Software

It’s not the most amazing update to ever hit the Internet, but it helps.

Per AppleInsider, Apple released version 2.1 of its Apple Store iOS app on Wednesday, bringing with it a number of new features including iPhone carrier selection for new customers as well as a feature that allows users to change account preferences.

While Apple Store version 2.1 leaves the general user interface of Apple’s virtual storefront mainly intact, the notable updates implemented behind the scenes coincide with the app’s introduction to users in the Netherlands.

Other changes and fixes include:
- Choose iPhone plans from all three U.S. carriers — AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint (U.S. Only).

- Make your shopping experience even more convenient with new account management editing and billing options.

- Choosing an iPhone plan is limited to U.S. customers who are purchasing a new handset. With the update, iPhone buyers can now select the capacity, color and carrier without leaving the Apple Store app.

- Account managements allows customers to change billing information and shipping addresses in-app, whereas users previously had to navigate to Apple’s website in order to change these settings. The changes will update accounts associated with a current Apple ID, which will in turn be reflected across any services that use the login data.

- iOS device users in the Netherlands will also be granted access to the app as the final preparations are being made for the grand opening of Amsterdam’s first Apple Store.

The Apple Store 2.1 application weighs in at 7.9 MB and requires iOS 4.3 or higher.

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