Mozilla releases Thunderbird 12.0.1 update

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Date: Monday, April 30th, 2012, 11:46
Category: News, Software

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Mozilla.org, creators of the Firefox web browser, has just released version 12.0.1 of Thunderbird, its free e-mail client. The new program, an 34.4 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and new features:

– Fix various issues relating to new mail notifications and filtering on POP3 based accounts.

– Fixes an occasional startup crash seen in TB 12.0.

– Fixes an issue with corrrupted message bodies when using move mail.

Thunderbird 3.1.3 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve played with the new version and have any feedback, positive or negative, let us know.

Recent patent hints at possible near-field communication feature in upcoming iPhone handset

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Date: Monday, April 30th, 2012, 06:34
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s the patents that provide the really interesting hints as to what’s to come in a product line.

According to Patently Apple, a new patent suggests that the company will be introducing a near-field communication (NFC) chip into its next-generation iPhone, which will enable users to quickly send iTunes gifts to one another.

The story reports that the ‘Gifting’ feature will allow users to share iTunes files including Playlists, though at a cost. Users could buy, send and receive files from iTunes between multiple iPhones, iPads and iPod touches.

A user could select one or more media files to share with another device, and authorize a gift charge. The gift can then be shared with a second device within close range using the NFC chip’s connection.

Gifts may also be sent via email, for those who are not in close proximity of the device they wish to send files to. This will involve sending en electronic gift certificate that can be redeemed by the recipient. These gift certificates will be capable of sharing multiple files in a single transaction.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple in negotiations with EPIX over possible Apple TV content

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Date: Monday, April 30th, 2012, 06:30
Category: Rumor

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If there’s nothing worth watching, then a new HDTV isn’t going to make much sense in the long run.

According to Reuters, sources claim that Apple initiated talks earlier in 2012 to incorporate movie properties owned by movie streaming service EPIX in its Apple TV, with the content possibly in line to be used by the company’s rumored HDTV.

Two unnamed sources have stated that EPIX, a three-year-old movie streaming service created by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, MGM and Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, would offer streaming of much-needed premium Hollywood content to Apple’s set-top box.

One of the sources also said that the agreement would include future Apple television products as well, hinting that the computer giant is indeed planning to release a internet-connected HDTV.

Rumors about the device have been swirling for over a year, though the whispers have so far been here-say and no concrete evidence has been discovered. A recent report claims that the product will be called the “iPanel” and will launch sometime in 2012.

The deal is still in the negotiations phase and an agreement is not expected any time soon. Besides its own streaming site, EPIX is currently beholden to an exclusive US$200 million a year deal with Netflix that ends in September.

Currently on EPIX’s roster of films are “Rango” and “The Lincoln Lawyer,” and Netflix announced that the service will add “Thor” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” soon.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple launches third-gen iPad in India, eight more countries

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Date: Friday, April 27th, 2012, 07:06
Category: iPad, News

If you’ve got a popular item, make sure it gets in the hands of people who want it.

Per The Mac Observer, Applelaunched sales of its third generation iPad in nine more countries on Friday. The new release is part of Apple’s fastest iPad rollout so far, and includes Israel, India, and South Africa.

The other countries in Friday’s iPad launch include Columbia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, and Thailand.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple updates HP, Samsung drivers for Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 operating systems

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Date: Friday, April 27th, 2012, 07:15
Category: News, Software

You just can’t beat a good print driver update.

Late Thursday, Apple released version 2.9 of its HP printer drivers.

The updated driver provides updated support for HP’s entire line of printers, scanners, fax machines, and multi-function machinery when connecting to a Mac running OS X 10.6 or later. The update is available as a 524.8 MB download download from Apple’s Support website.

The company also released version 2.4 of its Samsung printers drivers for Mac OS X 10.6 and 10.7. The new drivers offer updated support for Samsung’s base of printers, scanners, fax machines, and multi-function peripherals and are available as a 27.6 megabyte download from Apple’s support website.

The updates can also be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

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

VirtualBox updated to 4.1.14

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Date: Thursday, April 26th, 2012, 15:21
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.1.14. The new version, a 91.5 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:

– Network: fixed the problem with packets larger than MTU-4 when PCnet or PRO/1000 was bridged to certain types of adapters on OS X hosts (bug #3783).

– NAT: fixed a segfault under rare circumstances.

– 3D Support: fixed Windows WDDM video driver crash for SMP guests (bugs #10200, #10331).

– Windows Guest Additions, VRDP: fixed occasional text corruption (bug #3001).

VirtualBox 4.1.14 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

SpamSieve updated to 2.9.1

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Date: Thursday, April 26th, 2012, 09:58
Category: News, Software

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Michael Tsai’s must-have shareware program, SpamSieve, has just been updated to version 2.9.1. The new version, a 9.1 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and improvements:

– Added support for Microsoft Outlook 2011 SP 2 (a.k.a. 14.2.x). If SpamSieve can detect that you were using Outlook 2011 before, and that SP 2 has been installed, SpamSieve will auto-update its scripts automatically. Otherwise, you can choose Install Outlook Scripts from the SpamSieve menu. Either way, the SpamSieve rules in Outlook will continue to work without modification.

– SpamSieve now tries to detect whether its Apple Mail plug-in is damaged and auto-heal the installed copy if necessary.

– If there’s an error updating SpamSieve’s Apple Mail plug-in, it now reports more information to try to diagnose the problem.

– If the Apple Mail plug-in detects that it’s damaged, it will alert the user to download and install a fresh copy.

– SpamSieve now checksums the Outlook script files (both the installed and built-in copies) to detect whether they are damaged.

– Made a change to eliminate a particular cause of false positives for some users.

– SpamSieve no longer triggers Mac OS X’s “accept incoming network connections” firewall dialog.

– Added some exception guards to work around bugs in the Growl SDK.

– When an unexpected error occurs and no stack trace is available, SpamSieve will now try to report the approximate location.

– Improved the What information should I include when I report a problem? section of the manual.

SpamSieve is available for a US$30 registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run. The new version can either be downloaded directly from the web site or brought up to the current version via the program’s built-in update feature.

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

Recent patent application shows Apple’s interest in improving brightness controls on OLED screens

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Date: Thursday, April 26th, 2012, 06:00
Category: News, Patents

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It’s the patent applications that show where things might be going.

Per Free Patents Online, Apple has apparently proposed a way of improving brightness control on organic light emitting diode displays.

One of the key advantages of OLED is that, unlike LCD, it does not employ a backlight to illuminate the screen. While this can lead to superior picture quality and improved battery life, it can also make adjusting the brightness of the screen more difficult, Apple notes in a newly published patent application.

The filing, entitled “OLED Driving Technique,” explains that traditional LCD brightness is adjusted by simply increasing or decreasing the amount of light emitted by a backlight. But that’s not possible with an OLED display, as each pixel on an OLED screen emits light individually.

That means device makers must adjust the amount of power supplied to each OLED pixel, making it a far more complex endeavor to adjust brightness than an LCD display with a dedicated backlight.

“While increasing or decreasing the amount of power may increase or decrease the amount of light emitted by each OLED, the precise amount of light emitted by each OLED may vary according to nonlinear function,” Apple’s filing reads. “As such, many techniques for adjusting the brightness of OLED screens have conventionally involved performing complex calculations on image data to ensure that when a brightness-adjusted image id displayed on the OLED display, each pixel displays a proper color and brightness.”

In other words, the amount of light output by an individual OLED pixel varies nonlinearly with the amount of power supplied to the OLED pixel. As a result, increasing or decreasing the brightness does not directly correlate to simply increasing or decreasing the power supplied to each pixel.

Apple goes on to explain that dimming values must be extracted from image data on a system, and that data must then be converted to an analog OLED pixel brightness control signal. This complex method can consume system resources and reduce battery life, and it may also be incompatible with existing LCD brightness control mechanisms, requiring major changes to software that already drives LCD screens.

Apple’s proposed solutions aim to offer “efficient brightness control” with OLED screens. One described method would take image data and transform it into a “logarithmic domain,” from which a “dimming control value” could be subtracted.

“This resulting log-encoded dimmed image data may represent a darker version of the originally received image data,” the filing reads. “Thereafter, a pixel of the organic light emitting diode display may be driven based at least in part on the dimmed image data.”

In Apple’s method, image data could be converted in the data driver of an integrated circuit connected to the OLED screen. This data would be converted from a “framebuffer encoding” gamma-corrected color space to a logarithmic value.

“From this logarithmic value, a digital dimming control value may be subtracted rather than divided,” the filing states. “This dimmed logarithmic image data may be converted directly to an analog OLED pixel brightness control signal, without first being converted to a linear digital value, via a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) programmed to convert the logarithmic digital image data to the OLED pixel brightness control signal.”

Apple’s solution would enable simplified dimming of OLED, and would convert the data associated with adjusting brightness from digital to analog. But Apple’s method would do so with fewer bits, and would be less taxing on a mobile device like an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook.

The illustrations accompanying the application specifically show a MacBook Pro as a potential device that could utilize an OLED screen, although the filing notes that Apple’s method of controlling OLED brightness could be used on any device, from smartphones to television sets.

Apple has shown continued interest in OLED screens through patent filings, with one proposed invention last year that aimed to improve power efficiency of OLED screens. However, some industry watchers have said that OLED technology, and the production of OLED screens, are not yet mature enough to meet Apple’s standards and requirements.

The latest OLED filing, published this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, was originally submitted in October of 2010. It is credited to Ulrich T. Barnhoefer and Lee Yongman.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Onyx updated to 2.4.6b1

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Date: Thursday, April 26th, 2012, 05:51
Category: News, Software

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Onyx, Titanium Software’s popular freeware multifunction utility for Mac OS X, has been updated to version 2.4.6 beta 1. The new beta, a 16.5 megabyte download adds the following fixes and changes:

– New version integrates 3.7.11 of sqlite3.

– Changes the logo of login window.

– Modifies the automatic display delay of the Dock.

– Deleting the applications cache improved.

– Deleting the diagnostic reports improved.

– Emptying the Trash improved.

– Trash tab moved in the Cleaning pane.

– Clean Trash option in the Automation panel.

– Show/hide the warning when changing of file extension.

– Deleting the Apple Double files (Utilities pane).

– Some modifications and improvements.

– Help improved, updated, and reindexed.

Onyx 2.4.6b1 requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

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

Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.1 update released

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Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 17:05
Category: News, Software

Let’s try this again.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.1 update. The update, a 110 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

– Document Connection support for SkyDrive documents is improved. This update enables users to view and access documents that are located in the root level of a SkyDrive folder.

– The drag-and-drop feature in Document Connection is added in Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion). This update adds a drag-and-drop feature for files in Document Connection in Mac OS X 10.7.

– Upload functionality for SharePoint sites is improved. This update fixes an issue in which you receive the following error message when you upload a file to a SharePoint site: Upload Failed You must sign in to save your changes to the server.

– The Italian grammar checker is improved. This update fixes an issue in which the Italian grammar checker does not check a complete document.

– The German grammar checker is improved. This update fixes an issue in which the German grammar checker does not check a complete document when the document contains certain German sentences.

Improvements for Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011:
– The database and the rebuild utility are improved. This update includes fixes that increase the robustness of the database and that improve the effectiveness of the rebuild utility. Outlook for Mac uses the Office database to store personal information, such as messages and contacts.

– This update fixes issues that cause database corruptions, instability, and crashes. This update also improves database transactions and the ability to recover from certain errors. If there is a problem within the database, Outlook for Mac starts the Database Utility, which tries to rebuild the database. After you install this update, the Database Utility recovers additional account information, such as shared resources and categories, and recovers from corruption scenarios. This update also adds the ability to cancel a database rebuild in Outlook for Mac.

– IMAP account sync that includes support for synchronizing with Gmail is improved. After you install this update, Outlook for Mac updates new messages in IMAP folders regularly. Additionally, Outlook for Mac users who use Gmail accounts can map folders, such as Drafts, Deleted Items, Sent Items, and Junk E-Mail, automatically.

– Outlook for Mac performance in key scenarios is improved. This update introduces several performance improvements in the following areas:
General responsiveness during syncing
Deleting multiple records
Displaying email message content
Sending email messages

– Exchange email message sync is improved. This update introduces a new sync model for Exchange. The new model enables Outlook for Mac to download an email message in parts. For example, Outlook for Mac first downloads and displays message text and then downloads large images and attachments.

– Downloading messages in parts reduces the load on the Exchange server and improves performance for the user.

– Support for calendar scheduling resources is improved. This update improves support for calendar scheduling resources and for free/busy comparison functionality in the Scheduling Assistant.

– Week numbers are added to the calendar display. This update adds a preference to enable the calendar to display week numbers.

– Distribution list expansion functionality is included. This update enables you to expand distribution lists into individual members when you add a distribution list in the To field or rest the mouse pointer on a distribution list.

Improvements for Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2011:
– Functionality for pasting special hyperlinks is included. This update introduces functionality that enables you to paste special hyperlinks in PowerPoint.

– The list of co-authors is improved. This update fixes an issue in which you cannot see the list of co-authors in a presentation.

– Full Screen View in Lion is supported. This update supports Full Screen View in PowerPoint. Additionally, when you close slide show mode in PowerPoint, edit mode opens.

Improvements for Microsoft Word for Mac 2011:
– Printing PDF faxes is improved. This update fixes an issue in which Word cannot send .pdf files as faxes.

– The user information display in templates is improved. This update fixes an issue in which a Word template does not display a user’s name, address, telephone number, fax number, and email address when you view the template after the template is saved in .doc format.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.1 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and for the Service Pack 1 updater to have been previously installed.

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