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.