Google Chrome updated to 18.0.1025.165

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Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 11:17
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 18.0.1025.165 for the Mac. The new version, a 35.4 megabyte download, offers the following changes:

– Fixes a top crasher on the Mac.

Google Chrome 18.0.1025.165 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 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.

Google Drive service launched, users begin with 5GB of free online storage space

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Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 06:21
Category: News, Software

You just can’t knock free cloud space.

Per Google’s official blog, the company launched its long-rumored Google Drive service was officially launched on Tuesday, offering users 5 gigabytes of free cloud-based file storage.

Google Drive was presented as a service that allows users to “create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff.” It allows users to upload and access all file types, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and more.

Users can start at drive.google.com/start#home and the Google Drive application can also be installed on a Mac or Windows PC to sync files locally. A Drive application is now available for Google Android devices, while the company said it is “working hard” on a version of Drive for iOS devices.

Storage can be upgraded to 20 gigabytes for US$5 per year, 80 gigabytes for US$20, 200 gigabytes for US$50, 400 gigabytes for US$100, and one terabyte for US$256.

Upgrading to a paid account will also give Gmail users a boost on their e-mail storage through Google to 25 gigabytes. Storage used in Gmail does not come out of space allotted for Google Drive.

In comparison, Apple’s iCloud service, which launched last October, comes with 5 gigabytes for free, while users can buy an additional 10 gigabytes for US$20 per year, 20 gigabytes for US$40, or 50 gigabytes for US$100.

Google said that Drive allows users to work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Using the new service, users can also share content easily, and add and reply to comments on anything, including PDFs, images, or video files.

Of course, the company’s search technology is also a part of the package, granting the ability to search by keyword and filter by type, owner and more. Google Drive can also recognize text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition technology.

Drive also ties in with other Google products, allowing users to attach photos from Drive to posts in the Google+ social networking service. Soon, users will also be able to attach files from Drive directly to e-mails in Gmail.

Google also boasted that drive is an “open platform,” which will allow third-party developers to enable new features. Some of the additions mentioned by the company include the ability to send faxes, edit videos, and create website mockups.

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

Apple posts $11.6 billion profit for Q2 2012, iOS devices drive strong earnings

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Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 05:48
Category: Finance, News

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It’s pretty clear at this point: Apple’s not in danger of going out of business.

Per Macworld, on Tuesday, Apple reported a net profit of US$11.6 billion on revenue of US$39.2 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2012. Those are respective increases of 94 percent and 59 percent from the 2011 second quarter. Apple’s profit translates to earnings of US$12.30 per share, up from US$6.40 a share last year; analysts were looking for earnings of US$10.06 a share for the quarter.

All told, Apple tallied record March quarter sales for its iPad, iPhone, and Mac lineups. The company also saw record results for its retail stores during what chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer called “the most amazing March quarter that Apple has ever had.”

It was a big quarter for Apple’s iPhone business as the company launched the third-generation tablet on March 16 and cut the entry level price to US$399 for the iPad 2. While those moves came late in the quarter, Apple sold 11.8 million tablets during the quarter, up from 151 percent in the year-ago period.

In terms of revenue, Apple recorded US$6.6 billion from iPad sales, up from US$2.8 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Following its March 16 launch in the U.S. and nine other countries, the third-generation iPad is now available in 40 countries around the world.

Apple executives also noted on Tuesday that the iPad is extending the company’s reach into new markets. According to Oppenheimer, Apple sold two iPads for every Mac bought by one of its K-12 education customers in the U.S.—and that was during a record March quarter for Mac sales. Oppenheimer also touted the iPad’s presence in the enterprise, specifically citing the U.S. Air Force’s deployment of “thousands” of iPads as technical flight bags.

“The iPad continues to open new doors to customers with whom Apple had no previous relationship,” Oppenheimer said.

iPhone numbers were also strong for Apple during the quarter. The company sold 35.1 million phones between January and March, an 88 percent jump from year-ago iPhone sales and a record for the March quarter. That outpaced the growth of the overall smartphone market, in which sales increased 42 percent year over year.

Revenue from the iPhone grew 85 percent from last year’s second quarter to US$22.69 billion.

In particular, Apple did brisk iPhone business in the Far East. Sales more than doubled in the Asia Pacific and Japan markets, according to Oppenheimer. In China, iPhone sales increased five times from last year, helped by the iPhone 4S’s release in that country in January and the addition of China Telecom as an iPhone carrier in March.

Apple ended the quarter with the iPhone 4S available in 100 countries with 230 carriers offering the smartphone.

Oppenheimer says iOS device sales—which include the iPod touch—totaled 50 million during the March quarter. Apple’s cumulative iOS device sales have grow to 365 million units.

The App Store now carries more than 600,000 apps, with a third of those specifically built for Apple’s iPad.

Mac sales also set a March quarter record. The company sold 4 million Macs, an increase of 7 percent from the year-ago quarter. The entire PC industry grew 2 percent during the March quarter, making it six full years that Apple’s Mac business has outpaced the demand for PCs overall.

Notebooks are still the driver for Apple’s Mac business. The 2.8 million portable Macs sold during the quarter represent 70 percent of Mac sales. Besides illustrating the importance of the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air to Apple’s fortunes, that figure could also indicate that Apple’s desktop lineup is getting long in the tooth. The iMac last saw an overhaul nearly a year ago while the Mac mini has remained unchanged since July 2011. The Mac Pro is approaching the second anniversary of its last update.

The Asia Pacific market saw the biggest jump in Mac unit sales, with a 29 percent rise from last year. Other global markets saw single-digit growth in Mac sales.

Apple’s Mac sales may be outpacing the industry growth rate, thanks in some part to the company’s brick-and-mortar retail efforts. Apple says it sold 826,000 Macs at its retail outlets in the second quarter—about 20 percent of all the Macs it sold during the three-month period. About half the Macs sold at Apple Stores were to customers new to the platform.

Speaking of Apple retail, Apple ended the quarter with 363 stores, after opening two new ones in Amsterdam and Houston. Retail revenue of US$4.4 billion for the quarter was up 38 percent from last year. It was the retail segment’s second-largest quarter of sales, behind only first quarter of 2012, which includes the holiday shopping season.

iPod sales continued their decline. Apple sold 7.7 million music players, a drop of 15 percent from the second quarter of 2011. iPod sales actually came in ahead of Apple’s expectations for the quarter, according to Oppenheimer, with Apple choosing to focus on the fact that the higher-priced iPod touch represents more than half of the iPods sold during the quarter. Even with its declining sales, the iPod remains the market leader among MP3 players, according to Apple’s figures.

The company was much more eager to talk about the growth of its iTunes Store, which also saw record revenue of US$1.9 billion during the quarter. That’s an increase of 35 percent from last year’s tally, with music, video, and app sales driving the growth.

Apple executives revealed a few other interesting details about the quarter during their briefing with analysts. The company ended the quarter with US$110 billion in cash—a situation that figures to change in July when Apple starts paying out a US$2.65 per share dividend to shareholders. Oppenheimer said the company would provide more information about that dividend program in July.

iCloud now has 125 million subscribers, after Apple launched the cloud-based service and MobileMe replacement last October. That subscriber base is up from 85 million at the end of the first quarter. It was only in February that Cook was telling investors that iCloud had topped the 100 million subscriber mark.

Apple continues to do a staggering amount of business in China. Cook told analysts the company recorded US$7.9 billion in sales from that country during the second quarter, three times the amount of revenue it took in during the year-ago period. The US$12.4 billion in revenue Apple has seen in China during the first six months of its 2012 fiscal year nearly matches its revenue from that country for all of 2011. Cook credited pent-up demand for the iPhone 4S and strong iPad 2 demand for much of that growth, which is also creating a halo effect for Mac sales in China.

Oppenheimer told analysts to expect revenue of US$34 billion and earnings per share of US$8.68 for the June quarter. That compares to revenue of US$28.57 billion and earnings of US$7.79 per share for the fiscal third quarter of 2011.

Apple’s forecasted numbers would be a sequential drop from the revenue and earnings the company just reported for its second quarter. Oppenheimer said the company is expecting a sequential decline in iPhone sales, as Apple had ramped up inventory to meet pent-up demand. The company was also able to satisfy demand for the new iPad, thanks to a significant supply of tablets. The lower entry price for the iPad 2 and a stronger U.S. dollar are also factors in Apple’s forecast.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Carbon Copy Cloner updated to 3.4.5

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Date: Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, 13:25
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Carbon Copy Cloner, the shareware favorite for drive cloning operations by Mike Bombich, reached version 3.4.5. The new version, a 6.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Fixed a minor timing issue that would prevent CCC from finishing the submission of an email notification when a scheduled task was configured to sleep or shut down the Mac.

– Fixed an issue in which non-ASCII characters would be improperly displayed during the backup task (this was only a cosmetic problem).

– Fixed an issue in which CCC would occasionally not retain the user’s last choice in the preset configurations menu.

– Growl notifications should be a bit more consistent on Lion.

– In anticipation of Mountain Lion’s requirement that I use Apple’s code signing certificate to sign my application, this version of CCC will migrate entries in the CCC private keychain to a new keychain. I have leveraged codesigning in CCC for almost 5 years and recently started to rely on it to have access to keychain entries without annoying the end user for permission to do so. Switching code signing certificates at this point invalidates the keychain item access control lists that I previously applied, forcing me to migrate the keychain or face losing access to those keychain items. When you launch this new version of CCC, you’ll see a progress panel that indicates that CCC is migrating the keychain. This should be fast and eventless. If you see a dialog from the system asking you to grant CCC access to a keychain item, however, it is imperative that you click on “Allow” to give CCC access to those keychain items.

– In earlier versions of CCC, when an encrypted disk image’s passphrase keychain entry was updated by the scheduled task helper application, access to that keychain item would be limited to only the scheduled task helper application. Subsequent ad hoc attempts to back up to the encrypted disk image (e.g. in CCC’s main window) would result in a request to grant CCC access to the keychain item. This update fixes that access limitation.

– Fixed a bug in which CCC would not properly set the modification date on files copied to SMB shares hosted by some versions of Windows. This would result in CCC wanting to recopy every file to the destination on subsequent backups.

– Reverted to the pre-3.4.4 behavior of automatically running a scheduled task upon wake if the task missed a scheduled run time during sleep. If you would prefer that CCC automatically skip tasks missed during sleep, drop me a line on the Help Desk, there is a hidden setting that will accommodate this preference.

– In previous versions, CCC might report that a source or destination folder on a network volume does not exist, when it plainly does. CCC now appropriately handles the permissions limitation that led to this errant message.

– Fixed an issue in which extended attributes may be recopied to some non-HFS destinations every time a backup task runs.

– Fixed a couple issues that could result in a crash.

– Fixed an issue in which CCC would hang on launch if there is a corrupted scheduled task configuration file present. Now that corruption is detected and these files are removed.

– Fixed an issue in which the “Reschedule all future events for this time of day” setting did not work for tasks configured to run weekly or monthly.

– Fixed an issue in which weekly and monthly tasks scheduled with a start date prior to the Daylight Saving Time switch and a start time within the “lost hour” would run multiple times a day.

– Scheduled tasks can now mount the underlying network volume for a source volume that is a disk image.

– Fixed an anomaly with progress indication in which the progress indicator would jump wildly if the user ran a task with exclusions, then another task without exclusions.

– Scheduled tasks will now reschedule themselves when the system time zone is changed. If a task was scheduled for 2PM Eastern time and you change the time zone to Pacific time, the task should run at 2PM Pacific time. This functionality is only partially available to Tiger users. Tiger doesn’t offer “time zone changed” notifications, so the currently-scheduled task will only be rescheduled upon wake, or when the task is reloaded.

– Some of the postflight cleanup tasks that are required for making a clone of Mac OS X bootable were getting skipped when minor transfer errors occurred. These tasks will now run regardless of minor transfer errors, so the destination volume should be bootable even when minor errors occur (assuming there aren’t any other hardware compatibility problems).

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.5 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.

Mozilla releases Firefox 12.0 update

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Date: Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, 12:26
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 12.0 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 32 megabyte download and adds the following fixes and changes:

– Firefox can now migrate your bookmarks, history, and cookies from Google Chrome.

– With Sync enabled, add-ons can now be synchronized across your computers.

– The CSS text-size-adjust property is now supported.

– Redesigned media controls for HTML5 video.

– The outerHTML property is now supported on HTML elements.

– View source syntax highlighting now uses the HTML5 parser (see bug 482921).

– The Style Editor for CSS editing is now available to web developers.

– Web developers can now visualize a web page in 3D using the Page Inspector 3D View.

– SPDY protocol support for faster page loads is now testable.

– XMLHttpRequest now supports HTML parsing.

– Files can now be stored in IndexedDB (see bug 661877).

– Websockets has now been unprefixed.

– Firefox notifications may not work properly with Growl 1.3 or later (691662).

Firefox 12.0 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 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.

Dr. Web points out dormant nature of Flashback, cites that malware could remain on 650,000 Macs

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Date: Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, 06:13
Category: News, security, Software

Well, this is a bit of a kick in the head.

Per Russian security company Dr. Web and Macworld, the Mac Flashback Trojan horse was still installed on more than half a million Apple computers late last week and is declining only slowly.

Although all security companies now agree that the best days for Flashback (or “Flashflake”) are now behind it, the new numbers suggest a greater level of infection than that has been reported by rivals.

Measured by UUID device identifiers, Dr. Web now believes that at its greatest extent, the bot controlled around 817,000 machines, with an average of 550,000 contacting the command and control servers during any 24-hour period.

By April 19, the bot was communicating with 566,000 Macs, down from 673,000 three days earlier, still considerably higher than Symantec’s estimate last week that the bot’s size had shrunk to 270,000 infected systems, and Kaspersky’s figure of 237,000 on April 14 and 15.

Some of the confusion could be down to measuring the bot using either IP addresses or device IDs (UUIDs), and doing so at different points in time.

However, Dr. Web thinks it has a better explanation for the understands this discrepancy, which, it said, has to do with attempts by an unnamed entity (presumably a security company) to block the bot’s activity.

Infected bots had been connecting to a server at 74.207.249.7, which was putting them into a suspended state. All machines doing this would no longer be able to communicate and be registered as ‘active’ by security company sinkholes despite still being infected.

“This is the cause of controversial statistics on one hand, Symantec and Kaspersky Lab reported a significant decline in the number of Backdoor.Flashback.39 bots, on the other hand, Dr. Web repeatedly indicated a far greater number of bots which didn’t tend to decline considerably,” the company argued.

At least one security company—Mac security specialist Intego—agrees with Dr. Web’s contention that Flashback’s infection numbers have recently been underestimated.

“Intego has analyzed the malware, and, following discussions with other security companies, has determined that not only are these numbers [the lower estimates] incorrect, they are underestimating the number of infected Macs,” the company announced in a Friday blog post.

If this is correct, it does at least mean that while infected, these machines are now dormant and presumably beyond the control of the bot controllers.

On Friday, Kaspersky offered more information on how the malware was able to infect its victims through WordPress blog sites that had been compromised to host a malware redirection script.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you haven’t downloaded the latest security updates through Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature to help nix the Flashback malware on your Mac.

Apple releases fourth Mac OS X 10.7.4 seed to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, 06:15
Category: News, Software

The betas, they just keep rolling on…

Per AppleInsider, Apple this week seeded its developer community with the fourth build of OS X 10.7.4, the upcoming maintenance update for its Lion operating system.

Sources familiar with the latest build said it is labeled as “11E52.” The download is said to be more than 700 megabytes in its delta form, while the combo update is nearly 1.5 gigabytes.

There are reportedly no known issues with the latest build of Lion. Developers have been asked to focus on Graphics, iCal, Mail, Printing, and Time Machine.

Registered Mac developers can contain the pre-release software for testing from Apple’s official Developer Center website.

The release of “11E52″ comes less than two weeks after Apple seeded the third beta of OS X 10.7.4 to developers. That build also contained no known issues, and developers were asked to focus on the App Store, QuickTime, and Screen Sharing, in addition to Graphics, Mail and Time Machine. The first beta of the anticipated Lion update was delivered to developers in mid-March.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the new beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Intel launches Ivy Bridge architecture, includes 3D transistors in hardware

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Date: Monday, April 23rd, 2012, 06:53
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

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The day you’ve been waiting for has arrived.

Or at least one of them.

Because really good health-related news or the birth of a new child tends to rank up there as well.

Per MacNN, Intel has officially launched the first wave of its Ivy Bridge processors with a new tri-gate transistor technology, touting the new chips as the “world’s first 22 nanometer product.”

The chipmaker released 13 quad-core processors on Sunday and promised that new dual-core processors will arrive later in the spring. The web site reported that the first batch of chips are from the Core i5 and i7 families.

CEO Paul Otellini said earlier this month that the “bulk” of the initial Ivy Bridge lineup would arrive in desktop PCs. However, Apple is expected to use the new quad-core chips in an update to its MacBook Pro line.

After moving to a 22nm process for Ivy Bridge, Intel boasts 20 percent more performance while using 20 percent less power. Intel PC business chief Kirk Skaugen told the BBC that the launch will be Intel’s “fastest ramp ever.”

“There will be 50% more supply than we had early in the product cycle of our last generation, Sandy Bridge, a year ago. And we’re still constrained based on the amount of demand we’re seeing in the marketplace,” he said.

Ivy Bridge also introduces a transistor technology 11 years in the making. By moving from flat two-dimensional transistors to new three-dimensional “tri-gate transistors,” Intel has managed to improve both performance and energy efficiency with minimal cost increases.

Graphics are a key area of improvement for the new processors. Ivy Bridge supports 4K resolution and will feature as much as a 60 percent performance boost over the current-generation Sandy Bridge chips.

Stay tuned and we’ll bring you additional details (and details of anything Apple-related using the new Ivy Bridge architecture) as soon as it becomes available.

Rumor: Apple to discontinue 17-inch MacBook Pro model

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Date: Monday, April 23rd, 2012, 05:38
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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In addition to Microsoft pulling its Office 2011 SP2 update, here’s your other piece of potential bad news for the day:

Per AppleInsider, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities predicted on Monday that Apple is “likely to stop making” the 17-inch MacBook Pro this year. He cited falling shipments with the company’s top-of-the-line notebook as the primary reason he thinks it will get the ax.

Kuo has a respectable track record with regard to Apple’s products. In particular, he was first to indicate in 2011 that Apple would phase out its legacy 13-inch polycarbonate MacBook.

Soon after, the white, entry-level MacBook was completely discontinued. It has been completely replaced at the US$999 price point by the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, while education institutions can buy a special, less powerful version of the 13.3-inch MacBook Air in bulk for US$999.

Apple is expected to launch a revamped MacBook Pro lineup in the coming weeks, featuring a new thin-and-light design similar to the MacBook Air, and powered by Intel’s latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors. The launch of new MacBook Pros is expected to be staggered, with the new 15-inch models leading the way as soon as this month.

A new 13-inch MacBook Pro is expected to quickly follow and launch in June, bringing new features like solid-state storage and a thinner design lacking an optical drive. But while recent rumors have mentioned the 15-inch and 13-inch models, little has been said about a redesigned 17-inch MacBook Pro.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft pulls Office 2011 Service Pack 2 update, offers apology and workaround for Outlook database corruption bug

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Date: Monday, April 23rd, 2012, 05:28
Category: News, Software

Well, this is awkward.

A little over a week after releasing an update to its Office 2011 for Mac, Microsoft has stopped pushing out auto-updates for Service Pack 2 over a flaw that corrupts identity databases in the company’s Outlook mail client.

The announcement was made on Friday through the company’s Office blog, and notifies users that automatic updates for SP2 will be temporarily suspended while the company investigates the cause of the problem.

From the post:
“On April 12th, we released SP2 for Office for Mac 2011. The majority of our customers have been delighted with the improvements – new features and performance. Unfortunately, a small percentage are experiencing some issues with the update, specifically related to the Outlook for Mac database.”

Five days after initially releasing SP2, Microsoft posted a workaround and apology to users affected by the update.

The first workaround deals with those users who have yet to install the update, and calls for the rebuilding of Outlook’s database. The second, more comprehensive fix deals with those who already installed the patch and involves a complicated procedure to restore the database to working condition from an existing backup.

Office 2011 for Mac users can still download SP2 through Microsoft’s website, though it is recommended that the workaround be implemented prior to installation.

The SP2 update brought many enhancements for OS X Lion users like full-screen display modes and performance improvements.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.