Researchers estimate 600,000 Macs infected by “Flashback” trojan, offer removal/online safety advice

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Date: Thursday, April 5th, 2012, 08:21
Category: News, security

Even if you’re a Mac user, you have to be careful out there.

According to Russian antivirus company Dr. Web, a trojan horse virus named “Flashback” that surfaced last year is believed to have created a botnet including more than 600,000 infected Macs around the world, with more than half of them in the U.S. alone.

The outfit issued a report on Wednesday noting that 550,000 computers running OS X had been infected by BackDoor.Flashback variants of the virus, as highlighted by ArsTechnica.

An analyst for the company later updated the figure to note that the size of the botnet had reached 600,00. He also pointed out that 274 bots are originating from Apple’s hometown of Cupertino, Calif.

According to a map released by the firm, 56.6 percent of infected computers are located in the United States. Canada was second with 19.8 percent, followed by the U.K. with 12.8 percent of cases.

Apple released a Java Security update on Tuesday to resolve the vulnerabilities that the virus is exploiting, but not before a number of Mac users had been hit with the malicious software. Oracle first issued a fix for the vulnerability in February.

Security firm Intego publicized the Flashback trojan last September. Some variants of the software were even discovered with the potential to disable anti-malware protections within OS X.

Researchers F-Secure have provided instructions on how to detect and remove the malware.

So, be sure to snag the Java update via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature, be careful out there and if they do catch whoever wrote this thing, I’ll happily serve marshmallow ‘smores and free drinks to the angry mob that corners them with torches and pitchforks.

Apple “noodling” with idea/prototype of 7.85-inch iPad

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Date: Thursday, April 5th, 2012, 07:34
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Before there’s anything, there’s always a prototype.

Per The Next Web, Apple is “noodling” with ideas and prototypes for a 7.85-inch iPad, though it’s not clear if the device will ever see the light of day.

John Gruber of Daring Fireball commented that he has “heard from nobody” on whether the 7-inch iPad will actually be released and when that would happen. Gruber did speculate, though, that Apple may have prepared enter the low-end tablet market should the Kindle Fire prove to be a runaway success. He also suggested that the company could possibly unveil the smaller iPad at the Worldwide Developers Conference, since it’s unlikely that Apple would release a 2012 iPhone at WWDC.

Reports of a smaller iPad have persisted since the original iPad launched in April 2010.

Speculation on a smaller form factor iPad gained legitimacy in February when The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple officials have been showing off designs for a smaller iPad that has a similar screen resolution as the iPad 2. The report did caution, though, that Apple could be simply testing new designs and might not actually release the device.

Recent reports have also suggested the rumored device could feature a “slim bezel display.” A leaked research note from Samsung Securities that surfaced in March hinted that Apple will release a so-called “iPad mini” in the third quarter of 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype updated to 5.6.0.203

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Date: Thursday, April 5th, 2012, 07:20
Category: News, Software

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On Tuesday, version 5.6.0.203 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 22.7 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Automatic Updates

- Improved UI for group video calling.

- New full screen mode in OS X Lion.

- Ability to delete conversations.

- Ability to disable Audio Gain Control.

Skype 5.6.0.203 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

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

Five regional U.S. wireless carriers to offer iPhone units, service starting April 20th

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Date: Wednesday, April 4th, 2012, 11:45
Category: iPhone, News

If you felt left out of the iPhone party, there’s a decent chance it’s coming to your area.

Per AppleInsider, a total of five regional U.S. carrier announced on Wednesday that they will begin selling Apple’s iPhone on April 20, as Alaska Communications, GCI, Appalachian Wireless and Cellcom join an earlier announcement from nTelos.

The iPhone 4S will become available to customers of five regional U.S. on April 20. It will be sold for US$50 cheaper than its traditional subsidized price at other carriers, starting at US$150 for the 16-gigabyte model, US$250 for 32 gigabytes, and US$350 for 64 gigabytes. The 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 will also be available for US$50.

And one of the carriers announced Wednesday, GCI, has a GSM network, which means it will also be able to offer Apple’s iPhone 3GS for free with a two-year contract.

Two of the carriers announced on Wednesday are based out of Alaska: Alaska Communications and GCI. The iPhone 4S will be available through Alaska Communications from its 14 retail stores, as well as the company’s website.

The carrier offers nationwide unlimited talk plans for US$90 with 2 gigabytes of data, while adding unlimited texting brings the monthly cost to US$101 and bumps the data cap up to 5 gigabytes. The subsidized iPhone pricing requires a two-year service contract.

Cellcom offers wireless service in parts of Michigan and Wisconsin, while Appalachian Wireless is based in Kentucky.

The announcement of four more wireless partners as an official carrier partner of Apple came on the same day that nTelos Wireless was also revealed. nTelos will also begin selling the iPhone 4S on April 20 to its more than 400,000 subscribers.

Apple began expanding availability of the iPhone to smaller, regional carriers last October when a deal with C Spire Wireless was announced. That carrier has about 900,000 customers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

nTelos regional wireless carrier to carry iPhone 4, 4S units

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Date: Wednesday, April 4th, 2012, 07:33
Category: iPhone, News

nTelos Wireless, a Virginia-based wireless company with more than 400,000 subscribers, will become the fifth U.S. carrier to sell Apple’s iPhone when it launches on April 20.

Per AppleInsider, nTelos is the second regional carrier to partner with Apple, as the company began expanding to smaller U.S. carriers last October when it struck a deal with C Spire Wireless, which has about 900,000 customers.

The 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 will be available through nTelos for US$50, while the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S can be had for US$150, 32 gigabytes for US$250, and 64 gigabytes for US$350. Those contract-subsidized prices are all US$50 cheaper than the offerings from the company’s competitors.

nTelos offers unlimited voice, text and data for one line for US$100 per month. Two lines can be purchased for US$140 per month, and additional lines after that cost US$50 each.

Availability of the iPhone to nTelos is possible because the carrier relies on a CDMA network, similar to the technology that powers Verizon and Sprint’s wireless networks.

As of Wednesday, the iPhone 4S is listed as “coming soon” on the nTelos Wireless website. Sales will officially begin at 7 a.m. on April 20 through nTelos retail stores, at the company’s website, or by calling 1-888-427-8858.

nTelos offers nationwide voice and data coverage for subscribers based in Virginia and West Virginia, along with portions of Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky.

When the iPhone launches with nTelos, it will join AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and C Spire as one of five official U.S. carriers. The one glaring omission from the list of official Apple partners is T-Mobile, which is the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with 34 million customers.

T-Mobile’s lack of access to the iPhone is a result of the company’s 3G service relying on the uncommon 1700MHz and 2100MHz bands, which are not supported by Apple’s smartphone. Users who operate an unlocked iPhone on T-Mobile’s network are restricted to much slower “EDGE” speeds.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 7, Java for Mac OS X Lion 2012-001 updates

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Date: Wednesday, April 4th, 2012, 06:51
Category: News, Software

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Have updates, will travel.

Late Tuesday, Apple released Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 7, providing “improved reliability, security and compatibility.” The 76 megabyte download requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 to install and run.

The company also released Java for Mac OS X Lion 2012-001, which claims to offer improved compatibility security and reliability. The download comes in at 63.8 megabytes and requires OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

The updates, which can be located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature, focus on multiple vulnerabilities that exist in Java 1.6.0_29, the most serious of which may allow an untrusted Java applet to execute arbitrary code outside the Java sandbox. Visiting a web page containing a maliciously crafted untrusted Java applet may lead to arbitrary code execution with the privileges of the current user. If you’ve tried the new versions and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to begin production of 200,000 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks in April, 400,000 13-inch MacBook Pro notebooks in June

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Date: Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012, 13:41
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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It won’t be long now.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is gearing up to begin production of its new thinner and lighter MacBook Pros, with production of the new 15-inch model set to begin first in mid-April.

Mass production of the new 15-inch MacBook Pro will see initial monthly shipments of 200,000 units, according to the web site. The new notebooks are expected to be powered by Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors.

On the heels of the new 15-inch model, Apple is expected to begin building the thinner 13-inch MacBook Pro in June. For the smaller variant, initial monthly shipments are expected to be greater, reportedly falling between 300,000 and 400,000 units.

The latest report is consistent with previous claims that the 15-inch MacBook Pro would go into production first, and could arrive as early as this month. But Tuesday’s report also suggests initial shipments of the 15-inch model will be slightly greater than was previously expected, as earlier reports claimed that initial monthly shipments would be between 100,000 and 150,000.

The updated notebooks are rumored to borrow the ultra-thin design the company pioneered with its MacBook Air. One person familiar with the new MacBook Pro designs indicated “they’re all going to look like MacBook Airs.”

Like the highly successful MacBook Air, the new MacBook Pros are expected to ditch the built-in optical drive, allowing them to have a thinner and lighter design.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

SpamSieve updated to 2.9

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Date: Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012, 08:07
Category: News, Software

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Michael Tsai’s must-have shareware program, SpamSieve, has just been updated to version 2.9. The new version, an 8.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and improvements:

- Added support for upcoming versions of Mac OS X.

- Made various changes to improve SpamSieve’s filtering accuracy.

- SpamSieve is now code-signed using a Developer ID certificate for Gatekeeper.
When training an Exchange message as good in Apple Mail, SpamSieve is better at moving it to the proper inbox.

- Processing incoming messages with Outlook is more efficient. To take advantage of this change, choose Install Outlook Scripts from the SpamSieve menu.

- If you’ve used the SpamSieve – Change Settings command in Apple Mail to tell SpamSieve not to use a local spam mailbox, training a message as spam will now try to move the message to a spam mailbox on the same server account, rather than always using the first account.

- Added support for training messages as spam via Herald (version 2.1.2 and later), a notification plug-in for Apple Mail.

- When sorting spam messages by color in Apple Mail, you can now use Grey as a synonym for Gray.

- The score script command has a new auto training parameter that can be used to override the setting in the preferences on a case-by-case basis. This might be useful, for example, if you’re writing an AppleScript to triage messages that have already been classified, and you just want to get SpamSieve’s opinion without having to make any corrections.

- Adjusted the drone AppleScripts so that they’re easier to troubleshoot.

- If Apple Mail gives SpamSieve empty data for a message, the plug-in now assumes the message is good and does not pass it on to SpamSieve for analysis.

- Added support for Growl notifications via GNTP (requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later).

- SpamSieve is better at handling file permission errors.

- SpamSieve is better at handling errors when running helper tools.

- Improved SpamSieve’s ability to still function when the application package is damaged.

- Added the AddStandardRules esoteric preference, which lets you prevent SpamSieve from creating its built-in blocklist and whitelist rules if you prefer to manage the rules yourself.

- Fixed a bug that could reduce SpamSieve’s filtering accuracy for some messages with attached files.

- Made various improvements to the documentation.

- Updated the German localization.

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.

CCTV battery, third-party car charger hacked into do-it-yourself external MacBook battery

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Date: Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012, 08:13
Category: battery, Hack, Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Pro

This falls into the “If You’re Feeling Brave” category, but it could work nicely.

Per The Verge, MacBook Pro user Evan Rodgers took a CCTV battery, a third party MacBook car charger, and some soldering tools to create a do-it-yourself external MacBook battery.

Watch the video, see what you make of it and if you have the parts on hand, you can avoid a fairly costly trip to the Apple Store for a replacement MacBook Pro battery and add about two to three hours of on-the-fly usage:



Apple to release Q2 results on Tuesday, April 24th

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Date: Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012, 07:18
Category: Finance, News

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It’s not the most exciting announcement in the world, but if you have Apple stock, you might want to know about it.

Per Mac|Life, Apple has updated their website to include details of the company’s second quarter 2012 financial results for the January through March period. As usual, the conference call will be streamed live via QuickTime shortly after a press release is made public with the key details.

The company’s financial Q2 2012 report will include the first wave of sales for the new iPad, although Apple has already announced that more than three million of the tablets moved during the mid-March launch weekend.

Some analysts believe that Apple is on target to hit more than US$1,000 per share by 2014, which would make it one of the world’s first trillion-dollar companies, should such predictions come true.

The event will take place on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 2pm PST (5pm EST).