Apple releases OS X 10.8.1 update

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Date: Thursday, August 23rd, 2012, 07:29
Category: News, Software

The bug fixes had to come sometime.

On Thursday, Apple released version 10.8.1 of its OS X Mountain Lion operating system. The new version, a 24.2 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Resolve an issue that may cause Migration Assistant to unexpectedly quit.

- Improve compatibility when connecting to a Microsoft Exchange server in Mail.

- Address an issue playing audio through a Thunderbolt display.

- Resolve an issue that could prevent iMessages from being sent.

- Address an issue that could cause the system to become unresponsive when using Pinyin input.

- Resolve an issue when connecting to SMB servers with long names.

- Address a issue that may prevent Safari from launching when using a Proxy Automatic Configuration (PAC) file.

- Improve 802.1X authentication with Active Directory credentials.

OS X 10.8.1 requires an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.8 to install and run, the update itself being attainable by using OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new operating system and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

VMWare releases Fusion 5.0.0 update

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Date: Thursday, August 23rd, 2012, 07:09
Category: News, Software

Late Wednesday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 5.0.0 of its Fusion software for the Mac.

Similar to other virtualization software packages, VMWare allows users to run alternate operating systems such as Windows and Linux distributions on Intel-based Macs at native speeds. Other features, such as Unity, allow users to run and minimize Windows applications from the Mac OS X Dock.

The new version, a 203 megabyte download, can be found here and offers the following fixes and changes:

- Designed for Mountain Lion – Run Windows on Mountain Lion and search Windows programs in Launchpad, use “AirPlay Mirroring” to stream Mac and Windows applications on an HDTV and get VMware Fusion notifications in Mountain Lion’s notification center.

- Windows 8 Optimization – VMware Fusion 5 supports Windows 8 standard, pro and enterprise editions so consumers can optimize the new Windows 8 “Metro” environment directly on a Mac.

- Enhanced Mac Support – Support for the latest Mac technologies include compatibility with Mountain Lion, retina display optimization, USB 3 connectivity, and improved support for large memory Macs.

- Next Generation Performance – Performance enhancements include up to 40% faster general performance speeds compared to the previous version of the product, improved power management for longer battery life and faster 3D graphics.

- Additional Functionalities – New, powerful ways to experience Windows on a Mac are available through an updated virtual machine library that enables seamless transitions between multiple operating systems, one click snapshots with improved graphical appearance, a brand new graphics driver for Linux 3D desktops, and a new embedded learning center for immediate support.

Fusion 5.0.0 retails for US$49.99 and requires an Intel-based Mac, 2 GB of RAM, Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later (10.7 recommended) and a copy of Windows (if you’ll be installing Windows).

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

Mozilla to discontinue support for Firefox under Leopard this October

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Date: Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012, 09:22
Category: News, Software

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Ya gotta upgrade sometime.

Per Macworld, Mozilla will drop support for Apple’s OS X 10.5, or Leopard, after it ships Firefox 16 in October, according to company developers.

“We are not planning to support Mac OS X 10.5 with Firefox 17,” said Josh Aas, who works on the Firefox platform group, in a message last month on Bugzilla. “The builds will fail to run on anything less than Mac OS X 10.6.”

OS X 10.6 is Snow Leopard, the 2009 follow-up to Leopard, which shipped in October 2007.

By Mozilla’s release calendar, Firefox 16 is to debut Oct. 9. Firefox 17, the first that will not to pushed to Leopard users, is slated for a Nov. 20 launch.

Mozilla is following Google’s lead in dropping Leopard; Google released its last browser for OS X 10.5, Chrome 21, on July 31.

Although Mozilla talked about ditching OS X 10.5 support in December 2011, it decided then to keep Apple’s OS on the list. Discussions among engineers, managers and contributors restarted in late June.

According to Mozilla, Leopard’s importance is diminishing. “Mac OS X 10.5 users have been declining by 1% per month, as a share of our total Mac OS X users,” said Aas. “This, combined with the impact of the release of Mac OS X 10.8 [Mountain Lion], means that Mac OS X 10.5 users will likely make up around 10% of Mac OS X users when Firefox 17 ships.”

As of June 21, 17% of Firefox 13’s Mac users were running Leopard, with larger shares on Snow Leopard (35%) and Lion (48%), Aas said. Only 4.6% of all Firefox 13 users were running it on a Mac.

Like Google, another reason Mozilla cited for dumping Leopard was that Apple has also ended support.

The last time Apple patched bugs in Leopard was November 2011, and its most recent security update, in May 2012, disabled older copies of Flash Player to stymie Flashback rather than fix specific security flaws. Nor has Apple maintained Safari on OS X 10.5. The final update was issued over a year ago.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon blocks employee vacations from September 21 – 30, strengthens new iPhone release date rumors

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Date: Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012, 07:40
Category: iPhone, News

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It seems a bit more likely that you’ll snag the new iPhone on September 21st.

And it seems very likely that a Verizon employee won’t have that day off.

Per TechCrunch, Verizon Wireless employees have reportedly had vacation days blacked out for late September, again hinting that Apple plans to launch its next-generation iPhone on Sept. 21.

Verizon employee vacation dates have been blocked from Friday, Sept. 21 to Friday, Sept. 30, according to a “trusted” employee that spoke with the media. That aligns with previous rumors that the next iPhone will become publicly available in America on Sept. 21.

The week before, on Sept. 12, Apple is widely expected to hold a media event to unveil its sixth-generation iPhone, referred to by many in the media and public as the “iPhone 5.” A Tuesday unveiling followed by a formal product launch the next Friday follows the same timetable as previous Apple iPhone announcements.

Last year, Apple announced the iPhone 4S on Oct. 4, and the device became available in stores over a week later, on Friday, Oct. 14. Preorders began on Oct. 7 last year, but this year Apple is rumored to begin accepting preorders the same day the next iPhone is announced, on Sept. 12.

Anticipation of Apple’s next iPhone continues to build ahead of the expected forthcoming announcement. Recently a number of component leaks have revealed what are believed to be parts from Apple’s next handset.

The new iPhone is expected to have a slightly taller 4-inch screen, as well as a smaller 9-pin dock connector that will replace the legacy 30-pin design that has been around since long before the iPhone. Components have also shown that the headphone jack will be moved to the bottom of the device as part of a major hardware redesign.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.4.402.265 update

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Date: Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012, 06:06
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.4.402.265 for Mac OS X, a 11.9 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version adds the following fixes and changes:

Fixed Issues:
- Netstream crashes intermittently on disconnect(3193417).

- Mouse Lock feature disabled after entering Full Screen Interactive mode(3174344).

- First frame of some live streaming contents freezes(3207896).

- Issue with CameraRoll.browseForImage() causes transparency loss resulting in white color(3291312) To the top.

New Features:
- ActionScript Workers.

- Sandbox Bridge support.

- Licensing support: Flash Player Premium Features for Gaming.

- Stage3D “constrained” profile for increased GPU reach.

- LZMA support for ByteArray.

- StageVideo attachCamera/Camera improvements.

- Compressed texture with alpha support for Stage3D.

Flash Player 11.4.402.265 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please feel free to hurl your two cents in via the comments.

Developer cites OS X 10.8.1 beta as substantially improving Apple notebook battery life

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Date: Tuesday, August 21st, 2012, 17:54
Category: battery, News, Software

Come the OS X 10.8.1 update, your Apple notebook’s battery life could improve significantly.

Per Softpedia, substantial improvements were discovered by an unnamed developer after installing OS X 10.8.1. Previously, the developer’s MacBook was reportedly showing a battery life of 4 hours and 5 minutes after a full charge, but installing the beta software increased the advertised battery life to over 8 hours.

The details suggest Apple is working to fix battery life issues that some users have reported since the release of Mountain Lion on the Mac App Store in July.

Those complaints were later validated by a series of tests conducted by Ars Technica. Their unscientific data showed that Apple’s new operating system drains batteries significantly faster than its predecessor, OS X 10.7 Lion.

While Apple has not publicly commented on any battery issues with Mountain Lion, a number of users who have posted on Apple’s official community forum have said that company representatives reached out to them and obtained system information in an attempt to fix the issue.

Only certain MacBook models have been reported by users to experience the battery drain issue introduced with the launch of Mountain Lion. Some others have said that their battery life actually increased since updating to OS X 10.8.

The first pre-release beta of OS X 10.8.1 was supplied to Apple’s developer community earlier this month. Documentation accompanying Build 12B13 revealed it aims to correct a display noise issue when using Thunderbolt, but made no mention of battery life.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

VirtualBox updated to 4.1.20

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Date: Tuesday, August 21st, 2012, 06:20
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.1.20. The new version, a 101.3 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:

- VMM: fixed a crash under rare circumstances for VMs running without hardware virtualization.

- VMM: fixed a code analysis bug for certain displacement instructions for VMs running without hardware virtualization.

- VMM: fixed an interpretion bug for TPR read instructions under rare conditions (AMD-V only).

- Snapshots: fixed a crash when restoring an old snapshot when powering off a VM (bugs #9604, #10491).

- VBoxSVC: be more tolerant against environment variables with strange encodings (bug #8780).

- VGA: fixed wrong access check which might cause a crash under certain conditions.

- NAT: final fix for crashes under rare conditions (bug #10513).

- Virtio-net: fixed the problem with receiving of GSO packets in Windows XP guests causing packet loss in host-to-VM transfers.

- HPET: several fixes (bugs #10170, #10306).

- Clipboard: disable the clipboard by default for new VMs.

- BIOS: the PCI BIOS was not properly detected with the chipset type set to ICH9 (bugs #9301, #10327).

- Mac OS X hosts: adaptions to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

- Linux Installer: fixes for Gentoo Linux (bug #10642).

- Linux guests: fixed mouse integration on Fedora 17 guests (bug #2306).

- Linux Additions: compile fixes for RHEL/CentOS 6.3 (bug #10756).

- Linux Additions: compile fixes for Linux 3.5-rc1 and Linux 3.6-rc1 (bug #10709).

- Solaris host: fixed a guru meditation while allocating large pages (bug #10600).

- Solaris host: fixed possible kernel panics while freeing memory.

- Solaris Installer: fixed missing icon for menu and desktop shortcuts.

VirtualBox 4.1.20 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 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.

smcFanControl updated to 2.4, Mountain Lion, Retina support among changes included

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Date: Tuesday, August 21st, 2012, 06:49
Category: News, Software

On Tuesday, software developer eidac released version 2.4 of its smcFanControl utility, a free program that allows users to adjust the minimum fan speed of their Intel-based Macs, thereby allowing the unit to potentially run cooler.

The new version, a 768 kilobyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Support for OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion / Gatekeeper.

- Support for Retina Macbook Pro.

- smcFanControl is now a 64 Bit application.

- AutoStart works now without AppleScript.

- Support for Mac OS X 10.4 is deprecated.

- The source code for smcFanControl is now available at Github.

smcFanControl 2.4 is available for free and 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.

Apple patent allows potential automatic skipping of commercials for radio, television devices

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Date: Tuesday, August 21st, 2012, 06:23
Category: News, Patents

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This could be interesting.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent that allows users to skip unwanted audio and video broadcast segments such as commercials with on-device content like songs, podcasts or other media, possibly hinting at technology headed to the battle for the living room.

Apple’s aptly titled U.S. Patent No. 8,249,497 for “Seamless switching between radio and local media” describes a system in which a mobile device will automatically switch between broadcast content and stored media to offer the user a type of customized content consumption experience.

With the new patent, a device will allow a user listening to content from a radio station or “non-radio media or content sources” to skip past the sections they aren’t interested in, filling the gap with on-board media instead. Also of interest is that commercials are among the types of content which can be replaced by stored media.

Covered under the invention’s umbrella are broadcasts from a “radio stream provided over any communications network,” while the stored media can include content saved in a device’s memory or from a streaming host device.

From the patent background:
“A user, however, may not be interested in every media item provided as part of a broadcast stream. For example, a user may not like a particular song broadcast by a radio station, or may not like a particular segment of a talk radio station (e.g., the user does not like the topic or guest of the segment). As another example, a user may not be interested in content originally generated by sources other than the media source (e.g., advertisement content). Because the user has no control over the media broadcast, the user can typically only tune to a different media broadcast, or listen to or consume the broadcast content that is not of interest.”

By using metadata from assets like Radio Data System (RDS) data, broadcast listings or published third-party schedules, a device can “determine when an upcoming broadcast segment or media item is not of interest to the user.” When such an event is detected, the device will seamlessly switch to stored media until the unwanted content is completed. Also included as methods of discerning what a user may or may not want to consume are analysis of audio or video from the source, akin to current iOS apps Shazam or IntoNow.

As far as calculating what a user likes or dislikes, the patent employs comparisons of media items to generate a preference profile, much like the system in place with apps like Pandora. For example, a user can “like” or “dislike” a song and the corresponding metadata will then be included in their preference profile. In another embodiment, the device can keep track of a user’s content consumption habits and make guesses as to what they would like in their preference profile. The metadata can be specific media items, such as artists, songs and genres, as well as specific types of media.

After the system identifies that an upcoming segment is outside of the preference profile’s parameters, the device can look for an appropriate replacement from stored media to play instead. The patent notes that a “relevance algorithm” can be used to keep the stored media in line with content from the broadcast stream. To keep the experience consistent, the device can either monitor the broadcast stream to choose an opportune time to switch away from stored media playback, or buffer the broadcast stream for later consumption.

Seemingly, Apple is proposing a way to not only transform radio listening, but also television broadcasts. While not specifically noted in the patent and mentioned here only for purposes of discussion, the system could be tweaked for cable which would lend itself nicely to the set-top box Apple is rumored to be shopping around to U.S. providers. Insiders say the cloud-based device is meant to blur the line between live and on-demand television.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPod nano retail stock shortages hint at model refresh come September

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Date: Monday, August 20th, 2012, 12:34
Category: iPod, iPod Nano

When the supplies get short, the new stuff’s en route.

Or that’s the more hopeful school of thought when it comes to being unable to buy the cool thing that you want.

Per 9to5Mac, a number of retailers are running out of stock of the iPod nano. In the US these include major chains like Amazon, Target, Walmart and Best Buy. Amazon and Target are believed to be out of about half of their Nanos, while Walmart has just a few in stock. Outside of the US, Amazon UK is also seeing stock-outs; some retailers do have plenty of units though, including Apple itself and B&H Photo.

Apple is expected to refresh several products at a September 12th event. Like the iPod touch, the Nano is overdue for an update, since it was left essentially unchanged after an event last October. What Apple might have in mind hasn’t emerged in many reports, but one rumor does have the player reverting to a rectangular design. In any case the Nano will probably switch to Apple’s new, smaller dock connector, since space is a particular problem on the device. It measures just 1.61 inches long, 1.48 inches wide, and 0.35 inches thick, including a clip.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.