VirtualBox updated to 4.2.1

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Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012, 08:44
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.2.1. The new version, a 100.5 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:

- The OS X 10.8.2 release includes some incompatible changes which require adaptions in VirtualBox. Therefore the original 4.2 build was replaced by a 4.2.1 build.

VirtualBox 4.2.1 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 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.

Apple exploring wireless headphone technology for “active” users

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Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012, 07:22
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

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The wireless headphones you’ve been dreaming of…they could be en route.

And if wireless headphones are the biggest concern in your life, that’s saying something.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday reveals Apple is investigating a unique set of headphones, designed to withstand the rigors of athletic activity by eliminating the need for cumbersome cords.

The invention, titled “Detachable wireless listening device,” describes headphones designed to free listeners from the burden of wires by leveraging wireless transmission technology, such as Bluetooth.

Apple notes that, while inexpensive and efficient, common wired headsets like earbuds are “susceptible to becoming entangled while the end user is participating in physical activity.” The situation can be “particularly nettlesome” since the cord is somewhat firmly affixed to the portable media player by a 3.5mm plug, which can be a potential hazard to both the device and its user.

To solve the ever-present trouble of wired connections, Apple suggests a type of hybrid system that can receive audio data through a cable as with traditional earbuds, but can also be detached from the device and operate wirelessly when needed.

The clever “listening device” is connected to the player by either a physical clip or detent, or a series of magnets. When attached, the headphones are able to use the cord as an RF antenna with data being processed by the host device, and a means of power for charging a set of built-in batteries. While connected, the headphones receive audio signals through the cable and are able to tap into the media player’s power supply if needed, thus saving precious energy for untethered use.

If the headphones becomes detached, either by the user or unintentionally, the host device seamlessly pauses the charging process, activates a wireless module and begins to send audio over Bluetooth of some other form of radio communication. The patent notes that stereo audio can be provided to the wireless headset by assigning each side, right and left, a unique wireless address.

Apple cofounder Steve Jobs famously said in 2005 that Bluetooth was simply not suitable for headphones because the bandwidth was too low for high quality sound reproduction, and people are loathe to charge both an iPod or iPhone as well as a peripheral.

That was arguably true seven years ago, however the advent of low-power Bluetooth 4.0 components, combined with Thursday’s unique hybrid headphone invention, could one day lead to the level of technology Jobs was waiting for.

The “listening device” patent was filed in March 2011 with Jorge S. Fino credited as its inventor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google launches Street View for Google Maps web app, begins location-based rollouts

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Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012, 07:26
Category: iOS, News, Software

If you loved the Street View feature in Google Maps, it’s here for web-based and assorted iOS users.

Per AppleInsider, Google on Thursday began to integrate Street View data into the web app version of Google Maps, bringing the feature back to iPhone 5 and iOS 6 users, however the rollout appears limited to certain locations.

The service brings back interactive 360-degree street-level photographs to iOS after Apple replaced the native Google Maps-powered Maps app with its own solution in iOS 6.

As of this writing, it seems Google hasn’t completely integrated the Street View dataset into its iOS-compatible web app, as some locations supported by the full-fledged version built for desktop browsers aren’t yet offered in the mobile variant.

To use the feature, an iOS 6 user can either navigate to maps.google.com and search from there, or use Safari’s search built-in search function to locate a specific address or building.

In the following example, the “Flatiron Building” was entered into Safari’s search bar, which yielded the address and simple line map for the Origins store located at the base of the iconic Manhattan building.

Selecting the map image brings up a satellite view of the area and the usual location marker, with barebones map controls located at the top and bottom of the window. New to this view, however, is the small stick figure at the bottom right of the screen which, when pressed, opens a new window with a stripped-down Street View interface.

While panning and scrolling operations are smooth, there is no option to zoom in on an object and the image has not been corrected for pincushion distortion. As expected, the experience is not as rich as using a desktop browser, however the image quality is high and the controls are intuitive.

At the moment, the service is not completely stable, as returning to the search window to query additional locations sometimes causes the map to go blank. A simple closing and reopening of the window is enough to reset the webpage.

The internet search giant looks to be implementing a staggered release, starting with major metropolitan cities like New York, and it is not yet known when the service will be fully functional.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rapper’s set at Microsoft retail store cut short, several display laptops damaged during performance

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Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012, 06:41
Category: News, retail

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Well, this could have gone better.

Still, if you provide an actual stage for a performer, then it tends to yield better results.

Per Kotaku and allhiphop.com, a promotional performance by Cleveland-based rapper Machine Gun Kelly, a.k.a. MGK, at a Microsoft retail store in Atlanta ended abruptly after the artist jumped on showroom tables, smashing a number of expensive laptops.

Only a minute and a half into his act, MGK’s mic was cut after multiple requests from store staff to get off the floor displays went unheeded. The pleas only exacerbated the situation, as the rapper flashed the middle finger to employees, improvising the following lyrics into his rap:

“Suck my [redacted], I’m up in this mother[redacted]. MGK in this [redacted]. [Redacted] these computers.”

Following the incident, Microsoft was quick to note the rapper wasn’t hired by the store, but by hip-hop magazine The Source for the publication’s Power 30 Issue. While true, the computing giant did allow the MC to perform in-store, a promotional tool sometimes used by Microsoft to drum up interest for retail outlet grand openings.

Most recently, recording artist Flo Rida was hired to perform at an Orlando Microsoft Store in August, while The Black Keys opened a Seattle location and Lenny Kravitz played for a store in Westchester.

Jeep in mind that some language in may not be family friendly or safe for work, but it shows an interesting disaster unfold in front of your eyes…