Cocktail updated to 6.2.1

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Date: Thursday, November 8th, 2012, 08:56
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, shareware developer Maintain released version 6.2.1 of CocktailCocktail (Lion Edition), the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 5.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

– Added ability to disable startup sound (System – Misc).

– Addresses compatibility issues with USB flash drives.

Cocktail 6.2.1 retails for a US$19.00 shareware registration fee and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.8 or later to install and run.

Apple patent shows interest in developing dual-function headphones

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Date: Thursday, November 8th, 2012, 08:28
Category: News, Patents

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This could get really interesting.

Per AppleInsider, a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday shows that Apple presented an invention for a “dual-mode headphone” which can transform from a normal set of earbuds to a more robust speaker system.

First filed for in 2011, the proposed system incorporates the usual in-ear headphone arrangement with specialized position-sensing circuitry and a power amplifier, allowing a user to dynamically switch from personal listening mode to speaker mode.

From the application’s background:
“Users typically listen to content on their portable devices using headphones, although there are speakers available that can be connected to the portable devices to enable multiple users to listen in at the same time. This approach, however, may require a user to carry both a headphone and speakers, or may require the user to rely on speakers built into the device, which may not be as powerful or have as high a sound quality as external speakers.

In operation, the headphones can detect its position and output sound in “headphone mode,” where the amplifier is bypassed, or “speaker mode,” which passes the audio signal through said amplifier. To prevent a user from being harmed by inadvertently activating the speaker mode while wearing the headphones, a separate sensor can be employed to detect when the unit is near a user’s ears.

Any number of sensors can be implemented in the invention, including IR sensors, ambient light sensors, Hall effect sensors, and others. In one embodiment, a sensor that can detect contact with a user’s ears is integrated into the headphone to prevent hearing damage.

In addition to automatically detecting positioning, users can manually activate speaker mode with physical buttons. An articulating arm or other design component can also be used to prop the headphones up when in speaker mode. ”

Finally, one embodiment describes an implementation that allows the headphone to be used as an in-ear set as well as a speaker by positioning extra ports directed away from the user’s ears.

As with many patent applications, the fate of the dual-mode headphone remains uncertain, though Apple’s new EarPods illustrated the company is still researching new design techniques for its audio products.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Twitter sends out e-mails to significant number users needing passwords on “compromised accounts”

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Date: Thursday, November 8th, 2012, 07:40
Category: News, security, Software

If you found that your Twitter password was reset, there’s a valid reason for it.

Per CNET and the TweetSmarter blog, an unknown number of Twitter users have received a genuine e-mail from the company warning they should change their password as soon as possible.

In the e-mail, the microblogging company noted: “Twitter believes that your account may have been compromised by a website or service not associated with Twitter. We’ve reset your password to prevent others from accessing your account.”

The company did not say in the e-mail that there has been a hack, a breach of data, or anything out of the ordinary, however. At this stage, it’s unclear how many have been affected or what’s caused the mass e-mailing of its users.

A post on Wednesday noted that in some cases when “large numbers of Twitter accounts have been hijacked,” the company sends out these e-mails en masse, even sending messages to accounts that may not have been affected by any hack or hijack to err on the side of caution.

So far, a few high profile accounts have noted interference, including David Mitchell, who said:

“Got an e-mail from twitter telling me that my password had to be changed because they thought my account had been hacked,” adding in another tweet: “So I’ve changed it, but the only evidence of hacking I can find is that my tweet about my Observer column last Sun has disappeared. Weird.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox 1.5.46 beta goes live, now available for download

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Date: Thursday, November 8th, 2012, 07:18
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock a decent public beta.

On Wednesday, Dropbox released a public beta of version 1.5.46 of its cloud-based storage client for Mac OS X. The new version, a 24.5 megabyte download, which adds the following fixes and changes:

– Fixed Web Login opening an HTML editor instead of a Browser in OS X.

– Other small fixes.

Dropbox 1.5.46 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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