Mozilla releases Firefox 18.0 update

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Date: Wednesday, January 9th, 2013, 07:31
Category: News, Software

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You can’t knock a solid update.

On Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 18.0 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 38.4 megabyte download and adds the following fixes and changes:

New:
- Faster JavaScript performance via IonMonkey compiler.

- Support for Retina Display on OS X 10.7 and up.

- Preliminary support for WebRTC.

Changed:
- Experience better image quality with our new HTML scaling algorithm.

- Performance improvements around tab switching.

Developer:
- Support for new DOM property window.devicePixelRatio.

- Improvement in startup time through smart handling of signed extension certificates.

HTML 5:
- Support for W3C touch events implemented, taking the place of MozTouch events.

Fixed:
- Disable insecure content loading on HTTPS pages (62178).

- Improved responsiveness for users on proxies (769764).

Firefox 18.0 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 to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.6.602.137 beta

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Date: Wednesday, January 9th, 2013, 07:45
Category: News, Software

On Tuesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.6.602.137 for Mac OS X, a 16.9 megabyte download via MacUpdate as a pre-release beta. The new version adds the following fixes and changes:

- This pre-release includes new features as well as enhancements and bug fixes related to security, stability, performance, and device compatibility for Flash Player 11.6 and AIR 3.6.

Adobe Flash Player 11.6.602.137 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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

Rumor: Apple looking into Sharp IGZO technology for future iOS device displays

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Date: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013, 10:28
Category: News

It’s a rumor now, but it highlights the idea of a cool thing that could come to the Mac before too long.

Per AppleInsider, Sharp this week Sharp stressed the importance of IGZO technology for the company’s future.



In attendance for Sharp’s event was analyst Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets, who lauded the abilities of IGZO technology. Sharp’s advanced displays were described as having twice the resolution of a conventional LCD screen with up to 90 percent power savings.

“Even after turning off the power of a device, IGZO allows the image to continue to be displayed on the screen,” White explained. He said he believes Apple is a “prime candidate” to adopt IGZO in future devices.

Apple has been rumored for years to be interested in Sharp’s IGZO display technology. One report from last year claimed that Apple investigated using IGZO panels in the third-generation iPad, but the technology was not yet ready for mass production.

Rumors again cropped up in December, claiming that Apple is evaluating IGZO display technology for its next generation of iPhones and iPads. The technology’s acronym stands for the materials that make up the advanced panels: indium, gallium, and zinc oxide.

White believes that Apple “increasingly requires new innovative display technologies to compete with Samsung.” A deal with Sharp could also reduce Apple’s reliance on LG Display, which initially struggled to meet required standards for the iPad’s Retina display in early 2012.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple posts job openings for 802.11ac engineers

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Date: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013, 08:37
Category: Hardware, News, wireless

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Apple’s looking to bring the 802.11ac protocol to the Mac this year.

Now it just needs the people to do it.

Per AppleBitch, a new job listing by the company advertises a position for engineers experienced with Gigabit Wi-Fi.

The mention of 802.11ac comes from a new job posting listed by the company on Sunday, first highlighted by AppleBitch. The role of “System Test Engineer” will be based at Apple’s corporate Campus in Cupertino, Calif., and focuses on Wi-Fi connectivity.

In the job listing, Apple notes that the position requires “technical knowledge” of the Wi-Fi standard in all forms, including the next-generation 802.11ac. The ideal candidate will include “experience on consumer-facing hardware/software products.”

The new job posting comes only days after a rumor surfaced claiming that Apple plans to add Gigabit Wi-Fi to its 2013 Mac lineup. The so-called “5G Wi-Fi” standard offers up to 1.3Gbps data transfers with a three-antenna design.

Current Macs and other Apple devices feature 802.11n networking, the current industry standard for Wi-Fi. That allows transfers of up to 450Mbps with three antennas — a feat that 802.11ac can accomplish with just one antenna.

Apple is rumored to have struck a deal with Broadcom to potentially debut 802.11ac in this year’s Macs. The Broadcom chips reportedly remain in development and are not yet available to use.

Apple has a history of being on the cutting edge with Wi-Fi — it was among the first to bring Wi-Fi to the masses in 1999, while Apple secretly included support for the “Draft-N” specification in some of its devices in 2006 before the 802.11n standard was officially ratified.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel shows off fourth-gen Core processor lineup at CES

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Date: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013, 08:48
Category: Hardware, Intel, News, Processors

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The cool stuff’s en route for this year.

Per AppleInsider, Intel on Monday demoed a number of upcoming processors set to hit market later this year, including low power versions of the company’s “Haswell” fourth-generation Core series CPUs slated to roll out in Apple’s inevitable 2013 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air refreshes.

While Apple wasn’t specifically mentioned in Intel’s keynote, which focused mainly on the chip maker’s push into smartphones and Ultrabooks, the processors outlined on Monday will likely be powering the MacBook lineup later this year.

According to the head of Intel’s PC client group, Kirk Skaugen, the fourth-gen Core family of processors are the first to be designed specifically for the Ultrabook initiative. The new silicon is said to bring the most significant battery life improvement in Intel history, with laptops using the CPUs boasting 9 to 13 hours of continuous on-the-go use.

“The 4th generation Core processors are the first Intel chips built from the ground up with the Ultrabook in mind,” Skaugen said. “We expect the tremendous advancements in lower-power Core processors, and the significant ramp of touch-based systems will lead to a significant new wave of convertible Ultrabooks and tablets that are thinner, lighter and, at the same time, have the performance required for more human-like interaction such as touch, voice and gesture controls.”

Intel is making a strong push for touch capabilities in this year’s thin-and-light lineup, requiring OEMs to include the functionality in return for “Ultrabook” branding. The company is also mandating that Ultrabook manufacturers incorporate Intel Wireless Display technology into 2013 machines, allowing users to view digital content on an HDTV.

As Apple does not participate in the Ultrabook initiative, a category believed to be a response to the MacBook Air, the Cupertino, Calif., company is not required to incorporate touchscreen tech into its laptop products. There have been no reports pointing toward multitouch capable MacBooks and industry sources claim Apple will merely debut refreshed units in June with existing designs.

Stay tuned for additional details

USB 3.0 Promoter Group announces updated spec, anticipated 10Gb/s speeds for 2014

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Date: Monday, January 7th, 2013, 07:32
Category: Hardware, News

This could lead to something nifty.

Per CNET and the mighty Jim Tanous of The Mac Observer, an updated USB 3.0 specification that promises to double theoretical maximum bandwidth is scheduled to arrive in mid–2013, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced Sunday. The improvements, thanks to revised hardware and more efficient data transfer methods, will double USB 3.0’s speed from 5 gigabits per second to 10 gigabits per second, rivaling the single-channel performance of Thunderbolt.

The news of faster USB speeds will be welcomed by those relying on external solid state or multi-disk hard drives, as some current high-end drives already saturate USB 3.0’s 5 Gb/s limit (equivalent to about 640 MB/s). For those not yet interested in faster speeds, the new technology will still be backwards-compatible with older USB 3.0 and 2.0 devices and ports.

The new specification is expected to be finalized by mid-year, but devices taking advantage of it won’t hit the market until early 2014 at the earliest, with “much broader availability of products in 2015.”

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group, which announced the new specification, is comprised of member companies in the technology field, including HP, Intel, Microsoft, and Texas Instruments, among others. Apple, which belatedly introduced USB 3.0 on its 2012 line of Macs, is not a member, although it pioneered Thunderbolt, an alternative high-speed interface.

Thunderbolt also offers maximum bandwidth of 10 Gb/s (about 1,280 MB/s) but is dual channel, allowing two transfers up to that speed to occur simultaneously between attached devices. However, the limited number of Thunderbolt-enabled computers and the complicated nature of Thunderbolt chipsets and cables have made the technology significantly more expensive than most other interface options. As a result, it is far less ubiquitous than the backwards-compatible and cheaper USB 3.0 standard.

Users interested in the new USB 3.0 specification will need both updated computers and external devices to support it. New USB 3.0 devices will still work in the absence of both of these conditions, but they will operate at much slower USB 3.0 or 2.0 speeds depending on the exact configuration.

Cables, on the other hand, are another matter. Due to changes in the efficiency of the new specification, existing USB 3.0 cables may not work. “Existing SuperSpeed USB cables are not certified to operate at 10 Gbps; it is possible that some existing SuperSpeed USB cables may be capable of operating at 10 Gbps,” the group said.

Now that Apple has introduced USB 3.0 support, it is likely that the company will move to incorporate the faster USB specification once it is available, especially if Thunderbolt adoption continues to progress at a glacial pace.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple adds Fusion Drive as build-to-order option for 21.5-inch iMac

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Date: Monday, January 7th, 2013, 06:29
Category: Hardware, News

The cool thing you want is now available for the base model iMac.

Per MacGeneration and AppleInsider, Apple is now offering the Fusion Drive as a build-to-order option when ordering the most affordable 2.7GHz 21.5-inch iMac model, a change in availability from October when the system was limited to high-end versions and the 27-inch iMac.

The revision to the Online Apple Store’s build-to-order options, first spotted by MacGeneration, adds Apple’s hybrid Fusion Drive as a US$250 upgrade to the base model 21.5-inch iMac.

Introduced in October 2012 alongside the redesigned iMac, Apple’s Fusion Drive is a hardware and software solution that promises the performance of a solid state drive with the storage capacity of a hard drive. Initial tests showed the hybrid drive to cut startup times in half while increasing read and write speeds significantly when compared to a traditional 5400-rpm hard drive.

The software driving the technology is built into OS X Mountain Lion and join a 128-gigabyte SSD with either a 1-terabyte or 3-terabyte HDD to form a single addressable volume. Integral applications and the operating system itself are permanently stored on the flash memory while other files are store on the slower spinning drive. The system monitors a user’s operations and swaps frequently accessed files, folders or programs between the two to optimize performance. Transfers take place seamlessly in the background and require no user input.

Previously, the hardware that works in tandem with the Fusion Drive software was only available on the more expensive 2.9GHz 21.5-inch iMac model.

Google releases Picasa 3.9.13.29 update

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Date: Monday, January 7th, 2013, 06:26
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, software giant Google released Picasa 3.9.13.29, the latest version of its photo organization program for the Mac. Once installed, Picasa imports (without moving or copying) photos from the iPhoto library as well as other folders and external hard drives on your Mac. The program also includes assorted editing tools for straightening, text generation, red eye removal, collage creation and Photoshop-like effects and adjustments. The new version, a 34 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

Share to your Google+ circles: If you’ve joined Google+, you can use Picasa 3.9 to share directly to the circles you’ve created in Google+. They’ll see your photos and videos in their Google+ stream. People that don’t use Google+ aren’t left out. They’ll get an email to view your album in Google+, and they don’t have to join to do so.

Picasa name tags on Google+: If you’ve joined Google+, you may have noticed that name tags have become more social. With the release of Picasa 3.9, you can now upload and share your name tags on Google+. Note that if you choose not to join Google+, name tags won’t change at all.

New photo editing effects: We’ve added a plethora of new editing effects like Vignette, Duo-tone, Borders and more.

Side by side editing: Compare two different photos side by side. Or compare the original and edited versions versions of the same photo simultaneously as you apply edits in Picasa. Learn how to edit side by side.

Picasa 3.9.13.29 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.

Workaround discovered for poor graphics performance/frame rates on 15-inch MacBook Pro

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Date: Friday, January 4th, 2013, 08:54
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

In as much as you love your 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro notebook, there are times where things aren’t always perfect. Per CNET, some Mac users are finding that some of the latest MacBook systems from Apple are sometimes showing drastic drops in graphics performance, which are particularly notable when playing graphically intensive applications like video games.

The issue seems to be that while at first launching the game will show the expected smooth performance, it may suddenly drop to a very low frame rate and be essentially unplayable. Usually when systems drop to low frame rates it suggests they are being overworked for some reason and are struggling to make the computations necessary for smooth gameplay, and as a result will usually be relatively hot as the graphics card is taxed; however, in these systems this is not the case and in testing some users have noticed that various monitoring tools show the system at a relatively idle state, suggesting the system is not being taxed much and instead is just not performing the computations at hand.

Apple’s 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro systems ship with two graphics cards (a discrete Nvidia Geforce GT 650M for graphics intensive operations and an on-board Intel HD 4000 GPU for standard everyday tasks), which it switches between dynamically to get optimal energy savings and increase battery life. However, it appears that the problem at hand is with how the system is handling this switching behavior, where it will switch back to using the lower power Intel graphics and therefore not be able to manage the demands of fancier games.

The mighty Topher Kessler has listed how to reset the SMC and thus regain some of your graphics frame rate via the following steps:

- Shut down the computer.

- Plug in the MagSafe power adapter to a power source, connecting it to the Mac if its not already connected.

- On the built-in keyboard, press the (left side) Shift-Control-Option keys and the power button at the same time.

- Release all the keys and the power button at the same time.

- Press the power button to turn on the computer.

After these steps have been performed, the system should perform as expected with graphics-intensive applications.

If you’ve tried this fix with your 15-inch MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 could be en route to next-gen iOS devices

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Date: Friday, January 4th, 2013, 07:54
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

Glassmaker Corning on Thursday announced Gorilla Glass 3, a stronger, more scratch resistant version of the current substrate used in the display of Apple’s iPhone and iPad lines of mobile devices.

Per Engadget, Corning unveiled its latest glass technologies including Gorilla Glass 3 and optical cables for use in fiber-supported protocols like Thunderbolt.



As for the next-generation Gorilla Glass 3, Corning claims the material is three times more scratch resistant than the previous version thanks to “Native Damage Resistance” technology. The company also claims that of the scratches that do occur on the glass, 40 percent fewer will be visible to the naked eye.

Not much information was provided pertaining to the optical cables, but the fiber format promises enhanced speeds and longer cable runs compared to current copper-based solutions. When Apple first launched Thunderbolt-compatible Macs and the Thunderbolt display, the company promised increased performance when optical cables hit the market. Thus far, production of the expensive components has been non-existent, but that is expected to change in 2013.

Corning Glass Technologies President James P. Clappin is scheduled to be a panelist on in the “Disruptive Technologies Impacting the Future of Games and Video” session at 11 a.m. PST on Tuesday, Jan. 8, and will discuss the role of specialized glass in consumer electronics like high-resolution 3D, HD video, internet-connected TVs and tablets, among other devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.