Google Chrome updated to 27.0.1453.116

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Date: Wednesday, June 19th, 2013, 05:21
Category: News, Software

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Never doubt a good update.

On Tuesday, Google released version 27.0.1453.116 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 50.4 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- [249335] Medium CVE-2013-2866: Clickjacking in the Flash plug-in.

This build also has fixes to the following issues:
- Multiple flash movies on one page not playing [Issue: 243290].

- Arc rendering bug in canvas [Issue: 243996].

- Select box with Multiple option fires Onchange event on scroll [Issue: 244406].

Google Chrome 27.0.1453.116 requires an Intel-based Mac with 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.

Apple releases Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 16

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Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 14:07
Category: News, security, Software

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This might come in handy.

On Tuesday, Apple released Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 16, a security update that stands as a 69.48 megabyte download and offers the following fixes and changes:

- This update enables website-by-website control of the Java plug-in within Safari 5.1.9 or later, and supersedes all previous versions of Java for Mac OS X v10.6.

- This release updates the Apple-provided system Java SE 6 to version 1.6.0_51 for Mac OS X v10.6.

The update requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

The updates can be located, snagged and installed via the Software Update feature built into the Mac OS X operating system.

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

iPhone case hints at thicker, rounder design for upcoming low-cost iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 07:15
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

Sometimes the upcoming case designs give it away.

Per AppleInsider and Macotakara, case makers in the Far East have begun to produce accessories they hope will fit a new low-cost iPhone model from Apple, featuring a slightly thicker design and rounded edges.

The appearance of a case alleged to fit a new iPhone would suggest that schematics for such a device, legitimate or not, are in the wild.

The case designed by Japan’s MGM Corp. shows rounded edges, and a slightly thicker frame than the iPhone 5. It includes space for a rear-facing camera with flash, as well as volume buttons and mute switch on the left side.

According to the report, the case for the low-cost iPhone is about 2 millimeters thicker than a similar accessory designed for the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 case also has squared off edges, while the low-cost iPhone case has rounded sides.

Rumors have persisted throughout 2013 that Apple plans to build a new, low-end iPhone model that could be used to target customers who prefer not to sign a new service contract. Currently Apple does not serve the low end of the smartphone market, where the most industry growth is being seen.


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In recent weeks, reports have claimed that suppliers are now shipping parts for such a device. One alleged part claimed to show a plastic rear shell with rounded corners allegedly intended for the device.

Market watchers believe Apple could sell a low-cost iPhone for US$399 without negatively affecting the company’s margins. It’s also been suggested the device will be available in an array of colors, taking a cue from the company’s iPod lineup.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T updates carrier settings, pushes Wireless Emergency Alerts

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Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 07:39
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software, wireless

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This was a weird thing that popped up, but it’s hard to argue with the Emergency Alert System.

Per The Mac Observer, wireless carrier AT&T began pushing an update to iPhone users over the weekend that adds support for Wireless Emergency Alerts. The WEA system sends text messages to smartphone owners alerting them to physical threats like earthquakes and tornados, man-made disasters, AMBER Alerts, and Presidential alerts.


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The update is being pushed to the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5, and doesn’t require any action on the user’s part since it’s delivered over the air. Once installed, alerts will appear as special text messages and are delivered based on your location. For example, if an AMBER alert is issued for a missing child and you’re in the same city, you’ll see the notification.

The update is free, and since it’s a carrier-supplied update, it won’t appear in iOS 6′s built-in Software Update feature.

Sprint adds 4G LTE access to 22 additional U.S. cities

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Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 06:48
Category: iPhone, News, wireless

The Sprint network grows.

And that’s generally not a bad thing.

Per iMore, wireless carrier Sprint has announced a major expansion of its LTE rollout, adding coverage to 22 more cities today, bringing the number of markets with access to Sprint’s high-speed network up to 110. The new cities are as follows according to the company’s press release:
- Baton Rouge, La.

- Centralia, Wash.

- Clarksville, Tenn.

- Corsicana, Texas

- Dalton, Ga.

- Dunn, N.C.

- Fond du Lac, Wis.

- Gainesville, Fla.

- Henderson, N.C.

- Kingsport, Tenn.

- Lansing/East Lansing, Mich.

- Longview, Wash.

- Miami, Fl.

- Napa, Calif.

- New Orleans, La.

- Palatka, Fla.

- Raleigh, N.C.

- Sebring, Fla.

- St. Cloud, Minn.

- St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, Mich.

- Tampa, Fla.

- Warsaw, Ind.

An additional 13 cities, including Ann Arbor, Laredo, and Corpus Christi, are scheduled to receive coverage “in the coming months”. Sprint stated that their LTE network would be available to 200 million people by the end of 2013, a number mostly theoretical, as many of them would undoubtedly be customers of Sprints competition. The expansion shows that Sprint is serious about their LTE rollout, no matter who may buy the company.

If you’re in these new expansion areas and have Sprint as your wireless carrier, please let us know about the performance in the comments.

Adobe releases Creative Cloud apps into wild, offers discounts

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Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 06:04
Category: News, Software

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Adobe’s Creative Cloud is now out, in the wild and pretty spiffy.

Per 9to5Mac, Adobe recently introduced big updates and new features to just about every app in the CC suite, including updates to its design apps like Illustrator, a new Kuler iPhone app, revamped web tools such as Dreamweaver and Edge Animate, and updates to just about every other app it makes. On Tuesday, Adobe finally made the massive Creative Cloud update available to all users and is also offering a number of promotional discounts as well.

“We’ve added a ton of new innovation to all our CC desktop apps like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. These apps include new features that increase productivity, streamline the effort to build mobile content and showcase some stunning new imaging and video science. And in addition to the traditional areas of innovation these apps are now connected to the powerful publishing and community features integral to the Creative Cloud experience,” said David Wadhwani, senior vice president and general manager, Digital Media, Adobe. “And with even more great updates coming to Creative Cloud throughout the year, we can’t wait to see the incredible work our customers are going to deliver.”

Normally US$50/month (US$30 for existing CS customer), you can currently get up to 60% off to upgrade from a Creative Suite product to a Creative Cloud membership with special introductory pricing of US$29.99/month. There’s an additional US$20/month off for signing up for Creative Cloud for Teams.

Adobe is apparently considering the release of a photographer’s bundle, as the company sent out a survey asking users their thoughts on a US$10/per month Photoshop offering or US$30/per month for access to the entire suite. The catch is it would only last for three years with users able to “keep a permanent CS6 copy of either at the end.”

If you’ve tried the new Creative Cloud suite or have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Parallels Desktop updated to 8.0.18494

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Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 05:52
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Parallels released version 8.0.18494 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 336.4 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- Use Parallels Desktop with OS X 10.9 Mavericks Developer Preview (experimental support).

- Work with Parallels Desktop on new MacBooks Air (Mid-2013).

Parallels Desktop 8 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

Apple issues statement regarding customer privacy/transparency in wake of “Prism” scandal

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Date: Monday, June 17th, 2013, 06:33
Category: News

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In the wake of the recent “Prism” privacy scandal, wherein technology companies were accused of indiscriminately sharing customer data with government agencies, Apple has recently offered the following response:

“Two weeks ago, when technology companies were accused of indiscriminately sharing customer data with government agencies, Apple issued a clear response: We first heard of the government’s “Prism” program when news organizations asked us about it on June 6. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order.

Like several other companies, we have asked the U.S. government for permission to report how many requests we receive related to national security and how we handle them. We have been authorized to share some of that data, and we are providing it here in the interest of transparency.

From December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013, Apple received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement for customer data. Between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices were specified in those requests, which came from federal, state and local authorities and included both criminal investigations and national security matters. The most common form of request comes from police investigating robberies and other crimes, searching for missing children, trying to locate a patient with Alzheimer’s disease, or hoping to prevent a suicide.

Regardless of the circumstances, our Legal team conducts an evaluation of each request and, only if appropriate, we retrieve and deliver the narrowest possible set of information to the authorities. In fact, from time to time when we see inconsistencies or inaccuracies in a request, we will refuse to fulfill it.

Apple has always placed a priority on protecting our customers’ personal data, and we don’t collect or maintain a mountain of personal details about our customers in the first place. There are certain categories of information which we do not provide to law enforcement or any other group because we choose not to retain it.

For example, conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data. Similarly, we do not store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.

We will continue to work hard to strike the right balance between fulfilling our legal responsibilities and protecting our customers’ privacy as they expect and deserve.”

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.

Rogers Wireless, Telus, to offer iPad, iPad mini sales, Wind to offer nano-SIMs for iPhone 5 handset

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Date: Monday, June 17th, 2013, 06:05
Category: iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, News, retail

There shall be additional iPad offerings in the great white north.

Per Engadget, Canadian wireless carriers Rogers and Telus will start selling cellular LTE versions of Apple’s iPad and iPad mini in the near future, while Wind Mobile has already started sales of nano-SIM cards to bring unlocked models of the iPhone 5 to its network.

Both Rogers and Telus made the announcement on Friday in posts to their respective websites, saying that customers will be able to buy the iPad and iPad mini from carrier stores in the “coming weeks.”

The rival companies both have webpages dedicated to the iPad, with information and images mirroring Apple’s own site. Particular plan specifics were not released, but each carrier said it would continue offering no-contract data plans.

As for Wind Mobile, the wireless provider is now selling iPhone 5-compatible nano-SIM cards for US$25, allowing owners of unlocked devices to switch over to the company’s network. Wind is not an official Apple wireless partner, making the move similar to what T-Mobile did in the U.S. when the iPhone 5 first launched in 2012.

The smaller carrier’s network tops out at HSPA+ and does not support LTE, meaning iPhone 5 users will have to decide whether the carrier’s lower priced plans are worth the trade.

If you’re up around Canada and have any feedback to offer on this, please let us know in the comments.

Review: Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

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Date: Friday, June 14th, 2013, 08:23
Category: Review, Software, Software

The space opera that is StarCraft continues in fine style.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, the latest installment in Blizzard’s epic StarCraft real-time strategy series, has been out for a while now, reflects a fairly major overhaul in its unit progression, achievement and multiplayer systems. Picking up where StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty left off, the story hones in on Sarah Kerrigan, who, under the protection of Jim Raynor, is attempting to resolve being human again after her transformation into the Queen of Blades and the overall conflict against Emperor Mengsk’s Dominion forces.

Like any space opera, the plot grounds itself in tragic elements, Kerrigan witnessing Raynor’s death at the hands of Mengsk’s forces, allying herself once again with the now-scattered Zerg and working to reunite the Swarm as a tool for vengeance. Not a bad start within the first few missions of the game and Blizzard’s classic strong voice acting and marquee-level cut scenes continue to tell a great, relatable story to its audience.


Send in enough flying units to take down powerful defenders like the Terran Thor unit.

Send in enough flying units to take down powerful defenders like the Terran Thor unit.


If there’s one thing that makes Heart of the Swarm work, it’s an easier approachability than Wings of Liberty offered – and flustered some players with. Unlike Wings of Liberty, unit upgrades aren’t hooked into a currency system and are therefore easier to earn and work with. Unit upgrades can also be switched prior to the beginning of each mission, meaning you aren’t completely locked into a given upgrade once your choice has been made. This comes as a welcome change and it’s fun to experiment with alternate upgrades to see what works best in different situations.

Still, it’s the sheer joy of a Zerg-focused StarCraft game that sells Heart of the Swarm. Here, you’re greeted with the fully awesome disgustingness of the insect/reptilian armies you’ll happily grow, spawn and mutate to defend your nest and annihilate your enemies with. From gruesome-yet-fun “Splortch!!!” sounds as your units emerge from their cocoons to the sounds of your multi-legged units skittering and/or oozing their way towards battle, there’s the unassailable enjoyment of creating and fighting with the most disgusting army in any real-time strategy game.


When in doubt, send everything you've got.

When in doubt, send everything you’ve got.


Heart of the Swarm doesn’t provide a massive graphical update over Heart of the Swarm, but it’s still noticeable. Where Wings of Liberty sometimes chugged along slowly on my late-2011 MacBook Pro, Heart of the Swarm ran briskly, complete with detailed characters and fluid animation. Whatever Blizzard did under the hood of the game, it worked and the title still features all the terrific slime, gore, fangs and ooze you’d expect from the Zerg, even with the resolution turned down to more minimal levels.

It was the new multiplayer features that caught my eye when Heart of the Swarm was in development, Blizzard offering new and altered units and abilities. Even though there’s something of a learning curve with the new stuff, Blizzard came through and delivered, new units such as the Viper allowing you to literally pull your opponent’s high-value units out of a cluster and drag it towards your forces to be quickly attacked and torn apart. Upgraded mine units allow you to create a defensive line where needed and Blizzard has incorporated something of an “arcade” feel to its revised multiplayer gameplay, the program visibly awarding experience points for actions such as gathering resources, building units and defeating enemy units. It’s a small thing, but it brings back a sort of action-based/arcade feel to even standard multiplayer gameplay and makes achievements that much more fun to work towards.


The new Zerg Abomination unit can slug it out with even the toughest ground defenders.

The new Zerg Abomination unit can slug it out with even the toughest ground defenders.


Top this off with new game modes, new customer maps and a better means of sorting players by appropriate player and skill level and the Heart of the Swarm can stand on its own as a multiplayer-only title should you choose to ignore the core campaign. Battle.net, Blizzard’s multiplayer gaming service, has improved dramatically over the years and the only limitations are occasional downtimes for server upgrades and perhaps how your Internet connection happens to be behaving at that point in time.

If there are points of contention to deal with with Heart of the Swarm, they come in the form of some familiar points of conflict gamers have had with Blizzard in recent years. Blizzard has disabled Local Area Network multiplayer gameplay, which is meant as a piracy-prevention technique, but also removes what would literally be the fastest form of multiplayer gameplay available to a group of players. This, combined with the fact that, once activated and hooked into an activation code, players are unable to resell their used copies of Heart of the Swarm down the line. Perhaps Blizzard will figure out a way around this or a more moderate fix, but it still feels like a heavy-handed approach to copy protection. Finally, Blizzard has instituted a requirement that single player achievements can only be earned (and recorded) if the account has logged into Battle.net. Granted, this isn’t as draconian as Blizzard’s requirement that players always be logged into Battle.net even during single player gameplay in Diablo 3 and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, but there’s still a sense that you’d like to just open the game and polish off a few single player missions in your free time without having to log into the server.


Send Reaper units after space-based enemies to help keep the Hyperion safe in side missions.

Send Reaper units after space-based enemies to help keep the Hyperion safe in side missions.


Game companies have always had a hard time incorporating replay value into single player campaigns and Heart of the Swarm suffers from some of this, but not to a deal-breaking extent. There’s a fair amount of challenge involved with the Normal difficulty – which makes the game fun – and the game’s challenge scales well with each level of difficulty you attempt, but absolute die-hards have cited that the game could be more challenging in its most difficult modes. This comes down to personal taste and Wings of Liberty had some more definitive storyline and plot-based choices that added to the title’s replay value, but there’s still enough challenge and variety to be found in Heart of the Swarm’s multiplayer game modes to keep you coming back for more.


There's nothing like sweet, sweet StarCraft victory. And explosions to go along with it.

There’s nothing like sweet, sweet StarCraft victory. And explosions to go along with it.


In conclusion, Heart of the Swarm adds a solid contribution to the space opera story that the “StarCraft” franchise is known for, some nice core engine and gameplay improvements and is just as fun as an RTS fan would expect the latest installment of StarCraft to be. The assortment of new units make the single and multiplayer modes that much more fun and it’s cool to go back, look over the new units and develop new offensive and defensive techniques to use based on the new tools available to you. Yes, Blizzard creates its own foibles thanks to its current (and somewhat ever-changing) privacy-prevention techniques, but there’s also the sense that they might be able to eventually arrive at a set of methods that both players and the company can live with. Heart of the Swarm isn’t perfect, but the good more than outweighs the bad, it’s what the next chapter of StarCraft needed to be and the joy of playing – and conquering – with the Zerg is everything you could have hoped for.

Minimum System Requirements:
- Mac OS X 10.7 or later
- Intel Core 2 Duo or faster processor
- NVIDIA GeForce 9400M or ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro or better graphics card
- 2 GB RAM
- 20 GB available hard disk space
- Broadband Internet connection
- DVD-ROM drive
- 1024 x 768 minimum display resolution

Recommended System Requirements:
- Mac OS X 10.8 or later
- Intel Core i3 or faster processor
- ATI Radeon HD 4850 or NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M or better graphics card
- 4 GB RAM
- 20 GB available hard disk space
- Broadband Internet connection
- DVD-ROM drive
- 1024 x 768 minimum display resolution