Apple lowers price of refurbished Apple TV units to $75

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Date: Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, 13:02
Category: Apple TV, News, retail

A little competition sometimes brings out a decent price.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has lowered the price of its refurbished Apple TV units to US$75, knocking 25 percent off the price of a new model.

The price drop could reflect Apple’s reaction to Google’s salvo against the Apple TV, which currently rules the roost among streaming devices. The refurbished model is now just over twice the price of Google’s Chromecast, but it also comes with a 1-year Apple warranty and a much wider feature set than Google’s streaming device.

Most recently, Apple added iTunes music purchasing to its set-top box, and a number of video apps have added AirPlay streaming capabilities over the last few months. Also, users may soon be able to use a touch to configure option to automatically set up their Apple TV devices in the near future.

Inside, the refurbished model has an Apple A5 processor, and it is compatible with high-definition televisions with HDMI and capable of 1080p or 720p at 60/50Hz. It can be purchased directly from Apple, with the refurbished device shipping within 24 hours. Depending on a customer’s location, it may also be available for in-store pickup.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google to begin offering free Wi-Fi Internet access at all 7,000 U.S. Starbucks locations in August

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Date: Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, 07:06
Category: News, wireless

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You may or may not have mixed feelings about Google, but hey, free Wi-Fi access at all Starbucks locations across the U.S.

Per 9to5Google, Google has announced that it will soon be supplying WiFi to all Starbucks locations in the United States as a means of advertising its Google Play music service. The offer also includes its new gigabit Google Fiber internet service where available.

Up until now, AT&T provided free Wi-fi access to Starbucks customers in the U.S. (and T-Mobile before that), but it appears that will no longer be the case following the roll out of Google’s networks in the coming weeks.

Google plans to start rolling out its new Starbucks networks next month and hopes to have all 7,000 US locations up and running on its networks within 18 months. Google noted, “You’ll know your new network is ready to go when you can log in to the “Google Starbucks” SSID.”

Earlier this month Google paid US$600,000 to provide 31 San Francisco parks and outdoor spaces with free Wi-Fi for two years, and the company continues to expand its Google Fiber service that was originally launched in Kansas.

If you see a Google connection in your local Starbucks in the coming weeks, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Hack: 2013 11-inch MacBook Air owner deciphers means of using adapters to access external graphics card, improve performance sevenfold

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Date: Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, 06:34
Category: Hacks, Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Software

It ain’t pretty, but it apparently works really well.

Per MacRumors and Mac|Life, TechInferno contributor Larry Gadea was able to hook up a powerful graphics processor to his 11-inch MacBook Air with the help of several adapters.

Gadea first used a Thunderbolt to Express Card adapter which was then connected an Express Card to PCI-Express adapter. Once that was done, he plugged the whole thing into a Windows-compatible video card–specifically, a GeForce GTX 570.

In his words, “It has become very clear that gaming is not only high-performance, but super practical on an 11″ Macbook Air. There’s so much going against it: this hodgepodge of adapters, it has a low voltage CPU, disaster of wiring and exposed sensitive parts, crazy boot-time chainloading software, Intel killing companies producing adapters and products left right and center via legal threats, etc. but somehow, with the right parts and some patience, it works spectacularly. And is quite cheap too!”

The TechInferno forum link can be found here, but Gadea’s unique solution to the limitations of Mac gaming has proven so popular that it’s apparently crashed the TechInferno forums. The post includes important specifics about the setup, including the understandable limitation that Boot Camp needs to be installed on your Mac in order to run many of the games themselves due to Windows-only restrictions. Gadea has stated that his graphics performance has improved roughly sevenfold since installing the hack.

The current rundown of Gadea’s setup includes the following:
- An 11-inch Macbook Air (2013 model

- A copy of Windows 7

- A Sonnet Echo ExpressCard

- A BPlus PE4L ExpressCard to PCI-Express adapter

- A copy of DIY eGPU Setup 1.X

- A 4GB USB thumb drive (to install Windows)

- A 400w PC power supply

- A video card of your choosing.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, check out Gadea’s rig (which retails for about $250) in action as it tears through Borderlands 2 in resolutions you’d otherwise never see on an 11-inch MacBook Air:



If you’ve come up with a killer hack/rig of your own like this, please let us know in the comments.

Google Chrome updated to 28.0.1500.95

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Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013, 08:57
Category: News, Software

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On Tuesday, Google released version 28.0.1500.95 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 51.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- Medium CVE-2013-2881: Origin bypass in frame handling.

- High CVE-2013-2882: Type confusion in V8.

- High CVE-2013-2883: Use-after-free in MutationObserver.

- High CVE-2013-2884: Use-after-free in DOM.

- High CVE-2013-2885: Use-after-free in input handling.

- High CVE-2013-2886: Various fixes from internal audits, fuzzing and other initiatives.

Google Chrome 28.0.1500.95 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.

Assorted mid-2013 MacBook Air owners cite “blackout bug”, point out screen flicker issue

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Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013, 08:46
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

This is what they created firmware updates for…

Per CNET, Apple’s mid-2013 MacBook Air appears to be suffering from a bug that results in intermittent loss of video output. When using an affected system, the screen may randomly blink to black for a brief second, or go to sleep and require a button be pressed for the system to wake again.

There is no indication on how widespread this bug is, but a number of affected users have noted the problem in a lengthy and growing Apple support discussion thread.

When the screen flashes intermittently, the system does not appear to shut down or sleep, since audio and other activity may continue; however, this does not occur at the times where the systems do go to sleep. This bug appears to affect both the 11-inch and 13-inch models, though the problem seems to happen more with the 13-inch MacBook Air. Additionally, it appears to happen more when on battery power than when plugged into its AC adapter; however, some have reported it happening on AC power as well.

The random nature of the problem suggests it is likely not software-based, so it may revolve around a physical sensor such as a magnetic switch in the lid or chassis, that could be contributing to the problem. Recently, the following YouTube video of the issue surfaced, showing an extreme condition of the bug, and its apparent tie to physical movement of the systems:



If you are experiencing this problem with your MacBook Air, then you can try some hardware resets to see if they can help the situation. The first is to perform a PRAM reset, by rebooting the system and immediately holding the Option-Command-P-R keys all at once. Continue to hold them until the system automatically resets and sounds the boot chimes again, and then release the keys to allow the system to boot normally.
The next reset you can do is for the system management controller (SMC), which governs how power and sensors are handled in the system. To reset this controller on the MacBook Air, first shut down the system and plug it into the AC adapter. Then press and hold the Shift-Control-Option keys on the left-hand side of the keyboard, followed by depressing the power button. Release all keys at the same time, and then press the power button to start the computer again.

If these reset routines do not fix the issue, then the next step would be to contact Apple and have the system replaced or serviced, especially since at this time the systems should still be under warranty. Since this issue came to light, Apple has swapped out a number of these for affected customers, likely with the intent of investigating the problem.

Depending on what Apple’s engineers find, we may see a firmware or software update to address the problem in the near future. Apple recently issued a software update for the Mid 2013 MacBook Air; however, this was to address a flickering display problem specific with use of Adobe software, and does not appear to address the issue at hand. Meanwhile, even though the issue may still happen, consider using the systems with the AC adapter attached, to at least reduce its prevalence.

This issue follows a similar, though unrelated, bug seen in the Mid-2010 MacBook Pro, where a faulty series of graphics cards has plagued those systems with regular crashes and black screens. In that case, Apple addressed the issue with a software update, though subsequent OS updates and upgrades have brought the issue back or exacerbated it for some systems.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end with a mid-2013 MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.

Latest Apple TV beta allows for iOS device pairing, NFC-like setup

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Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013, 07:58
Category: iOS, News, Software

It’s been proven time and time again: the beta versions show the cool stuff that’s en route.

Per 9to5Mac, the latest beta version of iOS 7 for mobile devices and Apple TV introduces a new method of pairing your iOS device’s Remote app with your Apple TV. Previously, the pairing procedure required the use of the regular infrared remote that comes with the Apple TV. The new beta allows the user to simply tap the phone on the Apple TV to connect using Bluetooth. The feature requires a Bluetooth 4.0-capable device, which means only more recent iOS devices are supported.

It’s possible that Apple is using this setup process as a testing platform to decide whether Bluetooth 4.0 could be used as a method of authorizing payments, much like NFC is used on many Android phones. While Phil Schiller noted last year that he did not believe NFC was a critical feature for the iPhone, perhaps Apple is making plans to add NFC-style features via Bluetooth instead. The company could also be considering a tap-to-share AirDrop much like the “bump” feature seen on recent Nexus devices and other Android phones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox updated to 2.2.12

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Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013, 07:33
Category: News, Software

You’ve got to love a program that updates frequently.

On Tuesday, Dropbox released version 2.2.12 of its cloud-based storage client for Mac OS X. The new version, a 31 megabyte download (via MacUpdate), which adds the following fixes and changes:
- Fix an issue that could cause high CPU usage during reindex.

- Fix an issue with the tray icon on Mac.

- Fix a rare issue that caused unnecessary reindexing of the entire contents of a Dropbox.

- Fix a rare issue with Selective Sync.

- Other minor fixes.

Dropbox 2.2.12 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.

VLC updated to 2.0.8

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Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013, 13:43
Category: News, Software

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Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), was updated to version 2.0.8. The new version, a 41.9 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- Fixes some regressions of the 2.0.x branch of VLC.

- Fixes numerous crashes and dangerous behaviors.

- Fixes ISDB-S tunning and some OS X issues.

VLC 2.0.8 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, let us know in the comments.

iOS 7 beta 4 code strings point towards forthcoming fingerprint recognition feature

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Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013, 12:44
Category: News, Software

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It’s the beta code that tells you where things are going.

Per Electronista, code strings buried in iOS 7 beta 4 suggests that one or more next-generation iOS devices will indeed have fingerprint sensors. An unused folder in the firmware, discovered by Hamza Sood, is titled “BiometricKitUI.axb.” Accompanying code strings moreover make reference to a “Photo of a person holding an iPhone with their right hand while touching the Home button with their thumb,” a percentage completion meter for fingerprint recognition, and “a fingerprint that changes colour [sic] during the setup process.”

Apple has been expected to add a fingerprint sensor to iOS devices ever since it bought out AuthenTec last year. It was unclear if Apple would have the technology ready for this year however, and indeed Apple could simply be laying the groundwork for 2014 devices. At the same time, rumors have sometimes pointed to an iPhone 5S getting fingerprint recognition, and there would be competitive advantages.

On a basic level, the feature could let people unlock an iPhone or iPad without having to enter a passcode. It could also enable multiple user accounts however, since iOS would be able to automatically differentiate users. If Apple brings NFC to the iPhone, if might permit an upgraded Passbook app to make transactions, instead of just store coupons, tickets, and passes.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Child Labor Watch points toward initial low-cost iPhone production at Pegatron factory

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Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013, 10:14
Category: iPhone, News

It’s the iPhone, but at a lower cost…and plasticky.

Per AppleInsider and China Labor Watch, a new plastic iPhone is currently being tested Apple supplier Pegatron, and will soon go into mass production and hit the market, one factory worker claims.

Details of Apple’s anticipated low-cost iPhone were revealed in a report published by China Labor Watch on Monday. A section of the report details “A day in Pegatron,” with a worker detailing their activities on July 9.

On that day, the worker’s job was “to paste protective film on the iPhone’s plastic back cover to prevent it from being scratched on assembly lines.” The worker revealed that the plastic iPhone will “soon be released on the market by Apple.”

“The new cell phone has not yet been put into mass production, so quantity is not as important,” the worker wrote. “This makes our job more slow paced than in departments that have begun mass production schedules.”

In addition, China Labor Watch’s company profile notes that Pegatron is responsible for building “low-priced plastic iPhones” for Apple, in addition to the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.

The report accuses Pegatron of violating labor regulations in China, as well as international labor laws and Apple’s own standards. Specifically, Pegatron is said to have work weeks that exceed Apple’s 60-hour limit, while some employees have allegedly had their pay withheld for working short shifts.

The details also come as an image published over the weekend claimed to show the retail packaging for a product called the “iPhone 5C.” Some have speculated that the “C,” if the name is accurate, could refer to “color,” as the device is expected to come in a range of colors.

Well-connected insider Ming-Chi Kuo revealed last week that Apple is on track to launch its so-called “iPhone Lite” in early September. The device is expected to be essentially a slightly thicker iPhone 5 with a plastic body.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.