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.

Apple exec Bob Mansfield switched to “special projects” team, wearable technology rumors gain strength

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Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013, 06:48
Category: News

Apple is assigning Bob Mansfield to a “special projects” team.

Not bad for a guy who looks like a middle school football coach.

Per The Mac Observer and AllThingsD, Bob Mansfield quietly disappeared from Apple’s executive team webpage on Sunday and the company said it’s because he’ll be working on “special projects” instead. Mr. Mansfield had been serving as the company’s Senior Vice President of Technologies, but now it looks like he may be throwing his weight behind secret new products.


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Mr. Mansfield took on the role of Senior VP of Tech in August 2012 after leaving, and then returning to, Apple. At the time he committed to stay with the company for two more years. Now, only a year later, his job seems to be changing significantly.

In a statement to AllThingsD, Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said, “Bob is no longer going to be on Apple’s executive team, but will remain at Apple working on special projects reporting to Tim,” meaning company CEO Tim Cook.

Mr. Mansfield retired from Apple in June 2012 with the title Senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering and was replaced by then Vice President of iPad Hardware Engineering Dan Ricco. Two months later, Apple announced that Mr. Mansfield was staying after all and would be in charge of the semiconductor and wireless technology teams.

Following Mr. Mansfield’s change of heart, Apple announced that Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall was leaving the company. Rumors had been circulating that the two men routinely clashed and that Mr. Mansfield was swayed to stay once he knew Mr. Forestall was out the door.

Saying Mr. Mansfield will be reporting directly to Tim Cook on special projects has a familiar ring to it because that’s exactly what the company said when it hired Yves St Laurent’s Paul Deneve in July of this year. With Mr. Mansfield taking on the same mysterious roll, it looks like Apple is putting together a top-notch team to work on secret projects — and it’s easy to assume that “secret” really means “wearable technology.”

Reports have already claimed Mr. Mansfield had been focusing on wearable tech, and Mr. Deneve has some serious experience in the high-end fashion world. He also has a history with Apple because he was also the company’s senior marketing and sales manager in Europe during the 1990s.

Assuming the two men are working together, Apple has the beginnings of a crack team that could come up with some amazing products, which is exactly what the company needs if it wants to disrupt the wearable tech market much like it did with the portable media player, smartphone, and tablet markets.

Apple isn’t saying what projects Mr. Mansfield or Mr. Deneve are working on, but if it is wearable tech-related, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing more than just a high tech watch that talks with our iPhones coming out of Cupertino.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Beijing-area scalpers buying up Genius Bar appointments, selling them online

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Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013, 06:28
Category: News, retail

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If you’re planning on traveling to China in the near term, you might want to be aware of this.

Per the Beijing Morning News, Beijing ticket scalpers have found a new way to make money on Apple: booking up all available Genius Bar appointments and then offering them for sale online.

Ticket scalpers usually make their money by buying large quantities of event tickets as soon as they go on sale, and then illegally selling them for more than face value once the event is sold-out. With Genius Bar appointments, they don’t even need to fork out cash in the first place: just use a bunch of email addresses to make the appointments, then advertise them online.

Appointments sell for 10- yuan (US$1.60-US6.40) in a country where the average monthly salary is equivalent to US$580. A Beijing Morning News reporter found there were no appointments available on the Apple site for iPhone, iPad or iPod. They contacted one of the advertisers asking for an appointment the next day, and were offered a choice of two local stores and two time slots. The reporter was sent login details for the booking by instant messenger, and was then able to access the booking on the Apple site to change the details to their own.

The reporter contacted Apple for comment, and had not received a reply at the time of writing.

If you’ve been traveling and noticed anything similar to this, please let us know in the comments.