Apple blocks certain Java plug-ins, goes through security protocols yet again

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Date: Friday, August 30th, 2013, 08:46
Category: News, security, Software

As nifty and useful as Java tends to be, its security nightmares remain.

And you should probably download and install the most recent version possible.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple blocked the Java 6 and Java 7 plug-ins for the third time this year over Mac users on Thursday over more potential security threats. Mac users running versions of Java that are earlier than version 6 update 51 and version 7 update 25 can no longer run Java code on their computer until they update to a newer version.

Apple hasn’t uninstalled Java from user’s Macs, and instead has simply disabled the older versions of the plug-in, which means apps and websites that rely on Java either won’t work or will be partially non-functional. Users running newer versions of the plug-ins aren’t affected.

This isn’t the first time this year Apple has remotely disabled older versions of Java over security-related issues. For Mac owners that don’t actually need Java, you can uninstall it, or at least find out exactly which version is living on your Mac, by following along with TMO’s handy guide.

Apple has taken to remotely disabling older versions of Java on user’s Macs, and will also auto-disable the plug-in when it hasn’t been used for at least 30 days. You can also disable Java yourself in Safari’s preferences.

Apple has stopped maintaining Java on its own and has handed that task off to Oracle, which also happens to be the company that develops the Java platform. Assuming you need Java on your Mac, you can find the latest version at Oracle’s Java website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 29.0.1547.62

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Date: Friday, August 30th, 2013, 08:16
Category: News, Software

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It’s not a monumental change.

But it’s nice to be able to print from Google Docs.

On Friday, Google released version 29.0.1547.62 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 51.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Fixed an issue with printing from Google Docs applications.

Google Chrome 29.0.1547.62 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 confirms iPhone trade-in program at retail locations, certain Best Buy locations

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Date: Friday, August 30th, 2013, 08:52
Category: iPhone, News, retail

The rumors of an iPhone trade-in program are true.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has confirmed rumors that it has been developing an iPhone trade-in program to be based out of its retail locations, saying that that program will begin rolling out nationwide today.

Rumors of the program surfaced in June of this year when it was reported that Apple had confirmed the program’s existence, as well as its Friday launch. The program will see Apple Store customers able to trade-in an older model iPhone for store credit toward the purchase of a new model.

Notably, the program appears designed to keep current iPhone owners within the iPhone ecosystem. Reports stated that “customer[s] must leave [the] store with [a] new contract” in order to take part in the program.

Shortly after news of Apple’s confirmation broke, the Wall Street Journal reported that the highest value a customer can receive for a trade-in will be US$280.

The confirmation aligns with previous claims as to the program’s nature. Those claims had customers being given a gift card for the value of their trade-in with the requirement that that gift card be used toward the purchase of a new iPhone model.

Further, the gift card is only usable is the purchaser is eligible for a phone upgrade from their selected carrier. Any leftover value can be used for other retail store purchases.

Apple is launching the trade-in program only about a week and a half before it is expected to unveil the next iteration of its bestselling smartphone. A rumored September 10 media event may well see the introduction of both a high-end and low-end model of the new iPhone, and having a trade-in program up and running would likely help draw current iPhone owners back into Apple’s retail stores to grab the newest generation.

Prior reports had the trade-in company being run by Brightstar Corp., the same company that handles trade-ins for AT&T and T-Mobile. Previously, it was expected that Brightstar would resell the units in emerging markets, though some have since disputed such claims.

Apple is not the only firm offering discounts for iPhone trade-ins. Best Buy has its own program going on for Labor Day weekend. That program will see the electronics retailer offering 50 percent off of the on-contract price of an iPhone 5 in exchange for working iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S models.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: AT&T to black out employee holidays around September 20th for next-gen iPhone launch

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Date: Friday, August 30th, 2013, 07:19
Category: iPhone, retail, Rumor

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When companies begin penning in blackout dates for their employees, a product launch tends to be imminent.

Per Boy Genius Report, citing sources close to the story, the web site claims that AT&T has blacked out vacation dates for the second half of September, a move supposedly meant to handle an expected deluge of customers looking to get their hands on Apple’s next-gen iPhone. The telecom did the same last year ahead of the iPhone 5 launch.

The publication also notes that the nation’s second largest mobile carrier will not be releasing any other major handsets during the period, suggesting the no-vacation days are being set for the

While somewhat vague, the report comes just one day after T-Mobile purportedly issued its own employee blackout dates set to start on Sept. 20.

Apple is expected to announce the next-generation “iPhone 5S” at a special event on Sept. 10, possibly alongside a lower-cost plastic composite handset many have taken to calling the “iPhone 5C.”

The iPhone 5 successor is rumored to sport a fingerprint sensor embedded in its home button, a 31 percent faster A7 processor, motion tracking and upgraded camera components. Numerous parts “leaks” have also pointed to a new “champagne” color option for the handset.

The iPhone 5C is rumored to carry a plastic composite shell to be offered in a variety of colors, though not much is known regarding its internals. Some claim the unit will use the same 4-inch form factor of the iPhone 5, but with older components to keep costs down.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Researcher draws attention to long-standing security vulnerability in OS X operating systems

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Date: Thursday, August 29th, 2013, 10:19
Category: News, security, Software

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After five months, it might be time to fix this sucker…

Per mitre.org and Ars Technica, a unaddressed bug in Apple’s Mac OS X discovered five months ago allows hackers to bypass the usual authentication measures by tweaking specific clock and user timestamp settings, granting near unlimited access to a computer’s files.

While the security flaw has been around for nearly half a year, a new module created by developers of testing software Metasploit makes it easier to exploit the vulnerability in Macs.

The bug revolves around a Unix program called sudo, which allows or disallows users operational access based on privilege levels. Top tier privileges grant access to files belonging to other users’ files, though that level of control is password protected.

Instead of inputting a password, the flaw works around authentication by setting a computer’s clock to Jan. 1, 1970, or what is referred to as the Unix epoch. Unix time starts at zero hours on this date and is the basis for calculations. By resetting a Mac’s clock, as well as the sudo user timestamp, to epoch, time restrictions and privilege limitations can be bypassed.

“The bug is significant because it allows any user-level compromise to become root, which in turn exposes things like clear-text passwords from Keychain and makes it possible for the intruder to install a permanent rootkit,” said H.D. Moore, founder of the open-source Metasploit and chief research officer at security firm Rapid7.

Macs are especially vulnerable to the bug as OS X does not require a password to change these clock settings. As a result, all versions of the operating system from OS X 10.7 to the current 10.8.4 are affected. The same problem exists in Linux builds, but many of those iterations password protect clock changes.

While powerful, the bypass method has limitations. In order to implement changes, an attacker must already be logged in to a Mac with administrator privileges and have run sudo at least once before. As noted by the National Vulnerability Database, the person attempting to gain unauthorized privileges must also have physical or remote access to the target computer.

Apple has yet to respond or issue a patch for the bug.

“I believe Apple should take this more seriously but am not surprised with the slow response given their history of responding to vulnerabilities in the open source tools they package,” Moore said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Desktop 9 announced, adds cloud support, Windows 8 Start button, other new features

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Date: Thursday, August 29th, 2013, 09:47
Category: News

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Parallels announced its Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac client today, the new version of the virtualization software offering the following set of fixes and features:
– Cloud storage optimizations for iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive.

– Support for OS X Launchpad in Windows applications

– Enhanced support for Apple’s forthcoming OS X 10.9 Mavericks.

– Incorporates the familiar Start menu and Windows Start button for Windows 8 users..

– Extends the OS X PowerNap feature to Windows and Windows applications.

– Allows Mountain Lion Dictionary gesture compatibility in Windows apps.

– Allows users to connect Thunderbolt and FireWire devices to either their Mac or virtual machine, just like with USB.

– Enhances the virtual machine wizard, making it easier to create new systems by automatically locating operating systems on a Mac. Users can also manually select a range of media types to install.

– 40 percent better disk performance than the previous version.

– Virtual machines shut down up to 25 percent faster than the previous version.

– Virtual machines suspend up to 20 percent faster than the previous version.

– 3D graphics and web browsing is 15 percent faster than the previous version.

– A new Security Center in Parallels Desktop 9 is said to make it easier to ensure that files are secure, both on the Mac and in a Windows virtual machine.

– In addition, Parallels Desktop 9 comes with a six-month subscription to Parallels Access for iPad, announced earlier this week. That new software allows customers to remotely access and experience Windows and Mac applications as if they were designed for Apple’s iPad.

– Mac gestures inside Windows apps: Parallels Desktop now includes the addition of the Dictionary lookup gesture in Windows applications.

– PDF printer for Windows: Lets people print from any Windows application to a PDF on the Mac desktop, even if the application doesn’t have that functionality.

– Sticky multi-monitor setup: When using Windows in Full Screen mode and connecting to an external monitor, Parallels Desktop will remember settings and put the Windows virtual machine back in full screen mode on the remote monitor.

– Custom keyboard: Editable keyboard shortcuts help customize the Windows experience.

– Linux guest integration: Parallels Desktop customers who use Linux now have additional and enhanced integration with the Mac OS.

Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac will become broadly available for purchase next Thursday, Sept. 5. It is now available as a US$50 upgrade for legacy Parallels users, and a free upgrade for those who recently bought Parallels Desktop 8.

Thursday’s launch of Parallels Desktop 9 is available for existing customers for US$49.99, while those who recently purchased may be eligible for a free upgrade. Customers who buy Parallels Desktop 8 today will also be eligible to upgrade to the new version at no additional charge.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

T-Mobile issues September employee blackout dates, signs point towards next-gen iPhone launch

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Date: Thursday, August 29th, 2013, 09:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Some more definitive dates have appeared regarding the next-gen iPhone release.

Per the TmoNews blog, sources on Wednesday have claimed that the upcoming Sept. 20 to 22 employee blackout dates came with no explanation, but speculated a tie to an as-yet-unannounced Apple iPhone launch.

The report is in line with previous rumblings about a Sept. 20 debut for Apple’s “iPhone 5S” and “iPhone 5C” handsets, which are expected to be announced on Sept. 10.

The publication points out that the blackout dates may be in relation to the release of Samsung’s Galaxy Note III, as the Korean company is said to be announcing the device on Sept. 4. That scenario is unlikely, however, as a new Note model would hardly require T-Mobile to bolster its in-store staff.

Rumors surrounding Apple’s next-generation iPhone are heating up ahead of the anticipated announcement, with supposed parts “leaks” popping up on the Web in the form of videos and comparison pictures, which can be found over on JailBreak Nation.



Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to hold off on next-gen iPad announcement for September 10th media event, more likely to announce new iPhones

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Date: Thursday, August 29th, 2013, 08:32
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

You might have to wait a bit longer for that next-gen iPad you’ve been hankering for.

Per The Loop, there will be “no iPads” at Apple’s upcoming September 10th media event. The keynote is expected to feature Apple’s next-generation iPhones, rumored to be called the “iPhone 5S” and “iPhone 5C.”

The mighty Jim Dalrymple’s comments were provided in response to an earlier media report that had suggested iPads could be introduced at Apple’s Sept. 10 media event. However, Apple has historically kept its iPhone and iPad announcements separate.

Last year, the iPhone 5 was unveiled at a media event in September, while the iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad were introduced to the public in October. It’s likely that Apple will follow a similar schedule this year, and introduce a second-generation iPad mini and redesigned fifth-generation iPad in October, ahead of the holiday shopping season.Jim Dalrymple’s comments assure that there won’t be iPads at Apple’s iPhone-centric Sept. 10 event, but new MacBook Pros with Haswell processors remain a possibility.

The new fifth-generation iPad is expected to feature many of the same design elements as the current iPad mini, including smaller size bezels, a thinner body, and lighter weight. Parts claimed to be for the “iPad 5″ have appeared regularly throughout 2013.

As for the iPad mini, it’s expected that Apple’s second-generation 7.9-inch tablet will see an upgraded high-resolution Retina display. There has also been speculation by well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities that Apple could additionally offer a low-cost iPad mini, potentially without a Retina display, to allow the company to hit an even lower price point than the current US$329 entry price.

While Dalrymple’s comments assure that there won’t be any iPads at Apple’s Sept. 10 event, the possibility of new Macs being unveiled at the keynote remains. Most of Apple’s Mac lineup, including the MacBook Pro and iMac, are due for upgrades to Intel’s latest-generation Haswell processors.

The September event is also expected to announce the release date for iOS 7, Apple’s next-generation mobile operating system currently available in beta to developers. If prior release schedules hold again for 2013, iOS 7 will likely become available to the public about a week after the event, while Apple’s next-generation iPhones will be in the hands of customers on Friday, Sept. 20.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple purchases swedish firm AlgoTrim, snags image, video compression assets for mobile devices

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Date: Wednesday, August 28th, 2013, 07:49
Category: Finance, News

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The Apple shopping spree continues.

Per Rapidus.se and TechCrunch, Apple has purchased a Swedish firm called AlgoTrim for an undisclosed price. The small company specializes in image and video, specifically JPEG, compression techniques on mobile devices which allow faster processing of images on power-constrained mobile devices.

AlgoTrim develops advanced solutions for mobile devices within the fields of data compression, mobile imaging and video, and computer graphics.

These solutions are designed to excel in terms of high performance and small memory requirements, making them ideal for mobile devices. Many solutions offered by AlgoTrim are codecs that are the fastest on the market, for example, the lossless codec for general data compression and the imaging codecs.

Apple could use these codecs in its camera and image viewing and manipulation apps on iOS. It is probable that the cost of picking up the company and owning the technology outweighed the cost of licensing the technology over its hundreds of millions of devices. This also could be an “aquihire”.

Apple is no stranger to the Swedish technology market. It picked up Polar Rose in 2010, a face recognition company and C3, a Swedish 3D mapping company in the run up to its Maps product launch. Cupertino has been on a bit of a startup binge lately buying such companies as Embark and Matcha.tv.

Last year, AlgoTrim reported a revenue of US$3.0 million, with an net income before taxes of EUR -1.1 million. Until now, AloTrim has been focused mostly on Android development.

As of now, the acquisition has been confirmed to TechCrunch, Apple offering the following quote:

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV update closes security hole, prevents PlexConnect client from working

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Date: Wednesday, August 28th, 2013, 06:56
Category: Apple TV, News

The update didn’t go exactly as planned.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and MacRumors, the Apple TV update yesterday that added five new channels to the set-top box. However, the also prevents the PlexConnect streaming media client from running on the Apple TV. Released in June, PlexConnect allowed Apple TV users to view stored movies on remote servers right through Apple’s device without a hack. However, with yesterday’s update, PlexConnect has been blocked:

“The client, called PlexConnect, used a hack to get video from the Plex Media Server onto the Apple TV. A small Python program on the Mac intercepted DNS requests from the Movie Trailers app on the Apple TV and instead returned a custom XML feed that delivered a list of media and movie streams to the device.

Now, however, Apple has closed the loophole. Previously, the Trailers app used regular HTTP requests and the PlexConnect app intercepted those requests. Now, the Trailers app uses HTTPS and it is likely impossible for the Plex programmers to overcome it.”

Plex’s developers stated that they’re sorry to hear Apple has blocked PlexConnect and can only hope that Apple will eventually release an official Apple TV SDK so developers can make apps with Apple’s blessing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.