O'Grady's PowerPage » Chris Barylick

Apple Updates Mac Pro, Mac Mini and iMac Computers

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Date: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009, 14:22
Category: News

Today, Apple updated everything short of your Labradoodle and since I just got back from an hour in the dentist’s chair and rocking out to an hour of their easy listening selection, let’s have at it…
Mac Mini:
Apple released a revised Mac mini today, the new systems featuring improved graphics, faster memory and additional enhancements while retaining a US$600 and US$800 price tag depending on features.
According to Macworld, the new mini still boasts a 6.5″ x 6.5″ x 2″ footprint but now features two video interfaces on its back (a Mini DisplayPort and a mini-DVI connector) as well as five USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 800 port (which replaces the FireWire 400 interface, gigabit Ethernet, audio line in and audio line out ports.
The new units now feature 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processors with 3MB shared L2 cache as well as Nvidia’s GeForce 9400M integrated graphics chipset, the same graphics that are featured on Apple’s MacBook laptop line. Apple claims that this enables the Mac mini to produce 3D graphics at up to five times the rate of the model it’s replacing; the previous-generation Mac mini was the last Apple product to ship with Intel GMA 950 graphics. Both models also feature 8x slot-loading “SuperDrives” capable of burning DVD media and have the usual complement of AirPort Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR built in, as well.
Click the jump for the full story…


Apple Gives MacBook Pro Small Speed Bump

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009, 10:57
Category: MacBook Pro

Following up on Apple’s associated product releases today with revisions to the Mac mini, iMac and Mac Pro, Apple also adjusted the specifications of its 15″ MacBook Pro. According to Macworld, Apple is currently offering its top-of-the-line standard configuration of the 15″ MacBook Pro with a 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor at US$2,499. This serves as a slight boost from the previous 2.53GHz speed. For those who crave the most power possible in a 15-inch MacBook, there’s a US$300 build-to-order option that will top out the system at 2.93 GHz, up from the previous top speed of 2.8 GHz.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and, as always, let us know what you think in the comments or forums.


Apple Releases Battery Update 1.4 for 13″ MacBooks

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Date: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009, 10:04
Category: MacBook

Late Monday, Apple released its Battery Update 1.4 patch for its older 13″ polycarbonate (black or white) MacBook notebooks. The 210 kilobyte download improves the ability of MacBook batteries to maintain a charge when the system is shut down and not used for an extended period of time.
Users can determine whether their notebook requires this update by following these directions:
1. From the Apple menu, choose About this Mac.
2. Click More Info to start the System Profiler.
3. Locate the Hardware section and select Power.
4. Batteries with this information in the Battery Information section need this update:
1. A device name “ASMB016” or “ASMB013” in the serial number
2. A Pack Lot Code is 0002
3. A battery firmware version of 0110
The update requires Mac OS X 10.5 to install and run.
If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments or forums.


AppleCare May Not Extend to First-Gen MacBook Air Hinge Problem

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Date: Monday, March 2nd, 2009, 11:27
Category: MacBook Air

Following up on last week’s story regarding several users citing the hinge defect in Apple’s first generation MacBook Air notebook, a number of users are reporting a hit-or-miss policy in terms of Apple covering fixes for the notebooks under its AppleCare program.
According to Macworld, users have reported that Apple is flat out denying fixes for MacBook Air notebooks with broken hinges, even if the notebooks are still under warranty.
Per the article, an Apple Store location cited that a user who brought their MacBook Air in could spend US$800 to have the problem resolved or spend US$1,799 for a brand new, second generation MacBook Air. In this case, Apple cited the case as “accidental” damage wherein the repair would not be covered under Apple’s warranty policy.
In another case, user Lisa Eckstein (who documented the damage on her Flickr page) reported that upon taking the notebook to a “smaller and less busy” Apple Store location, employees promptly took the notebook and fixed it.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this occur on your end, please let us know in the comments or forums.


CBS Mobile Launches TV.com, Allows Free Streaming to iPhone, iPod Touch

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Date: Monday, March 2nd, 2009, 07:34
Category: iPhone

Following up on other streaming-television efforts, CBS Mobile has released application currently offers CBS shows, CBS Sports programming and content such as episodes of “Late Show with David Letterman, “Star Trek: the Original Series,” “CSI,” and “The Young and the Restless,” among many others. The mobile application also serves up a selection of shows from the CW including “Smallville” and “90210,” a half dozen shows from Showtime including “The L Word” and “The Tudors,” and a variety of CNET and GameSpot podcasts.
While the current programming selection is rather limited, the app can accommodate all the new content CBS serves up as it works to make more of its library of content available. The app uses the iPhone’s standard QuickTime player.
According to AppleInsider, CBS is currently pushing TV.com in competition with the Viacom-backed Joost and Hulu, a joint effort between NBC and Fox, to reach audiences beyond the TV and deliver a “direct to users” model of web-oriented offerings. Hulu currently lacks a mobile app for the iPhone like TV.com’s offering but Joost does provide a player app for its content, though it has yet to use the standard QuickTime player on the iPhone.
TV studios have rushed to set up their own web-based operations to create an alternative to seeing their content distributed (at no benefit to them) to web audiences via sites like YouTube. Joost, TV.com, and Hulu are supported by ads. Like YouTube, all three websites use Adobe Flash to deliver their video content on the web.
The TV.com application requires iPhone OS 2.0 or later to install and run.
If you’ve downloaded the application and played with it, please let us know what you think in the comments or forums.


Rumor: Mac OS X 10.5.7 Update May Feature Nehalem, Radeon HD 4000 Support

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Date: Monday, March 2nd, 2009, 07:27
Category: Rumor

Apple’s upcoming Mac OS X 10.5.7 update may go beyond its usual complement of expected fixes and incorporate support for Intel’s new Nehalem hardware architecture as well as the ATI Radeon HD 4000 graphics chipsets.
According to netkas, a recent discovery located just five kernel extensions for the video cards and doesn’t appear to work perfectly in a bootleg installation for 10.5.6 meant for hacked Mac OS X installations. The retrofitted version doesn’t recognize DVI ports fully and doesn’t even recognize widescreen resolutions without third-party utilities to force the expanded screen area.
Even so, the extensions are enough to identify support for the Radeon HD 4850 and Radeon HD 4870 chipsets by name but also to enable Core Image and Quartz Extreme acceleration of the Mac OS X interface, which would require the direct involvement of AMD, Apple or both firms to work. They also support the full OpenGL 2.1 specification for 3D graphics.
And while screen captures currently aren’t available to support the claims as with the video hardware, the slip also hints that 10.5.7 is the first edition of Mac OS X to recognize Intel’s Nehalem architecture.
The Nehalem architecture is a major overhaul to Intel’s standard hardware approach to processors and leaves aside the standard system bus in favor of an interface that lets the processors talk directly to memory, peripherals and each other.
Although it’s unknown as to whether Apple will formally include the new hardware support in the release of Mac OS X 10.5.7, such add-ons will eventually become necessary. It’s been rumored that Apple is looking to use Intel’s Nehalem-based Xeon processors at the heart of its next generation of Mac Pro workstations and will eventually filter the technology down to its portables and mainstream desktops through Core i7 processors, which share the same essential design.
Apple has also remained comparatively dormant in its support for AMD’s ATI Radeon graphics and hasn’t used hardware newer than the Radeon HD 2600 found in the iMac and as an option for the Mac Pro; the technology is now approximately two generations old.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments or forums.


Softbank Begins Giving Away Free iPhones to New Customers

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 27th, 2009, 08:41
Category: iPhone

Softbank Mobile, Apple’s iPhone carrier in Japan, plans to introduce a new program Friday that will give some iPhone handsets away for free with a new two-year contract.
The 8GB iPhone 3G handset will be offered for free to new subscribers starting a calling plan today, though this may be likely to disappoint those who paid the equivalent of US$235 (22,782 yen). According to CrunchGear, Softbank is also reducing the price of the 16GB version from US$350 to US$118 as part of the new “iPhone for everybody Campaign.”
The wireless carrier has also cut the cost of its cost of its maximum data plan rate from US$62 a month to US$45.60 a month. Voice calls and texts are free among Softbank customers, but if your friend or colleague is an NTT DoCoMo customer, charges can start to accumulate quickly at 20 cents for a 30-second call.
There’s no clear indication as to whether Softbank is cutting prices in response to demand, but Apple COO Tim Cook noted during last month’s earnings conference call that the company considers the price of the iPhone “clearly elastic,” meaning that every time it has dropped the price, demand has increased.
If you’re in or around the Japanese marketplace and have noticed this offer, let us know in the comments or forums.


First-Gen MacBook Air Owners Cite Flaw in Hinge Construction

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 27th, 2009, 07:42
Category: MacBook Air

Given what you paid for the first-gen MacBook Air notebook, Hulking out may be entirely permissible given the following news: a number of owners of the notebook have cited a fundamental flaw in the notebook’s hinge constructions.
According to MacNN, a number of users on the Apple Discussions board have noted that, after several months of use, hinges can become unreasonably loose, sometimes enough for a lid to travel or close completely without any help. In extreme cases hinges may break entirely, rendering an Air useless as a portable device.
The problem may be especially critical as some Apple Store Genius Bars are reportedly refusing to honor warranties, with or without AppleCare, on the basis that the damage is thought to be “accidental” rather than an inherent problem. The Air hinges are also divided in two, as in some older Apple notebooks, and embedded into the lid, meaning that people affected by faulty hardware may have to pay as much as US$900 for repairs due to the cost of the associated display.
Some Apple Store locations have cited that they’d be willing to cover repairs under warranty. The problem appears to be absent from second-generation MacBook Air notebooks, though Apple has yet to officially recognize the issue, which could represent the second major flaw to affects Airs following the discovery of graphics corruption.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this problem on your end, please let us know in the comments or forums.


Truphone Adds Skype Support for iPhone, iPod Touch

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Date: Friday, February 27th, 2009, 07:37
Category: Software

Software developer Truphone announced yesterday that the company has added Skype support for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch handsets. Per the press release, users can now instant message their Skype contacts as well as make and receive Skype-based calls to users on their contact list.
To begin, download Truphone for iPhone or iPod Touch, go to the IM screen in the iPhone application (the IM/More screen in the iPod touch application). If you cannot see this screen, select it from within the “More” screen.
Once here, select Skype from the setup screen, sign in using your Skype account details.
Once logged in, you will now see all of your Skype contacts and you will be ready to start.
Skype-based calls within Wi-Fi areas as well as instant messages will be free and users can make Skype-based calls and send Skype instant messages using Truphone Anywhere, which will use your data package to connect the call or send the instant message.
Truphone is a free download and requires iPhone OS 2.1 or later to install and run.
If you’ve tried Truphone for the iPhone or iPod touch and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments or forums.


Apple Begins Testing Mac OS X 10.5.7 Update

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Date: Thursday, February 26th, 2009, 10:20
Category: Software

No matter what you think of Mac OS X 10.5.6, Apple is cited as having tapped its developer community this week to begin testing its Mac OS X 10.5.7 update, a maintenance and security update to the company’s Leopard operating system with a particular focus on syncing improvements.
According to AppleInsider, sources close to the story have stated that the update will include a plethora of bug fixes, six code corrections and currently weighs in at 440 megabytes in its simplest form.
Apple is currently said to be focusing on syncing issues found in applications such as Mail, Address Book and system preferences. A problem with Safari not accepting certain types of cookies will also reportedly be addressed.
Among the nearly two dozen other components receiving attention in beta of Mac OS X 10.5.7 are graphics drivers, Time Machine, printing services, screen sharing services, MobileMe syncing, AirPort services, text services, and iCal, those familiar with the software claim.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your hands on a 10.5.7 build, please let us know what you think of it in the comments or forums.