Rumor: NVIDIA May Bring Changes to Dual Graphics Architecture for Future MacBook Pro Notebooks

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Date: Friday, February 19th, 2010, 08:50
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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Apple may be planning an enhancement to its next-generation MacBook Pros that will allow for automatic switching between integrated and discrete graphics processors based on whichever is the more optimal technology (power consumption vs. performance) at any given time.

Per AppleInsider, Apple, which has offered two NVIDIA graphics processors in its 17″ and higher-end 15″ MacBook Pro models, one discrete processor and one integrated processor. Users of these machines have been able use the Energy Saver pane in System Preferences to select whether they prefer “better battery life” with the integrated graphics or “higher performance” with the discrete graphics, although switching between the two requires users to log out of their accounts temporarily.

A current rumor states that NVIDIA may bring its Optimus technology to the MacBook Pro, which would allow for seamless switching between graphics processors based on automatic software settings. NVIDIA reportedly developed the technology in response to a dispute with Intel over NVIDIA’s ability to build chipsets for Intel’s latest processors, a dispute that has led to NVIDIA exiting the chipset business. NVIDIA’s Optimus technology offers computer manufacturers a means of pairing NVIDIA’s well-regarded discrete graphics processors with integrated processors provided by Intel as part of its chipsets.

The report notes that the source is not 100% certain that the change will be made in time to appear in Apple’s next-generation MacBook Pro, which is widely expected in the near future. Apple’s pressing need for a solution to the situation presented by the Intel-NVIDIA dispute, however, makes it very likely that the technology will be included in the forthcoming models.

Suburban Philadelphia School District Denies Accusation of Spying on Students with MacBook Cameras

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Date: Friday, February 19th, 2010, 05:18
Category: Legal, MacBook, News

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A suburban Philadelphia school district has denied it spied on students by remotely activating the cameras on their school-issued MacBook notebooks.

Per Macworld UK, in a statement released late on Thursday, Christopher McGinley, the superintendent of Lower Merion School District of Ardmore, Pa., admitted that the MacBooks’ cameras could be turned on without the user’s knowledge, but said that the functionality was part of a security feature.

“Laptops are a frequent target for theft in schools and off-school property,” said McGinley. “The security feature was installed to help locate a laptop in the event it was reported lost, missing or stolen so that the laptop could be returned to the student.” When switched on, the feature was limited to taking snapshots of whomever was using the notebook and capturing the computer’s current screen.

Laptop cameras have only been activated for that purpose, McGinley continued. “The District has not used the tracking feature or web cam for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever,” he said.

This Tuesday, a high school student and his parents sued the district, claiming that the student’s MacBook had been used to spy on him in his home. According to the lawsuit, Michael and Holly Robbins of Penn Valley, Pa., said they first found out about the alleged spying last November after their son Blake was accused by a Harriton High School official of “improper behavior in his home” and shown a photograph taken by his laptop.

Doug Young, a spokesman for the school district, declined to answer questions as to whether Blake Robbins’ computer camera had been activated, and if so, under what circumstances. “I can’t speak to the lawsuit,” Young said.

The lawsuit speaks for itself, said Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This is utterly shocking, and a blatant violation of [the students’] constitutional rights,” Bankston said Thursday, citing the Fourth Amendment after reviewing the Robbins’ complaint. “The school district would have no more right to [use the laptop’s webcam] than to install secret listening devices in the textbooks that they issued students.”

Bankston suggested that students should tape over the lens of their laptops’ cameras when not in use.

McGinley confirmed that the district had disabled the camera activation feature on Thursday, and would not switch it back on without the written consent of students and families. The Robbins’ lawsuit alleged that the district had not told students or their families of the activation feature when it handed out the MacBooks. All 2,300 students at the district’s two high schools have been given notebooks.

The district intends to contest the lawsuit, said Young.

Mark Haltzman of the law firm Lamm Rubenstone, and the Robbins’ attorney, did not return a call for comment on Thursday.

The Robbins family has asked for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, and requested that the case be granted class-action status so other students in the district can join the suit.

Apple Improves 27″ iMac Ship Time, Raises Cap on 3G Downloads

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Date: Friday, February 19th, 2010, 05:33
Category: iMac, iPhone, News

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Following Apple’s recent troubles with its 27″ iMac and a wait time of up to three weeks, AppleInsider is reporting that the company has dropped the ship time to five to seven days, suggesting that the company has managed to address the video issues that haunted the desktops. The change applies to both the Core 2 Duo and Core i5 powered versions of the computer.

Early adopters of the big-screen iMac have seen a number of hardware issues pertaining to the screen, with reports of flickering and yellow discoloration. The company released two software updates to fix the issues, and also reportedly offered some customers a 15 percent refund for their troubles.

Supplies of the 27-inch iMac have been constrained for months, with Apple in December even apologizing for delays, citing considerable demand form consumers. When it first launched in October, the new iMac was the best-selling desktop machine for the month. The 21.5″ iMac came in first place, while the 27-inch iMac took third in overall sales.

In other news, Apple quietly doubled the download limit for files from the iPhone App Store and iTunes via 3G. Users can now download files up to 20MB in size from a wireless carrier’s data network. The previous cap was 10MB for “over the air” downloads.

In addition to applications, the new limit also applies to multimedia files, such as podcasts available through iTunes. The update expands beyond AT&T in the U.S., with international reports stating the 10MB cap has also been lifted.

If you’ve played around with the new limit, let us know.

Rumor: Apple Considering Samsung AMOLED Screens for Fourth-Gen iPhone

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Date: Thursday, February 18th, 2010, 05:09
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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Apple’s fourth generation iPhone may switch to Samsung’s Super AMOLED screen technology per oled-display.net and rumors in the display business. Although Apple has purportedly been hesitant to use OLEDs due to their high power draw on bright backgrounds for e-mail and web browsing, the new screens used in the Wave and Beam could potentially overcome this problem. Apple is said by OLED-Display to have a “lifetime” deal with Samsung for AMOLED screens but to have held back on using it for now.

Apple is publicly known to have a US$500 million deal with LG Display, though the company isn’t believed to have enough capacity to produce AMOLEDs at volumes the iPhone would need.

Whether or not Apple would use the specific display technique isn’t known, although Super AMOLED is potentially ideal. The technology builds capacitive touch directly into the organic display itself and is not only thinner than the existing, two-layer LCD plus touch of the current iPhone but is potentially much more viewable. In addition to providing a much deeper color gamut and higher contrast, Super AMOLED largely overcomes the problems OLEDs have with visibility outdoors and can often be easier to read in bright sunlight than an LCD.

A choice of the sort would potentially be supported by part leaks showing a taller iPhone, which recent rumors and leaked photos have supported.

How to Power an iPhone Using Only 2,380 Oranges

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Date: Thursday, February 18th, 2010, 05:12
Category: Fun, iPhone

If you’re in a pinch and your iPhone’s battery is almost dead, just borrow a crate of oranges from someone close by.

According to Macenstein, Imperial Leisure has created an ad for Jaffa oranges wherein an iPhone is powered with 2,380 oranges as well as a ton of rods and cable.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words…:



Adobe CTO Defends Against Rumored Flash Criticism From Jobs

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Date: Thursday, February 18th, 2010, 05:22
Category: News, Software

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Adobe Chief Technical Officer defended the Flash platform this week against rumored comments from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, and also said performance improvements for the scrutinized, embattled Web platform are coming to the Mac.

Per BoomTown, Lynch stated that unlike Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ rumored comments, the Adobe staff wasn’t lazy and said he and his team work very hard on their company’s product.

“It feels pretty busy around here, so I’m not sure what that’s about,” Lynch said. “And that’s a rumor. I haven’t heard that necessarily he did say that. But maybe he did, whatever.”

He went on to say that regardless of whether Jobs said anything disparaging about Adobe, he and the company are receptive to public criticism. He said they are working to improve the Flash experience for users.

“We’re totally open to hearing feedback like that,” Lynch said. “And that’s one of the really important things to do in a situation like this, when people are complaining about something — not going into internal mode, or whatever, (but) really listening to what people are saying. We do that with our customers, we do that with our critics, and often there are kernels in there that we ought to do something about, and so we are.”

Lynch then revealed that Adobe is working to improve the performance of Flash on the Mac. Currently, he admitted, video renders are more processor intensive on Apple’s hardware than they are on Windows machines.

He also made note of Adobe’s forthcoming Creative Suite 5 for Mac, which he said is “just terrific.”

“We work with Apple all of the time,” Lynch said. “We’re one of the biggest Macintosh software makers around.”

Lynch said that 19 of the top 20 smartphone makers (Apple being the only one absent) have signed on to the company’s Open Screen Project and its push for Flash on mobile devices. He also said that 85% of the top Web sites on the Internet feature Flash content.

But Flash’s spotty performance history on the Mac platform and processor-intensive requirements have led Apple to support alternatives such as HTML5. The Cupertino, Calif., company has even encouraged developers to “stick with standards” and use CSS, JavaScript and Ajax instead of Adobe Flash.

Lynch told Swisher that Adobe is supportive of the progression of HTML, including HTML5. This week it was said that an Adobe official was attempting to hold up advancement of the HTML5 spec, though those claims were later disputed.

“I know that there are certainly some who are working on HTML5 who are out to kill Flash,” Lynch said, adding that he doesn’t see the push for HTML5 as a move to “kill” Flash.

As always, feel free to hurl your two cents in on this.

Alleged MacBook Pro Prototype with Red Motherboard Found on eBay

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Date: Wednesday, February 17th, 2010, 04:58
Category: Fun, MacBook Pro

Ok, this is interesting.

An alleged prototype of a 17-inch MacBook from the previous generation without an aluminum housing, has appeared for bidding on eBay. According to MacNN, the device allegedly integrates a 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, indicating that it may have been a prototype for the MacBook Pros released early in 2008.

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Although pictures of the prototype device do not show a housing dissimilar to the MacBook Pro design that was chosen for production, the EMC number has been left blank.

The seller claims the device was purchased from a Craigslist ad posted by a “guy in San Jose.” After taking the MacBook to an Apple Store for servicing, the staff reportedly told the owner that the MacBook “doesn’t exist” and the red motherboard indicates a prototype instead of a production model.

Although it is uncommon for prototype products to surface on the market, it is routine for Apple to distribute such devices to certain employees. Possessors are typically prohibited, however, from selling the device or attempting to have it repaired.

The unit has a US$255 reserve which has yet to be met, so you could take home a cool piece of history if you wanted to…

Apple Offers Extended Warranty Program for MacBook Hard Drives

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Date: Wednesday, February 17th, 2010, 04:15
Category: hard drive, MacBook, News

If the hard drive on your older MacBook Pro was starting to go south, Apple may have something for you.

Per CNET, Apple is now offering the MacBook Repair Extension Program for hard-drive issues on machines purchased roughly between May 2006 and December 2007. Customers experiencing hard-drive issues should take their machines to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Reseller to have it diagnosed.

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The primary sign of hard drive troubles on your MacBook is the flashing question mark when starting up. Should your machine fall into the eligible model range, you will be given a replacement drive, free of charge.

Apple has published a knowledge base article relating to the program and listed the following models as affected units:

– 13-inch black and white MacBook models with the following processor speeds and hard-drive capacities:
– Processor speed – 1.83GHz, 2GHz, or 2.16GHz
– Hard drive capacity – 60GB, 80GB, 100GB, 120GB, or 160GB

If you’ve already paid for an out-of-warranty repair, Apple also offered the following:

“Some customers may have paid for out-of-warranty repairs that qualify under this program. Apple will contact affected customers (where contact information is available) with details on the reimbursement process. If you believe that you paid for a repair covered by this program and you have not been contacted, you may contact Apple Technical Support.

This worldwide Apple program does not extend the standard warranty coverage of the MacBook but covers affected MacBook models for 3 years from their original date of purchase or until August 15th, 2010, whichever provides longer coverage. Apple will continue to evaluate the repair data and will provide further repair extensions if needed.”

As always, hurl in your two cents and let’s see how Apple handles this.

Adobe Reader 9.3.1 Out the Door

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Date: Wednesday, February 17th, 2010, 03:27
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Adobe released version 9.3.1 of Acrobat Reader, the company’s Portable Document Format reader and creation utility.

Adobe Systems has updated Reader to version 9.3.1 and the update is available through the Adobe Updater application or for download through Adobe’s Web site.

The new versions address a number of customer workflow issues, security vulnerabilities, and offer additional stability.

Adobe Reader 9.3.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run and is available for free.

Battery-Powered Wi-Reach Classic Converts 3G/4G Cards Into Wi-Fi Hotspot

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Date: Tuesday, February 16th, 2010, 08:18
Category: News

This could be nifty.

Per Business Wire, Connect One‘s battery powered Wi-Reach Classic allows users to insert a 3G or 4G USB card to create a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can allow up to 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices to connect to the Internet. The device will support the WiMax and LTE protocols after a future firmware update and car reportedly run for up to five hours on a full charge as well as recharge over a USB connection.

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The Wi-Reach Classic is available now for US$99.