Apple launches Beta Seed Program for consumers

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014, 09:57
Category: Apple, Mac, News, OS X, Software

maverickslogoApple is trying something new with its prerelease versions of OS X, it’s letting everyone take a crack at it. Tuesday, Apple launched the OS X Beta Seed Program which allows anyone with an Apple ID to download and try out beta versions of OS X. A complete FAQ for the program can be found here.

According to AppleInsider;

“It appears Apple has been quietly working to implement the new open beta policy for at least a couple of months via a “Feedback Assistant” that turned up in build 13D38 OS X 10.9.3 earlier this month. At the time, the standalone app’s purpose was unknown, though it is now believed to be part of the Beta Seed Program.”

I can see the potential benefits of having a greater number of people testing out new beta releases of OS X to work out bugs faster, which could speed up the turn-around for OS updates. I even know a number of people, including myself, who are power users that would love to try out new versions before they were released. My question, and concern, about this new program is…how useful is it really? Of the people who download the betas, how many will follow through with providing feedback, and how many will simply mess up their system because they don’t know any better, requiring a trip to the Genius Bar. How many “consumers” have the ability to send useful feedback?

If you are reading this and plan to join the program, just remember to create a full up-to-date backup of your computer(s). If anything does go wrong, be prepared to wipe your hard drive and restore everything from your backup. If you plan to try out the program, let us know and tell us why you’re doing it. Do you plan to send Apple valuable feedback, are you trying to solve a problem, or are you just curious?

 

 

Nike axes the FuelBand and most of its development team

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 21st, 2014, 09:24
Category: Accessory, Consumer Electronics, Hardware, News, Wearables

Nike-FuelBand-WM0105_001_AIt looks like there will be one less company competing in the wearables market with the iWatch. According to CNET, Nike is closing down its wearable hardware development, which includes the FuelBand, in order to focus on its software efforts. As a result, the 70 employees on the FuelBand team are being let go, with a handful staying on until May.

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BlackBerry stifles sale of Typo keyboard case

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 16th, 2014, 17:51
Category: Accessory, Cases, Hardware, iPhone, Legal, News, Patents

typo-keyboards.pngOriginally announced last December, Ryan Seacrest’s Typo keyboard case for iPhone 5/5S hit a snag in January right before its planned launch as CES when BlackBerry decided the Typo’s keyboard infringed on its own keyboard designs. Typo was finally forced to halt sales of the keyboard case when an injunction took effect on Tuesday that bans it from being imported to the U.S.

According to Macworld UK, the injunction is part of a patent lawsuit filed by BlackBerry and was triggered when BlackBerry put up a US$500,000 bond with the court. The money is to be used to compensate Typo for any lost profits if it ends up winning the case. Regarding the case, Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said,

“BlackBerry has established a likelihood of proving that Typo infringes the patents at issue and Typo has not presented a substantial question of the validity of those patents.”

Currently, going to the Typo website at http://typokeyboards.com simply offers an option to join their mailing list, however, much of the information about the device can still be found on the site.

 

 

Apple sends out latest 10.9.3 seed to developers

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 16th, 2014, 16:55
Category: Apple, Developer, Mac, MacBook Pro, Mavericks, News, Software

maverickslogoOn Tuesday, Apple released the latest build of OS X 10.9.3, designated ‘Build 13D43′. For this build, developers are being asked to focus their efforts on testing Graphics Drivers, Audio, Mail, Contacts and Calendar sync over USB in iTunes, and Safari. 10.9.3 also adds support for 4K displays, which offers improved readability and 60Hz output from a Retina display MacBook Pro.

Build releases are appearing closer together now, this one only a week after the previous seed. This is typically a sign that Apple is close to locking the update down in preparation for its release, so be on the lookout for 10.9.3 showing up in the App Store soon. Per usual, we recommend  that you make sure to backup your Macs before applying the update, and running Repair Permissions from Disk Utility before and after the update is a good idea too.

 

 

Apple’s data centers to be powered by water? [update]

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 15th, 2014, 09:44
Category: Apple, Business, Environment, News, The Apple Core

green-energy-plugI don’t think Greenpeace can say that Apple isn’t trying. Apple’s huge data center in North Carolina, which powers iCloud, uses huge amounts of power, and until recently has been utilizing available sources of energy which are primarily coal-burning sources such as those supplied by companies such as North Carolina’s Duke Energy. This is something about which Apple has been catching flak from environmentalists, but late last year, Apple took control of a project built by Earth By Design (EBD), a Oregon-based developer of green energy, that uses small Kaplan turbines built adjacent to a local irrigation canal. According to WIRED;

“[...] a regulatory filing [says that] the project will generate 5 megawatts of power, enough electricity to power a small town, but a fraction of what Apple’s Prineville, Oregon, data center will ultimately require. As users increasingly store their data and photos in the iCloud, Apple has been forced to rapidly ramp up the number of servers it runs in the iCloud. In the past few years, the company has developed new data centers in Prineville, Maiden, North Carolina, and Reno, Nevada.”

Greenpeace has lauded this as a groundbreaking move by Apple. According to Greenpeace analyst Gary Cook, “This is certainly the first time I’ve seen this being this done by a private company and not a utility.”. Meanwhile, other companies have turned to solar and wind to power their data centers which is just as important in the move towards more responsible power usage by major technology companies.

 

Update:

If you’d like a more in-depth look at the 45-Mile Hydroelectric Project and how it works, check out Jason O’Grady’s post on ZDNet.

 

 

Apple’s “Spaceship” Campus nearing construction launch date

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 9th, 2014, 16:42
Category: Apple, News

As recent photos have shown, Apple may be close to breaking ground to begin construction of its new campus, slated to be finished sometime in 2o16. Apple Toolbox has been keeping an eye on site developments and has just released another batch of photos showing the current status of the new campus’ home. Photos taken nearly a month ago had shown that several building were still standing on the site. Now it appears that the area has finally been cleared and that it appears a number of heavy construction vehicles have arrived and are further preparing the area.

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Arrival Time app Twist shuts down suddenly

Posted by:
Date: Sunday, April 6th, 2014, 14:10
Category: App Store, Apple, Apps, iPhone, News, Software

It’s a sad day for fans of Twist, the ETA/arrival time app and service. After working intermittently for the last four of five days, the website was taken down and the app was removed from the App Store over the weekend.

The developers confirmed that Twist was shuttered on April 5, 2014 in a Tweet:

When I reached out for comment, they replied:

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Internet News Reading Down 80% Due to Unreliable April 1st Trends

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 1st, 2014, 08:14
Category: Apple, Finance, Humor, News

Portrait of shocked business woman looking at computer in officePeople who are used to getting their daily news from online news sources and blogs have finally given up on reading anything on the web, as the yearly trend to post fake stories to the internet on April 1st continues. The online statistics service AdNumbers stated today that ad revenue from online marketing and banner ads, as of 8:00 AM EST, was down nearly 80% as workers across the country resorted to getting some work done rather than be duped by mischievous journalists and bloggers. ADNumbers representative Nick O’Parkman stated, “Everyone is just fed up. They go to the internet to read news on April 1st and they don’t know what to believe anymore, so now they don’t bother! It is really cutting into our bottom line.”

Medical health journalist, Dr. Eugene Simmons suggests that in the past this trend has been dangerous to unsuspecting news readers, in particular investors and individuals with large stock portfolios, who might read that Apple Inc. is producing a line of computers with no keyboard, Tonk Hawk is promoting a working hoverboard, or that Apple plans to acquire iFixit.* Past hoaxes included rumors that Steve Ballmer was going to become CEO of Microsoft.** “Such outrageous stories have been know to cause heart-attacks, nervous break-downs, and unwarranted stock sellouts, which could hurt our already fragile economy”, says Simmons.

In a related story, the Onion News Network posted a TRUE news story today….and nobody noticed.

 

 

*Touché iFixit, touché

**oh right, that one was real, it just sounded far-fetched

[Re-posted with permission from myself who originally wrote a version of this for April 1st 2009]

 

 

Death knell is coming for Google Voice

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 25th, 2014, 08:42
Category: Android, Apps, Google, iOS, iPhone, News, Services, Software, Telephony

GoogleHangVoiceAfter five years, it looks like Google Voice is going away…at least as an independent service and app. In 2007 Google acquired GrandCentral (started in 2005) and eventually rebranded it and launched it as Google Voice in 2009. Very little was done for the switchover, from a user standpoint, other than to incorporate the service into Google’s infrastructure. I had a GrandCentral account and it was nearly identical to how Google Voice works and looks today. According to 9to5Google, sometime in the coming months, Google plans to depreciate and eventually phase out the service with its features to be rolled into the Google Hangouts app.

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Amazon raises Prime pricetag to $99

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 20th, 2014, 09:50
Category: Amazon, Business, News, retail

amazon-money1Back in February, we wrote about rumors that Amazon might be raising the cost of its Prime service as much as $40. Amazon decided to split the difference rather than alienate all its customers by only raising the price by $20, but it seems that was enough to rile up a lot of Amazon Prime customers into threatening to stop paying for the service. An email was recently sent to current subscribers to notify them of the change which included an explanation for the price increase;

“Even as fuel and transportation costs have increased, the price of Prime has remained the same for nine years. Since 2005, the number of items eligible for unlimited free Two-Day Shipping has grown from one million to over 20 million. We also added unlimited access to over 40,000 movies and TV episodes with Prime Instant Video and a selection of over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.”

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