Skype updated to 6.0.60.2968

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Date: Friday, November 16th, 2012, 07:00
Category: News, Software

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On Friday, version 6.0.60.2968 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 34.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Crash occurred if user has OS X Mountain Lion and Retina display with external monitor attached.

Skype 6.0.60.2968 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 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.

AT&T activates additional 4G LTE networks in 24 U.S. cities

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Date: Friday, November 16th, 2012, 07:13
Category: iPhone, News

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The 4G LTE networks have arrived.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier AT&Tturned on its 4G LTE network in 24 markets across the U.S.

The announcement of the 24 new markets comes as AT&T also began sales of Apple’s latest iPads, which feature high-speed 4G LTE radios, along with the iPhone 5.

A total of 16 new LTE-capable markets were announced by AT&T on Friday. They are:
– Charleston, S.C.

– Columbia, S.C.

– Columbus, Ohio

– Corvallis, Ore.

– Downriver Wayne & Monroe Counties, Det.

– El Paso, Tex.

– Eugene, Ore.

– Fairfield County, Conn.

– Greater Mobile, Ala.

– Greenville, S.C.

– Jonesboro, Ark.

– Pensacola, Fla.

– Portland, Maine

– Saratoga & Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

– South Bend, Ind.

– Toledo, Ohio

Those 16 new locations were joined by eight more that were announced by AT&T earlier this week. Those markets were:
– Anne Arundel County, Md.

– Daytona Beach, Fla.

– Denver, Colo.

– Louisville, Ken.

– Milwaukee, Wis.

– Tacoma, Wash.

– Twin Cities, Minn.

– York, Penn.

AT&T said Friday that its 4G LTE network covers more than 150 million people in 103 markets across the U.S., a number that more than doubles the company’s LTE coverage as of the end of 2011. More expansions are planned through the end of the year.

AT&T plans to have its LTE network reach 250 million people by the end of 2013, and 300 million by the end of 2014.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’re in any of these markets, let us know how the new 4G LTE network is performing for you.

Opera 12.11.1659 public beta goes live, now available for download

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Date: Friday, November 16th, 2012, 06:14
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Opera Software released a public beta of version 12.11.1659 of its web browser. The new version, a 19.1 megabyte download via MacUpdate, boasts the following fixes and changes:
– CT-3634 Switch with foreignobject is not rendered

– CORE-49240 Some jQuery functions not working correctly in Opera 12.10.

– CORE-49235 Complicated transitions don’t always start or complete, leaving behind a messed up layout.

– CORE-49175 Crash if SVG foreignObject is display:list-item.

– DSK-377538 Opera uses 100%+ cpu on google chat.

– DSK-376755 alt + space does not bring up system menu.

Opera 12.11.1659 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 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.

Apple releases iBooks 3.0.2 update

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Date: Thursday, November 15th, 2012, 10:59
Category: iOS, News, Software

Never knock a good update.

Late Wednesday, Apple released version 3.0.2 of its iBooks update for its iOS reader program.

The new version, a 41 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– See all your iBookstore purchases in iCloud – on your bookshelf with iOS 6.

– Scroll vertically through your books using the new Scroll Theme.

– Receive free content updates to purchased book (new chapters, etc.)

– Look up definitions for words under the German, Spanish, French, Japanese, and Simplified Chinese languages under iOS 6.

– Share thoughts about your favorite books via Facebook, Twitter, Messages or Mail.

– Resolves a crash wherein the iBooks app may unexpectedly quit in iOS 6.

iBooks 3.0.2 requires a compatible iOS device and iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

Thieves snag two pallets, $1.5 million in iPad minis from JFK airport

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Date: Thursday, November 15th, 2012, 07:20
Category: iPad, iPad mini, News, retail

Because Pauly wanted a new iPad mini and to make a few bucks on the side…

Per the New York Post, a pair of thieves stole $1.5 million worth of Apple iPad minis from a building at New York’s JFK airport that was also the site of a famous robbery in 1978.

Details of the valuable heist were revealed on Thursday by the New York Post. About 3,600 iPad minis that had just arrived from China were taken from one of the airport’s cargo buildings.

That same building was the site of the 1978 Lufthansa heist in which US$5 million in cash and US$875,000 worth of jewelry were stolen — the largest cash robbery to ever occur on U.S. soil. That heist was featured in the 1990 film “GoodFellas” starring Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci.

The incident occurred on Monday, just before midnight, when a pair of thieves reportedly used one of the airport’s own forklifts to steal two pallets of iPad minis. Not all of the shipments were placed on the truck, as the arrival of an airport worker allegedly forced the duo to leave three pallets behind.

Because the thieves arrived with an official JFK forklift, it’s been speculated that an airport employee may have let them into the area near Building 261 around 11 p.m., and also let them out after the iPad minis were stolen.

Apple’s iPad mini has a starting price of US$329 for a 16-gigabyte Wi-Fi-only model. The most expensive option is the 64-gigabyte version with cellular data, which sells for US$659.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple looking into quieter “vibrate” function for future iPhone handsets

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Date: Thursday, November 15th, 2012, 07:05
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

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Your iPhone might get a bit quieter soon.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office and AppleInsider, Apple is investigating ways to make the iPhone’s “silent mode” truly silent by monitoring audible sound levels generated by a phone’s vibrator and adjusting the mechanism if it becomes too loud.

Since the earliest days of portable telecommunications, devices like pagers incorporated a silent option to the standard beeping tones that alerted a user of an incoming message or, years later, cell phone call. The system is flawed, however, in that the so-called “silent mode” is not completely silent, especially when a device vibrates on a hard surface, causing a rattling noise often times more disruptive than a normal audible tone.

The current iPhone 5, with its aluminum uni-body construction, is another candidate that may be less than discreet in some circumstances. To remedy this longstanding problem, Apple has devised a method in which a phone’s vibrations, as well as the result of said vibrations, are monitored by microphones or movement sensors. If these sensors detect conditions that may cause an unwanted disturbance, a number of mitigation methods are initiated, including tuning the vibrator and introducing feedback signals to reduce reverberation.

Apple’s solution takes into account two types of haptic devices, or vibrators, commonly used in modern smartphones, both of which present separate problems. The usual rotating vibrator used in many devices has an eccentric weight attached to a spinning drive shaft, while an oscillating linear vibrator relies on magnetic force to drive a weight back and forth.

While the rotating motor is somewhat louder than its magnetically-driven cousin, it produces an arguably more violent vibration which can be an asset for those who wear thick pants or need a stronger alert. For reference, the CDMA version of the iPhone 4 and all versions of the iPhone 4S used a linear vibrator, while the iPhone 5 marks the return of the rotating system found in legacy models.

As described in the invention, movement, sound and visual sensors begin monitoring various attributes when a vibration alert is detected. The sensors can determine If the vibration is causing the phone to move or generate a noise louder than ambient noises in the surrounding environment.

Once a movement or sound threshold has been reached, the mitigation mechanisms kick in to modify the alert or stop it altogether. In some embodiments, the action of vibrator motor is adjusted. For a rotational vibrator, the frequency of the motor can be slowed, while the motion of a linear vibrator can be dampened by an electromagnetic force.

The patent application goes on to offer alternative alert methods that can be used when a vibrator is found to be disturbing, such as visual alerts or soft audio tones which are output at level deemed to be more quiet than the sound created by the phone’s vibrations.

Such mechanisms do not exist in the current iteration of Apple’s handset, though the technology may one day make its way to a future iPhone as an enhancement to the product line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Public Radio Exchange Labs locates multiple-download bug in iOS 6.0.0, says bug may be responsible for data overages

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Date: Thursday, November 15th, 2012, 07:17
Category: iPhone, News, Software

There’s a reason bug fixes exist and this might be one of them…

According to the Public Radio Exchange Labs, a system-wide bug in Apple’s iOS 6.0.0 AV Foundation framework has been found to trigger multiple downloads of streaming media, such as podcasts, over Wi-Fi and cellular networks that could lead to massive data bills.

The flaw was discovered by Public Radio Exchange Labs, the host of popular podcasts such as This American Life and The Moth, after researching a curiously high spike in download traffic. According to PRX, there is an issue in iOS 6 Audio Playback frameworks that results in files being downloaded multiple times, however the problem has apparently been resolved in iOS 6.0.1 and 6.1 beta.

First tipped off by This American Life, which complained of unusually high content delivery network (CDN) bills, PRX thought that the “rather extreme” spike in bandwidth was due to Apple’s release of its Podcasts app. Following a series of tests that compared transfer activity in iOS 6 with iOS 5, it was determined that audio files were being downloaded multiple times due to errors in the new operating system’s code.

“The player appears to get into a state where it makes multiple requests per second and closes them rapidly,” PRX wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “Because the ranges of these requests seem to overlap and the requests themselves each carry some overhead, this causes a single download of an MP3 to use significantly more bandwidth than in iOS 5. In one case, the playback of a single 30MB episode caused the transfer of over 100MB of data.”

Not only does the bug affect Apple’s first-party Podcasts app, but third-party titles as well, indicating that the underlying issue is system-wide.

It is unknown what exactly triggers the re-downloading of content, though it appears the timing is variable as the PRX test saw normal content downloads lasting for up to five minutes. What is consistent, however, is the activity seen when a file has completely downloaded. The tests show that once a file has finished downloading, the AV player restarts the download from the beginning and continues to do so as long as a user is streaming the file.

As seen in the video below, which shows the HTTP activity of the Podcasts app on iOS 6, the system sends multiple rapid requests even after buffering is complete and the file is downloaded.

PRX speculates the bug could be the cause of recent complaints regarding trouble with iPhone 5 data overages, with subscribers from various carriers claiming the handset was using cellular data despite being connected to Wi-Fi.

Because iOS 6.0.1 appears to have fixed the error, it is recommended that users running iOS 6.0 upgrade to the latest version to avoid incurring unintended and costly data charges.

If you’ve seen this bug on your end, please let us know.

And, well, take the time to update to iOS 6.0.1 today. It tends to be worth it.

Apple ships LTE-equipped fourth-gen iPad, iPad mini units, possible ETA for Friday in some cases

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Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 08:16
Category: iPad, iPad mini, News

Your LTE-capable, fourth-gen iPad or iPad mini could show up as early as Friday. Per Mac|Life, emails went out Tuesday afternoon, alerting buyers of both tablets the devices are shipping this week.

The LTE iPad mini email alerts started arriving from Apple this morning. Later the same day, word began spreading of fourth-fen LTE iPad shipping confirmations for the same week. The ship dates on both the LTE iPad mini and fourth-gen LTE iPad were scheduled later than the WiFi-only models.

All models of iPad mini and iPad with Retina Display sold out quickly after the announcement last month. All makes of iPad mini are currently showing a 2-week waiting period for shipment on Apple’s site. While the Wifi-only iPad with Retina Display is currently in stock, the LTE models have a one-week delay.

But if you were quick on the trigger for those early preorders, you just might have your device by this Friday.

If you’ve gotten word as to the final shipping date for your LTE-equipped fourth-gen iPad or iPad mini, please let us know in the comments.

Sprint activates 4G LTE networks in 9 additional U.S. cities

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Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 07:10
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to have a fast connection.

According to PC Magazine, wireless carrier Spring revealed on Tuesday that it has begun work on its 4G LTE network in nine new cities. The new markets include:

– Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.

– Oakland/Fremont/Hayward, Calif.

– Key West, Fla.

– Fort Smith, Ark.

– Michigan City/La Porte, Ind.

– Bloomington, Ind.

– Eau Claire, Wis.

– Arrdmore, Okla.

– McAllen/Edinburg/Mission, Texas

Sprint debuted its 4G LTE service in July and plans to have 125 cities on its LTE grid within “the coming months.” No more specific dates are being offered by the company at this time.

This number is well behind AT&T and Verizon, with the latter promising to have its entire 3G network converted by mid-2013. On Thursday, Verizon is flipping the switch on LTE coverage for more than 20 cities, including much of Missouri and large chunks of Wyoming and Arizona.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro owners complain of graphical glitches following Retina EFI Update v1.0 installation

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Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 07:58
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

If you have a Retina Display, the last thing you want is graphical weirdness after an update.

According to AppleInsider and threads on the Apple discussion boards, a number of 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display owners are experiencing noticeable drops in graphics and processor performance after having updated their machines to the latest EFI (extensible firmware interface) version, such as drastically clipped frame rates when running graphics-intensive programs.

In this case, some 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro users noticed the performance drop immediately after installing Apple’s MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update v1.0, which was released in September. While it is unclear if the firmware is to blame, many owners feel the update has been detrimental to how the system handles heavy workloads.

The issue is most pronounced when waking a computer from sleep, playing a graphics-intensive game or operating Windows in Boot Camp. Under heavy load, the CPU, GPU, or both are being underclocked as core temperatures reach or exceed supposedly conservative thresholds.

In one specific case, a user’s Retina MacBook Pro’s GPU begins to throttle down the machine’s discrete GPU to 700MHz from 850MHz, at a reported temperature of 65 to 70 degrees Celsius. The GPU is pulled back further if the CPU temperature hits 80 degrees Celsius.

From this information, it can be speculated that the computer’s firmware may not be correctly communicating with the thermal sensors, the threshold presets may be conservatively low, or there is an error with systems management.

Processor manufacturer Intel has noted that the Tjunction maximum, or highest operating temperature specification, of the processors used in the Retina MacBook Pro is 105 degrees Celsius, a much higher threshold than where forum members are seeing throttles. This could mean the problem lies in how the thermal management system handles the data from the digital thermal sensor (DTS), which is integral in calculating a processor’s Tjunction.

It should be noted that Intel chips, like most modern CPUs, have built-in thermal shutdown capabilities to prevent permanent damage to the silicon.

According to the forum members, the Retina MacBook Pros operated without fault prior to EFI version 1.0. Some have found that resetting the SMC or flashing the PRAM solves the problem temporarily, however the fix is far from permanent and owners report a reoccurrence after the computer wakes from sleep.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.