VMWare releases Fusion 3.1.2 update

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Date: Friday, December 3rd, 2010, 06:39
Category: News, Software

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Late Friday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 3.1.2 of its Fusion software for the Mac.

Similar to other virtualization software packages, VMWare allows users to run alternate operating systems such as Windows and Linux distributions on Intel-based Macs at native speeds. Other features, such as Unity, allow users to run and minimize Windows applications from the Mac OS X Dock.

The new version, a 436 megabyte download, can be found here, offers the following new features and fixes:

- The error Could not publish or run one or more applications. occurs when resuming a virtual machine that has DivX Player installed in the guest.

- Slingbox Slingplayer does not display video in the guest when 3D acceleration is enabled. In addition, very high CPU usage occurs if the guest is set to 1 core.

- Microsoft Office applications do not display as the frontmost window when they are launched in Unity view.

- Sound volume in the guest operating system is reduced after upgrading to Fusion 3.1. The volume observed through the host is not consistent with the guest volume setting.

- In a Windows XP guest, if you connect a handheld device to the host, the handshake application might time out or stop responding due to unhandled USB disable requests.

- While the virtual machine is running, if you switch from full screen mode to single window mode, the virtual machine window disappears and the light underneath the Fusion icon disappears as well. Fusion stops responding if you restart after this issue occurs.

- The guest operating system might fail with a blue screen and the error Multiple IRP Complete Requests if you access a file or folder two or more folders deep into a VMware Shared Folder and are running applications, such as Microsoft Office Powerpoint or Project, that use the byte range locks file system feature.

- Samsung Galaxy S phone with Android 2.1 does not work with Fusion. The phone does not appear in the virtual machine.

- Guest software might use CPUID information to determine characteristics of underlying (virtual or physical) CPU hardware. In some instances, CPUID information returned by virtual hardware will differ from the responses physical hardware might report. Based on these differences, certain pieces of guest software might not behave as expected. In this release, this fix causes certain CPUID responses to more closely match the responses that physical hardware might return.

- If you run Outlook 2007 in Unity mode, the Outlook dock icon might flash, or briefly quit and restart. When this happens the Outlook window also disappears and then reappears.
Mac OS X Server guests might intermittently fail to boot, displaying a stop symbol on a gray screen shortly after powering on.

Additionally, this release resolves the following security-related issues:
- The way temporary files are handled by the mounting process could result in a race condition. This issue could allow a local user on the host to elevate their privileges. Windows-based host systems are not affected.

- vmware-mount, which is a SUID binary, has a flaw in the way libraries are loaded. This issue could allow local users on the host to execute arbitrary shared object files with root privileges. Windows-based host systems are not affected.

- A vulnerability in the input validation of VMware Tools update allows for injection of commands.

- This issue could allow a user on the host to execute commands on the guest operating system with root privileges. The issue can only be exploited if VMware Tools is not fully up-to-date. Windows-based virtual machines are not affected.

Fusion 3.1.2 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and retails for US$79.99.

BBC planning subscription-only iPlayer app for iPad in 2011

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Date: Thursday, December 2nd, 2010, 10:05
Category: iPad, News, Software

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You love the BBC.

And the BBC loves your iPad.

Per paidContent:UKthe BBC has announced that it plans to begin the international launch of its lauded iPlayer catch-up service by first rolling out a paid subscription service for iPad users.

While iPlayer itself is free, it’s included as part of the annual license fee that U.K. residents pay to support the ad-free, non-profit BBC (the fee currently works out to around US$20 per month). Because of that, the service is not currently available to users outside the U.K.

BBC.com’s managing director Luke Bradley-Jones says that iPlayer’s global rollout will only be available via a paid subscription at launch, though the organization is talking with advertisers about supporting free areas of the service, as well as examining additional models such as pay-per-view and download-to-own. Prices for the service have not yet been revealed.

The iPlayer application is currently available in the U.K. only via Web browser; while an iPlayer iOS app has been developed, it has yet to be released. Still, the service proven popular, registering 139 million requests in the month of October, compared to Hulu’s 260 million.

The app, in turn, could bring UK-only shows (including the mighty “Dr. Who”) to international viewers, the BBC taking a chance in the pay-for-streaming-video marketplace.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on this, please let us know.

Users report HDMI handshaking, connectivity issues with second-gen Apple TV

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Date: Thursday, December 2nd, 2010, 05:32
Category: Apple TV, News

It’s a nifty thing, but perhaps a bug fix is in order.

Per AppleInsider, some early adopters of Apple’s second-generation Apple TV are reporting issues with streaming HD rentals and problems completing “HDMI handshakes” between the new Apple TV and their HD TVs.

Several discussion threads on Apple’s support forums related to issues with HD rentals not loading and HDMI connectivity problems have reached hundreds of posts in length as increasing numbers of Apple TV owners report having trouble with the device.

Users reported that Apple TV displays HD rental wait times of hundreds of minutes, while other video, such as trailers, HD Netflix movies, and YouTube begin playing after just a few minutes. “At one point, the HD movie was going to take over 3,000 minutes to load,” wrote one user.

Though a portion of the users have resolved the issue by upgrading to higher bandwidth Internet, others report the problem occurring even with high-speed connections capable of handling HD video.

Another Apple support thread details potential compatibility issues between Apple TV and a number of HD TV sets. Users report frequent “HDMI handshakes” between the TV and Apple TV, with the picture returning with inverted colors. A user-compiled list of TVs affected includes models by Philips and Sony.

The Apple TV 4.1 firmware update, which was released last week alongside iOS 4.2, does not appear to resolve either issue.

Apple unveiled the revamped US$99 Apple TV in September with a focus on ‘the cloud’ and streaming media. With just 8GB of onboard storage, Apple’s new set top box serves as a hub for content streamed from the Internet, computers, or iOS devices.

If you’ve seen these issues on your end or discovered a fix or workaround of your own, please let us know.

Elgato releases EyeTV 3.5 update

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Date: Thursday, December 2nd, 2010, 05:24
Category: News, Software

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Late Monday, Elgato Systems released version 3.5 of its EyeTV software application, which finds and tracks all television programming you want to see and allows users to pause live television and save content to file.

The new version, a 104 megabyte update which can be found here via MacUpdate (and can also be found through EyeTV 3.0′s update feature), adds the following fixes and features:

- Enhanced performance & stability with EyeTV Netstream Sat.

- Recordings from IceTV are now correctly labeled as Movie or Series when exported.

- Fixes a problem where thumbnails were not always created for recordings.

- Fixes a problem where recordings without thumbnails had no artwork when exported.

- Fixes incorrect positioning of subtitles when changing between SD and HD channels.

- Fixes invalid characters being displayed in chapter names on the new Apple TV.

- Resolved an issue where EyeTV HD recordings in iPad format would display artifacts when played back on devices running iOS 4.

EyeTV 3.5 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run. The program retails for US$79.95.

Apple 27″ Cinema Display units demonstrating audio, slow volume control response problems

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Date: Wednesday, December 1st, 2010, 13:19
Category: Hardware, News

As nifty as Apple’s 27″ Cinema Display, there may be some kinks to work out.

Per MacNN, the device is suffering from serious audio problems, some owners say. Complaints reportedly surfaced back in October on the Apple boards, but have persisted without any solution from Apple. In worst-case scenarios Cinema Displays have been losing built-in audio entirely, although the glitch can be temporarily solved by unplugging and reconnecting the monitor, or in some instances changing audio settings.

Another problem involves slow response times for keyboard-based volume controls. Affected displays can potentially take as long as 6 or 7 seconds to respond to keyboard presses, making onboard sound impractical.

The issues are notably affecting both Mac and Windows systems, suggesting that any permanent solution will require a firmware or hardware fix. The root cause may in fact involve USB connections, as Macs using Mini DisplayPort for audio have been going unaffected. Apple support staff are said to be aware of the problem, but unable to tell if or when a fix is coming. Some customers have managed to secure replacement monitors only to encounter the same trouble.

If you’ve seen these issues on your end or discovered your own fix or workaround, please let us know.

Nokia Siemens: iOS 4.2 update feature helps reduce wireless network congestion

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Date: Wednesday, December 1st, 2010, 06:08
Category: iPhone, News

Electronics outfit Nokia Siemens Networks revealed Tuesday that the company had conducted tests confirming that the iOS 4.2 update for iPhone supports its Network Controlled Fast Dormancy technology, which minimizes network congestion and improves battery life.

Network Controlled Fast Dormancy (NCFD), which was developed by Nokia Siemens Networks, reduces network congestion by keeping smartphones in an “intermediate state” instead of alternating between idle and always active on the network.

From this intermediate state, smartphones can “wake up” more quickly while conserving battery life when not in use. NCFD also reduces the number of signals needed to start a data connection between a smartphone and a network.

The post did not explain what kinds of tests Nokia Siemens Networks ran to confirm the iPhone’s support of the technology, but did state that the iPhone will take advantage of NCFD on networks that support it. Nokia implemented NCFD into its own smartphones earlier this year, the post noted.

Per an unnamed Middle Eastern operator, smartphones on a Nokia Siemens Networks network had 11 hours of battery life compared to 6 hours on a competing network. Testing in North America found that Nokia Siemens Networks’ “smart networks” generate “up to 50% less smartphone signaling.”

It is unclear to what extent NCFD has been implemented on the AT&T network, but the new technology could serve to lighten the load for the sole carrier of the iPhone in the U.S., which has been criticized for poor coverage in major cities such as New York and San Francisco.

If any of you have seen improvements on this end with your iPhone since the iOS 4.2.1 update last week, please let us know.

Apple nixes PhotoFast 256GB MacBook Air upgrade kit

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Date: Tuesday, November 30th, 2010, 12:46
Category: MacBook Air, News

It was good while it lasted.

Per 9to5 Mac, Apple has quietly stopped third-party outfitter PhotoFast from selling the 256GB MacBook Air SSD upgrade kit, the company’s product page returning a 404 error this morning.

The kit included a 256GB upgrade chip as well as a USB 3.0 housing for the 64GB chip currently in the 11.6″ MacBook Air. Plus, it could read and write at 250MB/s while Apple’s SSD clocks in between 150MB/s and 160MB/s.

PhotoFast is currently licensed with Apple to make Apple accessories through the MFi Program, a privilege that could have been lost.

Softbank to offer subsidized iPad to Japanese market in exchange for two year contract

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Date: Tuesday, November 30th, 2010, 05:37
Category: iPad, News

Japanese carrier Softbank has announced that the company will begin offering the 16GB iPad 3G for free when customers sign up for a 25 month, US$56 a month contract, a new report claims.

Per mocoNews, Softbank’s subsidy would contain no hidden costs that spread the cost of the iPad over the term of the contract. The customer will need only sign a 2 year contract for US$56 a month in order to receive a free 16GB iPad 3G, mocoNews reports.

As the sole distributor of the iPhone in Japan, Softbank has enjoyed the tremendous success of the device. In April, Tokyo’s MM Research Institute Ltd. issued a report revealing that Apple captured a massive 72% of the Japanese smartphone market for the fiscal year ending March 31.

Japan recently saw the launch of the new cloud-centric Apple TV and the iTunes Movie Store. Major international and top Japanese studios, such as Asmik Ace Entertainment Inc., Fuji TV, Kadakowa Pictures, Nikkatsu, Shochiku Company Limited and Toei Company Limited, are offering their movies on iTunes.

Apple appears to be allowing heavy iPad subsidies in regions where its iAd program is preparing to launch. The company announced earlier this month that it will expand iAds into Japan early next year with the help of Japanese advertising partner Dentsu.

iAd will also launch in Europe in December. The launch has attracted the attention of European and global brands alike, including L’Oréal, Renault, Louis Vuitton, Nespresso, Perrier, Unilever, Citi, Evian, LG Display, AB InBev, Turkish Airlines and Absolute Radio.

Shortly after Apple’s announcement that it will bring iAd to Europe, Orange UK revealed its plan to sell the iPad 3G at a discounted price with a 3G data plan.

Google Earth 6.0.0.1735 released

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Date: Tuesday, November 30th, 2010, 04:42
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, software giant Google released version 6.0.0.1735 of its popular Google Earth program. The new version, a 53.3 megabyte download, adds the following new features:

New features in Google Earth 6:

- Integrated Street View: In Google Earth 6, the Street View experience is now fully integrated. You can enter Street View either by dropping pegman in navigation controls or by zooming in all the way to ground level on places that have Street View.

- 3D Trees:Google Earth now has trees. You can enable trees by turning on the check-box next to the Trees layer under the 3D buildings layer folder. You can see trees in several places, and we will add trees to more places over time.

- Easy to use historical imagery:When you fly to an area where historical imagery is available, the date of the oldest imagery will appear in the status bar at the bottom of the screen. If you click on this date, you’ll instantly be taken back in time to view imagery from that time period.

- Ground-level navigation: In Google Earth 6, in addition to flying around features, you can now walk on the ground to explore either 3D buildings and trees or Street View imagery.
3D Measurements in Google Earth Pro:In addition to measuring distances and areas on the ground, you can now measure heights and widths of 3D building and distances from buildings to the ground.

Other changes in Google Earth 6:
- Tour Recorder Improvements:With Google Earth 6, the tour recording feature has been improved in several ways. The tour recorder now incorporates the activation of Sunlight, Street View, and Historical Imagery modes into the recorded tour. Additionally, the quality of the recording has been significantly improved, including better motion fidelity and better synchronization with sound recording.

- Earth on PowerPC Mac:We are discontinuing support for Google Earth builds that work on PowerPC Macs. Users of PowerPC macs can still use the Google Earth 5.2 version.

- Earth on OS X 10.4:We are discontinuing support for Google Earth builds that work on 10.4 version of Mac OS X. Users of this version of Mac OS X can still use Google Earth 5.2 version.
Earth on Windows 2000:We are discontinuing support for Google Earth builds that work on Windows 2000. Users of Windows 2000 can still use the Google Earth 5.2 version.

- Linux Builds:Google Earth Linux binaries are now based on the Linux Standard Base. This improves the compatibility of Google Earth on different Linux distributions, but requires users to have Linux Standard Base installed on their system. If your Linux system does not have LSB, please install it using apt, yum, smart or up2date. As a side effect of moving to LSB, joysticks are currently unsupported.

Issues Fixed:
- Addressed issues related to slow internal browser and balloon performance

- Addressed issues related to broken images in balloons seen in Earth 5.2.

- Linux now handles KML in locales where the radix separator isn’t “.”.

- Linux fixes for Flash-induced crashes. Google Earth Plug-in and API Changes

- Updated API version 1.007

- New class KmlViewerOptions, to set global render state (Historical Imagery, StreetView, and Sun)

- Added ability to enable/disable street view in GENavigationControl

- Added ability to enable/disable automatic transition to ground level view in GEOptions

- Added ability to enable/disable 3d tree rendering through new layer LAYER_TREES

- Added altitudeOffset functionality to KmlLinearRing and KmlLineRing. This allows ability to set altitude for all vertices through a single function call.

- Added ability to enable/disable building selection through mouse input in GEOptions

- Added ability to enable/disable building highlight through mouse input in GEOptions

- Added copyAsLookAt() and copyAsCamera() conversion to KmlAbstractView

- Improved performance on Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard).

The new version requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Random FaceTime calls reported, iOS 4.2.1 bug suspected

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Date: Monday, November 29th, 2010, 14:50
Category: iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

As cool as the idea of FaceTime and videoconferencing can be, you really don’t want to be receiving these calls without expecting them.

Per iPodNN, some of Apple’s various FaceTime-compatible devices made a series of random calls to each other overnight between the 27th and the 28th, according to reports and complaints on Apple’s support forums. While the iPhone 4 was predominantly affected, the issue is also said to have hit the fourth-generation iPod touch, and even the Mac beta client. The calls are often described as showing mutual requests, even though no one actually dialed, and in some cases one of the devices was off.



The incidents are moreover said to have occurred at about the same time: approximately 6:30PM Pacific, 9:30PM Eastern and 3:30AM in central Europe. The exact cause is unclear, but could involve a problem on Apple servers handling the FaceTime system. Because of the involvement of Macs, the glitch is unlikely to be related to iOS 4.2.1, which was made public just last Monday.

Me, I’m of the opinion that this is a preemptive (and lame) initial attack by a SkyNet-esque computer that simply wants to terrify you by having to conduct a FaceTime call with relatives this close after Thanksgiving…