Microsoft to release Windows 8 on October 26th

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Date: Thursday, July 19th, 2012, 05:05
Category: News, Software

You can pick up Windows 8, then begin working on a Halloween costume this year.

Per Electronista, it was revealed during Microsot’s annual sales meeting that the company’s next-generation operating system will hit shelves on Oct. 26 meaning new hardware will shortly follow including the Surface tablet.

Microsoft’s Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky made good on a promise from Windows Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller who said Windows 8 would see release sometime in October. A subsequent post on the company’s dedicated Windows blog detailed the meeting, describing upgrade tiers and purchasing options.

Windows 8 will debut in 231 markets covering 109 languages on launch day and existing users of the ubiquitous OS can upgrade to the revamped software online for US$40. According to Microsoft’s website, all PCs running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 qualify for the US$39.99 upgrade with the option to add on Windows Media Center for free though the operating system’s “add features” option.

Wednesday’s announcement also portends the imminent release of tablets, PCs and Ultrabooks running the one-OS-for-all software when Microsoft announced as much during the Surface unveiling in June.

Microsoft’s Surface will likely be one of the first Windows 8 examples on offer when the OS debuts as the device marks the Redmond-based company’s first foray into the tablet hardware market. Initially, a stripped-down ARM-based iteration called Surface for Windows RT will roll out before a more full-featured Intel version dubbed Surface for Windows 8 Pro hits stores later this year.

It is unclear what features are missing from Windows RT but Microsoft is claiming the new OS is meant to reflect a “PC+” era where all devices run identical operating systems. This is counter to Apple’s “post-PC” era which describes multiple devices running software tailor-made for specific tasks, an example being OS X for laptops and iOS for iDevices. Microsoft COO Kevin Turner claimed that the iPhone maker’s view future computing is incorrect and instead believes in a “ond-OS-fits-all” approach to OS coding. Interestingly it appears that Windows RT skews toward the “post-PC” model.

Apple is looking to release its own next-generation operating system with OS X 10.8 later in July, and while no specific date has been set a launch should be imminent as the company seeded the Mountain Lion gold master last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 1.0 for 2012 notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, July 18th, 2012, 15:44
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

This could be helpful.

On Wednesday, Apple released its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 1.0 for its 2012 notebooks. The update, a 76.6 megabyte download, fixes an issue that can lead to increased CPU power consumption, and it improves compatibility with some USB devices.

As always, the update can also be found and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

The update requires a 2012 MacBook Air or MacBook Pro notebook and Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

Obviously, this is a significant firmware update, so please let us know how it went for you via feedback in the comments section.

AT&T to launch shared data plans in late August, offer base price around $45 per smartphone

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Date: Wednesday, July 18th, 2012, 06:15
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

attlogo

You can’t argue with a bit of competition.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier AT&T on Wednesday announced its new shared data plans, ranging from 1 gigabyte to 20 gigabytes of cap space, and starting at US$40 for 1 gigabyte of data plus an additional US$45 per smartphone.

The cost per gigabyte and smartphone decreases as customers add more data to their plan, so 4 gigabytes of data has a base price of US$70, plus US$40 per smartphone, all the way up to US$200 for 20 gigabytes of data per month and US$30 per smartphone.

Cellular capable tablet-style devices like Apple’s iPad are less expensive, and will cost US$10 per month to add to a shared data plan. Laptops and mobile hotspot devices are another US$20 each month, while basic and messaging phones can get shared data, unlimited talk and text for US$30 each month.

The new shared data plans allow customers to choose open of AT&T’s existing individual or family plans, and current customers are not required to switch to the new plans. Those who decide to switch to AT&T’s shared data plans can do so without a contract extension, and the rates are also available for business customers.

Customers can choose up to 10 devices to attach to their shared plan, and at least one of those devices must be a smartphone. The plans include tethering and unlimited domestic calls and texts for smartphones.

Competing U.S. carrier Verizon launched its own shared data plans on June 28, called “Share Everything.” With it, line access for smartphones like Apple’s iPhone run US$40 per month, while tablets like the iPad are US$10 per month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

HandBrake updated to 0.9.8

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Date: Wednesday, July 18th, 2012, 06:24
Category: News, Software


Handbrake, Eric Petit’s incredibly useful open-source DVD ripping/conversion utility, has been updated to version 0.9.8.

The new version, a 7.1 megabyte download, offers a list of fixes and changes available at this changelog.

HandBrake 0.9.8 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Mozilla releases Firefox 14.0.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, July 18th, 2012, 05:14
Category: News, Software

elfirefox

On Monday, Mozilla.org released version 14.0.1 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 30.7 megabyte download and adds the following fixes and changes:

New:
– Google searches now utilize HTTPS.

– Full screen support for Mac OS X Lion implemented.

– Plugins can now be configured to only load on click (requires an about:config change).

– The Awesome Bar now auto-completes typed URLs.

Changed:
– Improved site identity manager, to prevent spoofing of an SSL connection with favicons.

Developer:
– Pointer Lock API implemented.

– New API to prevent your display from sleeping.

– New text-transform and font-variant CSS improvements for Turkish languages and Greek.

Fixed:
– Various security fixes.

– GIF animation can gets stuck when src and image size are changed (743598).

– OS X: nsCocoaWindow::ConstrainPosition uses wrong screen in multi-display setup (752149).

– CSS :hover regression when an element’s class name is set by Javascript (758885).

Firefox 14.0.1 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, please let us know in the comments.

27-inch Thunderbolt display exhibiting noise issue with 2012 Retina Display MacBook Pro, MacBook Air

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Date: Tuesday, July 17th, 2012, 06:01
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

Firmware updates were invented for a reason…

Per Electronista, a number of MacBook Air owners are experiencing audio issues when they connect their laptops to Apple’s Thunderbolt display and complain of static, distortion and crackling emanating from the speakers built into the 27-inch screen’s chassis.

The problem usually presents itself intermittently after a few hours’ use when sound from Apple’s new 2012 MacBook Air, which was announced during WWDC in June, is routed through the Thunderbolt display’s speakers.

It should be noted that as of this writing a single report claiming the same issue was found on the new MacBook Pro with Retina display, though it seems to be an isolated case not associated with the MacBook Air matter.

An Apple Support Communities thread started on June 23 is now six pages long though the issue seems to be affecting only a small number of users. Owners of both the 11-inch and 13-inch versions of the MacBook Air have reported identical problems, though some experience the issue more frequently than others.

The exact cause of the problem remains unclear though it could be related to how the thin-and-light’s firmware handles audio output. Sound played directly through the MacBook Air’s internal speakers are unaffected by the supposed bug meaning the issue lies in the interconnect.

Forum members have speculated that the adaptor needed to connect Apple’s new MagSafe 2 power connector to the Thunderbolt display’s power cord is somehow related to the static. This seems unlikely, however, as owners have unsuccessfully attempted to switch adaptors and run the laptop without plugging in to the Thunderbolt display’s power connector.

Most users have found that a workaround involving the switching between audio outputs solves the issue for a short time while others note that terminating and restarting an offending application gives temporary relief. Unplugging and replugging all connections also seems to remedy the problem.

Apple is aware of the issue though no official response has been released.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases InDesign fix to alleviate crash on Ivy Bridge-equipped MacBooks

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Date: Tuesday, July 17th, 2012, 06:19
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

It never hurts to issue a bug fix.

Per AppleInsider, Adobe on Monday issued a ZIP file complete with instructions to manually fix an API bug that would crash the company’s InDesign professional layout software on Intel Ivy Bridge-equipped MacBooks.

The fix comes less than a week after Adobe acknowledged a problem with its program and Apple’s OS X 10.7.4 which comes pre-installed on all 2012 MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs. According to a user support forum thread started in mid-June, the issue can be traced back to an API that handled InDesign’s system icons which was removed in the latest update to OS X.

The problem caused blank dialogue boxes to pop up as InDesign failed to retrieve the correct icon assets which in turn crashed the program.

It appears that the issue is confined to mid-2012 MacBooks that have “MacBook Pro (Mid 2012) Software Update” installed. Previous to Monday’s response some users created a workaround by rolling back the machine’s operating system to factory defaults.

Adobe is working closely with Apple on both their current and future OS releases to resolve this issue in a more comprehensive manner.

Adobe’s pseudo-patch involves the running of a script that installs three InDesign icons automatically or, for cases where the script does not run, a manual installation of the files directly into the application’s resources folder.

If you’ve tried the patch and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 3 to developer community

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Date: Monday, July 16th, 2012, 12:26
Category: iOS, News, Software

You can’t have a final version without a few betas…

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday supplied developers with the third beta of iOS 6, arriving three weeks after the previous beta build, adding new features like expanded settings for the Maps application..

Developers can now download iOS 6 beta 3 from Software Update on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. In addition, full downloads are also available from Apple’s developer portal.

Sources familiar with the latest build indicated that there are new options in the Settings application for Apple’s new Maps software. Specifically, the third beta now allows developers to customize certain aspects like the volume of turn-by-turn navigation, and whether to measure distances in miles or kilometers.

The last update, which arrived in late June, included a pair of fixes related to touchscreen keyboard performance. iOS 6 beta 3 is compatible with the third-generation iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and fourth-generation iPod touch. The final software will be released to the public this fall.

iOS 6 was formally announced last month at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Developers were also provided with the first beta after its unveiling, allowing them to test their applications before the formal public launch this fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Yahoo details password theft hack, explains which accounts are at risk

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Date: Monday, July 16th, 2012, 11:59
Category: News, security

So…this was awkward…

Following up on last week’s hack in which more than 450,000 passwords were stolen from one of its many services, Internet service Yahoo has stated that “We have…now fixed this vulnerability, deployed additional security measures for affected Yahoo! users, enhanced our underlying security controls and are in the process of notifying affected users,” the company announced in a post to its blog early Friday.

Yahoo has offered no specific information about the attack, how it was carried out or even when. It confirmed the attack Thursday.

Per Computerworld, the hacker group D33Ds Company took responsibility for the breach, saying it had exploited a basic SQL injection vulnerability in a Yahoo service to steal the usernames and passwords associated with 453,000 accounts. The group published the passwords and email addresses on the Web.

Yahoo also confirmed that the stolen account credentials belonged to registered users of its Yahoo Contributor Network, which was previously known as Associated Content.

Yahoo Contributor Network is a platform that generates high-volume, low-cost content by letting writers, photographers, and others share their work with Yahoo members and earn money based on the traffic their content generates. Users who contribute to the network are required to sign in using a Yahoo, Google or Facebook ID.

Associated Content, which was founded in 2005, was bought by Yahoo for just over US$100 million in May 2010. Yahoo renamed the service in late 2011, when it also launched Yahoo Voices, a portal where users access content posted by the Yahoo Contributor Network.

According to Yahoo, only people who registered as providers with Associated Content before the 2010 acquisition were affected by the password theft. “[The] compromised file was a standalone file that was not used to grant access to Yahoo! systems and services,” Yahoo maintained.

Just under a third of the stolen passwords were linked to accounts registered to a yahoo.com email address, security company Rapid7 said Thursday. Significant chunks of the file, however, were composed of Gmail (23.6 percent of all accounts) and Hotmail (12.2 percent) addresses.

All users with older Associated Content accounts, no matter the email address used, should immediately change the passwords for those email accounts as well as any identical or similar passwords used to secure other online services or websites, security experts have said.

Rapid7 security researcher Marcus Carey said yesterday that the file published by D33Ds included 123 government email accounts—ones ending with “.gov”—and 235 military-related addresses (ending with “.mil”). Among the government email accounts, Carey found several associated with the FBI, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Security experts have been scathing in their criticism of Yahoo, in large part because the passwords were stored in plain-text, making the hackers’ job of exploiting the stolen accounts a breeze.

Thursday, Mark Bower, a data protection expert and executive at Voltage Security, said, “It’s utter negligence to store passwords in the clear.”

Also on Thursday, Rob Rachwald, director of security strategy at Imperva, took Yahoo to the woodshed. “To add insult to injury, the passwords were stored in clear text and not hashed (encoded),” Rachwald wrote in a blog post. “One would think the recent LinkedIn breach would have encouraged change, but no. Rather, this episode will only inspire hackers worldwide.”

In its Friday blog, Yahoo again apologized to users affected by the password theft.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available…and it never hurts to change your password every so often.

HandBrake updated to 0.9.7

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Date: Monday, July 16th, 2012, 05:18
Category: News, Software


Handbrake, Eric Petit’s incredibly useful open-source DVD ripping/conversion utility, has been updated to version 0.9.7.

The new version, a 7.1 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

Supported Sources:
– VIDEO_TS folder, DVD image or real DVD (unencrypted — CSS is not supported internally and must be handled externally with third-party software and libraries), BDMV folder (unencrypted), and some .VOB and .TS files.

– Any multimedia file it can get libavformat to read and libavcodec to decode.

Outputs:
– File format: MP4 and MKV.

– Video: MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264 or Theora (1 or 2 passes or constant quantizer/rate encoding).

– Audio: AAC, HE-AAC, AC3, MP3, Vorbis, FLAC or AAC, MP3, AC3, DTS and DTS-HD pass-through (supports encoding of several audio tracks).

Misc features:
– Chapter selection.

– Soft subtitle support (DVD/VobSub in DVD/MKV/MP4, SRT files, SRT/UTF-8 in MKV, ASS/SSA in MKV, TX3G/3GPP in MP4 – DVD/VobSub and ASS/SSA subtitles can also be burned-in the picture).

– Picture deinterlacing, cropping and scaling.

– Grayscale encoding.

WHAT’S NEW:
– Fixes several small bugs from the previous version.

HandBrake 0.9.7 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.