VLC updated to 2.0.4

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Date: Thursday, October 18th, 2012, 06:47
Category: News, Software

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Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), was updated to version 2.0.4. The new version, a 43.3 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
– Rework of the Mac OS X interface.

– Fix video output on old Macs, notably PowerPC and GMA950 intel Macs.

– Support for HiDPI, aka Retina Display.

– Translations updates and new Scottish Gaelic translation.

– Fixes for splitted RAR, MKV segmented, mp4 and Real media files playback.

– Rewrite of the Digital TV module on Windows.

– Enhancements in HLS, Blu-Ray and various codecs support.

– Fixes for subtitles auto-detection.

– Fixes on Qt, skins2 and web interfaces.

VLC 2.0.4 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 to offer, let us know in the comments.

Apple announces “a little more” press event for October 23rd, hints at iPad mini, other new products

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Date: Wednesday, October 17th, 2012, 07:55
Category: Hardware, iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News

It always helps when Apple schedules an actual media event around its new products.

Per The Loop, Apple on Tuesday sent out invitations for a media event that will be held in one week, where the company is expected to launch a handful of new products, headlined by a smaller iPad with a 7.85-inch display.

Apple will hold the event at the California Theatre in San Jose, Calif., at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. The venue is a change from the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where Apple announced the iPhone 5 along with its updated iPod lineup last month.

The invitations sent out members of the press feature the top of Apple’s iconic logo against a background of colors. The tagline is “We’ve got a little more to show you,” hinting at the company’s so-called “iPad mini.”

Earlier Tuesday, AppleInsider was first to report that 24 new, different iPad configurations are set to be released by Apple. Four models — described as P101, P103, P105 and P107 — were detailed via stock-keeping units ranked as “good,” “better” and “best,” each with two color options, presumably black and white.

Inventory of the entry-level “P101” model is expected to be greatest at launch, suggesting Apple plans to focus on a low barrier to entry for its new, smaller iPad. One retail inventory list that surfaced last weekend suggested an 8-gigabyte model could cost around US$249.

The iPad mini is expected to feature a smaller bezel than the full-size iPad, and could run a screen resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels that would allow it to run native iPad 2 applications without any modifications. It is also expected to have forward and rear facing cameras, as well as the new smaller Lightning connector found on the iPhone 5 and latest iPods.

But the smaller iPad isn’t going to be the only device showcased by Apple next week, rumors have suggested. The company is also said to be planning to unveil a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display onstage at next week’s event.

Whether or not it receives stage time, a new iMac could also be in the cards for next week. Rumors have circulated in the reseller community that the updated desktop could debut one day after the iPad mini event, on Oct. 24.

And the diminutive Mac mini, Apple’s small desktop computer and least expensive Mac, is also overdue for an update to Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors. Supply of the Mac mini has been constrained at third-party resellers since earlier this month, which is often one of the first signs that a product refresh is forthcoming.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available as well as up to the minute coverage of the event next week.

Apple releases Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 11

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Date: Wednesday, October 17th, 2012, 07:12
Category: News, Software

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Never knock a good Java update.

On Tuesday, Apple released Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 11, a Java update for its Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) operating system.

The update, an 81.9 megabyte download, uninstalls the Apple-provided Java applet plug-in from all web browsers. To use applets on a web page, click on the region labeled “Missing plug-in” to go download the latest version of the Java applet plug-in from Oracle.

As always, the update can also be located and installed via the built-in “Software Update” feature in Mac OS X.

The Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 11 fix requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install.

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

Apple releases Java 2012-006 update for Mac OS X 10.7, 10.8 operating systems

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Date: Wednesday, October 17th, 2012, 07:20
Category: News, Software

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Ya can’t knock a useful Java update.

On Tuesday, Apple released its Java 2012-006 update for its Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) operating systems. The update, a 67 megabyte download, uninstalls the Apple-provided Java applet plug-in from all web browsers. To use applets on a web page, click on the region labeled “Missing plug-in” to go download the latest version of the Java applet plug-in from Oracle.

As always, the update can also be located and installed via the built-in “Software Update” feature in Mac OS X.

The Java 2012-006 update requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install.

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

Apple granted patent for unauthorized iPhone usage, detection and reporting technology

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Date: Tuesday, October 16th, 2012, 08:24
Category: News, Patents

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This could be useful.

Among a series of patents granted to Apple on Tuesday, an interesting invention regarding iPhone security was discovered, with the property describing various methods to protect sensitive data if an unauthorized user gets hold of the device.

Per AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. Patent No. 8,289,130 for “Systems and methods for identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device” offers a unique security solution to the ever-present problem of having one’s iPhone lost or stolen.

The patent’s begins by stating that “This is generally directed to identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device,” but goes far beyond any identification technology currently available in Apple’s handset. For example, one embodiment of the invention calls for heartbeat monitoring, which can be used to determine whether the person holding an iPhone is its owner.

From the patent abstract:
In some embodiments, an unauthorized user of the electronic device can be detected by identifying particular activities that may indicate suspicious behavior. In some embodiments, an unauthorized user can be detected by comparing the identity of the current user to the identity of the owner of the electronic device. When an unauthorized user is detected, various safety measures can be taken.

The patent essentially covers three main operations: the detection of an unauthorized user; the gathering of information of an unauthorized user; and the transmission of an alert notification to the electronic device’s owner containing said information.

As mentioned above, a person’s heartbeat can be used to determined whether he or she is the owner of a device, though more conventional methods are also described, such as taking a photograph or matching voice recordings. Perhaps most effective are the patent’s other embodiments in which an unauthorized user is identified through a number of actions. For example, “entering an incorrect password a predetermined number of times in a row, hacking of the electronic device, jailbreaking of the electronic device, unlocking of the electronic device, removing a SIM card from the electronic device, or moving a predetermined distance away from a synced device” can all be used as means of detection.

When a non-owner is identified, the device can enter an information gathering mode in which location, photographs, voice recordings, screenshots, keylogs, and internet usage are stored. Another option is to restrict the phone’s functions and erase sensitive information when an unauthorized user takes control of the device.

Finally, an alert is sent to a “responsible party,” such as the device owner or police, containing a predetermined message like “Warning, your electronic device may have been stolen.” In addition, the alert, sent via text, email, instant message, or over the internet, can contain the information the device gathered when in the hands of the unauthorized user.

In some embodiments, near field communications, or NFC, can be employed to pair the handset with a key fob or similar device. If the phone moves far enough away from the key fob, it will issue a warning which will turn into a formal alert if the device moves a substantial distance.

As with most Apple patents, it is unclear if the technology will be deployed in an upcoming product, however recent additions to iOS like Find My iPhone illustrate the company’s focus on device security.

Cool stuff and it’ll be interesting to see what comes of it.

iFixit completes seventh-gen iPod nano teardowns, finds additional NAND Flash memory, Bluetooth, assorted mystery chips

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Date: Tuesday, October 16th, 2012, 08:57
Category: Hardware, iPod, iPod Nano, News

It’s the teardowns that make things interesting.

Per iFixit, the teardown of the seventh-gen iPod nano revealed the following interesting components:

– The Toshiba THGBX2G7D2JLA01, which includes 16 gigabytes of NAND flash. The Broadcom BCM2078KUBG also includes both the Bluetooth and FM radios.

– A touchscreen controller from Texas Instruments identified as 343S0538.

– A chip from NXP Semiconductors labeled “1609A1”.

The device also contained the following mystery chips which have yet to be identified:
– 75203 23017

– 75292 98820

– 339S0193

– Apple 338S1099

– Apple 338S1146

iFixit also found that the battery in the new iPod nano is soldered directly to the logic board and adhered to the back of the display. They did find a plastic pull tab presumed to be in place for removing the battery, however they found the adhesive holding the battery in place was too strong.

The new 3.7V, 0.8Wh, 220 mAh battery is more than twice that of the 0.39 Wh rating of the sixth-generation iPod nano. The solutions provider also found that the LCD and digitizer glass are not fused together, which means each component could be replaced separately.

The same could not be said for the battery, Lightning connector, or volume controls, all of which are soldered to the logic board. Pulling out the logic board also removes the battery, button cable, Lightning connector, and headphone jack.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve snagged a new seventh-generation iPod nano and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat Pro updated to 11.0

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Date: Monday, October 15th, 2012, 09:03
Category: News, Software

On Monday, Adobe released version 11.0 of its Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat Pro applications. The updates, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, add the following fixes and changes:

– Get forms signed by others: Email your signed PDF form, or send it to others to e-sign using the Adobe EchoSign(R) online service from within Reader XI. Just open a free or paid account.

Improved:
– Comment using the PDF annotator Reader XI comes with a full set of commenting tools. So you can add sticky notes, highlight text, and use lines, shapes, stamps, and a typewriter tool to place comments anywhere on your PDF document.

– Fill out forms Say goodbye to paper forms. Type your responses right on the PDF form, or click through and fill in the form fields. Then save and submit. That’s really all there is to it.

Acrobat Reader 11.0 and Acrobat Pro 11.0 require an Intel-based processor and Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think.

Apple extends warranty for 2009 iMac, cites known hard drive issue

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Date: Monday, October 15th, 2012, 06:39
Category: hard drive, Hardware, iMac, News

There’s nothing like a quiet warranty extension to put your mind at ease.

Per MacRumors, Apple on Friday quietly extended its iMac 1TB Seagate Hard Drive Replacement Program coverage back two years to include models sold from October 2009, effectively adding almost two years to the initiative which previously included machines sold between May and June of 2011.

News of the extension was posted to Apple’s Support webpage sometime on Friday, which noted email notifications were being sent to affected iMac owners who took the time to register their products. Users can also check the program’s webpage to confirm eligibility.

From the announcement:

Apple has determined that certain Seagate 1TB hard drives used in 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac systems may fail. These systems were sold between October 2009 and July 2011.

iMac owners who were affected by the Seagate-specific failure can have their hard drives replaced for free from Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, or those who have already paid for repair or replacement can contact Apple for a possible refund.

First initiated in July 2011, the recall originally ran through July 23, 2012 and covered iMacs sold between May 2011 and July 2011. The program was subsequently extended for an additional year. With Friday’s announcement, the replacement plan has been broadened again, and now covers affected iMacs for three years after the first retail sale of the unit or until April 12, 2013, whichever provides longer coverage.

Seagate’s storage components were at the center of another fiasco in 2007, when Apple acknowledged that a number of MacBook and MacBook Pros shipped with faulty hard drives. An apparent manufacturing flaw caused the drive head of some units to permanently fail, scratching the disk patter and causing permanent data loss.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases HP Printer Drivers 2.12 update for Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7, 10.8 operating systems

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Date: Friday, October 12th, 2012, 08:34
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock a fairly large printer driver update.

On Thursday, Apple released its HP Printers Drivers 2.12 package. The update, a 473.3 megabyte download, adds updated drivers for assorted HP printers, scanners and multifunction devices.

The update requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later and can also be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

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

Apple releases version 1.0.1 firmware update for seventh-generation iPod nano

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Date: Friday, October 12th, 2012, 08:02
Category: iPod Nano, News, Software

You’ve had your spiffy new seventh-generation iPod nano for a day or two.

Now let’s update that sucker.

Per iLounge, Apple released version 1.0.1 of the new iPod nano’s software.

The new software only mentions “Support for iPod nano (7th generation)” in its release notes, offering little information as to what issues, if any, are addressed with version 1.0.1. Speculation points to tweaks to make the device compatible with the most current version of iTunes, however the specific problems regarding the device’s interoperability with Apple’s media management software is unknown.

Users will be able to update their new iPod nanos upon delivery by simply plugging the unit into their computer, which should automatically recognize the device and bring up the “Download and Update” new iPod software prompt.

Apple announced the seventh-generation media player in September alongside the iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch and newly-designed EarPods headphones. The most recent nano ditches the last-generation’s small square form factor for a more iPod touch-esque layout, complete with 2.5-inch mutli-touch display, integrated Bluetooth connectivity and the reversible Lightning connector.

If you’ve tried the iPod nano with its updated firmware and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.