Carbon Copy Cloner updated to 3.4.5

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Date: Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, 13:25
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Carbon Copy Cloner, the shareware favorite for drive cloning operations by Mike Bombich, reached version 3.4.5. The new version, a 6.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Fixed a minor timing issue that would prevent CCC from finishing the submission of an email notification when a scheduled task was configured to sleep or shut down the Mac.

– Fixed an issue in which non-ASCII characters would be improperly displayed during the backup task (this was only a cosmetic problem).

– Fixed an issue in which CCC would occasionally not retain the user’s last choice in the preset configurations menu.

– Growl notifications should be a bit more consistent on Lion.

– In anticipation of Mountain Lion’s requirement that I use Apple’s code signing certificate to sign my application, this version of CCC will migrate entries in the CCC private keychain to a new keychain. I have leveraged codesigning in CCC for almost 5 years and recently started to rely on it to have access to keychain entries without annoying the end user for permission to do so. Switching code signing certificates at this point invalidates the keychain item access control lists that I previously applied, forcing me to migrate the keychain or face losing access to those keychain items. When you launch this new version of CCC, you’ll see a progress panel that indicates that CCC is migrating the keychain. This should be fast and eventless. If you see a dialog from the system asking you to grant CCC access to a keychain item, however, it is imperative that you click on “Allow” to give CCC access to those keychain items.

– In earlier versions of CCC, when an encrypted disk image’s passphrase keychain entry was updated by the scheduled task helper application, access to that keychain item would be limited to only the scheduled task helper application. Subsequent ad hoc attempts to back up to the encrypted disk image (e.g. in CCC’s main window) would result in a request to grant CCC access to the keychain item. This update fixes that access limitation.

– Fixed a bug in which CCC would not properly set the modification date on files copied to SMB shares hosted by some versions of Windows. This would result in CCC wanting to recopy every file to the destination on subsequent backups.

– Reverted to the pre-3.4.4 behavior of automatically running a scheduled task upon wake if the task missed a scheduled run time during sleep. If you would prefer that CCC automatically skip tasks missed during sleep, drop me a line on the Help Desk, there is a hidden setting that will accommodate this preference.

– In previous versions, CCC might report that a source or destination folder on a network volume does not exist, when it plainly does. CCC now appropriately handles the permissions limitation that led to this errant message.

– Fixed an issue in which extended attributes may be recopied to some non-HFS destinations every time a backup task runs.

– Fixed a couple issues that could result in a crash.

– Fixed an issue in which CCC would hang on launch if there is a corrupted scheduled task configuration file present. Now that corruption is detected and these files are removed.

– Fixed an issue in which the “Reschedule all future events for this time of day” setting did not work for tasks configured to run weekly or monthly.

– Fixed an issue in which weekly and monthly tasks scheduled with a start date prior to the Daylight Saving Time switch and a start time within the “lost hour” would run multiple times a day.

– Scheduled tasks can now mount the underlying network volume for a source volume that is a disk image.

– Fixed an anomaly with progress indication in which the progress indicator would jump wildly if the user ran a task with exclusions, then another task without exclusions.

– Scheduled tasks will now reschedule themselves when the system time zone is changed. If a task was scheduled for 2PM Eastern time and you change the time zone to Pacific time, the task should run at 2PM Pacific time. This functionality is only partially available to Tiger users. Tiger doesn’t offer “time zone changed” notifications, so the currently-scheduled task will only be rescheduled upon wake, or when the task is reloaded.

– Some of the postflight cleanup tasks that are required for making a clone of Mac OS X bootable were getting skipped when minor transfer errors occurred. These tasks will now run regardless of minor transfer errors, so the destination volume should be bootable even when minor errors occur (assuming there aren’t any other hardware compatibility problems).

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.5 retails for a US$10 shareware registration fee. The application requires Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later to run.

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

Mozilla releases Firefox 12.0 update

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Date: Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, 12:26
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 12.0 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 32 megabyte download and adds the following fixes and changes:

– Firefox can now migrate your bookmarks, history, and cookies from Google Chrome.

– With Sync enabled, add-ons can now be synchronized across your computers.

– The CSS text-size-adjust property is now supported.

– Redesigned media controls for HTML5 video.

– The outerHTML property is now supported on HTML elements.

– View source syntax highlighting now uses the HTML5 parser (see bug 482921).

– The Style Editor for CSS editing is now available to web developers.

– Web developers can now visualize a web page in 3D using the Page Inspector 3D View.

– SPDY protocol support for faster page loads is now testable.

– XMLHttpRequest now supports HTML parsing.

– Files can now be stored in IndexedDB (see bug 661877).

– Websockets has now been unprefixed.

– Firefox notifications may not work properly with Growl 1.3 or later (691662).

Firefox 12.0 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.

Dr. Web points out dormant nature of Flashback, cites that malware could remain on 650,000 Macs

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Date: Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, 06:13
Category: News, security, Software

Well, this is a bit of a kick in the head.

Per Russian security company Dr. Web and Macworld, the Mac Flashback Trojan horse was still installed on more than half a million Apple computers late last week and is declining only slowly.

Although all security companies now agree that the best days for Flashback (or “Flashflake”) are now behind it, the new numbers suggest a greater level of infection than that has been reported by rivals.

Measured by UUID device identifiers, Dr. Web now believes that at its greatest extent, the bot controlled around 817,000 machines, with an average of 550,000 contacting the command and control servers during any 24-hour period.

By April 19, the bot was communicating with 566,000 Macs, down from 673,000 three days earlier, still considerably higher than Symantec’s estimate last week that the bot’s size had shrunk to 270,000 infected systems, and Kaspersky’s figure of 237,000 on April 14 and 15.

Some of the confusion could be down to measuring the bot using either IP addresses or device IDs (UUIDs), and doing so at different points in time.

However, Dr. Web thinks it has a better explanation for the understands this discrepancy, which, it said, has to do with attempts by an unnamed entity (presumably a security company) to block the bot’s activity.

Infected bots had been connecting to a server at 74.207.249.7, which was putting them into a suspended state. All machines doing this would no longer be able to communicate and be registered as ‘active’ by security company sinkholes despite still being infected.

“This is the cause of controversial statistics on one hand, Symantec and Kaspersky Lab reported a significant decline in the number of Backdoor.Flashback.39 bots, on the other hand, Dr. Web repeatedly indicated a far greater number of bots which didn’t tend to decline considerably,” the company argued.

At least one security company—Mac security specialist Intego—agrees with Dr. Web’s contention that Flashback’s infection numbers have recently been underestimated.

“Intego has analyzed the malware, and, following discussions with other security companies, has determined that not only are these numbers [the lower estimates] incorrect, they are underestimating the number of infected Macs,” the company announced in a Friday blog post.

If this is correct, it does at least mean that while infected, these machines are now dormant and presumably beyond the control of the bot controllers.

On Friday, Kaspersky offered more information on how the malware was able to infect its victims through WordPress blog sites that had been compromised to host a malware redirection script.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you haven’t downloaded the latest security updates through Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature to help nix the Flashback malware on your Mac.

Apple releases fourth Mac OS X 10.7.4 seed to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, 06:15
Category: News, Software

The betas, they just keep rolling on…

Per AppleInsider, Apple this week seeded its developer community with the fourth build of OS X 10.7.4, the upcoming maintenance update for its Lion operating system.

Sources familiar with the latest build said it is labeled as “11E52.” The download is said to be more than 700 megabytes in its delta form, while the combo update is nearly 1.5 gigabytes.

There are reportedly no known issues with the latest build of Lion. Developers have been asked to focus on Graphics, iCal, Mail, Printing, and Time Machine.

Registered Mac developers can contain the pre-release software for testing from Apple’s official Developer Center website.

The release of “11E52” comes less than two weeks after Apple seeded the third beta of OS X 10.7.4 to developers. That build also contained no known issues, and developers were asked to focus on the App Store, QuickTime, and Screen Sharing, in addition to Graphics, Mail and Time Machine. The first beta of the anticipated Lion update was delivered to developers in mid-March.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the new beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Intel launches Ivy Bridge architecture, includes 3D transistors in hardware

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Date: Monday, April 23rd, 2012, 06:53
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

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The day you’ve been waiting for has arrived.

Or at least one of them.

Because really good health-related news or the birth of a new child tends to rank up there as well.

Per MacNN, Intel has officially launched the first wave of its Ivy Bridge processors with a new tri-gate transistor technology, touting the new chips as the “world’s first 22 nanometer product.”

The chipmaker released 13 quad-core processors on Sunday and promised that new dual-core processors will arrive later in the spring. The web site reported that the first batch of chips are from the Core i5 and i7 families.

CEO Paul Otellini said earlier this month that the “bulk” of the initial Ivy Bridge lineup would arrive in desktop PCs. However, Apple is expected to use the new quad-core chips in an update to its MacBook Pro line.

After moving to a 22nm process for Ivy Bridge, Intel boasts 20 percent more performance while using 20 percent less power. Intel PC business chief Kirk Skaugen told the BBC that the launch will be Intel’s “fastest ramp ever.”

“There will be 50% more supply than we had early in the product cycle of our last generation, Sandy Bridge, a year ago. And we’re still constrained based on the amount of demand we’re seeing in the marketplace,” he said.

Ivy Bridge also introduces a transistor technology 11 years in the making. By moving from flat two-dimensional transistors to new three-dimensional “tri-gate transistors,” Intel has managed to improve both performance and energy efficiency with minimal cost increases.

Graphics are a key area of improvement for the new processors. Ivy Bridge supports 4K resolution and will feature as much as a 60 percent performance boost over the current-generation Sandy Bridge chips.

Stay tuned and we’ll bring you additional details (and details of anything Apple-related using the new Ivy Bridge architecture) as soon as it becomes available.

Microsoft pulls Office 2011 Service Pack 2 update, offers apology and workaround for Outlook database corruption bug

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Date: Monday, April 23rd, 2012, 05:28
Category: News, Software

Well, this is awkward.

A little over a week after releasing an update to its Office 2011 for Mac, Microsoft has stopped pushing out auto-updates for Service Pack 2 over a flaw that corrupts identity databases in the company’s Outlook mail client.

The announcement was made on Friday through the company’s Office blog, and notifies users that automatic updates for SP2 will be temporarily suspended while the company investigates the cause of the problem.

From the post:
“On April 12th, we released SP2 for Office for Mac 2011. The majority of our customers have been delighted with the improvements – new features and performance. Unfortunately, a small percentage are experiencing some issues with the update, specifically related to the Outlook for Mac database.”

Five days after initially releasing SP2, Microsoft posted a workaround and apology to users affected by the update.

The first workaround deals with those users who have yet to install the update, and calls for the rebuilding of Outlook’s database. The second, more comprehensive fix deals with those who already installed the patch and involves a complicated procedure to restore the database to working condition from an existing backup.

Office 2011 for Mac users can still download SP2 through Microsoft’s website, though it is recommended that the workaround be implemented prior to installation.

The SP2 update brought many enhancements for OS X Lion users like full-screen display modes and performance improvements.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Qualcomm confirms difficulty in meeting LTE chip demand, next-gen iPhone could see delays

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Date: Friday, April 20th, 2012, 05:30
Category: iPhone, News

Well, the good news is that your iPhone 4S might remain current a little longer than you expected.

Per a report from Reuters, Apple’s LTE chip supplier Qualcomm is having “trouble meeting demand” for smartphone chips and will continue experiencing manufacturing constraints throughout the rest of the year. Qualcomm Chief Executive Paul Jacobs told analysts on a conference call yesterday, “At this stage we cannot secure enough supply to meet the increasing demand we are experiencing.”

With Apple’s next-generation iPhone expected to include LTE capabilities like the recently launched third-gen iPad, many are speculating Qualcomm’s supply issues could lead to delays. It would also make the rumored September or October unveiling and holiday launch all the more likely opposed to June.

Apple recently began internally seeding prototype N96— a faster iPhone with 1GB of RAM and an A5X variant to test the performance of the new chip on iPhones.

Qualcomm’s Chief Financial Officer Bill Keitel told Reuters the constraints have lead to increased operating expenses:

“Demand went so far ahead of availability that we’ve decided to start spending more money to get more supply as soon as possible… Any time we can’t make a customer totally happy I’m going to worry. You don’t want to give a customer a reason to go elsewhere.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Kaspersky Lab states Flashback infections drop to under 30,000, warn of potential exploits en route

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Date: Thursday, April 19th, 2012, 10:30
Category: News, security, Software

This too shall pass.

Per the cool cats at Ars Technica, Flashback infections have plummeted since Apple released a tool to stop the Trojan, but a security firm has cautioned that more malware could be on the horizon.

Researchers from Kaspersky Lab held a press conference Thursday morning in which they revealed that the number of machines infected by Flashback has dropped to just 30,000. That’s significantly down from the 600,000 Macs it was estimated to have infected at its peak, as well as the 140,000 Macs estimated to have been infected on Tuesday of this week.

Presence of the Trojan has been limited as Apple released a Java update to rid machines of Flashback. And for those that don’t have Java installed and could be harboring a dormant version of the malware, Apple also issued a separate removal tool.

But researchers at Kaspersky believe Flashback could just be the beginning. They believe that hackers will continue to target the Mac, as Apple has gained significant market share in recent years and continues to outgrow the rest of the PC market.

“Market share brings attacker motivation,” Kaspersky officials said. “Expect more drive-by downloads, more Mac OS X mass-malware. Expect cross-platform exploit kits with Mac-specific exploits.”

The Flashback Trojan was first discovered by another security firm, Intego, last September. The software attempts to trick users into installing it by appearing as Adobe’s Flash Player installer package.

Earlier this week, another Mac Trojan was discovered that takes advantage of an exploit in Microsoft Word to spread. Dubbed “LuckyCat,” it uses a Java exploit to infect a targeted machine, allowing a remote user to analyze and even steal data from the system.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple offering MobileMe users free Snow Leopard update to upgrade users to Lion

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Date: Thursday, April 19th, 2012, 07:20
Category: iCloud, News

Offer them what they want and you might get a few new customers.

Per Macgasm, Apple is apparently sweetening the deal for MobileMe subscribers who still haven’t made the move to Mac OS X 10.6/10.7 and iCloud. As the last elements of MobileMe terminate on June 30 this year, the company is offering one of the upgrades free for the taking.

“Get your Mac ready for iCloud,” the MobileMe web page reads. “To take advantage of the great features of iCloud, your Mac must have OS X Lion installed. If you are running OS X Leopard, you will need to install Snow Leopard first and then purchase Lion from the Mac App Store.”

To ease in this transition, Apple is giving away free DVDs of Snow Leopard (a US$29 value) to MobileMe subscribers who log into their accounts and fill out the form found here. “After you have installed Snow Leopard on your Mac, run Software Update from the Apple menu to get the latest version of Snow Leopard 10.6.8,” step one of then process explains.

From here, users can pay US$29.99 for Mac OS X Lion from the Mac App Store, move their MobileMe account to iCloud and be done with it.

It generally doesn’t hurt to upgrade, so you might want to look into it, especially if there’s a freebie on the table.

Mac OS X Mountain Lion developer preview 3 notes hint at changes to come with Safari web browser

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Date: Thursday, April 19th, 2012, 06:55
Category: News, Software

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Following the release of OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview 3, Apple has seeded Safari 5.2 Update 3 that carries a few new features and bug fixes.

Per AppleInsider, among the usual bug fixes, Safari 5.2 Update 3 comes with a new scalable vector graphics filter, redesigned Web Inspector and HTML5 media controllers. Also included are CSS filters, Web Audio API and HTML5 timed tracks.

From the release notes:

SVG Filters:
Using SVG Filters, you can combine several filter primitive elements and light source elements into a single sophisticated filter, which can then be applied to any SVG element.

HTML Assets:
– An HTML5 media controller can synchronize or otherwise coordinate the playback of multiple HTML5 media elements. For instance, you could use a media controller to overlay a sign language interpretation track over a video track, and keep the two in sync.

– A media controller has the same methods and events as an HTML media element. This means that, for example, when you call the pause() method on a controller, any
media that is slaved to that controller will be paused. Or, when a controller receives a canplaythrough event, all media slaved to that controller can be played through to the end without buffering.

– HTML5 timed text tracks enable captions, subtitles, descriptions, and chapters by letting you specify the timing of text that appears with an HTML5 video element.

CSS Filters:
– CSS filters let you apply pixel effects to any image or web page element with a single line of code. Available filter functions include sepia, hue-rotate, saturate, invert, opacity, brightness, contrast, blur, grayscale, and drop-shadow. Filters can be combined, and changes to the filter property can be animated with CSS transitions or animations.

Web Inspector:
– The Web Inspector has a streamlined new design that speeds up common development tasks. It features a new all new iconography, a navigation bar that lets you easily switch between different web page elements, a persistent JavaScript console, integrated timelines, and more. Additionally, JavaScript debugging is now enabled by default, and the page source view now opens in the Web Inspector automatically.

Web Audio API:
– The Web Audio API is a high-level JavaScript API for processing and synthesizing audio in web applications. While the HTML5 audio element allows for basic streaming and audio playback, the Web Audio API is powerful enough for more complex audio applications that require mixing, processing, or filtering audio data, such as a modern game audio engine or an interactive audio production application.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.