Seagate announces one terabyte 2.5″ notebook hard drive

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Date: Tuesday, December 14th, 2010, 06:15
Category: Hardware, News

Hard drive manufacturer Seagate on Monday announced the industry’s first 2.5″ enterprise-class drive with one terabyte of capacity, or about 60% more could be stored previously.

Per Macworld, the next generation Constellation hard drive allows a standard 2U (3.5-in high) storage array to store up to 24TB, and a full server rack to store up to 500TB.

Seagate’s new drive spins at 7200 rpm, contains four 250GB platters, and has 6Gbit/sec throughput. Like the first generation of the Constellation, the second generation comes with serial SCSI (SAS) connectivity. The updated offering also offers serial ATA (SATA).

“We’re comparing this model to a 10,000-rpm drive in the enterprise, which today has a maximum capacity of 600GB,” said Barbara Craig, Seagate’s senior product marketing manager. “Its performance is about three times that of notebook drive and it’s twice as reliable.”

The SAS model of the Constellation.2 is dual ported for resiliency and sports sequential and random read speeds of up to 115MB/sec; the SATA model has 115MB/sec sequential read speeds but boasts 180MB/sec for random reads. Not only did Seagate double the maximum capacity of the Constellation, but it also increased the entry-level drive capacity from 160GB to 250GB.

The Constellation lags behind Seagate’s 1TB, 3.5″ enterprise-class drive in sequential performance, but blows by it in random reads. The random performance is better on 2.5″ drives because of their smaller disks and denser data.

Sequential Performance (MB/S) is better on 3.5″ drives because of the larger disk capacity and the higher areal density of the drive, Seagate said.

Regardless of the performance in comparison to its 3.5″ drive, Seagate pointed out that its new 2.5″ drive offers far greater space and power savings over its larger cousin. For example, the Constellation.2 offers 72 percent power savings while idle over the 3.5-in drive, or 3.85 watts versus 8 watts while idle, the company added.

Like its predecessor, the Constellation.2 is a self-encrypting drive. The latest model offers an encryption algorithm from AES 128-bit to AES 256-bit.

Sometime next quarter, Seagate is set to announce a Constellation.2 drive that has passed the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) and is sealed with a tamper-resistant label.

The estimated mean time between failures (MTBF) was also increased with this drive from 1.2 million hours with the previous generation to 1.4 million hours, according to Craig. The Constellation.2 has twice the lifespan of Seagate’s 2.5-in laptop drive, the Momentus.

Final pricing and availability have yet to be announced for the Constellation.

Microsoft releases 14.0.2 update for Office 2011

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Date: Monday, December 13th, 2010, 12:28
Category: News, Software

On Monday afternoon, Microsoft released version 14.0.2 of its popular Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac suite. The update, a 111 megabyte download which can also be located, snagged and installed via the Microsoft AutoUpdate program, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Reliability is improved when you open Office for Mac documents by using third-party applications: This update fixes an issue that causes Office for Mac documents not to open by using certain third-party applications.

- Office for Mac Updater request users to close Microsoft AutoUpdate during the update process:This update fixes an issue that causes Office for Mac updater to request users to close AutoUpdate when the Office updater is running. When the users close AutoUpdate, the updater also stops the Office update process.

Improvements for Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011:
- Stability is improved: This update fixes an issue that causes Outlook to crash or close unexpectedly sometimes when you import a .pst file that contains categories. Specifically, categories that have no category names assigned to them.

Microsoft Office 2011 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and is available for US$149.99 and up depending on the suite purchased.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Google Latitude released for iPhone

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Date: Monday, December 13th, 2010, 06:28
Category: iPhone, News, Software

On Monday Google’s Latitude app finally became available for the iPhone, the app fully supporting iOS 4 and optionally providing constant position updates in the background on an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4. Privacy is still a focus as users can selectively turn off both background updates, hand-pick a location or turn off positioning altogether.

Per Electronista, the official release comes roughly a year and a half after Google was forced to release an HTML5 version for the iPhone after Apple rejected the original version for reportedly being too similar to Apple’s own Maps tool. Critics have argued that the initial block was motivated by attempts to punish Google for Android, where Latitude has been a native part of Google Maps itself for most of the platform’s history.

It’s widely suspected that a loosening of App Store rules, prompted by Adobe-backed FTC and EU investigations into approval processes, may have changed Apple’s approach. Apple recently allowed Google Voice after a similar delay and what’s believed to be for identical reasons.

If you’ve played with Latitude and have any feedback, let us know.

Apple quietly removes jailbreak API detection code in iOS 4.2

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Date: Monday, December 13th, 2010, 04:07
Category: iPhone, News, Software

This is a bit weird but maybe it makes sense in the long run.

Per Network World, less than six months after introducing it, Apple has quietly disabled its jailbreak detection API (Application Programming Interface) through the iOS 4.2 software update, according to a new report.

The publication reported that the API, which was released in June as part of a mobile device management (MDM) bundle for iOS 4.0, has been disabled in iOS 4.2, leaving perplexed vendors to question why. The API had previously allowed third-party MDM applications, such as AirWatch or Sybase’s Afaria, to check for unauthorized modifications to the system files, author John Cox wrote.

Third-party MDM vendors had created their own utilities to check for jailbreaks, but Apple’s jailbreak detection API granted MDM applications direct access to iOS system information.

“We used it when it was available, but as an adjunct,” said Sybase vice president of engineering Joe Owen. “I’m not sure what motivated their removing that….I’ve not had anyone [at enterprise customer sites] talk to me about this API being present or being removed.”

Though jailbreaking an Apple device voids its warranty, the U.S. government recently legalized the process through a handful of exemptions to preexisting laws forbidding it.

Since the release of iOS, Apple has gone back and forth with the jailbreaking community, both sides working to one up each other with each new update. As vulnerabilities are discovered and exploited by the hacking community, Apple rushes to patch the issues, while hackers secretly move on to the next flaw.

In August, hackers released a high publicity browser-based jailbreak for the iPhone 4 that drew attention to a glaring security flaw that could have exposed users to malicious software just by visiting website.

As hackers became aware of the jailbreak detection API, they may have begun circumventing it, adding another layer to the tug-of-war between jailbreakers and Apple.

“Whatever [Apple] adds [in the OS] to detect the jailbreak, if it is to be queried from the iOS kernel, it must be accessible and have the ability to be changed,” security consultant Jeremy Allen told Cox. “Meaning, if it is going to be a useful detection method it can also be circumvented. It is a fairly intractable problem to solve 100%.”

The use of jailbreaking to pirate App Store software has been a major concern for Apple and developers. Also at stake is Apple’s relationship with carriers, who often sell iPhones locked to their networks. In the U.S., for instance, the iPhone is only available through AT&T, though Verizon is expected to begin selling the iPhone early next year. Users looking to use their locked iPhones on other carriers often jailbreak and unlock their handsets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

HP adds AirPrint functionality to six printers via firmware updates

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Date: Friday, December 10th, 2010, 13:59
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The AirPrint feature has been released with iOS 4.2.

Now it’s time to find a printer that actually supports this.

Per AppleInsider, HP this week updated the firmware of six of its printers, enabling compatibility with Apple’s AirPrint, which allows printing directly from iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad.

The company added the functionality to six of its Officejet line of printers with firmware updates released on Thursday, the new models consisting of the following:
- Officejet 6500A e-AiO

- Officejet 6500A Plus e-AiO

- Officejet 7500A Wide Format e-AiO

- Officejet Pro 8500A e-AiO

- Officejet Pro 8500A Plus e-AiO

- Officejet Pro 8500A Premium e-AiO

The addition of six new printers makes a total of 18 printers from HP that are now compatible with AirPrint. Five existing printers offer AirPrint functionality out of the box, while another seven had previously released firmware updates that added the ability to print from iOS 4.2.

AirPrint was originally intended to work from any printer shared through a Mac or PC. In early builds of iOS 4.2, iTunes 10.1 and Mac OS X 10.6.5 issued to developers, printers could be shared over a local network to iOS 4.2 devices.

That functionality was eventually removed, and now only HP printers with support for direct wireless printing without sharing through a Mac or PC work with AirPrint. However, a number of fixes and workarounds have been released that allow users to share a printer once again.

There were rumors that a legal dispute led Apple to remove the printer sharing feature from Mac OS X 10.6.5, iTunes 10.1 and iOS 4.2 at the last minute. Apple’s own website now only promises that AirPrint allows users to “print mail, photos, web pages, and more directly to a printer on a wireless network.”

If you have one of these printers, try the firmware update and let us know how this process goes.

Mozilla releases Firefox 3.6.13 update

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Date: Friday, December 10th, 2010, 03:08
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Mozilla.org released version 3.6.13 of its Firefox web browser. The new version stands as an 18.7 megabyte download offered the following fixes and changes:

- Patched 13 security bugs, 11 of these being rated “critical”.

- Aaddressed browser engine memory bugs, buffer and integer overflows, and a location bar SSL spoofing flaw.

- The update also fixed nearly 70 non-security flaws, including several stability bugs that Mozilla tracked through user-submitted crash reports.

Firefox 3.6.13 is available in more than 70 different languages and requires a G3, G4, G5 or Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.4 or later and 128MB of RAM to install and run.

Microsoft posts Office 12.2.8 update for Office 2008 for Mac

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Date: Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 06:49
Category: News, Software

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Microsoft has posted an update to version 12.2.8 for Office 2008 for Mac. As usual, the company states that the update improves stability and includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can potentially use to overwrite the contents of your Mac’s memory with malicious code.

According to Macworld, the update also fixes an issue in Entourage that causes the program to quit unexpectedly under certain circumstances.

The 332.8 MB update applies to Office 2008, Office 2008 Home and Student Edition, Office 2008 Special Media Edition, Word 2008, Excel 2008, PowerPoint 2008, Entourage 2008, Office 2008 for Mac Business Edition and can be located, downloaded and installed via the Microsoft AutoUpdate feature.

If you’ve tried the update and have anything to report back, let us know.

Apple releases MacBook Air EFI firmware update 2.0 for 2010 MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Thursday, December 9th, 2010, 05:38
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Apple issued a MacBook Air EMI firmware resolving an issue where the ultra-thin laptop boots or wakes to a black screen or becomes unresponsive.

Per AppleInsider, the MacBook Air EFI firmware update 2.0 is recommended for all 11″ and 13″ MacBook Air (late 2010) models and requires Mac OS X 10.6.5 to install and run. The update addresses a “rare issue” where the MacBook Air is unresponsive or displays just a black screen after booting or waking.

Apple launched the redesigned MacBook Air in October at its “Back to the Mac event.” As predicted by AppleInsider the Mac maker released an 11.6″ version of the ultra-portable notebook and abandoned mechanical hard disk drives in favor of custom solid state storage.

On the day of the revamped MacBook Air’s unveiling, Apple released a software update for the product, resolving a problem where the MacBook Air became unresponsive after waking from sleep when an external display was connected.

Shortly after the release of the MacBook Air, reports emerged that users were experiencing problems ranging from faulty logic boards to display issues. One issue, detailed on an Apple support thread, involved a flickering or frozen screen. It is not clear whether Apple’s EFI firmware update specifically addresses this issue.

Despite scattered reports of issues with the MacBook Air, the laptop has continued to sell well, especially the 11-inch model. The US$999 11.6″ MacBook Air’s ship times slipped from within 24 hours to 1-3 business days in the first week after its release.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Apple addresses security concerns with QuickTime 7.6.9 update for Mac OS X 10.5.x operating systems

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Date: Wednesday, December 8th, 2010, 05:14
Category: News, security, Software

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Per the cool cats over at CNET, Apple has updated its Quicktime software, now at version 7.6.9, to fix vulnerabilities where a maliciously designed file could execute arbitrary code or lead to the application terminating.

As Apple describes in its knowledge base article:
“Description: A heap buffer overflow exists in QuickTime’s handling of JP2 images. Viewing a maliciously crafted JP2 image may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution. This issue is addressed through improved bounds checking. For Mac OS X v10.6 systems, this issue is addressed in Mac OS X v10.6.5. Credit to Nils of MWR InfoSecurity, and Will Dormann of the CERT/CC, for reporting this issue.”

Also included in this security update are fixes to maliciously crafted avi file types, other movie file types, FlashPix image files, GIF image files, or PICT image files, as well as a possibility that local users may have access to sensitive information on certain Windows machines.
The update is for Mac users running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or Server 10.5.8. For more information, visit the entire security update article.

As usual, the update can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, let us know in the comments.

Adobe releases Lightroom 3.3 update

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Date: Wednesday, December 8th, 2010, 05:18
Category: News, Software

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Early Tuesday, software giant released version 3.3 of its Lightroom (available on the company’s update page) photo editing utility. The Lightroom 3.3 updated added the following fixes and changes:

- Additional camera support for several new camera models including the Canon PowerShot 95, Nikon D7000 and Olympus E-5.

- Corrections for issues introduced in Lightroom 3.0.

Adobe Lightroom 3.3 retails for US$299 and requires Mac OS X 10.5.6 or later to install and run.