Upcoming OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) to feature automatic security updates

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Date: Tuesday, June 26th, 2012, 06:26
Category: News, security, Software

If you don’t click “Software Update” that often, Apple will do it for you come Mountain Lion.

On Monday, Apple indicated that the company’s upcoming OS X Mountain Lion will feature an automatic security check feature that will ensure users have the most up-to-date software protection amid a growing number of Mac-targeted malware.

As reported by AppleInsider, an update to the Mountain Lion Developer Preview shows a new automated system that runs a daily check with Apple’s servers to make sure OS X 10.8 users have the most current security patches and protections against known malware and viruses.

Called “OS X Security Update Test 1.0,” the automated feature will run either daily or whenever a Mac restarts and has the ability to download and install updates in the background, making the task of manually performing checks less of a necessity.

The new feature also creates a “more secure connection” to Apple’s servers possibly hinting to new encryption technology or more stringent default settings. Also included are the usual stability and general updates for the operating system set for launch in July.

Apple is making security a priority in the next iteration of OS X to counter new threats that continue to crop up as Macs gain a larger user base. In April the highly-publicized Flashback trojan used a Java exploit to spread onto an estimated 600,000 Macs around the world prompting Apple to release both a Java disabler for Safari and a standalone malware uninstaller.

In a related action, Apple notedly toned down the language of its OS X web page, changing the statement that the Mac “doesn’t get PC viruses” to “It’s built to be safe.”

Coming exactly one week after OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview 4 was released, the new Security Update is available through the Mac App Store and comes in at 1.15 GB.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 2 to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, June 26th, 2012, 06:38
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iTunes, News, Software

It’s not the most amazing update in the world, but it moves things a bit closer to iOS 6’s release date.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday issued its second beta of iOS 6 for developer testing, including a pair of fixes related to touchscreen keyboard performance.

Developers began receiving word that an update was available from “AppleInternal” on Monday afternoon. The “operating system 6.0” update is a 322-megabyte download for iPhone 4S users.

People familiar with iOS 6 beta 2 said it is identified as build “10A5338d.” When updating to the new software version in the Settings application, the icon with gears is animated and actually moves.

The release notes that accompany the update reportedly indicate that Apple fixed an issue where key clicking sounds could be skipped during fast typing. Apple also indicated it addressed an issue in which the keyboard would be wrongly positioned when switching from landscape to portrait orientation.

Apple also reportedly fixed an issue where the iOS SpringBoard may crash during a phone call if the screen would fade to black when using a speakerphone or headphones. It also addressed a crash that would occur if a new iCloud account was created during initial setup of the iOS device.

The latest iOS 6 beta also adds the podcasts section back into the iTunes application. That was missing from the first beta, and there have been rumors that Apple plans to introduce a standalone podcast application when iOS 6 officially launches this fall.

iOS 6 beta 2 is compatible with the third-generation iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and fourth-generation iPod touch.

Also released on Monday were Xcode 4.5 Developer Preview 2, as well as a second beta of the next software update for the Apple TV set-top box.

iOS 6 was formally announced earlier this 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.

If you’ve gotten a chance to tinker with the new beta, please let us know what you think in the comments.

CrossOver updated to 11.2

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Date: Monday, June 25th, 2012, 16:25
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 11.2.0. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Support for OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

– Signed code to work with OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion’s ‘Gatekeeper’ feature.

– Bug fix for a crash when typing with Chinese Pinyin input on OS X 10.7 Lion.

– Fix for certain graphical glitches where small black rectangles would appear in certain applications.

– Improve font discovery.

– Prevent an occasional hang while updating CrossTie profiles.

– Fix a crash in Civilization IV and V in windowed mode.

– Fix an issue where applications could appear frozen after being minimized into the Dock, even though they were still running.

– Fix an error opening documents with parentheses ‘()’ in their filenames.

– Added support for Microsoft Visio 2010.

– Added support for Microsoft Project 2010.

– Integration of Wine 1.4.1, which includes many, many bug fixes and improvements over Wine 1.4.0, as well as improved translations for many languages.

– Bug fix for microphone detection for Rosetta Stone 3.

– Fix a crash for certain files PowerPoint 2010.

– Improvements to Japanese input when running Internet Explorer 7.

– Improvements to graphics card detection.

– Allow for graphics driver detection in CrossTie files.

– Better installation notes during CrossTie installations.

CrossOver 11.2.0 retails for US$59.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 and or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

OWC unveils 960GB notebook SSD for almost $1,300

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Date: Monday, June 25th, 2012, 09:23
Category: Hardware, News

It’s the huge SSD unit you always wanted for your Mac notebook…and it’ll be pricey.

Per Mac|Life, Mac peripherals outfitter Other World Computing has announced the availability of the Mercury Electra MAX 3G, a whopping 960GB 2.5-inch solid-state storage drive clocked at 3.0Gb/s for high performance as well as high capacity.

The drive purportedly offers sustained reads up to 254MB/s and writes up to 250MB/s and while not quite as impressive as the read/write speeds clocked from Apple’s latest flash storage on the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display or even MacBook Air, it’s still pretty nifty for an SSD unit with no moving parts.

The Mercury Electra MAX 3G 960GB is available for US$1,269.99 and is currently in stock for same-day shipping.

Parallels Desktop updated to 7.0.15098

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Date: Monday, June 25th, 2012, 06:59
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, Parallels released version 7.0.15098 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 306 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Support for Retina Display.

Parallels Desktop 7 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

Apple posts Frequently Asked Questions guide for Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter

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Date: Friday, June 22nd, 2012, 07:16
Category: Hardware, News

The mysteries of Thunderbolt, they’re being unraveled.

Per CNET, Apple has posted a short FAQ on its new Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter, which outlines some uses and limitations of the adapter, and also hints at potential troubleshooting for both it and other Thunderbolt devices.

In the FAQ, Apple makes particular note about the daisy-chaining of Thunderbolt devices; each chain can support up to eight devices (including the host computer). While in most cases users will have peripheral devices such as hard drives or I/O controllers attached to their systems, it is also possible to connect multiple computers in the same daisy chain (one use of this is for Target Disk mode). If such a setup is used, then peripheral devices such as the Ethernet adapter may be captured and used by one computer over the other, so the solution to this would be to first pair it with one computer and then attach the second computer to the daisy chain.
In addition to which devices might be using the controller, the adapter may show reduced performance when connected to high-bandwidth devices such as RAID enclosures, which suggests that other Thunderbolt devices may show similar performance degradation when attached to high-throughput peripherals. Therefore, if your devices are not giving you the performance you desire, try rearranging them in the daisy chain, or using separate Thunderbolt connections. While many of Apple’s systems only have one Thunderbolt connection, newer systems are being developed with two, that give users more possibilities for troubleshooting odd Thunderbolt problems.

In addition, the FAQ suggests that some systems using Apple’s Ethernet adapter may not go to sleep while it is connected to their systems. If your computer has a built-in Ethernet port, then having the adapter connected will keep it awake. In these cases and possibly others in which Thunderbolt devices keep the system awake, you will have to unplug the adapter to put the system in Sleep mode. It may be possible that future software support may allow for proper system sleep, but for now this is the workaround.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Blizzard optimizing Diablo III to take advantage of Retina Display MacBook Pro

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Date: Thursday, June 21st, 2012, 13:29
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

This could turn out to be very, very awesome.

On Thursday, Blizzard announced that its best-selling Diablo III title currently runs on the new MacBook Pro at the native resolution of its Retina display and that the developer is working on further improvements to the title specific to Apple’s latest notebook.

Per AppleInsider, Blizzard said it was “pleased” that Apple decided to include Diablo III I its keynote presentation at the Worldwide Developers Conference last week.

“While we can confirm that the game runs natively on and takes full advantage of the full screen resolution for the new MacBook Pro, we need to do some work to optimize it for windowed mode on the new system,” the developer said. “We will provide our Mac players with an update when we have further details to share.”

In recent benchmarks, Diablo III consistently ran around 30 frames per second on the Retina Display MacBook Pro when playing at the highest possible resolution of 2,880 by 1,800 pixels with all settings on high and anti-aliasing disabled.

Apple’s native applications in OS X already take advantage of the Retina display of the new MacBook Pro, and separate updates are also available for iMovie, iPhoto, Final Cut Pro and Aperture.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

VirtualBox updated to 4.1.18

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Date: Thursday, June 21st, 2012, 05:57
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.1.18. The new version, a 92.7 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:

– VMM: fixed VERR_REM_VIRTUAL_CPU_ERROR under rare conditions after the guest has been reset (bug #5164 and others).

– VMM: fixed host freezes with 64-bit guests on 32-bit Linux hosts (bug #10528).

– VRDP: added a workaround for rdesktop clients not properly updating the screen size when minimized.

– AHCI: fixed a rare bug which can cause a guest memory corruption after the guest storage controller has been reset.

– NAT: another attempt to fix crashes under rare conditions (Windows hosts only; bug #10513).

– Mac OS X hosts: addressed issues running Leopard / Snow Leopard (bug #10631).

– Linux hosts / Bridged Networking: fixed the problem with device driver unloading on kernels 3.2.18 and newer due to an invalid reference counter (bug #10624).

– Linux hosts / guests: Linux 3.5-rc1 fixes.

– Linux Additions: the guest content was sometimes not properly updated (bug #9887).

– Solaris Additions: installer fix for X.org Server 1.11 and 1.12.

VirtualBox 4.1.18 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Testing shows Retina Display MacBook Pro capable of powering 3 external monitors

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Date: Thursday, June 21st, 2012, 05:14
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

Ok, this is cool.

Per Other World Computing, testing has shown that Apple’s new Retina Display-equipped 15-inch MacBook Pro can power up to three external monitors for an impressive total of four screens.

The peripheral sales company put the new flagship professional-level laptop through its paces by hooking it up to two iMacs in display mode via Thunderbolt and an LG monitor via HDMI while setting the machine’s own display settings to “Best for Retina.”

Even with all four displays active, the new MacBook Pro did not appear to have any performance issues. “Moving images and media didn’t create any lag and we were able to play video on all four displays simultaneously,” OWC wrote in a blog post about the experiment.

Counting the full resolution of the MacBook Pro’s display, OWC’s four-screen setup shows the laptop powering a whopping 14.86 million pixels.

Apple’s own technical specifications for the MacBook Pro with Retina Display only detail support for two external displays at 2,560 by 1,600 pixels, plus the built-in display. The laptop’s graphics are powered by NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 650M GPU and Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 4000.

The new MacBook Pro has received gushing reviews, with most noting the US$2,200 price as the only major downside.

In addition to the Retina Display, the new MacBook Pro features a thinner form factor, SSD storage, USB 3.0 and Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors. A recent teardown of the laptop’s display called Apple’s design, which removed a layer of glass, an “engineering marvel.”

So, if you’ve got a brand new Retina Display MacBook Pro and have three external displays to power today…have at it!

Microsoft announces Windows 8 release date for this fall, shows off NFC features

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Date: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012, 11:06
Category: News, Software

It may not be your favorite operating system, but it’s good to have on hand.

Microsoft announced today that its Windows 8 operating system will launch this fall alongside Windows 8 for PCs and the new Surface tablet, featuring e-wallet support with NFC chips, as well as support for high-definition screens.

Windows Phone 8 was unveiled at Microsoft’s Windows Phone Developer Summit, where the company announced that the platform will support multi-core CPUs and high-definition screen resolutions. The new Windows Phone 8 will also borrow much of its code base from Windows 8, which will allow developers to create applications that can be run on phones, tablets and desktops all running Microsoft’s operating systems.

Windows Phone 8 also features Internet Explorer 10, which Microsoft said has four-times faster JavaScript performance than its predecessor, Windows Phone 7.5, and also twice the feature support for HTML5. Microsoft says that Internet Explorer 10 for Windows Phone 8 gets a better SunSpider score when testing Web browsing than the iPhone 4S running Apple’s first beta of iOS 6.

The operating system will also support near-field communications chips with a native wallet application that will store credit and debit cards, as well as loyalty and membership cards. Microsoft Vice President Joe Belfiore also demonstrated onstage on Wednesday how the new NFC functionality in Windows Phone 8 will allow handsets to scan NFC-enabled advertisements or business cards.

Microsoft is also focusing on enterprise users with Windows Phone 8, offering encryption, secure boot, and IT device management. And turn-by-turn navigation will also be built in to the operating system with Nokia map technology.

Starting with Windows Phone 8, developers will also be able to offer in-application purchases. That means upgrades and other content can be purchase with an integrated tool part of the operating system.

Microsoft is also enhancing its speech support with the latest version of Windows Phone. But in one onstage demonstration, the Audible application was asked to play “Game of Thrones,” but the phone mistakenly tried to search for “St. Louis, Missouri.” After the technical hiccup, Microsoft showed how speech recognition could be used by third-party developers for functions like searching, and playback and pausing of content.

Devices currently running Windows Phone 7.5 will not be able to upgrade to the new Windows Phone 8. Instead, Microsoft announced on Wednesday that some of the new features, such as an updated Start screen, will be brought to legacy devices with the Windows Phone 7.8 update.

The unveiling of Windows Phone 8 comes only a few days after Microsoft held a heavily hyped, high-profile event in Hollywood to unveil Surface, its new touchscreen tablet that will compete with Apple’s iPad when it hits the market this fall. Surface will be built by Microsoft itself, and will come in two forms: an ARM-based model running the Windows RT operating system, and a “pro” model featuring an Intel processor and running the full Windows 8 operating system.

A final release date and pricing have yet to be announced for the new operating system.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.