Apple patents point to effort to reduce noise on MacBook Pro fan modules

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Date: Thursday, December 20th, 2012, 09:02
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News, Patents

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You know the fans on your MacBook Pro?

They’re about to get quieter.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trio of patent applications discovered on Thursday reveal how the asymmetric fan blade spacing used in the newest MacBook Pro with Retina display models quiet the spinning impeller without sacrificing performance.

The three patent applications, all titled “Centrifugal blower with asymmetric blade spacing” and numbered sequentially (1, 2, 3) cover separate fan designs that feature asymmetrically aligned fan blades, two with 31 blades and one with 61 blades.

Apple first introduced its asymmetric fan design in June with the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and a subsequent teardown revealed that the laptop uses a 31-blade unit.

Typical fans incorporate a prime number of blades that are spaced at angles equidistant to each other, an industry standard aimed at reducing unwanted sound. At issue is the blade pass frequency (BPF) which produces harmonics from the pressure wave formed at the tip of each blade. The most noticeable source of noise is the pole pass frequency (PPF) tone, or the “vibration and resulting pressure waves created by the poles in the motor of the fan.”

Apple’s design calls for variably-angled blades that controls the spectral distribution of tones created by the fan. First-hand tests have found the new design to not necessarily quiet fan noise as much as create a less grating sound.

From the patent:
“Dispersing the energy of a tone over a number of discrete frequencies can make the tone seem less noisy to the listener by reducing the perception on the tonal BPF [blade pass frequency]. Spacing fan blades unevenly, while maintaining impeller balance, is one method of controlling pure-tone effects.”

According to the invention, the rearrangement of the fan blade angles cancels some of the noise usually heard in conventional portable computers but allows for the unit to still be balanced as the center of mass is located at the shaft of the impeller. The modified design also allows for the fan system to be smaller, thus permitting a thinner laptop as seen with the Retina MacBook Pros.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

SpamSieve updated to 2.9.6

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Date: Thursday, December 20th, 2012, 08:51
Category: News, Software

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You can’t knock a useful chunk of shareware.

Michael Tsai’s must-have shareware program, SpamSieve, has just been updated to version 2.9.6. The new version, a 10.7 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Worked around a bug in Mac OS X 10.8.2 that could cause spam operations in Postbox to be very slow. If you’re using Postbox, you can update your SpamSieve plug-in by following steps 1 through 6 in the Setting Up Postbox section of the manual.

– Made various changes to improve SpamSieve’s filtering accuracy.

– SpamSieve now understands that @icloud.com, @me.com, and @mac.com are equivalent, so it’s better that finding the proper inbox in Apple Mail when you train a message as good. (For non-Apple IMAP and POP mail accounts, you can define aliases manually, as before. Go to the Accounts tab of Mail’s preferences and enter all the addresses – separated by commas – in the Email Address field.)

– Customers have reported that Sync Services does not work reliably on Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. Thus, rather than having Outlook use Sync Services to sync its contacts with the system address book, SpamSieve now offers a feature to load the Outlook address book directly. (This ensures that SpamSieve doesn’t mark messages from people in your address book as spam.) Outlook users are encouraged to make sure that Use Entourage/Outlook address book is checked in SpamSieve’s preferences and to click the Load button. For more information, see the Use Entourage/Outlook address book section of the manual.

– SpamSieve is now better able to handle invalid data received from a mail program.

– When Using a Spam Mailbox on the Server, SpamSieve is better at handling errors from Mail that could cause a trained spam message to go to the local spam mailbox instead.

– Training a message as good in Apple Mail now removes any flags, in case you were using Spam Message Colors in Apple Mail.

– Added How should I configure the junk filter on my mail server? to the FAQ.

– The Automatically Deleting Old Spam Messages section of the manual now includes instructions for Outlook.

– Worked around various file permissions problems that could prevent training in Apple Mail from working.

– Worked around a bug in Migration Assistant that could prevent SpamSieve from working properly with Apple Mail.

– The plug-in and scripts installers are better able to handle non-standard folder structures.

– Fixed a bug where SpamSieve was unable to see the contents of certain malformed messages, leading to poor filtering accuracy.

– Fixed a bug where sometimes setting the date in the Statistics window didn’t work when SpamSieve was running in 64-bit mode.

– Fixed a regression where where messages trained as good in Apple Mail didn’t move back to the inbox if you were using a local spam mailbox and no inbox matched the message’s recipients.

– Made various improvements to the manual.

SpamSieve retails for US$30.00 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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

Carbon Copy Cloner updated to 3.5.2

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Date: Thursday, December 20th, 2012, 08:32
Category: News, Software

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On Saturday, Carbon Copy Cloner, the shareware favorite for drive cloning operations by Mike Bombich, reached version 3.5.2. The new version, an 8.6 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Added support for sending notifications to Mountain Lion’s Notification Center. Growl support will continue to be supported for Snow Leopard and Lion, but in Mountain Lion, CCC will only send notifications to the built-in Notification Center. We understand that Growl offers functionality beyond Apple’s Notification center, but the time required to maintain support for Growl and protecting CCC from problems specific to Growl has become too much of a burden to continue its support when there is a capable alternative offered by the operating system.

– Scheduled tasks configured to run when the source or destination is reattached now have an optional reminder interval. If your source or destination volume hasn’t been attached in a given length of time (7 days by default), CCC will run the task and prompt you to attach the volume.

– When selecting a folder as the source or destination, CCC now displays a “bread crumb”-style indicator of the path to the folder to make it more clear where exactly the source and destination folders are located.

– CCC will now warn you if your USB-attached source or destination volume is “slow”, e.g. attached in a manner that results in the interface speed being negotiated to 1.5MB/s or less.

– Task names are now sorted in a case insensitive manner in the Scheduled Tasks window.

– Improved CCC’s handling of MacFUSE filesystems that do not explicitly allow access to the root user.

– Made some improvements to how CCC prevents sleep during a backup task.

– Improved handling of mounting network volumes with guest privileges.

– CCC now offers a simple mechanism for updating the password for the credentials used to mount a network volume in a scheduled task (e.g. if the password was specified incorrectly when the task was created or has subsequently been changed).

– There is now only one menu item for creating a Mac OS X Installer in CCC’s Source menu. Selecting this item will automatically select the Mountain Lion installer, if present, the Lion installer if present (if the ML installer is not present), or give the user the opportunity to manually select a Mac OS X installer application. The user can also hold down the Option key while choosing this menu item to manually select a Mac OS X Installer application.

– When CCC’s Cloning Coach reports that the destination’s Recovery HD needs to be updated, updating that Recovery HD is now much more automated.

– CCC now works around problems cloning a Recovery HD volume that are caused by PGP and Paragon “flavors” of the GUID Partition scheme.

– Fixed some issues handling file ownership when the source or destination filesystem is nfs, ppfs, osxfusefs, or fuse4x.

– Made a few adjustments that should cause CCC to behave better while logged in as the root user. We don’t recommend logging in as the root user, nor do we spend a lot of time testing this configuration, but it should work better now.

– Made some improvements to how a logout event is handled. During logout, the WindowServer is torn down. Depending on the timing of that and when a CCC scheduled task manages to exit, it’s possible for the scheduled task to make requests to the now-absent WindowServer which can lead to an exception. That exception can place CCC into an indeterminate state for a prolonged period of time. Now if a backup task is running and you log out, CCC will abort the backup task and exit more quickly. If an exception occurs, a secondary termination mechanism will reliably terminate the scheduled task, allowing it to properly reload and reconnect to the new WindowServer process.

– Some email servers require SSL but do not support STARTTLS, which is the IANA-approved standard for negotiating SSL-protected connections to SMTP servers (http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3207). This update accommodates these servers by pre-negotiating an SSL connection when using port 465.

– Made some minor user interface adjustments to accommodate the behavior of encrypting Fusion volumes.

– Fixed the errant presentation of a configuration concern when the destination volume’s Recovery HD OS version is not a perfect match to the OS version on the source. It is appropriate, for example, for the source volume’s OS to be 10.8.2, but the Recovery HD volume’s OS to be 10.8 (because Apple does not update the Recovery HD during ordinary OS updates).

– Fixed a schedule calculation issue for monthly tasks in which some months could be skipped.

– Fixed an issue in which some folders in the list of items to be copied could not be opened.

– Addressed a couple issues where CCC would hang while trying to retrieve information from an unresponsive volume.

– Filenames that use more than 255 bytes (e.g. less than 255 characters, but with non-ASCII, multibyte characters) are now preserved properly.

– Fixed an issue in which applying the Mac OS X 10.8.2 Supplemental update would cause CCC scheduled tasks to report that “Mac OS X is not responding to CCC’s request to perform a privileged task”.

– Fixed an issue in which CCC was unable to copy files to the destination if the root folder of the source was locked.

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.5.2 retails for a US$39.95 shareware registration fee. The application requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later.

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

Apple seeds updated OS X 10.8.3 build, focuses on Software Update notification for pre-release builds, other changes

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Date: Wednesday, December 19th, 2012, 08:12
Category: News, Software

It’s hard to knock a beta that’s making the rounds.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday seeded a fresh OS X 10.8.3 Mountain Lion beta to developers and Apple Seed participants, asking testers to focus on AirPlay, Graphics Drivers and other areas while further detailing the new Software Update feature for pre-release builds.

According to people familiar with build 12D43, the software contains no known issues and the focus areas remain unchanged from the last beta seeded earlier this month.

With the previous build, dubbed 12D38, Apple introduced a new beta installation feature that allows participants to download and install new seeds through the Mac App Store. The company explained the option further in the Tuesday’s release, saying that users will be alerted via OS X notification when new seeds are available, much like consumer versions of the operating system.

In order for developers to take advantage of the Mac App Store tool, they must download and install the “OS X Software Update Seed Configuration Utility,” which grants Software Update access to pre-release builds. Users can also opt out of the Software Update mechanism if they so choose.

Other than the detailed information regarding the seed configuration utility, build 12D43 has no known issues and developers have been tasked with focusing on AirPlay, AirPort, Game Center, Graphics Drivers and Safari.

If you’ve gotten a chance to try the new build and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Google Earth updated to 7.0.2.8415

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Date: Wednesday, December 19th, 2012, 08:13
Category: News, Software

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On Tuesday, software giant Google released version 7.0.2.8415 of its popular Google Earth program. The new version, a 40.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

What’s New:
– We have included substantial performance improvements to this build. You should see scenes load more rapidly than in our previous public Beta release.

– We have included minor tweaks to the Tour Guide UI.

Issues fixed in this release:
– We fixed the bug that prevented users from recording movies from saved tours.

– Wikipedia text displays in tours.

– Gray buildings and extruded polygons have improved lighting effects.

– Imagery holes no longer appear after sun has been turned on in DirectX on certain hardware configurations.

– Icons align correctly upon installation of .dmg.

Known issues in Google Earth 7:
– When run in DirectX mode on certain Radeon graphics cards on Windows, SketchUp models and extruded polygons will appear gray. To work around this issue, run Earth in OpenGL mode.

– When run in OpenGL mode on certain Intel graphics cards, SketchUp models and extruded polygons will appear gray. To work around this issue, run Earth in DirectX mode.

– Clamped Polygons and Image Overlays display multiple instances in 3D cities on certain hardware configurations.

– KML overlays don’t render correctly in 3D cities in DX on certain hardware configurations.

– Water surfaces around coastlines will flicker then resolve upon zoom.

– Placemark and linestring quality diminishes in the Plugin with browser refresh. To workaround, zoom closely into the KML you want to view.

– Terrain and Water Surface oddities exist at the antimeridian.

Google Earth 7.0.2.8415 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 releases iOS 6.0.2 update, includes fixes for Wi-Fi, security features iPhone 5, iPad mini

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Date: Wednesday, December 19th, 2012, 08:57
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, iTunes, News, Software

Hey, an update’s an update.

Late Monday, Apple released iOS 6.0.2, the latest version of its iOS operating system for the iPhone 5 and iPad mini devices.

The update, a 626 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Fixes a bug that could impact Wi-Fi.

– Assorted security fixes detailed here.

The iOS 6.0.2 update requires the following devices:

– iPhone 3GS / 4 / 4S / 5

– iPad 2 and new iPad

– iPod Touch 4th Gen

– iPad Mini

As always, the update can be acquired via iTunes or the Over The Air software update feature built into iOS 5 or later.

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

Apple gets regulatory clearance to sell cellular-enabled iPad mini, fourth-gen iPad in Chinese marketplace

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Date: Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, 08:32
Category: iPad, iPad mini, News

It never hurts to get all your telecom and regulatory ducks in a row.

Per Techweb, a filing with China’s telecommunications regulation body discovered on Tuesday reveals that Apple has acquired the network licenses needed to start sales of its cellular-enabled iPad mini and fourth-generation iPad.

The Chinese Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center (TENAA) granted Apple two licenses on Dec. 13 for devices carrying the model numbers A1455 and A1460, which are noted on the company’s website as being the iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular and fourth-generation iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular, respectively.

Per the article, the licenses allow the two iPad models to run on China Unicom’s WCDMA network as well as China Telecom’s CDMA2000 bands.

After announcing a Dec. 7 rollout date for the Chinese market, Apple debuted Wi-Fi only versions of the tablets to uncharacteristically small crowds. The company followed up the iPad release with the iPhone 5 on Dec. 14, which saw over two million sales over its first weekend of availability.

So, if you’re headed to the Chinese frontier in the near future and were hoping to snag a cellular-enabled iPad mini or fourth-gen iPad, you should be in luck in the near future.

Apple releases MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update 1.1 firmware for late-2012 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, 08:28
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

You might want to snag this.

Late Monday, Apple released its MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update 1.1 firmware update for the late-2012 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro notebook. The update, a 5 megabyte download, improves sleep performance, enhances Thunderbolt router support, fixes an HDMI display issue, and improves compatibility when using the 5GHz band in Wi-Fi.

The update can be located, snagged and installed via OS X’s Software Update features and requires a late-2012 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro running OS X 10.8.2 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases Mac Wi-Fi Update for late-2012 Macs

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Date: Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, 07:54
Category: News, Software

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A firmware update never hurt anyone.

Late Monday, Apple released its Mac Wi-Fi update, a 1.6 megabyte download that improves compatibility when using the 5GHz band in Wi-Fi.

The upgrade, like similar software, can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires a late-2012 Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.8.2 or later.

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

Google Chrome updated to 23.0.1271.101

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Date: Tuesday, December 18th, 2012, 07:22
Category: News, Software

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Hey, an update’s an update.

Late Monday, Google released version 23.0.1271.101 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 56.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– This build contains the fix to a bug with sound distortion with microphone input: 157613.

Google Chrome 23.0.1271.101 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.6 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.