Apple releases Boot Camp update for 2011 MacBook, MacBook Pro users

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Date: Friday, April 8th, 2011, 04:36
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

Per the cool cats at MacFixIt, Apple has released an update to the Boot Camp drivers for the latest MacBook Pro systems. This update addresses a couple of problems with Japanese and Korean keyboards in the system, and also fixes shutdown problems, according to the update’s download page. The update is specific for Windows 7, so if you are using an alternative version of Windows, this will not apply to you.

The update should be available for Boot Camp users via Apple’s Software Update utility, but it can also be downloaded and applied manually from the Boot Camp 3.2 Update web page. The update is 21.55MB in size.

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

FCC vote could compel Verizon, AT&T to share data networks

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Date: Friday, April 8th, 2011, 04:58
Category: iPhone, News

The US Federal Communications Commission narrowly voted to require big mobile carriers to contract with smaller competitors to share access to their mobile data networks, as they are already compelled to do for voice service.

According to Businessweek, the FCC’s 3-2 vote, the vote mandates that leading carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless must reach “commercially reasonable” agreements with smaller carriers.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said the new requirement would promote competition and investment, noting that “roaming deals are simply not being widely offered.”

Wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon opposed the measure, complaining that they have scores of roaming agreements and that there’s no need for regulation. AT&T executive Robert Quinn said in a statement that “a data-roaming mandate is unwarranted and will discourage investment,” and complained that proponents of the new regulation were not just seeking to foster roaming agreements but to “regulate rates downward.”

AT&T’s vocal opposition to the measure is ironic given its interests in seeking approval of its mega-merger acquisition of T-Mobile, which competitors are complaining will reduce competition and reduce choices for consumers.

If AT&T is legally compelled to resell access to its data network, the merger becomes far more attractive to all parties involved, as it puts T-Mobile’s underutilized public spectrum licenses to better use while supporting more avenues for competition, not fewer.

AT&T has indicated that it wants to eventually turn off T-Mobile’s non-standard 3G service and repurpose the smaller firm’s AWS bands for 4G LTE service, ostensibly supporting high speed data service roaming with carriers such as MetroPCS, which already use AWS for LTE data.

In addition to MetroPCS, the report also noted Sprint Nextel, Leap Communications, and other independent carriers as being potential beneficiaries of the new ruling.

Steven Berry, president of the Rural Cellular Association that represents nearly 100 small American mobile carriers, said in a statement that “consumers will benefit from a more competitive marketplace, and carriers will be encouraged to invest in advanced networks.”

For hardware makers such as Apple, the ruling encourages the development of compatible, standardized networks that facilitate roaming, and enables consumers greater choice in mobile providers rather than being locked to a specific carrier as Apple’s iPhone has been for the last four years due to technical incompatibilities that prevented roaming agreements between carriers.

The buildout of new, next generation LTE networks by both AT&T and Verizon and smaller regional carriers promises to finally return the US back to the potential for inter-carrier roaming once common under the old AMPS mobile networks in place before the last decade of incompatible barriers arose between the digital networks of GSM, CDMA, and iDEN mobile carriers.

Stay tuned for additional news as it becomes available.

MyService offering 750GB upgrade service for current MacBook, MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Thursday, April 7th, 2011, 04:53
Category: hard drive, MacBook, MacBook Pro, News

This could be useful.

Per MacMegasite, MyService has released a new 750GB 7200rpm hard drive upgrade for the MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks. These new 2.5″ Momentus drives by Seagate are the largest 7200rpm hard drives available for the MacBook and the complete upgrade service is US$299, the price encapsulating the new 750GB drive, round trip shipping, professional installation and data transfer.

Your old hard drive is returned to you and can be used for backups. Since MyService is an Apple Authorized Service Provider, the 750GB upgrade will not void your Apple warranty.

Once your laptop is back at MyService, a certified technician installs the new drive and transfers the data over from your old drive. All drives feature a 3 year manufacturer warranty. After the service is completed, your notebook is cleaned, tested and sent back to you, along with your old drive. All services are completed within 24 hours of arrival.

Office for Mac 2011 Service Pack 1 expected next week

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Date: Thursday, April 7th, 2011, 04:20
Category: News, Software

You’ve had your mitts on Office for Mac 2011 and gotten to know the suite inside and out.

As of next week, it might be going through some changes.

Per Microsoft’s Office for Mac blog, the company is set to release Service Pack 1 for Office for Mac 2011 next week, bringing the usual fixes, as well as new features and enhancements, including the ability to sync calendar, tasks and notes via Apple’s Sync Services.

“This will let you sync your Outlook calendar as well as contacts, notes and tasks with any service or device that supports Sync Services, including your iPhone and iPad,” wrote Pat Fox, senior director of product management for Office for Mac. “This has been one of our top feature requests — hopefully this is good news to many of you.”

However, Apple also plans to discontinue the use of Mac OS X Sync Services with its subscription MobileMe service starting on May 5 for all users. The change is already in place for users who have already moved their account to the new version of MobileMe calendar, which came out of beta last October.

For Outlook for Mac 2011 users who sync their iOS device with Sync Services via iTunes, calendars will remain up to date. But users who sync their iPhone or iPad calendars with MobileMe will not have them synced to Outlook 2011 with SP1.

Fox also revealed that SP1 will bring Outlook support for Exchange based on server-side rules. A new Outlook Redirect button will also allow users to redirect a message to the intended recipient while replies will go to the original sender.

Other new additions include an Outlook Resend button, Outlook edit of existing messages, and Solver integration support in Excel. SP1 will also provide increased stability and security.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on Office 2011, let us know in the comments.

Apple receives patent for dock connector with USB 3.0, Thunderbolt elements built in

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Date: Wednesday, April 6th, 2011, 03:02
Category: News, Patents

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A patent recently granted to Apple reveals that the company is looking into a modified dock connector compatible with newer high-speed communication standards, such as USB 3.0 and a “dual-lane DisplayPort,” or Thunderbolt, connector.

Per AppleInsider, the invention, entitled “Reduced Size Multi-Pin Male Plug Connector,” was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday and describes a smaller 30-pin dock connector with updated connection standards.

“Some embodiments of the present invention can provide support for one or more new high-speed communication standards,” the filing read, citing USB 3.0 and DisplayPort as examples of these standards.

The device depicted in the application’s drawings is an iPod, but the invention extends to other mobile devices and laptop and desktop computers.

According to the patent, the multi-purpose connector could carry power, data, video and audio signals. One embodiment includes two legacy USB2 contacts, four USB3 contacts, USB power and a ground. The DisplayPort standard would transfer data at 1.3MP with one lane, 1.8MP with two lanes and 4.1MP when all four lanes are selected.

The patent does not indicate whether the new connector would be backward compatible with Apple’s current dock connector.

The invention is credited to Stephen Paul Zadesky, Brian S. Lynch and Jason Sloey. It was filed for on Sept. 29, 2009.

Though the patent was revealed by the USPTO last year, Intel’s Thunderbolt implementation, which couples a DisplayPort with high-speed interconnect, had yet to be announced.

Intel announced the Thunderbolt interconnect technology in February alongside Apple’s release of new MacBook Pros, the first to take advantage of the new specification.

Formerly codenamed ‘Light Peak,’ the technology provides PCI Express interconnect speeds of up to 10Gbps and utilizes the Apple-developed Mini DisplayPort. Intel had originally hoped to use fiber-optic cabling for the technology, but initial implementations utilize copper wiring due to cost constraints.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

ChangeWave poll reports fewer dropped iPhone calls on Verizon network, slightly higher level of satisfaction

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Date: Wednesday, April 6th, 2011, 02:30
Category: iPhone, News

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There may have been a reason for your waiting for the iPhone to come to Verizon’s network.

Per research firm ChangeWave’s report, owners of Apple’s iPhone 4 on the AT&T network are more than twice as likely to report dropped calls than Verizon customers, a new survey has found.

ChangeWave on Tuesday released the results of its latest survey, comparing AT&T iPhone 4 owners and Verizon iPhone 4 owners. The 4,068 respondents showed that 4.8% of AT&T iPhone 4 owners experienced a dropped call on their handset over the past 90 days, compared with 1.8% of Verizon subscribers.

Those results are similar to an industry-wide, non-iPhone-specific poll conducted separately by ChangeWave. In that poll, 4.6% of AT&T subscribers reported dropped calls, compared with 1.4% of Verizon customers.

Also surveyed were prospective future iPhone 4 buyers, most of which indicated they are likely to buy the handset on Verizon’s network while 46% of respondents said they are likely to choose Verizon, 27% said they would sign with AT&T. 27% said they are unsure or did not choose AT&T or Verizon.

“Verizon is still in the very early stages of its iPhone 4 offering to consumers,” ChangeWave said, noting that the CDMA iPhone 4 just launched in February “It remains to be seen how well the Verizon network performs as the number of Verizon iPhone 4 owners ramps up and inevitably puts more pressure on their system.”

Finally, the survey also asked customers about their satisfaction with the iPhone 4, and the results showed near-identical happiness on the part of both Verizon and AT&T customers. Verizon customers were slightly more satisfied, with 82% choosing “very satisfied,” compared to 80% of AT&T iPhone 4 users.

16% of Verizon customers identified themselves as “somewhat satisfied,” while 18% of AT&T customers were of the same opinion. That means that 98% of both AT&T and Verizon iPhone 4 users consider themselves “satisfied” at some level with their handset.

If you have any feedback on this or are reclassifying your iPhone as a fairly expensive paperweight today, let us know in the comments.

Facebook 3.4 app released, adds “Unfriend”, geolocation features

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Date: Tuesday, April 5th, 2011, 08:10
Category: iPhone, News, Software

It may not be the best thing that Facebook pervades a bit too much of our lives, but it IS useful, especially on the iOS devices.

Per Mac|Life, Facebook released version 3.4 of its iPhone app on Monday. The new version, which still has yet to go iPad native, adds a handful of modest improvements including the ability to “unfriend” one of your friends with a couple of taps.

A “Place”s feature in the Facebook app has added a map view. Now, instead of simply seeing a list of where your friends are, you can actually see their location, even from across the country. Version 3.4 also adds the ability to check in to Facebook Events that you happen to be attending.

Last but not least, the Facebook app gets an “improved News Feed” as well as an “improved notifications UI,” but one major thing on everyone’s wish list remains MIA yet again — either a native Facebook app for the iPad, or better yet a universal upgrade so the app is optimized for both the iPhone/iPod touch as well as the iPad.

The Facebook app is available for free and requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

AT&T quietly raises upgrade prices, non-iPhone handset purchase prices

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Date: Monday, April 4th, 2011, 07:54
Category: iPhone, News

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Ok, you’re not going to be happy about this one.

According to AndroidCentral, wireless carrier AT&T has quietly raised early and exception upgrade pricing for iPhones and other smartphones. A notice to store staff has warned that, as of Sunday, users are paying US$50 more. The move would change the premature upgrade price from US$249 for an iPhone 3GS to US$299, and up to US$449 or US$549 for an iPhone 4 before normal eligibility comes up.

A separate memo both confirms the price hikes and showed across-the-board pricing increases. With the exception of the iPhone, pricing will go up sharply for anyone buying a phone contract-free or a shortened one-year contract. Those without a contract will pay at least US$50 more, AndroidCentral saw, while one-year buyers will spend US$150 more.

Basic messaging phones are also going up by US$20 off-contract or US$10 on a one-year deal.

AT&T has yet to officially confirm the rate hikes, though they will ultimately have the largest impact on non-Apple hardware. Pricing for Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7 devices will now mostly be competitive on a two-year plan where the iPhone may be the more reasonable deal on shortened terms.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available

Onyx 2.2.6 released

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Date: Monday, April 4th, 2011, 04:30
Category: News, Software

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Onyx, Titanium Software’s popular freeware multifunction utility for Mac OS X, has been updated to version 2.2.6. The new version, a 15.8 megabyte download (courtesy of MacUpdate), adds the following fixes and changes:

- Deleting Internet Cache improved.

- Deleting the Applications Cache improved.

- Deleting the Diagnostic Reports improved.

- New Safari option: “Enable/disable Safari’s image cache”.

- New Dock option: “Enable/disable the single application mode”.

Onyx 2.2.6 requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

Samsung ramps up iPad 2 components to meet orders

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Date: Friday, April 1st, 2011, 04:14
Category: iPad, News

Your neighbor has an iPad 2.

Your pets somehow managed to get their own.

And, ya know, it’d be nice to get your hands on the one you ordered…

Per EETimes, electronics giant Samsung will hire 300 engineers and technicians for a semiconductor plant in Austin, Tex., in the company’s latest round of expansion largely driven by increased demand for the iPad and iPhone, while AU Optronics has denied rumors that it received orders for flat panel screens bound for the iPad 2.

The web site reports that Samsung Austin Semiconductor plans to create 300 more engineering jobs this spring as part of a US$3.6 billion expansion. According to sources, most of the production at the 300-mm fab is commissioned by Apple.

The 300 new employees will join a large batch of employees from last year’s growth. “In 2010, we hired more than 600 employees as part of the current expansion, bringing total employment to approximately 1,700,” said Charmaine Winters, senior human resources manager at Samsung Austin Semiconductor, in a statement.

Though rumors had suggested that Apple had inked a deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. for production of the A5 chip for the iPad 2, due to concerns of increased competition with Samsung, X-ray analysis of Apple’s A5 CPU in the iPad 2 confirmed that the chip was still manufactured by the Korean electronics giant.

All told, Apple is projected to purchase US$7.8 billion worth of components from Samsung this year, including liquid crystal displays, mobile application processors and NAND flash memory chips, making Apple Samsung’s largest customer.

In assorted updates, component manufacturer AU Optronics executive vice president Paul Peng has denied rumors that the company received display orders from Apple and no further additional comment was offered.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.