Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat Pro updated to 10.1.3

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Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 11:18
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, Adobe released version 10.1.3 of its Adobe Reader application. The update, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, adds the following fixes and changes:

– New electronic signature types have been added, including typewritten and hand-drawn.

– It is now possible to send signed documents via EchoSign.

– AcroForms is now supported.

– Users can sign AcroForms that are not Reader Enabled without a Submit button.

– The document message bar and associated workflow dialog text have been updated.

– Export PDF Reader’s Export PDF service expands optical character recognition beyond English to include French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.

– 2951429: Ink Manager color swatches are broken, display in RGB, most spots missing.

– Printing workarounds for the issues below appear at http://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/kb/pdf-wont-print- reader-10.html:   

– The printing preference to print on both sides of the paper is on by default.
Reader crashes when trying to print when Protected Mode is on.

– Acrobat X Professional crashes on close Preflight panel access: See http://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/kb/acrobat-x-professional-crashes-close.html.

– PDFs in a browser appear as a grey box and don’t display when sent via HTTPS/SSL: For a hot fix and workaround, go here: http://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/kb/pdf-opens-grey-screen-browser.html.

– Some plugins that rely on HFTs may cause a hang or crash. For example, the LeanGreen plugin does not work. Acrobat 10.1.3 crashes when closing Acrobat after accessing Preflight panel.

Acrobat Reader 10.1.3 and Acrobat Pro requires an Intel-based processor and Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think.

U.S. government to work with wireless carriers to create national stolen phone database

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Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 07:28
Category: iPhone, News

This could be perceived as sort of “Big Brother”-ish, but also pretty helpful.

Per the Wall Street Journal, four of the largest wireless carriers in the US are working with the US government to create a national stolen phone database. Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile will develop their own databases and then merge them into a centralized server within the next 18 months. Eventually, regional carriers will also participate in this initiative.

The database will help carriers and law enforcement track lost and stolen phones. Besides tracking phones, carriers have agreed to block both calling and data services for these blacklisted phones. This will be an easy task for Verizon and Sprint, but not so simple for T-Mobile and AT&T.

Verizon Wireless and Sprint already track each subscriber’s phone using the phone’s unique electronic serial number. This lets them easily block any phone that’s been reported lost or stolen. AT&T and T-Mobile do not have a similar service in place, because their GSM phones use SIM cards. As long as you have a valid SIM card, you can use any phone, regardless of whether it is lost or stolen. These two GSM carriers are working on new technology that would let them track and block a phone using a unique ID.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Inventory constraints point towards possibility of new 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook on horizon

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Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 06:12
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

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When the current supplies dwindle, interesting things are about to happen.

Per AppleInsider, multiple authorized resellers this week are reflecting stock-outs of 15-inch MacBook Pros, suggesting that Apple is ramping down production of existing models before introducing redesigned offerings that will largely resemble the company’s increasingly popular line of ultra-slim MacBook Airs.

Among those resellers reflecting backorder status on some of the current 15-inch MacBook Pros is J&R, which is now sold out of both the 2.2GHz model, which is listed as “out of stock,” and the 2.4GHz variety, which is currently advertised as “on order.”

In addition, Best Buy has also stopped accepting online orders for the 2.4GHz model for home delivery. The 15-inch notebook is still available on a store-by-store basis, however a quick check of individual store inventory in cities such as Chicago and Austin similarly indicate that between 40 and 60 percent of those shops are similarly reflecting stock outs.

Earlier this week, MacConnection was temporarily out of stock the 2.2GHz model of Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro, but the notebook has since come back in stock at the online retailer.

Multiple instances of inventory constraints within Apple’s indirect sales channel are often some of the first signs that the Mac maker is drawing down stock and slowing shipments of existing models before replacing them with materially enhanced offerings. This week’s stock-outs come as Intel is gearing up to launch its Ivy Bridge chips, which have been rumored to begin finding their way into Apple’s Mac product line as early as this month or next.

Apple appears to be planning a staggered overhaul of the MacBook Pro lineup, beginning with an updated 15-inch model, followed by the 13-inch, and ultimately the 17-inch by the end of the year.

Recent rumors have claimed production of the 15-inch model will begin this month with 200,000 units, while production of the new the 13-inch MacBook Pro will occur in June with builds of 400,000 initial units.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is rumored to arrive as soon as this month with Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors. Reports have suggested Apple’s new notebooks could include Intel’s Core i7-3820QM and Core i7-3720QM models featuring integrated HD 4000 graphics.

There are fewer details on the forthcoming 13-inch MacBook Pro, as one report from March said it was “not clear” if Apple planned to introduce a new MacBook Pro with an entry-level Core i3 Ivy Bridge processor. All of Apple’s current “Pro” laptops feature only higher-end Core i5 and Core i7 processors.

The new MacBook Pros are expected to be noticeably thinner and lighter in design, and will eschew the spinning disc drive to adopt a form factor similar to Apple’s thin-and-light MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro lineup was given a quiet update with faster GPUs and graphics cards last October, while the last major redesign of the lineup came in late 2008.

Separately, in what could be a sign of the end of the Mac Pro desktop line, Amazon is currently out of stock of the 8-core model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Desktop updated to 7.0.15094.749908

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Date: Monday, April 9th, 2012, 12:08
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, Parallels released version 7.0.15094.749908 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 306 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Improved 3D support.

– Ability to easily download and install Fedora 16 from within the Parallels Wizard.

– Support for the Dvorak keyboard, Arabic keyboard and French numeric keyboard layout.

– Improved support for the Swedish keyboard layout.

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.

AT&T using iTunes, telephone-based assistance for iPhone unlock process

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Date: Monday, April 9th, 2012, 07:36
Category: iPhone, News

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Following up on Friday’s story, wireless carrier AT&T began allowing out-of-contract customers to unlock their iPhone for use on other carriers yesterday, and the unlock codes are applied to the device after restoring through iTunes.

Per AppleInsider, customers who were among the first to take advantage told the web site that after dialing 611 to speak with a customer service representative, they were met with a lengthy wait to speak with a technician.

Once that AT&T representative was on the phone, they asked a series of qualifying questions to ensure that the user was eligible for their iPhone to be unlocked.

The unlock process is detailed by AT&T in a PDF document shared by users who request the service. In it, the carrier offers a series of four steps that must be accomplished in order to complete the unlock.

The unlock code actually comes through Apple and is administered through iTunes. AT&T’s instructions tell users to open iTunes on their Mac or PC, connect their iPhone via USB, and backup and restore their handset. Restoring the iPhone will unlock it for use on other carriers.

AT&T’s instructions also include a link to a support document available on Apple’s website. There, users are instructed to reseat the SIM card in their iPhone, restore their handset, or contact their carrier if they experience issues with unlocking via iTunes.

If the authorized unlock is completed successfully, users are met with the message: “Unlock Complete. Congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked. To set up and sync this iPhone, click Continue.”

If you’ve been part of the unlock process, please let us know how it went via the comments and thank you.

AT&T to begin unlocking off-contract iPhone units beginning April 8th

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Date: Friday, April 6th, 2012, 11:31
Category: iPhone, News

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As much as AT&T may drive you crazy, you might like this.

Per Electronista and Engadget, AT&T will begin unlocking certain iPhones in the (very) near future. As of April 8, customers that are either out of contract or bought contract-free will have the option of derestricting the phone’s SIM slot much like the already-unlocked iPhones sold at Apple retail stores. The only other condition was to have a healthy account.

“Beginning Sunday, April 8, we will offer qualifying customers the ability to unlock their AT&T iPhones,” a spokesman said. “The only requirements are that a customer’s account must be in good standing, their device cannot be associated with a current and active term commitment on an AT&T customer account, and they need to have fulfilled their contract term, upgraded under one of our upgrade policies or paid an early termination fee.”

The initiative follows a number of complaints that led to Apple’s Tim Cook taking action and arranging for a handful of case-by-case unlocks. Other carriers worldwide have been offering after-sale iPhone unlocks, most notably in Canada, but AT&T until now has declined to do it, even for customers who paid the unsubsidized price.

More incentive exists for AT&T to unlock phones now that its spectrum refarming gives a real chance that its 3G network, and future 4G LTE network, will work properly with existing iPhones. A SIM unlock was previously only useful for those either willing to limit themselves to 2G data or who were traveling and wanted a much less expensive local SIM card instead of AT&T’s roaming plans.

If you go through the unlocking experience, please let us know how it went and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.12

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Date: Friday, April 6th, 2012, 07:47
Category: News, Software

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Early Friday, Apple posted its Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.12, an update designed to extend RAW image compatibility for the Aperture 3 and iPhoto ’11 applications.

The update, a 7.6 megabyte download, adds support for the following camera:

– Canon EOS 5D Mark III

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and is also available via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new Digital Camera RAW update and noticed any changes, please let us know how it went.

Apple releases Java for OS X 2012-002 update, offers potential fixes for Flashback trojan

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Date: Friday, April 6th, 2012, 06:40
Category: News, Software

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It’s been a strange week for Java on the Mac.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday rolled out its second Java update for Mac OS X in less than a week via Software Update.

Java for OS X 2012-002 appeared on Software Update just two days after version 2012-001 was released on Tuesday. Apple also released Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 7 earlier in the week. The updater, a 63.8 megabyte download, requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

It’s not immediately clear, however, how the most recent update differs from the earlier version, as Apple’s links for more detail and information point to the same page as the old update. Java for OS X 2012-001 resolved multiple vulnerabilities in Java, the most serious of which could “allow an untrusted Java applet to execute arbitrary code outside the Java sandbox.”

On Wednesday, a Russian antivirus company revealed that an estimated 600,000 Macs had been infected by a “Flashback” trojan that exploited the Java vulnerability to turn the computers into bots. The majority of the infected computers were located in the U.S.

The virus was first discovered by a security firm last September. F-Secure has posted a tutorial on how to detect and remove the trojan.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Researchers estimate 600,000 Macs infected by “Flashback” trojan, offer removal/online safety advice

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Date: Thursday, April 5th, 2012, 08:21
Category: News, security

Even if you’re a Mac user, you have to be careful out there.

According to Russian antivirus company Dr. Web, a trojan horse virus named “Flashback” that surfaced last year is believed to have created a botnet including more than 600,000 infected Macs around the world, with more than half of them in the U.S. alone.

The outfit issued a report on Wednesday noting that 550,000 computers running OS X had been infected by BackDoor.Flashback variants of the virus, as highlighted by ArsTechnica.

An analyst for the company later updated the figure to note that the size of the botnet had reached 600,00. He also pointed out that 274 bots are originating from Apple’s hometown of Cupertino, Calif.

According to a map released by the firm, 56.6 percent of infected computers are located in the United States. Canada was second with 19.8 percent, followed by the U.K. with 12.8 percent of cases.

Apple released a Java Security update on Tuesday to resolve the vulnerabilities that the virus is exploiting, but not before a number of Mac users had been hit with the malicious software. Oracle first issued a fix for the vulnerability in February.

Security firm Intego publicized the Flashback trojan last September. Some variants of the software were even discovered with the potential to disable anti-malware protections within OS X.

Researchers F-Secure have provided instructions on how to detect and remove the malware.

So, be sure to snag the Java update via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature, be careful out there and if they do catch whoever wrote this thing, I’ll happily serve marshmallow ‘smores and free drinks to the angry mob that corners them with torches and pitchforks.

Skype updated to 5.6.0.203

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Date: Thursday, April 5th, 2012, 07:20
Category: News, Software

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On Tuesday, version 5.6.0.203 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 22.7 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Automatic Updates

– Improved UI for group video calling.

– New full screen mode in OS X Lion.

– Ability to delete conversations.

– Ability to disable Audio Gain Control.

Skype 5.6.0.203 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

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