VirtualBox updated to 4.2.1

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Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012, 08:44
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.2.1. The new version, a 100.5 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:

– The OS X 10.8.2 release includes some incompatible changes which require adaptions in VirtualBox. Therefore the original 4.2 build was replaced by a 4.2.1 build.

VirtualBox 4.2.1 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 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.

Apple exploring wireless headphone technology for “active” users

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Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012, 07:22
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

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The wireless headphones you’ve been dreaming of…they could be en route.

And if wireless headphones are the biggest concern in your life, that’s saying something.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday reveals Apple is investigating a unique set of headphones, designed to withstand the rigors of athletic activity by eliminating the need for cumbersome cords.

The invention, titled “Detachable wireless listening device,” describes headphones designed to free listeners from the burden of wires by leveraging wireless transmission technology, such as Bluetooth.

Apple notes that, while inexpensive and efficient, common wired headsets like earbuds are “susceptible to becoming entangled while the end user is participating in physical activity.” The situation can be “particularly nettlesome” since the cord is somewhat firmly affixed to the portable media player by a 3.5mm plug, which can be a potential hazard to both the device and its user.

To solve the ever-present trouble of wired connections, Apple suggests a type of hybrid system that can receive audio data through a cable as with traditional earbuds, but can also be detached from the device and operate wirelessly when needed.

The clever “listening device” is connected to the player by either a physical clip or detent, or a series of magnets. When attached, the headphones are able to use the cord as an RF antenna with data being processed by the host device, and a means of power for charging a set of built-in batteries. While connected, the headphones receive audio signals through the cable and are able to tap into the media player’s power supply if needed, thus saving precious energy for untethered use.

If the headphones becomes detached, either by the user or unintentionally, the host device seamlessly pauses the charging process, activates a wireless module and begins to send audio over Bluetooth of some other form of radio communication. The patent notes that stereo audio can be provided to the wireless headset by assigning each side, right and left, a unique wireless address.

Apple cofounder Steve Jobs famously said in 2005 that Bluetooth was simply not suitable for headphones because the bandwidth was too low for high quality sound reproduction, and people are loathe to charge both an iPod or iPhone as well as a peripheral.

That was arguably true seven years ago, however the advent of low-power Bluetooth 4.0 components, combined with Thursday’s unique hybrid headphone invention, could one day lead to the level of technology Jobs was waiting for.

The “listening device” patent was filed in March 2011 with Jorge S. Fino credited as its inventor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google launches Street View for Google Maps web app, begins location-based rollouts

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Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012, 07:26
Category: iOS, News, Software

If you loved the Street View feature in Google Maps, it’s here for web-based and assorted iOS users.

Per AppleInsider, Google on Thursday began to integrate Street View data into the web app version of Google Maps, bringing the feature back to iPhone 5 and iOS 6 users, however the rollout appears limited to certain locations.

The service brings back interactive 360-degree street-level photographs to iOS after Apple replaced the native Google Maps-powered Maps app with its own solution in iOS 6.

As of this writing, it seems Google hasn’t completely integrated the Street View dataset into its iOS-compatible web app, as some locations supported by the full-fledged version built for desktop browsers aren’t yet offered in the mobile variant.

To use the feature, an iOS 6 user can either navigate to maps.google.com and search from there, or use Safari’s search built-in search function to locate a specific address or building.

In the following example, the “Flatiron Building” was entered into Safari’s search bar, which yielded the address and simple line map for the Origins store located at the base of the iconic Manhattan building.

Selecting the map image brings up a satellite view of the area and the usual location marker, with barebones map controls located at the top and bottom of the window. New to this view, however, is the small stick figure at the bottom right of the screen which, when pressed, opens a new window with a stripped-down Street View interface.

While panning and scrolling operations are smooth, there is no option to zoom in on an object and the image has not been corrected for pincushion distortion. As expected, the experience is not as rich as using a desktop browser, however the image quality is high and the controls are intuitive.

At the moment, the service is not completely stable, as returning to the search window to query additional locations sometimes causes the map to go blank. A simple closing and reopening of the window is enough to reset the webpage.

The internet search giant looks to be implementing a staggered release, starting with major metropolitan cities like New York, and it is not yet known when the service will be fully functional.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rapper’s set at Microsoft retail store cut short, several display laptops damaged during performance

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Date: Thursday, October 4th, 2012, 06:41
Category: News, retail

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Well, this could have gone better.

Still, if you provide an actual stage for a performer, then it tends to yield better results.

Per Kotaku and allhiphop.com, a promotional performance by Cleveland-based rapper Machine Gun Kelly, a.k.a. MGK, at a Microsoft retail store in Atlanta ended abruptly after the artist jumped on showroom tables, smashing a number of expensive laptops.

Only a minute and a half into his act, MGK’s mic was cut after multiple requests from store staff to get off the floor displays went unheeded. The pleas only exacerbated the situation, as the rapper flashed the middle finger to employees, improvising the following lyrics into his rap:

“Suck my [redacted], I’m up in this mother[redacted]. MGK in this [redacted]. [Redacted] these computers.”

Following the incident, Microsoft was quick to note the rapper wasn’t hired by the store, but by hip-hop magazine The Source for the publication’s Power 30 Issue. While true, the computing giant did allow the MC to perform in-store, a promotional tool sometimes used by Microsoft to drum up interest for retail outlet grand openings.

Most recently, recording artist Flo Rida was hired to perform at an Orlando Microsoft Store in August, while The Black Keys opened a Seattle location and Lenny Kravitz played for a store in Westchester.

Jeep in mind that some language in may not be family friendly or safe for work, but it shows an interesting disaster unfold in front of your eyes…



QuarkXPress 9.3.1.2 update released

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Date: Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012, 07:03
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, software developer Quark released version 9.3.1.2 of its QuarkXPress design application. The 364 megabyte update, which can be downloaded here, adds the following change:

– This free update for App Studio users includes new versions of App Studio Factory and Issue Previewer for iOS Simulator. This release is not compatible with QPS 9.2.

QuarkXPress 9.3.1.2 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 later to install and retails for US$799.00 for the full version.

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

Adobe releases Lightroom 4.2 update

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Date: Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012, 07:32
Category: News, Software

It’s hard to argue with a useful update.

On Wednesday, Adobe released 4.2 of its Lightroom image editing program. The new version, a 426 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Album Support within the Revel Publish Service.

– Additional camera support for 20 new cameras including the Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i, Fujifilm X-E1, and Sony DSC-RX100.

– Corrections for issues introduced in previous versions of Lightroom.

Adobe Lightroom 4.2 retails for US$149.00 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 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.

Rare Steve Jobs speech from 1983 unearthed, complete with predictive technology comments and foreshadowing of future Apple technologies

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Date: Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012, 07:51
Category: News

Ok, now this is REALLY interesting.

Per AppleInsider and the LifeLibertyTech.com blog, the full-length version of a “lost” Steve Jobs speech given at the Design Conference in Aspen was unearthed and posted to the web on Tuesday, illustrating some of the prescient insights the late Jobs offered as to how computers would one day be an overwhelming presence in our lives.

Perhaps the highlight of the newly-published recording is a question and answer session in which Jobs describes mobile computing, pointing out that he would like to one day build a computer in a slate-like form-factor, much like the iPad.

Points of interest from the audio as noted by LifeLibertyTech:
– He states that in a few years people will be spending more time interacting with personal computers than with cars. It seems so obvious now, but hardly a given back then.

– He equates society’s level of technology familiarity to being on a “first date” with personal computers. He recognized that technology would continue to evolve in the near future as would people’s comfort level with it. In hindsight, once it became dominant the PC industry stood relatively still while Jobs was busy planning “the next big thing”.

– He confidently talks about the personal computer being a new medium of communication. Again, this is before networking was commonplace or there was any inkling of the Internet going mainstream. Yet he specifically talks about early e-mail systems and how it is re-shaping communication. He matter-of-factly states that when we have portable computers with radio links, people could be walking around anywhere and pick up their e-mail. Again, this is 1983, at least 20 years before the era of mobile computing.

– He discusses early networking and the mess of different protocols that existed at the time. He predicts that we were about 5 years away from “solving” networking in the office and 10-15 years from solving networking in the home.

– He says Apple’s strategy is to “put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you that you can learn how to use in 20 minutes”. Does that sound like anything we are familiar with today? And they wanted to do it with a “radio link” so that people wouldn’t need to hook it up to anything to communicate with “larger databases” and other computers.

– Right at the end of the Q&A session, a question is asked about voice recognition, which he believed was the better part of a decade away from reality. Given the context of Siri today, it is interesting to hear him talk about the difficultly of recognizing language vs voice because language is contextually driven. He says, “This stuff is hard”.

The full audio file can be downloaded from here.

As always, let us know what’s on your mind in the comments and thanks for reading!

Opera 12.10.1615 public beta goes live, now available for download

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Date: Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012, 07:17
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Opera Software released a public beta of version 12.10.1615 of its web browser. The new version, a 20.1 megabyte download via MacUpdate, boasts the following fixes and changes:
– Extensions, improved

Several new and improved APIs are included in this version of Opera including:
– API for URL filtering

– Context Menu API

– Screenshots API

– Resource Loader API

– High-resolution Display Support: Improved support for all high-resolution displays, including Apple’s new Retina Displays is included in this beta.

Web Specifications Support:
– Opera 12.10 beta will include changes in the Opera Presto 2.12 engine up to core-integration-point 388.

– SPDY: Support for the SPDY (“Speedy”) network standard is included in Opera 12.10 beta. SPDY was designed to cut down the time it takes for a webpage to load, while reducing some of the security risks posed by HTTP.

– CSS3 Gradients, Transitions, Animations, and Transforms: All members of these specifications are now available without the -o- prefix and have been updated to the latest published versions.

– CSS Site Compatibility: To improve site compatibility and interoperability, Opera 12.10 beta also introduces aliasing for a selection of prefixed CSS properties.

– Fullscreen API: Fullscreen API support has been implemented and fully supports Draft 7 of the Fullscreen API specification.

– Page Visibility API: Basic support for the Page Visibility API specification has been added, including support for visible and hidden.

– WebSockets: Support for WebSockets has been updated in Opera 12.10 beta and is now enabled by default.

– ICC Profiles: International Color Consortium profile support has been added, ensuring images look as the author intended.

Improvements:
– Display and Scripting.

– Add onpaste to document.

– Add an href attribute to the widget element in config.xml.

Fixes and Changes:
– The OS X version of Opera has been reverted to in-process plugins while stability issues stemming from the out-of-process plugin system are investigated and resolved.

Opera 12.10.1615 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

AppleCare rep cites iPhone 5 camera “purple fringing” as normal behavior, in spite of user complaints

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Date: Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012, 07:25
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

This is a tad odd, but if you’re a fan of Prince, you might just love it.

Per AppleInsider, in a reply to a customer inquiry regarding the “purple flare” some iPhone 5 users have seen when taking pictures with bright light sources in frame, an AppleCare representative says the phenomenon is considered “normal behavior” for the new handset’s camera.

The response from Apple representative Debby claims Apple’s engineering team recommended to angle the camera away from bright lights to avoid the purple flare some users have taken to calling a design defect.

The reply went as follows:

AppleCare Support response:
Dear Matt,

Our engineering team just gave me this information and we recommend that you angle the camera away from the bright light source when taking pictures. The purple flare in the image provided is considered normal behavior for iPhone 5’s camera. If you wish to reach me regarding this case number [redacted], please contact me at [redacted]. I currently work Thursday-Monday: 7:00am – 3:30pm Mountain Time. If you reach my voicemail, please leave your name, phone number, case number and the best time to reach you. Email is [redacted]@apple.com.

Sincerely,
Debby
AppleCare Support

Assorted publications reported that so-called “purple fringing” is a common issue with modern digital cameras, especially miniaturized units like those found in smartphones.

It was speculated that the “purple haze” was caused by the iPhone 5’s use of a new sapphire lens cover, new component layout or sensor issues, however more likely a cause is normal distortion of light presented in this case as chromatic aberration. In most cases, chromatic distortion skews toward shorter wavelength violet light, which is difficult to correct with larger prime lenses, let alone the minuscule versions used in the iPhone 5.

According to a thread on the Apple’s Support Communities webpage dedicated to the purple fringing issue, one user claims the company has agreed to swap out their handset for a new unit, though it is unclear if replacements will be considered for all affected customers.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end or been in dialogue with Apple regarding it, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Apple releases iPhoto 9.4.1 update

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Date: Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012, 06:45
Category: News, Software

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You can’t knock the bug fixes.

Late Monday, Apple released its iPhoto 9.4.1 update. The update, a 794 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Improves the reliability of syncing to iOS devices via iTunes.

– Fixes an issue that could cause iPhoto to quit unexpectedly when using the Export command.

– Addresses an issue that could cause iPhoto to quit unexpectedly when upgrading multiple books, cards, and calendars.

– Resolves an issue with downloading and viewing photos synced from Facebook albums.

– Adds support for Shared Photo Streams on OS X Mountain Lion.

– Comments can now be added to photos after publishing them to Facebook.

– New card and calendar themes have been added.

– A new File menu command can be used to open the current photo library in Aperture (if installed).

– Includes performance and stability improvements.

iPhoto 9.4.1 retails for US$49 as part of iLife ’11 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later to install and run.

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