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Verizon announces “network optimization”/bandwidth throttling for heaviest data users

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Date: Monday, September 19th, 2011, 03:00
Category: iPhone, News


After first notifying customers of the upcoming practice in February, Verizon has now put “network optimization practices” into effect that will throttle the bandwidth of the top 5 percent of data users on its network, just weeks ahead of the launch of Apple’s iPhone 5.

Per DroidLife, the wireless carrier has notified customers that, beginning Thursday, the practice has gone into effect.

“Beginning 9/15, we will start identifying customers who meet these criteria and will expand to others in the base after customer communications are completed. Network Optimization Practices only goes into effect when an Internet or Smartphone device with an unlimited plan/feature falls into the top 5% of data usage and is on a congested cell site,” the company wrote in an email to customers.

Users marked for the periodic speed reduction will have the limitation last for the remainder of the current billing cycle and into the following. According to Verizon, the top 5 percent of data users on its network use 2GB or more of data each month.

A FAQ on the company’s website indicates that full implementation of the program may take several weeks.

Verizon representatives are reportedly being told to recommend that customers either upgrade to a 4G Long-Term Evolution device, migrate to a usage-based (tiered) data plan or use Wi-Fi more often in order to avoid throttling.

In response to criticism over the policy, Verizon alleges that it is not throttling the same way as its competitors AT&T and T-Mobile are, as it is only slowing connections when users are on a congested cell site. In July, AT&T announced that it would begin reducing the speeds of the top 5 percent of its heaviest data users.

The new policy comes into effect within weeks of the expected launch of Apple’s next-generation iPhone. Verizon has said it expects to participate in a simultaneous launch of the so-called iPhone 5 alongside AT&T, and possibly Sprint. The iPhone 5 is widely believed to sport a faster A5 processor and an 8-megapixel camera.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple support note advises against daisy-chaining Thunderbolt-equipped displays

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Date: Monday, September 19th, 2011, 03:27
Category: Hardware, News

Apple’s new Thunderbolt-equipped displays are getting good reviews and can do a fair number of things.

But they can’t be daisy-chained.

According to an Apple support document, the company has noted that previous DisplayPort screens will not work when attached to the Thunderbolt port of its new display.

Thunderbolt-equipped Macs can support one or two Thunderbolt Displays, depending on the Thunderbolt chip in the system.

Apple notes that MacBook Airs support one external Thunderbolt Display in addition to their built in screen, while MacBook Pros, iMacs and the Mac mini can all support two Thunderbolt Displays.

With two external displays, the lowest end 13 inch MacBook Pro will lose the ability to drive its built in screen, while the highest end Mac mini with discrete AMD graphics can support two Thunderbolt Displays in addition to a third screen attached to its HDMI port.

However, users with an existing Mini DisplayPort external monitor will not be able to daisy chain the screen from the back of the new Thunderbolt Display, despite it being physically compatible with the port. Apple notes that “Mini DisplayPort displays will not light up if connected to the Thunderbolt port on an Apple Thunderbolt Display.”

Existing Mini DisplayPort screens, such as Apple’s LED Cinema Display, have never previously supported daisy chaining multiple screens to a single Mini DisplayPort interface, but the screens are supposed to work at the end of a Thunderbolt chain if there are no other displays in the chain.

Having any other screen in the Thunderbolt chain will kill ability of previous, non-Thunderbolt displays from being able to receive the DisplayPort signal, negating their forward compatibility with the new Thunderbolt standard.

The new Thunderbolt Display just began shipping to users yesterday after Apple released firmware updates for its new Thunderbolt-equipped Macs to solve remaining issues with working with the new screens.

In addition to serving as an external screen with stereo speakers, a FaceTime camera and a Magsafe power supply for powering a connected notebook, the new Thunderbolt Display also incorporates the features of a docking station, supplying connected Thunderbolt Macs with Gigabit Ethernet, three additional USB 2.0 ports, Firewire 800 and an additional Thunderbolt port.

Apple recommends that users connect storages devices to the display’s Thunderbolt port rather than connecting the display further down the chain.

If you’ve received a new Thunderbolt-equipped Apple display and have feedback regarding it, please let us know what you think in the comments.

Intel announces 710 series enterprise-class SSD units, talks up endurance factor

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Date: Friday, September 16th, 2011, 09:09
Category: News

Solid-state drives: They’re getting prolific.

And that’s never a bad thing.

Per Macworld, Intel on Wednesday announced the new 710 series solid-state drives, the company currently pitching the units as a replacement to hard drives in enterprise servers.

The SSDs will come with capacities ranging from 100GB to 300GB and include features to protect data and enhance the life of the drives. The drives replace the previous X25-E SSDs, which were also targeted at enterprises, and have 30 times more endurance than conventional hard drives featuring moving parts.

The drives are priced starting at US$649 for the 100GB version to US$1929 for the 300GB drive, when purchased in quantities of 1,000.

The drives feature multilevel cell technologies, which store bits of data at multiple levels in each cell, but provide the endurance of typical single-level cell (SLC) SSDs, where a bit of data is stored per cell. SLCs are considered faster and more reliable than MLCs in terms of endurance cycles.

The SSD achieves a random write performance, measured in 4K blocks, of up to 2700 I/O operations per second (IOPS) and read performance of up to 38,500 IOPS. It has a write endurance of up to 1.1 petabytes.

The Intel SSD 710 includes a technology called HET (high endurance technology), which combines firmware enhancements, management features and algorithms to reduce data errors, Intel said.

The SSDs will be offered with Cisco’s UCS B230 M2 two-socket server starting in September, Intel and Cisco said in a joint statement.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Thunderbolt Software Update 1.0

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Date: Friday, September 16th, 2011, 09:22
Category: News, Software

Maybe it’s a good thing that the software patch arrived before the actual units did. On Friday, Apple released Thunderbolt Software Update 1.0, a 60.3 megabyte download that provides support for the Apple Thunderbolt Display and bug fixes for Thunderbolt device compatibility.

The update should also be available via Mac OS X’s Software update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.7.1 to install and run.

If you’ve received your Apple Thunderbolt Display yet and tried the update with it, please let us know what you make of it via the comments.

Apple begins shipping Thunderbolt-equipped Cinema Display units

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Date: Friday, September 16th, 2011, 06:36
Category: Hardware, News

Per AppleInsider, a number of users have reported that Apple has begun shipping LED Thunderbolt Displays directly to them.

The customers reported late Thursday that their Thunderbolt Display orders have shipped, with one Australian customer claimed that the display has already arrived.

Apple unveiled the new US$999 27-inch LED Thunderbolt Display in July alongside new Mac Minis and MacBook Airs, promising availability within 60 days. The new display is the first to support the Thunderbolt I/O technology. In addition to Thunderbolt, the display includes a built-in FaceTime HD video camera, a 2.1 speaker system, MagSafe charger, three USB 2.0 ports, one Firewire 800 port, and one Gigabit Ethernet port.

Reports emerged last week that Apple had begun shipping the new displays to its retail stores with plans to begin fulfilling individual pre-orders on Sept. 15.

Earlier this week, Apple released a MacBook Pro firmware update enabling support for the new display. Early 2011 Thunderbolt MacBook Pro models and other Thunderbolt-capable Macs with discrete graphics support two daisy-chained displays, though the new MacBook Air supports only one display.

Intel and Apple introduced the Thunderbolt technology in February. On Thursday, the chipmaker relayed its plans for the specification, which will eventually support transfer speeds of up to 100Gbps after the transition to optical cabling.

If you’ve received a shipping notice about your Thunderbolt-equipped display or the display itself and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Intel discusses Haswell achitecture, cites 24 hour notebook battery charge, 10 day standby, expected 2013 release date

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Date: Thursday, September 15th, 2011, 09:43
Category: battery, Hardware, News


Wait two years and your notebook’s battery life problems could get quite a bit easier to deal with.

Per Macworld, Intel’s next processor platform, code named Haswell, will offer more than 10 days of connected standby battery life and the ability to run your laptop for a full 24 hours on one charge.

Standby connected power will be decreased about 20 times over current Sandy Bridge processors. In real-life terms, this means you could put your laptop to sleep, unplugged, and it could still be working in the background, getting your emails and IMs, for ten days straight.

With 24 hours of battery life, those long-distance flights and day trips will no longer be a worry.

Intel also stated that this technology was slated for 2013, which means you have plenty of time to hanker for it.

For those looking to the more near-term, Intel is expected to released the Ivy Bridge chipset in 2012, which will use a new 22-nanometer architecture to replace the current Sandy Bridge architecture and help make laptops more power efficient in the process.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

China Mobile CEO hints at upcoming 4G technologies for Apple iPhone

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Date: Thursday, September 15th, 2011, 09:08
Category: iPhone, News

It’s the hints that make technology interesting.

The chairman of China Mobile, the largest wireless operator in the world, revealed this week that his company is hopeful it will collaborate with Apple to create a 4G LTE-capable iPhone model.

Per Bloomberg, Chairman Wang Jianzhou said in an interview on Thursday that China Mobile has been in talks with Apple about producing a high-speed 4G iPhone. The carrier has been working to launch its time-division long-term evolution, or TD-LTE, fourth-generation data network, and wants to see that Apple’s iPhone is compatible.

“We discussed this issue with Apple,” Wang reportedly said. “We hope Apple will produce a new iPhone with TD-LTE. We have already got a positive answer from Apple.”

Currently, the iPhone is exclusive to China Unicom in the nation of over a billion people. But China Mobile is the largest prize, with more than 611 million subscribers.

The iPhone currently operates on 3G data speeds, but newer and faster 4G networks are spreading across the globe. Apple has publicly downplayed the prospect of embracing LTE technology in the iPhone in the near future, as first-generation LTE devices available on the market have been plagued with poor battery life, among other issues associated with the still-early technology.

In April, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook indicated his company is in no rush to adopt 4G technology in its products. He admitted that Apple has explored LTE, but the company wasn’t ready to make the jump with the launch of a CDMA Verizon iPhone in February.

Before Apple creates a TD-LTE iPhone for China Mobile, it will likely first introduce a 3G-capable model compatible with its unique homegrown network. Wang revealed on Thursday that there are more than 8.5 million iPhone users on China Mobile, but those using unlocked phones are restricted to the carrier’s much slower second-generation network. Apple is rumored to release the its fifth-generation iPhone for China Mobile this year.

In March, Wang went on record as saying that Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs had “expressed interest in an LTE iPhone” and was willing to start development “at an early date.” Wang also said in January that Apple has “made it clear” that future updates to the iPhone will support long-term evolution 4G technology.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases firmware updates for early 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks, 2011 Mac mini desktops

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Date: Thursday, September 15th, 2011, 05:10
Category: Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News, Software


On Wednesday, Apple released firmware updates for the latest Mac mini and MacBook Pro models to address issues with Lion Internet Recovery and Thunderbolt connectivity.

Per Macworld, like Monday’s MacBook Air update, EFI Firmware Update 1.3 (for mid-2011 Mac mini models) offers stability enhancements for Lion Internet Recovery and fixes an issue with Apple Thunderbolt Display compatibiltity as well as performance in Thunderbolt Target Disk Mode.

The patch for the MacBook Pro, EFI Firmware Update 2.2, provides similar Thunderbolt fixes, though unlike its newer cousins, the MacBook Pro does not ship with Internet Recovery; as such, this update actually enables the use of Internet Recovery on a MacBook Pro. Internet Recovery allows you to, in the event of a hard drive crash, reinstall Lion over the internet, without a physical Lion Recovery partition.

To update your Mac mini or MacBook Pro, you can snag the update via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature or from Apple’s Support website. From there, you’ll want to have your computer connected to power (or, in the case of your laptop, a working power adapter). Your computer will reboot to a gray screen to install the firmware; you’ll be able to track the progress using a status bar at the bottom of the screen.

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

Parallels Desktop updated to 7.0.14922.693916

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Date: Thursday, September 15th, 2011, 05:35
Category: News, Software


Updates: They tend to be useful.

Late Wednesday, Parallels released version 7.0.14922.693916 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 289 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– New interface languages, including Czech, Portuguese, Chinese Simplified, and Chinese Traditional.

– Option to choose Mac OS X Snow Leopard-style full screen mode instead of native OS X Lion full screen mode.

– Better compatibility with FileVault.

– Improved compatibility with FaceTime HD camera and other USB devices for virtual machines with more than 2 GB of memory.

– Resolves a problem with Mac slow boot time.

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.

Microsoft Office 2008 updated to 12.3.1, adds Word, Entourage changes

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Date: Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 12:45
Category: News, Software


Microsoft has posted an update to version 12.3.1 for Office 2008 for Mac. The update, a 333 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

Improvements for Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac:
Help works in all languages – This update resolves an issue that causes online Word Help not to display in some languages.

Improvements for Microsoft Entourage 2008 for Mac:
Time zone information is updated – This update provides updated time zone information.

Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and have anything to report back, let us know.