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Apple releases Lion Recovery Disk Assistant to function with external hard drives

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Date: Tuesday, August 9th, 2011, 03:11
Category: News, Software

If your Lion partition is being finicky, this might help.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday released Lion Recovery Disk Assistant software to enable users to create recovery partitions on external drives.

Lion Recovery Disk Assistant expands Apple’s Recovery features in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion to add support for creating a Recovery Disk on external drives. According to Apple’s release notes for the software, the resulting partition has all of the same capabilities as the built-in Lion Recovery: reinstall Lion, repair the disk using Disk Utility, restore from a Time Machine backup, or browse the web with Safari.

Creating an external Lion Recovery using the assistant requires that the Mac already have an existing Recovery HD. The external drive must also have at least 1GB of free space, while Lion Recovery Disk Assistant is a 1.07MB download.

The new partition will not be visible in the Finder or Disk Utility on Mac OS X, but can be accessed by rebooting the Mac while holding the Option key.

Users are warned that the Lion Recovery Disk Assistant will erase all data on the external hard drive. Apple recommends either backing up data or creating a new partition on the drive before running the assistant.

Apple also notes that if the Recovery HD is created for a Mac that shipped with Lion, the external recovery drive can only be used with that system. However, if the the assistant is run on a Mac that upgraded to Lion from Mac OS X Snow Leopard, then the external recovery drives can be used on other systems that upgraded from Snow Leopard.

Max OS X Lion contains a number of advanced Recovery tools, in part because the update is deployed over the Mac App Store, rather than via optical disk as with previous OS X versions. The latest Macs, which ship with Lion pre-installed, include a new Internet Recovery feature that allows users to start a Mac directly from Apple’s servers.

Lion arrived on July 20 and was downloaded more than 1 million times in the first 24 hours. The upgrade contains more than 250 new features, including AirDrop, Mission Control and full-screen apps.

Apple plans to release a US$69 USB thumb drive loaded with Lion on its online store later this month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype updated to version 5.3.0.1074, receives full Lion support

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Date: Monday, August 8th, 2011, 08:59
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, version 5.3.0.1074 of the Skype VoIP application went public. The new version, a 22.2 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Updated contact list view.

– New contact grid view.

– Support for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

– Minor improvements.

Skype 5.3.0.1074 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.

New Mac OS X trojan horse goes live, acts as Adobe Flash Player updater application

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Date: Monday, August 8th, 2011, 08:46
Category: News, security, Software

The bad news: There’ll always be people designing viruses, trojans and malware for computers.

The good news: It’s quite a bit rarer on the Mac OS X side of things.

Even so, the latest attempt from digital wrongdoers to infect your Mac has been spotted taking on the look and feel of Adobe’s Flash Installer.

According to CNET, the trojan, which has been dubbed as fairly serious since it mimics the Adobe Flash Player updated, has been named the Trojan Bash/QHost.WB by F-Secure, which provided some insight as to how it works.

Once installed, the Trojan adds entries to the hosts file to hijack users visiting various Google sites (e.g., Google.com.tw, Google.com.tl, et cetera) to the IP address 91.224.160.26, which is located in Netherlands. The server at the IP address displays a fake Web page designed to appear similar to the legitimate Google site.

The Trojan is currently dormant, meaning that while it will take you to the fake Google site, nothing will happen. It is, however, programed to serve pop-up ads once the user has accessed the false IP.

The current solution is to only install Adobe updates from Adobe’s official Web site. As with any Trojan designed for Mac, the malware only works if the user allows it. Most of the threats currently in the wild can be avoided by simply sticking to paid versions of software obtained directly from trusted creators of the product.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins hunting down, closing device slots of users running unauthorized iOS 5 beta versions

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Date: Monday, August 8th, 2011, 04:13
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News

If you’re using an unauthorized iOS 5 beta, Apple probably wants you to stop.

Per Karthikk.net, Apple has reportedly begun closing the accounts of some developers who have inappropriately sold their account device slots, allowing them to profit from the installation iOS 5 on unauthorized non-developer iPhones and iPads.

Some developers who sold their slots for UDIDs, the unique identification numbers associated with every iOS device, have been tracked down by Apple according to the report. Apple has reportedly sent e-mail warnings to developers, notifying them that their illicit activities have been discovered.

In addition, Apple is said to have begun closing developer accounts for some who have been identified as selling their device slots. Apple has also reportedly flagged UDIDs associated with a developer account found in violation, making the device running iOS 5 “unusable.”

“Once Apple locks your iOS device, the phone will enter the initial setup mode asking you to connect to a WiFi network,” the report said. “And nothing happens more than that.”

Because it is not final, public software, iOS 5 is currently meant only for testing purposes, and is restricted to authorized members of Apple’s official iOS Developer Program. Selling device slots and allowing non-developers to test and run the latest beta build of iOS 5 is a direct violation of the iOS Developer Program rules.

But some developers have ignored these binding terms and have chosen to register another person’s iPhone or iPad UDID in exchange for a fee. Those who pay the developer can receive early access to iOS 5 and test out its new feature base.

iOS 5 is currently available to developers in its fourth beta, released last month. The latest version was issued via the operating system’s new over-the-air update feature, allowing for a much smaller-than-usual 133MB delta update over Wi-Fi.

Members of the general public will not be able to utilize iOS 5 until this fall, when Apple will release the software. The new operating system is expected to become available alongside a new fifth-generation iPhone.

In addition to wireless updates, iOS 5 will also allow for wireless syncing through iCloud. It will also offer an all-new Notification Center for prompting users, a Newsstand application for newspapers and magazines, and system-wide integration with the social networking service Twitter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to officially end MobileMe sync for certain features in iCloud transition

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Date: Monday, August 8th, 2011, 03:52
Category: News, Software

Apple’s transition to the iCloud is coming and it won’t always be easy…

Per AppleInsider, while many of the features of MobileMe are simply being upgraded in the move to iCloud, Apple has previously noted that Gallery, iDisk and iWeb are on the chopping block. Now, the company has further made it clear that data sync features will also be canceled in its iCloud transition steps.

A key feature of .Mac and later MobileMe was the cloud integration of iSync, Apple’s Mac-centric tool for keeping data in sync among a variety of devices as part of its “digital hub strategy” first unveiled a decade ago. The data sync of .Mac and subsequently MobileMe moved the “truth database” from the user’s Mac into the cloud, making it possible to sync additional types of data between Macs.

MobileMe currently allows a user to sync a variety of settings between Macs, including the layout of Dashboard widgets, Dock items, passwords and credentials saved in the Keychain, email account information including Mail Rules, Signatures and Smart Mailboxes, and System Preferences.

However, all of these features will terminate as soon as a user migrates from MobileMe to the new iCloud, according to Apple’s transition pages at me.com/move.

Other MobileMe features that are not being carried forward into iCloud include Gallery media hosting, iDisk cloud storage and its integrated iWeb web hosting, will be continued for exiting MobileMe subscribers until June 30 of 2012, even after migrating other data to iCloud. These features are easy to maintain independently from iCloud, because there is no direct equivalent in iCloud.

Gallery media hosting is being dramatically reworked as a Photo Stream feature, a push updating feature that presents a user’s photos on the mobile devices, Mac photo albums, and on Apple TV rather than via a web site. Similarly, iDisk is making way for an entirely new type of document and data updating that focuses on a users’ own hardware rather than web-centric hosting.

The iCloud migration process is currently only open to developers, as it requires users to have iOS 5 beta 5 on their mobile devices, Mac OS X Lion 10.7.2 with the iCloud for Os X Lion beta 6 package on their Macs, and the iCloud Control Panel for Windows beta 4 running on any PCs they use.

Apple notes that while Mail, Contacts and Calendars can be migrated from MobileMe to iCloud, shared calendars may be affected in the move, while Bookmarks will simply be imported from a client system. This indicates the reduction in data supported in the transition to iCloud may largely be explained by Apple’s hopes to keep the migration as simple and problem-free as possible, avoiding the issues users had in the move from .Mac to MobileMe.

Another reason for the shift in features between MobileMe and iCloud may be explained by the underlying security changes that differentiate the wide open iDisk from the carefully sandboxed design of iCloud’s Documents & Data.

Currently, data synced to MobileMe by Mac OS X Sync Services is copied into openly accessible folders. It is likely Apple hopes to completely secure all iCloud data to avoid any embarrassing lapses and contain sensitive data from potential malware attacks. Individual apps, such as Keychain Access, Launchpad and System Preferences, may be modified in the future to take advantage of iCloud’s key value data store, duplicating the old MobileMe features in a more secure fashion.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T cracking down on customers using tethering, hotspot cracks

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Date: Friday, August 5th, 2011, 10:53
Category: iPhone, News

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If you thought you were clever in tethering your smartphone or turning it into a Wi-Fi hotspot, AT&T might have some words about that.

Per 9to5Mac, users have reported being kicked off their unlimited data plans for using free tethering apps such as MiWi for jailbroken iPhones or PDANet for Android handsets. AT&T is reportedly sending notices to these customers, informing them their plans will switch automatically to a US$45 per month DataPro plan on August 11. The carrier discontinued its US$30 unlimited data plan last summer, but allowed existing subscribers to be grandfathered in.

An AT&T representative wouldn’t confirm the hard cut-off date, but did acknowledge that it’s now cracking down on free tethering to 9to5Mac. The carrier started sending ultimatums to customers earlier this year, complete with a lovely passive-aggressive tone.

AT&T isn’t the only carrier that’s taking a hard stance against free tethering. Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and AT&T have apparently pushed Google into hiding free tethering apps from the Android Market, though only on smartphones sold by those carriers. Verizon also reportedly shows a warning page when it catches a user tethering without paying, and provides a number to call and set up a mobile broadband package.

Unfortunately, AT&T’s current customer agreement says that it may terminate or modify a customer’s service for unauthorized tethering.

If you’ve seen this on your end, please let us know.

Russian police raid points to MacDefender scam

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Date: Friday, August 5th, 2011, 04:26
Category: News, Software

If you wanted to know who was responsible for all that MacDefender malware nonsense a few months ago, they might have something.

After a raid on Russian payment giant Chronopay’s offices, authorities have found evidence linking the company to the MacDefender fake anti-virus scam that targeted Mac users.

Per security expert Brian Krebs’ blog post, Russian cops have discovered “mountains of evidence” that Chronopay employees were providing technical and customer support for bogus anti-virus software, including MacDefender.

Police discovered “Website support credentials and the call records of 1-800 numbers used to operate the support centers,” Krebs wrote. Evidence was also found linking the company to Rx-Promotion, an online program that worked with spammers to promote sites selling counterfeit prescription drugs.

Chronopay has a 45 percent share of the Russian e-commerce market and had denied involvement with the scam in May after Krebs leveled accusations against the company. Co-founder Pavel Vrublevsky was arrested in June over allegations that he hired a hacker to attack his company’s rival.

“If allegations against ChronoPay are true then we should expect significant decrease of revenues received by cyber criminals in the appropriate segments of black market in the near future,” said Maxim Suhanov, a specialist at computer-forensics firm Group-IB.

A recent analysis of the fake anti-virus distribution networks found that scammers were using highly profitable pay-per-install programs to deploy the malware. PPI networks reportedly charge as little as US$750 for 10,000 installs.

“If you do the math, it’s almost like you’re printing money,” researcher Damon McCoy said. “You could pay the PPI networks US$75 to get 1,000 fake AV installs. And if you had an average conversion rate of one in 50, making between US$25-US$35 on each install, that works out to about 20 sales — or conservatively US$500 per one thousand installs.”

Users first discovered the MacDefender malicious software in late April. Using a method known as “SEO poisoning,” the malware automatically downloaded itself onto users’ computers and posed as an anti-virus software in an attempt to trick users into providing credit card information. Security firms categorized the threat as “low” because the users were still required to agree to install the software and provide a password.

However, in late May, a variant of the malicious software was discovered that installed itself without administrator approval. Apple issued a security update to Mac OS X meant to detect and disable the malware.

Security researchers have applauded Apple for its recent security efforts, especially in Mac OS X Lion, while also warning that the Mac platform’s increased visibility may open it up to increased threats from hackers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Carbon Copy Cloner updated to 3.4.2

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Date: Friday, August 5th, 2011, 04:49
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Carbon Copy Cloner, the shareware favorite for drive cloning operations by Mike Bombich, reached version 3.4.2. The new version, a 5.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Fixed an issue in which scheduled tasks with a remote Macintosh specified as the source would not run properly if the scheduled task had been upgraded from an earlier version of CCC.

– Fixed an issue in which a task scheduled to run when the source or destination was reconnected would not fire unless the disk was physically detached from the Mac.

– Fixed an issue that would interfere with the execution of scheduled tasks configured to back up to a network volume.

– Fixed an issue in which some network filesystems would not appear in the source and destination menus, or would cause a crash when selected.

– Fixed an issue in which the Cloning Coach would appear frozen on screen.

– The email recipients field should now be editable on Tiger systems.

– Several general tweaks to user interface behavior.

– Fixed an issue in which a restored volume wouldn’t be bootable if the volume had been restored while booted from a different version of Mac OS X than what was being restored.

– CCC now avoids setting file flags and permissions on files that are not owned by the user account that was used to mount a network filesystem.

– Fixed an issue in which CCC would report that it was unable to enable ACLs on the destination volume when specifying a folder as the destination.

– Fixed an issue in which CCC would not display the list of currently-configured scheduled tasks in the Scheduler window.

– Added undo and redo support to the “Ask a question about CCC” form in CCC’s Help window.

– Fixed an issue in which the “Send test email” button would be unclickable if the Scheduler window was resized vertically.

– Fixed an issue in which a scheduled task would not run, rather it would only display the background “Defer/Skip” window. This issue was associated with a “-[__NSCFBoolean objectForKey:]: unrecognized selector sent to instance” error in the CCC log file.

– Fixed an issue in which CCC would report an error enabling ACLs when the source was a remote Macintosh. The error would subsequently cause the backup task to fail.

– Growl notifications should now work with scheduled tasks.

– /.DocumentRevisions-V100 is now excluded by default. A note on this exclusion has also been added to the appropriate section of the documentation.

– CCC now deletes the per-task archive folder at the end of the backup task if that folder is empty. The _CCC Archives folder will also be deleted if it is subsequently empty.

– Archive folders were occasionally created with restrictive access that would prevent the user from accessing their contents. These folders will now be more reliably created with the user set as the owner.

– Fixed a bug in which an improperly unmounted volume would cause scheduled tasks to fail. Suspending a Parallels VM, for example, could trigger this behavior (Parallels unmounts the “C” drive but does not remove the mountpoint folder).

– Fixed an issue affecting Leopard users in which CCC would hang when the user clicked the Stop button.

– Fixed an issue in which Growl notifications would not be accepted by the Growl helper when sent from a CCC scheduled task.

– The “Maintain a backup (Archive modified and deleted items)” preset no longer calls for archive pruning. Archive pruning must be requested explicitly by the user.

– Fixed an issue in which CCC would report permissions problems while accessing some files on network filesystems.

– Made a couple tweaks to the sending of email notifications that should make it work better with some email servers.

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.2 retails for a US$10 shareware registration fee. The application requires Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later to run.

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

Apple begins iOS 5 app approval process

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Date: Thursday, August 4th, 2011, 07:56
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

If you’re hankering for iOS 5, it may not be that far off.

Per Cult of Mac, developers have begun updating their App Store software to provide compatibility with Apple’s forthcoming iOS 5 update for the iPhone and iPad, though no applications actually built on new iOS 5 code are yet available.

One of the first applications with iOS 5 compatibility to be approved was “Camera+” from developer tap tap tap. Recently, the release notes for version 2.2.3 of Camera+ noted that the software features “compatibility with that upcoming OS That Must Not Be Named.”

Less coy about iOS 5 support was “Mashable,” which updated its own iPhone application this week to version 1.5.4 and advertised that the software now has “iOS 5 compatibility.”

The software updates have led to wishful speculation that the release of iOS 5 could come sooner than expected, perhaps earlier than the fall debut Apple previously announced.

However, while some software may now be “compatible” with iOS 5, the latest builds released on the App Store are likely still based on the iOS 4.3 application programming interface provided by Apple. Developers are able to test application compatibility with iOS 5 by using the latest beta of the forthcoming software update.

There is no indication that Apple has begun approving applications based on the iOS 5 API. For example, last year Apple began accepting applications based on the iOS 4.0 API only 10 days before the update became publicly available, allowing software to take advantage of new features such as multitasking.

That means any iOS 5 software currently available on the App Store likely does not yet take advantage of new features in the forthcoming update. With iOS 5, developers will be able to take advantage of new functionality such as Notification Center for prompting users; Newsstand for purchasing, organizing and updating newspapers and magazines; and system-wide Twitter integration.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your minds via the comments.

Apple releases updated Mac OS X 10.6 drivers for HP, Samsung and Brother printers

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Date: Thursday, August 4th, 2011, 06:05
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, Apple released printer driver updates for both HP and Samsung printers. The HP Printer Drivers 2.7 update, a 494.47MB download containing the latest printing and scanning software for HP printers, requires Mac OS X 10.6.1 or later or later to install and run and can also be snagged via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

The Samsung Printer Drivers 2.2 update for Mac OS X includes Samsung printing software that shipped with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. The 26.86MB download requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run and can also be snagged via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

Finally, the Brother 2.7 Printer Drivers update installs the latest software for Brother printers or scanners. The 136.55MB download requires Mac OS X 10.6.0 or later and can also be snagged via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

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