Adobe releases Shockwave Player 11.6.4r634, claims identification of nine critical security flaws

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 09:03
Category: News, security, Software

It wasn’t the most exciting update in the universe yesterday, but if Adobe recommends you snag it and calls snagging it “critical”, then that’s a good indication of things.

Per MacNN, Adobe released Shockwave Player 11.6.4r634 on Tuesday, the new version following Adobe’s identification of nine “critical” vulnerabilities in Shockwave Player 11.6.3.633 and earlier versions for the Mac and Windows platforms that could allow attackers to run malicious code on the affected systems.

The company is advising all users to update to the latest version for their system version, but only the new v11.6.4.634 is protected from the vulnerabilities, which revolve around a memory corruption issue in Shockwave 3D assets.

Adobe’s Flash and Shockwave browser plug-ins suffered numerous security issues over the course of 2011, resulting in frequent patches and updates. The latest version of Shockwave addresses a heap overflow vulnerability as well, but all nine patched vulnerabilities give attackers the ability to execute code on affected machines.

Shockwave Player 11.6.4r634 is an 11.1 megabyte download and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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

Time Warner Cable streaming arrives for Macs, PCs

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:15
Category: News, Software

Additional content is never a bad thing.

Per Macworld, Time Warner Cable’s streaming cable services are no longer exclusive to iOS devices. Now, Mac and PC users can now watch live TV from the cable provider through their Web browsers via the companys TWC TV Web app, available now in beta, works in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Users will also need to install Microsoft’s Silverlight plug-in, version 4 or higher.

As with Time Warner’s iPad and iPhone app, restrictions apply: Subscribers can only watch live video at home, where their cable TV is set up. And although up to 200 channels are available depending on the user’s subscription package, Viacom content such as Comedy Central and MTV are absent. (Viacom forced Time Warner to stop streaming its content last year, and the companies have yet to reach an agreement to make the content available.)

In addition to live TV streaming, Time Warner’s Web app includes a guide with up to seven days of data and filter options for favorites, HD programming, and streaming channels. Users can also set their DVRs with the app, or change channels on a television set-top box. Search, parental controls, and closed captioning options are also available through the app. The DVR and channel guide features will work from anywhere, not just in the home.

If you’re interested, give it a go and let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Apple CEO Tim Cook hints at Apple TV opportunities during Goldman Sachs speech

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:57
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, News

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Sometimes Apple CEO Tim Cook gets coy and drops hints as to cool new Apple products coming down the road.

And that’s generally a good thing.

Per iLounge, Apple CEO Tim Cook made several comments relating to the Apple TV during a speaking engagement at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, suggesting the company sees a larger market opportunity than is being taken advantage of by the current device. Referring to the company’s past strategies, Cook said that Apple typically doesn’t do hobby projects, but suggested that it created Apple TV because it believed that there was something there, and that exploring the potential of a living room product would be useful. The result has been an increasingly popular device that he recommended people should go out and buy right now. However, Cook noted that if Apple “kept on pulling the string”, it would eventually get from the small hobby business of Apple TV to a bigger market opportunity.

Such a suggestion points towards Apple creating a more stand-alone device than a tethered solution such as the current Apple TV units.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins to disable ports for non-authorized devices accessing Siri servers

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:12
Category: Hack, iPhone, News

As much as you may like the idea of running Siri on a non-iPhone-4S device, Apple seems to feel differently.

Per Redmond Pie, Apple has added a new barrier to the software needed to run Siri, a move that shows the Cupertino, Calif., company is actively tracking the growing number of iDevice users who have managed to port the voice-recognizing assistant to non-supported hardware.

In an attempt to halt the unauthorized use of its digital assistant on devices not intended to run the software, Apple covertly instituted a “SetActivationToken” property list file which effectively disables any attempts to communicate with Siri’s servers.

To get the voice-recognition software to work on other iOS devices, the so-called jailbreak community came up with a basic program called Spire which installs the required on-device files to communicate with the Siri servers. Spire’s developers, the prolific hacker “chpwn” and Ryan Petrich, allege that the program is a completely legal port.

The software has caveats, however, as it is only available to jailbroken devices, requires a proxy Siri server and an iPhone 4S certificate.

Despite the troublesome task of installing and troubleshooting the workaround, the demand from users who don’t have an iPhone 4S yet want a taste of Siri has been enough to warrant a response from Apple.

Since Siri was announced in October 2011 as the standout feature of Apple’s iPhone 4S, users of other iOS devices like the iPhone 4 and 3GS have questioned the company’s decision to keep the software locked to the newest generation handset.

Apple has not officially responded outside of saying that the hardware on the 4S makes Siri possible, though previous anecdotal reports have claimed that the exclusivity may stem from a modified proximity sensor or integrated noise reduction tech from EarSmart.

The feature has been seen as a driving force for sales of the newest iPhone, and Apple may be pushing users to upgrade rather than rely on an untested, unauthorized piece of software.

The jailbreak community is already claiming that a simple “solution” to the “SetActivationToken” addition is to simply delete the entirety of a certain .plist information bundle, however the technique hasn’t been fully vetted.

This latest attempt to free an iOS feature from Apple’s “walled garden” is but one of a myriad jailbreak attempts by users who want interface with their devices in ways frowned upon by the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to go with NVIDIA’s Kepler hardware for next-gen Mac Pro computers

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 12:25
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, News

You may love your Apple notebook or iOS device, but at the end of the day, it’s the Mac Pro that gets the most number-crunching done.

Per MIC Gadget, Apple’s long-rumored Mac Pro update could signal a return to NVIDIA for graphics based on claims about production progress on Tuesday. The company had reportedly been soured based on is experience with drivers and hardware failures. Instead, it would use NVIDIA’s Kepler hardware, although which exact parts weren’t mentioned.

Apart from possibly better behavior, the graphics switch might also be to improve overall speed for creative pros. Adobe’s Creative Suite still primarily depends on NVIDIA’s CUDA general-purpose computing rather than OpenCL.

Kepler is expected to be about three times more efficient in performance than NVIDIA’s existing technology and may help it leapfrog AMD’s Radeon HD 7000 series.

The same tip had Apple just getting test samples of Ivy Bridge-based Xeon processors. The 22-nanometer chips have reportedly overcome overheating issues and are in high-enough production volumes. Apple would be using eight-core chips with 20MB cache, according to the tip, supporting its own early, inadvertent slip of 16-core Mac Pros that would use two processors.

The finished hardware, if accurate, might not ship until later into the summer, or about two years after the last update. Apple is known to have skipped a 2011 update after Intel’s Xeon E5 missed the market for all but a handful of specially-picked customers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple cautions against “Beta test iPhone 5” scam, tells users to be wary of unsolicited offer

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 07:42
Category: iPhone, News

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Per the Apple discussion boards and iPodNN, a recent scam spam has spread from email and forums to Twitter, Facebook and now text messaging. Users have reported seeing unsolicited texts and social-network posts claiming that “Apple” is seeking 1,000 testers for text messaging on the iPhone 5. The links go to the websites celltestnkeep.com or cellphonetesters.com and ask for email or a text message “code” to sign up.

The notoriously secretive Apple would not, of course, openly solicit for public testers of a forthcoming product (it rarely even acknowledges a forthcoming product at all), nor use a third-party company to do so. Users who “sign up” will be asked for additional information. The “promotion” is a scam operation that sells the data collected to spammers and other criminal organizations. The text messages have appeared for users of other phone platforms as well as iOS users.

Scams promoting free “iPhone 5” units were popular on social-networking and forum sites up until the announcement of the iPhone 4S. Speculation that Apple may introduce a new model sometime later this year has apparently reached a sufficient level of mainstream consciousness that spammers are seeking to attract gullible consumers who want to get the jump on the next version of Apple’s most popular product.

The call to “test text messaging” is particularly ironic since iOS 5 introduced a new iOS service called iMessage that bypasses normal SMS traffic, circumventing a source of carrier income. Apple mobile devices that register their phone numbers or email addresses in iOS 5 can send and receive SMS-like text, image or video messages to and from other iOS devices or groups at no charge. The system works over Wi-Fi or 3G (and in the latter case does use 3G data).

AT&T is advising users to contact Apple when they receive such a text message. The company cannot block users from receiving the unsolicited text message, though Canada has recently introduced anti-spam laws that require mandatory opt-in before unsolicited electronic messages can be sent.

In other news, if you’ve already fallen for the iPhone 5 tester scam, I’ve got a great bridge to sell you just a few blocks away…

VLC 2.0.0 release candidate 1 goes live, available for download

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Date: Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 06:07
Category: News, Software

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If you’re feeling experimental, this might be for you.

Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), was updated to a release candidate version of 2.0.0. The new version, a 24.1 megabyte download, adds a wide array of fixes and changes listed on MacUpdate.

VLC 2.0.0 release candidate 1 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

Apple TV stocks dwindle, fuel speculation as to third-gen device on horizon

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Date: Monday, February 13th, 2012, 08:28
Category: Apple TV, News

This is sort of out of nowhere, but it could lead to something interesting.

Per 9to5Mac, an upgraded Apple TV media hub might come sooner than thought after signs emerged that multiple stores ran low on stock. Amazon, Best Buy, Buy.com, Radio Shack, and Target all show the device either as out of stock or taking weeks to ship. Apple and others do have supply, but it follows a pattern of third-party resellers usually running out first.

While it’s possible that there would be a temporary lull in stock, new tips suggest that the existing version may have been phased out. No more were shipping to Best Buy stores, a person at the retailer claimed.

Code references have been appearing that refer to a new Apple TV for the past few months, but little has emerged as to what it might be. With a full TV set unlikely in the near future, it’s more probable that any device, if it reaches stores, would be an A5- or A6-based update that could support 1080p video.

The timing follows some dwindling iPad 2 stock and raises the possibility that Apple may use an increasingly likely early March event to show both a new Apple TV and a new iPad at the same time.

Stay tuned and we’ll have details as soon as they become available.

Meijer’s $70 iPad 2 price reduction, other discounts hint at upcoming iPad 3 launch

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Date: Monday, February 13th, 2012, 07:58
Category: iPad, News

It’s the discounts that sometimes provide the best hints as to a product released.

Per AppleInsider, U.S. big-box retailer Meijer, has slashed the in-store price of the 16GB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi by US$70, even as Apple’s third-generation tablet is expected to hit the market within weeks.

The chain announced the sale in its weekly ad for the week of February 12 – 18, noting that it runs only while supplies last and does not include rain checks or substitutions. A separate listing on the company’s website lists the US$429 price as lasting until Feb. 25 and notes that the iPad 2 deal is only available in stores.

The Smart Cover iPad 2 accessory is also on sale for US$35, US$5 off Apple’s price. In addition, Meijer is offering a free US$15 iTunes gift card with the purchase of an 8GB iPod touch for US$195 this week.

Meijer is a Michigan-based supermarket chain that has been credited with popularizing the “supercenter” retail concept. The bulk of the company’s stores are in Michigan, though it also has locations in several other surrounding states.

The US$70 off sale is one of the steepest discounts for the iPad 2 since the device was released last March. For instance, Best Buy offered US$45 off all iPad 2 models last year ahead of the Black Friday retail frenzy. Apple itself offered between US$41 and US$61 off during its own Black Friday promotion.

Given that recent reports have pegged the first week in March as the likely time frame for the launch of the third-generation iPad, Meijer’s deal could be viewed as an effort to clear out inventory before the new devices arrive.

Apple’s next tablet is widely expected to have a high-resolution Retina Display with double the pixel density as the current model, as well as a significantly faster A6 processor. Some reports have also suggested that Apple could make the jump to 4G with the release of an LTE-capable iPad next month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins offering 13.3-inch MacBook Air notebook to education buyers for $999

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Date: Monday, February 13th, 2012, 07:52
Category: MacBook Air, News

Apple’s tres-nifty white MacBook notebook may have officially gone the way of the dodo last week, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a replacement in the works.

Per AppleInsider, the company has begun selling a less powerful version of its 13.3-inch MacBook Air to educational institutions buying in bulk for US$999, filling the void left by the recently discontinued white MacBook.

The new model, only available to education buyers ordering in bulk sizes of five or more, features the same internal components as the 11.6-inch MacBook Air available to general consumers for US$999. But the new, discounted hardware sports a larger 13.3-inch display. They are advertised to ship within three to five days.

The 13.3-inch education model and the entry-level 11.6-inch MacBook Air both feature a 1.6GHz dual-core Core i5 Intel processor, along with two gigabytes of RAM and a 64-gigabyte solid-state drive. They are also powered by the Intel HD Graphics 3000 chipset included on the Core i5 CPU.

The standard 13-inch consumer-level MacBook Air remains priced at US$1,299. The speedier machine has a 1.7GHz dual-core Core i5 Intel CPU, 4 gigabytes of RAM, and a 128-gigabyte solid-state drive.

Last July, Apple discontinued its white MacBook, which previously served as the entry-level notebook in Apple’s lineup. Its price point was filled by the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which carries the same US$999 cost.

Apple continued offering the white MacBook to education buyers for months, but this week the company finally ceased sales of the legacy notebook. Resellers have since been notified that the white MacBook is now classified as “end of life.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.