O'Grady's PowerPage » News

Skype updated to version 5.2.0.1572

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Date: Tuesday, July 26th, 2011, 11:23
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, version 5.2.0.1572 of the Skype VoIP application went public. The new version, a 20.8 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Updated localizations.

- The removal of “Professional Account”.

- Minor improvements.

- Skype credit balance will be shown to users who are member of Skype Manager by removing “Professional Account”.

Skype 5.2.0.1572 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.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.8 Supplemental Update, offers final fixes for Snow Leopard operating systems

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Date: Tuesday, July 26th, 2011, 04:19
Category: News, Software

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Apple on Monday issued a recommended “Supplemental Update” for all Macs running Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8 that delivers a handful of final fixes for the previous-generation operating system.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has stated that the update, a 10.2 megabyte download, resolves issues with:

- Transferring personal data, settings, and compatible applications from a Mac running Mac OS X Snow Leopard to a new Mac running Mac OS X Lion.

- Certain network printers that pause print jobs immediately and fail to complete.

- System audio that stops working when using HDMI or optical audio out.

A similar 10.23 megabyte download was released for Snow Leopard Server.

For those Macs that haven’t yet moved to Snow Leopard version 10.6.8, Apple re-released its distributions of that point release with the supplemental fixes baked in:
- Mac OS X 10.6.8 Update v.1.1 (453MB)

- Mac OS X 10.6.8 Update Combo v1.1 (1.09GB)

- Mac OS X Server v10.6.8 Update v1.1 (518MB)

Monday’s releases would appear to be the final updates Apple has planned for the Snow Leopard operating system, with the company having released Mac OS X Lion last Wednesday.

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

CrossOver updated to 10.1.1

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Date: Tuesday, July 26th, 2011, 03:38
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 10.1.1. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Added a workaround for a bug in OSX 10.7 Lion. Many games running in a virtual desktop cause a crash. This can be resolved by setting the CX_LEAK_XPLUGIN_SURFACES environment variable.

- Work around a bug in OSX 10.6.8 Snow Leopard. 10.6.8 generated corrupt iconfiles which caused occasional Finder crashes. Now we use a different APIto generate icon files which bypasses the issue.

- Changed behavior of group permissions on certain files. Resolves an issuewith .docx files on certain file systems.

CrossOver 10.1.1 retails for US$69.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 and or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

Apple releases iOS 4.3.5 update

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, July 26th, 2011, 03:38
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, security, Software

On Friday, Apple released iOS 4.3.5, the latest incarnation of its iOS operating system for its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices. The updates fix a security vulnerability with certificate validation and arrive in two versions, thanks to the different flavors of the iPhone 4. iOS 4.3.5 applies to the iPad and iPad 2, the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch, the iPhone 3GS, and the iPhone 4 (GSM model); users of the CDMA model of the iPhone 4 instead get iOS 4.2.10.

These updates can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the updates and noticed any differences, please let us know in the comments.

Security researcher to illustrate MacBook batteries’ vulnerabilities to malware

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Date: Monday, July 25th, 2011, 04:19
Category: battery, News, security

In the category of “weird but interesting and mildly disturbing”, a prominent security researcher has discovered a vulnerability in the batteries of Apple’s MacBook line of portable computers that could allow hackers to ruin the batteries or install malware on them that could corrupt a Mac.

Per Forbes, Charlie Miller, a renowned white-hat hacker who works for security firm Accuvant, plans to reveal and offer a fix next month for a MacBook battery vulnerability he has discovered. Miller uncovered default passwords, which are used to access the microcontroller in Apple’s batteries, within a firmware update from 2009 and used them to gain access to the firmware.

Apple and other laptop makers use embedded chips in their lithium ion laptop batteries to monitor its power level, stop and start charging and regulate heat.

During the course of his tests, the researcher “bricked” seven batteries, rendering them unusable by rewriting the firmware. Of more concern is the possibility that hackers could use the vulnerability to install difficult to remove malware, or, in a worst case scenario, cause the batteries to explode.

“These batteries just aren’t designed with the idea that people will mess with them,” he said. “What I’m showing is that it’s possible to use them to do something really bad.” According to him, few IT administrators would think to check the battery, providing hackers with an opportunity to hide malicious software on a battery that could repeatedly implant itself on a computer.

Miller admitted that he hasn’t tried to blow up any batteries, but he did say it might be possible. “You read stories about batteries in electronic devices that blow up without any interference,” he noted. “If you have all this control, you can probably do it.”

Another researcher, Barnaby Jack, who works for antivirus software maker McAfee, also looked into the battery issue a couple years ago, but said he didn’t get as far as Miller did.

Miller, who is a regular winner of security contests demonstrating Mac, Safari and iPhone exploits, has notified Apple and Texas Instruments of the issue. Despite requests from several other researchers not to proceed, he plans to unveil the vulnerability, along with a fix he calls “Caulkgun,” at the Black Hat security conference next month.

“Caulk Gun” will change a battery’s default passwords to a random string of characters. While the fix will prevent hackers from breaking into the battery, it would also block any future firmware updates from Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple initiates replacement program of 1TB Seagate hard drives for iMacs sold between May and July of 2011

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Date: Monday, July 25th, 2011, 03:21
Category: iMac, News

If you bought an iMac between May and July of this year, you might have a replacement hard drive coming your way.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is recalling some Seagate 1TB hard drives used in iMac systems sold between May 2011 and July 2011 because of an unspecified failure issue.

The program was initiated on Friday and affected iMac owners who provided an email during the product registration process are being contacted regarding the issue.

“Apple has determined that a very small number of Seagate 1TB hard drives used in 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac systems, may fail under certain conditions. These systems were sold between May 2011 and July 2011,” the company said.

Users who have not received an email from Apple can check the program’s web site to see if they are eligible for the replacement.

The company offers three options for replacing the hard drives: Apple Retail Store, Apple Authorized Service Provider and Apple Technical Support.

Apple recommends that customers take advantage of the replacement “as soon as possible.” Customers are also advised to back up their data prior to going in for service. They will also need to have the original OS installation discs that shipped with their product in order to reinstall the “operating system, other applications and any backed up data after your hard drive is replaced.”

The program will run through July 23, 2012, at which time Apple will evaluate whether further extensions are needed. The recall does not extend the standard warranty coverage of the iMac.

Apple released the current generation of iMacs in May, adding quad-core Sandy Bridge processors from Intel and the high-speed Thunderbolt input/output port. 1TB hard drives come standard on all but the entry-level model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Perian 1.2.3 released

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 25th, 2011, 03:39
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, the Perian team released version 1.2.3 of Perian, the open-source QuickTime components effort that allows QuickTime to support and play a variety of additional formats beyond what it would normally be able to handle.

The new version makes the following fixes and changes:
- AVI, FLV, and MKV file formats.

- MS-MPEG4 v1 & v2, DivX, 3ivX, H.264, FLV1, FSV1, VP6, H263I, VP3, HuffYUV, FFVHuff, MPEG1 & MPEG2 Video, Fraps, Windows Media Audio v1 & v2, Flash ADPCM, Xiph Vorbis (in Matroska), MPEG Layer II Audio.

- AVI support for: AAC, AC3 Audio, H.264, MPEG4, and VBR MP3.

- Subtitle support for SSA and SRT.

- Some Fraps videos only displayed black.

- Workaround checks for Front Row stopped being effective.

- Fixed compatibility with web video playback.

- Worked around System Preferences crashing during an update on 10.6.

- Further fixes to Matroska import.

Perian 1.2.3 is a 3.4 megabyte download and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

iFixIt performs teardown of 2011 Mac mini, finds room for second hard drive

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Date: Friday, July 22nd, 2011, 04:32
Category: Mac mini, News

A teardown of Apple’s just-released Mac Mini reveals a similar design to the previous generation, though with the addition of the new processor, Thunderbolt controller and Bluetooth 4.0, while the company’s decision to remove the optical drive made room for a second storage drive.

Apple released the latest version of the Mac Mini on Wednesday, adding next-generation Intel processors, improved graphics for up to twice the performance, and the high-speed Thunderbolt port. The company also released Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, new MacBook Airs and a Thunderbolt LED Cinema Display.

Per AppleInsider, the cool cats at iFixit have taken apart the 2.3GHz Core i5 version of the new 2011 Mac mini, noting that the innards “look rather identical to the previous model.”

As is often the case with the company, Apple has given and taken away. This time around, the Mac maker has made the controversial decision to remove the optical drive. But, with the centimeter and a half of extra space gained, the company has made room for a second hard drive or solid state drive.

iFixIt suggests that users may be able to install a second hard drive by themselves, with the only deterrent being “the availability of a second SATA hard drive-to-logic board cable.” Apple does offer dual hard drive build-to-order options for its more expensive 2.5GHz i5 model and the quad-core 2.0GHz i7 server version comes standard with two 500GB HDDs, but iFixit’s teardown appears to show that users can add a second drive to the low-end model on their own.

According to the report, the Mac Mini utilizes a similar Thunderbolt port controller to that found in the Early 2011 iMac. The desktop also contains the same Bluetooth 4.0 chip as the one discovered in the MacBook Air earlier on Thursday.

The Mac Mini received a notable repairability score of 8 out of 10; the desktop contains no proprietary screws, nor does it use any glue that needs to be removed. The report found upgrades to the RAM and hard drive to be an easy task. Removing the power supply does take some more work, however, as all of the internals must be removed first.

Benchmarks for the new Mac Mini reveal that the new models are “absolute screamers,” with the top of the line units running roughly twice as fast as last year’s models.

If you’ve snagged the new Mac mini and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

iFixIt teardown points out upgradable SSD in 2011 MacBook Air

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 22nd, 2011, 03:43
Category: MacBook Air, News

They snagged it.

And they dissected it.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the mighty iFixIt team had performed a full teardown of the 2011 13″ MacBook Air.

One of the nicer things to come out of the teardown was the news that the internal solid-state drive isn’t soldered to the logic board, meaning that MBA owners who would like more storage and don’t have an issue with invalidating their warranty can open the computer and install a drive with more capacity. While Apple’s MacBook Air storage solutions max out at 256 GB, while other providers offer faster SSDs with capacities up to 480 GB.

Unfortunately, none of the MacBook Air models are able to take more than 4 GB of RAM, which is soldered onto the logic board.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve picked up a new MacBook Air, please let us know how the experience has been.

Apple to release Mac OS X 10.7 upgrade on USB thumb drives for August, will retail for $69

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Date: Thursday, July 21st, 2011, 12:51
Category: News, Software

If you’re hankering for your version of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on a physical medium, Apple has announced that the company will release the on a USB thumb drive through its online store in August, but at a cost more than twice the price of the Mac App Store.

Apple revealed on Wednesday that Lion will be available on a USB thumb drive through its online store “later this August.” It will carry a price of US$69, or more than twice the US$29.99 cost of downloading Lion from the Mac App Store.

For users who do not have broadband access at home, work or school, Apple is also offering customers the ability to download the multi-gigabyte install at its retail stores immediately.

Those who opt to buy a new Mac won’t need to worry about downloading Lion from the Mac App Store, as all new computers sold by Apple will come preinstalled with the next-generation operating system. That includes already released devices, like the latest MacBook Pro and iMac, as well as Wednesday’s newly released hardware: MacBook Airs and Mac minis.