Apple releases iTunes 9.2 update

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Date: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010, 13:26
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, Apple released iTunes 9.2, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 102 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Sync with iPhone 4 to enjoy your favorite music, movies, TV shows, books and more on-the-go.
- Sync and read books with iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4 and iBooks 1.1.
- Organize and sync PDF documents as books. Read PDFs with iBooks 1.1 on iPad and any iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4.
- Organize your apps on your iOS 4 home screens into folders using iTunes.
- Faster back-ups while syncing an iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4.
- Album artwork improvements make artwork appear more quickly when exploring your library.

iTunes 9.2 is available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

E3 2010: Microsoft press conference recap

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Date: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010, 08:57
Category: News

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The major press conferences are over, the facts are being discerned and there’s chatter as to what’s cool, what needs improvement and what we can’t wait for.

Per the mighty 1up.com, Microsoft’s press conference revealed that their camera/interaction technology, previously known as Project Natal, is now known as Kinect. The Kinect itself will arrive in time for the holiday season on November 4th and allow for video chat as well as voice commands. The Video Kinect feature will allow you to video chat with friends over Xbox Live or with people on Windows Live Messenger,

In an effort to get over a bulky image, Microsoft revealed a slim Xbox 360 design which also incorporates a 250GB hard drive and, at long last, will include an 802.11N wireless adapter. While the slim’s announcement wasn’t much of a surprise, given how heavily it had been rumored, what was surprising was that it’s shipping beginning today and will be available for US$299 later this week. Speaker Don Mattrick then pulled an Oprah move and announced that everyone at the press conference would be receiving a free slim Xbox 360 system.

While inclusion of Hulu on the Xbox was nowhere to be seen, almost certainly because Microsoft is still trying to work out the rights issues involved with it, ESPN filled the gap by being the newest service to be added to the Xbox Live suite. SportsCenter anchors Josh Elliott and Trey Wingo took to the stage to announce an ESPN video service that will allow Xbox Live Gold members to watch more than 3,500 live and on-demand sporting events over Xbox Live, with much of that content coming in HD. Among the sports it will carry are the NBA, MLB, college football, soccer, and college basketball. Once Kinect is released, users will be able to browse ESPN content with it, with Josh Elliott showing the ability to have it replay a clip over and over by simply saying, “Xbox: Replay.”

The bulk of the conference felt like it was a demonstration for the games you’ll be able to play with Kinect. Microsoft wasn’t especially specific when it came to announcing release dates and which titles will be available with Kinect on November 4th, but the most likely candidate is Kinect Sports. Among the featured activities in the game are bowling, track and field, soccer, javelin, long jump, table tennis, boxing and volleyball. Other games were demoed as well, including the EyePet competitor Kinectimals, an adorable game that had a young girl playing with a virtual tiger on stage.

After a demonstration of Call of Duty: Black Ops, which featured a segment from the single-player campaign where you hijack a helicopter and then blow up enemies (and bridges) with it, Microsoft announced an exclusivity agreement they’ve made with Activision involving the Call of Duty franchise. Future Call of Duty games, Black Ops included, will be released just as they normally would on all platforms, but just as with the first two map packs for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Xbox 360 gamers will get first dibs on all map packs for Call of Duty games in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

For the fans out there, Metal Gear Rising made its debut a year after it was announced at Microsoft’s E3 press conference in 2009. Described as a “sword action game unlike any you’ve seen before,” the trailer showed Raiden slice-and-dice through enemies and scenery alike with his sword. It was extremely violent — he sliced an enemy into multiple pieces in slow-motion while the enemy was suspended in the air — until the ending sequence, where we saw Raiden nicely carve up a watermelon.

Given that there will always be a drive for Halo, Halo: Reach looked incredible, Microsoft presenting the campaign mode for the very first time to the public. Though the demo looked slick, it didn’t look especially different from what we’ve come to expect from Halo. Then came the end of the trailer when we saw a Spartan enter a spaceship and engage in combat with another ship. It lasted just a few seconds, but the promise of space combat in the Reach campaign is exciting news.

Attendees got the first look at Gears of War 3′s 4-player campaign co-op, which appeared very much like Gears with female characters. Microsoft also offered an October 26th release date for Fable 3, which we’ll try to get a look at later.

E3 2010: Day 1 impressions from the floor

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Date: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010, 07:56
Category: News

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By Joshua Simmons:

Day 1 Impressions From the Show Floor :
After the Nintendo and Sony press conferences, I had the chance to roam the show floor. I decided to start with the West Hall, where I was immediately greeted by the Capcom booth. Although I wasn’t able to try out the Marvel vs Capcom 3 demo today, I did get a chance to get my hands on Dead Rising 2. They were demoing the single player campaign today, which little has been seen of until now. The controls were largely unchanged from the original with the main character able to pick up and use just about anything as a weapon. Not much was divulged in terms of plot other than that once again we found the hero trapped in a shopping center, presumably in Las Vegas, full of zombies. I did notice that the graphics, on the other hand, have seen a major face lift with a much larger number of zombies appearing on screen at once. Overall, the demo felt familiar and more of the same, but that’s certainly not a bad thing given the critical success of the first Dead Rising.

Making my way out of Capcom, I found myself at the Sony booth, and in line to try the much anticipated Killzone 3. Having frequently played Killzone 2, I was able to see what kind of changes Guerilla had made to this latest iteration. So, since already possessing a general sense of traditional FPS ground combat, I decided to jump into the jetpack demo level out of the three selectable. Immediately I noticed the controls had been tightened, and were more responsive than ever while still maintaining a realisitic sense of weight that was unique to Killzone 2. Of course, weight doesn’t matter when you have a jetpack.

Although it seems like everything has to have a jetpack these days, it really felt like Guerilla had made it their own in Killzone 3. The controls took a moment to get used to, but soon I was leaping and gliding from icebergs while gunning down Helghast with my mounted gatling gun. I really enjoy the unique design they have created for their jetpacks, and the fact that they almost change the design of the game to that of a platformer. Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to playing the full game later this year.

Finally, having finished trying Killzone 3, I moved on to the Playstation Move booth. Playstation Move is Sony’s push into the motion controller market by using a combination of the Playstation eye camera and the glowing orb-adorned Move controllers. The Playstation eye tracks the glowing orb and constantly knows the location of the players arms, as well as track even the most subtle of movements.

At the booth, I was able to give the Move a try by playing the Archery level of Sony’s Sports Champions. Although initially awkward to get used to, the Move gradually became more familiar after every arrow I fired. The game works by holding one controller out like your bow then taking the other over your head, while holding the Move button down, as if to grab an arrow from a quiver on your back. I was amazed to find that the game tracked this motion fairly effortlessly. After grabbing your arrow, it’s as simple as mimicking the motion of stringing and pulling back your arrow, aiming, then releasing the Move button, as if the string itself, to fire. Needless to say, within moments I was firing volleys of arrows with ease and precision while greatly enjoying the experience. I walked away from the Move booth blown away, and salivating over the future possibilities of playing medievil action games with the Playstation Move.

The Playstation Move will be available September 19th in America, and I highly recommend picking it up to see for yourself. I didn’t have much time to see a whole lot else today, but I think I will attempt to brave the lines tomorrow and check out the new Nintendo 3DS, as well as play the new Zelda and post my impressions then.

Apple releases Security Update 2010-04 for Mac OS X 10.5.x users

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Date: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010, 07:05
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released Security Update 2010-04 for Mac OS X 10.5.x (“Snow Leopard”). The update, a 218.6 megabyte download, adds a slew of security fixes and changes, as summarized here.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and can be snagged via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

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

iPhone 4 preorders rescheduled to arrive on July 2nd

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Date: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010, 07:09
Category: iPhone, News

Following yesterday’s interesting events in which Apple sold out of launch day preorders for the upcoming iPhone 4 handset, new orders from the company’s website are now said to ship by July 2, more than a week after the handset’s launch date.

Per AppleInsider, the delay for those who didn’t get in on the first round of preorders applies to both the 16GB and 32GB capacities of iPhone 4. Customers can only preorder the black model, as the white iPhone 4 is currently unavailable for any reservation.

As this is happening, the iPhone 3GS is still marked for delivery on the June 24th launch date.

Apple’s update follows news on Tuesday from AT&T, the exclusive wireless provider of the iPhone in the U.S., which also sold out of its launch day allotment. New orders placed directly through AT&T will not arrive until June 25th or later, “depending on when the order is placed,” the company said.

AT&T revealed that the first day of preorders for iPhone 4 was the busiest online sales day in the company’s history. The company’s systems had difficulty authorizing existing customers for upgrades, and Apple also began rejecting callers from its 800-MY-APPLE number.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.4 update

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Date: Tuesday, June 15th, 2010, 15:42
Category: News, Software

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After months of anticipation, Apple released its Mac OS X 10.6.4 update for its Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) operating system on Tuesday.

The update, which ranges in size from a few to several hundred megabytes, includes the following fixes and changes:

General fixes and improvements:
- Improves compatibility with some Braille displays
- Resolves an issue that causes the keyboard or trackpad to become unresponsive
- Resolves an issue that may prevent some Adobe Creative Suite 3 applications from opening
addresses issues copying, renaming, or deleting files on SMB file servers
- Improves reliability of VPN connections
- Resolves a playback issue in DVD Player when using Good Quality deinterlacing
- Resolves an issue editing photos with iPhoto or Aperture in full screen view
- Resolves an issue with Parental Controls Time Limits for Open Directory or Active Directory users
- Resolves a display sleep issue with MacBook Pro (Early 2010) computers
- Resolves an issue with MacBook Pro (Early 2010) computers in which the right speaker may sound louder than the left speaker
- Includes Safari 5.0; for more information about Safari 5.0, see this webpage

Fixes and improvements for Aperture 3:
- Adds tethered shooting support for additional digital camera models
- Addresses IPTC metadata compatibility issues

Fixes and improvements for external devices:
- RAW image compatibility for additional digital cameras
- Resolves an issue with using third-party USB web cameras
- Resolves an issue with noise when using some third-party FireWire audio devices
- Resolves pairing issues with Apple remotes

Mac OS X 10.6.4 requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run and can be downloaded via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

E3 2010: Into the breach

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Date: Tuesday, June 15th, 2010, 15:47
Category: News

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By Joshua Simmons

E3 Day 1 Conference Impressions:

Nintendo:
This was clearly the year of the Nintendo come back after several previous lackluster E3 presentations. There were no vitality sensors, no fashion runway games for DS, and no Wii Music. What we did get started with a bang when Shigeru Miyamoto himself came out on stage to debut the new Zelda Wii title, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Using motion plus technology, Miyamoto demonstrated the possibilities of sword and shield play as well as several new items at Link’s disposal. The two most unique items would have to have been the beetle launcher, which sent a controllable beetle flying off of Link’s arm to collect far off items, and the whip, capable of cutting grass and grabbing items. As if a new Zelda wasn’t enough, we also got Mario Sports Mix, Epic Mickey, Golden Sun Dark Dawn for DS, a new Wii Kirby, and more footage of Metroid Other M. It was clear that Nintendo intended to deliver to its core demographic today and they did just that. Big surprises were also in store with a Goldeneye remake exclusive for Wii starring all previous Bonds, as well as a new retro remake of Donkey Kong Country.

Nintendo’s biggest gun this E3 was the much anticipated 3DS unveil, and it did not disappoint. Although, we in the audience were unable to get a sense of the much touted “No glasses” 3D tech, we did get an understanding of the handheld’s power with a glimpse at the surprise announcement, Kid Icarus. Other 3DS features included two front facing cameras for taking 3D photos, 3D effect adjustment dial, an analog stick, and the ability to play 3D movies on the device. Nintendo’s E3 2010 press conference was very impressive, and I’m sure hardcore Nintendo fans worldwide are quite satisfied.

Sony:
Although the surprises were in few this year, the Sony conference managed to consistently deliver exciting new prospects for the future with their lineup. They kicked things off with a special look at two Killzone 3 levels, presented in 3D to the audience which was met with hollering and cheering as Sev leaped to the air in a jet pack. The visuals were fantastic, and the game really conveyed the potential for Sony’s 3D tech. We also got news of several titles that will include 3D in the future such as Gran Turismo 5, Mortal Kombat, EyePet and more. Shifting from 3D to the Playstation Move, we were treated to a premiere demo of Sorcery. Sorcery uses the Move controller to guide a young apprentice through a castle as he battles goblins by flicking the Move to send spells from his wand. The 1:1 tracking of the Move was impressive as the wizard’s arm accurately reflected what the player was doing; it also demonstrated different movements to achieve varying abilities. We were also treated to a demo of Tiger Woods 2011, also used impressive tracking to register the player’s movement as he would swing the club.

After a surprise, and hilarious, appearance by Kevin Butler, Sony shifted the conference to the games. Although it was pleasant to see Little Big Planet 2 demonstrated for the audience, the biggest announcement came in the form of Portal 2 for Playstation 3. However, I personally was the most excited when the grand finale of today’s event turned out to be the unveiling of Twisted Metal for Playstation 3. Typically, we only get these kind of unveils in the form of a teaser, or small clip, but after driving out onto the stage in a replica Sweet Tooth truck, we were treated to a live demo of the game’s multiplayer modes.

These two conferences have left me quite excited for the year to come in gaming, and I’ll be sure to write deeper impressions in the days to come as I get to try out all the great games shown today in person on the show floor!

Apple changes iOS SDK rules to accept Lua but restrict Flash

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Date: Monday, June 14th, 2010, 05:01
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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Something about this reminds me of when the cool kids wanted to keep the nerds out of the clubhouse, if only on principle.

According to AppleOutsider, Apple has changed its iOS SDK rules for iPhone developers have relaxed the restriction of section 3.3.2 pertaining to interpreted code, enabling Apple to forbid Flash and other middleware platforms while still enabling popular game engines and libraries.

When the 3.3.2 rules were first published, the restriction stated that iOS apps must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++ or JavaScript, and that “no interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s).”

Apple’s goal seemed to be limited to stopping third parties from shifting iPhone developers from using Apple’s own Xcode development tools and instead making them dependent upon their own middleware meta-platforms.

The most obvious example of this was Adobe’s efforts to turn its Flash Professional CS5 application into a product that could export iPhone apps, facilitating cross platform development centered on Flash as a platform rather than Apple’s own Cocoa Touch.

Apple’s 3.3.2 restriction made it clear the company would refuse to sell such apps in its iTunes Store.

Strangely enough, the wording of the restriction appeared to also target any iOS apps that might include any interpreted code, including a large number of games that make use of general purpose, reusable code engines or libraries to expedite development.

Adobe has argued that any iOS restrictions on development with its Flash tools would also halt the use of popular game engines or libraries such as Unity 3D and Lua. Such a situation would imperil many popular iPhone games that Apple has already approved (and often singled out for targeted promotion), including Tap Tap Revenge and Rolando.

The latest modifications to the 3.3.2 section indicate Apple won’t be forced to dump popular, existing titles just to block middleware meta-platforms as a threat to iOS development. The most recent wording of the iOS SDK, published by Matt Drance of Apple Outsider, articulates an additional option Apple can invoke when choosing to approve apps:

“Notwithstanding the foregoing, with Apple’s prior written consent, an Application may use embedded interpreted code in a limited way if such use is solely for providing minor features or functionality that are consistent with the intended and advertised purpose of the Application.”

Drance notes, “these new terms seem to acknowledge that there’s a difference between an app that happens to have non-compiled code, and a meta-platform.”

Apple shows signs of implementing TRIM features in latest 13″ MacBook Pro notebook

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Date: Monday, June 14th, 2010, 04:12
Category: hard drive, MacBook Pro, News

This is sort of unexpected but interesting.

Per AnandTech, the current-run 13″ MacBook Pro notebook may be showing that Apple is implementing TRIM support for solid-state drives in Mac OS X. Attaching an SSD to the 2010 system will show an entry for “TRIM support” that doesn’t exist on the Core i5 or i7 MacBook Pros or earlier models. The support appears very rough and incorrectly flags TRIM-capable drives as lacking support.

TRIM is considered important to the future of SSDs, as it will keep them running at peak speed for most of their useful lifespan. Older SSDs often slow down over time as more of the drive space is used and the system has to erase more and more junk data, such as deleted but not missing files, before it can write new information. TRIM aggressively erases these areas so that they’re truly empty in advance of when new content needs to be written.

Microsoft’s Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 operating systems currently support TRIM, but Apple so far hasn’t had native support and has seen less benefit from faster SSDs as a result. Adding the feature would let Macs use the full features of modern SSDs and could lead to significant storage updates for the for any Mac offering SSDs as a build-to-order option.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

FBI to investigate AT&T/iPad security breach

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Date: Friday, June 11th, 2010, 09:33
Category: iPad, News

When embarrassingly hacked, call the FBI.

Per Reuters, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Thursday that it has begun a probe into an AT&T security breach that exposed the email address of over 100,000 registered iPad owners.

“The FBI is aware of these possible computer intrusions and has opened an investigation to address the potential cyber threat,” FBI spokesman Jason Pack said.

The move comes one day after AT&T acknowledged that a security flaw on its website made it possible for hackers to query its database and uncover the email addresses of customers who had registered to use its mobile broadband service on their iPhone 3G.

“This issue was escalated to the highest levels of the company and was corrected by Tuesday,” the carrier said. “We are continuing to investigate and will inform all customers whose e-mail addresses may have been obtained.”

The attack on AT&T’s web servers resulted in at least 114,000 iPad 3G users’ emails being leaked to Goatse Security hackers when batches of iPad ICC-IDs were entered via specially formatted HTTP requests.

The group automated requests of the email address information for a wide swath of ICC-ID serial numbers using a script. Although the exploit revealed the addresses of several prominent government and corporate officials, no other information was revealed as part of the breach.

A representative for Goatse Security stated that it ‘hasn’t heard from law enforcement and that it didn’t do anything illegal, so doesn’t see why it would.’

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.