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Cocktail 4.9 (Snow Leopard Edition) released

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Date: Thursday, March 31st, 2011, 10:30
Category: News

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Late Wednesday, shareware developer Maintain released version 4.9 of Cocktail (Snow Leopard Edition), Cocktail, the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Added ability to purge inactive memory and optimize virtual memory usage.

- Added ability to disable virtual memory swapping.

- Improvements on the clear system caches procedure.

- Added ability to prevent Help Viewer window from floating on top of other applications.

- Updated Automator actions.

- Updated Help files.

Cocktail 4.9 retails for a US$14.95 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

Apple releases Mac OS X Supplemental Update to resolve MacBook Air/iTunes issue under Mac OS X 10.6.7

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Date: Thursday, March 31st, 2011, 04:43
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

Just over a week after releasing Mac OS X 10.6.7, Apple has issued a subsequent patch aimed at users of the new Late 2010, 13 inch MacBook Air to fix a system crash related to iTunes.

“This update addresses an issue that makes the system unresponsive when using iTunes,” Apple notes on its support page.

Per AppleInsider, the patch is just a 461 KB download and requires Mac OS X 10.6.7 Build 10J869 to be installed first. Both are available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

The system lockup problem on new 13″ Air models appeared in Apple’s discussion forums after the release of Mac OS X 10.6.7 as an easy to replicate issue that resulted in having to force reset affected systems, indicating that the problem was inadvertently introduced with last week’s larger update.

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

Google Earth 6.0.2.2074 released

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Date: Thursday, March 31st, 2011, 04:33
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, software giant Google released version 6.0.2.2074 of its popular Google Earth program. The new version, a 23.8 megabyte download, adds the following new features:

- Fixed a problem where we were over fetching certain kml layer data and running into issuing of using large amounts of memory and slowness during zooming in.

- Fixed an issue of ruler tool disappearing. In 6.0 beta, when measuring using the path tool, if you break to add a place-mark then you go back to the path and click “save” the path and ruler tool disappears all together.

- Fixed an issue with incorrectly measuring long distances. Improved navigation in Street View inside buildings.

- Fixed a crash with elevation profile if there was empty gx:value node in KML.

- Optimized amount of terrain and imagery data fetched while viewing photo overlays.

- Fixed an occasional crash while viewing 3D buildings. Fixed broken fly-to links within local kml files.

- Fixed an issue where new place-marks added were with absolute altitude instead of being clamped to ground.

- Fixed an issue where the title for panoramio pictures no longer appeared when hovering over panoramic icons with your mouse if scale legend was enabled.

- Fixed an issue when there was occasionally a missing wall in 3D buildings.

- Optimized amount of data fetched in Street View.

- Fixed an issue where tilt by holding “shift” and moving the scroll wheel only worked in one direction on Mac.

The new version requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

iFixit performs full iPad 2 3G teardown, finds antennas similar to iPhone 4 units

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Date: Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, 08:14
Category: iPad, News

I think we all have a certain fondness in our hearts for iFixit, as they follow the habit we all had when we were six and took everything apart to see how things worked, even if it meant that our parents invariably wound up screaming at us for the destruction involved.

On the plus side, iFixit is staffed by adults and releases some interesting finds.

And they’re nice enough to clean up the things that they destroy.

The latest iFixit teardown of the iPad 2 3G the differences between Apple’s different versions of the iPad 2, comparing the components of the Wi-Fi-only, GSM and CDMA models and discovering similarities with the iPhone 4.

The comparison shows design decisions similar to the differences between the GSM and CDMA iPhone 4 models. For example, the CDMA version of the iPad 2 has one more antenna than the GSM model, just like the Verizon iPhone 4.

Also like the Verizon iPhone 4, the CDMA iPad 2 features an integrated GPS receiver. On the GSM model, GPS is a separate chip from Broadcom, like with the GSM iPhone 4.

The other major difference between the GSM and CDMA iPad 2 models is the inclusion of a Micro-SIM card slot on the GSM model. Located in the upper left corner of the device, the slot’s inclusion gives that model a unique design.

The Micro-SIM tray is integrated into the headphone jack assembly for the GSM iPad 2. Since the CDMA iPad 2 does not have a space for a SIM card, it uses the exact same headphone jack assembly as the Wi-Fi-only model.

Chips providing 3G connectivity for the CDMA iPad 2 include a Qualcomm MDM6600 Baseband/RF Transceiver, Qualcomm PM8028 Power Management IC, Toshiba Y890A111222KA, Skyworks 77710 Power Amplifier Module, and Skyworks 77711 Power Amplifier Module. All of these are also found in the Verizon iPhone 4.

The GSM iPad 2′s 3G radio has an Intel 36My1EF with 128MB of Numonyx NOR flash and Elpida Mobile DDR SDRAM, Infineon 337Se833 Baseband Processor, Skyworks & TriQuint Transmit Modules, and Infineon 338S0626 GSM/W-CDMA Transceiver. It also includes a Broadcom BCM4751 Integrated Monolithic GPS Receiver, which is an update from the BCM4750 found in the GSM iPhone 4.

Japanese earthquake/tsunami may be leading to lithium supply problems for iPod components

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Date: Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, 08:46
Category: iPod, News

Ya know, they say natural disasters are never good things.

And I believe them.

Apple is reportedly running short of lithium-ion batteries for its iPods as Japanese chemical maker Kureha stuggles to deal with the aftermath of the recent natural disasters to strike the country.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Kureha has a 70% share of the global market for a particular polymer, said to be crucial in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries used by the iPod.

Kureha was forced to shut its factory in Iwaki, close to the epicentre of the recent quake, and is looking to move its production line overseas.

The plant in Kureha is the only place that the polymer is made. The polymer, which is made from resin called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), binds components of the battery together. It is vital to the construction of batteries that are pliable rather than rigid, as they need to be to fit into the small spaces dictated by modern, small designs.

Kureha is reportedly looking to move PVDF production to its existing factories in China or the US, while keeping its research and development plant in Japan. Meanwhile, analysts warned that any mobile gadgets using lithium-ion batteries, including Apple’s iPod, could be affected by the production stoppage.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPad 2 to arrive at 500 RadioShack locations today

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 29th, 2011, 04:44
Category: iPad, News

I have a love-hate relationship with RadioShack.

Still, this gives me another reason to like it.

Starting Tuesday, some of the most heavily trafficked RadioShack stores in the U.S. will begin selling the iPad 2, as Apple continues to expand the retail availability of its hot-selling touchscreen tablet.

Per AppleInsider+, the iPad 2 will be available at 500 RadioShack stores Tuesday. A corporate memo scarce on details only reveals that the chosen stores have already been informed they will receive the device for sale.

Sources close to the story have stated that the deal to sell the iPad 2 at RadioShack was only finalized within the last few days.

The continued retail expansion comes only a few days after Apple launched the iPad 2 overseas in 25 countries. The second-generation iPad first went on sale in the U.S. earlier this month.

Signs of improving iPad 2 inventory came last week, when estimated shipping times from Apple’s online store improved to three to four weeks. Previously, new orders were estimated to wait at least a month before shipment.

The iPad 2 has seen strong demand and regular sellouts at stores since it first became available. Apple’s launch strategy has also been significantly more aggressive than with the first-generation iPad, which debuted only at Apple’s stores and select Best Buy locations.

RadioShack’s partnership with Apple expanded last March, when the company began selling the iPhone. The retailer also made waves late last year when it offered discounts on the iPhone, something rarely seen with Apple’s rigidly priced handset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you run across an iPad 2 at a RadioShack in your area today, let us know.

Apple releases iOS 4.3.1 update

Posted by:
Date: Saturday, March 26th, 2011, 03:35
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Apple on Friday released iOS 4.3.1, the latest update to its mobile operating system. The update includes a handful of bug fixes and security patches for iOS devices.

Per Macworld, the update centers around a pair of graphics-related fixes: one for an occasional glitch on the 4th-generation iPod touch and one for flickering problems when using the Apple Digital AV Adapter with some TVs. iOS 4.3.1 also resolves a problem with authenticating some enterprise Web services and some bugs experienced when activating and connecting to cellular networks.

The update is recommended for all users of the GSM iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touches. To download and install it, connect your device to your Mac or PC and click Check for Updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

Mac OS X 10.6.7 internal references point to widening graphics card support for future Mac hardware

Posted by:
Date: Friday, March 25th, 2011, 04:13
Category: News, Software

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Dig around inside an update’s code and you’ll find all sorts of interesting stuff.

Per the tonymacx86 Blog, the Mac OS X 10.6.7 update for early 2011 Mac Book Pro models features native graphics acceleration for some Radeon HD 5000- and 6000-series cards. The supported cards are off-the-shelf graphics processing units, not Mac-only cards as have been in the past.

It’s likely that at least some of the cards will be part of the new iMac refresh expected from Apple in the near future. A new rumor this week claimed that Apple plans to ship a refresh of its all-in-one desktop by early May, with Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors and a high-speed Thunderbolt port.

But the number of graphics cards natively supported by Mac OS X 10.6.7 has led “tonymacx86″ to suggest that it could signal “the end of the Mac-only graphics card.”

“Could Apple be opening up the platform more?” he asked. “What happens to NVIDIA? Why support for cards that aren’t in Macs yet? Will the 2011 Sandy Bridge iMacs contain one or more of these new 6xxx cards?”

The Mac OS X 10.6.7 Snow Leopard build unique to early 2011 Sandy Bridge MacBook Pro models apparently contains native support for the following graphics cards:

- ATI Radeon HD 5630 Device ID 0x68D8

- ATI Radeon HD 5630 Device ID 0x68D9

- ATI Radeon HD 5670 Device ID 0x68D8

- ATI Radeon HD 5730 Device ID 0x68D8

- ATI Radeon HD 5770 Device ID 0x68B8

- ATI Radeon HD 5850 Device ID 0×6899

- ATI Radeon HD 5870 Device ID 0×6898

- AMD Radeon HD 6850 Device ID 0×6739

- AMD Radeon HD 6870 Device ID 0×6738

- AMD Radeon HD 6970 Device ID 0×6718

Apple also released a special build unique to the new MacBook Pros with Thunderbolt also addresses performance issues with FaceTime. It also improves graphics stability and external display compatibility with the new notebooks released in February.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

U.S. Apple Store iPad 2 order times improve to 3-4 weeks

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Date: Friday, March 25th, 2011, 03:02
Category: iPad, News

If you’ve been hankering for a new iPad 2, there’s good news for you.

Availability of the iPad 2 has begun to improve, as Apple has eased the estimated ship time to between three and four weeks for new orders through its online store in the U.S.

Per AppleInsider, the new estimated shipping times for U.S. customers are an improvement from the previous estimate of between four and five weeks. But the wait is a little longer than some international orders, which are estimated to ship in two to three weeks.

The shipping improvement is only a week, but it’s a sign that Apple is beginning to catch up with strong demand it has faced since the iPad 2 first launched in the U.S. earlier this month. It’s also a good sign for the international launch, as there had been some concern that sales in 25 new countries would only exacerbate the problem.

The iPad 2 completely sold out at all retail outlets in the U.S. in its first weekend of availability, and stock has continued to trickle in over the following weeks. But there has also been concern about Apple’s stock going forward, following the earthquake disaster in Japan and its potential effect on iPad components.

Last week, a report from the Far East indicated that Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn had stockpiled enough components to continue to assemble iPad 2 units for at least another two to three weeks. It was said that if the situation in Japan did not improve, Apple could face a stockout of the iPad 2.

For now those concerns appear to be unfounded, as availability appears to be improving with quicker shipping estimates.

Stay tuned for additional details and if your iPad 2′s ship time appears to have improved, please let us know.

Some users report freezes while using FaceTime on iPad 2

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Date: Thursday, March 24th, 2011, 04:14
Category: iPad, News

There’ll always be a few bugs to sort out, no matter how popular a new device is.

Per AppleInsider, some users have reported freezing issues with the FaceTime video chat feature, requiring a restart of the device.

A handful of users on Apple’s support forums have posted to a growing thread where they have described a problem where the image displayed by the forward-facing camera on the iPad 2 crashes in the FaceTime application. The same issue is also detailed in two other, smaller threads (1, 2).

“When I opened up FaceTime the first time, the camera was working fine, but now whenever I open it up, it just shows a still image from when I left,” user “CRK The Man” wrote. “How can I fix it?”

Most users seem to have found success in repairing FaceTime by simply restarting their iPad 2. Others have gone as far as completing a full software restore of the iPad 2 to address the problem.

One user, “dels7080,” claimed that the manager of a Verizon store in New York City revealed that the FaceTime glitch has occurred to “a lot” of demo units available for customers on the sales floor to try. They too said the problem is solved by restarting the iPad 2.

“It happens quite frequently,” user “leov36″ wrote of the issue. “Restarting the ipad fixes the problem, BUT, it happens again with in the next two to three times I go to use it.”

FaceTime is only available on iOS devices with a forward-facing camera, including the newly released iPad 2. To take advantage of the forward and rear cameras on the second-generation iPad, Apple also added devoted applications for picture and movie taking, as well as Photo Booth for taking and editing photos.

If you’ve seen this with your new iPad 2, please let us know in the comments.