Apple posts two security-related job openings, looks to be closing holes where present

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 04:53
Category: iPhone, News, security

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If you keep losing an incredibly valuable intellectual property, it might be time to give your security a once-over.

Per PCmag.com, Apple posted two job openings on Thursday for managers of “New Product Security.” While it might be a coincidence that the positions opened up when they did, the job descriptions certainly sound like a response to Apple’s troubles of late for losing test gadgets:

“The candidate will be responsible for overseeing the protection of, and managing risks to, Apple’s unreleased products and related intellectual property,” said the post.

Apple representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Recently, an iPhone was taken into a San Francisco tequila bar in July by an unidentified Apple employee who somehow lost control of the device. The circumstances were strangely similar to an incident in April 2010, when another Apple employee lost an iPhone 4 prototype in a Bay Area beer garden.

San Francisco Police confirmed last Friday that they assisted an Apple security team to search a home in the city’s Bernal Heights neighborhood where Apple had electronically tracked the phone. The device wasn’t found there.

While it was easy to draw parallels between those two events, there were other signs that Apple’s problems went beyond iPhones. Apple is also apparently working to retrieve a prototype laptop that is in the possession of Carl Frega, a North Carolina resident who said he acquired the unreleased device via a Craigslist ad. He bought the machine thinking it was only good for spare parts.

On the same day that Apple posted the job openings, an Apple store customer was given internal company media and documents by accident after taking his computer in for service in Stamford, Conn. The customer said he was given a hard drive in addition to a computer that was being repaired with the spare drive containing a backup of the store’s internal file server.

This is significant because this is Apple, a company that has forged quite a reputation over the years for effectively keeping its secrets and sticking close to its message.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels 7 upgrade goes live, available via retail on September 6

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 2nd, 2011, 03:30
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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Upgrading: It’s not always a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, Windows virtualization favorite Parallels Deskktop has reached version 7, the new version adding faster performance and new support for Mac OS X Lion, including Windows integration of apps in Launchpad and windows in Mission Control and the ability to run an instance of Lion within Lion itself.

The new update allows users to share iSight or FaceTime HD cameras between Mac and Windows apps, and adds the ability to run Mac OS X Lion as a guest OS. This summer, Apple relaxed its licensing for Mac OS X to allow Lion users to run up to two instances of the client OS on any Mac.

Previously, Apple only allowed Mac OS X Server to run in virtualization, and required that each virtual instance use a different license.

Beginning with Lion and the availability of Mac OS X through the Mac App Store, Server is now an application package that is hosted on Mac OS X Lion, and neither purchase uses serial numbers.

The Mac OS X Lion end user license agreement now states users may “install, use and run up to two (2) additional copies or instances of the Apple Software within virtual operating system environments on each Mac Computer you own or control that is already running the Apple Software,” something virtualization tools can now take advantage of to offer the ability to host Lion as a guest OS.

Additional new features:
Among a list of 90 other enhancements, Parallels Desktop 7 can also take advantage of 1 GB of video RAM to accommodate high resolutions and color depth.

Parallels says graphics performance is up to 45 percent faster in 3D operations, and Windows start, stop and resume features are as much as 60 percent faster than previous versions. The company also claims that copy operations within Windows are now 120 percent as fast as its competitor’s product.

A new Parallels Mobile app for iOS allows iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users to interact and control their Mac or Windows desktop guest OS instances, remotely (over WiFi or mobile) start or stop apps, play back music and audio remotely, and copy and paste data between their mobile device and Windows programs.

The new version, which will sell for US$79.99 in its standard version, US$49.99 as an upgrade to existing Desktop 5 or 6 users, or US$39.99 in a student edition, will enter the retail channel September 6.

However, upgrades for existing users became available for immediate purchase and download this afternoon.

Parallels 7 requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

Skype updated to version 5.3.60.1093, adds fixes

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 2nd, 2011, 03:16
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, version 5.3.60.1093 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 22.5 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Sometimes Skype crashed during video calls.

– Fixes a problem in Norwegian localization which could lead to client freeze.

Skype 5.3.60.1093 is available for free and 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.

OWC releases firmware updater for SandForce-based solid state drives

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Date: Thursday, September 1st, 2011, 09:48
Category: hard drive, News, Software

Accessory outfitter Other World Computing announced today the release of its Apple/Mac compatible firmware updater for SandForce-Driven Solid State Drives. The fully Mac bootable updater is freely available from OWC for use exclusively with select OWC Mercury Solid State Drive models manufactured since January 2010. This new Mac compatible firmware updater is in addition to firmware update support OWC previously made available for Macintosh computers via the use of Boot Camp, as well as for PCs running the Windows OS.

To run the updater, Mac users only need to download the updater from OWC’s site, obtain and burn a DVD, and then boot from that DVD to launch an easy to use, point and click GUI for installing the latest firmware revision to their OWC Mercury SSD.

If you’ve tried the updater and have any feedback to offer, please let us know via the comments and thank you.

Apple releases Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.8, adds support for new camera formats

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Date: Thursday, September 1st, 2011, 04:33
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Apple posted its Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.8, an update designed to extend RAW image compatibility for the Aperture 3 and iPhoto ’09 applications.

The update, a 6.9 megabyte download, adds support for the following cameras:

– Konica Minolta DiMAGE A200

– Olympus PEN E-P3

– Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3

– Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF3

– Samsung NX11

– Samsung NX100

– Sony Alpha NEX-C3

– Sony Alpha SLT-A35

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and is also available via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new Digital Camera RAW update and noticed any changes, please let us know how it went.

Apple loses iPhone 5 prototype, manages to locate it within days

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 1st, 2011, 03:31
Category: iPhone, News

Ok, this is odd.

Remember when an Apple employee lost an iPhone 4 prototype in a bar last year and the company was, well, mildly upset regarding the aftermath?

It’s happened again.

In a bizarre repeat of a high-profile incident last year, an Apple employee once again appears to have lost an unreleased iPhone in a bar.

Per CNET, the errant iPhone, which went missing in San Francisco’s Mission district in late July, sparked a scramble by Apple security to recover the device over the next few days, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

Last year, an iPhone 4 prototype was bought by a gadget blog that paid US$5,000 in cash. This year’s lost phone seems to have taken a more mundane path: it was taken from a Mexican restaurant and bar and may have been sold on Craigslist for US$200. Still unclear are details about the device, what version of the iOS operating system it was running, and what it looks like.

Apple declined to comment after being contacted this morning. A spokesman for the San Francisco Police Department said the company did not file a police report based on the loss at the bar. Craigslist did not respond to requests for comment.

A day or two after the phone was lost at San Francisco’s Cava 22, which describes itself as a “tequila lounge” that also serves lime-marinated shrimp ceviche, Apple representatives contacted San Francisco police, saying the device was priceless and the company was desperate to secure its safe return, the source said.

Apple electronically traced the phone to a two-floor, single-family home in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, according to the source. When San Francisco police and Apple’s investigators visited the house, they spoke with a man in his twenties who acknowledged being at Cava 22 on the night the device went missing. But he denied knowing anything about the phone. The man gave police permission to search the house, and they found nothing, the source said. Before leaving the house, the Apple employees offered the man money for the phone no questions asked, the source said, adding that the man continued to deny he had knowledge of the phone.

In an interview this afternoon, Jose Valle told CNET that neither the police nor Apple security ever contacted him. Valle, who owns the bar with his family, said however does he remember a man calling multiple times about a lost iPhone about a month ago. He told the man he would call him back if he ever found the phone.
“I guess I have to make my drinks a little less strong,” Valle said.

After last year’s embarrassing loss, Apple reportedly has taken extraordinary steps to protect its prototype devices from leaks. Next-generation iPhones are sent to carriers for testing “inside locked and sealed boxes so that the carriers can carry out checks on their network compatibility in their labs,” according to the Guardian.

Apple developers have been given new iPhones with an upgraded processor — the one that is used in the iPad 2 and is expected to appear in the next-generation iPhone. But the device “is virtually identical to the iPhone 4, and there is no way anyone can tell it’s not an iPhone 4 based on the phone’s exterior,” according to a report at 9to5Mac.com. Even last year’s prototype was enclosed in a case designed to make it look like an iPhone 3GS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

SpamSieve updated to 2.8.7

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 1st, 2011, 03:35
Category: News, Software

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Michael Tsai’s must-have shareware program, SpamSieve, has just been updated to version 2.8.7. The new version, an 8.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and improvements, as listed here.

SpamSieve is available for a US$30 registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run. The new version can either be downloaded directly from the web site or brought up to the current version via the program’s built-in update feature.

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

Mozilla releases Firefox 6.0.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, August 31st, 2011, 10:52
Category: News, Software

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Late Sunday, Mozilla.org released version 6.0.1 of its Firefox web browser. The new version stands as an 28.1 megabyte download offered the following change:

– Revoked the root certificate for DigiNotar due to fraudulent SSL certificate issuance (see bug 682927 and the security advisory).

Firefox 6.0.1 requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

MacBook Air goes on sale in China

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Date: Wednesday, August 31st, 2011, 09:24
Category: MacBook Air, News

Continuing its march across the globe, the MacBook Air has gone on sale in China this week, Apple’s online store for Chinese customers listing all four MacBook Air models—two each in 11- and 13-inch configurations -for sale, but with lengthy shipping delays.

According to Macworld, the 11-inch MacBook Air’s estimated delivery time, according to the e-store, is 9-to-11 working days, while the 13-inch models will reach customers approximately 5 working days after ordering.

Those times, however, are improvements over last Friday, when the China online store said there was “no supply” of 11-inch MacBook Airs and that the larger 13-inch notebooks would be delivered two weeks after an order was placed.

MacBook Air supplies have been tight in the U.S. as well, with spot outages at some Apple stores and more severe shortages at a number of online and brick-and-mortar resellers.

The 11-inch MacBook Air is priced at 7,698 yuan and 9,198 yuan for the 64GB and 128GB flash drive models, respectively. At current exchange rates, those prices are equivalent to US$1,203 and US$1,438, significantly higher than the US$999 and US$1,199 U.S. customers pay.

Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air costs 9,998 yuan and 12,498 yuan—the latter for the notebook with 256GB in storage space—or US$1,563 and US$1,954. U.S. list prices are US$1,299 and US$1,599 for the same models.

White, who was in Asia last week, said that the MacBook Air was launched in Hong Kong last week to “long lines and stock outs of certain models.”

Apple does not yet have a retail store of its own in Hong Kong—one is slated to open before the end of September—and relies on authorized resellers to sell its products from brick-and-mortar outlets.

Apple’s online store for Hong Kong residents shows better MacBook Air availability than in China: New orders ship within 24 hours, according to that store’s website.

If you’ve snagged a MacBook Air in the Chinese marketplace and have any feedback to offer about the experience, let us know in the comments.

Apple in talks to have 3G MacBook prototype returned to company

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Date: Wednesday, August 31st, 2011, 05:41
Category: MacBook Pro, News

Remember that 3G MacBook prototype that went on eBay recently?

Apple would like it back.

Per CNET, Apple is in talks to arrange for the return of a MacBook Pro prototype with built-in wireless 3G functionality from a North Carolina resident who attempted to sell it on eBay.

Earlier this month, owner Carl Frega had a friend post the prototype on eBay, where it quickly garnered bids as high as US$70,000. Within a day, Apple was successful in having the listing pulled, citing infringement on copyrights, trademarks, or other intellectual property rights.



The device resembles a 2007 15-inch Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, but with the curious addition of an extendable cellular antenna along the top right side of the display and a SIM card slot. Red circuit boards and the lack of an EMC Number serve as evidence that the machine is a pre-production prototype.

Frega was contacted by Apple Tuesday afternoon to arrange for a representative to pick up the device.

Frega has been purchasing used machines for spare parts, moving up from a hobby to a full-time repair job. He purchased the machine from an alleged former Apple engineer off of Craigslist. Earlier this year, he posted photos of the prototype to the forums of a tech site, but failed to attract interest.

“Few people were really interested, and the thread turned into a discussion about tethering rates and wireless carriers,” Frega said. “(It’s) part of why I figured the machine wasn’t anything particularly special (except to a tech geek like me) and not worth the trouble of selling as a collector’s piece.”

He replaced the hard drive and sold the machine on Craigslist. But, the new buyer took the laptop to the Genius Bar at a local Apple Store and was denied service.

“Opened machine to observe that nearly every internal part was third party; main logic board, optical drive, display, hard drive, top case, and others. Machine serial number (W8707003Y53) is also not recognized as a valid number,” the Genius Bar repair sheet read.

The new owner took Frega to small claims court, accusing him of selling a fake MacBook Pro. The case even drew the attention of a syndicate court TV show, but he declined the offer. The small claims judge eventually ruled that Frega must pay the buyer US$740, receiving the notebook back in return.

For its part, Apple has not indicated whether it will compensate Frega for the amount he originally paid for the device.

Rumors that Apple was working on a 3G laptop solution swirled several years ago. The antenna solution in the MacBook Pro prototype has been viewed as not matching Apple’s design principles, possibly explaining why the prototype was never released as a full-fledged product.