New Mac Virus Discovered by Sophos

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Date: Thursday, March 26th, 2009, 17:51
Category: News

Early this week, security firm Sophos discovered a new Trojan Horse virus which they are calling OSX/RSPlug-F. They even have a video of the virus in action! The virus’ method seems to be a variation of the malware DNSChanger which was detected some time ago.
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As indicated by the blog entry, the virus is activated by browsing to particular web sites and downloading an infected program. Once the user selects the download, the virus is downloaded via a remote download server and OSX/RSPlug-F will try to change your DNS server settings which could lead to your Internet traffic being redirected through malicious servers.
Blogger Graham Cluley’s states, “One of the ways in which the OSX/RSPlug-F Mac Trojan horse is being distributed by hackers is in the form of a poisoned HDTV/DTV program called MacCinema.”
The biggest problem is that being disguised as a useful piece of software, users are that much more likely to give the program authorization to do whatever it wants. Since many programs on OS X request an administrator’s password the first time they are run, users may simply be in the habit of entering their password and hitting ok without a second thought. Another interesting thing about this particular distribution, it affects both Macs AND Windows. If you are using Windows, the web site will conveniently download a Windows executable file instead of the OS X program variant.
To keep up to date on the issue, you can follow the Sophos Analyses page or MacFixit.

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OnLive Gaming Service Announced, Will Be Mac and Windows-Compatible

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Date: Thursday, March 26th, 2009, 08:28
Category: News

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Over at the Game Developers Conference, the OnLive broadband gaming service was announced. The effort, developed over seven years, focuses on offering a variety of game choices to subscribers by handling the each game’s video and audio on remote servers and streaming the results to players. According to Gamasutra, the service is stated to be compatible with Mac and Windows-based machines (via a web browser), or without a machine at all via the use of a “micro console” attachment which connects directly to a television.
“What OnLive does is seamless and completely transparent, and it does not have any requirements for the local system,” said OnLive founder and CEO Steve Perlman.
OnLive’s service, which is planned to combine a relatively low monthly subscription fee with other per-game business models not yet fully determined, requires only a one-megabyte download to a computer, or a small plastic dongle (called a “micro-console”) to connect to a TV; no GPU is required.
Once subscribed, users will be able to run any of the service’s games, regardless of system requirements.
A variety of major publishers including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Warner Bros., Take-Two, Eidos, and Atari have already signed on and OnLive has announced a partnership with Epic Games that will see the Unreal Engine 3 easily adapt to OnLive’s APIs.
“Not only have we solved the problem of compressing the video games, we’ve solved the latency problem,” Perlman said to Gamasutra. “We knew, in order to make this thing work, we’d have to figure out a way to get video to run compressed over consumer connections with effectively no latency. Our video compression technology has one millisecond in latency — basically no latency at all. All the latency is just for the transport, and we’ve also addressed that.”
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you ever wanted to stream your console games to your Apple notebook, you might not have long to wait.
Let us know what you think in the comments or forums.

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Twitter to Offer Paid “Pro” Accounts

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Date: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009, 17:05
Category: News

Today, Silicon Alley Insider confirmed that the social, micro-blogging service Twitter will be offering a fee based “Pro” version marketed towards businesses and power users.
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The company recently started introducing unobtrusive ads in order to generate some revenue from the highly popular service. High service demands, often resulting in the famed “Fail Whale”, and increased popularity require Twitter to start finding a way to fund updates and meet the demands of a growing user base.
Although no additional features have been announced, the article suggests, “There’s a lot of stuff companies would pay Twitter for, such as a way to verify the company rep’s legitimacy; to more analytics and information about who is reading their Twitter page; to better tracking features to see what people are saying about their company.”. Twitter will still offer access to free services, but whether those accounts’ capabilities would be changed is unknown.
Most analysts agree that the addition of this model would be a good way for Twitter to generate much needed revenue without burdening the users with overly intrusive advertising.

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Sprint to Deploy WiMAX Networks in 10 U.S. Cities Throughout 2009

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Date: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009, 14:00
Category: News

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Telecommunications giant Sprint has announced plans to deploy WiMAX services in 10 major cities throughout 2009, with at least five additional major markets due to get services in 2010.
According to Macworld, the company plans to deploy services to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Portland, and Seattle. The comapny also expects to launch WiMAX services in Boston, Houston, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. throughout 2010. Sprint’s WiMAX services are only available currently only available in Baltimore, where Sprint kicked off its nationwide WiMAX deployment last September. Comcast, one of Sprint’s partners in the Clearwire WiMAX coalition, recently announced that it planned to start reselling WiMAX services from Clearwire sometime this year.
Sprint’s WiMAX division, now referred to as “Sprint 4G”, has stated that it plans to release several new WiMAX devices in 2009 and 2010, such as a single-mode WiMAX data card, WiMAX-embedded laptops and a small-office WiMAX broadband modem. The company’s currently offer peak downlink speeds of 12Mbps and average downlink speeds between 2Mbps and 4Mbps.
Through the release of WiMAX services in major cities, Sprint is looking to stay ahead of rival carriers AT&T and Verizon, which each plan to launch their own 4G mobile data services based on Long Term Evolution (LTE) in roughly two years’ time. The LTE standard is the latest variation of Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM) technology and is seen as the natural progression of High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA), the GSM technology that is currently used by carriers such as AT&T to deliver 3G mobile data services.
If you’ve seen any Sprint WiMAX network prep work taking place in your city, let us know in the comments or forums.

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Google Launches Google Voice

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Date: Friday, March 13th, 2009, 15:08
Category: Google, News

This week Google launched the latest of its technology services, Google Voice, an online voicemail service that promises “one phone number for all your phones, for life”. However, Google Voice did not originally sprout from Google’s tech labs, it started out as GrandCentral. The GrandCentral service was launched in 2006 and was acquired by Google in 2007 for US$50+ million. Shortly after the acquisition, Google shut down the creation of new accounts, so only then current subscribers (like myself) have been able to use the service.
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Now after nearly two years, the wait is over…almost. Google has spent a lot of time rewriting GrandCentral to give it that special Google “glow” and is available to current GrandCentral subscribers only. Google will be doling out new accounts over time. Logging into your GrandCentral account will may prompt you to “upgrade” to Google Voice and migrate your data. If you don’t already have one, you will need to create a Google account to do this. Once complete, you will be deposited into your new Google Voice Inbox and will have to recreate your custom greetings and assignments. The migration does not, however, appear to transfer your GrandCentral contacts or any messages you had in your inbox, but you can still log into your GrandCentral account separately to access those. Google Voice will use your Google contacts, if you have any, so you will need to recreate any missing contacts there. Any new calls you get to your GrandCentral number will be deposited in the new Google Voice Inbox.
All the original features are there, call-screening, custom greetings for different groups of contacts, sending SMS and email notices of received calls, and forwarding calls to other phones. With the launch of the new service, Google has added new features such as Voicemail Transcription which converts your voicemails to text and can be searched and tagged within Google Voice. You can now use SMS to send messages from your Google Voice number, rather than using one number for voice and a second for texting. This was one of the biggest complaints from GrandCentral users. SMS messages sent through the service will also be searchable and taggable. And competing directly with services such as Skype, Google has added conference calling with up to six people, with recording features, as well as an international calling service with rates similar to Skype’s. Your balance, as well as the ability to add credit through Google Checkout, are in the Google Voice sidebar.
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It may have taken a long time, but the service seems to be mature enough now with the added features to be a suitable replacement for most people’s current voicemail services. It is especially compelling if you are already using other Google services, such as GMail, with it’s combined contacts and searching capabilities. Like Google’s other services, Google Voice will be FREE, except for the international calling feature, which is making the new service a highly prized commodity among online users. Account invitations offered by various news sites have already been spoken for and can be found on eBay for as much as US$650! I will be putting the new service through it’s paces to see if it is worth trying to switch over again and trying to get people to use the new number. Wish me luck!

USB 3.0 Specification to be Ready in June

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Date: Tuesday, March 10th, 2009, 13:03
Category: News

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Agilent Technologies, Inc., stated at a conference in Tokyo today that it would have a test-ready version of the USB 3.0 specification ready in June. The time frame should provide computer and component makers with a reference point for building hardware that can be checked for compatibility in the second half of the year. Final USB 3-capable computers and peripherals should be ready by 2010.
According to Tech-On, the USB 3.0 spec should increase bandwidth to 5 Gbps as well as simultaneously reduce the average power consumption while increasing the power output for hard drives and other devices that would otherwise require an AC adapter.
As always, let us know what’s on your mind over in the comments or forums.

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Apple Has the Most Efficient Warehouse

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Date: Friday, March 6th, 2009, 03:22
Category: News

According to a research report compiled by UBS, one of the world’s leading financial firms, Apple Inc. not only has better growth than most companies, but manages to keep it’s inventory low while doing it.
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The report indicates that over the last 6 years, Apple’s product inventory ranged from 3 to 10 days (amount of time product was stored), finally settling at around 5 days in the fourth quarter of 2008. Other companies lagged behind including Dell at 7 days, Lenovo at 15 days, and HP at 32. A vendor such as Ingram Micro typically holds inventory in the store for 26 days. For other companies in the mobile phone market, UBS puts Nokia at 27 days, Motorola at 48 days, and 56 days for Qualcomm.
What does this mean? According to UBS, “fewer products [in inventory] mean [companies] can better respond to changing market needs. Having warehouses crammed full of unsold goods is not a good thing, more than ever in times of economic crisis”.
The original article can be read (translated from Italian) here.

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Apple Updates Mac Pro, Mac Mini and iMac Computers

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Date: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009, 14:22
Category: News

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Today, Apple updated everything short of your Labradoodle and since I just got back from an hour in the dentist’s chair and rocking out to an hour of their easy listening selection, let’s have at it…
Mac Mini:
Apple released a revised Mac mini today, the new systems featuring improved graphics, faster memory and additional enhancements while retaining a US$600 and US$800 price tag depending on features.
According to Macworld, the new mini still boasts a 6.5″ x 6.5″ x 2″ footprint but now features two video interfaces on its back (a Mini DisplayPort and a mini-DVI connector) as well as five USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 800 port (which replaces the FireWire 400 interface, gigabit Ethernet, audio line in and audio line out ports.
The new units now feature 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processors with 3MB shared L2 cache as well as Nvidia’s GeForce 9400M integrated graphics chipset, the same graphics that are featured on Apple’s MacBook laptop line. Apple claims that this enables the Mac mini to produce 3D graphics at up to five times the rate of the model it’s replacing; the previous-generation Mac mini was the last Apple product to ship with Intel GMA 950 graphics. Both models also feature 8x slot-loading “SuperDrives” capable of burning DVD media and have the usual complement of AirPort Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR built in, as well.
Click the jump for the full story…

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Unibody 17″ MacBook Pro Notebooks Now Shipping

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Date: Monday, February 16th, 2009, 09:01
Category: News

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A slew of readers have informed AppleInsider that their order updates for Apple’s unibody 17″ MacBook Pro notebook have been updated to “shipping” as of Friday.
The notebook, which was launched in January at Macworld, showed signs of delay when some customers were told their orders would likely slip into March despite promises it would ship in late January. Early this month, the company let many of these buyers know that their orders wouldn’t ship for about two weeks due to problems “wrapping up” production.
The reason for the delay is currently unknown.
If you’ve heard naything from your end or received an order update, let us know in the comments or forums.

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Customizable Four-Finger Gestures May be En Route for Apple Notebooks in Mac OS X

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Date: Monday, February 16th, 2009, 08:12
Category: News

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There’s some interesting stuff buried within the depths of the Mac OS X file structure. Among these, according to MyAppleGuide, is a bit of code in Mac OS X’s Trackpad preference panethat would allow users of multitouch-capable trackpads such as those on the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros to define their own four-finger gestures.
The file is currently a .nib, meaning it’s currently just installed as part of the interface and no actual code is hooked up to it, but if you have a multitouch-capable Mac (such as a unibody MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air), you can find the same file at /System/Library/PreferencePanes/Trackpad.prefPane/Contents/Resources/ English.lproj/FourFingerSwipeGesture.nib.
Currently, the multitouch trackpad’s four-finger gestures are hard-coded and perform a given set of functions such as activating the desktop, triggering Expose, and bringing up the Application Switcher.
Customization of gestures could be en route in a future Mac OS X update, a feature many users might appreciate.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments or forums.

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