Adobe Lightroom 4.0 released

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Date: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012, 09:27
Category: News, Software

If you loved Adobe’s Lightroom image editing program, you might think highly of version 4.0 which became available on Tuesday.

The new version, which is priced at US$79 for the upgrade version for Lightroom 3.x user (US$149 for the full version) and adds the following features and changes:

– Highlight and shadow recovery.

– Photo book creation with templates.

– Location-based organization including GPS data support.

– A white balance brush.

– Noise reduction and moiré removal tools.

– Enhanced video support including adjustments.

– Emailing from Lightroom.

– Video publishing to Facebook and Flickr.

– Soft proofing for color-managed printers.

Adobe Lightroom 4.0 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update

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Date: Monday, March 5th, 2012, 15:49
Category: News, Software

They may come from out of nowhere, but supplemental updates are a good thing.

On that note, Apple has released its Mac OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update. The update, a 38k download (provided you have Mac OS X 10.7.3 already installed), resolves an issue when restoring a Mac from a Time Machine backup.

As usual, the update can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature. The software requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

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

C-Spire offers iPhone 4, 4S units at $50 discount with two-year contract

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Date: Monday, March 5th, 2012, 12:22
Category: iPhone, News

Sometimes you CAN find a decent deal.

Of course, signing a multi-year contract sort of helps as well.

Per 9to5Mac, C-Spire Wireless is now selling the iPhone 4S for US$50 off the standard retail price. The discount, which is only available when signing up for a new two-year agreement, brings the price for the 16GB iPhone 4S to US$150 and the 32GB and 64GB models to US$250 and US$350, respectively.

In addition, the carrier is offering US$25 off the 8GB iPhone 4, bringing the price for that model to US$75. C-Spire launched the iPhone 4S on its network last November.

Updated JavaScript interpreter to help boost WebKit’s performance by 2, 2.5x

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 08:22
Category: iOS, News, Software

You can’t argue that WebKit’s been good for Apple and iOS in general.

Apple’s WebKit JavaScriptCore is now a “triple tier virtual machine,” offering the potential for 2-2.5 times faster JavaScript performance in Safari.

Per webkit.org, recent changes in Apple’s WebKit open source project (used by Safari on OS X and iOS, and to power a wide variety of other browsers) include the incorporation of the efficient new LLInt (Low Level Interpreter), which is now used by JavaScriptCore (JSC) to attempt executing code before passing it to the standard interpreters, either the bytecode virtual machine or the JIT (Just In Time complier) which builds native machine code on the fly.

“JSC will now will start by executing code in LLInt and will only tier up to the old JIT after the code is proven hot,” a change report on the new interpreter describes.

“LLInt is written in a modified form of our macro assembly. This new macro assembly is compiled by an offline assembler (see offlineasm), which implements many modern conveniences such as a Turing-complete CPS-based macro language and direct access to relevant C++ type information (basically offsets of fields and sizes of structs/classes).”

The new interpreter “is 2-2.5x faster than our old interpreter on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken [benchmarks],” the report states. “With triple-tiering turned on [to allow the LLInt to interpret code], we’re neutral on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken, but appear to get a double-digit improvement on real-world websites due to a huge reduction in the amount of JIT’ing.”

JavaScript performance in web browsers is a primary focus for optimization, as the faster and more efficiently code can be executed, the more fluid animations can run and the more sophisticated and responsive cross platform web applications can be.

The LLInt enhancements to JavaScriptCore appear to have been contributed by Filip Pizlo, who joined WebKit as a reviewer in December after acting as a “major contributor” to improvements to the JavaScriptCore JIT and Garbage Collector. Pizlo filed a bug report in January noting that “JSC should be a triple-tier VM,” and subsequently solved the issue by the end of February.

The new changes to JavaScriptCore will take some time to make it into the mainstream version of Safari, following similar WebKit enhancements of previous years. Enhancements in Apple’s next release of Safari 5.2 have been profiled in reports describing its new user interface and sharing enhancements and new privacy settings and website alert features.

In 2008, WebKit announced a rewriting of JavaScriptCore as a direct-dispatch register based, high-level bytecode virtual machine originally named SquirrelFish. It compiled JavaScript into native machine code. The project was later enhanced to gain the codename SquirrelFish Extreme.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T publishes full content of company’s data-throttling policy

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 07:02
Category: iPhone, News

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After a fair amount of consternation, wireless provider AT&T has published a Web page laying out precisely who will be affected by the policy, and what customers’ options are.

Per Macworld, unlimited data customers on the 3G network will be warned via text message when their usage approaches 3GB within a single billing cycle. If the 3GB ceiling is breached, users will find their data speed reduced for the remainder of the billing cycle; as of the beginning of the subsequent cycle, however, their speed will return to normal. Data quantity is truly unlimited, though, the carrier says—customers can continue to use as much as they want, even after the 3GB ceiling is passed. The company does not specify by how much customers’ speeds will be reduced.

Customers using the carrier’s 4G LTE network have a higher threshold; their speeds will only be dialed down once they hit 5GB.

AT&T says that the speed reductions will only affect the top 5 percent of its customers. The measures have been put in place because of the rapid increase in wireless data traffic created by the increased adoption of smartphones in the past five years; by AT&T’s figures, that number has skyrocketed from 7 million phones in 2006 to 39.4 million in 2011, yielding a wireless data traffic increase of 20,000 percent. According to AT&T, it has invested US$95 billion in its networks over that period, including US$20 billion in 2011; another US$20 billion is earmarked for 2012.

In addition, the network lays out where the majority of that data is getting eaten up, which is to say streaming HD movies. AT&T’s handy chart estimates that streaming HD movies gobbles up 306MB an hour, a sizable increase from the roughly 120MB of data that AT&T says one hour of standard video consumes.

Users can check their current month’s data usage by dialing *data# on their mobile phone’s keypad, or access previous months’ usage at their AT&T account online. The company also offers a mobile app for iPhones that provides the same data.

As for customers’ options, AT&T lays out a few suggestions, including using Wi-Fi when available, since that data does not count against the carrier’s data plans. And, of course, customers can continue using their current unlimited data plan, if they don’t mind the speed reductions. Users can also switch to one of the company’s current tiered data plans, which offer 300MB for US$20 per month, 3GB a month for US$30, or 5GB per month for US$50. But, in those cases, users must pay overage charges for exceeding the data cap: US$20 for another 300MB on the lowest plan, US$10 per gigabyte on either of the higher plans. That would seem to give little incentive for unlimited data customers to switch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases App Store 2.1 update for iOS, includes carrier selection and account management features

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Date: Thursday, March 1st, 2012, 08:12
Category: News, Software

It’s not the most amazing update to ever hit the Internet, but it helps.

Per AppleInsider, Apple released version 2.1 of its Apple Store iOS app on Wednesday, bringing with it a number of new features including iPhone carrier selection for new customers as well as a feature that allows users to change account preferences.

While Apple Store version 2.1 leaves the general user interface of Apple’s virtual storefront mainly intact, the notable updates implemented behind the scenes coincide with the app’s introduction to users in the Netherlands.

Other changes and fixes include:
– Choose iPhone plans from all three U.S. carriers — AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint (U.S. Only).

– Make your shopping experience even more convenient with new account management editing and billing options.

– Choosing an iPhone plan is limited to U.S. customers who are purchasing a new handset. With the update, iPhone buyers can now select the capacity, color and carrier without leaving the Apple Store app.

– Account managements allows customers to change billing information and shipping addresses in-app, whereas users previously had to navigate to Apple’s website in order to change these settings. The changes will update accounts associated with a current Apple ID, which will in turn be reflected across any services that use the login data.

– iOS device users in the Netherlands will also be granted access to the app as the final preparations are being made for the grand opening of Amsterdam’s first Apple Store.

The Apple Store 2.1 application weighs in at 7.9 MB and requires iOS 4.3 or higher.

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

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.2.202.221 release candidate

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Date: Thursday, March 1st, 2012, 08:28
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Adobe released its Flash Player 11.1.102.62 release candidate for Mac OS X. The update, a 10.7 megabyte download via MacUpdate, includes the following fixes and changes:

– Multithreaded Video Decoding (Windows, Mac OS, Linux)* – This release introduces a new fully multithreaded video decoding pipeline which resolves a number of legacy playback issues. This modern architecture will also enable future performance enhancements across all platforms.

– Mouse lock, relative mouse coordinates, right and middle click events – Infinite scrolling and new mouse events to enable first-person shooter experiences.

– Drivers gating for hardware acceleration relaxed to 1/1/2008*** Throttling event**** – This release introduces a new ThrottleEvent.

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

HandBrake updated to 0.9.6

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Date: Wednesday, February 29th, 2012, 08:26
Category: News, Software


Handbrake, Eric Petit’s incredibly useful open-source DVD ripping/conversion utility, has been updated to version 0.9.6.

The new version, a 7.1 megabyte download, offers a wide variety of fixes and changes that have been documented here.

HandBrake 0.9.6 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

Apple releases MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.8 for late 2008 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, February 28th, 2012, 16:08
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.8 for its late 2008, 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks. The update a 3 megabyte download, resolves a graphics issue that may cause the internal display to flicker.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8, Mac OS X 10.6.8 or Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

As always, if you’ve tried the new firmware and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Sprint expected to stay with iPhone, trade off subsidized prices for lucrative contracts

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Date: Tuesday, February 28th, 2012, 07:07
Category: iPhone, News

Even if your profits are down, this is no reason not to back your winning horse.

Per the Barrons.com blog, despite expecting a decline in wireless profits due to the high subsidy cost associated with carrying the iPhone, Sprint plans to exceed its US$15.5 billion minimum purchase agreement with Apple and looks to make up for the profit loss with subscriber revenue.

In the Monday filing of Sprint’s 10-K report for the 2011 fiscal year, it was revealed that the company is betting on subscriber dues to offset an expected 2012 deficit from the agreement with Apple, which called for a minimum order of around US$15.5 billion worth of high-subsidy iPhones.

During 2011, the company entered into a purchase commitment with Apple, Inc. to purchase a minimum number of smartphones, which on average, is expected to carry a higher subsidy per unit than other smartphones we sell.

Sprint’s plan is to take a hit in profits early by purchasing and subsidizing iPhones, then reap the benefits yielded from subscribers with lucrative smartphone contracts. There is evidence that the strategy may be working, as the carrier sold 1.8 million iPhones over the holiday quarter, 40 percent of which were to new subscribers. In contrast, iPhone activations at the top two U.S. carriers Verizon and AT&T stood at 4.2 million and 7.6 million, respectively.

Carriers pay heavy subsidies to carry the iPhone, and Sprint is currently paying US$450 for every unit sold with a two-year contract. On top of what the company calls an “instant savings,” Sprint is the only carrier in the U.S. to offer unlimited data for any iPhone model.

The nation’s third-largest mobile carrier was the last of the “big three” networks to get the iPhone, and only started selling the device in October, 2011 when the newest iPhone 4S was debuted. Combined launch-day sales of the iPhone 4S and last-generation iPhone 4 helped set a new one-day record for Sprint, and the product line continues to draw in new customers.

Previous reports called the iPhone agreement a “bet the company” move, and estimated that the telecom would have to put up US$20 billion for rights to sell the popular Apple handset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.