Verizon announces “network optimization”/bandwidth throttling for heaviest data users

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Date: Monday, September 19th, 2011, 03:00
Category: iPhone, News


After first notifying customers of the upcoming practice in February, Verizon has now put “network optimization practices” into effect that will throttle the bandwidth of the top 5 percent of data users on its network, just weeks ahead of the launch of Apple’s iPhone 5.

Per DroidLife, the wireless carrier has notified customers that, beginning Thursday, the practice has gone into effect.

“Beginning 9/15, we will start identifying customers who meet these criteria and will expand to others in the base after customer communications are completed. Network Optimization Practices only goes into effect when an Internet or Smartphone device with an unlimited plan/feature falls into the top 5% of data usage and is on a congested cell site,” the company wrote in an email to customers.

Users marked for the periodic speed reduction will have the limitation last for the remainder of the current billing cycle and into the following. According to Verizon, the top 5 percent of data users on its network use 2GB or more of data each month.

A FAQ on the company’s website indicates that full implementation of the program may take several weeks.

Verizon representatives are reportedly being told to recommend that customers either upgrade to a 4G Long-Term Evolution device, migrate to a usage-based (tiered) data plan or use Wi-Fi more often in order to avoid throttling.

In response to criticism over the policy, Verizon alleges that it is not throttling the same way as its competitors AT&T and T-Mobile are, as it is only slowing connections when users are on a congested cell site. In July, AT&T announced that it would begin reducing the speeds of the top 5 percent of its heaviest data users.

The new policy comes into effect within weeks of the expected launch of Apple’s next-generation iPhone. Verizon has said it expects to participate in a simultaneous launch of the so-called iPhone 5 alongside AT&T, and possibly Sprint. The iPhone 5 is widely believed to sport a faster A5 processor and an 8-megapixel camera.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Thunderbolt Software Update 1.0

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Date: Friday, September 16th, 2011, 09:22
Category: News, Software

Maybe it’s a good thing that the software patch arrived before the actual units did. On Friday, Apple released Thunderbolt Software Update 1.0, a 60.3 megabyte download that provides support for the Apple Thunderbolt Display and bug fixes for Thunderbolt device compatibility.

The update should also be available via Mac OS X’s Software update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.7.1 to install and run.

If you’ve received your Apple Thunderbolt Display yet and tried the update with it, please let us know what you make of it via the comments.

China Mobile CEO hints at upcoming 4G technologies for Apple iPhone

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Date: Thursday, September 15th, 2011, 09:08
Category: iPhone, News

It’s the hints that make technology interesting.

The chairman of China Mobile, the largest wireless operator in the world, revealed this week that his company is hopeful it will collaborate with Apple to create a 4G LTE-capable iPhone model.

Per Bloomberg, Chairman Wang Jianzhou said in an interview on Thursday that China Mobile has been in talks with Apple about producing a high-speed 4G iPhone. The carrier has been working to launch its time-division long-term evolution, or TD-LTE, fourth-generation data network, and wants to see that Apple’s iPhone is compatible.

“We discussed this issue with Apple,” Wang reportedly said. “We hope Apple will produce a new iPhone with TD-LTE. We have already got a positive answer from Apple.”

Currently, the iPhone is exclusive to China Unicom in the nation of over a billion people. But China Mobile is the largest prize, with more than 611 million subscribers.

The iPhone currently operates on 3G data speeds, but newer and faster 4G networks are spreading across the globe. Apple has publicly downplayed the prospect of embracing LTE technology in the iPhone in the near future, as first-generation LTE devices available on the market have been plagued with poor battery life, among other issues associated with the still-early technology.

In April, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook indicated his company is in no rush to adopt 4G technology in its products. He admitted that Apple has explored LTE, but the company wasn’t ready to make the jump with the launch of a CDMA Verizon iPhone in February.

Before Apple creates a TD-LTE iPhone for China Mobile, it will likely first introduce a 3G-capable model compatible with its unique homegrown network. Wang revealed on Thursday that there are more than 8.5 million iPhone users on China Mobile, but those using unlocked phones are restricted to the carrier’s much slower second-generation network. Apple is rumored to release the its fifth-generation iPhone for China Mobile this year.

In March, Wang went on record as saying that Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs had “expressed interest in an LTE iPhone” and was willing to start development “at an early date.” Wang also said in January that Apple has “made it clear” that future updates to the iPhone will support long-term evolution 4G technology.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases firmware updates for early 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks, 2011 Mac mini desktops

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Date: Thursday, September 15th, 2011, 05:10
Category: Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News, Software


On Wednesday, Apple released firmware updates for the latest Mac mini and MacBook Pro models to address issues with Lion Internet Recovery and Thunderbolt connectivity.

Per Macworld, like Monday’s MacBook Air update, EFI Firmware Update 1.3 (for mid-2011 Mac mini models) offers stability enhancements for Lion Internet Recovery and fixes an issue with Apple Thunderbolt Display compatibiltity as well as performance in Thunderbolt Target Disk Mode.

The patch for the MacBook Pro, EFI Firmware Update 2.2, provides similar Thunderbolt fixes, though unlike its newer cousins, the MacBook Pro does not ship with Internet Recovery; as such, this update actually enables the use of Internet Recovery on a MacBook Pro. Internet Recovery allows you to, in the event of a hard drive crash, reinstall Lion over the internet, without a physical Lion Recovery partition.

To update your Mac mini or MacBook Pro, you can snag the update via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature or from Apple’s Support website. From there, you’ll want to have your computer connected to power (or, in the case of your laptop, a working power adapter). Your computer will reboot to a gray screen to install the firmware; you’ll be able to track the progress using a status bar at the bottom of the screen.

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

Parallels Desktop updated to 7.0.14922.693916

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Date: Thursday, September 15th, 2011, 05:35
Category: News, Software


Updates: They tend to be useful.

Late Wednesday, Parallels released version 7.0.14922.693916 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 289 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– New interface languages, including Czech, Portuguese, Chinese Simplified, and Chinese Traditional.

– Option to choose Mac OS X Snow Leopard-style full screen mode instead of native OS X Lion full screen mode.

– Better compatibility with FileVault.

– Improved compatibility with FaceTime HD camera and other USB devices for virtual machines with more than 2 GB of memory.

– Resolves a problem with Mac slow boot time.

Parallels Desktop 7 retails for US$79.99 and 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.

Microsoft Office 2008 updated to 12.3.1, adds Word, Entourage changes

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Date: Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 12:45
Category: News, Software


Microsoft has posted an update to version 12.3.1 for Office 2008 for Mac. The update, a 333 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

Improvements for Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac:
Help works in all languages – This update resolves an issue that causes online Word Help not to display in some languages.

Improvements for Microsoft Entourage 2008 for Mac:
Time zone information is updated – This update provides updated time zone information.

Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and have anything to report back, let us know.

Verizon, AT&T announce updated prepaid mobile plans

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Date: Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 06:11
Category: iPhone, News

As cool as mobile devices may be, it all comes down to how much you’re paying a month.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Verizon and AT&T on Tuesday announced new prepaid plans, just weeks ahead of Apple’s expected 2011 iPhone introductions.

Verizon unlimited:
Verizon will begin offering on Thursday a US$50 a month pre-paid plan for select phones, providing unlimited talk, text and data, according to the Wall Street Journal. Big-box retailers Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target will partner up to sell the plan.

Verizon reported 4.4 million prepaid subscribers for the quarter ending in June, showing a 3.4% decline compared to the year ago period. On the other hand, postpaid subscribers amounted to 85.4 million, a 4.6% year to year increase.

The carrier’s main rivals in the prepaid business are Sprint, via Virgin Mobile and Boost, and MetroPCS. The former reported 13.8 million prepaid customers in June, with the latter amassing 9.1 million prepaid subscribers, a 23% and 19% increase for the period, respectively.

MetroPCS has similar unlimited prepaid plans available for as low as US$40 per month, and Sprint’s Boost customers who pay on time can lower their bills to as little as $35 per month.

Verizon, however, will not lower unlimited plan prices below US$50 as to “prevent cannibalization of its postpaid subscribers,” said James Ratcliffe, a Barclays Capital analyst.

Verizon’s initial unlimited prepaid lineup will include four handsets from LG, Samsung and Pantech for new customers, though some older prepaid phones can be used for the plan.

Meanwhile, unlimited postpaid plans have become scarce as carriers have struggled to keep up with heavy data usage by customers. Earlier this year Verizon announced the termination of unlimited data plans for postpaid consumers purchasing smartphones, including the iPhone. AT&T has also capped new iPhone and iPad data plans at 2GB per month.

But, Sprint is still offering unlimited data plans with its smartphones, with a recent report suggesting that the nation’s third largest carrier won’t discontinue such plans in the event it launches the iPhone later this year, as has been rumored.

AT&T will begin offering a new GoPhone plan on Sept. 18, along with the option of an international long distance package for prepaid customers. The national plan will cost US$25 monthly and include 240 nationwide voice minutes and unlimited, nationwide messaging, while the international feature will cost prepaid customers US$10 and include 250 minutes to over 50 countries for 30 days.

The carrier also announced that prepaid customers can now roam in Canada for US$0.39 per voice minute, US$0.25 per message sent and US$0.20 per message received.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be launched in early to mid-October, with a growing number of reports suggesting that Sprint will join AT&T and Verizon in offering at least one iPhone model to American consumers. On Tuesday, however, a new rumor surfaced indicating that the mobile operator may only launch the iPhone 4 this October, as Sprint sales associates were reportedly being briefed only on the launch of the existing handset.

It has been widely suggested that Apple will launch two distinct iPhone models this year, an entry-level, dubbed the iPhone 4S, and a high-end iPhone 5. The former has been rumored to be a cheaper iPhone 4, one that could potentially be sold by carriers with prepaid contracts instead of regular two-year agreements.

Commenting on the prepaid market and the possibility of a cheaper iPhone option, Tim Cook explained in February that Apple doesn’t want its products to be “just for the rich,” adding that the company is “not ceding any market” and is planning “clever things” to compete in the prepaid handset market.

Adobe Reader updated to 10.1.1

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Date: Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 05:42
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, Adobe released version 10.1.1 of its Adobe Reader application. The update, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Acrobat fails to display Rupee symbol.

– Unable to see the last item in drop down list when navigating through list with down arrow.

– Custom scan does not work with Acrobat X.

– Comments and Annotations do not work properly in Workspace launched via Safari on a Mac OS.

– A signed PDF can cause the viewer in a browser to crash.

– Submission of signed data in Acrobat X is slow.

– Unable to input using Japanese IME after using drop box with protected mode.

– Opening a PDF with “CR” in its name gives an error to accept license after disabling Protected Mode.

– Closing a form in a browser may cause the browser to hang.

– Protected mode on XP: IME mode remained Half-alphanumeric mode automatically and cannot change back to Hiragana mode again after move mouse focus from dropdown field to Japanese text filed.

– Form data cannot be exported to CSV in some cases.

– Portfolio behavior different from 9.x with respect to coversheets.

– formBridge events not firing in Portfolio loaded within Reader plug-in inside LiveCycle workspace.

– Touching up text causes ligatures to be dropped.

– IE 6 crashes with magnifier when filling out a text field of a table in a form.

– Reader X call to LiveCycle server fails when submitting an authentication call via SOAP.

– PDFMaker hangs while converting an attached Word file with hidden text to pdf.

– PDFMaker for Office 2007 duplicates headings when both normal and custom headings exist in the same document.

– PDFMaker for MS Office 2003: ES2 (LC 9.0) rendition removes spaces between the Kanji character and the English character while converting an MS word file to PDF.

– PDF was displayed in browser window directly instead of embedded in a ZCI html container when ‘Enable Javascript for this document one time.

– Acrobat Updater Resets “Adobe PDF” PostScript Printer Driver Instance Settings.

– The Share Pane has been renamed to “Tools Pane”. The Tools Pane has been renamed to the “Extended Pane” for Adobe Reader (this is only not for Acrobat). This change is designed to facilitate future additions and enhancements to the Tools area.

– The Welcome screen (with the recent file list) can be disabled via three methods:

– Improved stability and integration with MS Outlook on 64 bit systems. 8.x products redirect users to Reader 10.x downloads if new updates are available. Note that 8.x will be end-of-lifed in November, 2011.

– Major changes in the user JavaScript and global variables features as described in the Application Security Guide. If you use these features, you must make changes to your distributed products.

Acrobat Reader 10.1.1 and Acrobat Pro requires an Intel-based processor and Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think.

VMWare releases Fusion 4.0.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 05:19
Category: News, Software


On Wednesday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 4.0.1 of its Fusion software for the Mac.

Similar to other virtualization software packages, VMWare allows users to run alternate operating systems such as Windows and Linux distributions on Intel-based Macs at native speeds. Other features, such as Unity, allow users to run and minimize Windows applications from the Mac OS X Dock.

The new version, a 180 megabyte download via MacUpdate, can be found here, offers the following new features and fixes:

– Designed for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

– Brand-new user interface to offer an even more mac-like experience when running Windows and Mac applications side-by-side without rebooting.

– Turbocharged performance with up to 2.5x faster 3D graphics.

– Highly optimized 64-bit engine and multi-core processing faster than ever.

– Full Windows 7 support including Windows Aero and Flip 3D animations.

– Migration Assistant for Windows to transfer your entire PC to your Mac.

– Run OS X Lion in a virtual machine.

– More than 90 new features.

Fusion 4.0.1 retails for US$49.99 and requires an Intel-based Mac, 2 GB of RAM, Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later (10.7 recommended) and a copy of Windows (if you’ll be installing Windows).

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

Microsoft Office 2011 updated to 14.1.3

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Date: Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, 17:01
Category: News, Software

It may not be the sexiest update in the world, but here’s hoping it helps.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.1.3 update. The update, a 112 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

– Office documents open in all browsers – This update resolves an issue that causes Office documents not to open in certain browsers.

Improvements for Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac 2011:
– Stability is improved in PowerPoint – This update fixes an issue that causes PowerPoint to close unexpectedly. This issue occurs when you press the Command and Tab keys to open another application when you are in Presenter view.

Improvements for Microsoft Excel for Mac 2011:
– Stability is improved in Excel – This update fixes an issue that causes Excel to close unexpectedly in the following situations:
When you move worksheets to a new worksheet or workbook.
When you save some files.

Improvements for Microsoft Word for Mac 2011:
– Citation options in Dutch appear correctly. This update fixes an issue that causes the Dutch version of Word to change the citation options to English after you install Office for Mac 2011 14.1 Service Pack 1.

– PivotTable field setting enabled.This update enables the PivotTable field setting Show Items with no data.

Improvements for Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011:
– Contact images display in the Contacts Search boxThis update fixes an issue that causes Outlook not to display contact images in the Contacts Search box.

– Import from Apple Mail is disabled in Outlook on Mac OS X 10.7 LionThis update disables the option to import from Apple Mail in Outlook because it does not work as expected in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

– The “Remove from View” option is enabled for shared calendarsThis update fixes an issue that occurs when the user adds shared calendars and opens the contextual menu for the shared calendar. The Remove from View option is disabled from the contextual menu.

– Free/busy information for Exchange 2003-based mailboxes displays correctlyThis update fixes an issues that causes the display of free/busy information for Exchange 2003-based mailboxes to be off by one hour when scheduling a meeting.

– Time zone information is updated. This update provides updated time zone information.

Microsoft Office 2011 requires an Intel-based Mac running 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 in the comments.