O'Grady's PowerPage » Software

Adobe releases Acrobat Reader, Pro 9.3.4 versions, patches security holes

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Date: Friday, August 20th, 2010, 05:21
Category: News, Software

On Thursday, Adobe released a long-awaited patch that addresses a number of vulnerabilities in versions of its Acrobat Pro and Reader offerings.

The updates, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, address security vulnerabilities while providing additional stability.

Acrobat Reader 9.3.4 and Acrobat Pro requires an Intel or PowerPC-based processor and Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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

Patent describes how future iPhones could recognize, adjust for individual users

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Date: Thursday, August 19th, 2010, 06:00
Category: iPhone, Patents

Since patents make life interesting, a recently published patent describes a technology that could rely on a user’s picture or the sound of their voice which future portable devices from Apple could recognize and use as login information.

Per AppleInsider, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week revealed a patent application from Apple entitled “Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device.” The security-centric invention describes methods to identify users through a picture, the sound of their voice, or even their unique heartbeat.

“The photograph, recording, or heartbeat can be compared, respectively, to a photograph, recording or heartbeat of authorized users of the electronic device to determine whether they match,” the application reads. “If they do not match, the current user can be detected as an unauthorized user.”

If an unauthorized user were to attempt to access an iPhone or another device, the owner of the handset could be notified in a variety of manners, including a phone call, text message or e-mail. The technology could also send the owner or the police a picture of the unauthorized user, or other information specific to the potential thief, such as the current location.

The handset could also recognize an unauthorized user if they do certain uncharacteristic activities with the phone. Specifically named are hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removing a SIM card.

But beyond security, such technology could also be used to identify individual users and allow users who share a product, like an iPad, to customize it to their liking. Apple has shown interest in such capabilities for some time.

Prior to the iPad’s release, The Wall Street Journal revealed that an early prototype of the device would use a camera to recognize users’ faces, allowing it to be one device easily shared by the entire family. Apple reportedly experimented with the ability to customize the device, and have it automatically switch to a user’s personal settings once they picked it up.

One early feature included virtual “sticky notes” that one user could leave for another, and would be read the next time they picked up the iPad.

Apple’s security-centric patent application was first filed on Feb. 19, 2009. It is credited to Taido Nakajima, Pareet Rahul and Gloria Lin.

The invention is also not the first time Apple has explored recognizing users by their heartbeat. One patent application revealed in May dealt specifically with that technology, describing a heart rate monitor seamlessly built in to the exterior of an iPhone. Reading a user’s unique biometric data, the iPhone could then recognize them.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

VLC 1.1.3 update released

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Date: Thursday, August 19th, 2010, 05:10
Category: News, Software

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Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), was updated to version 1.1.3. The new version, a 39.3 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Taglib crash (CVE-2010-2937 / VideoLAN-SA-1004)

- Fixes for FTP relative paths and directories.

- Fixes for Podcast and DVD modules.

- Extensions and scripts updates.

- Miscellaneous fixes in interfaces.

- Updated translations.

- Many other crashes and errors fixed.

VLC 1.1.3 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

Rumor: Apple testing NFC-enabled iPhones to use as mobile payment devices

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Date: Wednesday, August 18th, 2010, 06:28
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Following news that Apple recently hired an expert on near field communications, a new rumor suggests that the company is already testing a prototype iPhone that could be used for short-range wireless activities such as making in-store transactions.

Citing anonymous sources close to the store, web site TechCrunch reported Tuesdsay that Apple has already built NFC-enabled iPhone prototypes using hardware from NXP Semiconductor. The report alleged that Apple is already testing mobile payments for use in a future iPhone.

“The existence of prototypes would almost surely suggest that Apple will include NFC in iPhone 5, or whatever Apple decides to call its next iPhone,” author Steve Cheney wrote. The report also speculates that NFC could be used for high-speed wireless data transfers and proximity-based features between compatible Apple devices.

On Monday, it was revealed that Apple hired Benjamin Vigier, who has been working with NFC technology since 2004. His previous role was project manager for mobile wallet, payment and NFC at mFoundry, a company that specializes in mobile payments.

Support for RFID or a number of other NFC technologies could allow a variety of “touchless” technologies, ranging from swipe payments where an iPhone could be used to pay for items at checkout, or sensing of information from kiosks and objects.

Apple’s interest in NFC is well established and has turned up in numerous patent applications filed by the company. A recent filing from July described a system that would allow users to rely on NFC functionality in the iPhone to research products and quickly find helpful information, such as an instruction manual.

Last year, reports suggested that Apple had tested Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, in prototype iPhones. The technology allows a device to sense embedded chips in nearby objects without making direct contact or without using visible light, like a barcode reader.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

HBO announces iPad version of streaming video service

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Date: Wednesday, August 18th, 2010, 06:34
Category: iPad, News, Software

Premium cable network HBO has announced that the company will offer a new iPad application that will allow subscribers to stream the network’s content on the go.

Per Bloomberg, the HBO Go service will be extended to paying subscribers at no additional cost, co-president of HBO Eric Kellser told Bloomberg on Wednesday. The streaming service will be available on Apple’s iPad, as well as other mobile devices and through all major cable systems.

HBO’s decision to push its own streaming service comes as the cable network has refused a deal with video rental service Netflix, which has pushed hard to broker a deal. Kessler said he finds “value in exclusivity,” and believes consumers “are willing to pay a premium for high quality, exclusive content.”

HBO, owned by Time Warner, is home to such popular, original shows as “The Sopranos,” “True Blood,” and “Sex and the City.”

The HBO Go service is currently a Web-based streaming offering. Kessler did not elaborate as to whether its extension to the iPad would be in the form of an HTML5-based website, or a unique application written specifically for the iPad.

A final launch date for the iPad version of the HBO Go service has yet to be announced.

Apple releases Snow Leopard Graphics Update 1.0

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Date: Tuesday, August 17th, 2010, 14:14
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released its Snow Leopard Graphics Update 1.0 patch. The update, a 65.7 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Addresses frame rate issues occurring in Portal and Team Fortress 2 by Valve, on iMac (Late 2009 and Mid 2010), Mac mini (Early 2009 and Mid 2010), Mac Pro (Early 2009), MacBook (Early 2009 and Mid 2010) and MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) or MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010) models.

- Resolves an issue that could cause Aperture 3, or StarCraft II by Blizzard, to unexpectedly quit or become unresponsive.

- Resolves an image corruption issue that may occur when disconnecting and reconnecting external displays while the system is running.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later to install and run.

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

VMWare releases Fusion 3.1.1

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Date: Monday, August 16th, 2010, 03:54
Category: News, Software

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Late Friday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 3.1.1 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, which can be found here, offers the following new features and fixes:

- VMware vSphere 4.1 is now supported as a guest operating system. VMware Certified Professionals (VCPs) and virtualization experts can use VMware vSphere 4.1 to install the latest server virtualization software and experiment with server setup, conduct training, show demos, and test production configurations. Running ESX as a guest eliminates the need to have spare hardware available to run ESX natively and enables ESX to run on systems that are not listed on the ESX hardware compatibility list (HCL). For more information on the supported processors and host operating systems, see see Considerations for Running an ESX Guest.

- Resolves an issue around accessing some iSight cameras.

- Resolves an issue where an incorrect disk error message appeared after a host crash occurs while working in a virtual machine.

- Resolves an issue where audio recording failed when the recording device output was not 44.1 kHz.

Fusion 3.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and retails for US$79.99.

Apple taps Benjamin Vigier as new Product Manager of Mobile Commerce, speculation emerges

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Date: Monday, August 16th, 2010, 03:46
Category: iPhone, News

Per a quick release on the Near Field Communications World web site and his LinkedIn profile, Apple has tapped telecom guru Benjamin Vigier as its new Product Manager of Mobile Commerce. The hire immediately follows his handiwork on PayPal Mobile, Sprint MyMoneyManager and the iPhone-based Starbucks Card.

Prior to this, he spent two years heading SanDisk’s mobile commerce and near-field communication efforts and over a year doing NFC for Bouygues Telecom.

Current speculation points towards work on an iPhone-based commerce system, but we’ll have to see what comes along.

First Mac OS X 10.6.5 developer build out the door

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Date: Monday, August 16th, 2010, 03:35
Category: News, Software

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Late last week, Apple seeded the first build of what will ship as the free Mac OS X 10.6.5 update later this fall.

According to AppleInsider, the new build, numbered 10H525, incorporates fixes to existing problems with Exchange Server support, fixes user interface issues with embedded WebKit views in applications such as iTunes, and includes the graphics drivers in the earlier Snow Leopard Graphics Update release.

Apple is asking developers in particular to test iCal, Mail, printing, OpenGL 3D Graphics, QuickTime and the X Window X11 subsystems.

The current release of Mac OS X was last updated in June following WWDC. The initial developer build of Mac OS X 10.6.5 was anticipated to ship nearly a month ago in late July, but has continued to slip as Apple continues to focus its efforts on NVIDIA graphics drivers and related issues.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

CDMA iPhone 4 receives “N92″ code name, enters new testing stage

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Date: Friday, August 13th, 2010, 05:20
Category: iPhone, News

It’s got a code name, which makes it that much more real.

Per Electronista, Apple’s long rumored CDMA iPhone has been given a codename according to sources close to the story. The device is now known internally as N92 and is already at the Engineer Validation Test (EVT) stage. As just a step before the Design Validation Test (DVT) stage like that of the stolen iPhone 4, its progress is appropriate for the often-rumored January Verizon launch.

There are no guarantees the CDMA model will ultimately ship or necessarily that it will reach Verizon. Apple could reach Sprint, US Cellular and most other smaller carriers in the U.S., and it could be intended primarily for international carriers like China Telecom or some Latin American providers. With 92.1 million subscribers, however, Verizon is usually considered the largest CDMA carrier and would almost certainly be the primary target.

Apple is now believed to have had a change of heart on CDMA. Where it once described the standard as “dead” since a clear majority of cellular networks use GSM and HSPA, the company has reconsidered after recognizing length of time to transition to LTE for 4G and, more importantly, the threat of Android. Verizon is the world’s largest Android carrier and has helped Google thrive with HTC and Motorola phones being “safe” from Apple.

Analysts believe a Verizon iPhone could flatten Android as some customers may only be choosing Android as AT&T’s network quality and the cost of switching carriers discourage them from jumping networks to get an iPhone. While AT&T has tried to minimize the risk of losing customers, others have anticipated that AT&T could lose tens or hundreds of thousands of customers almost immediately.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.