O'Grady's PowerPage » Software

VLC 1.1.8 update released

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Date: Thursday, March 24th, 2011, 03:12
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 1.1.8. The new version, a 25.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Security update regarding video width concerning some demuxers.

– Support for a new Dirac encoder based on libschroedinger.

– Package of the new VP8/Webm encoder ‘Bali’.

– Notable updates in .mp4, .ogg, .ape demuxers.

– Major updates in most language translations.

– Fixes in skins2 supports of Winamp2 skins.

– Upgrade on the look of VLC for Mac OS X.

– Auto-detection for .txt subtitles is fixed.

– Fixes on Windows integration, notably regarding volume keys.

– Codecs updates.

– Many miscellaneous fixes.

VLC 1.1.8 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

Apple TV 4.2.1 update released, addresses “HDTV flicker” issue

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011, 03:52
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

Apple on Tuesday released a minor update for its second-generation Apple TV set top box, with software version 4.2.1 addressing an issue that caused screen flickering on some older high-definition TVs.

Per AppleInsider, the Apple TV Software Update 4.2.1 can now be downloaded directly from the device. It applies only to the second-generation Apple TV, released last year. The new version’s fixes and changes include the following:

– TV compatibility: Addresses issues that may cause the screen to flicker or display incorrect color on some older TVs.

– Wake from sleep: Addresses an issue where Apple TV may not wake from sleep.

– Audio: Addresses an issue where audio may not be heard on some TV models after switching from another input.

– Stability and performance: Apple TV software Update 4.2.1 includes stability and performance fixes for Apple TV.

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

Mozilla releases Firefox 4.0 web browser

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011, 03:52
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 4.0 of its Firefox web browser. The new version stands as an 26.8 megabyte download offered the following fixes and changes:

– Firefox 4 is available in over 80 languages

– Uses JägerMonkey, a new, faster JavaScript engine that is up to six times faster than Firefox 3.6

– Support for the Do Not Track (“DNT”) header that allows users to opt-out of behavioural advertising

– Firefox Sync is included by default, allowing you to securely synchronize between multiple computers and mobile devices

– Certain graphics rendering operations are now hardware-accelerated using Direct3D 9 on
Windows XP, Direct3D 10 on Windows Vista and 7, and OpenGL on Mac OS (OpenGL on Linux will be supported in the future)

– Direct2D Hardware Acceleration is now on by default for Windows 7 users

– WebGL is enabled on all platforms that have a capable graphics card with updated drivers

– Native support for the HD HTML5 WebM video format, hardware accelerated where available

– Firefox button has a new look for Windows Vista and Windows 7 users

– Tabs are now on top by default on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux

– You can search for and switch to already open tabs in the Smart Location Bar

– The stop and reload buttons have been merged into a single button on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux

– The Bookmarks Toolbar has been replaced with a Bookmarks Button by default (you can switch it back if you’d like)

– Crash protection for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X when there is a crash in the Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime or Microsoft Silverlight plugins

– You can turn any tab into an “App Tab” by right-clicking on it and selecting “Make into App Tab” from the context menu

– The default homepage design has been refreshed

– Overhaul of the bookmarks and history code, enabling faster bookmarking and startup performance

– Per-compartment garbage collection is now enabled, reducing work done during complex animations

– Additional polish for the Firefox Add-ons Manager

– Improved web typography using OpenType with support for ligatures, kerning and font variants

– Web developers can animate content using CSS Transitions

– Responsiveness and scrolling improvements from the new retained layers layout system

– HTML5 Forms API makes web based forms easier to implement and validate

– Support for the new proposed Audio Data API

– Support for HSTS security protocol allowing sites to insist that they only be loaded over SSL

– A new feature called Panorama gives users a visual overview of all open tabs, allowing them to be sorted and grouped

– An experimental API is included to provide more efficient Javascript animations

– Firefox now supports the HTML5 video “buffered” property

– Changes to how XPCOM components are registered in order to help startup time and process separation

– New Addons Manager and extension management API (UI will be changed before final release)

– Significant API improvements are available for JS-ctypes, a foreign function interface for extensions

– CSS Transitions are partially supported

– Core Animation rendering model for plugins on Mac OS X. Plugins which also support this rendering model can now draw faster and more efficiently

– Web developers can update the URL field without reloading the page using HTML History APIs

– More responsive page rendering using lazy frame construction

– Link history lookup is done asynchronously to provide better responsiveness during pageload
CSS :visited selectors have been changed to block websites from being able to check a user’s browsing history

– New HTML5 parser

– Support for more HTML5 form controls

– Web authors can now get touch events from Firefox users on Windows 7 machines

– A new way of representing values in JavaScript that allows Firefox to execute heavy, numeric code (used for things like graphics and animations) more efficiently

Firefox 4.0 requires an Intel-based Mad 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.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.7 update

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011, 03:32
Category: News, Software

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Late Monday, Apple released Mac OS X 10.6.7, the most recent version of its Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” operating system. The update, which alternates between 313 MB and 1.12 gigabytes for the combo update, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Improve the reliability of Back to My Mac.

– Resolve an issue when transferring files to certain SMB servers.

– Address various minor Mac App Store issues.

– Includes all the improvements in the previous Mac OS X v10.6.1, 10.6.2, 10.6.3, 10.6.4, 10.6.5, and 10.6.6 updates.

– Includes Safari 5.0.4.

– Includes RAW image compatibility for additional digital cameras.

– Resolves a window resizing issue with X-Plane 9 on Macs with ATI graphics

– Addresses an issue with MacBook Air (Mid 2010) computers that could cause a kernel panic.

– Address issues in the AirPort driver for certain devices.

– Improves brightness on external displays and projectors.

– Addresses an issue where DVD Player may display black video on some Macs using the 64-bit kernel.

– Addresses an issue with some NEC displays in which the screen may appear black when connected to a Mac Pro (Mid 2010).

– Resolves an issue in which some Multiple Master (MM) fonts were missing from Mac Pro (Mid 2010), MacBook Pro (15-inch & 17-inch Mid 2010), and iMac (Mid 2010) computers.

– Addresses various issues with MacBook Air (Mid 2010) computer performance.

– Resolves an issue in which clicking the Updates tab in the Mac App Store could cause the Mac App Store to become unresponsive.

– Fixes a problem opening an afp:// URL that points to a file, and changes the AFP mount path to conform to previous Mac OS X releases.

– Includes the ability to repair certain issues that may prevent hardware RAID volumes from mounting.

– Fixes a rare issue in Mac OS X v10.6.5 that could cause user accounts to disappear from the Login window and System Preferences after putting the system to sleep.

– Improves the reliability of dragging files or folders to the Trash when using an NFS home directory.

Mac OS X 10.6.7 can be directly downloaded here or via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, positive or negative, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

AT&T/T-Mobile USA deal could take up to one year for federal approval

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 21st, 2011, 07:00
Category: iPhone, News

Even if AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile USA for US$39 billion may come as good news, it might be a while before T-Mobile can offer an iPhone.

Per T-Mobile, U.S. customers of T-Mobile likely will not have access to Apple’s iPhone for at least one year, assuming a proposed acquisition from AT&T is granted federal approval.

Following the announcement on Sunday that AT&T plans to buy T-Mobile to create the largest wireless provider in the U.S., a list of frequently asked questions were posted on the official T-Mobile website. In that list, one question is specifically devoted to the iPhone, which is currently only available to AT&T and Verizon customers.

“T-Mobile USA remains an independent company,” the FAQ reads. “The acquisition is expected to be completed in approximately 12 months. We do not offer the iPhone. We offer cutting edge devices like the Samsung Galaxy S 4G and coming soon our new Sidekick 4G.”

T-Mobile cannot yet offer the iPhone because its wireless network is not compatible with the 3G radio found in the GSM version of Apple’s best-selling smartphone. And that won’t change until AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile is approved by federal regulators — a milestone that is by no means guaranteed.

The merging of customer bases from AT&T and T-Mobile would create a total of about 130 million users, making AT&T the largest carrier in the U.S. AT&T has touted that the acquisition of T-Mobile will help to speed up its own existing nationwide network.

Though they operate on different radio frequencies, the networks of AT&T and T-Mobile have a common technology base with 3G UMTS. That will make it easier for AT&T to merge the two networks and ensure that handsets from both companies will be compatible on the same network.

T-Mobile’s FAQ also notes that the acquisition will offer “significant benefits” for customers, improving network quality and boosting speeds.

“The merger will ensure the deployment of a robust 4G LTE network to 95% of the U.S. population, something neither company would achieve on its own,” it reads. “Also, because of our compatible networks and spectrum, the customers of T-Mobile USA and AT&T will experience improved voice and data service almost immediately after the networks are integrated.”

Customers were also advised that they should not wait to sign up with T-Mobile or upgrade their handset, as the company remains independent until the deal is approved. The company will also honor all contracted plans that are entered into before the change of ownership.

AT&T announced on Sunday its plans to acquire T-Mobile for US$39 billion. The cash and stock deal, if approved, would give Deutsche Telekom, the owner of T-Mobile USA, an 8% stake in AT&T.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any thoughts on the deal, please let us know in the comments.

AT&T to buy T-Mobile’s American unit for US$39 billion

Posted by:
Date: Monday, March 21st, 2011, 04:52
Category: iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T has announced a definitive agreement to buy Deutsche Telekom’s American T-Mobile subsidiary in a cash and stock deal worth about US$39 billion, and giving the German carrier an 8% stake in AT&T.

Per Yahoo, the two companies issued a press release outlining the terms of the deal, which has been approved by the board of both carriers.

T-Mobile and AT&T share similar GSM and UMTS/HSPA networks, and both are working to build new next generation networks using HSPA+ and LTE. However, obtaining the rights to radio spectrum and building out these networks is both expensive and complex.

AT&T’s chief executive Randall Stephenson said the deal “provides a fast, efficient and certain solution to the impending exhaustion of wireless spectrum in some markets, which limits both companies’ ability to meet the ongoing explosive demand for mobile broadband.”

T-Mobile had been rumored to be entering talks with Sprint, but those two companies run incomparable networks and have diverging future plans, as Sprint operates both CDMA and iDEN (from its merger with Nextel, which it plans to phase out) networks and has begun building a next generation WiMAX network with Clearwire (WiMAX competes with LTE as a next generation mobile network technology).

The release said that AT&T and T-Mobile USA customers “will see service improvements – including improved voice quality – as a result of additional spectrum, increased cell tower density and broader network infrastructure,” noting that as soon as the deal closes, AT&T “will immediately gain cell sites equivalent to what would have taken on average five years to build without the transaction, and double that in some markets.”

Absorbing T-Mobile “will increase AT&T’s network density by approximately 30% in some of its most populated areas, while avoiding the need to construct additional cell towers. This transaction will increase spectrum efficiency to increase capacity and output, which not only improves service, but is also the best way to ensure competitive prices and services in a market where demand is extremely high and spectrum is in short supply,” the release says.

By bolstering its existing GSM, UMTS and HSPA+ networks, AT&T will be able to better focus on future LTE capacity, rather than struggling to get its existing network to meet today’s demand. While T-Mobile operates its 3G UMTS network on different frequencies than AT&T, its basic 2G GSM network is identical. AT&T can also use the networks and towers T-Mobile operates to strengthen its own.

The incorporation of T-Mobile’s American unit adds 33.7 million subscribers to AT&T’s network of of about 95.5 million, creating a total of about 130 million users, and becoming the largest American carrier. The deal will also expand Apple’s iPhone to three of what were the top four US carriers, as Apple has already brought it to Verizon earlier this year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

How-To: View an AVI file on your iOS device

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Date: Friday, March 18th, 2011, 04:35
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

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As nifty as Apple’s iOS devices are, there are some limitations. One of these hurdles is the ability to play videos in an AVI format, which isn’t supported by iTunes or the native video player in the iPhone and iPad.

The cool cats at Mac|Life have thrown together a quick guide as to how to solve this problem, the author recommending that the HandBrake program can be used to convert an AVI movie into an MP4 file that will play perfectly on our iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Users can also download an iPhone or iPad app that does play these files, such as CineXPlayer for iPad (US$2.99) or the universal GoodPlayer (US$2.99), and use that to watch your videos without needing to convert them.

If you’ve played with any of these programs or have conversion tips of your own, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple may include near-field communications feature in iPhone 5

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Date: Friday, March 18th, 2011, 03:24
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Last week the word on the street was that the iPhone 5 would lack near-field communications which would have turned the device into a nifty, portable e-wallet.

This week the feature might be back as a report by Forbes blogger Elizabeth Woyke on Friday has countered a recent report from The Independent that denied rumors of wireless NFC technology in Apple’s next generation iPhone. The Independent claimed earlier this week that Apple had disclosed to “several” mobile operators in the U.K. its alleged decision to abandon plans to include the feature in the so-called iPhone 5.

According to Woyke, “an entrepreneur who is working on a top-secret NFC project” cited a friend who works at Apple to assert that the iPhone 5 will have NFC contactless capabilities. The entrepreneur also told Woyke that manufacturers of NFC readers expect Apple’s next smartphone to have NFC and are gearing up for “the additional NFC traffic the iPhone 5 will bring, likely this summer.”

Woyke acknowledged The Independent’s claims, noting that many had been “surprised” by the report. The U.K. publication had cited “the lack of a clear standard” as Apple’s reason for allegedly delaying the feature.

However, Woyke affirmed her faith in the credibility of her source, in spite of the on-again, off-again nature of the report. “I trust this source and know he has connections in the NFC market because of his own project,” she wrote.

In January, Richard Doherty, director of the consulting firm Envisioneering Group claimed that Apple planned to start its own retail-based mobile payment service as early as mid-2011. It should be noted, however, that Doherty erroneously predicted that Apple would add an NFC chip to the iPad 2.

Last month, Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile, fueled speculation even more when it mentioned Apple during a presentation on e-wallet payment systems.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Owners of 2011 MacBook Pro report troubles with iTunes Home Sharing feature

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Date: Thursday, March 17th, 2011, 11:32
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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As nifty as the 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks are, there may be some debugging that needs to be done.

Per AppleInsider, a number of early 2011 MacBook Pro owners report being unable to connect devices or maintain connections through iTunes Home Sharing.

A support thread in Apple’s Discussion forums has received over 200 posts from owners of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros reporting issues with iTunes Home Sharing. Several readers have also contacted AppleInsider regarding the issue.

“This is turning out to be a bigger problem than I thought with many people giving up and returning their new MBP 2011 due to this conflict. Apple has yet to find a fix but it has been widely documented via phone through AppleCare and through many Apple retail stores,” wrote one reader.

According to forum user ‘themacbear,’ the new MacBook Pro was able to stream to a second-generation Apple TV at first, but then the Apple TV reported being unable to connect or would display the error message “There are no movies in this library.”

In March, Apple released iOS 4.3 with new Home Sharing features. The Mac maker also issued iTunes 10.2 and then iTunes 10.2.1 to add compatibility with iOS 4.3 and Home Sharing. In spite of the updates, a number of users continue to report being unable to connect or maintain connections with iOS devices on their early 2011 MacBook Pros.

Recent improvements to the Home Sharing feature expand iTunes library sharing from just between Macs, PCs and Apple TVs to include mobile devices such as iPods, iPhones and iPads. When working properly, Home Sharing in iOS 4.3 allows an unlimited number of iOS devices to access content over Wi-Fi.

Though early 2011 MacBook Pros appear to be having the most trouble with Home Sharing, owners of older machines have also reported problems with the feature in a support thread for Home Sharing in iOS 4.3 that has reached 60 posts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

Rumor: Upcoming case designs show iPhone 4 to be almost identical to iPhone 5

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Date: Thursday, March 17th, 2011, 03:51
Category: iPhone, Rumor

If you like the basic shape and design of the iPhone 4, then it looks like you’ll be fond of the iPhone 5.

Per HardMac, Apple’s next-generation iPhone will sport an exterior design largely identical to the current iPhone 4, if new cases from overseas are to be believed.

The picture of case renderings, obtained by HardMac, shows identical button placement and SIM card slot. It also has the same space on the back for a camera and flash.



The report noted that the information is not “confirmed,” but dubbed the source “reliable.”

“These cases would be prototypes of the iPhone 5 cases, based on the mockup that was provided by Apple,” the report said. “There is apparently no fundamental change on the placement of the buttons and the SIM card slot.”

If accurate, the renderings would likely disprove an earlier rumor that Apple is looking to abandon the steel outer frame of the iPhone 4 following bad publicity over alleged antenna issues. That rumor also suggested the so-called “iPhone 5” would adopt an antenna back, suggesting a major redesign.

Last week, alleged engineering sketches claimed to show off the iPhone 5 showed a device with a larger edge-to-edge display. Aside from the bigger screen, the rest of the device was shown unchanged externally from the iPhone 4.

If you have two cents to heave on this, please let us know in the comments.