O'Grady's PowerPage » Software

gfxCardStatus utility allows dynamic switching between MacBook Pro graphics cards

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 11th, 2010, 06:33
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Although Apple’s current MacBook Pro notebooks allow you to switch between graphics processing units in order to optimize performance and battery life, Apple doesn’t really provide an easy way to manage the different GPUs on the system, and if you like to tinker you may find the utility gfxCardStatus useful, both for newer and older machines.

Per CNET, Cody Krieger’s gfxCardStatus is a small shareware application that displays which graphics card is the active one. When the system’s computing demands change and the GPU is switched, the utility shows the switches in real-time, either by displaying an “n” (GeForce 330M) or a “i” (Intel HD) in the menu. If you have the Growl notification system installed, gfxCardStatus will inform you in real-time whenever the graphics processor is changed.

In addition to notifications and alerts, gfxCardStatus will list any processes that are using the current graphics processor, and allow you to manually switch the active GPUs on the system.

Despite this, the program does offer a unique advantage to users of the older MacBook Pro models, in that the GPU switching feature does allow for you to switch GPUs without logging out and closing down your applications. The screen will go blue and then black, but will then reappear and the secondary GPU will be used. This may be convenient for some users; however, it is still an experimental feature so try or use it with caution.

gfxCardStatus 1.6.1 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

Court documents confirm Apple/AT&T exclusive five year deal, questions surface over contract renegotiations

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 11th, 2010, 05:51
Category: iPhone, News

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With additional chatter surrounding the idea of Apple extending the iPhone to Verizon this year, the exact specifics of Apple’s five-year exclusive contract with AT&T have never really been published. Fortunately, the cool cats at Engadget managed to uncover the following:

An ongoing California class-action lawsuit filed in 2007 claims that Apple and AT&T illegally exerted a monopoly over iPhone service by telling customers the iPhone’s required service contract was two years long when the Apple / AT&T exclusivity deal was actually for five years. Per the case, this required buyers to re-up with AT&T for three years if they wanted to keep using the iPhone. Within Apple’s response to these allegations, and in addition to arguing that no one was ever promised an unlocked iPhone after two years, the company’s lawyers repeatedly confirm the existence of the five-year agreement while noting it was publicly reported in USA Today.

Select quotes include the following:
“The duration of the exclusive Apple-[AT&T] agreement was not ‘secret’ either. The [plaintiff] quotes a May 21, 2007 USA Today article – published over a month before the iPhone’s release – stating, “AT&T has exclusive U.S. distribution rights for five years-an eternity in the go-go cellphone world.”

“[T]here was widespread disclosure of [AT&T's] five-year exclusivity and no suggestion by Apple or anyone else that iPhones would become unlocked after two years… Moreover, it is sheer speculation – and illogical – that failing to disclose the five-year exclusivity term would produce monopoly power…”

Since this case occurred in October of 2008 and has gone relatively off the record, the real question is whether or not the exclusivity deal is still on the books. Even given that the case is ongoing and many of its relevant bits have been under seal since 2009, contracts can be canceled, amended, and breached in many ways, especially given AT&T’s track record and the explosion of the iPhone market. In addition, the two companies obviously hit the negotiating table again to hammer out the iPad’s pricing plans, and there’s no way of knowing whether that deal involves the iPhone as well.

Apple developing its own alternative to Flash via Gianduia

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 10th, 2010, 07:57
Category: News, Software

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When in doubt, roll your own.

As the multimedia wars continue between Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, Apple is using Gianduia, a client-side, standards based framework for Rich Internet Apps that it introduced World of WebObjects Developers Conference last summer, to create its own production quality apps.

Gianduia, named after an Italian hazelnut chocolate, is “essentially is browser-side Cocoa (including CoreData) + WebObjects, written in JavaScript by non-js-haters,” according to a tweet by developer Jonathan “Wolf” Rentzsch. “Jaw dropped.”

After watching the NDA demo Apple gave for the new framework at WOWODC last year, Rentzch also tweeted, “Blown away by Gianduia. Cappuccino, SproutCore and JavascriptMVC have serious competition. Serious.”

Per AppleInsider, SproutCore is the JavaScript framework Apple uses to build the web interface for its desktop-like MobileMe web apps. Cappuccino is another third party JavaScript framework that works as a Cocoa-like API for web apps; it was used to deliver 280Slides, a web app designed to provide most of the functionality of Apple’s Keynote desktop application. JavascriptMVC is also an independent open source project used to develop rich apps within JavaScript for web deployment.

Like Cappuccino, Gianduia takes a Cocoa-inspired name (Cocoa is itself a Java-inspired name) to describe its role as a way for Cocoa developers to bring their skills to rich online applications built using web standards, with no need for a proprietary web plugin like Flash or Silverlight.

While the emerging new support for Rich Internet App features in HTML5 is often pitted competitively against Flash, Gianduia, SproutCore and related frameworks demonstrate that sophisticated web apps are already possible using existing web standards and without web plugins.

Apple retails locations have been noticed using Gianduia to create web app clients (which plug into the company’s WebObjects-based services), for a variety of popular programs over the last several months, including its One-to-One program, iPhone reservation system, and its Concierge service for Genius Bar reservations and Personal Shopping (shown below) programs.

While it’s unknown as to what this will turn into, Apple may be able to work around Flash support for its iPhone OS devices in its own way.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked iPhone document show contactless payment technology in the works

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 7th, 2010, 05:05
Category: iPhone, News

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You’ve got to love the occasional press leak, as they yield some interesting things on the horizon.

NFC World recently spotted a release from Visa and DeviceFidelity on the MarketWatch website, which revealed that the companies have developed a protective iPhone case that will allow users to pay for goods and services “by simply waving their iPhone in front of a contactless payment terminal”.

The release has since been removed from MarketWatch, but not before NFC World pasted the full text on its site.

The technology, developed by DeviceFidelity and certified by Apple, includes an iPhone case that holds a secure MicroSD card hosting Visa’s contactless payment application, Visa payWave. The release said that market trials of the “payment-enabled” iPhone are scheduled to start this summer.

The release said that the technology will also work with smart phones that have a suitable memory card slot.

Visa and DeviceFidelity announced plans to trial the technology in smart phones with memory card slots back in February. However, at the time, the iPhone was excluded from the trial because it did not have the required card slot.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mac OS X 10.6.4 update to address OpenGL, iPhoto, DVD Player and VNC-related issues

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 7th, 2010, 05:46
Category: News, Software

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The Mac OS X 10.6.4 update will pick up where Mac OS X 10.6.3 left off by tackling compatibility issues with OpenGL-based applications and bandaging glitches with first- and third-party applications.

Per AppleInsider, a list of code corrections that Apple provided to some developers on Thursday alongside the second external beta of Mac OS X 10.6.4, carrying build number 10F46 is pointing development along those lines. The build arrived roughly one week after Apple issued the first external pre-release copies of the Snow Leopard update, which focused on graphics drivers, Windows file sharing, USB devices and Voice Over.

While the focus areas remain relatively the same in Thursday’s build, Apple added a fix for dropped connections with Cisco VPN and thus asked developers to evaluate the overall reliability of VPN connections under the beta.

According to sources testing Mac OS X 10.6.4, other fixes are also in the cards for pairing Apple remotes with Macs, graphics anomalies that surface when editing images in iPhoto’s full-screen mode, and video playback in DVD Player.

Additional code corrections reportedly target glitches with Parental Controls, erratic USB keyboard behaviors, 3D animations, and problems launching Adobe CS3 applications like Photoshop and Illustrator.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new Mac OS X 10.6.4 build and have any feedback, let the rest of the class know what you make of it…

Carbon Copy Cloner updated to 3.3.2

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 7th, 2010, 05:14
Category: News, Software

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It’s the quick fixes that make a neat app that much better.

On Thursday, Carbon Copy Cloner, the shareware favorite for drive cloning operations by Mike Bombich, reached version 3.3.2. The new version, a 3.6 megabyte download, adds the following changes:

- Fixed the localization of a dialog that appeared in the Scheduled Tasks window.

- Addressed an issue in which a scheduled task would fail to mount a disk image if the disk image file was not located at the root of the backup volume.

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.3.2 retails for a US$10 shareware registration fee. The application requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run.

Google Chrome 5.0.375.29 beta released for Mac

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 6th, 2010, 07:36
Category: Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 5.0.375.29 beta for the Mac. The new version, an 25.2 megabyte download, offers the following the following changes:

- HTML5 Features: Geolocation, App Cache, web sockets, file drag-and-drop.

- Integrated Flash Player Plugin.

- V8 performance improvements.

- Preferences synchronization.

- NaCl behind a flag.

Google Chrome requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve played with it and have an opinion, let us know what you think in the comments.

Fourth-gen iPhone could record high definition video

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 6th, 2010, 05:55
Category: iPhone, News

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Even with the hunt to find the missing fourth-gen iPhone over, some cool stuff may still be around the corner. Per MacRumors, new evidence in the iPhone OS 4 SDK suggests the camera in Apple’s next-generation handset could record 720p high-definition video.

Preset values for video capture in the latest beta of the software development kit show a supported resolution of 1280×720 pixels. That’s the same progressive-scan resolution used for high-definition 720p content.

Last week, a report claimed that the iPhone would have a 5 megapixel camera supplied by LG Innotek. While the megapixels account for the size of still images, the they offer no clear insight into the video recording capabilities of the handset.

In its hands-on with the obtained next-generation iPhone prototype, Gizmodo noted that the camera on the device’s back side was “quite noticeably larger” than the one on the current-generation iPhone 3GS. The prototype device also had a forward-facing camera, but neither lens could be tested and picture quality could not be determined, as the hardware had been deactivated.

Previous rumors had indicated the new iPhone would be known as the “iPhone HD,” and would feature a double-resolution 960 x 640 pixel display.

In addition to a 5-megapixel camera with possible support for HD video recording, this year’s iPhone model is also expected to gain a camera flash. Camera flash functions were also found referenced in pre-release builds of iPhone Software 4.0.

The next-generation iPhone is expected to be unveiled at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference keynote. The conference is scheduled to kick off on June 7th, and runs through June 11th at San Francisco’s Moscone West.

Apple releases iPhone OS 4.0 beta 3 to developers, focuses on orientation lock and iPod features

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 5th, 2010, 03:23
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Apple released the third beta of its upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 firmware to developers on Tuesday. The new build, specified as build 10M2247, closely follows the release of beta 2 just two weeks ago. Both last year’s iPhone OS 3 and the 3.2 release for iPad went through five beta cycles before being released publicly.

iPhone 4 is expected to be release to the public in June for iPhone and iPod touch users, with an iPad version due for release in the fall.

Shortly after being published on Apple’s developer site, the new update was pulled temporarily to fix an issue believed to be related to an installation problem according to Gizmodo.

The new beta makes it easier to quit apps running in the multitasking drawer by giving each icon a red quit quit button, similar to the Home screen method of uninstalling apps with a touch.

Also new is a widget controller for iPod music playback, and an orientation lock that works similar to the physical switch on iPad. However, since the iPhone’s user interface is oriented toward portrait by default, with apps supporting landscape only optionally, the lock only sets orientation in portrait.

In contrast, the iPad presents no default orientation, making the lock more important and functional in both landscape and portrait directions.

The beta 3 release still does not support push messaging features for remote location, messaging, lock, or secure wipe as Apple prioritizes its beta releases to be relevant to the issues developers face in testing their apps with the new firmware.

Stay tuned for additional details as they come in and if you’ve had a chance to play with the new beta, let us know.

Survey: 28% of women blame Blackberrys, iPhone for intrusions into love life

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 5th, 2010, 03:20
Category: Fun, iPhone

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You might want to put the gadgets away a bit more often.

Per Telegraph.co.uk, a recent survey indicated that 28% of women claim that email and Internet are disrupting their love lives, with hand-held devices particularly to blame.

Other factors which prevent couples enjoying intimacy include long working hours (55%), tiredness (83%) and being too busy (74%).

The research by pharmaceutical firm Bayer also shows that many women are missing their sexual peak by a decade and that more than one in two feel sexiest during their 30s, yet two in three have the most sex in their 20s.

One in ten women say their fear of pregnancy inhibits them in the bedroom, with one in five women admitting they shun contraception.

The survey found that on average British women have sex 1.4 times a week, but six in ten women aged between 25 and 34 would like a more active sex life.

51% of women believe they reach their sexual peak in their 30s, but 66% say they had their most sex during their 20s.

65% say their partners do not make enough effort in the bedroom, however, one in three women never initiate sex and always let their partner make the first move.

Four in ten women say it only takes a compliment to put them in the mood for sex, while one in three saying having more time to themselves would boost their sex life.

Perhaps disappointingly, more than a third of women say they have not felt sexy for at least a month and 14% claim they have never felt sexy.

Personally, I’m not pointing any fingers here and I’d like to think that the Blackberry users are letting the ladies down more than the iPhone users, though I’d have no proof to back it up.

Either way, put the iPhone down once in a while. And remember to do some sit ups and bring her a delicious sandwich once in a while.

Because everyone loves a good sandwich.