Mozilla Releases Firefox 3.5.3 Update

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Date: Thursday, September 10th, 2009, 03:24
Category: Software

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Early Thursday, Mozilla.org released version 3.5.3 of its Firefox web browser.
The new version, a 17.6 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and changes:
- Fixed several security issues.
- Fixed several stability issues.

Firefox 3.5.3 is available in more than 70 different languages and requires a G3, G4, G5 or Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X 10.4 or later and 128MB of RAM to install and run.

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

Apple Releases iPhone OS 3.1, iTunes 9.0 at Media Event

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Date: Wednesday, September 9th, 2009, 11:14
Category: iPhone, iPod, Software

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An Apple media event is nothing without significant software releases and to this end, iTunes 9 and the long-awaited iPhone OS 3.1 update should suffice.

iTunes 9, which is available as an 82.8 megabyte download, features the following changes and fixes:
- An improved look and feel, including a new Column Browser for easily browsing your artists or albums, movies, TV shows, and more.
- iTunes Store has a brand new look, with improved navigation for quick and easy exploration.
- iTunes LP and iTunes Extras create unique experiences that feature exclusive interviews, videos, photos, and more – available with select album and movie purchases on the iTunes Store.
- Home Sharing helps you manage your family’s iTunes collection between computers in your home. iTunes can automatically transfer new purchases, or you can choose just the items you want.
- Genius Mixes are created for you by iTunes and play songs from your library that go great together.
- iPod and iPhone syncing now allows you to organize your iPhone and iPod touch home screens directly in iTunes. Syncing is now also more flexible, allowing you to sync individual artists, genres, or TV show and Podcast episodes.
- iTunes U items are now organized into their own section in your iTunes library.
- Sync with iPod nano (5th generation), iPod classic (Fall 2009), and iPod touch (Fall 2009)..
- iTunes 9 also includes many other improvements, such as HE-AAC encoding and playback, more flexibility with Smart Playlists rules, simpler organization of your media files inside an iTunes Media folder, and more.

iTunes 9 is also available for free via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

For iPhone and iPod touch users, iPhone OS 3.1 offers the following features and changes:
- Improved syncing for music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and photos.
- iTunes U content organization.
- Redeem iTunes Gift Cards, codes, and certificates in the App Store.
- Display available iTunes account credits in the App Store and iTunes Store.
- Save video from Mail and MMS into Camera Roll.
- Option to “Save as new clip” when trimming a video on iPhone 3GS.
- Better iPhone 3G Wi-Fi performance when Bluetooth is turned on.
- Remotely lock iPhone with a passcode via MobileMe.
- Use Voice Control on iPhone 3GS with Bluetooth headsets.
- Paste phone numbers into the keypad.
- Option to use Home button to turn on accessibility features on iPhone 3GS.
- Warn when visiting fraudulent websites in Safari (anti-phishing).
- Improved Exchange calendar syncing and invitation handling.
- Fixes issue that cause some app icons to display incorrectly.

Like previous iPhone OS updates, simply attach your iPhone or iPod touch to your computer, go into iTunes, select the device and click the “Check for Update” button. iTunes will then download and install the update, which requires a Mac running Mac OS X 10.4 and iTunes 8.0 or later to run.

As always, let us know if good things happen (your terrier begins teach physics at the local high school), bad things happen (the living room is now on fire) or if things remain relatively hunky-dory per your Mac, your iTunes and your iPhone or iPod touch.

Early Mac OS X 10.6.1 Update Details Emerge

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Date: Tuesday, September 8th, 2009, 05:32
Category: Software

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As spiffy as Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) is, there will always be patches. Per AppleInsider, Mac OS X 10.6.1 will deliver a number of fixes and tweaks focusing on Mail, networking, Bluetooth, Flash and more.

The first external pre-release build, labeled Mac OS X 10.6.1 build 10B503, began making its way to Apple’s broad Apple Developer Connection community Thursday evening in the form of a 74.1MB delta image.

The update apparently addresses some problem areas with fixes such as Bluetooth, the Dock, Mail, printing services, Software Update, and System Preferences.

Once released, Mac OS X 10.6.1 should allow users to delete manually-entered DNS values for DHCP configurations via the system’s Network Diagnostics, people familiar with the software say. Meanwhile, a couple of SMTP-related tweaks to Mail.app will tackle issues with blank server responses and upgrades on email accounts that require authentication.

Also planned are a number of printer-related enhancements. For example, local Bluetooth printers should properly connect to Snow Leopard-based Macs on startup. Additionally, printer drivers for both Bonjour and USB printers will be delivered over Software Update, while generic drivers should become visible from printer driver list.

Following this week’s news that the retail version of Mac OS X 10.6 bundled an older, less secure version of Adobe Flash, those familiar with with the first builds of 10.6.1 say the update will bump the plug-in to version 10.0.32.18.

Other focal areas of Mac OS X 10.6.1 include graphics drivers, wireless WAN cards and the DVD player. In all, 11 specific issues with Mac OS X 10.6 have been addressed thus far by 10.6.1.

Boot Camp Sound Bug Found for 13″ and 15″ Unibody MacBook Pro Notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, September 8th, 2009, 04:11
Category: MacBook Pro, Software

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A number of owners of Apple’s latest 13″ and 15″ unibody MacBook Pro notebooks have reported speaker failures when running Windows via Boot Camp according to an article on MacNN. The problems have affected many gamers who use Mac OS X for daily computing, then switch to Windows to play games. The problem appears to have begun with Boot Camp v2.1, which was launched in June. The recent Boot Camp 3.0 release, designed for Snow Leopard, does not seem to have helped resolve the issue.

Per testimonies on the Apple Discussion Forums, the latest 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros exhibit the issue with Windows XP, Server 2008 x64, Vista x32 and x64, and Windows 7 RC x32 and x64. Users have complained of very low sound volumes from the built-in speakers, even at full volume, along with a red light emanating from the speaker jack. Several systems are also unable to recognize microphone input. Although the specific source of the problems remains unknown, user reports suggest the Cirrus Logic CS4206A sound driver could be the culprit.

Forum posters (starting on page 10 of the forum) have posted workarounds that outline a user-hacked replacement for the Cirrus drivers which requires command-line work in Windows to resolve the issue. Frustrations have run high in the forums and the 270+ posts have not yet received any comments or help from Apple representatives in the three months the issue has been commented on.

Failure to address the issue in Snow Leopard’s Boot Camp 3.0 revision has also caused negative sentiment from posters, some of whom describe themselves as first-time Mac buyers who bought the new notebooks expressly because of Boot Camp support for their Windows games.

If you’ve seen this bug on your end or discovered your own fix or workaround, please let us know.

TomTom iPhone Kit Delayed Until October

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Date: Friday, September 4th, 2009, 04:45
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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Right, you won’t like this, but you should know about it.

According to AppleInsider, TomTom spokesman Kevin Carter confirmed that the company’s iPhone hardware kit will not be available for its previously announced summer release deadline, though no specific reason was given. The accessory is a cradle that will interface with the iPhone and provide enhanced GPS capabilities.

“I can confirm that we have decided to take some extra weeks in order to deliver the highest quality on this innovative product,” Carter said. “So, the car kit will become available for purchase this October on www.tomtom.com.”

While the hardware is not necessary to use the software that is currently available in the iPhone App Store, it will amplify the GPS signal for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. In addition, the original iPhone and the iPod touch, both of which do not have a GPS receiver, will be able to use the hardware kit, as mentioned on the product’s FAQ page.

The TomTom kit will act as a basic suction cup mount for the dashboard or windshield, and will also support hands-free calling and music through the stereo system, as well as charge capabilities through the vehicle’s 12-volt port.

The kit’s price will vary depending on location and final system requirements have yet to be released.

Apple Releases Java for Mac OS X 10.5 Update 5

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Date: Friday, September 4th, 2009, 03:59
Category: Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released an update to Java for Mac OS X 10.5 (“Leopard”). Apple Java for OS X 10.5 Update 5, a 161.3 megabyte download, includes fixes from all previous updates and brings with it improved reliability, security, and compatibility for the cross-platform technology.

According to Macworld, the update patches many Java-related security vulnerabilities, including some which allow untrusted Java applets to obtain elevated privileges via a Web page and potentially execute arbitrary code. There’s also a patch for Java Web Start that prevents a buffer overflow from quitting an application or executing arbitrary code.

The security patches in this fix were released by Java-maker Sun Microsystems in early August, marking an improvement in turnaround time for Apple. In the past, the company has lagged at rolling out fixes for Java, such as this past June, when Apple finally issued an update for a bug that Sun had patched over six months prior. Per Computerworld, the’s update does not fold in Sun’s most recent patch of August 11, which plugs further security holes.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and can also be snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software update feature.

DivX Player 7.0.1 Now Available

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Date: Thursday, September 3rd, 2009, 04:39
Category: Software

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DivX for Mac, the shareware player that allows users to view high definition H.264 (.mkv) videos with AAC audio and video, hit version 7.0.1 yesterday. The new version, a 23.3 megabyte download (courtesy of VersionTracker), contains the followings changes and features:

- DivX Player 7.0.1 now supports playback of DivX Plus files (.mkv/H.264/AAC) and has an updated UI.
- Use of the DivX Codec 6.8.3.
- Up to 50% faster decoding on multi-core computers for better HD Playback.
- New custom matrices that allow for better fine tuning of encoder for specific content type.
- DivX Converter 1.3.1 has been updated to work on Leopard (and to work in general).

DivX Player 7.0.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

How-To: Work Around Snow Leopard Installation Issues

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Date: Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009, 04:09
Category: How-To, Mac, Software

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As nifty as Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) may be, according to MacFixIt, a number of users are reporting a problem where the installer will not recognize the current boot drive as a valid destination for Snow Leopard. Instead, it will display the drive with a yellow triangle on it, indicating something is wrong with that drive. When the drive is selected, the installer claims the system cannot boot from the drive.

Over on the Apple Discussion Boards, poster “redpola” writes:

“I closed all my apps. I ran the installer. I agreed to the terms. I am asked where to install Snow Leopard. Only one disk is available – my boot disk. It has a yellow triangle on it.

Selecting the disk tells me ‘Mac OS X cannot be installed on Macintosh HD, because this disk cannot be used to start up your computer.’ Rebooting and attempting an install direct from CD yields the same results.”

The issue occurs when the Snow Leopard installer detects a small discrepancy in the partition table of the drive, and assumes booting off the drive may not be successful. The fixes involve rewriting the table without formatting the drive, but if that does not work then formatting should definitely work (provided you have a backup).

Fixes:
1. Run drive checks.

The first thing to do is run Disk Utility or, even better, run a third-party utility program to check out the drive to ensure it is functioning correctly. Fixing any errors may require booting off a volume other than the boot volume (i.e., the Snow Leopard DVD or a Drive Genius DVD), and performing the fixes from there.

2. Repartition the drive.

This problem might happen even if the drive checks out with various disk utility software. The way around this is to have Disk Utility repartition the drive, which, luckily, can be done without having to format the drive. To do this, boot from the Snow Leopard DVD and select your language. Then launch “Disk Utility” from the “Utilities” menu and perform the following steps:

Select your boot device (the device above the boot volume name), and select the “Partition” tab.

Resize the partition by selecting the volume name in the rectangular volume representation and drag the bottom-right corner of it to change its size.

Click “Apply” to change the partition’s size.

Revert the change by dragging the same resizing corner back to the bottom, and click “apply.”

After this is done, quit out of Disk Utility and try installing Snow Leopard again. Since you are booted from the Snow Leopard DVD you should be able to continue immediately without having to reboot your system.

Workarounds:
1. Format and install.

If you have a full system backup via Time Machine or a drive clone, you can format your boot drive and do a clean install of OS X. To do this, first be sure your backups are complete and accessible, and then boot off the Snow Leopard DVD (click the “Utilities” button instead of “Continue” in the Leopard installer, or reboot and hold the “C” key to boot off the CD/DVD drive). When the installer loads, select your language and then launch “Disk Utility” from the “Utilities” menu and perform the following steps:

Select your boot device (the device above the boot volume name), and select the “Partition” tab.

Select “1 partition” from the drop-down menu, and then give the partition a name and format it as “Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

Click the “options” button and select “GUID” for the partition table.

Close this window and click “Apply” to repartition the table.

Close “Disk Utility” and continue with the Snow Leopard installation.

When the installation completes, migrate your data from your backup to the new system.
In this procedure, you can migrate from either your Time Machine backup, or from a cloned drive. Keep in mind that when you do this you may need to reinstall some programs since a clean install may break some application dependency links to system files.

Apple, China Mobile Still in Talks Over iPhone Distribution

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Date: Tuesday, September 1st, 2009, 04:43
Category: iPhone

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Following up on the story that Apple settled on wireless carrier China Unicom to distribute the iPhone in China last week, Apple is apparently still in talks with China Mobile to sort out a distribution deal with the company.

According to Macworld UK, the talks between Apple and China Mobile, the world’s biggest carrier by subscribers, have reached no conclusion yet, a China Mobile spokeswoman said Tuesday. An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the company’s three-year distribution deal with China Unicom is not exclusive, but did not say if the company is in talks with other potential partners.

China Unicom will offer the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, with the first handsets going on sale in the fourth quarter. The company began its talks with Apple two years ago, but China Unicom, which operates a 3G network compatible with the iPhone, became seen as the favorite for an iPhone deal in recent months.

One snag in China Mobile’s talks with Apple was the carrier’s plan for its own mobile application store, which was seen as a potential competitor with the iPhone App Store. Another was China Mobile’s use of a mobile standard for its 3G network that was domestically developed and is not compatible with current iPhone models.

The app store and 3G standard snags could remain in any talks. The China Mobile download store went online last month and supports handsets including “Ophones,” or devices that run a China Mobile operating system but have a layout very similar to an iPhone.

Some details of the iPhone launch could still pose problems for China Unicom as well, including how and whether revenue from the App Store should be shared, one analyst said.

Apple Releases Firmware Updates for Mac Mini, Assorted iMac Models

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Date: Tuesday, September 1st, 2009, 04:40
Category: iMac, Mac mini, News, Software

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Late Monday, Apple released two firmware updates, one for certain models of its popular iMac desktop and the other for Mac Mini computers that address problems with noises from optical disk drives during startup and compatibility with memory upgrades.

Per MacFixIt, the Apple Mac Mini EFI Firmware Update 1.2 patch “improves compatibility with the latest Apple memory kits on Mac mini computers.” Oddly though, there is no specific memory upgrade for the Mac Mini on Apple’s memory selector over at http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_mac/mac_accessories/memory.

The Apple SuperDrive 3.0 firmware update will eliminate noise made by optical drives during system startup and when systems wake from sleep. This update will only work with the following firmware updates and Mac system models:

- iMac EFI Firmware Update 1.4
- Mac mini EFI Firmware Update 1.2
- iMac (20-inch, Mid 2009), iMac (24-inch, Early 2009), Mac mini (Early 2009)

As with any firmware update, you should only install it if you are experiencing the problems they address. If you do install it, be sure to not interrupt the installer. If the system lags do not press the power button to shut down, since an interrupted firmware update can irreparably damage your system.

The updates are available through Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.