Apple premieres Mac mini without optical drive

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Date: Thursday, July 21st, 2011, 03:59
Category: Mac mini, News

It’s not the end times, but it is a change.

For the first time ever, Apple’s new Mac mini models, released on Wednesday, lack an optical drive for CDs or DVDs, as the Mac maker continues to move away from physical formats like discs.

Per AppleInsider, Apple boasted in unveiling the new Mac mini hardware that the systems were “designed without an opitcal disc drive.” The company noted that the Mac mini can access optical drives on other PCs and Macs, and also works with the MacBook Air external SuperDrive accessory.

While the new Mac minis lack optical drives, they did gain Apple’s new high-speed Thunderbolt port, allowing it to connect to high-performance storage devices, RAID arrays, and the new 27-inch LED Thunderbolt display.

Apple began to move away from optical drives in its Mac lineup in 2008, when the first MacBook Air was released without any built-in disc reader. But the Air remained a relatively niche product in Apple’s lineup until 2010, when the product was redesigned to be thinner and lighter, and was expanded to screen sizes of both 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches, all at a lower price.

For those who bought last year’s MacBook Air, the notebook came with a USB reinstall drive for its built-in Snow Leopard operating system. Its inclusion eliminated the need for any optical media to restore the system.

Apple is moving away from legacy formats in favor of digital downloads, and is pushing its own Mac App Store as the default way to obtain software. Apple’s new operating system upgrade, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, launched on Wednesday exclusively on the Mac App Store.

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

Apple confirms Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Migration Assistant update for Mac OS X 10.6 systems

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Date: Wednesday, July 20th, 2011, 04:53
Category: News, Software

Things to do today: Upgrade your operating system to Mac OS X 10.7.

Per AppleInsider, Apple confirmed that Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will launch on the Mac App Store on Wednesday.

The company also released Migration Assistant Update, allowing users to prepare their Mac for the update to Lion through the Mac App Store. The update is a 312kb download available via Software Update or direct from Apple.

“This update addresses an issue with the Migration Assistant application in Mac OS X Snow Leopard that prevents transfer of your personal data, settings, and compatible applications from a Mac running Mac OS X Snow Leopard to a new Mac running Mac OS X Lion,” the official description reads.

Apple has been holding off on the introduction of new Mac hardware until it finally releases Lion. The company had not previously not offered a specific launch date for the operating system, only promising that it will become available on the Mac App Store for US$29.99 at some point in July.

Signs of an impending launch continued appear as the week went on, with Lion said to have arrived at Apple retail stores on hard disks this week for installation on demo machines, and photos of promotional materials at third-party stores.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any feedback about the upgrade experience, please let us know.

Rumor: Apple slated to release Mac OS X 10.7, next-gen MacBook Air on Wednesday

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Date: Tuesday, July 19th, 2011, 05:49
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor, Software

It’s the rumor mill that keeps life interesting…

Per AppleInsider, Apple could launch both its Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and its widely anticipated Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Air notebooks on Wednesday.

According to sources with proven track records, the new product launches are set to occur later this week. Specifically, one person said the products would be released on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.

The latest details align with what rumors that have been circulating this month, when it reported that new MacBook Air models with backlit keyboards and Thunderbolt ports would launch the week of July 21.

Those details were reaffirmed late last week in a separate report that corroborated other details, including the fact that Apple is expected to do away with the entry-level 64GB solid-state flash hard drive option. Instead, the new MacBook Airs are expected to have a minimum of 128GB in capacity.

The new notebooks, according to Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, are also expected to come with 4GB of RAM as the standard. That extra memory will allow the systems to better run Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, Apple’s next-generation operating system, also said to become available this week.

Apple has been holding off on the introduction of new Mac hardware until it finally releases Lion. Apple has not offered a specific launch date for the operating system, only promising that it will become available on the Mac App Store for US$29.99 at some point in July.

A few weeks ago, Apple began undertaking preparatory measures to unveil Lion. While it was initially believed that the operating system could have gone on sale as soon as last week, there have been rumors of last-minute holdups associated with the logistics and infrastructure related to Apple’s switch to a digital distribution method through the Mac App Store.

The Golden Master of Lion was seeded to developers on July 1. The term “Golden Master” means that the software is viewed as a final build that will be identical to the software released to the general public.

While Lion and the new MacBook Air models are said to be set to launch this week, there has been no specific indication given regarding any other hardware. However, Apple provided its own evidence of a forthcoming refresh to its LED Cinema Display last week, when it posted images on its site showing a Thunderbolt-equipped display with the new part number “MC914.”

Supply of Apple’s white MacBook has also been severely constrained since late June, suggesting a change to the product could be forthcoming. Since then, there has been no indication of an imminent hardware refresh.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Copies of Mac OS X 10.7 begin arriving at Apple Store locations

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Date: Tuesday, July 19th, 2011, 03:40
Category: Rumor, Software

You’ve waited a while and it’s almost here.

Per MacRumors, hard disk drives bearing the Golden Master version of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion have arrived at Apple’s retail stores ahead of an imminent launch, according to a new report.

The site wrote on Monday it had confirmed that Apple retail stores “have begun receiving final copies” of Lion. The company has reportedly shipped the OS on hard drives intended for store demo computers.

The “Golden Master” build of Lion was first seeded to developers on July 1. Lion, which contains hundreds of new features, will be the first OS X release to be distributed through the Mac App Store, where it will sell for US$29.99.

Sources also indicated that Apple will release Lion alongside new Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Airs as early as Wednesday. According to one person familiar with the matter, the products will be released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday.

Apple began retail preparations for Mac OS X Lion earlier this month. Though various reports had suggested that Lion would arrive last week, rumors then emerged that last minute issues with the upgrade had pushed it back to the week of July 21.

In addition to high-speed Thunderbolt ports, the new MacBook Air models are expected to include Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors and minimum RAM and SSD specs of 4GB and 128GB respectively.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

CrossOver updated to 10.1.0

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Date: Monday, July 18th, 2011, 14:55
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 10.1.0. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Fixed several known issues with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

- Don’t move cursor on display mode change, start up, or quit.

- Simplify user interactions when Quartz-WM is missing.

- Fixed check printing in Quicken 2011.

CrossOver 10.1.0 retails for US$69.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 and or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

Mozilla releases Firefox 5.0.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, July 13th, 2011, 02:59
Category: News, Software

elfirefox

Late Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 5.0.1 of its Firefox web browser. The new version stands as an 27.8 megabyte download offered the following fixes and changes:

- Worked around an issue in Mac OS X 10.7 that could cause Firefox to crash.

- Worked around an issue caused by Apple’s “Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 5″ where the Java plugin would not be loaded.

Firefox 5.0.1 requires an Intel-based Mac 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.

Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air notebook to once again include backlit keyboards

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Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 06:29
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

The new MacBook Air: It might just feature the shiny coolness that is a backlit keyboard.

With the release of new models later this month, Apple is set to reinstate a feature to its MacBook Airs that went missing when the company overhauled the ultra-thin notebooks into more cost-affordable products late last year.

Per AppleInsider, according to sources close to the story, backlit keyboards will join the string of hardware enhancements planned for the new 11.6- and 13.3-inch notebooks, which are also expected to adopt high-speed Thunderbolt ports, an upgrade to Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture, and possibly high-speed 400MBps flash memory.

The omission late last year of keyboard backlights — which help illuminate the keys on a keyboard in dim lighting scenarios — from Apple’s current lineup of MacBook Airs was particularly glaring given that all three iterations of the first-generation of MacBook Airs (Early 2008 to Mid-2009) included them as standard features.

Given Apple’s energy saving controls, software expertise, and the nominal cost associated with including keyboard backlights, it was never particularly clear why Apple opted to leave out the feature when it redesigned the MacBook Air line last October. One industry watcher even went as far as to call it “planned obsolescence” on Apple’s part.

Nevertheless, people familiar with the matter say Apple’s white 13.3-inch MacBook will once again be the only notebook from the company to lack keyboard backlights once the new Airs make their debut sometime during the week of July 21st.

According to sources, Apple has been holding off shipments of roughly 400,000 of these new MacBook Airs until it can image them with the finalized Golden Master build of Mac OS X Lion, which privately began making its way to developers last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen MacBook Air, Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) by next week

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Date: Friday, July 8th, 2011, 03:46
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

With the middle of July almost upon us, the long-awaited arrival of Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) and a refreshed MacBook Air notebook are something we’re hankering for. Per CNET, a “few overseas sources” have stated that “Apple Retail stores are planning ‘overnights’ on July 13th.” Overnights typically entail a refresh of Apple store displays and training on new products.

The cool cats at AppleInsider have also heard similar chatter, citing a “bulletin” posted to Apple’s internal retail news network “advising store management to perform RAM upgrades to certain Mac models on the showroom floors by Sunday, July 10th at the latest.” The deduction: this is needed to ready those models for upgrades to Lion.

Apple is already on the record with statements about a July release. At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company announced that it would be releasing Lion as a US$29.99 update to users in July. The OS has already reached gold master status, according to reports.

Probably not coincidentally, the OS X Lion page on Apple’s site shows the new operating system running on the MacBook Air.

Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) will bring plenty of enhancements and tweaks, including iCloud services built into the software, iOS-style Launchpad to house apps, full-screen apps and previewing Preview PDFs full-screen, Mission Control that comes up with a three-finger swipe, automatic tracking of document version history, and a resume feature that picks up where the user left off, among other new features.

The new MacBook Air is expected to weigh only 2.3 pounds (for the 11.6-inch model) and is anticipated to feature a fast Intel Sandy Bridge Core i series processors for the first time and a Thunderbolt port–both features already present on its 13-inch MacBook Pro cousin.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

SpamSieve updated to 2.8.6

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Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011, 02:26
Category: News, Software

spamsieve2.jpg

Michael Tsai’s must-have shareware program, SpamSieve, has just been updated to version 2.8.6. The new version, an 8.3 megabyte download, makes the following fixes and improvements:

- Made various changes to improve SpamSieve’s filtering accuracy.

- Improved compatibility with Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion).

- Added support for Postbox 2.5.

- Updated the Setting Up MailMate instructions for the new preferences in MailMate 1.1.2.

- Updated the Setting Up Outlook instructions for Microsoft Office 2011 Service Pack 1.

- Updated the Setting Up Postbox instructions to ensure that messages that you train as spam are moved to the junk mailbox or trash.

- Worked around a rare OS/hardware condition that could prevent SpamSieve from launching.

- The Apple Mail plug-in is better at reporting errors when it’s unable to fully load itself.

- Made various other clarifications to the manual.

- Adjusted the help page titles to fit better in the menu and search results.

SpamSieve is available for a US$30 registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run. The new version can either be downloaded directly from the web site or brought up to the current version via the program’s built-in update feature.

Rumor: Apple to use Toggle DDR 2.0 NAND flash memory in next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Tuesday, July 5th, 2011, 03:17
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

If you’re hankering for cool details about features for Apple’s next-gen MacBook Air, you might like this.

Per Macotakara, Apple is rumored to adopt “Toggle DDR 2.0,” a 19-nanometer process for NAND flash memory offering 400 megabyte-per-second speed, in its next MacBook Air.

Citing a person with an “Asian electronics component company,” the report said that the new technology will replace the Blade X-gale found in the current MacBook Air models.

The new 19-nanometer flash memory is said to be packaged on a smaller chip, and will be soldered onto the base circuit of the new thin-and-light notebook directly.

The report noted that the Open NAND Flash Interface Working Group, which standardizes NAND flash, has released the ONFi 3.0 specification for 400MBps speeds, but most memory processing companies do not yet offer compatible chips. It said that “Toggle DDR 2.0,” which is a standardized procedure from the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, is believed to have been embraced by Apple.

Apple’s MacBook Air was made thinner and lighter with a new model released last October that features instant-on capabilities with no hard drive and no optical drive. The ultraportable notebook sports only NAND flash memory for storage.

That storage was initially provided by Toshiba, but later changed to Samsung. The change allowed for read times to be upgraded to 261.1MBps, from 209.8Mbps, while write times were boosted to 209MBps from 175.6MBps.

Rather than relying on traditional 2.5-inch or 1.8-inch SSDs, the new MacBook Air drives utilize a new form factor known as mSATA. After the thinner and lighter MacBook Air was unveiled last year, Toshiba announced its Blade X-gale SSD series, the same hardware found in Apple’s thin-and-light notebook.

Apple is said to have built nearly 400,000 of its next-generation MacBook Air last month in preparation for a launch that is expected to occur soon. The anticipated new notebooks are believed to feature Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors, as well as the new high-speed Thunderbolt port.

While new MacBook Air hardware is expected to launch soon, it will not debut until Apple’s next-generation operating system is released. It’s also been reported that Apple would freeze the introductions of new Mac hardware until Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is released. The “Golden Master” of Lion was released to developers last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.