Apple Opts for Slower SATA Spec for Hard Disk Drives in New 13″ MacBook Pro

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 16th, 2009, 08:12
Category: MacBook Pro, News

el17

In spite of Apple’s introduction of the 13″ unibody MacBook Pro notebook at WWDC last week, it may have opted for a slower standard. According to Engadget, the new MacBook Pro notebooks that ship with conventional hard disks may only have a 1.5GBps SATA enabled, while SSD configs are apparently getting the full 3.0GBps SATA II experience that used to be standard.
Albeit most people this won’t make too much difference since traditional hard drives can’t move data that fast, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re hoping to buy an hard drive unit and swap in a speedier SSD, since your max performance will be bottlenecked.

How-To: Add Multi-Touch Functionality to Your Pre-2008 Apple Notebook Trackpad

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 15th, 2009, 18:13
Category: How-To, MacBook

Amidst heated controversy as to whether Apple’s upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) operating system will add multi-touch gestures to older MacBook and MacBook pro notebooks, the guys at The Unofficial Apple Weblog have taken it upon themselves to ask what makes a multi-touch trackpad unique and how to simulate this on an Apple notebook sans such an interface. The answer lies in an embedded controller chip, identical to the one in the iPhone and iPod Touch, which allows advanced input from more than two fingers at once.

Later, Apple’s unibody MacBooks and MacBook Pros debuted with multi-touch trackpads, but also introduced new four-finger gestures, which will not be officially supported in the older MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros until Snow Leopard’s release.

The original MacBook Air and early 2008 MacBook Pro are the only machines which will gain additional gestures via Snow Leopard. The only reason these notebook models are able to gain these gestures via software updates, while earlier MacBook Pros and all plastic MacBooks are not, is because they possess the multi-touch controller chip in their trackpads.

The following is the list of Apple notebooks that will support multi-touch gestures, either now or after Snow Leopard:

  • MacBook Air (all models)
  • Early 2008 MacBook Pro
  • Late 2008 17″ MacBook Pro
  • Unibody MacBook (all models)
  • Unibody MacBook Pro (all models)

Still, for pre-2008 and plastic MacBook owners, the following steps (courtesy of the MacRumors forums) can help bring multi-touch functionality to your notebook:

First, download a modified AppleUSBMultitouch.kext file. Navigate to System/Library/Extensions, and remove the old AppleUSBMultitouch.kext (you will need to type in your admin password).

Move the modified AppleUSBMultitouch.kext into System/Library/Extensions. You’ll most likely have to type in your password again.

This next step is critical: repair disk permissions using Disk Utility. If you don’t, after you restart your trackpad will not function.

Once permissions are repaired, restart. Success!

This procedure isn’t for the faint of heart and will probably have to be repeated with every major Mac OS X 10.5.x update, but it should provide multi-touch goodness if you want it.

Best Buy to Offer iPhone 3G S Accident Insurance Plan

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 15th, 2009, 17:34
Category: iPhone

3gs.jpg

For those of you planning to snag a new iPhone 3G S unit from Best Buy, you’ll also have the opportunity to purchase the chain’s rare (and somewhat pricey) accident insurance plan. According to AppleInsider, Best Buy stores nationwide on Friday will begin selling the next-generation Apple handset on launch day, albeit at the big-box retailer’s usual 10 a.m. opening time instead of the early hours both Apple and AT&T promise.

In contrast to these more direct channels, however, Best Buy plans to continue offering Geek Squad’s Black Tie Protection service with the new iPhone, people familiar with the plans say.

While Apple has never offered more than a standard two-year extended AppleCare warranty and AT&T has specifically exempted the iPhone from its insurance offerings, the Black Tie plan covers regular technical problems as well as drops, spills and other failures that would normally require a costly repair service or the purchase of an entirely new device.

Under Best Buy’s offering, any instance in which the phone can’t be fixed or replaced on the spot will see those customers offered a temporary phone until the repair or replacement is ready within three days or less. Battery replacements aren’t as likely due to Apple’s sealed-up design, but the company vows anti-lemon protection for devices that have to be brought in four times due defects.

Opting for Black Tie will reportedly still be expensive. For other cellphones, the program costs between US$7 and US$10 per month depending on the model, but the iPhone’s rate rises to US$15 per month, leaving iPhone owners paying about US$180 per year.

Sources close to the story say the added cost of iPhone protection comes from the heavy subsidies attached to Apple’s products. Since the actual, retail price of a phone without a contract is between US$599 and US$699, it becomes prohibitively expensive to offer Black Tie when customers may use it more than once.

Rumor: AT&T iPhone 3G S Pre-Order Stock Reportedly Sold Out

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 15th, 2009, 17:44
Category: Rumor

Per a document received over on Boy Genius Report, AT&T has reportedly sold out of its iPhone 3G S pre-order stock. A new memo sent along to retail locations provides instructions to tell all customers who pre-order the device on Saturday, June 13th or later that they will have to wait “7-10″ days before they can fulfill the pre-order–which will be sometime after the official launch on June 19th: “Only preorders placed [on] Friday, June 12, 2009 or earlier are expected to arrive in time for the 7:00 a.am. opening on Friday, June 19th, 2009. Customers will receive an email notification when their new iPhone 3G S has arrived and is available for pickup.”

The article also notes that AT&T retail locations, which open early on Friday, will have some stock for those willing to wait in line to make the purchase. AT&T, however, is encouraging customers to continue using the pre-order process as it will “guarantee that they receive their iPhone 3G S as quickly as possible.”

New 13″, 15″ MacBook Pro Notebooks Capable of Booting from SD Card Clot

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 12th, 2009, 17:23
Category: MacBook Pro

Apple’s newly-released 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pro notebooks now boast a feature in which users can boot from the SD card slot in a pinch.

According to a tech note published by Apple, users can install Mac OS X on an SD card and use it as a startup volume simply by changing the default partition table to GUID using Disk Utility, and then formating the card to use the Mac OS Extended file format.

This capability can be particularly useful in the event that you run into problems with a MacBook Pro’s built-in storage options, particularly those equipped with traditional hard disk drives, which include moving parts.

The company notes that the new MacBook Pros have a maximum speed of 240 Mbit/s for SD media using the SD card slot, which easily exceeds the transfer rate of most SD media. For example, Class 2 media has a maximum transfer rate of 4 Mbit/s; Class 4 media has a maximum transfer rate of 4.8 Mbit/s; and Class 6 media has a maximum transfer rate of 45 Mbit/s.

SD cards that conform to the SD 1.x and 2.x standards should work in the slots, though they also accept cards that are Standard SD (4 MB to 4 GB) and SDHC (4 GB to 32 GB).  MultiMediaCards (MMC) can also be used, as well as MiniSD, MicroSD, and higher density formats like MiniSDHC and MicroSDHC, assuming they’re first inserted into one of the “passive” adapters on the market that conform to the width and thickness specifications for the slot.

Although the SD card specification for a memory card is 32mm x 24mm x 2.1 mm, Apple says you can also use thinner cards, such as the aforementioned MMCs.  Cards that have a thickness greater than 2.1mm or that have surfaces that exceed 2.1mm, should not be used, the company warns, as they may damage the SD card slot if inserted.

The slots also accept cards that exceed 32 GB, but as Apple notes, most media manufactures preformat their media using common block-and-cluster sizes that do not approach the theoretical limits of a given file system.

Most SD cards use the FAT32 file format which is commonly available up to a capacity of 32 GB.  Some smaller capacity cards use the FAT16 file format, which is generally available in capacities of up to only 2 GB.

SD cards that use the exFAT file system are not supported, nor are SDIO (Secure Digital Input Output) cards.

Delicious Library Updated to 2.1.1

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 12th, 2009, 17:33
Category: Software

Late Thursday, software company Delicious Monster released version 2.1.1 of the shareware favorite, Delicious Library. Delicious Monster allows Macs with webcams to scan the bar codes of any book, movie, music CD or video game, then creates an archive based on background information from the Internet. Additional features help keep the library organized and reseller’s tools allow for items to be quickly posted for sale online.

The new version, a 15.8 megabyte download, incorporates the following major fixes and changes:

  • There is a free Delicious Library iPhone app for viewing your collection on-the-go (without needing a network connection).
  • When you first run Delicious Library 2.1 you’ll be prompted to download the iPhone app, if you have an iPhone.
  • Our long national nightmare is finally over, and details are vertical again (like in version one), instead of horizontal.
  • Lots of layout changes because of this. Rather than merely going back to version one’s look, I’ve tried to improve on it.
  • We now allow copying / pasting the raw cover image from the details pane using standard copy menu item. (Just click on image first.)
  • Some fields have been added to make syncing and publishing your collection faster in the future, but this requires a one-time upgrade when you first launch version 2.1.
  • This upgrade may take a long time. Sorry.
  • Your new file will NOT work with 2.0, but a backup of your 2.0 data is made in the folder Library / Application Support / Delicious Library 2 – you can use that if you want to go back for some reason.
  • If you launch Delicious Library after upgrading, and get a message to the effect of “the model file can’t be used with the data file,” that means you’re accidentally running an your old 2.0 version, not 2.1. You probably don’t want to leave Delicious Library 2.0.7 on your system after going to 2.1.
  • Scanning with your web cam, our Bluetooth scanner, or a USB scanner has been enhanced so you can select different kinds of shelves and scan new or existing items and the functionality you might expect now actually works:
  • If you select a custom shelf in your collection and scan a new or existing item, the item will be created if needed, then added to the selected shelf.
  • If you select a friend’s shelf and scan a new or existing item, the item will be created if needed and then loaned to the friend. (If you have multiple copies of the same item already in your library, only the first one that hasn’t already been loaned out will be lent.)
  • If you select one of your shelves (or your main library) and scan an existing item that has been loaned out, the item will be checked-in. (If you have multiple copies of the same item in your library, only the last one on your shelf that has been loaned out will be checked-in.)
  • ‘Number in Series’ property is now present for all media types.
  • Worked around a Logitech mouse driver bug – people who installed the Logitech mouse driver found that many items would draw as their generic types instead of specific types (eg, Nintendo video games would draw as DVDs instead of in Nintendo boxes). Logitech illegally injects their code into ALL running programs in their current software, and actually messes up other people’s code.
  • Fixed a very rare bug we’d fail to scan items that had two different keywords in their subtitles that we recognized, like “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Widescreen & Full Screen Edition)”
  • Fixed a bug where Backups were sometimes truncated when they were written out, so they couldn’t be read in again. (Sorry!)
  • iPods (non-touch) are now listed under the new “DEVICES” header shelf.
  • iPods present themselves like iPods do in iTunes, for syncing libraries.
  • iPods now delete the library out of their “Notes” directory if you set them to no longer sync.
  • iPods won’t needlessly sync as often if you leave them plugged in.
  • iPods won’t ever be duplicated (rare bug).
  • Only write out the first 1,000 items to the iPod, since iPods are hard-wired by Apple to never display more than 1,000 notes, and it just slows us down to write, like, 7,000 items every time a single one changes.
  • Pop up a HUD when updating the iPod’s contents.
  • Searches are now encoded correctly when searching for items by keywords in non-English alphabets, including Japanese (finally), German, and French. It turns out there’s no real standard for these searches, but I finally figured out what Amazon does.
  • ‘Search for Cover Art’ now works for items with special characters in their names (eg, “Harold & Kumar”).
  • Added a first Korean localization.
  • Fixed some translations from user suggestions.

Delicious Library 2.1.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Mozilla Releases Firefox 3.0.11 Update

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 12th, 2009, 17:19
Category: Software

Late Thursday, Mozilla.org released version 3.0.11 of its Firefox web browser.

The new version, a 17.3 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and changes:

  • Fixed several security issues.
  • Fixed several stability issues.
  • Several issues were reported with the internal database, SQLite, which have now been fixed by upgrading to a newer version.
  • Fixed an issue where, in some specific cases, the bookmarks database would become corrupt. (bug 464486)

The program requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

Apple Nearing Completion of Chinese iPhone Deal

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 11th, 2009, 17:52
Category: iPhone

Apple may be making progress towards a Chinese iPhone deal, as noted by signs on the company’s web site as well as that of a Chinese government organization.

According to Macworld, an Apple handset that uses one of the next-generation mobile standards offered in China has appeared on the approved product list of the State Wireless Inspection Center, a government-managed industry arbiter. The handset, apparently an iPhone, was cleared last month to use its assigned frequency range for five years, according to the center’s Web site.

Unicom, a Chinese carrier currently negotiating with Apple about offering the iPhone to the Chinese market, operates a network based on the standard used by the approved Apple handset, WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access).

Separately, Apple has also posted an ad on its Web site for a <a href=”http://jobs.apple.com/index.ajs?BID=1&method=mExternal.showJob&RID=35658&CurrentPage=1″>Beijing-based job</a> overseeing “iPhone training” across Asia. The job’s tasks include designing training for carrier partners that sell the iPhone.

Apple has stated that it hopes to begin selling the iPhone in China in 2010. Still, talks with China Unicom have hit disputes over whether the phone will use Wi-Fi and whether China Unicom will be allowed to pre-install non-Apple programs, such as a media player other than iTunes, analysts say.

The Chinese government appears to have lifted a long-standing ban on Wi-Fi in handsets in recent weeks. Still, it has gone on to require phones with Wi-Fi also to use a China-developed security protocol for wireless LANs, said Liu Ning, an analyst at BDA, a telecommunications research company.

The protocol, called WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure), can also be used without dual support for the equivalent Wi-Fi protocol, Liu said.

The iPhone might require an additional chipset to support WAPI, though a software upgrade might also make it compatible, he said.

The frequency approval is just one of three government tests the iPhone must pass to receive a network access license. But the “major difficulty” for Apple is still the terms of cooperation with China Unicom, Liu said.

The argument as to how to split revenue from sales in the iPhone’s App Store is another snag in discussions about what applications the carrier can put on the phone, said Liu.

iFixIt Posts Full 13″ Unibody MacBook Pro Disassembly/Report

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 11th, 2009, 17:58
Category: MacBook Pro, Pictures

With Apple’s new 13″ Unibody MacBook Pro (formerly the MacBook) having been released, the guys at iFixIt did what they do best: making a mess of the latest Apple hardware and reporting on it.

Over in their latest teardown, the guys have dug into Apple’s newest notebook and discovered some cool stuff, such as a similar battery architecture to the 17″ unibody MacBook Pro, the new .5″ SD card slot and how to cleanly remove the logic board if necessary.

Take a gander and let us know what you think!

Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) to Retail for $29 Upgrade Price

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 11th, 2009, 09:26
Category: News

snowleopard.jpg
Recently, Apple announced a final ship date and upgrade price its upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) operating system. The new OS will hit this September as an upgrade for Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) users and be available for US$29.
According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Snow Leopard features include built-in Microsoft Exchange 2007 support along with a slicker install process, faster applications, and 64-bit versions of standard applications that boost overall performance. Apple brags that “[u]sers will notice a more responsive Finder; Mail that loads messages 85 percent faster and conducts searches up to 90 percent faster; Time Machine with up to 50 percent faster initial backup; a Dock with Expose integration; a 64-bit version of Safari 4 that boosts the performance of the Nitro JavaScript engine by up to 50 percent and is resistant to crashes caused by plug-ins.”
In addition to the US$29 single user upgrade, a family pack upgrade will cost US$49. Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) users will pay US$169 for a 10.6/iLife box set or US$229 for a family pack.
All users who purchased or will purchase a new qualifying Mac between June8th and December 26th will receive a free upgrade package and pay US$9.95 for shipping and handling. You must request your up-to-date upgrade within 90 days of your original purchase.
Snow Leopard requires a minimum of 1GB RAM and runs on Intel-based Macintoshes. Full system requirements are hosted at Apple’s tech specs page.