Apple Attempts to Silence Family of Exploding iPod with Gag Order

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Date: Monday, August 3rd, 2009, 04:51
Category: iPod, iPod Touch, News

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Recently, Apple Inc. attempted to silence a father and daughter with a gag order after the child’s iPod exploded and the family sought a refund from the company.

According to The Times, the company offered the family a full refund only on the condition that they were willing to sign a settlement form. The proposed agreement left them open to legal action if they ever disclosed the terms of the settlement.

The case mimics previous instances in which Apple attempted to hush up incidents when its devices overheated.

Ken Stanborough, 47, of Liverpool, dropped his 11-year-old daughter Ellie’s iPod Touch last month. “It made a hissing noise,” he said. “I could feel it getting hotter in my hand, and I thought I could see vapour”. Mr Stanborough said he threw the device out of his back door, where “within 30 seconds there was a pop, a big puff of smoke and it went 10 feet in the air”.

Mr. Stanborough then contacted Apple and Argos, where he had bought the device for £162. After being passed around several departments, he spoke to an Apple executive on the telephone. As a result of the conversation, Apple sent a letter to Mr Stanborough denying liability but offering a refund.

The letter also stated that, in accepting the money, Mr Stanborough was to “agree that you will keep the terms and existence of this settlement agreement completely confidential”, and that any breach of confidentiality “may result in Apple seeking injunctive relief, damages and legal costs against the defaulting persons or parties”.

“I thought it was a very disturbing letter,” said Mr Stanborough, who is self-employed and works in electronic security. He refused to sign it.

“They’re putting a life sentence on myself, my daughter and Ellie’s mum, not to say anything to anyone. If we inadvertently did say anything, no matter what, they would take litigation against us. I thought that was absolutely appalling.

“We didn’t ask for compensation, we just asked for our money back,” he added.

Last week, reports surfaced that Apple had tried to keep a number of cases where its iPod digital music players had started to smoke, burst into flames and even burned their owners, out of the public eye.

An American reporter obtained 800 pages of documentation on the cases from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) following a Freedom of Information Act request in that country. However, she was unable to get hold of the documents for months after “Apple’s lawyers filed exemption after exemption”.

In those cases, CPSC investigators suggested that the iPods’ lithium ion batteries could be the source of the problem.

In 2006, Apple and Dell recalled millions of lithium ion batteries due to overheating problems in laptop computers causing fires. As of September last year, 173,000,000 iPods have been sold worldwide.

An Apple spokesman said that, as the company had not looked at the Stanboroughs’ damaged iPod, it could not comment. Representatives from Argos also refused to comment.

Atlona to Ship Mini DisplayPort Converter for Older MacBooks

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Date: Monday, August 3rd, 2009, 03:51
Category: Hardware, News

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Third party provider Atlona announced the released of the AT-DP200, a converter box that will let owners of older MacBooks with DVI or mini-DVI ports connect to the new Apple 24″ display, which uses a Mini DisplayPort. The device will ship in early September per the announcement.

Per the Apple Core, the unit boasts the following features:

* Compatible with All Mac and PC computers with DVI output.
* Supports High Resolutions up to 1,920×1,200.
* Full EDID management allows storing EDID information on the converter to make sure there is always a connection in between the computer and display.
* Re-Clocking technology will insure that signal stays the same quality as it was before entering the converter.
* Video Pass-Though, no scaling.

The AT-DP200 is expected to retail for a US$179 price tag.

Apple Releases iPhone OS 3.0.1 to Close SMS-Based Security Hole

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Date: Friday, July 31st, 2009, 10:29
Category: iPhone

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Responding to a dangerous security exploit unveiled this week, Apple released an update to its iPhone operating system Thursday to patch the security hole.

iPhone OS has just become available for the iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS handsets. The update is between 230 and 300 megabytes and appears to exclusively fix the reported SMS exploit.

According to AppleInsider, security researcher Charlie Miller, co-author of The Mac Hacker’s Handbook, demonstrated the hack Thursday at the Black Hat 2009 conference in Las Vegas. The attack takes advantage of a vulnerability in the phone’s short messaging service, or SMS, feature, allowing an outside party into the phone’s root access without the owner’s knowledge.

The exploit takes advantage of the fact that SMS can send binary code to a phone which is then automatically processed without user interaction, and can be compiled from multiple messages, allowing larger programs to be sent to a phone. The exploit supposedly exposes the iPhone completely, allowing access to the camera, dialer, messaging and Safari. It occurs regardless of hardware revision or which version of the iPhone OS is running.

The technique involves sending only one unusual text character or else a series of “invisible” messages that confuse the phone and open the door to attack. Given that users won’t know which messages to block in advance, there’s little iPhone owners can do but to shut off the phone immediately if they suspect they’re at risk. Once exploited, the trick could also be used to make an iPhone send additional messages of its own, thereby spreading the problem.

To install the new iPhone OS firmware, simply connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC, open iTunes, select the iPhone in the device window and tell it to check for an update. The process will complete on its own.

If you’ve tried the new firmware, let us know what you make of it in the comments or forums.

Apple Updates Knowledge Base/Troubleshooting Articles for iPhone, Notebook Optical Drives

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Date: Friday, July 31st, 2009, 05:20
Category: iPhone, News

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If you’re in a pinch, the Apple Knowledge Base has generally been a useful place to go. Per MacFixIt, the company has just updated Knowledge Base articles for both its iPhone hardware as well as the slot-loading optical drives found on various Macs and notebooks.

For the iPhone hardware article, click here.

For help with slot-loading optical drives, click here.

Head on over, take a gander and let us know what you think.

Chinese iPhone Gains State Approval

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Date: Friday, July 31st, 2009, 04:00
Category: iPhone

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Over on the China State Regulatory Commission web site (basically the Chinese version of the FCC), the government has apparently approved a GSM/WCDMA cell phone complete with Bluetooth, an internal model number A1324 by Apple Inc. According to Engadget, the device was approved on May 7th, 2009 with the approval certificate set to expire in five years.

That being said, China Unicom should have plenty of time to capitalize on its reported three-year deal to offer the phone in mainland China.

And to sweeten the deal, an image of what may be the Chinese iPhone…

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Apple Releases 2TB Time Capsule Router

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Date: Thursday, July 30th, 2009, 05:29
Category: Time Capsule

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Apple released an anticipated Time Capsule router router with an integrated two terabyte hard drive on Thursday, the new unit selling for US$499 while the previous generation one terabyte model is now available for US$299, per AppleInsider.

Earlier this year, Apple introduced new AirPort Extremes and Time Capsules with dual-band support. The new models allow simultaneous 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz dual-band networking. With dual-band, base stations can simultaneously support iPhones and other 802.11b/g devices operating at 2.4 GHz, while also broadcasting 802.11n wide signals in the 5GHz band to maximize throughput for notebooks and devices such as Apple TV.

Time Capsule pairs the existing AirPort Extreme with a hard drive to serve as a backup appliance for Leopard machines running Time Machine, in addition to acting as a simple file and print server. It is offered for both Mac and Windows users, although Windows PCs (or Macs not running Leopard) won’t have Time Machine and therefore will access it only as a regular file and print server.

SpamSieve Updated to 2.7.5

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Date: Thursday, July 30th, 2009, 05:40
Category: News, Software

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Michael Tsai’s must-have shareware program, SpamSieve, has just been updated to version 2.7.5. The new version, a 5.9 megabyte download, makes the following fixes and improvements:

* Made various accuracy improvements.
* Fixed a problem where Apple Mail (running on pre-release versions of Mac OS X 10.6) could freeze at launch if you had a rule involving address book groups.
* Rewrote the Setting up a Spam Filtering Drone instructions.
* Added Why does the Spam mailbox appear empty when there’s a number beside it? to the frequently asked questions.
* Updated the Automatically Deleting Old Spam Messages instructions to include Entourage.
* The search fields are now scrollable.
* The Apple Mail plug-in is better at detecting when SpamSieve’s Dock icon is hidden.
* Worked around a problem where Mail could crash if you had installed two copies of the SpamSieve plug-in at the same time.
* Fixed a bug that could cause SpamSieve to freeze when applying a whitelist/blocklist rule involving certain regular expressions.
* The crash reporter works better with pre-release versions of Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard).
* Fixed a bug that could prevent SpamSieve from launching.
* Updated the Dutch, Japanese, and Korean localizations.

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.

Drive Genius 2.2 Out the Door

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Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2009, 10:54
Category: Software

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Prosoft Engineering has released Drive Genius 2.1.1, an updated version of its drive repair and recovery program for Mac OS X.

The new version, a 33.3 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and features:
* Now supports Snow Leopard.
* Improved defragmentation functionality.
* Improved repartition performance and other improvements.

Drive Genius retails for US$99 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later installed to work. The application is a Universal Binary and functions natively under both PowerPC and Intel-based hardware.

Canadian Markets Complain of iPhone 3GS Supply Shortage

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Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2009, 04:23
Category: iPhone, News

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Up in the frosty north, the Canadian markets are complaining about a shortage in the iPhone 3GS supply. According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the major suppliers, Fido and Rogers, are both reporting they are sold out pretty much across the country. Some Apple Stores in Canada have them in stock, but a couple of calls revealed that even Apple Stores are often out of stock.

Both Rogers and FIDO say new shipments will arrive in ‘weeks,’ and that back orders are being filled on a priority basis. No dates are being given, and buyers are being told to check back with their local stores or online.

Similar shortages occurred in Canada and the UK earlier this month and during the Apple conference call last Tuesday, COO Tim Cook said iPhone demand has been “staggering in almost every country we’ve shipped in.”

Apple has stated that the company will release the new iPhone to 20 more countries on August 22nd.

VLC Reaches Version 1.0.1

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Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2009, 04:18
Category: 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 1.0.1 on Tuesday. The new version, a 28.7 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

* Flv and mpeg2 seeking.
* Wmv, wav, rtsp and ssa support.
* Fixes for Qt and MacOS interface.
* Fix of an integer underflow in Real pseudo-RTSP module.
* Translations updates.
* Port of the ZVBI module to Windows for full teletext support.
* Codecs updates for Windows and Mac OS.

VLC 1.0.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and is available as a free download.