Google Chrome updated to 21.0.1180.81

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Date: Friday, August 17th, 2012, 16:42
Category: News, Software

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You can’t knock frequent updates.

On Friday, Google released a beta of version 21.0.1180.81 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 43.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Duplex Printing defaults to Yes, which prints extra pages even for a 1 page print out (Issue 138312).

- Print preview takes forever on Win XP (issue: 140044).

- Anti-DDoS inversion of logic (Issues: 141643, 141081).

- Pepper Flash: in file uploads, treats HTTP status != 200 as failure, breaking (e.g.) uploads to Amazon S3 (Issue: 140468).

- Projectmanager.com application causes Flash to hang (Issue: 141018)
Turn off TLS 1.1 in Chrome 21 Stable (Issue: 142172).

- An additional scroll bar appears at the right on many sites (issue: 140239).

- Setting and unsetting display:none obliterates current scroll position (issue: 140101).

Google Chrome 21.0.1180.81 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.3.300.271 update

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Date: Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, 15:39
Category: News, security, Software

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Late Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.3.300.271 for Mac OS X, a 11.6 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version adds a slew of security fixes outlined here.

Flash Player 11.3.300.271 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please feel free to hurl your two cents in via the comments.

Rumor: OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion resource files hint at possible next-gen iMac, Mac Pro models without optical drives

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Date: Friday, August 10th, 2012, 07:28
Category: Hardware, iMac, Mac Pro, Rumor

It’s the internal files that hint at the upcoming cool stuff.

Per AppleInsider, internal configuration files in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion make apparent references to yet-unreleased new generations of Apple’s iMac (iMac13,0) and Mac Pro (MacPro6,0), both in the context of USB booting options that indicate the new Mac desktops could, for the first time in nearly 20 years, lack built-in optical drives.

The discovery, made by a source close to the story, appears in a configuration plist file used by Boot Camp Assistant to designate the Mac model versions capable of supporting either a optical boot disc, or alternatively, a USB flash drive volume capable of installing Windows to a Boot Camp partition.

While all modern Macs can boot OS X from a USB drive, Apple’s Boot Camp Assistant references the plist to display a listing of newer Mac models with EFI-level support for booting a legacy operating system from a USB flash drive. The primary advantage to using a USB flash drive to create a bootable Windows 7 volume from an ISO (disc image file) is if you lack an optical drive burner.

The file lists a series of Mac models that support USB flash drive booting, referring to each model by its initials and its internal architectural version number. While it includes MacBook and MacBook Pro models with optical drives, most of the Macs in the supported list are optical free.

The list of models (below) include the “MM50″ (the Mac mini 5,x series, also known as the “Mid 2011 Mac mini”, which is the first non-Server version of the Mac mini to lack an optical drive), along with other optical-free models including the MacBook Air.

Two of the models in the USB-boot support listing refer to Macs that haven’t been released yet: the MP60 (the six generation Mac Pro, or MacPro6,x) and IM130 (pointing to the 13th generation iMac, or iMac13,x).

The current Mac Pro, updated only slightly in June during Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, hasn’t changed enough over the previous model for Apple to assign it a new architecture designation; it is still internally referred to as the “Mac Pro 5,1″ just like the Mac Pros that originally shipped back in August 2010.

Apple’s conspicuous lack of timely updates for the Mac Pro (and its relatively small and shrinking proportion of Apple’s Mac sales mix) has created the expectation that the company might eventually discontinue its full sized desktop the same way it terminated its rack mounted Xserve, an idea Apple reportedly evaluated as an option.

However, Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook confirmed in June that Apple would not be killing the Mac Pro, stating instead in an email to a concerned customer, “Our Pro customers like you are really important to us. Although we didn’t have a chance to talk about a new Mac Pro at today’s [WWDC] event, don’t worry as we’re working on something really great for later next year. We also updated the current model today.”

Cook’s choice of the words “working on something really great,” indicates Apple plans to significantly update its Mac Pro model, which has carried forward the same basic aluminum box design introduced for the 2005 PowerMac G5.

While removing its optical drive would do much less to save space and thickness compared to Apple’s notebook designs, it’s likely that an all new Apple desktop aimed at professionals would rethink its use of slow, bulky and essentially obsolete optical drive devices and perhaps instead incorporate high performance SSD RAID options for a reduced profile.

Apple’s current iMac (referred to internally as the iMac 12) was last refreshed in May 2011, indicating that it’s overdue for a refresh. A new 13th generation iMac generation identified as “iMac 13,2″ has already appeared in Geekbench benchmarks.

Similarly, patent filings reveal Apple has also been working to once again slim down the peripherals that ship with its industry-leading all-in-one desktop, with the designs referenced in those filings having the potential to accompany the next iMac update.

The appearance of new Mac Pro and iMac models in the USB booting support list doesn’t definitively mean the models won’t have optical drives, as it also lists MacBook and MacBook Pro models that do incorporate an optical drive.

At the same time, Apple has clearly indicated in the newest Mac mini and Retina Display MacBook Pro that it plans to get rid of optical disc drives as soon as possible across the board, providing an external USB drive as an option for users who need one.

Users increasingly have fewer opportunities to use optical drives, as the bulk of third party software is now available as a digital download either directly from the vendor or through Apple’s App Store. Apple also sees digital distribution as the future of music and movies, as exemplified in Apple TV, which has never included an optical drive.

The company has never supported any new HD optical disc formats on its products, including Microsoft’s ill fated HD-DVD or Sony’s Blu-ray format, despite initially being involved in the Blu-ray standardization process. Instead, Apple has put its resources behind developing increasingly higher definition audio and video formats that it can distribute electronically through its own iTunes Store.

Apple even developed an alternative iTunes Extras web based multimedia format to deliver the same kind of interactive menus supported on DVDs, with a parallel solution for albums it called iTunes LP.

In addition, Apple introduced technologies intended to wean its Mac platform from optical disc dependance with the MacBook Air, which was designed to remotely share disc drives available on the local network (even remotely install OS X) via Remote Disc and handle Migration Assistant tasks over a wireless network connection.

Modern Mac models can now apply system updates, such as OS X Mountain Lion, entirely via digital downloads, while Apple’s newest Mac models can boot legacy operating systems from USB flash drives.

By ditching the need for a built in optical drive, Apple can not only make new Macs smaller, thinner and more energy efficient, but will also increase their overall reliability, as optical drives become one of the last complex physical mechanisms inside computers.

Apple has similarly helped to pioneer the mainstream adoption of Solid State Drives as an alternative to the more fragile mechanical design inherent in conventional Hard Disk Drives. Its most popular general computing device, the iPad, makes no use of either optical drives or HDD mechanisms.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 21.0.1180.75

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Date: Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, 13:31
Category: News, Software

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Hey, updates are useful.

On Wednesday, Google released version 21.0.1180.75 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 40.7 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Flash videos not longer remaining in fullscreen when clicking a secondary monitor while the video is playing (Issue: 140366).

- Flash video full screen displays on wrong monitor (Issue: 137523).

- REGRESSION: Rendering difference in Chrome 21 and 22 that affected on Persian Wikipedia (Issue: 139502).

- Some known crashes (Issues: 137498, 138552, 128652, 140140).

- Audio objects are not “switched” immediately (Issue: 140247).

- Print and Print Preview ignore paper size default in printer config (Issue: 135374).

- Candidate windows is shown in wrong place in Retina display (Issue: 139108)
more of the choppy and distorted audio issues (Issue: 136624).

- Japanese characters showing in Chinese font (Issue: 140432).

- Video playback issues with flash-based sites (Issue: 139953).

- Sync invalidation notification broken after restart (Issue: 139424).

Google Chrome 21.0.1180.75 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 4, removes YouTube app in newest developer version

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Date: Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 06:30
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

Apple on Monday afternoon released the 4th beta of iOS 6 to developers and in the process appears to have nixed the inclusion of the once-standard YouTube app in what appears to be an escalation of tensions between the company and rival Google.

Per AppleInsider, upon installing the release, sources familiar with the software confirm that the Apple-developed YouTube app is no longer part of the distribution — potentially a sign of increased tensions between the two companies which are facing off against each other in both the mobile and connected television segments.

Google owns YouTube.

Update: in a statement issued yesterday, Apple offered the following:

“Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.”

At the release of the original iPhone in 2007, Apple partnered with Google to develop a native, bundled YouTube app for the iPhone that would allow users to access Google’s vast library of user-created videos.

Without work on Google’s side to make those videos available using the open H.264 codec, its YouTube videos would not have worked with the iPhone because Google’s player and distribution formats were tied to Adobe Flash, a software platform that wasn’t functional on smartphones and wouldn’t be made available by Adobe in a partially-usable form until 2010, and then only on brand new hardware powerful enough to run it.

Because of the proprietary nature of Flash, Apple would have been severely constrained in any of its efforts to create an in-house compatibility layer to support it. It would also have required significant resources and introduced new limitations on Apple’s iOS.

Rather than taking on the nearly impossible task of supporting Flash on 2007-era mobile devices, Apple decided to instead provide alternative workarounds that minimized the feature loss of not having Flash available.

Because the primary valuable uses of Flash revolved around simple web site animations and video playback, Apple focused on providing rich support for advanced HTML techniques and began promoting Flash-free, direct H.264 video playback, two features that became prominent capabilities of HTML 5.

After initially supporting YouTube playback on the iPhone, Apple TV and later the iPad by converting its huge library to enable raw H.264 video downloads, Google began an attack on the H.264 standard because it incorporated licensed technologies that put it at odds with free software advocates in the open source community, particularly Mozilla.

Google acquired its own proprietary codec (renaming it WebM) and made the specification “open” in the sense of requiring no licensing fees to use it. However, the MPEG Licensing Authority, the standards body behind H.264, insisted that Google’s new specification infringed upon the technical patent portfolio already developed by the global community for H.264.

Concerns around the legal legitimacy and infringement risks of Google’s own WebM codec, as well as the codec’s serious technical shortcomings (including a lack of mobile hardware acceleration support) has caused it to fail to gain any serious traction in the market since, even despite Google’s removal of H.264 playback support from its Chrome web browser.

Over the last five years, Apple’s support for HTML 5 and H.264 video has made both open standards (one freely licensed, the other requiring licensing from the MPEG LA) the new foundations of web development. This is particularly the case in the global market for mobile devices, about half of which are now produced by Apple.

Adobe has canceled Flash development on mobile devices, and its middleware platform is now becoming increasingly irrelevant on the web as HTML 5 takes over more and more features formerly served by Flash. After YouTube’s switch to serving H.264, other prominent video distributors followed suit, to the point where most of the world’s web videos do not require Flash to work, an unbelievable scenario back in 2007.

At this point, iOS doesn’t need a special app to access YouTube videos, and as Apple indicated in its comment to the media, Google has terminated its license to access YouTube videos natively, rather than via Google’s website.

While Apple no longer needs to direct attention to YouTube videos in a special iOS app, the removal of its YouTube app sends a strong message when combined with other, related efforts Apple has made to exclude Google from its once intimate position on Apple’s iOS platform.

New “Share Sheets” Apple introduced for iOS 6 and this summer’s OS X Mountain Lion specifically support Google’s YouTube competitor site Vimeo, but not YouTube.

Apple has also added support for Yahoo’s Flickr photo site but not Google’s Picassa, and has added or announced new social link features for Twitter and Facebook, but conspicuously not Google’s own competing services Buzz and Google+.

One of the most significant features of iOS 6 is Apple’s new Maps, which erases its former support for Google’s mapping services and establishes Apple’s own in-house services in their place.

Apple’s new Maps app for iOS 6 (below) similarly avoids any support for Google’s Places, instead partnering with Yelp, and makes no effort to incorporate Google’s Latitude location sharing, having introduced Apple’s own device location and Find My Friends services tied to iCloud.

Apple’s removal or lack of support for Google’s services (particularly given the support of its competitor’s) is apparently an intentional distancing effort Apple has initiated as a response to Google’s increasingly intense competitive efforts, which include Google’s Android software platform, legal efforts to challenge Apple’s infringement complaints with offensive use of standards essential patents through Google’s new Motorola subsidiary, and most recently, efforts to take on the iPad and Apple TV with Google-branded hardware devices.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the new iOS 6 beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Crucial unveils solid-state drives for older Mac notebooks

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 14:34
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

You should add more solid-state drives to more things, as they are awesome.

Per Macworld, accessory provider Crucial today announced a new solid-state drive (SSD) targeted at users who want to upgrade older computer systems with a flash drive that boasts a price well under US$1 per gigabyte of capacity.

Crucial’s new v4 SSD, which is being manufactured by partner Micron, may not sport top flash-drive speeds. But it outpaces any consumer hard drive by more than twice the performance. The new 128GB SSD sells for US$100; a 256GB model can be had for US$190.

The price of consumer-class SSDs had been expected to drop to US$1 per gigabyte this year. SSD prices further slipped precipitously because of market oversupply. For example, NAND flash memory maker Toshiba recently slashed its production by 30 percent in order to deal with oversupply issues.

Crucial’s new v4 SSD uses the more widely used but older SATA-2, which has the 3 Gbps interface that most pre-2011 computer systems sport for internal drive connectivity. SATA-3 offers 6 Gbps, but only the latest systems (such as the new MacBook Pro) come with it.

Crucial said its v4 SSD has sequential read/write speeds of 230 MBps and 190 MBps, respectively. To put that in perspective, a top-of-the-line hard disk drive, such as Western Digital’s 7200-rpm Scorpio Black, has maximum read/write speeds of around 104 MBps and 101 MBps.

By comparison, an Intel top-of-the-line 520 Series SSD boasts peak read/write speeds of 550 MBps and 520 MBps, respectively. So the new Crucial SSD rests nicely in the middle.

The v4 SSDs are available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities with suggested retail prices of US$50, US$70, US$100, and US$190, respectively. The SSDs can be purchased now through global channel partners, or direct through Crucial’s website.

The Crucial v4 SSD comes with a three-year limited warranty, and is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X systems.

Photos of purported next-gen iPhone surface, show fully assembled state

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Date: Monday, July 30th, 2012, 06:40
Category: iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

It had to happen sometime.

Per the web blog of Japanese repair company iLab Factory, pictures of an alleged fully-assembled next-generation iPhone hit the web on Sunday, offering what could be the most detailed look at Apple’s upcoming device yet.

The photos depict what is supposedly a complete next-generation iPhone built from leaked parts sourced from China.

The purported unit pieces together previously-seen components including the smaller 19-pin dock connector first rumored in June and 4-inch display and a relocated headphone jack. The site notes that the home button’s finish has been modified and feels to be improved. A report in April found a supposedly leaked home button had been slightly redesigned internally to accomodate changes made to the screen and case.



While all of the external parts are in place, most of the handset’s innards are missing with only power and sensor flex cables and accompanying home button circuitry installed. This lack of integral electronics, such as cameras, logic board and battery, hint the supposedly-leaked parts may have come from an upstream supplier rather than an assembly plant.

Pictures of the unit’s casing show the two-tone aluminum design first seen in early June, though noticeably absent is the nano-SIM card tray purportedly leaked in May.

The unit’s front seems to sit tightly with the uni-body casing which, unlike the current generation iPhone 4S, features a slightly beveled edge. Side shots show the expected volume rocker button assembly and hold switch as well as a sleeker profile compared to existing iPhones.

Making a reappearance is the small hole located beween the camera assembly and the unit’s LED flash, a feature which was rumored to be removed in final production models.

As mentioned above, much of the internals are absent, however what is in place yields some insight into how Apple plans to utilize the cramped space. The site notes three screw anchors on the back plate will likely hold the display in place while four screw anchors located on the unit’s right wall and six on the left will most likely secure integral components as the device can no longer be opened by removing case-back. Also new are four screw holes at the top of the case near the power button though their use remains a mystery.

Overall, the site points out the alleged device boasts a high-quality milled aluminum feel consistent with all Apple products and makes special note of the unit’s thinness.

Apple is rumored to announce a follow-up to the iPhone 4S sometime this fall with one analyst estimating an early-September launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.3.300.268 update

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Date: Friday, July 27th, 2012, 07:30
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.3.300.268 for Mac OS X, a 10.9 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new beta version includes the following fixes and changes:

- Various general stability issues.

Flash Player 11.3.300.268 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback, please feel free to hurl your two cents in via the comments.

Mozilla releases Firefox 13.0.1 update

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Date: Friday, June 15th, 2012, 19:37
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Mozilla.org released version 13.0.1 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 30.7 megabyte download and adds the following fixes and changes:

- FIXED – Windows Messenger did not load in Hotmail, and the Hotmail inbox did not auto-update (764546, fixed in 13.0.1).

- FIXED – Hebrew text sometimes rendered incorrectly (756850, fixed in 13.0.1).

- FIXED – Flash 11.3 sometimes caused a crash on quit (747683, fixed in 13.0.1).

- NEW – When opening a new tab, users are now presented with their most visited pages.

- NEW – The default home page now has quicker access to bookmarks, history, settings, and more.

- CHANGED – SPDY protocol now enabled by default for faster browsing on supported sites.

- CHANGED – Restored background tabs are not loaded by default for faster startup.

- CHANGED – Smooth scrolling is now enabled by default.

- DEVELOPER – 72 total improvements to Page Inspector, HTML panel, Style Inspector, Scratchpad and Style Editor.

- DEVELOPER – The column-fill CSS property has been implemented.

- DEVELOPER – Experimental support for ECMAScript 6 Map and Set objects has been implemented.

- DEVELOPER – Support for the CSS3 background-position property extended syntax has been added.

- DEVELOPER – The :invalid pseudo-class can now be applied to the element.

- DEVELOPER – The CSS turn unit is now supported.

- FIXED – Various security fixes.

Known Issues:
- UNRESOLVED – If you try to start Firefox using a locked profile, it will crash (see 573369).

- UNRESOLVED – For some users, scrolling in the main GMail window will be slower than usual (see 579260).

- UNRESOLVED – Windows: The use of Microsoft’s System Restore functionality shortly after updating Firefox may prevent future updates (see 730285).

- UNRESOLVED – OS X: nsCocoaWindow::ConstrainPosition uses wrong screen in multi-display setup (see 752149).

- UNRESOLVED – CSS :hover regression when an element’s class name is set by Javascript (see 758885).

Firefox 13.0.1 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases MacBook Air (Mid 2012) Software Update 1.0 firmware upgrade

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Date: Thursday, June 14th, 2012, 06:54
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

It never hurts to pin down the bugs within the early days.

Early Thursday, Apple released its MacBook Air (Mid 2012) Software Update 1.0 firmware upgrade. The update, a 167 megabyte download, can also be found, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and offers the following fixes and changes for the newly-released notebooks:

- The update includes fixes that improve graphics stability, flash performance, and external display support.

The update requires a mid-2012 MacBook Air and Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the firmware update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.