New Mac OS X trojan horse goes live, acts as Adobe Flash Player updater application

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Date: Monday, August 8th, 2011, 08:46
Category: News, security, Software

The bad news: There’ll always be people designing viruses, trojans and malware for computers.

The good news: It’s quite a bit rarer on the Mac OS X side of things.

Even so, the latest attempt from digital wrongdoers to infect your Mac has been spotted taking on the look and feel of Adobe’s Flash Installer.

According to CNET, the trojan, which has been dubbed as fairly serious since it mimics the Adobe Flash Player updated, has been named the Trojan Bash/QHost.WB by F-Secure, which provided some insight as to how it works.

Once installed, the Trojan adds entries to the hosts file to hijack users visiting various Google sites (e.g., Google.com.tw, Google.com.tl, et cetera) to the IP address 91.224.160.26, which is located in Netherlands. The server at the IP address displays a fake Web page designed to appear similar to the legitimate Google site.

The Trojan is currently dormant, meaning that while it will take you to the fake Google site, nothing will happen. It is, however, programed to serve pop-up ads once the user has accessed the false IP.

The current solution is to only install Adobe updates from Adobe’s official Web site. As with any Trojan designed for Mac, the malware only works if the user allows it. Most of the threats currently in the wild can be avoided by simply sticking to paid versions of software obtained directly from trusted creators of the product.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe announce Edge 1.0 HTML 5 creation tool, offers preview for free

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Date: Monday, August 1st, 2011, 05:27
Category: News, Software

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Sometimes you have to transition to the next thing.

Per Adobe’s blog, Adobe has released a free public preview of Edge, a new motion and interaction design tool that lets users build Flash-style animated Web content using HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.

Edge is planned for commercial release sometime next year and is designed to work in concert with the company’s existing professional design tools—Dreamweaver CS5.5, Flash Professional CS5.5, and Flash Builder 4.5 (as well as earlier versions)—is targeted to designers seeking an efficient way to use Web standards like HTML to create content featuring motion and transitions.

The application works natively with HTML and lets users add motion to existing HTML documents without altering the design or CSS-based layout. Users can also import standard Web graphics such as SVG, PNG, JPG, and GIF files and style them using CSS3. It also lets users create visually rich content from scratch with familiar drawing tools that produce HTML elements styled with CSS3.

The design stage (the workspace in Edge) uses WebKit to enable content design, preview, and manipulation. The timeline offers advanced techniques to boost productivity and precision in creating animations, and lets users define and customize motion applied to HTML elements, Adobe says.

Content created with Edge is designed to work on browsers such as Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. Edge content can also be viewed on mobile devices running iOS, Android, BlackBerry Playbook, and HP webOS.

Adobe Edge is immediately available worldwide for Mac and Windows and requires Mac OS X 10.6 or 10.7 or later to install and run the application.

Leaked iPhone 5 case schematic shows curved sides, other details

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Date: Wednesday, July 27th, 2011, 02:38
Category: iPhone, Pictures

Interestingly enough, it’s the upcoming cases that tend to provide the most interesting tidbits.

Per UK web site MobileFun.co.uk, a leaked schematic claimed to be for a case for Apple’s anticipated fifth-generation iPhone shows a larger area for the home button, a slightly larger screen, and the return of curved sides like on the iPhone 3GS.

The documents allegedly come from a Chinese case manufacturer and show a design with curved sides, similar to iPhone models released before the current iPhone 4.

On the front, the case appears to have a larger, oval-shaped opening for where the device’s home button would go. That could lend support to rumors from earlier this year that Apple’s next-iPhone would feature a multi-touch “gesture area” in place of the current home button.

That same report also predicted that Apple’s next iPhone would have a slightly larger 3.7-inch edge-to-edge screen. The images that claim to show a so-called “iPhone 5″ case also suggest that the device may have a larger screen.

The photos show the handset’s volume buttons and SIM card slot in the same place, but also show placement of the vibrate switch on the opposite side.

The case also suggests the device will feature an unmoved LED camera flash, which would contradict purported fifth-generation iPhone parts (1, 2), which leaked in May and suggested the camera lens and flash would be moved further apart to improve picture quality. Separating the camera flash and lens can reduce the red-eye effect seen in photographs.

The alleged schematic would contradict other rumors that the next iPhone will have a design largely similar to the current iPhone 4, with one of the biggest changes being a new, higher-resolution 8-megapixel camera and the addition of the A5 processor. Some reports have characterized the device as an “iPhone 4S,” in references to the alleged minor changes.

Though the next iPhone will arrive later than usual this year, reports from Apple’s supply chain have been picking up, indicating that the company is preparing to begin mass production of the next-generation device. Last week, during the company’s quarterly earnings conference call, Apple executives revealed that an unnamed major product transition is in the cards to take place by the end of September.

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

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.

Facebook announces Skype video chat integration, other changes to social networking site

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Date: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011, 10:11
Category: News, Software

If there’s a major tech news story of the day, this might be it.

Per Electronista, Facebook at its special event Wednesday brought out Skype-based video chat. The approach lets Facebook members hold one-to-one video calls between each other without having to load a separate app; complete newcomers should be talking in 30 seconds, Facebook says. The platform should also work tightly with an updated desktop app and, eventually, mobile versions.

Skype 5.3 on Windows already lets users bring in a Facebook news feed, post status updates, and make calls directly to Facebook users from Skype. A 5.5 beta release also builds in Facebook chat with live status as an option. Mac versions are expected to come in the future.

Text chat got its own update at the event. Ad-hoc group chats are now possible and don’t need users to jump into a group chat. Regular chat also has a new, simplified design that adapts to the browser size and rolls in a sidebar that allows almost immediate text chat. The reworking is also intended to accommodate “future announcements,” Facebook hinted.

Facebook was shy on whether its own mobile apps would get video chat or whether group video chat was coming. The social network and Skype did cast the video chat as a starting point and hinted groups might come along in the future.

No mention has been made of Facebook’s native iPad app. Some had anticipated it coming with the Facebook event, but it’s now seen as more likely coming in the next several weeks. In the nearer future, Facebook is also expected to show Project Spartan and bring HTML5-native, Flash-free games to iOS and Android devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google announces early, publicly available build of Swiffy Flash-to-HTML5 converter tool

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Date: Wednesday, June 29th, 2011, 03:15
Category: News, Software

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Google on Tuesday unveiled a new experimental tool for developers called Swiffy, which converts some .SWF Flash files into HTML5 code compatible with devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Per AppleInsider, Swiffy is available at Google Labs, where the search giant’s engineers create experimental applications that may not be ready for primetime or intended for the masses. Using the Swiffy website, anyone can upload an SWF file and convert it to HTML5.

Swiffy supports most of the Flash 5 ActionScript specification. The output file works in all browsers based on Apple’s open-source Webkit engine, which powers the Mobile Safari browser found on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Also available on the site are a gallery of videos and games that have been converted to HTML5 from Flash, as well as a list of frequently asked questions. Among those questions is a query about what Adobe, the creator of Flash, thinks of Swiffy.

Google has made moves to support HTML5 in the past, including conversion of videos on the popular Web video destination YouTube. But Google also still includes Adobe Flash Player embedded in its Google Chrome browser.

The company is also pushing its own video playback format dubbed WebM over the Apple-backed H.264 format. The search company believes that its own WebM format will “enable open innovation.”

If you’ve tried the Swiffy application and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Adobe releases Flex 4.5, Flash Builder 4.5, updates tools for building iOS apps

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 05:01
Category: iOS, News, Software

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Sometimes the Hatfields and the McCoys can put their differences aside and get along where the iOS platform is concerned.

Per the company’s official blog, Adobe this week released Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5, adding the ability to build and distribute iPhone, iPad and iPod touch applications on Apple’s official App Store.

The new functionality was announced on the company’s official blog, where Adobe Product Marketing Manager Puneet Goel revealed that App Store software could be created “using one tool chain, programming language and code base — a first for developers.”

The support for iOS applications comes in addition to the ability to create software for Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, also new features of Flash Builder and Flex 4.5. Initially, application support was only available for Android software.

Flash Platform evangelist Serge Jespers demonstrated the ability of Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 to build iOS software in a video accompanying the post. The same stock market tracking application was shown running on an iPad 2 and iPod touch, in addition to an Android-powered HTC smartphone and the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Jespers also showed off the ability of Adobe’s software to allow developers to quickly created tabbed applications, or add features like automatically rotating between portrait and landscape mode. By checking the appropriate boxes, developers can easily export their mobile software for Apple’s iOS alongside BlackBerry Tablet OS and Google Android.

A “Platform Settings” option also allows developers to select their target device when creating iOS software. Through this, software can be created specifically for the smaller screen sizes of the iPhone and iPod touch, the larger 9.7-inch display of the iPad, or both.

“When your application is ready, you don’t actually have to build the application separately for every single platform,” Jespers said. “You can actually do that in one code. It’s pretty amazing.”

Flash 4.5 and Flex 4.5 are offered as standalone products for developers to purchase, or are available through Creative Suite 5.5 Web Premium and Master Collection.

Last September, Apple revised its policy on third-party development tools for iOS, and decided it would allow developers to use tools like Adobe’s in order to create software made available to download on the App Store. That was a change from an earlier policy, when Apple’s iOS 4 software development kid license banned tools that would port applications from Flash, Java and Mono.

Controversy over Apple’s decision prompted CEO Steve Jobs to pen a letter in which he explained that allowing Flash conversion tools would produce “sub-standard apps” for the iPhone and iPad, hindering the progress of the iOS platform. Jobs said at the time that it was known from “painful experience” that allowing developers to become dependent on third-party tools is restrictive.

“We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers,” Jobs said in April 2010.

Though Flash remains banned on iOS devices, Adobe has continued to expand its support for the iPhone and iPad, and this march released a Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool. The “experimental” software called “Wallaby” allows for Adobe Flash Professional files with the .fla extension to be converted to an HTML format that can be opened in the Mobile Safari browser on iOS devices.

If you’ve had a chance to play with the new versions of Flash Builder or Flex, let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: iPhone 4 flash orders scaled back, iPhone 5 camera system undergoing redesign

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Date: Thursday, June 16th, 2011, 06:07
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s the leaks that make technology interesting.

Per Electronista, parts supplier leaks on Wednesday supported beliefs that Apple redesigning the camera flash for the iPhone 5. The company has reportedly “greatly reduced” the number of orders from Philips for the LED flashes used in the iPhone 4 over the past one to two months. Although it couldn’t be confirmed, there’s been talk of a switch to a Taiwanese supplier but said it could be a sign Philips wasn’t being used for the next iPhone, or at least not as-is.

The rumor has been corroborated by new iPhone camera parts that separated the camera sensor from its flash. The move is likely a reflection of lessons from the iPhone 4 and general photography: moving the flash further from the sensor reduces the instances of blown-out highlights and effects like red-eye.

Changes to the sensor itself may have also necessitated the shift. Apple is rumored to be using an eight-megapixel CMOS sensor from OmniVision that would be more sensitive than in the past. While excellent for low light, it could also be overly sensitive to light from a flash that on the iPhone 4 is just a fraction of an inch away.

Apple is rumored to be starting production in July for the next iPhone and would likely be winding down the majority of its part production to make way for the new device. Old components probably won’t be phased out entirely as Apple will likely want to keep the iPhone 4 as the new entry-level model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Third-party case points to edge-to-edge screen for iPhone 5

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Date: Monday, May 16th, 2011, 04:56
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Additional evidence that the iPhone 5 will have an edge-to-edge screen surfaced over the weekend in the form of a case manufactured by Chinese firm Kulcase.

Per Electronista, which found the case listed on Alibaba.com, the listing describes it as a “crystal case for Apple iPhone 5g”.

Images of the case include a mock up of the iPhone 5, which has an edge-to-edge screen on the front, with the rear of the device showing that the camera lens and flash have been moved to opposite corners of the device.

While the iPhone 5 is expected to be the same size as the iPhone 4, this is not the first time that rumours of a larger screen have come to light and an edge-to-edge display would enable Apple to increase screen size while keeping the chassis the same size.

Going back to the camera lens and flash, the mockups appeared to show that the camera lens would remain on the top left of the back of the device, while the flash would move to the top right hand side.

Further evidence that this could be the case appeared on the Apple.pro website over the weekend, which published photographs of what it claims are various different camera components for the next-generation iPhone.

The iPhone 5′s rear-facing camera component does not have an LED flash next to it, as it does on the iPhone 4, suggesting that the flash will indeed be moved to elsewhere on the device.

Though misleading mock-ups and fake components for future Apple products have been seen in the past, the edge-to-edge screen has been mentioned several times in iPhone 5 reports, so it would be surprising not to see it on the iPhone 5 when it launches.

At this point, a June launch for the iPhone 5 handset is regarded as unlikely, with September or perhaps even early 2012 more realistic.

However, contradictory reports about the next-generation iPhone emerged late last week, suggesting that rather than the iPhone 5, the name is likely to be the iPhone 4S. While analyst Peter Misek of Jefferies & Co thinks that it will have an A5 chip, this will be the only significant spec change.

Misek made no mention of an edge-to-edge screen or NFC capabilities and as such the iPhone 4S will be little more than an incremental upgrade, hence the name.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 12.0.742.30

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Date: Monday, May 9th, 2011, 09:21
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 12.0.742.30 for the Mac. The new version, a 36.2 megabyte download, offers the following the following changes:

- Finished implementing support for hardware-accelerated 3D CSS, which allows web developers to apply slick 3D effects to web page content using CSS.

- In addition to protecting you against malware and phishing websites, Chrome now warns you before downloading some types of malicious files.

- You now have more control over your online privacy. Many websites store information on your computer using forms of local data storage such as Flash Local Shared Objects (LSOs). In the past, you could only delete Flash LSOs using an online settings application on Adobe’s website, but we’ve worked closely with Adobe to allow you to delete Flash LSOs directly from Chrome’s settings.

- Improved screen reader support in Chrome. Many people who are blind or visually impaired use a screen reader, a special type of software that describes the contents of the screen using synthesized speech or braille. It’s a very important technology for people who would otherwise be unable to use a computer, so we’ve added preliminary support for many popular screen readers including JAWS, NVDA, and VoiceOver.

- We’ve removed the Google Gears plug-in, as promised on the Google Gears blog in March. We’re excited about the potential of HTML5 to enable powerful web applications, and we hope that Google Gears rests in peace.

The full changelog can be found here and Google Chrome 12.0.742.30 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.