Adobe Reader updated to 10.0.1

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Date: Wednesday, February 9th, 2011, 10:14
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, Adobe released version 10.0.1 of its Adobe Reader application. The update, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Numerous security fixes as well as improvements to Protected Mode, QTP support, Flash, and support for SCCM via newly released SCUP catalogs.

Acrobat Reader 10.0.1 and Acrobat Pro requires an Intel-based processor and Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think.

Adobe releases Flash Player 10.2.152 update

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Date: Wednesday, January 12th, 2011, 04:37
Category: News, Software

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You may love Flash Player or hate it, but the new versions can’t be ignored.

Late Tuesday, Adobe released Flash Player 10.2.152 for Mac OS X, a 7.6 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version functions essentially as a pre-release to version 10.2 and includes the following fixes and changes:

- General stability fixes.
- Additional audio and video fixes.

The full notes of the new version can be found here and Flash Player 10.2.152 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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

Micron announces 500GB notebook SSD hard drives

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Date: Wednesday, January 5th, 2011, 06:28
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

Micron Technology on Tuesday announced its highest capacity laptop solid-state drives (SSDs) based on its smallest circuitry technology; the largest SSD doubles the amount of data that can be stored compared to its predecessor.

Micron’s new RealSSD C400 flash drive line offers capacities ranging from 64GB to 512GB and will be available in 1.8″ and 2.5″ form factors, both supporting a 6Gbit per sec serial ATA (SATA) interface. The SSDs are based on Micron’s latest 25 nanometer (nm) NAND flash lithography technology.



Per Macworld, the C400′s predecessor, Micron’s RealSSD C300 drive, was its first to leverage the SATA 3.0 specification, which offers 6Gbit/sec. throughput, and the Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) 2.1 specification, which provides sequential read speeds of up to 355MB/sec. and sequential write speeds of up to 215MB/sec. The C300 also came in 1.8″ and 2.5″ models, with either 128GB or 256GB of capacity.

Crucial, a division of Micron, will begin selling the new SSD portfolio under the name Crucial m4 SSD. The Crucial m4 SSD product line is expected to be available online and through select global channel partners in the first quarter of 2011. Micron is not offering pricing information on the new SSDs.

The new drives achieve read speeds of up to 415MBps, which is 17% faster than Micron’s C300 SSDs. With write performance varying by capacity, the new 512GB drive delivers up to 260MBps write speeds, which is 20% faster than the C300 SSDs .

Micron is currently working with notebook manufacturers to qualify its new RealSSD drives, with samples of the RealSSD C400 drives available now. Micron expects mass production to begin in February.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe looking to settle battery life argument, currently testing MacBook Air-specific version of Flash

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Date: Wednesday, November 17th, 2010, 20:27
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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Following a brief period of controversy regarding Flash and its relationship with specific hardware, Adobe’s chief executive revealed this week that his company is currently testing an optimized version of Flash built specifically for Apple’s newly released MacBook Air.

Per Engadget, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said that Adobe is looking to improve battery life on the MacBook Air with a new custom build of Adobe Flash, currently in beta testing in the company’s labs. According to Engadget, he noted that battery life performance depends on hardware acceleration.

“When we have access to hardware acceleration, we’ve proven that Flash has equal or better performance on every platform,” he said.

His comments come after testing of the new MacBook Air found that ditching Flash improved battery life by two hours. The new notebook gets six hours of uptime loading pages in the Safari browser, but that dips to four hours once Adobe Flash is installed.

Apple caused a stir in October, when it released its newly redesigned MacBook Air models, but shipped them without the Flash plugin preinstalled. Apple portrayed the change as an advantage to consumers, as leaving the user to install Flash ensures they have the latest version.

Apple and Adobe have been at odds in 2010, in a feud that gained considerable steam after Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs published an open letter criticizing Flash as old technology that is unfit for the modern era of mobile computers. Apple does not allow Flash onto its iOS-powered devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

Jobs also revealed that Flash is the number one reason for crashes on the Mac platform. For its part, Adobe fired back and said that any crashes of Flash in Mac OS X are not related to its software, but are instead the fault of Apple’s operating system.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Camino updated to 2.0.6

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Date: Wednesday, November 17th, 2010, 04:02
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, the Camino Project released version 2.0.6 of Camino, its free, open source web browser.
The new version, a 15.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Upgraded to the latest 1.9.0 version of the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine, which includes several critical security and stability fixes.

- Flash and Silverlight plug-ins no longer continually log errors to the Console on Mac OS X 10.6 when Camino is hidden or a browser window is minimized.

- Camino can now save usernames and passwords for web page forms which manipulate the username or password via JavaScript during form submission.

- Creating, editing, and removing bookmarks now updates the Spotlight metadata more reliably.
Downloaded files that do not have a content-length header will no longer appear as canceled downloads after restarting Camino.

Camino requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run.

If you’ve tried the new version of Camino and have any kind of feedback about it, let us know.

New tests yield additional battery life in absence of Adobe Flash

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Date: Friday, November 5th, 2010, 04:40
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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It’s had a good run.

Hell, it’s had a great run.

Still, Apple has ceased bundling Adobe Flash on its new Macs, ostensibly so users could obtain the latest, secure version themselves with vastly increased battery life seems to be another leading reason for this change.

According to the mighty Ars Technica, the new MacBook Air can last for a full six hours after loading a series of webpages in Safari, but its battery performance drops down to four hours once Adobe Flash is installed and the same sites are loaded.

“Flash-based ads kept the CPU running far more than seemed necessary,” stated the article. Without the Flash plugin installed, websites typically display static ads in place of Flash content, erasing the need for constant processing power demanded by the Flash plugin’s rendering engine.

With Flash ads consuming as much as 33% of the MacBook Air’s battery potential, it’s no wonder why Apple has demonstrated no interest in getting a version of Flash installed on its iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, all of which have much smaller batteries.

This summer, Adobe launched a public relations attack on Apple for failing to support Flash on its iOS devices, nor allowing Adobe to deliver a version of Flash for the iOS platform, nor approving apps for the iOS that were created in Adobe’s Flash Professional application. Apple has backed away from refusing to approve apps created with third party tools, but has shown no interest in getting Flash content to run on its iOS.

When asked for “any updates” on the company’s stance on Flash during its quarterly earnings report, chief executive Steve Jobs quipped, “flash memory? We love flash memory,” before taking the next question.

Apple’s removal of Adobe’s Flash plugin from a default install on the new MacBook Air coincided with the company’s debut of a more conservative new “wireless productivity test” it said was more in line with actual use, and better standardized for accurate comparisons between models. Being able to test the new machine without its battery being taxed by Flash ads certainly helps the company achieve better results.

Microsoft stopped bundling Adobe Flash with the release of Windows Vista in 2007, although its motivation was likely due to the company’s efforts to push its rival Silverlight plugin. However, Windows implements Flash as an ActiveX control, which means users can click on Flash placeholders within a webpage and the Flash plugin will install itself. New Mac users will have to manually download and install Flash from Adobe in order to make it available.

Apple sells far more iOS-based devices (such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) than Macs, and no iOS devices support runtimes for Flash content. That has had a major effect upon advertisers, publishers, website design, and online video broadcasters, who have collectively made monumental shifts away from Flash. This in turn has made Flash playback far less important on the desktop than it was just a year or two ago, although there is still important content tied to Flash.

Apple has removed Flash content from its own website, although it also has supported Adobe’s efforts to add hardware acceleration to the Mac OS X version of Flash, and has approved the Skyfire plugin for iOS’ Mobile Safari, which uses a gateway service to translate Flash videos into HTML5 videos that can play on Apple’s devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air to feature longer lasting battery, upgradable RAM

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 18th, 2010, 12:17
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

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Because next-gen MacBook Air rumors and details are the hip thing today, a couple new interesting tidbits have emerged from the cool cats at Cult of Mac. Per the article, an anonymous source has stated that the refreshed MacBook Air will offer 8 to 10 hours of battery life as well as upgradeable RAM, which will arrive with 2GB onboard that can be upped later on.

The source also indicated that the notebook will be smaller, but will still offer a battery 50% larger, boosting battery life to between 8 and 10 hours, up from the current model’s 5-hour battery life.

The report also rumors that the new MacBook Air will be offered in two sizes: an 11.6″ screen, and a 13.3″ display. The source stated that the 13″ model could be priced as low as US$1,100, while the 11″ model could be just US$999.

The report also indicate that the solid state drive on the device will be upgradeable. Sources have stated that the new device will feature an “SSD Card” that lacks a traditional drive enclosure, and will instead more closely resemble NAND flash. However, it was said the storage will not be easily user replaceable and will be based off of an SATA connection.

Cult of Mac also reported that the new MacBook Air could come in two different configurations: a 2.1GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, and a 2.4GHz processor with 4GB of RAM. It also said that the notebook will sport Nvidia GeForce 320M integrated graphics, a GPU first introduced this April in the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The report also included a mockup of the device, which is said to be “thinner, lighter and boxier than the current model,” according to author Leander Kahney.

Other details include the following:
- The quick boot time on the new MacBook Air is said to be “unbelievable” and “amazing.”

- The new model has an aluminum unibody design, but is “not as curvy” as the current model.

- The source indicated it is “boxier” like the iPhone 4.

- For inputs, the source indicated the device has two USB ports, an SD card slot on the right side, and a Mini DisplayPort adapter on the left side.

Here’s hoping for the best and let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Review: 120GB Mercury Extreme Pro 2.5″ Notebook Drive

Posted by:
Date: Sunday, October 10th, 2010, 12:35
Category: hard drive, Hardware, Review

Maybe it’s part of getting older.

When the idea of solid state hard drives first emerged a few years ago, there was some hesitancy on my part.

Not quite the smashing of all available nearby looms, but some hesitancy.

This was a new thing, a hard drive made entirely of flash memory with no moving parts whatsoever and thus mysterious. And after years of fighting with both ATA-IDE drives (including occasionally realigning the pins with a pen when they bent) and SATA-based hard drives, you become hesitant to change.

Beyond my own hesitancy came the idea of sheer capacity. Yes, various hard drive companies had been offering solid state options for a while, but when they first hit, their capacities were a fraction of what you’d find on a conventional hard drive with moving parts. Yes, a MacBook Air with a quiet solid state hard drive seemed cool when it first came out, but when your capacity topped out at 40 to 80 gigabytes, this put pause on being an early adopter.

Still, 120 gigabytes didn’t seem like something to sneeze at and with my 2008 white plastic MacBook’s conventional SATA hard drive slowing down during iMovie work, there seemed to be no time like the present to try an alternative.

The result: I’m going to be reluctant to have to ship Other World Computing’s 120GB Extreme Mercury Pro SSD drive back in a couple of days.

Having done the classic hard-drive-swaperoo of taking the new drive, putting it in an external carrier, cloning the old hard drive’s data to the new drive and then swapping the new drive in, the drive booted cleanly and without issue. In the following months, the drive has run a bit quieter than its conventional SATA alternative and felt just as brisk as a conventional notebook hard drive.

Even if the drive itself doesn’t blaze along at a professional grade speeds (there’s always been something cool about a high end 10,000 RPM desktop hard drive tearing through Photoshop and Final Cut processes without slowing down in the least), the Mercury felt like something you could install and forget about. Yes, this was a new thing, my very first flash hard drive. Still, once installed, it fell into the background, ran completely reliably no matter what was thrown at it and never seemed to slow.

Granted, this isn’t the most exciting news in the world, but it does offer a promise for the encompassing technology itself. Even if conventional SATA notebook drives still offer a larger capacity and these are the early years of flash-based notebook hard drives, there’s something reliable here. As strange as the idea of a hard drive without moving parts may be (upon removal from the box, the drive itself weighed next to nothing, almost if if you’d received a fake cardboard hard drive in the mail), the end product works reliably enough to install into grandma’s Apple notebook if need be (provided it supports SATA hard drives), makes sure all her old files have been cloned over for her to use and you’re off to the races.

No, this isn’t groundbreaking, but it is cool, fun to install and reliable in the end. The drive installs, it works briskly and you can put it in the back of your mind and get on with the rest of your day, remembering to feed your pets instead of wondering why your hard drive appears to be groaning loudly or, worse, scraping one of its data platters during day to day operation.

And at the end of the day, none of these are terrible things.

Give it a gander.

The 120GB Mercury Extreme Pro retails from US$289.99 and is available now.

Apple opens iOS development to third-party tools, introduces Review Board

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Date: Thursday, September 9th, 2010, 06:30
Category: News

Apple on Thursday announced that the company would no longer ban intermediary development tools for iOS as long as App Store software does not download any code, potentially paving the way for third-party software to convert applications from other formats like Adobe Flash.

Per Macworld, the company revealed that it had made “important changes” to sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9 of its iOS Developer Program license, relaxing some of the restrictions that were put in place earlier this year. The company has also published the approval guidelines for its tightly controlled App Store, in which all software must be reviewed before it is released.

The changes come just weeks after evidence surfaced that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission was looking into a complaint from Adobe over Apple’s banning of Flash from iOS devices. The FTC denied a public records request related to the case, stating that the release of such documents could interfere with an ongoing investigation.

Earlier this year, Apple updated its iOS 4 SDK to ban intermediary tools that would allow the porting of applications from Adobe’s Flash, Sun’s Java, or Microsoft’s Silverlight/Mono.

The change was made after Adobe announced that its Creative Suite 5 would include an application that would allow developers to port their applications to the iPhone from Flash. Adobe eventually abandoned further development of the application following Apple’s announcement. That was also when the company filed a complaint with the FTC.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs publicly commented on the matter in an open letter published in late April, in which he slammed Adobe Flash as a Web tool that is unfit for the modern, mobile era of computing. He also said that an intermediary tool for converting Flash applications to the iPhone would produce “sub-standard apps,” and would hinder the progress of the platform.

At the time, Jobs said he knew from “painful experience” that allowing developers to become dependent on a third-party tool, such as Adobe Flash, rather than writing natively for the iPhone 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 wrote.

As for the publication of App Store approval guidelines, Apple has repeatedly come under fire for not being open enough with developers. Some who write for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch have complained that it is unclear what software is acceptable.

The most high-profile App Store review incident came in 2009, when Apple refused to approve the Google Voice application, a telephony service from the search giant. The matter was investigated by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, and Apple at the time denied that it had rejected the Google Voice app, but said it was continuing to “study it.”

The full statement from Thursday is included in its entirety:

“The App Store has revolutionized the way mobile applications are developed and distributed. With over 250,000 apps and 6.5 billion downloads, the App Store has become the world’s largest mobile application platform and App Store developers have earned over one billion dollars from the sales of their apps.

We are continually trying to make the App Store even better. We have listened to our developers and taken much of their feedback to heart. Based on their input, today we are making some important changes to our iOS Developer Program license in sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9 to relax some restrictions we put in place earlier this year.

In particular, we are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need.

In addition, for the first time we are publishing the App Store Review Guidelines to help developers understand how we review submitted apps. We hope it will make us more transparent and help our developers create even more successful apps for the App Store.

The App Store is perhaps the most important milestone in the history of mobile software. Working together with our developers, we will continue to surprise and delight our users with innovative mobile apps.”

Finally, Apple also revealed the formation of an App Review Board, with the goal of giving developers “the opportunity to appeal the rejection of an application if [they] believe that the functionality or technical implementation was misunderstood.”

This new board should help address the accusations often made about the arbitrariness of the app approval process by providing developers with a way to formally ask Apple to review a rejection, based on criteria that may not have been anticipated by the approval guidelines; that’s often been the source of embarrassment for the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Nvidia announces seven new GeForce 400M notebook graphics card with accelerated Web browsing features

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Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 14:26
Category: News, Processors

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This could be nifty.

Graphics chip maker Nvidia on Friday announced seven new GeForce 400M series graphics cards for notebooks, which could provide parallel-processing capabilities to accelerate Web browsing and 3D image rendering.

Per Macworld, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome have either implemented or will soon include the capability to offload tasks like rendering of HTML 5 or Flash video content to graphics processors. Nvidia’s new GeForce graphics cards will be faster at processing those tasks than CPUs, which should make Web browsing snappier.

The new graphics cards will be around 40% faster than the earlier 300M series at execution of tasks, said Ken Brown, an Nvidia spokesman.

While the CPU remains at the center of running tasks, developers are writing applications to harness the parallel-processing capabilities of graphics processors to speed up applications, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

“That’s one of the changes with the new browsers, is they support that capability,” McCarron said.

Notebooks with Intel’s latest Core processors already have a graphics processor integrated in one chip next to the CPU. However, discrete GPUs have a faster and wider pipe to run applications, McCarron said.

Still, graphics processors can draw more power than CPUs or integrated graphics, which can affect battery life of notebooks. Nvidia’s graphics cards support new switchable technology called Optimus, where specific tasks like video rendering can be seamlessly switched between the CPU and GPU. The GPU kicks in only when needed, preserving the notebook’s battery life.

Nvidia declined to comment on the exact power drawn by the new graphics cards, citing company policy. In recent years the company has taken charges for faulty dies and weak packaging material used in its graphics chips that led to notebooks overheating. Those issues have been resolved for a while, Brown said.

“Nvidia GPUs are made with a different manufacturing substrate to prevent chips from experiencing thermal issues over time. Our GPUs run in the tolerance level of their specification and the notebook chassis design constraints,” Brown said.

More laptops are shipping with discrete GPUs as users look for stronger multimedia capabilities, McCarron said. Nvidia will be trying to extend its presence in the market with the new products, and it will have to compete with rival Advanced Micro Devices, which already offers Radeon HD notebook graphics cards.

Beyond Web browsing, the graphics cards will provide a better gaming experience and bring Blu-ray 3D movie playback to laptops, Nvidia’s Brown said. The graphics cards will support DirectX 11, Microsoft’s latest graphics technology included in the Windows 7 OS.

The new offerings include the GeForce GT 415M, GT 420M, GT 425M, GT 435M, GT 445M, and the faster GTX 460M and GTX 470M graphics cards. The cards will be available only through the PC makers, and Nvidia did not comment on when the notebooks would become available. The graphics cards will be offered through PC makers including Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba.

Individual pricing for the graphics cards and whether or not the cards would eventually find their way to Apple’s notebook products were not disclosed.