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“MAC Defender” trojan goes live, prompts users for credit card information

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Date: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011, 04:20
Category: News, security, Software

Security firm Intego announced Monday that a fake antivirus program for Mac OS X has been discovered in the wild. While the threat potential remains low, inexperienced users could be fooled into paying to remove fake viruses “detected” by the software, and in the process, could end up giving credit card information to scammers.

Per Ars Technica, the fake antivirus software calls itself “MAC Defender,” perhaps the first hint that it should not be trusted (Apple makes “Macs,” not “MACs”). The developers have incorporated what’s known as “SEO poisoning” to make links to the software show up at the top of search results in Google and other search engines. Clicking the links that show up in search results brings up a fake Windows screen that tells the user a virus has been “detected,” another clue that something is fishy. JavaScript code then automatically downloads a zipped installer for MAC Defender.

If the “Open ‘safe’ files after downloading” option is turned on in Safari, the installer will be unzipped and run. Since the installer requires a user password, it won’t install without user interaction. However, inexperienced users may be fooled into thinking the software is legitimate.

Intego notes that the application is visually well designed and doesn’t have numerous misspellings or other errors common to such malware on Windows, though it does seem to contain some sketchy grammar. The software will periodically display Growl alerts that various fake malware has been detected, and also periodically opens porn websites in the default browser, perhaps leading a user to believe the detected malware “threats” are real. Users are then directed to an insecure website to pay for a license and “clean” the malware infections. However, buying the license merely stops the fake alerts from popping up, but your money and credit card info is now in the hands of hackers.

While MAC Defender wouldn’t likely fool an experienced user, Intego notes that its appearance in the wild is yet another opportunity to detail some useful security precautions. Don’t let your browser automatically open downloads. If your browser asks if you want to run an installer even though you didn’t try to download one, click “cancel.” And never give your password to run installers you aren’t 100% sure about.

On a final note, if you or anyone you know happens to know who created this thing, feel free to kick them in the shins at your earliest convenience.

Google Earth released

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Date: Thursday, March 31st, 2011, 04:33
Category: News, Software


Late Wednesday, software giant Google released version of its popular Google Earth program. The new version, a 23.8 megabyte download, adds the following new features:

– Fixed a problem where we were over fetching certain kml layer data and running into issuing of using large amounts of memory and slowness during zooming in.

– Fixed an issue of ruler tool disappearing. In 6.0 beta, when measuring using the path tool, if you break to add a place-mark then you go back to the path and click “save” the path and ruler tool disappears all together.

– Fixed an issue with incorrectly measuring long distances. Improved navigation in Street View inside buildings.

– Fixed a crash with elevation profile if there was empty gx:value node in KML.

– Optimized amount of terrain and imagery data fetched while viewing photo overlays.

– Fixed an occasional crash while viewing 3D buildings. Fixed broken fly-to links within local kml files.

– Fixed an issue where new place-marks added were with absolute altitude instead of being clamped to ground.

– Fixed an issue where the title for panoramio pictures no longer appeared when hovering over panoramic icons with your mouse if scale legend was enabled.

– Fixed an issue when there was occasionally a missing wall in 3D buildings.

– Optimized amount of data fetched in Street View.

– Fixed an issue where tilt by holding “shift” and moving the scroll wheel only worked in one direction on Mac.

The new version requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Google Chrome updated to 9.0.597.84

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Date: Friday, February 4th, 2011, 05:33
Category: News, Software


Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 9.0.597.84 for the Mac. The new version, an 32.2 megabyte download, offers the following the following changes:

– WebGL is a new technology which brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to the browser. With WebGL in Chrome, you can experience rich 3D experiences right inside the browser with no need for additional software.

– With Chrome Instant (à la Google Instant), web pages that you frequently visit will begin loading as soon as you start typing the URL. (“Look, Mom – no enter key!”). If supported by your default search engine, search results appear instantly as you type queries in the omnibox.

– Lastly, the Chrome Web Store is now open to all Chrome users in the United States. As part of this, we’ve now added a link to the Chrome Web Store on the New Tab page, along with two sample apps. (If you don’t use these sample apps, they will automatically disappear after some time).

Google Chrome requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve played with it and have an opinion, let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: Verizon iPhone to be announced Tuesday

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Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 06:29
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

With multiple signs pointing towards the imminent release of Verizon’s iPhone, the Wall Street Journal has stated that a new deal will “upend the balance of power in the industry, ending Verizon rival AT&T Inc.’s exclusive hold on the device and leaving smaller players like Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA facing two well-capitalized competitors offering the world’s most popular smartphone.”

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the report said that while “it wasn’t immediately clear when Verison would have the devices in its stores,” the carrier would be announcing details in its press conference scheduled for next Tuesday in New York.

It also said the device “would be similar to the existing iPhone 4, but run on the carrier’s CDMA technology.” Verizon made a big splash at CES surrounding its “4G” LTE deployment plans, but that new network won’t be available for voice calls until 2012.

The report noted that Apple’s exclusive deal with AT&T, which started in 2007, “has fueled much of the carrier’s subscriber growth and has given it a solid lead in smartphone customers.”

Additionally, it noted that “the arrangement between Apple and AT&T was groundbreaking at a time when carriers tightly controlled the appearance and function of their phones, and put Silicon Valley companies like Apple and Google in the wireless industry’s driver’s seat.”

At the same time, while “Apple feels it has had tremendous success through its exclusive relationship with AT&T,” the report stated, “it recognized that it needs to partner with Verizon to grow sales faster in the US.” A note filed by analyst Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros in December said the carrier was “still excited” about launching Apple’s iPhone early next year “to combat slowing Android momentum in the US.”

Verizon has partnered with HTC and Motorola over the last year to promote Android phones in a hedge bet against BlackBerry’s inability to deliver a worth competitor to the iPhone. However, the carrier has since seen a drop in Android interest with the arrival of iPhone 4.

Despite its “Droid” branded push in 2010, “Top Verizon executives have continued to meet regularly with their counterparts at Apple, however” the report noted, “and have long expressed interest in carrying the iPhone, which could help add to the carrier’s base of 93 million subscribers.”

AT&T has braced itself for the loss in iPhone exclusivity that it has seen coming for some time, working to lock existing iPhone 4 buyers into two year contracts and relying upon family and business plans that make it hard for individuals to leave the carrier.

Other US carriers may be hit harder, including T-Mobile and Sprint, neither of which are expected to gain access to iPhone sales, even though the new CDMA iPhone should work on Sprint’s network, and the existing iPhone 4 can work on T-Mobile’s, albeit limited to the much slower, 2G GSM/EDGE service.

The report noted that Verizon’s iPhone launch event “threatens to overshadow Verizon’s keynote address Thursday at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, where the carrier touted its new 4G network and announced a number of Google-powered phones and tablet PCs designed to make use of the network’s capabilities.”

Verizon has invited Mac journalists to the event but has notably excluded Gizmodo staff from its invitation list, a move that all but confirmed that the event involved Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Korean wireless carriers deny Nexus S handset, say iPhone remains safe

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Date: Friday, December 31st, 2010, 09:04
Category: iPhone, News

Korean cell carriers are turning service for down the Nexus S handset both because of Google’s control but also because of Apple, insider tips said late Thursday. According to The Korea Times, both KT and SK Telecom are reportedly upset that Google’s insistence on a pure Android experience won’t let them promote their own proprietary apps and services. Google’s control of the marketing for the Android 2.3 flagship also wouldn’t give them the marketing angle they would like.

The iPhone is also cited as a reason for the lack of any plans. Even SK Telecom, which has often had Nexus S maker Samsung’s blessing as the anti-iPhone carrier, reportedly doesn’t believe that the official Google phone would have any effect. “The Nexus S won’t make a huge impact enough to break the current iPhone stronghold,” an anonymous official from the carrier said.

KT has still said it has “no plans,” though its position may be mixed. Most of its smartphone performance is based on the iPhone, even though it was the only carrier to sell the Nexus One in Korea. The Android device has sold at much lower levels, at 50,000 units since July, but KT is believed willing to keep talking with Google to “recover ailing corporate ties” with Samsung. The electronics chain has allegedly been abusing its dominant position to retaliate against KT for iPhone competition, such as by withholding better phones and dictating harsh marketing requirements.

The absence of HDMI video out and a microSDHC slot were similarly cited as factors in a Korean market that often favors feature-heavy devices, but it’s not certain how likely this might be given that the iPhone has thrived without either. Samsung’s Galaxy S has sold very well in the country despite the absence of an HDMI port.

The similarity between the Nexus S and the Galaxy S may ultimately be the main factor, as the Nexus S’ primary advantages are mostly limited to its newer, unmodified OS, its front-facing camera and its support for NFC wireless.

If you have any experience with the Korean wireless marketplace and want to hurl your two cents in, let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: Apple could produce second-gen iPad with HSPA, EVDO models slated for March release date

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Date: Tuesday, December 28th, 2010, 06:16
Category: iPad, Rumor

It’s the second generations of a device where things get really interesting.

Per Electronista, Apple is looking to ship three separate versions of the next iPad and may ship earlier than expected, part suppliers said on Tuesday. The tablet should still have a pure Wi-Fi version but will serve 3G with both a regular HSPA version and an EVDO model for carriers like Verizon. The 3G versions have been unusually popular, at 60 to 65% of shipments and the extra wireless support would help fill demand.

The 3G push is corroborated by a slew of subsidized carrier plans that have been rolled out in recent months. Many cut the price of the iPad by half or less on a contract, and in some cases give the unit away for free.

Along with the known design change and extra wireless support, Apple is also reportedly taking steps to draw in Kindle buyers with changes to the screen. The display would get both an improved oleophobic (oil-resistant) screen to further reduce smudging as well as a more glare-resistant treatment to make it more suitable to the outdoors. A clue as to the anti-glare panel may have come with the new MacBook Air, whose display is still glossy but noticeably less reflective than on earlier MacBooks.

Apple might also be eager to advance the ship date beyond the original April target. Production shipments would start heading out as soon as late January, not the previously suggested February, and would see a small initial batch of 500,000 to 530,000 units arrive, 30% of which would be Wi-Fi, 40% HSPA and 30% EVDO. Additional shipments would continue right up to the release date, which could now include a March release date if Apple doesn’t have to push it back to a previously cited April target.

The release would be ambitious and could see Apple deliver as many as 40 million iPads in 2011, possibly taking hold of as much as 65% to 75% of the market worldwide. Such a ratio would be higher than expected by analysts, as many of them expect Android 3.0 to give Google’s partners a much stronger platform.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available

Google Latitude released for iPhone

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Date: Monday, December 13th, 2010, 06:28
Category: iPhone, News, Software

On Monday Google’s Latitude app finally became available for the iPhone, the app fully supporting iOS 4 and optionally providing constant position updates in the background on an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4. Privacy is still a focus as users can selectively turn off both background updates, hand-pick a location or turn off positioning altogether.

Per Electronista, the official release comes roughly a year and a half after Google was forced to release an HTML5 version for the iPhone after Apple rejected the original version for reportedly being too similar to Apple’s own Maps tool. Critics have argued that the initial block was motivated by attempts to punish Google for Android, where Latitude has been a native part of Google Maps itself for most of the platform’s history.

It’s widely suspected that a loosening of App Store rules, prompted by Adobe-backed FTC and EU investigations into approval processes, may have changed Apple’s approach. Apple recently allowed Google Voice after a similar delay and what’s believed to be for identical reasons.

If you’ve played with Latitude and have any feedback, let us know.

Apple, magazine publishers in long-standing stalemate over iPad-based subscriptions

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Date: Monday, December 6th, 2010, 06:06
Category: iPad, News

In as much as the iPad has been seen as the device to help bring magazines back into a better range of profitability, the devil may be in the details. Per MediaMemo, Apple and magazine publishers have still not been able to reach a deal for selling subscriptions on the iPad, as publications reportedly want extensive subscriber data, but Apple is unwilling to give it.

The report stated Friday that Apple and publishers are “still miles apart” on the prospect of subscriptions for iPad content in the App Store. The two sides remain at odds over the same issue they’ve allegedly been debating since early this year: Publishers want personal data about subscribers to provide to advertisers, and Apple doesn’t want to allow it.

Apple is reportedly offering publishers the option of an opt-in form, which would allow subscribers to grant publications the ability to access a “limited amount of information” about them, such as their name, physical mailing address, and e-mail address.

They’ve also proposed the same revenue sharing plans used to great success on the App Store, where Apple keeps a 30% cut of all transactions.

“The offer has been on the table for a ‘couple months,’ I’m told, and so far none of the big publishers have gone for it,” Kafka wrote. “They don’t like the 30% cut Apple wants to take, but their real hang-up is the lack of access to credit card data: It’s valuable to them for marketing, and without it they can’t offer print/digital bundles, either.”

As a result, he said publishers are now looking toward Google and tablets running the Android mobile operating system, in hopes of finding some success on that platform instead.

However, the anticipated tablet-only daily publication from News Corp, called The Daily, doesn’t have many of the same issues, because it’s a new product that’s doesn’t have existing customers on the print side of the business. One rumor has suggested that The Daily will be formally announced, along with Apple’s subscription plans, at an event on Dec. 9 or soon after.

For months, reports have claimed that Apple is unwilling to share consumer data beyond sales volume to publishers who are interested in putting their publications on the App Store. It has been said that Apple has pitched an opt-in function that would allow consumers to willingly share some information, but according to Kafka’s sources, Apple still refuses to give more detailed demographic information.

Print publishers view demographic data from readers as their most valuable asset, as they rely on that information to sell advertisements.

Google Earth released

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Date: Tuesday, November 30th, 2010, 04:42
Category: News, Software


Late Wednesday, software giant Google released version of its popular Google Earth program. The new version, a 53.3 megabyte download, adds the following new features:

New features in Google Earth 6:

– Integrated Street View: In Google Earth 6, the Street View experience is now fully integrated. You can enter Street View either by dropping pegman in navigation controls or by zooming in all the way to ground level on places that have Street View.

– 3D Trees:Google Earth now has trees. You can enable trees by turning on the check-box next to the Trees layer under the 3D buildings layer folder. You can see trees in several places, and we will add trees to more places over time.

– Easy to use historical imagery:When you fly to an area where historical imagery is available, the date of the oldest imagery will appear in the status bar at the bottom of the screen. If you click on this date, you’ll instantly be taken back in time to view imagery from that time period.

– Ground-level navigation: In Google Earth 6, in addition to flying around features, you can now walk on the ground to explore either 3D buildings and trees or Street View imagery.
3D Measurements in Google Earth Pro:In addition to measuring distances and areas on the ground, you can now measure heights and widths of 3D building and distances from buildings to the ground.

Other changes in Google Earth 6:
– Tour Recorder Improvements:With Google Earth 6, the tour recording feature has been improved in several ways. The tour recorder now incorporates the activation of Sunlight, Street View, and Historical Imagery modes into the recorded tour. Additionally, the quality of the recording has been significantly improved, including better motion fidelity and better synchronization with sound recording.

– Earth on PowerPC Mac:We are discontinuing support for Google Earth builds that work on PowerPC Macs. Users of PowerPC macs can still use the Google Earth 5.2 version.

– Earth on OS X 10.4:We are discontinuing support for Google Earth builds that work on 10.4 version of Mac OS X. Users of this version of Mac OS X can still use Google Earth 5.2 version.
Earth on Windows 2000:We are discontinuing support for Google Earth builds that work on Windows 2000. Users of Windows 2000 can still use the Google Earth 5.2 version.

– Linux Builds:Google Earth Linux binaries are now based on the Linux Standard Base. This improves the compatibility of Google Earth on different Linux distributions, but requires users to have Linux Standard Base installed on their system. If your Linux system does not have LSB, please install it using apt, yum, smart or up2date. As a side effect of moving to LSB, joysticks are currently unsupported.

Issues Fixed:
– Addressed issues related to slow internal browser and balloon performance

– Addressed issues related to broken images in balloons seen in Earth 5.2.

– Linux now handles KML in locales where the radix separator isn’t “.”.

– Linux fixes for Flash-induced crashes. Google Earth Plug-in and API Changes

– Updated API version 1.007

– New class KmlViewerOptions, to set global render state (Historical Imagery, StreetView, and Sun)

– Added ability to enable/disable street view in GENavigationControl

– Added ability to enable/disable automatic transition to ground level view in GEOptions

– Added ability to enable/disable 3d tree rendering through new layer LAYER_TREES

– Added altitudeOffset functionality to KmlLinearRing and KmlLineRing. This allows ability to set altitude for all vertices through a single function call.

– Added ability to enable/disable building selection through mouse input in GEOptions

– Added ability to enable/disable building highlight through mouse input in GEOptions

– Added copyAsLookAt() and copyAsCamera() conversion to KmlAbstractView

– Improved performance on Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard).

The new version requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Google Docs editing en route to iOS, Hulu Plus now available for $7.99/month

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Date: Thursday, November 18th, 2010, 05:48
Category: News, Software

Tech giant Google on Wednesday introduced a new mobile editor for its Google Docs productivity service, while Hulu Plus officially launched with a monthly rate of US$7.99, US$2 less than it charged during its “preview” phase.

Per AppleInsider, users of Google Docs will be able to access the service on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch by visiting docs.google.com in the Mobile Safari Web browser. This will support all iOS devices running version 3.0 or later and be active within the next couple of days.

The service will initially be available to English-language users around the world, though support for other languages is expected to be added “soon.” Users can also edit spreadsheets from their mobile browser with the service.

Changes to documents appear in real time, so that shared documents will show updates for other users on other devices and browsers.

In other news, the Hulu Plus service was officially launched Wednesday with a new monthly price of US$7.99. Subscribers who enrolled in Hulu Plus during its trial period at US$9.99 per month will be given a credit for the difference that will be applied to their next billing cycle.

The company also announced that over the next week it will issue updates for its iPad, iPhone and iPod touch applications, which allow Hulu Plus subscribers to stream content to their Apple devices. The streaming service is also offering one free week trial for all new subscribers.

Hulu Plus launched in late June with a US$9.99-per-month subscription price. It works on an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad with Hulu’s iOS application, and allows users to watch shows over both Wi-Fi and 3G.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.