Apple releases Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 16

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Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 14:07
Category: News, security, Software

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This might come in handy.

On Tuesday, Apple released Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 16, a security update that stands as a 69.48 megabyte download and offers the following fixes and changes:

- This update enables website-by-website control of the Java plug-in within Safari 5.1.9 or later, and supersedes all previous versions of Java for Mac OS X v10.6.

- This release updates the Apple-provided system Java SE 6 to version 1.6.0_51 for Mac OS X v10.6.

The update requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

The updates can be located, snagged and installed via the Software Update feature built into the Mac OS X operating system.

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

Parallels Desktop updated to 8.0.18494

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Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 05:52
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Parallels released version 8.0.18494 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 336.4 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- Use Parallels Desktop with OS X 10.9 Mavericks Developer Preview (experimental support).

- Work with Parallels Desktop on new MacBooks Air (Mid-2013).

Parallels Desktop 8 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

Review: Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

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Date: Friday, June 14th, 2013, 08:23
Category: Review, Software, Software

The space opera that is StarCraft continues in fine style.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, the latest installment in Blizzard’s epic StarCraft real-time strategy series, has been out for a while now, reflects a fairly major overhaul in its unit progression, achievement and multiplayer systems. Picking up where StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty left off, the story hones in on Sarah Kerrigan, who, under the protection of Jim Raynor, is attempting to resolve being human again after her transformation into the Queen of Blades and the overall conflict against Emperor Mengsk’s Dominion forces.

Like any space opera, the plot grounds itself in tragic elements, Kerrigan witnessing Raynor’s death at the hands of Mengsk’s forces, allying herself once again with the now-scattered Zerg and working to reunite the Swarm as a tool for vengeance. Not a bad start within the first few missions of the game and Blizzard’s classic strong voice acting and marquee-level cut scenes continue to tell a great, relatable story to its audience.


Send in enough flying units to take down powerful defenders like the Terran Thor unit.

Send in enough flying units to take down powerful defenders like the Terran Thor unit.


If there’s one thing that makes Heart of the Swarm work, it’s an easier approachability than Wings of Liberty offered – and flustered some players with. Unlike Wings of Liberty, unit upgrades aren’t hooked into a currency system and are therefore easier to earn and work with. Unit upgrades can also be switched prior to the beginning of each mission, meaning you aren’t completely locked into a given upgrade once your choice has been made. This comes as a welcome change and it’s fun to experiment with alternate upgrades to see what works best in different situations.

Still, it’s the sheer joy of a Zerg-focused StarCraft game that sells Heart of the Swarm. Here, you’re greeted with the fully awesome disgustingness of the insect/reptilian armies you’ll happily grow, spawn and mutate to defend your nest and annihilate your enemies with. From gruesome-yet-fun “Splortch!!!” sounds as your units emerge from their cocoons to the sounds of your multi-legged units skittering and/or oozing their way towards battle, there’s the unassailable enjoyment of creating and fighting with the most disgusting army in any real-time strategy game.


When in doubt, send everything you've got.

When in doubt, send everything you’ve got.


Heart of the Swarm doesn’t provide a massive graphical update over Heart of the Swarm, but it’s still noticeable. Where Wings of Liberty sometimes chugged along slowly on my late-2011 MacBook Pro, Heart of the Swarm ran briskly, complete with detailed characters and fluid animation. Whatever Blizzard did under the hood of the game, it worked and the title still features all the terrific slime, gore, fangs and ooze you’d expect from the Zerg, even with the resolution turned down to more minimal levels.

It was the new multiplayer features that caught my eye when Heart of the Swarm was in development, Blizzard offering new and altered units and abilities. Even though there’s something of a learning curve with the new stuff, Blizzard came through and delivered, new units such as the Viper allowing you to literally pull your opponent’s high-value units out of a cluster and drag it towards your forces to be quickly attacked and torn apart. Upgraded mine units allow you to create a defensive line where needed and Blizzard has incorporated something of an “arcade” feel to its revised multiplayer gameplay, the program visibly awarding experience points for actions such as gathering resources, building units and defeating enemy units. It’s a small thing, but it brings back a sort of action-based/arcade feel to even standard multiplayer gameplay and makes achievements that much more fun to work towards.


The new Zerg Abomination unit can slug it out with even the toughest ground defenders.

The new Zerg Abomination unit can slug it out with even the toughest ground defenders.


Top this off with new game modes, new customer maps and a better means of sorting players by appropriate player and skill level and the Heart of the Swarm can stand on its own as a multiplayer-only title should you choose to ignore the core campaign. Battle.net, Blizzard’s multiplayer gaming service, has improved dramatically over the years and the only limitations are occasional downtimes for server upgrades and perhaps how your Internet connection happens to be behaving at that point in time.

If there are points of contention to deal with with Heart of the Swarm, they come in the form of some familiar points of conflict gamers have had with Blizzard in recent years. Blizzard has disabled Local Area Network multiplayer gameplay, which is meant as a piracy-prevention technique, but also removes what would literally be the fastest form of multiplayer gameplay available to a group of players. This, combined with the fact that, once activated and hooked into an activation code, players are unable to resell their used copies of Heart of the Swarm down the line. Perhaps Blizzard will figure out a way around this or a more moderate fix, but it still feels like a heavy-handed approach to copy protection. Finally, Blizzard has instituted a requirement that single player achievements can only be earned (and recorded) if the account has logged into Battle.net. Granted, this isn’t as draconian as Blizzard’s requirement that players always be logged into Battle.net even during single player gameplay in Diablo 3 and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, but there’s still a sense that you’d like to just open the game and polish off a few single player missions in your free time without having to log into the server.


Send Reaper units after space-based enemies to help keep the Hyperion safe in side missions.

Send Reaper units after space-based enemies to help keep the Hyperion safe in side missions.


Game companies have always had a hard time incorporating replay value into single player campaigns and Heart of the Swarm suffers from some of this, but not to a deal-breaking extent. There’s a fair amount of challenge involved with the Normal difficulty – which makes the game fun – and the game’s challenge scales well with each level of difficulty you attempt, but absolute die-hards have cited that the game could be more challenging in its most difficult modes. This comes down to personal taste and Wings of Liberty had some more definitive storyline and plot-based choices that added to the title’s replay value, but there’s still enough challenge and variety to be found in Heart of the Swarm’s multiplayer game modes to keep you coming back for more.


There's nothing like sweet, sweet StarCraft victory. And explosions to go along with it.

There’s nothing like sweet, sweet StarCraft victory. And explosions to go along with it.


In conclusion, Heart of the Swarm adds a solid contribution to the space opera story that the “StarCraft” franchise is known for, some nice core engine and gameplay improvements and is just as fun as an RTS fan would expect the latest installment of StarCraft to be. The assortment of new units make the single and multiplayer modes that much more fun and it’s cool to go back, look over the new units and develop new offensive and defensive techniques to use based on the new tools available to you. Yes, Blizzard creates its own foibles thanks to its current (and somewhat ever-changing) privacy-prevention techniques, but there’s also the sense that they might be able to eventually arrive at a set of methods that both players and the company can live with. Heart of the Swarm isn’t perfect, but the good more than outweighs the bad, it’s what the next chapter of StarCraft needed to be and the joy of playing – and conquering – with the Zerg is everything you could have hoped for.

Minimum System Requirements:
- Mac OS X 10.7 or later
- Intel Core 2 Duo or faster processor
- NVIDIA GeForce 9400M or ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro or better graphics card
- 2 GB RAM
- 20 GB available hard disk space
- Broadband Internet connection
- DVD-ROM drive
- 1024 x 768 minimum display resolution

Recommended System Requirements:
- Mac OS X 10.8 or later
- Intel Core i3 or faster processor
- ATI Radeon HD 4850 or NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M or better graphics card
- 4 GB RAM
- 20 GB available hard disk space
- Broadband Internet connection
- DVD-ROM drive
- 1024 x 768 minimum display resolution

Rumor: Flextronics to handle U.S. assembly of redesigned Mac Pro

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Date: Thursday, June 13th, 2013, 06:02
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, Rumor

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Some details have surfaced as to which outfit will construct the upcoming Mac Pro tower.

Per Economic Daily News and Macotakara, the desktop will reportedly be built in U.S. facilities run by Singapore-based manufacturer Flextronics.

It was said that the information was shared by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a strong track record in predicting Apple’s future product plans.

The official Flextronics website reveals that the company already has facilities in a number of locations across the U.S., including Texas, California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and both North and South Carolina. The report did not indicate which U.S.-based Flextronics facility will handle assembly of the new Mac Pro.

“Our United States teams offer a wide spectrum of capabilities, including electrical and mechanical design and the manufacturing of flexible and rigid printed circuit boards and printed circuit board assemblies, specialty coated thin film flexible materials, backplanes, box-build, cable assemblies, camera modules and assembly,” the site reads. “Our facilities also have clean room capabilities, functional and reliability testing, new product introduction support, design for manufacturing, supply chain management and logistics.”

The transition to Flextronics, if true, would mean that Foxconn will no longer be responsible for manufacturing the Mac Pro. But because Apple’s high-end desktop is geared toward a small market, the shift is not expected to have a major effect on Foxconn, which operates largely out of China.

Though Apple will build its new Mac Pro in the U.S., the company is not expected to bring assembly of any of its MacBook lines to America. EDN noted that most of the supply chain remains overseas, which would make it logistically difficult to build large numbers of Macs stateside.

Apple’s new MacBook Air units are reportedly being assembled by Quanta Computer, which specializes in laptop construction. Though Quanta does have some facilities in the U.S., it’s not expected to begin building MacBooks domestically.

The dramatically redesigned Mac Pro’s feature list includes graphical support capable of driving three 4K-resolution displays and is slated to arrive later this year with Intel Xeon processors, PCI Express flash storage, and Thunderbolt 2 ports.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.3.5 update

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Date: Wednesday, June 12th, 2013, 11:53
Category: News, Software

It’s not a huge update, but it might be helpful.

Microsoft on Wednesday released version 14.3.5 of its Microsoft Office 2011 suite for the Mac. The update, a 113 megabyte download, features the following change:

- Fixes an issue that affects IMAP-based email accounts in which the flagged or starred state of a message was not set correctly.

The update can also be located and installed via the Microsoft AutoUpdate feature.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.5 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

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

iFixit completes Haswell-based MacBook Air teardown, finds changes in battery, SSD, other modules

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Date: Wednesday, June 12th, 2013, 06:21
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

The Haswell-based MacBook Air is out, and in their usual fine style, the ubergeeks at iFixit have completed a full teardown of the notebook. Per AppleInsider, the updated notebook features minor changes seen in battery size, the SSD module and integrated graphics, among others.

Most notable among the hardware revisions is an enlarged battery, which moves from a 7.3V 6700mAh pack to a 7.6V 7150mAh unit. The cells still dominate the Air’s innards.


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Apple touts the new 13-inch model will last 12 hours on a charge, but the battery is not thought to be the main contributor to that spec buff. Instead, the Air uses Intel’s Haswell ULT silicon, which offers huge decreases in power consumption while serving up snappier performance.

With Haswell, Intel moved to its next-generation integrated graphics solution, Intel HD Graphics 5000, which doesn’t require a separate board.

Adding to the updated component list is a new SSD module from Samsung, which is smaller than similar parts used in previous MacBook Air iterations. With the new size comes new technology, as the latest SSD unit uses a PCIe bus rather than SATA, a first for Mac. PCIe can achieve rates of up to 800MB/s, while SATA is limited to about 600MB/s.

The new Air is also the first to employ the fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi protocol, which required the computer’s wireless card to be updated. Apple launched redesigned AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule models to take advantage of the new standard, and is planning on incorporating the technology into future Macs as they roll out.

The only change made to the MacBook Air’s chassis is a hole to accommodate the addition of a second internal microphone used for sound cancellation duties.

Other smaller tweaks include a redesigned heat sink clamp, repositioned speaker cabling and a revamped MagSafe 2 board that no longer holds a socket for the laptop’s iSight camera.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new MacBook Air and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Adobe Flash Player updated to 11.7.700.225

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Date: Wednesday, June 12th, 2013, 06:00
Category: News, security, Software

An update’s an update.

On Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.7.700.225 for Mac OS X, an 18 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version adds the following fixes and changes:
- Camera is not working for stageVideo(iOS)(3558247).

- No option to disable hardware acceleration(3560209).

- No option to fallback to WAV audio(3553459).

- Addresses vulnerabilities that could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.

Adobe Flash Player 11.7.700.225 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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

Haswell-based MacBook Air sports record-breaking SSD benchmark test results, PCIe bus cited

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Date: Tuesday, June 11th, 2013, 07:52
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

If you were considering snagging a brand new, just-released MacBook Air notebook, you’re going to like this.

Per 9to5Mac and French web site MacBidouille, Apple’s new Haswell-powered MacBook Airs produced SSD read and write speeds so fast in bench tests that they initially thought it must have been a bug in their test software. A second run in different software revealed that, no, the latest Airs really do offer read & write speeds higher than the maximum possible with SATA 3.

The secret is that Apple is using the same PCIe-based SSDs in the latest MacBook Air as they announced for the new Mac Pro …

On the storage front, Apple officially leads the charge with the move to PCIe based SSDs. The upcoming Mac Pro, as well as the new MacBook Airs both use PCIe based SSDs instead of SATA drives. A quick look at OS X’s system profiler reveals a PCIe 2.0 x2 interface, capable of 1GB/s in each direction.

PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) is the standard already used in the ExpressCard slot used in some notebooks, and offers a direct link to the motherboard without the bottleneck created by a SATA interface (SATA 3 tops out at 600MB/s).

A series of tests over on AnandTech confirmed MacBidouille‘s results, with even higher speeds seen on larger file transfers, describing it as the first time PCIe storage has been seen in a mainstream consumer device.

While Apple’s focus for the new CPU was better battery-life rather than faster speed, tests show that the processor speeds are 3-8% faster than the previous models.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases AirPort Utility 6.3, AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule 7.7.1, adds support for 802.11ac AirPort Extreme units, bug fixes

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Date: Tuesday, June 11th, 2013, 06:56
Category: News, Software, wireless

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OS X’s Software Update feature is your friend.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple released updates for the Mac, iPhone and iPad versions of AirPort Utility late on Monday following the release of the redesigned 802.11ac-compatible AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule Basestations. The update added support for the new wireless network routers.

AirPort Utility 6.3, a 20.64 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- The ability to extend the Guest Wi-Fi network on a network that is configured with multiple AirPort Base Stations.

- The ability to add a WPS-capable Wi-Fi printer.

- Improved international support.

AirPort Utility 6.3 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later to install and run.

AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule 7.7.1, a 4.6 megabyte download via Software Update, adds the following fixes and changes:
- Update for AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule base stations with 802.11ac.

- Resolves a rare issue that may cause the hard drive in AirPort Time Capsule or a hard drive connected via USB to become unresponsive.

AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule 7.7.1 requires and Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.2 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases updated MacBook Air, cites 12-hour battery, Intel Haswell architecture

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Date: Monday, June 10th, 2013, 12:45
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

It’s the MacBook Air with the battery you always wanted.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple introduced updated MacBook Air models on Monday during its World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco. The new ultra-light models sport what Apple called “all day battery life” and also run Intel’s Haswell UTC processors.

The new 13-inch MacBook Air offers up to 12 hours battery life and over a month of standby time, and while it doesn’t gain a high resolution Retina Display, it does include 802.11ac wireless networking — a first for Apple’s product lineup. The new Wi-Fi spec means the MacBook Air can transfer data faster and network connections are more robust.

Like the previous model, the new Air includes Thunderbolt and USB connectors, a built-in camera and microphone, built-in speakers, Bluetooth, and more.

The updated MacBook Air is available now and is priced at US$999 for the 11-inch model, and the 13-inch model is US$100 less at US$1,099.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.