Adobe releases Flash Player 11.3.300.214 beta update

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Date: Thursday, April 12th, 2012, 06:48
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.3.300.214 for Mac OS X, a 10.9 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new beta version includes the following fixes and changes:

- Texture streaming.

- Background Updater for Mac.

- Driver gating hardware acceleration relaxed to 2006.

- MouseEvent.RELEASE_OUTSIDE.

- ApplicationDomain.getQualifiedDefinitionNames().

- Improved Mac App Store Support.

- Simulator Support for iOS.

- Aspect Ratio Enhancements.

- ADT support to package 144×144 size icons has been added in AIR 3.3.

- Capabilities.screenDPI now returns appropriate DPI value for high resolution iPads.

Flash Player 11.3.300.214 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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

Early Ivy Bridge benchmark tests surface, show appreciable improvements in graphics, overall performance

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Date: Wednesday, April 11th, 2012, 11:06
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

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It’s the benchmarks that make an upcoming technology that much more interesting.

Per CPU World, a series of benchmark tests demonstrates how the much-anticipated Ivy Bridge architecture in the upcoming MacBook Pro notebooks could show fairly significant improvements in performance, particularly in graphics.

The chip being tested was the Core i7-3820QM, a 2.7 GHz processor with turbo speeds up to 3.7 GHz paired with Intel HD 4000 graphics. The chip is scheduled to debut with a price of US$568 in high volume, and seems to be the natural successor to the Sandy Bridge Core i7-2860QM that is the current high-end processor for the 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro, available as a build-to-order option.

For benchmarking comparisons, the new Ivy Bridge Core i7-3820QM chip was pitted against a Sandy Bridge Core i7-2960XM, which is an even higher-performance “Extreme” chip than is available in the current MacBook Pro. Consequently, any performance increase between the current high-end MacBook Pro chip and this new Ivy Bridge chip would be even greater than outlined in the benchmarking comparison.

Overall, the 3820QM was found to score an average of 9% higher than the Extreme 2960XM chip, a modest improvement but one which should be significantly higher relative to the 2860QM chip from the current MacBook Pro. Taking into account a roughly 10% higher performance for the tested 2960XM Sandy Bridge processor compared to the 2860QM actually found in the current MacBook Pro, the new 3820QM Ivy Bridge processor should offer roughly 20% higher CPU performance than is currently available in the MacBook Pro.

Looking at the CPU performance, using a few tests, the reduced production process helps the performance for a number of standard tests. In 3DMark Vantage (Entry level preset), Ivy Bridge has a 10% performance improvement over Sandy Bridge for the CPU score, and 9% in the physics score. In Cinebench 11.5, the single thread test showed a performance boost of 4%, and the multi-threaded test gave an improvement of 10%. The performance boost in the Truecrypt 7.0a – AES test was 4%. Finally, using x264 HD Benchmark 4.0, test 1 showed a boost of 13%, and test 2 showed a boost of 11%.

Even more significant gains for the Ivy Bridge chip show up in graphics performance, where the Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics supplants the HD 3000 graphics found in the Sandy Bridge chips. According to the benchmarks, the new HD 4000 integrated graphics outperforms the current graphics by anywhere from 32% to 108% depending on the test.

Apple, of course also includes a dedicated graphics chip in its larger MacBook Pro models, giving users the option of higher performance with the dedicated chip or increased battery life with the integrated graphics. And given that the HD 4000 integrated graphics does not yet approach the performance of dedicated chips, those looking for maximum performance will still want to take advantage of whichever dedicated graphics option Apple includes in updated MacBook Pro models.

But significant improvements to integrated graphics performance could show up as a benefit in a number of areas, including providing users with better performance even when opting for the battery-conserving graphics settings. Apple has also reportedly been considering using integrated graphics only in some of its mid-range MacBook Pro models, with the HD 4000 chip making it feasible for the company to drop the dedicated graphics chip on some of those models while still being able to offer acceptable graphics performance.

Finally, the HD 4000 graphics will offer a marked improvement for the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is expected to debut in June when Intel rolls out its dual-core Ivy Bridge processors. The smaller 13-inch form factor requires that those models rely solely on integrated graphics, meaning that all users would see a significant boost from the current HD 3000 graphics to the new HD 4000 graphics.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

CrossOver updated to 11.0.3

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Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 14:43
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 11.0.3. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

Application Enhancements:
- Fixed a bug whereby Microsoft Office 2010, Service Pack 1 refused to install. It should now install cleanly (an update of CrossTie files from the web-site may be necessary).

- Fixed a bug where Quicken 2012 would hang adding a new online account or updating a bank account.

- Fixed a bug where PowerPoint 2010 would refuse to play slideshows. Slideshows will now work in PowerPoint 2010.

CrossOver Enhancements:
- Fixes for (we hope!) the last outstanding problems with CrossOver registration / licensing.

- Improvements to Japanese and Russian translations.

CrossOver 11.0.3 retails for US$69.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 and or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Inventory constraints point towards possibility of new 15-inch MacBook Pro notebook on horizon

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Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 06:12
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

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When the current supplies dwindle, interesting things are about to happen.

Per AppleInsider, multiple authorized resellers this week are reflecting stock-outs of 15-inch MacBook Pros, suggesting that Apple is ramping down production of existing models before introducing redesigned offerings that will largely resemble the company’s increasingly popular line of ultra-slim MacBook Airs.

Among those resellers reflecting backorder status on some of the current 15-inch MacBook Pros is J&R, which is now sold out of both the 2.2GHz model, which is listed as “out of stock,” and the 2.4GHz variety, which is currently advertised as “on order.”

In addition, Best Buy has also stopped accepting online orders for the 2.4GHz model for home delivery. The 15-inch notebook is still available on a store-by-store basis, however a quick check of individual store inventory in cities such as Chicago and Austin similarly indicate that between 40 and 60 percent of those shops are similarly reflecting stock outs.

Earlier this week, MacConnection was temporarily out of stock the 2.2GHz model of Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro, but the notebook has since come back in stock at the online retailer.

Multiple instances of inventory constraints within Apple’s indirect sales channel are often some of the first signs that the Mac maker is drawing down stock and slowing shipments of existing models before replacing them with materially enhanced offerings. This week’s stock-outs come as Intel is gearing up to launch its Ivy Bridge chips, which have been rumored to begin finding their way into Apple’s Mac product line as early as this month or next.

Apple appears to be planning a staggered overhaul of the MacBook Pro lineup, beginning with an updated 15-inch model, followed by the 13-inch, and ultimately the 17-inch by the end of the year.

Recent rumors have claimed production of the 15-inch model will begin this month with 200,000 units, while production of the new the 13-inch MacBook Pro will occur in June with builds of 400,000 initial units.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro is rumored to arrive as soon as this month with Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors. Reports have suggested Apple’s new notebooks could include Intel’s Core i7-3820QM and Core i7-3720QM models featuring integrated HD 4000 graphics.

There are fewer details on the forthcoming 13-inch MacBook Pro, as one report from March said it was “not clear” if Apple planned to introduce a new MacBook Pro with an entry-level Core i3 Ivy Bridge processor. All of Apple’s current “Pro” laptops feature only higher-end Core i5 and Core i7 processors.

The new MacBook Pros are expected to be noticeably thinner and lighter in design, and will eschew the spinning disc drive to adopt a form factor similar to Apple’s thin-and-light MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro lineup was given a quiet update with faster GPUs and graphics cards last October, while the last major redesign of the lineup came in late 2008.

Separately, in what could be a sign of the end of the Mac Pro desktop line, Amazon is currently out of stock of the 8-core model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Desktop updated to 7.0.15094.749908

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Date: Monday, April 9th, 2012, 12:08
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, Parallels released version 7.0.15094.749908 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 306 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Improved 3D support.

- Ability to easily download and install Fedora 16 from within the Parallels Wizard.

- Support for the Dvorak keyboard, Arabic keyboard and French numeric keyboard layout.

- Improved support for the Swedish keyboard layout.

Parallels Desktop 7 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 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.

Rumor: Apple to begin production of 200,000 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks in April, 400,000 13-inch MacBook Pro notebooks in June

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Date: Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012, 13:41
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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It won’t be long now.

Per DigiTimes, Apple is gearing up to begin production of its new thinner and lighter MacBook Pros, with production of the new 15-inch model set to begin first in mid-April.

Mass production of the new 15-inch MacBook Pro will see initial monthly shipments of 200,000 units, according to the web site. The new notebooks are expected to be powered by Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors.

On the heels of the new 15-inch model, Apple is expected to begin building the thinner 13-inch MacBook Pro in June. For the smaller variant, initial monthly shipments are expected to be greater, reportedly falling between 300,000 and 400,000 units.

The latest report is consistent with previous claims that the 15-inch MacBook Pro would go into production first, and could arrive as early as this month. But Tuesday’s report also suggests initial shipments of the 15-inch model will be slightly greater than was previously expected, as earlier reports claimed that initial monthly shipments would be between 100,000 and 150,000.

The updated notebooks are rumored to borrow the ultra-thin design the company pioneered with its MacBook Air. One person familiar with the new MacBook Pro designs indicated “they’re all going to look like MacBook Airs.”

Like the highly successful MacBook Air, the new MacBook Pros are expected to ditch the built-in optical drive, allowing them to have a thinner and lighter design.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

VirtualBox updated to 4.1.12

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Date: Monday, April 2nd, 2012, 11:06
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.1.12. The new version, a 89.5 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:

- VMM: fixed VERR_NOT_SUPPORTED and VERR_RAW_MODE_INVALID_SMP guru meditation due to an invalid reschedule to raw mode (bug #10370).

- VMM: fixed PDMCritSectLeave guru meditation under rare circumstances with SMP guests.

- VMM: proper Math Fault handling with certain legacy guests (bug #9042).

- NAT: fixed a socket leak under certain conditions.

- Storage: better sanity check against reading beyond end-of-file.

- Audio: fixed a crash in the NUL audio backend (bug #10374; 4.1.10 regression).

- HGCM: fixed a crash during savestate under rare circumstances.

- VBoxSVC: several locking fixes.

- VBoxManage: return the correct error code if controlvm savestate failed (bug #10134).

- Guest Additions: VBoxService should not crash on exit (bug #10326; 4.1.10 regression).

- Windows Additions: set the correct time stamp when a file is closed (bug #6473).

- Windows Additions: better help if the DirectX backups are not properly installed.

- Linux Additions: Linux 3.4-rc1 compile fixes.

VirtualBox 4.1.12 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Rumor: Apple to begin mass-producing next-gen 15-inch MacBook Pro in April, 13-inch model in June

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Date: Thursday, March 29th, 2012, 06:10
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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To be fair, the rumors ARE getting a little more specific.

Per DigiTimes, a new report out of the Far East claims Apple is scheduled to begin mass production of a new 15-inch MacBook Pro in April, while a 13.3-inch model is rumored to enter mass production in June.

The web site reported on Thursday that, according to upstream supply chain sources, Apple is anticipating higher demand for its upcoming 13.3-inch MacBook Pro refresh than its 15-inch version.

Tipsters indicated an April production schedule for the larger version and a June schedule for production of an update to the 13.3-inch notebook. They said monthly production capacity of the 15-inch MacBook will start out at between 100,000 and 150,000 units and “rise gradually.”

Earlier this month, the same publication reported that Apple’s new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros had entered production. The new machines are said to lack optical drives while maintaining “more advanced specs” than the MacBook Air.

Sources have separately told AppleInsider that Apple is gearing up to blur the lines between its current MacBook Air models and its pro series of laptops. It’s not yet clear, however, whether the company will revise its marketing names for the machines and collapse the two lineups under one name.

Reports also emerged on Wednesday that Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge chips, some of which are presumably bound for Apple’s new Macs, are scheduled to launch at the end of April. Earlier reports have claimed that Apple is aiming to launch the 15-inch MacBook Pro also by the end of next month. Intel has experienced some delays with its Ivy Bridge processors, but it remains to be seen to what extent Apple’s schedule will be affected.

Mounting evidence also suggests that Apple is preparing to upgrade its Mac displays to Retina Display quality and could do so as early as the next generation.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 18.0.1025.142

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Date: Thursday, March 29th, 2012, 06:00
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 18.0.1025.142 for the Mac. The new version, a 35.4 megabyte download, offers the following changes:

- Sped up graphics and drawing performance for users on capable hardware, and enabled fancier 3D content for other users on older computers.

Google Chrome 18.0.1025.142 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases Safari 5.1.5 update

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Date: Tuesday, March 27th, 2012, 06:40
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released Safari 5.1.5, an update to its web browser. The new version, a 44.7 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and new features:

- Contains a fix for an issue that could affect website usability when running Safari in 32-bit mode.

Safari 5.1.5 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.