VirtualBox updated to 4.0.8

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Date: Tuesday, May 17th, 2011, 04:43
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.0.8. The new version, a 82.9 megabyte download, sports a list of fixes and changes that can be found here.

VirtualBox 4.0.8 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.

Hard drive replacement in Thunderbolt-equipped iMac restricted by unique connector, temperature control system

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Date: Friday, May 13th, 2011, 04:48
Category: iMac, News

If you want to upgrade the hard drive on your new Thunderbolt-equipped iMac, you may be in for some additional challenges.

Per Other World Computing, Apple iMac desktop line features a new custom 7-pin serial ATA connector and proprietary temperature control system that will make hard drive upgrades difficult for end users.

The article’s authors found that the main 3.5″ SATA hard drive bay in the new 2011 Thunderbolt-equipped iMacs has been modified significantly. Instead of a standard 4-pin power configuration, the drives in the new all-in-one desktop use a custom 7-pin configuration.

In addition, hard drive temperature control is reportedly detected through a combination of the new cable and proprietary firmware that Apple has on the hard drive itself.

“From our testing, we’ve found that removing this drive from the system, or even from the bay itself, causes the machine’s hard drive fans to spin at maximum speed,” the report said,” and replacing the drive with any non-Apple original drive will result in the iMac failing the Apple Hardware Test.”

The site tried a number of methods to circumvent the changes Apple has implemented in the new iMac, including swapping the main drive out with the same model drive, as well as a different solid-state drive. All testing so far has found that the Apple-branded hard drive not be removed or replaced.

In addition, though the iMac EFI Update 1.6 released earlier this month allows 6Gb/s speeds on two internal ports, the standard 7,200rpm drive that ships with the new iMacs cannot take advantage of those fast throughput speeds.

The site sells a “Turnkey Upgrade Program” that allows for hard drive upgrades on Mac hardware. While the service will not allow upgrades to the main drive, it can take advantage of an external eSATA port or allow additional, secondary hard drives to be added.

Apple’s new quad-core Sandy Bridge iMacs with Thunderbolt ports debuted earlier this month. Users can configure the desktop to include both a standard spinning hard drive as well as a 256GB solid-state second drive, on which Mac OS X and all applications will come preinstalled.

The new iMacs were the first hardware to ship with Intel’s new Z68 chipset, which allows for faster solid-state drive caching performance with hybrid drives or a combination of SSD and traditional drives. However, Apple’s new iMacs do not take advantage of the new caching feature offered by the Z68 chipset.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV 4.2.2 update out the door

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Date: Thursday, May 12th, 2011, 03:59
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

A new software update addresses a variety of minor issues for users of the second generation “black box” A4-powered Apple TV. You can install the update on your Apple TV by navigating to Settings -> General -> Update Software and following the directions there.

Per AppleInsider, the update, which is the second minor update to version 4.2, is named 4.2.2, but internally is described as iOS 4.3 build 8F305, addresses a half dozen minor issues:

– Audio: Addresses an issue in which audio is not output when playing some video content.

– Video playback: Addresses an issue in which video is not displayed when playing some content.

– Audio output setting: Adds an audio output setting for switching to 16-bit audio for compatibility with some TVs and AV receivers.

– Live FF/RW improvements: Improves the performance of fast-forwarding and rewinding live events.

– Movie description: Addresses an issue in which the description information is not displayed for some movies.

– YouTube video order: Addresses an issue in which YouTube subscription videos were not ordered by date.

Users of the original, Intel-based Apple TV are still stuck with software update 3.0.1, as that model is now discontinued.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Rumor: Apple may switch to ARM processors for notebooks in 2013

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Date: Friday, May 6th, 2011, 05:27
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s the rumors that make life interesting.

Per SemiAccurate, sources have claimed that Apple will be transitioning from Intel processors to ARM processors in the not too distant future.

The short story is that Apple is its notebook line, and presumably desktops too, to ARM-based chips as soon as possible.

The transition seems unlikely to take place after ARM has moved to full 64-bit cores which won’t likely be until at least mid-2013.

At that point, Apple can move to ARM without worrying about obsoleting code with an [instruction set architecture] that is on the verge of changing, and no memory overhead worries either.

Apple has made a heavy investment in the ARM architecture which presently powers their iOS line of products. Apple even made the bold move to take ARM processor design in house with the acquisition P.A. Semi and Intrinsity.

A transition of the Mac notebook line over to a different processor architecture would still present some roadblocks. While Apple did previously succeed in such a transition in the past with the PowerPC to Intel transition, it was not without an incredible amount of engineering to ease the process. Existing Mac applications would be unable to run on the new ARM processors without some sort of emulation layer. Mac applications would have to be recompiled to support the ARM processors.

While ARM is known for their low power processors, last year they announced plans to move into high-performance computing in the future, and has been rumored to moving into the 64-bit space as well.

Codenamed “Eagle,” the A15 architecture is ostensibly aimed at netbooks and tablets, but a look at the spec sheet leaves no doubt that ARM is absolutely gunning for the server market that Intel and AMD currently dominate.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available

Rumor: Apple to release Mac OS X 10.7 via Mac App Store

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Date: Thursday, May 5th, 2011, 02:35
Category: Rumor, Software

You know, I was getting used to hoofing it into the Apple Store, giving them a reasonable $29 and walking out with a Mac OS X 10.6 DVD…

It seemed like a good way to live.

Per AppleInsider, Apple will make the switch to a new kind of digital distribution for its upcoming Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) operating system upgrades by releasing the software first through its new Mac App Store.

The Mac App Store, available to all users running the most recent version of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, will become the de facto method for obtaining the Lion upgrade, sources familiar with the matter have revealed. Users will be able to upgrade instantly without the need for physical media by purchasing Lion through the Mac App Store.

While the Mac App Store will be the preferred method for installing Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, set for release this summer, it’s logical to presume that Apple will also offer an optical disc for people who may not have broadband. At least one person with knowledge of the situation claims that this will indeed be the case “for those with slower connections, or [for those who for whatever reason do] not want to download it.”

Apple will likely reveal its distribution plans for Lion at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Calif., set to take place June 6 through 10. Apple has promised that this year’s conference will showcase the “future” of the Mac operating system, and will be an event developers will not want to miss.

Evidence that Lion will be available in the Mac App Store can already be found in the pre-release builds Apple has issued to developers. Betas are downloaded from the Mac App Store by entering a redemption code provided by Apple.

Utilizing the App Store will allow owners of the new disc-drive-less MacBook Air to easily install the latest version of Mac OS X without the need for a physical disc. Apple ships its redesigned MacBook Air with a Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard reinstaller on a USB thumb drive, rather than a DVD.

Making the App Store a central component of the Mac experience will also allow Apple to remove disc drives from future hardware as the company looks toward a future of computing without the need for physical media. Removal of SuperDrives from devices like the MacBook Pro is expected to take place over the next 12-18 months, paving the way for even thinner designs with more internal space for a larger battery.

Apple has even moved to limit shelf space for software in its retail stores, allowing greater room for more profitable hardware to be sold. In February, it was rumored that the company actually plans to cease the sale of all boxed software at its retail locations.

The App Store has even been highlighted by Apple as a defining feature of Lion, which is due to be released this summer. But rather than wait for the release of Lion, Apple opted to bring the Mac App Store to Snow Leopard users in January.

Hardware requirements for the Mac App Store are the same as those for Snow Leopard, including an Intel-based processor, 1GB of system RAM, and 5GB of available disk space. But those with Apple’s earliest Intel-based machines will not be able to run Lion, as it has a minimum requirement of a Core 2 Duo processor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Boot Camp update for Thunderbolt-equipped iMacs, throws in Magic Trackpad for free on 27″ model

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Date: Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, 03:06
Category: iMac, News

Apple on Tuesday quickly released an update to address issues with Boot Camp on its new iMacs. Per AppleInsider,
buyers of the newly released Thunderbolt-equipped iMac can download Boot Camp 3.2 Update for iMac direct from Apple. The 638KB update can be downloaded from here and is only applicable to the early 2011 model iMacs.

Apple said the update addresses issues with Japanese and Korean keyboards on the early 2011 iMac. Boot Camp is Apple’s software that allows users to install Windows 7 on their Intel-based Mac.

Apple issued a similar fix in April for its new Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro models. That update also addressed shutdown issues, but some users reported it caused problems with adjusting the screen brightness.

In other news, customers can now choose between the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad when ordering a unit from the web site. Previously, the Magic Trackpad, which was released last July, had to be purchased separately.

Customers who want both a Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad can have both for an additional US$69. And the wired Apple Mouse is an option as well, available at no extra cost.

The new iMacs released on Tuesday also include the option of a solid state hard drive in both the 21.5-inch and 27″ models. Custom orders built with the second flash-based drive will have Mac OS X and applications installed by default on the faster solid-state drive. The second, 7200rpm, traditional hard drive can then be used to store media and files.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to debut Sandy Bridge, Thunderbolt-equipped iMac on Tuesday, May 3rd

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Date: Monday, May 2nd, 2011, 07:42
Category: iMac, Rumor

It’s the rumors that make life interesting.

Per AppleInsider, sources close to the story have stated that Apple will be adopting Intel’s newest family of Core processors and integrating a Sandy Bridge architecture into its iMac line as early as next week.

More specifically, Apple is said to be en route to introduce the new models on Tuesday, May 3, swapping out the systems’ first-gen Core i processors and mini Display ports for second-generation Core i chips and the company’s new high-speed Thunderbolt port. However, rumors that 2011 would see changes to the iMacs’ display panel size (1, 2) and the inclusion of 6000-series AMD Radeon HD chips, could not be confirmed with any degree of certainty.

In the days leading up to major product launches, Apple routinely makes certain requests of its various operating segments to assure the rollout goes as smoothly as possible. This week saw several of those measures put into place, according to those same people, who’ve continually provided accurate information when it comes the Mac maker’s future plans.

In addition, people familiar with the Cupertino-based company’s retail operations confirmed to AppleInsider that a “visual night” is similarly slated for the early morning hours of May 3rd. “So it is highly likely that whatever new product that is going to be refreshed or introduced will be done on [that day],” one of those people said.

These visual nights see several Apple retail employees in each location work throughout the evening and early a.m. hours, making significant modifications to the product layouts on the showroom floors, often removing previous generation products in favor of newly introduced models.

For Apple, next week’s launch will mark the first time the company has refreshed its flagship desktop line in over 9 months. It also comes at a crucial time for the iMac — and Mac desktops in general — which are rapidly approaching an all-time low when it comes to their share of the Mac’s product mix.

As Apple slowly transitions into a full-fledge mobile company, desktops have seen their share of Mac shipments slip into a slow but inevitable decline, falling from more than 50% of the company’s Mac product shipments in the first quarter of 2006 to just 26% of the total units Mac units shipped during the second fiscal quarter of 2011 (see graph below).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and an iMac running Sandy Bridge with a Thunderbolt port, you’ve got to admit that sounds nifty…

Apple releases Hard Drive Firmware Update 1.0 for Mid-2010 iMacs

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Date: Tuesday, April 26th, 2011, 04:37
Category: iMac, News

Late Monday, Apple released its Hard Drive Firmware Update 1.0 for the 21.5″ and 27″ mid-2010 iMac desktops. The update, an 819 kilobyte download, fixes a hard drive issue that may prevent some iMac (21.5-inch and 27-inch, Mid 2010) systems from booting properly.

Users will need an Intel-based iMac running Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later to install and run the update.

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

Rumor: Apple to start production of Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Air notebooks in May

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Date: Monday, April 25th, 2011, 03:05
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

Apple next month will reportedly begin manufacturing the first updates to its rejuvenated MacBook Air line as the company looks to maintain the impressive sales momentum generated by the ultra-thin notebooks and limit the market opportunity for would-be competitors hoping to wedge their foot in the door.

Per AppleInsider, sales of the aggressively-priced 11.6- and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs got off to a hot start following their introduction last October, with Apple assembling roughly 1 million units within their first quarter of availability. During those three months, consumers reportedly chose the new MacBook Airs at a one-to-two ratio to the company’s more established MacBook Pro offerings, making for one of the company’s most successful Mac product launches ever.

However, shipments of the Airs declined 51% sequentially during the first calendar quarter of 2011 — including a 40% month-over-month decline in February — as Apple introduced new MacBook Pros that caught consumers’ eyes, according to Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has proven sources within the Cupertino-based company’s Far Eastern supply chain.

Kuo stated that his latest round of checks with suppliers and system builders in the region reveals that MacBook Air shipments are set to rebound during the current calendar quarter, fueled by an upgrade to Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge microprocessors, integrated Intel graphics, and the expected adoption of the new Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology that made its debut on MacBook Pros earlier this year.

Specifically, he said the new models will “go to mass production in late May,” which corroborates an earlier report that cited reliable sources as saying Apple would be ready to publicly announce and ship to consumers MacBook Airs with Sandy Bridge processors during following month of June.

The upgrade should help boost Apple’s overall notebook shipments between 5% to 10% sequentially for the current quarter, according to Kuo, reversing a 5% decline from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011, which he notes was still less than the 11% average decline for notebook shipments from the top 6 OEMs worldwide during the same period.

In moving to Intel’s 32-nanometer (nm) Sandy Bridge architecture, the mid-2011 MacBook Airs will jettison two-year-old Penryn-based 45-nm Core 2 Duo chips for the chipmakers’ new line (below) of low-voltage and ultra-low-voltage Core i5 and Core i7 chips, which sport between 3MB and 4MB of Smart Cache and support a theoretical maximum of 8GB of internal system memory.

Should Apple follow its current trend of using ultra-low-variants for the 11.6-inch MacBook Air and low-voltage ones for the 13.3-inch models, consumers can expect to see new 11.6-inch MacBook Airs sporting 1.4GHz to 1.6GHz Core i5 and Core i7 chips and 13.3-inch MacBook Airs with 2.10 and 2.30GHz Core i7 processors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe Reader, Adobe Reader Pro updated to 10.0.3

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Date: Thursday, April 21st, 2011, 09:50
Category: News, Software

On Thursday, Adobe released version 10.0.3 of its Adobe Reader application. The update, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Addresses critical security vulnerabilities while providing more stability. Adobe always recommends that you install the latest security updates.

Acrobat Reader 10.0.3 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.