O'Grady's PowerPage » Lion

Apple to officially end MobileMe sync for certain features in iCloud transition

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Date: Monday, August 8th, 2011, 03:52
Category: News, Software

Apple’s transition to the iCloud is coming and it won’t always be easy…

Per AppleInsider, while many of the features of MobileMe are simply being upgraded in the move to iCloud, Apple has previously noted that Gallery, iDisk and iWeb are on the chopping block. Now, the company has further made it clear that data sync features will also be canceled in its iCloud transition steps.

A key feature of .Mac and later MobileMe was the cloud integration of iSync, Apple’s Mac-centric tool for keeping data in sync among a variety of devices as part of its “digital hub strategy” first unveiled a decade ago. The data sync of .Mac and subsequently MobileMe moved the “truth database” from the user’s Mac into the cloud, making it possible to sync additional types of data between Macs.

MobileMe currently allows a user to sync a variety of settings between Macs, including the layout of Dashboard widgets, Dock items, passwords and credentials saved in the Keychain, email account information including Mail Rules, Signatures and Smart Mailboxes, and System Preferences.

However, all of these features will terminate as soon as a user migrates from MobileMe to the new iCloud, according to Apple’s transition pages at me.com/move.

Other MobileMe features that are not being carried forward into iCloud include Gallery media hosting, iDisk cloud storage and its integrated iWeb web hosting, will be continued for exiting MobileMe subscribers until June 30 of 2012, even after migrating other data to iCloud. These features are easy to maintain independently from iCloud, because there is no direct equivalent in iCloud.

Gallery media hosting is being dramatically reworked as a Photo Stream feature, a push updating feature that presents a user’s photos on the mobile devices, Mac photo albums, and on Apple TV rather than via a web site. Similarly, iDisk is making way for an entirely new type of document and data updating that focuses on a users’ own hardware rather than web-centric hosting.

The iCloud migration process is currently only open to developers, as it requires users to have iOS 5 beta 5 on their mobile devices, Mac OS X Lion 10.7.2 with the iCloud for Os X Lion beta 6 package on their Macs, and the iCloud Control Panel for Windows beta 4 running on any PCs they use.

Apple notes that while Mail, Contacts and Calendars can be migrated from MobileMe to iCloud, shared calendars may be affected in the move, while Bookmarks will simply be imported from a client system. This indicates the reduction in data supported in the transition to iCloud may largely be explained by Apple’s hopes to keep the migration as simple and problem-free as possible, avoiding the issues users had in the move from .Mac to MobileMe.

Another reason for the shift in features between MobileMe and iCloud may be explained by the underlying security changes that differentiate the wide open iDisk from the carefully sandboxed design of iCloud’s Documents & Data.

Currently, data synced to MobileMe by Mac OS X Sync Services is copied into openly accessible folders. It is likely Apple hopes to completely secure all iCloud data to avoid any embarrassing lapses and contain sensitive data from potential malware attacks. Individual apps, such as Keychain Access, Launchpad and System Preferences, may be modified in the future to take advantage of iCloud’s key value data store, duplicating the old MobileMe features in a more secure fashion.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Russian police raid points to MacDefender scam

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Date: Friday, August 5th, 2011, 04:26
Category: News, Software

If you wanted to know who was responsible for all that MacDefender malware nonsense a few months ago, they might have something.

After a raid on Russian payment giant Chronopay’s offices, authorities have found evidence linking the company to the MacDefender fake anti-virus scam that targeted Mac users.

Per security expert Brian Krebs’ blog post, Russian cops have discovered “mountains of evidence” that Chronopay employees were providing technical and customer support for bogus anti-virus software, including MacDefender.

Police discovered “Website support credentials and the call records of 1-800 numbers used to operate the support centers,” Krebs wrote. Evidence was also found linking the company to Rx-Promotion, an online program that worked with spammers to promote sites selling counterfeit prescription drugs.

Chronopay has a 45 percent share of the Russian e-commerce market and had denied involvement with the scam in May after Krebs leveled accusations against the company. Co-founder Pavel Vrublevsky was arrested in June over allegations that he hired a hacker to attack his company’s rival.

“If allegations against ChronoPay are true then we should expect significant decrease of revenues received by cyber criminals in the appropriate segments of black market in the near future,” said Maxim Suhanov, a specialist at computer-forensics firm Group-IB.

A recent analysis of the fake anti-virus distribution networks found that scammers were using highly profitable pay-per-install programs to deploy the malware. PPI networks reportedly charge as little as US$750 for 10,000 installs.

“If you do the math, it’s almost like you’re printing money,” researcher Damon McCoy said. “You could pay the PPI networks US$75 to get 1,000 fake AV installs. And if you had an average conversion rate of one in 50, making between US$25-US$35 on each install, that works out to about 20 sales — or conservatively US$500 per one thousand installs.”

Users first discovered the MacDefender malicious software in late April. Using a method known as “SEO poisoning,” the malware automatically downloaded itself onto users’ computers and posed as an anti-virus software in an attempt to trick users into providing credit card information. Security firms categorized the threat as “low” because the users were still required to agree to install the software and provide a password.

However, in late May, a variant of the malicious software was discovered that installed itself without administrator approval. Apple issued a security update to Mac OS X meant to detect and disable the malware.

Security researchers have applauded Apple for its recent security efforts, especially in Mac OS X Lion, while also warning that the Mac platform’s increased visibility may open it up to increased threats from hackers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Forthcoming Microsoft Office 2011 update to add support for Mac OS X 10.7 feature base

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Date: Thursday, July 28th, 2011, 12:25
Category: News, Software

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The good news: Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) is out.

The bad news: Not all of Microsoft’s products support all of the Mac OS X 10.7 feature base.

Still, there may be hope on the horizon.

Per the Office for Mac blog, Microsoft has revealed that a forthcoming update for Office for Mac 2011 will add support for new features in Mac OS X 10.7, including versions, auto-save and full-screen.

Pat Fox of the Office for Mac team wrote on the company’s official blog this week that inquiries about those features have been the “most common question” for users of late. The Microsoft team is said to be “working hard with Apple” to enable the features.

“I know your next question will be ‘when?’, and unfortunately I can’t answer that — but it’s likely measured in months not days — just to set expectations,” the post reads.

The news came alongside the release of an update to Communicator for Mac, which addresses an issue related to crashing in Lion. The download is available through Microsoft AutoUpdate.

The company also reiterated that Office for Mac 2004 will not ever work on Lion, because the software was a PowerPC-based product, and Lion no longer includes Rosetta.

“Now would be a great time to upgrade to Office for Mac 2011 if you’re upgrading to Lion!” Fox said.

Office for Mac 2011, the industry’s most popular productivity suite, was released last October, delivering better compatibility with the Windows version of Office and corporate server products. It also features a revised user interface that’s similar to the “ribbon” interface used in Windows.

Those user interface elements are built on Cocoa, the development layer of Mac OS X. And the all-new version of Outlook that shipped with Office for Mac 2011 was also built from the ground-up with Cocoa for the Mac.

File versions, auto-save and full-screen are major features touted as part of the newly released Mac OS X 10.7 Lion operating system. With support for Lion, documents are automatically saved, and multiple versions of the file are stored allowing for Time Machine-like recovery of previous iterations of a file.

The new full-screen support in Lion will bring an iPad-like feel to the operating system, allowing users to concentrate on one task at a time and quickly swipe between full-screen applications with a multi-touch gesture.

Apple’s own competing productivity suite, iLife, was already updated for Lion earlier this month. iWork Update 6 adds support for full-screen mode, resume, auto-save and versions to Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.8 Supplemental Update, offers final fixes for Snow Leopard operating systems

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Date: Tuesday, July 26th, 2011, 04:19
Category: News, Software

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Apple on Monday issued a recommended “Supplemental Update” for all Macs running Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8 that delivers a handful of final fixes for the previous-generation operating system.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has stated that the update, a 10.2 megabyte download, resolves issues with:

- Transferring personal data, settings, and compatible applications from a Mac running Mac OS X Snow Leopard to a new Mac running Mac OS X Lion.

- Certain network printers that pause print jobs immediately and fail to complete.

- System audio that stops working when using HDMI or optical audio out.

A similar 10.23 megabyte download was released for Snow Leopard Server.

For those Macs that haven’t yet moved to Snow Leopard version 10.6.8, Apple re-released its distributions of that point release with the supplemental fixes baked in:
- Mac OS X 10.6.8 Update v.1.1 (453MB)

- Mac OS X 10.6.8 Update Combo v1.1 (1.09GB)

- Mac OS X Server v10.6.8 Update v1.1 (518MB)

Monday’s releases would appear to be the final updates Apple has planned for the Snow Leopard operating system, with the company having released Mac OS X Lion last Wednesday.

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

CrossOver updated to 10.1.1

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Date: Tuesday, July 26th, 2011, 03:38
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 10.1.1. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Added a workaround for a bug in OSX 10.7 Lion. Many games running in a virtual desktop cause a crash. This can be resolved by setting the CX_LEAK_XPLUGIN_SURFACES environment variable.

- Work around a bug in OSX 10.6.8 Snow Leopard. 10.6.8 generated corrupt iconfiles which caused occasional Finder crashes. Now we use a different APIto generate icon files which bypasses the issue.

- Changed behavior of group permissions on certain files. Resolves an issuewith .docx files on certain file systems.

CrossOver 10.1.1 retails for US$69.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 and or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

Apple to release Mac OS X 10.7 upgrade on USB thumb drives for August, will retail for $69

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Date: Thursday, July 21st, 2011, 12:51
Category: News, Software

If you’re hankering for your version of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on a physical medium, Apple has announced that the company will release the on a USB thumb drive through its online store in August, but at a cost more than twice the price of the Mac App Store.

Apple revealed on Wednesday that Lion will be available on a USB thumb drive through its online store “later this August.” It will carry a price of US$69, or more than twice the US$29.99 cost of downloading Lion from the Mac App Store.

For users who do not have broadband access at home, work or school, Apple is also offering customers the ability to download the multi-gigabyte install at its retail stores immediately.

Those who opt to buy a new Mac won’t need to worry about downloading Lion from the Mac App Store, as all new computers sold by Apple will come preinstalled with the next-generation operating system. That includes already released devices, like the latest MacBook Pro and iMac, as well as Wednesday’s newly released hardware: MacBook Airs and Mac minis.

Apple releases iTunes 10.4 update

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Date: Thursday, July 21st, 2011, 04:38
Category: News, Software

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Among everything that was released and updated Wednesday, Apple also released iTunes 10.4, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 74 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- iTunes 10.4 is now designed for OS X Lion. You can now use iTunes with OS X Lion’s new Full-Screen App capability, which allows you to use iTunes and other apps without distractions. Navigate between your full-screen apps with a simple gesture.

- iTunes is now a 64-bit Cocoa application on OS X Lion and includes a number of important stability and performance improvements. Some iTunes plug-ins may no longer be compatible with this version of iTunes. Please contact the plug-in developer for an updated plug-in compatible with iTunes 10.4.

iTunes 10.4 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Apple premieres Mac mini without optical drive

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Date: Thursday, July 21st, 2011, 03:59
Category: Mac mini, News

It’s not the end times, but it is a change.

For the first time ever, Apple’s new Mac mini models, released on Wednesday, lack an optical drive for CDs or DVDs, as the Mac maker continues to move away from physical formats like discs.

Per AppleInsider, Apple boasted in unveiling the new Mac mini hardware that the systems were “designed without an opitcal disc drive.” The company noted that the Mac mini can access optical drives on other PCs and Macs, and also works with the MacBook Air external SuperDrive accessory.

While the new Mac minis lack optical drives, they did gain Apple’s new high-speed Thunderbolt port, allowing it to connect to high-performance storage devices, RAID arrays, and the new 27-inch LED Thunderbolt display.

Apple began to move away from optical drives in its Mac lineup in 2008, when the first MacBook Air was released without any built-in disc reader. But the Air remained a relatively niche product in Apple’s lineup until 2010, when the product was redesigned to be thinner and lighter, and was expanded to screen sizes of both 11.6 inches and 13.3 inches, all at a lower price.

For those who bought last year’s MacBook Air, the notebook came with a USB reinstall drive for its built-in Snow Leopard operating system. Its inclusion eliminated the need for any optical media to restore the system.

Apple is moving away from legacy formats in favor of digital downloads, and is pushing its own Mac App Store as the default way to obtain software. Apple’s new operating system upgrade, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, launched on Wednesday exclusively on the Mac App Store.

If you’ve snagged the new Mac mini and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

Apple releases Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge, backlit keyboard-equipped MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, July 20th, 2011, 05:21
Category: MacBook Air, News

You might have been waiting for this.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Wednesday the long-anticipated new version of its MacBook Air notebook, equipping the ultraportables with Thunderbolt ports, backlit keyboards and Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors offering up to twice the performance of their predecessors.

Like the previous generation models, the new MacBook Airs start at US$999 for the entry-level model. They are available for order today and will be in stores on Thursday.

The MacBook Air is available in 11-inch and 13-inch models that Apple boasts easily slip into a briefcase, purse or bag. The MacBook Air’s durable aluminum unibody enclosure measures 0.11 inches at its thinnest point and 0.68 inches at its thickest.

The notebooks all feature flash for instant-on and fast data access, improved reliability and incredible energy efficiency. The 11-inch model weighs 2.38 pounds and provides up to 5 hours of battery life, while the 13-inch weighs 2.96 pounds and provides up to 7 hours of battery life.

With the latest Intel Core i5 and Core i7 dual-core processors, the new MacBook Air is said to be up to twice as fast as the previous generation. The new notebooks also also feature Intel HD Graphics 3000 and offer up to 4GB of faster 1333 MHz memory.

Thunderbolt I/O technology provides expansion possibilities never before available to MacBook Air users. Through a single cable, users can connect to high performance peripherals and the new Apple Thunderbolt Display. Thunderbolt can easily be adapted to support legacy connections such as FireWire and Gigabit Ethernet.

The MacBook Air comes with a full size backlit keyboard and a glass Multi-Touch trackpad. The backlit keyboard uses a sensor to automatically detect a change in ambient lighting and adjusts the keyboard brightness for any environment.

The Multi-Touch trackpad supports Lion’s new Multi-Touch gestures such as momentum scrolling, tapping or pinching your fingers to zoom in on a web page or image, and swiping left or right to turn a page or switch between full screen apps.

MacBook Air also features a high resolution LED backlit display. MacBook Air also includes Bluetooth for wireless peripherals and two USB ports for wired and wireless devices.

The new MacBook Air also meets Energy Star 5.2 requirements and achieves EPEAT Gold status Each unibody enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminum and comes standard with energy efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. Mac notebooks contain no brominated flame retardants, are PVC-free and are constructed of recyclable materials.

Every new MacBook Air comes with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, along with the iLife suite. Lion features more than 250 new features to the Mac, including Multi-Touch gestures; system-wide support for full screen apps; Mission Control for a view of everything running on your Mac; the Mac App Store,; Launchpad, iPad-like home screen for apps; and a completely redesigned Mail app.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases Photoshop Elements 9 via Mac App Store

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Date: Wednesday, July 20th, 2011, 04:15
Category: News, Software

Amid all the hubbub about the arrival of Mac OS X Lion, Adobe has released a version of Photoshop Elements 9 for the Mac App Store.

Per MacCentral, the offering is Adobe’s first foray onto the Mac App Store, which many of Apple’s competitors have chosen to avoid.

The US$79.99 consumer-focused photo editor lacks the Adobe Elements Organizer that the version on Adobe’s website has, but otherwise has the same features. The 1.02GB download requires Mac OS X 10.6.6 and is available only in English.

According to Adobe, Photoshop Elements 9 is meant to “complement iPhoto” by offering more advanced photo editing tools, such as Group Shot, Panorama and Style Match Photomerge.

The software giant recently brought some of its Photoshop tools to iOS with a series of iPad apps. In addition to the Photoshop Express tool, Adobe offers Eazel, Color Lava and Nav apps for integrating with Adobe CS5.5.

For its part, Apple opened the Mac App Store for business in January with the release of Mac OS X 10.6.6. The company has moved aggressively to make the digital storefront the primary source for Mac software, as evidenced by Wednesday’s Mac App Store-exclusive launch of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

If you’ve snagged the new version of Photoshop Elements and have any feedback about it, let us know.