Apple Freezes Snow Leopard APIs, Mac OS X 10.6 Upgrade Steps Closer to Release

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Date: Tuesday, May 12th, 2009, 08:18
Category: Software

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Over the weekend, Apple distributed a new beta of its upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard operating system that altered the programming methods used to optimize code for multi-core Macs, telling developers they were the last programming-oriented changes planned ahead of the software’s release.
The company is said to have informed recipients of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard build 10A354 that it has simplified the application programming interfaces (APIs) for working with Grand Central, a new architecture that makes it easier for developers to take advantage of Macs with multiple processing cores.
According to AppleInsider, Grand Central works by breaking complex tasks down into smaller blocks, which are then routed efficiently to a Mac’s available cores for faster processing. This allows third-party developers to leverage more of a Mac’s hardware resources without having to be well-versed in multithreaded programming.
Sources close to the story say the Grand Central “dispatch” methods were tweaked/simplified within build 10A354. Apple has also apparently told developers that “no further API changes are planned for Snow Leopard.”
This means developers can now press forward with Snow Leopard versions of their applications with confidence that further Apple-instated changes won’t force them to make significant alterations to their code between now and the time the software hits the market. It can also be seen as a sign that the the operating system upgrade is one step closer to reaching a final developmental stretch that will focus on stability and optimization.
Other reputed changes include the addition of Chinese handwriting recognition support for Macs that include a multi-touch trackpad.
In support of the handwriting recognition software in Snow Leopard, Apple also reportedly tweaked the system’s Language & Text Preference Pane to include support for bidirectional text.
Apple has apparently also included a new codec due to debut with Snow Leopard called MPEG-4 High Efficiency AAC (or HE-AAC). The company has stated that the codec is an extension of the Low Complexity AAC (or AAC-LC) codec that’s optimized for low-bitrate steaming of audio and podcasts.
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is expected to hit the market sometime this summer with a near-finalized version likely to make a public appearance at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference next month in San Francisco.
Meanwhile, Apple this weekend also equipped developers with Mac OS X 10.5.7 build 9J61, which corrected one more minor issue with the impending Leopard update.

Rumor: Boot Camp Under Mac OS X to Include Windows HFS+ Drivers

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Date: Monday, May 11th, 2009, 08:04
Category: Rumor

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Mac OS X 10.6 is en route and according to MacRumors, evidence has been discovered showing a new version of Apple’s Boot Camp Utility under a Mac OS X 10.6 build offering support for Windows HFS+ drivers.
Such a change would allow Windows installations to read Mac OS X HFS+ formatted partitions and make it easier for Snow Leopard users to exchange files between Mac and Windows partitions without the assistance of third-party utilities.

Elgato Releases Elgato Video Capture for Mac, iPhone and iPod

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Date: Friday, May 8th, 2009, 14:26
Category: Accessory, Software

Accessory provider Elgato Systems announced the release of Elgato Video Capture, a hardware/software combination device for transferring analog video, including footage on VHS video tape, to a Mac, iPhone and iPod.
According to Macworld UK, the device connects VCRs, set top boxes, camcorders, DVD players, and other analog video sources, anything that uses composite RCA or S-Video outputs, to the Mac via a USB 2.0 interface.
The unit also ships with a SCART video adapter to allow RCA or S-Video devices to be connected.


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Elgato’s included software offers a simple tool to trim the beginning and end of the captured video as well as export tools to send the video to iTunes, QuickTime, YouTube or iMovie for final editing.
Generated files can then be synced with video capable iPods, iPhones and Apple TV and can be edited in iMovie ’09 without re-encoding.
The Video Capture unit automatically detects NTSC, SECAM, PAL, and PAL/60 video formats for universal compatibility.
Elgato Video Capture requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.6 or later, QuickTime 7.6 or later and iTunes 8.1 or later. The unit retails for £89.95 (US$136.45) and will be available from Apple retail stores and other Mac resellers.

BBEdit Updated to 9.2

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Date: Friday, May 8th, 2009, 08:51
Category: Software

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Late Thursday, Bare Bones Software released version 9.2 of BBEdit, its popular text and HTML editor. The software retails for US$125 for new users. The new version, a 15.4 megabyte download, features the following fixes and improvements:

  • Introduces an array of noteworthy features and refinements, including an innovative new Sleep command, which captures the state of the application and restores it at next launch. By sleeping BBEdit instead of quitting, customers can continue working after a system restart or software update with minimal disruption. The version 9.2 update also adds built-in support for editing LassoScript source code, including syntax coloring, function navigation and text folding.
  • The BBEdit 9.2 update also includes major enhancements to Projects with added commands for convenience, shortcuts for searching, and a new file format which better fits with source code management systems such as Subversion and Perforce. Version 9.2 includes an overhaul to BBEdit’s management of recently used items.
  • BBEdit 9.2 also signals enhancements to the Scratchpad feature, syntax coloring for all languages, with specific improvements to the Java and Python language support, and new support for the ability to browse Unix “tar” files in disk browsers.
  • BBEdit 9.2 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

    SlingPlayer 1.0.8 Released

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    Date: Thursday, May 7th, 2009, 08:01
    Category: Software

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    Late Wednesday, Sling Media announced the release of SlingPlayer 1.0.8, the newest version of its software packages that allows Mac users to access their television content on their computer. The new version, a 131 megabyte download (thanks to VersionTracker), sports the following fixes and changes:

  • Improved video quality.
  • Hybrid tuning support for the Slingbox PRO-HD.
  • Online Slingbox registration added; plus users can store their Slingbox ID online for easy access.
  • Improved Slingbox Setup Assistant: New setup and configuration screens are streamlined and easier to use.
  • Users can rapidly cycle between Fullscreen (4:3), Widescreen (16:9), Letterbox, Windowbox, Pillarbox modes.
  • Show / Hide player controls with one-click toggle.
  • SlingPlayer is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later to install and run.

    Apple and Microsoft Target Smart Shoppers in Marketing Campaigns

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    Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 09:08
    Category: Opinion

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    By Rachel Hoyer
    Who hasn’t seen the ubiquitous Microsoft “laptop hunters” and Apple’s “get a Mac” commercials? Each ad campaign attempts to convince the audience that savvy consumers purchase their brand. Microsoft uses documentary-style commercials where they offer “real” consumers (who are actually actors) a certain amount of money to purchase a new computer. Not surprisingly, each time they select a PC.
    According to the testimonials, sticker price is the deciding factor. Microsoft suggests that PCs are far cheaper than a comparable Mac. In other words, the smart shopper purchases a PC. “I guess I’m just not hip enough to buy a Mac,” quips a computer shopper in one ad. The inference is that those who buy Macs are more concerned with image than value or performance.
    By comparison, Apple’s ads use actors to personify the two types of computers. New York actor John Hodgman plays the dorky and backwards PC guy (ironically, he reportedly owns a Mac in real life). Whereas, Justin Long, who plays the Mac guy, is hip, organized and forward-thinking. Dialogue between the actors reveals that Appl’s products are easy to use and offer more helpful features than PCs. The implied conclusion is that smart shoppers buy Macs because Macs easily perform tasks that are difficult or impossible to perform on PCs.
    Both ad campaigns want the viewer to identify with the core values represented in their commercials. In the case of Microsoft, they’d like you to believe that you’d be a fool to spend more on a Mac when you they offer the same thing for a much better price. Apple insinuates that you’re uninformed if you think the two types of computers are comparable.
    There’s some truth to both allegations. It’s accurate that the purchase price of Macs tend to be higher than PCs with similar specifications. Nearly all widely used applications are available on both platforms, including Microsoft Windows. So, why would a smart shopper choose an Apple product? In brief: The value of your time. Thus far, Apple has been far more successful at integrating interface, applications and data. Additionally, as stated in their commercials, Apple is ahead of the trend when it comes to anticipating how consumers actually use their products. They design features to accommodate those needs. Microsoft products require you to constantly tinker with your operating system, including changing settings, fixing compatibility issues, scanning the registry for malware and defragmenting your hard drive. And the list wouldn’t be complete without mention of the extensive troubleshooting required upon encountering the infamous blue screen of death, with which every Microsoft user is familiar.
    There’s something to be said for a computer that doesn’t require frequent maintenance. Time is has a monetary value. After spending a certain amount of time fixing your PC, perhaps the Mac becomes a better value after all. In case you’re wondering which kind of computer I own, I’m the kind of consumer who buys a computer based on how I plan to use it rather than marketing, and I expect you are, too.

    Google Releases Picasa 3.0.5 Update

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    Date: Tuesday, May 5th, 2009, 07:24
    Category: Software

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    Late Monday, software giant Google released Picasa 3.0.5, the latest version of its photo organization program for the Mac.
    Once installed, Picasa imports (without moving or copying) photos from the iPhoto library as well as other folders and external hard drives on your Mac. The program also includes assorted editing tools for straightening, text generation, red eye removal, collage creation and Photoshop-like effects and adjustments.
    The new version, a 17.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

  • Added support for several new RAW file formats.
  • Now you can upload videos larger than 100MB.
  • Better previews when using Sharpen, Glow, or Film Grain.
  • Improvements for syncing to Picasa Web Albums.
  • Various minor bug fixes and stability improvements.
  • Picasa 3.0.5 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

    iMac EFI Firmware Update 1.4 Released for iMacs with ATI Radeon HD 4850 Card

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    Date: Monday, May 4th, 2009, 07:43
    Category: iMac, Software

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    Over the weekend, Apple released its iMac EFI Firmware Update 1.4 patch for iMac desktops equipped with ATI’s Radeon HD 4850 graphics card. The update, a 1.7 megabyte download (also available via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature) fixes intermittent system freeze issues and fixes wake-from-sleep issues in Boot Camp.
    To run the firmware update process, please follow the instructions in the updater application (/Applications/Utilities/iMac EFI Firmware Update.app). The updater will launch automatically when the Installer closes.
    After the firmware is successfully applied to your Mac, your Boot ROM Version will be:
    IM91.008D.B08.
    The update requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

    Blu-Ray Support Code Found in iTunes 8.2 Beta

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    Date: Thursday, April 30th, 2009, 09:24
    Category: Rumor, Software

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    Apple’s long had a strange relationship with Blu-Ray support on its machines, often cited as the company’s hesitancy when it couldn’t get all the concessions it wanted on licensing. Even with this, an interesting article on MacRumors has discovered references to Blu-Ray data from the Gracenote music service in the latest version of the iTunes 8.2 beta.
    In short, official Blu-Ray support may not be far off for the Mac.

    Google Earth 5.0.11729.1014 Released

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    Date: Wednesday, April 29th, 2009, 08:10
    Category: Software

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    Late Tuesday, software giant Google released version 5.0.11729.1014 of its popular Google Earth program. The new version, a 27 megabyte download, adds the following new features:

  • Historical imagery from around the globe.
  • Ocean floor and surface data from marine experts.
  • Simplified touring with audio and voice recording.
  • The new version requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.