Apple begins selling $69 Mac OS X 10.7 USB thumb drive

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Date: Tuesday, August 16th, 2011, 06:11
Category: News, retail, Software

If you don’t have a killer broadband connection, then this can’t hurt.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is now selling the US$69 Mac OS X 10.7 USB install drive in its online store.

Buying Lion on a physical medium from Apple’s online store carries a price more than twice that of the digital download. The drive ships for free in one to three business days.

“OS X Lion is available on a USB thumb drive for installation without the need for a broadband Internet connection,” Apple’s official product description reads. “Just plug the drive into your USB port and follow the instructions to install. OS X Lion is also available for a lower price as a digital download from the Mac App Store.”

In addition to the lower price, Apple also incentivized users to buy Lion from the Mac App Store buy giving it a month’s head start over the USB thumb drive. The 3.49GB operating system install became available for download on July 20.

The product also comes with an “Important Note” from Apple: “When you install OS X Lion using the USB thumb drive, you will not be able to reinstall OS X Lion from Lion Recovery. You will need to use the USB thumb drive to reinstall OS X Lion.”

Lion marks the first operating system release from Apple where a download is the preferred install method. AppleInsider was first to report in May that Apple planned to push users toward buying through the Mac App Store.

The last version of Mac OS X, Snow Leopard, also carried at US$29.99 price tag, but its default distribution method was on a physical DVD. When Apple redesigned its thin-and-light MacBook Air in 2010, it came with a USB thumb drive to reinstall Snow Leopard, as Apple began to move away from disc drives in its Mac lineup.

Apple did not reveal until Lion became available on the Mac App Store in July that a USB thumb drive would be sold in August. But the company also noted that users who do not have broadband access at home, work or school can download the multi-gigabyte install file from the Mac App Store at its retail stores at no extra cost.

If you’ve snagged the thumb drive and have any feedback to offer about the install, let us know what you think in the comments.

Recently published Apple patents describe steps towards driverless printing for Mac OS X, iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, August 16th, 2011, 03:27
Category: Patents, Rumor, Software

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In a pair of recent filings, Apple proposed methods that would eliminate the necessity of printer drivers in order to streamline the printing process for users of its Mac OS X and iOS devices.

The first of the two patent applications, entitled “Walk-Up Printing Without Drivers,” reveals methods of circumventing the printer driver requirement when such a driver is absent from Apple mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Macs.

According to ConceivablyTech, Apple describes a new printing process for such mobile computing devices that would allow them to wirelessly detect a printer and determine whether a printer driver is installed.

The user would then be able to continue the printing job even without a driver by employing a series of APIs based on a discovery protocol such as Bonjour, an Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) and the PostScript Printer Description (PPD) file, which is used to detect the printer.

In the event that the device still fails to pair up with the printer, the user would have a third way of completing the print job — by sending the documents to the cloud and using cloud-specific printing technology to communicate with the printer.

The second patent, filed on the same day as the first one, September 14, 2010 according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and entitled “Data Formats to Support Driverless Printing,” shows a different driverless and wireless printing concept also explored by Apple.

The company suggests a new way for mobile devices to bypass the printer driver requirement by storing a specific data structure that would be able to specify the following printing characteristics when detecting a printer: “resolutions, color spaces, bit depths, input slots, face-up/face-down input orientation, output bins, face-up/face-down output orientation, duplex printing support, media types, copy support, supported finishings, and print quality.”

A new “URF-supported key,” part of discovery and transport protocols, is also mentioned by the second patent. Its purpose would be to offer a “standardized set of capabilities that are supported by a printer” that would let the user “generate printer data for any type of printer” without actually storing any printer-specific details on the computing device in question.

The new wireless and driverless technologies described by these two new patents would complement Apple’s existing AirPrint capabilities for iOS devices and could lead to a future driver-free printing experience for most Mac OS X computers.

Apple has high hopes for AirPrint, but has run into a few snags in the transition to driverless printing. Late last year, one rumor suggested that Apple had run into intellectual property issues with the AirPrint architecture, a problem that could potentially be alleviated should the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office grant the above patents to Apple.

Meanwhile, printer makers such as HP and EFI have been steadily adding support for the feature to their printer offerings.

If you have any thoughts on this, let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

VirtualBox updated to 4.1.2

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Date: Monday, August 15th, 2011, 10:11
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.1.2. The new version, a 88.9 megabyte download, sports an extensive list of changes that can be found here.

VirtualBox 4.1.2 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.

Mozilla releases Firefox 6.0 update

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Date: Monday, August 15th, 2011, 03:59
Category: News, Software

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Late Sunday, Mozilla.org released version 6.0 of its Firefox web browser. The new version stands as an 28.1 megabyte download offered the following fixes and changes:

- The address bar now highlights the domain of the website you’re visiting.

- Streamlined the look of the site identity block.

- Added support for the latest draft version of WebSockets with a prefixed API.

- Added support for EventSource / server-sent events.

- Added support for window.matchMedia.

- Added Scratchpad, an interactive JavaScript prototyping environment.

- Added a new Web Developer menu item and moved development-related items into it.

- Improved usability of the Web Console.

- Improved the discoverability of Firefox Sync.

- Reduced browser startup time when using Panorama.

Firefox 6.0 requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

BBEdit updated to 10.0.1

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Date: Thursday, August 11th, 2011, 05:37
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Bare Bones Software released version 10.0.1 of BBEdit, its popular text and HTML editor. The software retails for US$125 for new users. The new version, a 13.7 megabyte download, features an extensive list fixes and improvements with release notes available here.

BBEdit 10.0.1 retails for US$49.99 with an introductory price of US$39.99 between now through October 19th and 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 to offer, let us know in the comments.

Apple expands buyback/recycling program for old iPhones, iPads and Macs

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Date: Wednesday, August 10th, 2011, 04:03
Category: Hardware, News

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If you have elderly Mac stuff, you can still get something for it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has enhanced its recycling program to add a new “reuse” option that pays owners of existing iPhones, iPads, Mac or PC desktop or notebook computers a fair market value for their old equipment, paid via an Apple Gift Card.

The company continues to offer a variety of recycling programs: a place to dump unwanted electronics of any kind at its Cupertino, California head quarters (which it has operated since 2002); free recycling of Mac batteries at any of its retail stores; and free pickup and disposal of any brand of computer or display contracted through WeRecycle!, which user can obtain a free prepaid shipping label from at www.werecycle.com.

Users who own an iOS device or a computer from any manufacturer can obtain a credit for the fair market value of that device, calculated by PowerOn, a third party company Apple has contracted with to run the reuse program.

While recycling old products dismantles them and harvests valuable components such as metal, plastic and glass for recycled use in new products, reuse is an even greener option, as it extends the useful life of products that have value in the second hand market.

“If your product qualifies for reuse — meaning it has monetary value — you’ll receive an Apple Gift Card equivalent to its fair market value as determined by PowerON,” Apple states on its new recycling program website.

“You can use the gift card for eligible purchases at any U.S. Apple Retail Store or the U.S. Apple Online Store. If your product does not have monetary value, we’ll recycle it at no cost to you.”

Users can get a preliminary valuation for their old devices online, then arrange to ship them to PowerOn at no cost. The company will then contact the user if the apprised value is different than what was quoted online, a figure based on the user’s own description of the product’s condition.

If the user chooses not to accept the final value, it will be returned at no charge. Otherwise, PowerOn will arrange to credit the user via an Apple Gift Card within three weeks of receipt. The company also securely erases all data remaining on the devices while preparing them for resale.

PowerOn’s estimated value of a functional, first generation iPad in very good condition is US$165, for example. Users may likely be able to find their own second hand buyer for relatively new products in good condition, and fetch a higher price.

However, for older devices with some damage or dysfunctional features, the reuse option may provide an easier, more convenient option that still recoups some value they can then reinvest in new Apple gear.

Apple releases Lion Recovery Disk Assistant to function with external hard drives

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Date: Tuesday, August 9th, 2011, 03:11
Category: News, Software

If your Lion partition is being finicky, this might help.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday released Lion Recovery Disk Assistant software to enable users to create recovery partitions on external drives.

Lion Recovery Disk Assistant expands Apple’s Recovery features in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion to add support for creating a Recovery Disk on external drives. According to Apple’s release notes for the software, the resulting partition has all of the same capabilities as the built-in Lion Recovery: reinstall Lion, repair the disk using Disk Utility, restore from a Time Machine backup, or browse the web with Safari.

Creating an external Lion Recovery using the assistant requires that the Mac already have an existing Recovery HD. The external drive must also have at least 1GB of free space, while Lion Recovery Disk Assistant is a 1.07MB download.

The new partition will not be visible in the Finder or Disk Utility on Mac OS X, but can be accessed by rebooting the Mac while holding the Option key.

Users are warned that the Lion Recovery Disk Assistant will erase all data on the external hard drive. Apple recommends either backing up data or creating a new partition on the drive before running the assistant.

Apple also notes that if the Recovery HD is created for a Mac that shipped with Lion, the external recovery drive can only be used with that system. However, if the the assistant is run on a Mac that upgraded to Lion from Mac OS X Snow Leopard, then the external recovery drives can be used on other systems that upgraded from Snow Leopard.

Max OS X Lion contains a number of advanced Recovery tools, in part because the update is deployed over the Mac App Store, rather than via optical disk as with previous OS X versions. The latest Macs, which ship with Lion pre-installed, include a new Internet Recovery feature that allows users to start a Mac directly from Apple’s servers.

Lion arrived on July 20 and was downloaded more than 1 million times in the first 24 hours. The upgrade contains more than 250 new features, including AirDrop, Mission Control and full-screen apps.

Apple plans to release a US$69 USB thumb drive loaded with Lion on its online store later this month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

New Mac OS X trojan horse goes live, acts as Adobe Flash Player updater application

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Date: Monday, August 8th, 2011, 08:46
Category: News, security, Software

The bad news: There’ll always be people designing viruses, trojans and malware for computers.

The good news: It’s quite a bit rarer on the Mac OS X side of things.

Even so, the latest attempt from digital wrongdoers to infect your Mac has been spotted taking on the look and feel of Adobe’s Flash Installer.

According to CNET, the trojan, which has been dubbed as fairly serious since it mimics the Adobe Flash Player updated, has been named the Trojan Bash/QHost.WB by F-Secure, which provided some insight as to how it works.

Once installed, the Trojan adds entries to the hosts file to hijack users visiting various Google sites (e.g., Google.com.tw, Google.com.tl, et cetera) to the IP address 91.224.160.26, which is located in Netherlands. The server at the IP address displays a fake Web page designed to appear similar to the legitimate Google site.

The Trojan is currently dormant, meaning that while it will take you to the fake Google site, nothing will happen. It is, however, programed to serve pop-up ads once the user has accessed the false IP.

The current solution is to only install Adobe updates from Adobe’s official Web site. As with any Trojan designed for Mac, the malware only works if the user allows it. Most of the threats currently in the wild can be avoided by simply sticking to paid versions of software obtained directly from trusted creators of the product.

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.

Carbon Copy Cloner updated to 3.4.2

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Date: Friday, August 5th, 2011, 04:49
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Carbon Copy Cloner, the shareware favorite for drive cloning operations by Mike Bombich, reached version 3.4.2. The new version, a 5.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Fixed an issue in which scheduled tasks with a remote Macintosh specified as the source would not run properly if the scheduled task had been upgraded from an earlier version of CCC.

- Fixed an issue in which a task scheduled to run when the source or destination was reconnected would not fire unless the disk was physically detached from the Mac.

- Fixed an issue that would interfere with the execution of scheduled tasks configured to back up to a network volume.

- Fixed an issue in which some network filesystems would not appear in the source and destination menus, or would cause a crash when selected.

- Fixed an issue in which the Cloning Coach would appear frozen on screen.

- The email recipients field should now be editable on Tiger systems.

- Several general tweaks to user interface behavior.

- Fixed an issue in which a restored volume wouldn’t be bootable if the volume had been restored while booted from a different version of Mac OS X than what was being restored.

- CCC now avoids setting file flags and permissions on files that are not owned by the user account that was used to mount a network filesystem.

- Fixed an issue in which CCC would report that it was unable to enable ACLs on the destination volume when specifying a folder as the destination.

- Fixed an issue in which CCC would not display the list of currently-configured scheduled tasks in the Scheduler window.

- Added undo and redo support to the “Ask a question about CCC” form in CCC’s Help window.

- Fixed an issue in which the “Send test email” button would be unclickable if the Scheduler window was resized vertically.

- Fixed an issue in which a scheduled task would not run, rather it would only display the background “Defer/Skip” window. This issue was associated with a “-[__NSCFBoolean objectForKey:]: unrecognized selector sent to instance” error in the CCC log file.

- Fixed an issue in which CCC would report an error enabling ACLs when the source was a remote Macintosh. The error would subsequently cause the backup task to fail.

- Growl notifications should now work with scheduled tasks.

- /.DocumentRevisions-V100 is now excluded by default. A note on this exclusion has also been added to the appropriate section of the documentation.

- CCC now deletes the per-task archive folder at the end of the backup task if that folder is empty. The _CCC Archives folder will also be deleted if it is subsequently empty.

- Archive folders were occasionally created with restrictive access that would prevent the user from accessing their contents. These folders will now be more reliably created with the user set as the owner.

- Fixed a bug in which an improperly unmounted volume would cause scheduled tasks to fail. Suspending a Parallels VM, for example, could trigger this behavior (Parallels unmounts the “C” drive but does not remove the mountpoint folder).

- Fixed an issue affecting Leopard users in which CCC would hang when the user clicked the Stop button.

- Fixed an issue in which Growl notifications would not be accepted by the Growl helper when sent from a CCC scheduled task.

- The “Maintain a backup (Archive modified and deleted items)” preset no longer calls for archive pruning. Archive pruning must be requested explicitly by the user.

- Fixed an issue in which CCC would report permissions problems while accessing some files on network filesystems.

- Made a couple tweaks to the sending of email notifications that should make it work better with some email servers.

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.4.2 retails for a US$10 shareware registration fee. The application requires Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later to run.

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