Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air notebook to once again include backlit keyboards

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Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 06:29
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

The new MacBook Air: It might just feature the shiny coolness that is a backlit keyboard.

With the release of new models later this month, Apple is set to reinstate a feature to its MacBook Airs that went missing when the company overhauled the ultra-thin notebooks into more cost-affordable products late last year.

Per AppleInsider, according to sources close to the story, backlit keyboards will join the string of hardware enhancements planned for the new 11.6- and 13.3-inch notebooks, which are also expected to adopt high-speed Thunderbolt ports, an upgrade to Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture, and possibly high-speed 400MBps flash memory.

The omission late last year of keyboard backlights — which help illuminate the keys on a keyboard in dim lighting scenarios — from Apple’s current lineup of MacBook Airs was particularly glaring given that all three iterations of the first-generation of MacBook Airs (Early 2008 to Mid-2009) included them as standard features.

Given Apple’s energy saving controls, software expertise, and the nominal cost associated with including keyboard backlights, it was never particularly clear why Apple opted to leave out the feature when it redesigned the MacBook Air line last October. One industry watcher even went as far as to call it “planned obsolescence” on Apple’s part.

Nevertheless, people familiar with the matter say Apple’s white 13.3-inch MacBook will once again be the only notebook from the company to lack keyboard backlights once the new Airs make their debut sometime during the week of July 21st.

According to sources, Apple has been holding off shipments of roughly 400,000 of these new MacBook Airs until it can image them with the finalized Golden Master build of Mac OS X Lion, which privately began making its way to developers last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iMovie 9.0.4 update

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Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011, 09:56
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released iMovie 9.0.4, the latest version of its consumer-level video editing application. The new version, a 76.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Support for opening projects imported from iMovie for iOS.

- Fixes an issue where some audio adjustments were not preserved.

- Addresses a performance issue when using large quantities of video clips with keywords.

- Resolves issue with slow application launch when working with large iPhoto libraries.

iMovie 9.0.4 requires Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later to install and run and can be snagged manually or via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

Apple releases iPhoto 9.1.5 update

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Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011, 09:54
Category: News, Software

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Apple on Monday released iPhoto 9.1.5, the latest version of its image organization and editing application. The update, a 108 megabyte download which can be be snagged via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature, offers the following major fixes and changes:

- The date range of each event now updates correctly to reflect changes made to photos using the Adjust Time and Date command.

- Addresses an issue that could cause the Photos view to scroll incorrectly when Event Titles are displayed.

- Fixes a problem that could prevent Ken Burns animations from being applied correctly on photos in a saved Classic slideshow.

- Deleting photos from a web album using the contextual menu now removes them from the album without deleting them from the library.

- Addresses an issue that could prevent a crop adjustment from being removed from a photo when using the Revert to Original command.

iPhoto 9.1.5 retails for US$49 as part of iLife ’11 and requires Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later to install and run.

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

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen MacBook Air, Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) by next week

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Date: Friday, July 8th, 2011, 03:46
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

With the middle of July almost upon us, the long-awaited arrival of Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) and a refreshed MacBook Air notebook are something we’re hankering for. Per CNET, a “few overseas sources” have stated that “Apple Retail stores are planning ‘overnights’ on July 13th.” Overnights typically entail a refresh of Apple store displays and training on new products.

The cool cats at AppleInsider have also heard similar chatter, citing a “bulletin” posted to Apple’s internal retail news network “advising store management to perform RAM upgrades to certain Mac models on the showroom floors by Sunday, July 10th at the latest.” The deduction: this is needed to ready those models for upgrades to Lion.

Apple is already on the record with statements about a July release. At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company announced that it would be releasing Lion as a US$29.99 update to users in July. The OS has already reached gold master status, according to reports.

Probably not coincidentally, the OS X Lion page on Apple’s site shows the new operating system running on the MacBook Air.

Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) will bring plenty of enhancements and tweaks, including iCloud services built into the software, iOS-style Launchpad to house apps, full-screen apps and previewing Preview PDFs full-screen, Mission Control that comes up with a three-finger swipe, automatic tracking of document version history, and a resume feature that picks up where the user left off, among other new features.

The new MacBook Air is expected to weigh only 2.3 pounds (for the 11.6-inch model) and is anticipated to feature a fast Intel Sandy Bridge Core i series processors for the first time and a Thunderbolt port–both features already present on its 13-inch MacBook Pro cousin.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

SpamSieve updated to 2.8.6

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Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011, 02:26
Category: News, Software

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Michael Tsai’s must-have shareware program, SpamSieve, has just been updated to version 2.8.6. The new version, an 8.3 megabyte download, makes the following fixes and improvements:

- Made various changes to improve SpamSieve’s filtering accuracy.

- Improved compatibility with Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion).

- Added support for Postbox 2.5.

- Updated the Setting Up MailMate instructions for the new preferences in MailMate 1.1.2.

- Updated the Setting Up Outlook instructions for Microsoft Office 2011 Service Pack 1.

- Updated the Setting Up Postbox instructions to ensure that messages that you train as spam are moved to the junk mailbox or trash.

- Worked around a rare OS/hardware condition that could prevent SpamSieve from launching.

- The Apple Mail plug-in is better at reporting errors when it’s unable to fully load itself.

- Made various other clarifications to the manual.

- Adjusted the help page titles to fit better in the menu and search results.

SpamSieve is available for a US$30 registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run. The new version can either be downloaded directly from the web site or brought up to the current version via the program’s built-in update feature.

Skype updated to version 5.2.0.1523, offers assorted bug fixes

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Date: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011, 03:47
Category: News, Software

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On Wednesday, version 5.2.0.1523 of the Skype VoIP application went public. The new version, a 20.8 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Improved Multi-tasking

- Group Screen Sharing

- Sidebar enhancement

- Support for Mac’s built-in HD and Logitech’s B910 HD cameras

- Minor bug fixes

Skype 5.2.0.1523 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

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

Rumor: Apple to use Toggle DDR 2.0 NAND flash memory in next-gen MacBook Air

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Date: Tuesday, July 5th, 2011, 03:17
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

If you’re hankering for cool details about features for Apple’s next-gen MacBook Air, you might like this.

Per Macotakara, Apple is rumored to adopt “Toggle DDR 2.0,” a 19-nanometer process for NAND flash memory offering 400 megabyte-per-second speed, in its next MacBook Air.

Citing a person with an “Asian electronics component company,” the report said that the new technology will replace the Blade X-gale found in the current MacBook Air models.

The new 19-nanometer flash memory is said to be packaged on a smaller chip, and will be soldered onto the base circuit of the new thin-and-light notebook directly.

The report noted that the Open NAND Flash Interface Working Group, which standardizes NAND flash, has released the ONFi 3.0 specification for 400MBps speeds, but most memory processing companies do not yet offer compatible chips. It said that “Toggle DDR 2.0,” which is a standardized procedure from the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, is believed to have been embraced by Apple.

Apple’s MacBook Air was made thinner and lighter with a new model released last October that features instant-on capabilities with no hard drive and no optical drive. The ultraportable notebook sports only NAND flash memory for storage.

That storage was initially provided by Toshiba, but later changed to Samsung. The change allowed for read times to be upgraded to 261.1MBps, from 209.8Mbps, while write times were boosted to 209MBps from 175.6MBps.

Rather than relying on traditional 2.5-inch or 1.8-inch SSDs, the new MacBook Air drives utilize a new form factor known as mSATA. After the thinner and lighter MacBook Air was unveiled last year, Toshiba announced its Blade X-gale SSD series, the same hardware found in Apple’s thin-and-light notebook.

Apple is said to have built nearly 400,000 of its next-generation MacBook Air last month in preparation for a launch that is expected to occur soon. The anticipated new notebooks are believed to feature Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors, as well as the new high-speed Thunderbolt port.

While new MacBook Air hardware is expected to launch soon, it will not debut until Apple’s next-generation operating system is released. It’s also been reported that Apple would freeze the introductions of new Mac hardware until Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is released. The “Golden Master” of Lion was released to developers last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Happy Fourth of July from the PowerPage!!!

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Date: Monday, July 4th, 2011, 03:10
Category: Announcement

Happy Fourth of July from O’Grady’s PowerPage, where the staff will be taking the day off to celebrate the holiday, grab some tasty barbecue and spend time with friends and family prior to watching rather large (and nifty) explosions in the sky tonight.

We’ll be back tomorrow with additional Mac and iOS mobile technology coverage, so enjoy the holiday and Happy Fourth, wherever you may be!!!

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7 gold master to developer community, upgrade due this month

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Date: Friday, July 1st, 2011, 10:40
Category: News, Software

As July begins, Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) is due to hit this month and as of Friday, Apple has released Lion’s Gold Master (GM) seed to developers.

Per Macworld, The GM release traditionally signals the last major internal update before the release to the general public; save any major issues, this version (labeled build number 11A511) of Lion should be the one consumers will see later this month.

Lion still has no official release date from Apple beyond the nebulous “July”, but we’ll keep you informed as to any news or changes as they become available.


Initial tests show promising Thunderbolt speeds, ability to boot off new port

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Date: Thursday, June 30th, 2011, 04:26
Category: Hardware, News

A newly published series of test results from the cool cats at AnandTech shows Apple’s newly adopted Thunderbolt technology blows FireWire 800 out of the water with data transfer speeds to an external RAID system at 700MB/s.

After the release of Apple’s Thunderbolt cable on Tuesday, early impressions have begun to surface on the Web. The AnandTech staff got their hands on both the US$49 cable and the US$1,999 Promise Pegasus R6 system and have subsequently stated that they are able to write to the 12TB RAID array at nearly 700MB/s while on a notebook. The speed obliterated that of the commonplace USB 2.0, as well as FireWire 800.

In his testing, Anand Shimpi also revealed via Twitter that external drives can be booted from via Thunderbolt. This makes it possible to have a full install of OS X, which includes all your files and apps, stored on a Thunderbolt external drive. This in turn would allow you to take your computer everywhere you go, and run it on another Thunderbolt-equipped Mac.

Per Macworld’s test of the new cable with the same RAID system, their detailed results show Thunderbolt is between 4 and 21 times faster than FireWire & USB 2.0. When compared to both on a 2.2GHz Core i5 Macbook Pro, Thunderbolt could write a 2GB file at 210.5 MBps.

On the other hand, USB 2.0 could only stretch to 29.7 MBps, a result that is 7.09 times slower. FireWire 400 could write the file at 30.2MBps, 6.97 times slower & FireWire 800 wrote the file at 47MBps, or 4.47 times slower.

Also Tuesday, Apple issued a series of 10 questions and answers related to Thunderbolt. Most of the information presented was already announced, like the fact that the cable offers two independent channels of 10GBit/s.

One new bit of information from the series of answers is a possible drawback for high-end Macbook Pro users: A PCI Express Card in the Express Card slot cannot be operated if the system is connected to a Thunderbolt device. Apple recommends disconnecting the device if you are going to use the Express Slot.

The full list of info is included below:

1. What is the maximum bandwidth supported by Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt cable (2 m)?

Thunderbolt utilizes two separate 10Gbps links—one for displays and one for PCI-E device trafffic—for throughput of up to 10 Gbps between Thunderbolt capable devices and your Mac. Some devices not made by Apple may support different bandwidth rates; consult any documentation that came with your Thunderbolt-enabled device for information specific to your device. Choose the Disk Activity tab in Activity Monitor to read current disk activity statistics, which may be helpful to determine disk activity with storage devices using Thunderbolt. Some storage devices may have a maximum transfer rate lower than the bandwidth potential of Thunderbolt.

2. What is the proper way to insert a Thunderbolt cable into my Thunderbolt-capable device or Mac?

The Thunderbolt symbol should be on the top of the connector. You can plug either end of the cable into a device or Mac; the connectors on each end are the same. Do not force the Thunderbolt cable into your Thunderbolt-capable device or Mac computer’s Thunderbolt port.

3. How do I confirm a Thunderbolt-enabled device is connected to a Mac?

Open System Profiler and examine the Thunderbolt tab for a list of any connected Thunderbolt devices.

4. Can I use a Thunderbolt cable to connect a Promise, La Cie, or other third-party storage device that uses Thunderbolt?

Yes. You can use a Thunderbolt cable to connect any Thunderbolt-enabled device or Mac.

5. Is there a maximum supported length for using Thunderbolt cables with Apple products?

Thunderbolt cables should not exceed two meters for maximum performance. Apple Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt cable (2 m) is two meters in length. Some Thunderbolt devices include an extra port you can use to connect other Thunderbolt devices downstream with additional Thunderbolt cables.

6. Why is there a black screen when I use a Thunderbolt cable to connect to an Intel-based iMac that supports Target Display Mode?

Although a Thunderbolt cable will fit into Mini DisplayPort connections, only Mini DisplayPort cables can be used to in Target Display Mode with an iMac (Late 2009) or iMac (Mid 2010) connected to a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac; iMac models produced before 2011 do not support Thunderbolt cables or devices. If you have an iMac (Late 2009), make sure you have the 27-inch SMC iMac Firmware Update 1.0 installed to avoid issues waking from sleep in Target Display Mode.

7. What do I do if my Mac doesn’t have a Thunderbolt option in System Profiler and no connected devices seem to be recognized?

For Mac computers with Thunderbolt, run Software Update to install any available updates to use Thunderbolt devices with your Mac.

8. I’ve installed all available updates, but no Thunderbolt devices are recognized when I connect them with Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt cable (2 m).

Try using a different a Thunderbolt cable, using a Mini DisplayPort cable, or—in the case of a storage device—try using another supported connection method, such as USB or FireWire.

9. Can I use Target Disk Mode with a Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt cable (2 m) and a third-party storage device that uses Thunderbolt?

Yes. The Thunderbolt logo should appear with the FireWire logo when you start up a Thunderbolt-enabled Mac and have a Thunderbolt storage device connected. If you have both a Thunderbolt and a FireWire storage device connected and enter Target Disk Mode, the Thunderbolt-enabled device will be the default. If you disconnect either a Thunderbolt or FireWire storage device after successfully entering Target Disk Mode, the corresponding icon should disappear from the display.

10. Can I use Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt cable (2 m) with supported versions of Microsoft Windows on a Thunderbolt-capable Mac with Boot Camp?

Yes. Learn more about using Thunderbolt with your Mac running Windows with Boot Camp.

If you’ve played with the new Thunderbolt port or have any comments, please let us know.