O'Grady's PowerPage » Microsoft

Google begins adding CardDAV support for iOS calendar users

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 28th, 2012, 07:07
Category: iOS, News, Software

googlelogo.jpg

Google has added support for the open CardDAV contact syncing protocol used by Apple in OS X and iOS, enabling Google Contacts users to directly sync just like Yahoo and iCloud.

Google’s Gmail product manager Jeff Ellingson noted the new support for CardDAV on the company’s blog today.

The new support requires iOS 5 or higher, and currently requires users to manually set up an “other” CardDAV account, as Apple’s automated setup for Google accounts on both OS X and iOS only configure Gmail & Notes (via IMAP), Calendar & Reminders (via CalDAV), and Messages (via XMPP).

In the future, Apple will likely add support for simply checking a box for Contacts sync to simplify CardDAV account configuration, just as it does for Yahoo and Facebook accounts that already support CardDAV.

Apple pioneered support for the CalDAV and CardDAV open specifications in its efforts to build open Calendar and Contact sharing services in OS X Server as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange Server, which uses proprietary protocols to sync such data between clients and servers.

The company first added CalDAV and CardDAV support to its mobile devices in iOS 4 two years ago.

Apple has aggressively pushed both open standards for calendar and contact sync, enabling users to seamlessly use Macs and iOS devices with not just its own OS X Server and iCloud offerings, but also third party services from AOL, Google, Yahoo and any other systems that support them.

CalDAV and CardDAV are based upon the WebDAV specification for building web servers capable of both reading and writing information, so implementing the protocols is relatively simple for third parties.

If you’ve tried the new Google CalDAV and CardDAV support features in iOS, please let us know how your experience went in the comments.

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.2.4, Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.4 updates for Mac

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, September 20th, 2012, 07:24
Category: News, Software

On Wednesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.2.4 update. The update, a 116 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Office 2011 for Mac now supports retina rendering on Mac computers that are equipped with a Retina display.

Improvements for Outlook for Mac 2011:
- This update adds the ability for reminders of calendar events to be displayed for all calendars in Outlook. Previously, reminders were only displayed for calendar events in the default account’s calendar. Reminders are now displayed for other calendars, and this includes local On My Computer calendars. This update adds the ability to select a default text encoding for composing new messages.

- The encoding that is selected in composing preferences will be applied to all new messages that are sent from Mac Outlook. To access composing preferences, select Outlook, select Preferences, and then select Composing. The new preference is Preferred encoding for new messages.

- This update changes the HTML syntax of new signatures to be compatible with Mountain Lion and the latest version of WebKit. Email signatures in HTML-formatted email messages may not be displayed in the intended color when the messages are viewed in Mountain Lion or in previous OS versions that were upgraded to the latest version of WebKit. Existing signatures that exhibit this problem must be deleted and recreated to resolve the problem.

- This update improves Mac Outlook’s handling of partially downloaded messages. It is now possible to delete or move partially downloaded Exchange messages within the same account.

- This update fixes an issue in which Mac Outlook would crash when it moved certain messages to On My Computer folders by using client-side rules.

- This update fixes an issue in which the last entry from search results in the Select User dialog box was chosen even when another entry was selected. Distribution lists that are selected from search results in the Select User dialog box are chosen correctly. This issue was related to searching and selecting distribution lists only.

- This update resolves an issue that prevented Mac Outlook from downloading mail, calendar, or contact items that contained certain nonprintable characters.

- This update fixes an issue in Mac Outlook with delegated access to email. In certain cases, the email address of the primary user would be added incorrectly to the “Me” contact of the delegate.
This update resolves the issue in which, in some cases, searching in Mac Outlook by using a date filter returned the wrong results.

- This update fixes an issue in Mac Outlook that affected certain messages that were originally imported from PST files. If such messages were copied into an Exchange account, certain messages would not be readable on Outlook Web Access or other Exchange mail clients.

Microsoft Office 14.2.4 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and for the Service Pack 1 updater to have been previously installed.

The company also released version 12.3.4 of its Microsoft Office 2008 suite for Mac. The update, a 229 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and features:

- Contains changes that improve stability, reliability, and performance.

- Fixes an issue that may cause Excel 2008 for Mac to crash when you click Insert Object and then click to select the Display as icon check box in the Insert Object dialog box.

Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.4 requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and have anything to report back, let us know.

Skype 5.11.0.33 public beta released

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 14th, 2012, 07:41
Category: News, Software

skypelogo.jpg

Late Thursday, Skype released a public beta (version 5.11.0.33) of its VoIP application. The new version, a 31.7 megabyte download via MacUpdate, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Sharing Instant Messages with friends on Messenger. You can now sign in with your Microsoft account (formerly Windows Live ID), and see presence as well as send and receive IM messages from your friends who are using Messenger, Xbox, Hotmail or Outlook.com.

- Improved Facebook integration. You can now sign in directly with your Facebook account, without needing to first create a Skype account.

- Different conversations can now be opened in separate windows by selecting this option in Preferences (General -> Open conversation in new window when I double-click in the sidebar).

- Link Microsoft and Facebook accounts to a Skype account. If you sign in with a Microsoft or Facebook account you will be offered the option to link your Skype account. If you choose the link option then Skype will display a combined list of friends. This is an area we are still working through so please let us know about your experience.

Skype 5.11.0.33 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

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

Apple making changes with iCloud Notes and Reminders, adding more comprehensive Lost My iPhone feature in forthcoming updates

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 11th, 2012, 06:27
Category: iCloud, News, Software

Some upcoming iCloud features could prove incredibly useful and interesting.

Per AppleInsider, the upcoming iCloud Notes and Reminders apps are virtually identical to their iOS and OS X Mountain Lion siblings. The new Reminders web app offers a cloud-based version of events synced with iOS mobile devices and desktop Macs, although it does not support location based reminders (simply ignoring any “geofence” reminder settings triggered to go out when entering or leaving a particular location).

Notes gets a similar web treatment, although unlike its iOS and OS X counterparts, there’s no way to change the default font from Noteworthy. Notes on the web also reflects the stitched leather binding of its iOS counterpart rather than the plainer version in OS X.

In addition to the two new apps, iCloud Mail and Calendar are both getting minor updates. The new Mail adds support for VIP inboxes introduced in Mountain Lion’s Mail this summer.

Mail also uses iOS style scroll bars that are skinnier and translucent, in strange contrast to iCloud’s Calendar app, which continues to use a standard scroll bars with a full gutter and arrow buttons.

The only apparent change in Calendars is the removal of the Reminders list, which is now its own app. Similarly, the iCloud Contacts app hasn’t changed at all, so it retains the odd “bookmark” control for accessing contact groups that Apple has removed from both the OS X and iOS 6 versions of the app.

Also left apparently unchanged is Apple’s support for saving and accessing iWork documents from the web. Overall, the company’s web strategy for iCloud seems very conservative, given that both Google and now Microsoft have made web versions of their office apps a prominent part of their software strategy.

One final feature Apple has added to iCloud’s web portfolio is a new “Lost Mode” within Find My iPhone. The new feature is an enhancement over the previous version, which only offers to lock the device and optionally send it a message.

If your iOS 6 device goes missing, you can click on Lost Mode and the app prompts you to enter a phone number and message, locks the device remotely and will track the device every time it moves, reporting changes in location via email updates. It will also draw each location change on the map, showing a trail of where the device has shown up.

Devices that haven’t yet upgraded to iOS 6, along with Macs registered to use iCloud’s Find My Mac, continue to support the old Lock feature, without updates or live tracking.

Notably, Apple is still using Google Maps within iCloud rather than its own Maps that will launch with the new iOS 6 update later this week. The company may transition over to its own map services at some point.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases OS X 10.8.1 update

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 23rd, 2012, 07:29
Category: News, Software

The bug fixes had to come sometime.

On Thursday, Apple released version 10.8.1 of its OS X Mountain Lion operating system. The new version, a 24.2 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Resolve an issue that may cause Migration Assistant to unexpectedly quit.

- Improve compatibility when connecting to a Microsoft Exchange server in Mail.

- Address an issue playing audio through a Thunderbolt display.

- Resolve an issue that could prevent iMessages from being sent.

- Address an issue that could cause the system to become unresponsive when using Pinyin input.

- Resolve an issue when connecting to SMB servers with long names.

- Address a issue that may prevent Safari from launching when using a Proxy Automatic Configuration (PAC) file.

- Improve 802.1X authentication with Active Directory credentials.

OS X 10.8.1 requires an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.8 to install and run, the update itself being attainable by using OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new operating system and have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Motion Picture Experts Group releases H.265 draft standard, offers Web-based video at twice the quality, half the data size

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 16th, 2012, 08:10
Category: News, Software

If you think Web-based video is impressive now, wait a bit.

Per AppleInsider, the Motion Pictures Expert Group has issued a new video standards draft that promises to deliver twice the video quality at the same size, or alternatively, identical video quality at half the data rate as today’s MPEG-4 H.264 standard.

The new H.265 draft specifically addresses mobile devices and networks overloaded with video. Products using the new H.265 video compression standard could begin to launch as early as 2013.

Apple is likely to quickly adopt support for the new H.265 specification, just as it has rapidly rolled out support for new features of H.264, including support for expanded H.264 profiles in the new third generation Apple TV and the new iPad.

MPEG, formed by the International Standards Organization in 1988, first developed a joint video compression format in 1993 intended for Video CD. Its video codec, H.261, was used to deliver multimedia video clips. The audio portion of that standard, MPEG-1 Audio Layer III (also known as MP3) revolutionized the portability of music by allowing users to rip CDs to files that could be compressed enough to be used in mobile devices with limited storage.

Apple backed MP3 with the iPod in 2001 at a time when Microsoft and Sony were working to entrench their own proprietary standards with strong DRM (Windows Media and ATRAC, respectively).

MPEG released the MPEG-2 standard in 1994, which enabled high quality DVD and efficient digital TV transmissions. MPEG-2 incorporated the initial H.261 video compression standard as well as a more efficient H.262 and, later, the H.263 ASP codec implemented by DivX and Xvid, popular formats used for video file sharing. Work on an MPEG-3 standard aimed at HDTV was abandoned and folded into the MPEG-2 portfolio.

MPEG-4, initiated in 1998 and released in 2003, merged the television and video industry’s expertise with work pioneered by Apple’s QuickTime on desktop computers, resulting in a video format that incorporated Apple’s QuickTime container format. This helped to simplify video editing tasks, even as Apple began adopting advanced bidirectional compression technologies in QuickTime that had been contributed to the MPEG-4 pool by the rest of the industry.

MPEG-4 carried forward H.263, which Apple hadn’t ever widely used, while also introducing H.264, which enabled a doubling of video quality at the same size as the earlier H.263 codec.

Before MPEG-4, Apple had previously used proprietary video codecs from Sorenson in QuickTime, but rapidly began adopting MPEG standards as the pooled efforts of every major company with video expertise began to quickly outpace the development of alternatives.

Apple helped to popularize MPEG-4′s AAC (Advanced Audio Codec) format as a more efficient replacement for MP3 in iTunes, then brought MPEG-4′s H.264 video compression into the desktop computing mainstream as the default video codec in QuickTime. It is now essentially the only video standard supported by the iPhone and other iOS devices, and H.264 is deeply integrated into the architecture of QuickTime.

While MPEG itself usually refers to its MPEG-4 audio and video standards as AAC and AVC, Steve Jobs introduced the new video standard to the world as H.264, and Apple continued to refer to it by its ITU numerical designation. MPEG is now referring to its newest H.265 standard as “HEVC” (High Efficiency Video Coding).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft: No plans for Mac version of Office 2013

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 19th, 2012, 06:20
Category: News, Software

Sometimes it’s just natural to want to take the ball and run off with it.

Per Cult of Mac, when Microsoft recently announced an Office for Mac 2011 update was in the works it also confirmed that OS X users would not be able to take advantage of the newer Office 2013 as the software suite is reserved for Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines only.

Microsoft failed to mention whether a Mac version of Office 2013 was in the works when the productivity software reached Customer Preview phase on Monday, though during Wednesday’s Office for Mac 2011 update announcement the company stated that it had no such plans.

“We haven’t announced the next release of Office for Mac,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

According to the publication, Office 2013 will feature support for a new server-based version of Office which is said to be highly integrated with its SkyDrive cloud system. Microsoft released the Service Pack 2 update to Office for Mac 2011 in April to fix bugs affecting Outlook.

While Mac owners won’t be able to enjoy the newly-implemented cloud capabilites of Office 2013, the Office for Mac 2011 update will bring access to Microsoft’s SkyDrive and Office 365 where users are able to save documents off-site.

The Office for Mac 2011 update is expected to ship early next year alongside the Windows-only Office 2013.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft to release Windows 8 on October 26th

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 19th, 2012, 05:05
Category: News, Software

You can pick up Windows 8, then begin working on a Halloween costume this year.

Per Electronista, it was revealed during Microsot’s annual sales meeting that the company’s next-generation operating system will hit shelves on Oct. 26 meaning new hardware will shortly follow including the Surface tablet.

Microsoft’s Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky made good on a promise from Windows Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller who said Windows 8 would see release sometime in October. A subsequent post on the company’s dedicated Windows blog detailed the meeting, describing upgrade tiers and purchasing options.

Windows 8 will debut in 231 markets covering 109 languages on launch day and existing users of the ubiquitous OS can upgrade to the revamped software online for US$40. According to Microsoft’s website, all PCs running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 qualify for the US$39.99 upgrade with the option to add on Windows Media Center for free though the operating system’s “add features” option.

Wednesday’s announcement also portends the imminent release of tablets, PCs and Ultrabooks running the one-OS-for-all software when Microsoft announced as much during the Surface unveiling in June.

Microsoft’s Surface will likely be one of the first Windows 8 examples on offer when the OS debuts as the device marks the Redmond-based company’s first foray into the tablet hardware market. Initially, a stripped-down ARM-based iteration called Surface for Windows RT will roll out before a more full-featured Intel version dubbed Surface for Windows 8 Pro hits stores later this year.

It is unclear what features are missing from Windows RT but Microsoft is claiming the new OS is meant to reflect a “PC+” era where all devices run identical operating systems. This is counter to Apple’s “post-PC” era which describes multiple devices running software tailor-made for specific tasks, an example being OS X for laptops and iOS for iDevices. Microsoft COO Kevin Turner claimed that the iPhone maker’s view future computing is incorrect and instead believes in a “ond-OS-fits-all” approach to OS coding. Interestingly it appears that Windows RT skews toward the “post-PC” model.

Apple is looking to release its own next-generation operating system with OS X 10.8 later in July, and while no specific date has been set a launch should be imminent as the company seeded the Mountain Lion gold master last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release 7.85-inch iPad this fall at sub-$499 price point

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 16th, 2012, 06:02
Category: iPad, Rumor

A rumor’s got to be true on some levels…

Per the New York Times, previous rumors have been confirmed saying consumers can expect the as-yet-unannounced iPad to boast a 7.85-inch form factor and cost “significantly less than the latest US$499 iPad” when it debuts later this year.

Previous reports from The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg both claimed Apple was working on the so-called “iPad mini” and said the new device is expected to launch before year’s end.

Most recently, images of purported iPad mini “engineering samples” were leaked and included side-by-side comparisons with the current third-generation iPad. The samples showed a rearranged speaker assembly flanking a diminutive 19-pin dock connector seen before on alleged next-generation iPhone parts.

According to analysts and executives in the technology industry, the smaller iPad is part of an Apple strategy to garner and retain a larger marketshare by introducing a variety of tablet sizes. The publication notes the Cupertino-based company used a similar model with the iPod line which now ranges from the iPod shuffle to the iPod classic.

If and when the iPad mini is announced, it will be facing stiff competition from Google’s recently-announced US$199 Nexus 7 Android tablet as well as expected offerings from Amazon. The online sales giant is rumored to be readying three distinct 7-inch Kindle Fire models for fall as well as an 8.9-inch version that may be released in late 2012 or early 2013. Sunday’s Times report cites sources who claim the larger-screened Fire is being developed as a competitor to Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad.

Yet another new entrant into the tablet arena is Microsoft’s Surface, a Windows 8-powered device set to be the centerpiece to the company’s “PC+” environment despite CEO Steve Ballmer’s claim that the unit is merely a “design point.” Rather than creating hardware and software separately for different tasks, as does Apple with the iPad and iOS, Microsoft believes that a one-OS-fits-all solution is the future of computing. The ARM architecture-based Surface for Windows RT is expected to debut alongside Windows 8 in October.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Java malware goes live, begins affecting, Mac OS X, Windows, Linux systems

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 11th, 2012, 10:47
Category: News, security, Software

On the plus side, this keeps a security department employed.

Per F-Secure, a new form of browser-based cross-platform malware can give hackers remote access to computers running Apple’s OS X, Microsoft’s Windows, and even Linux.

The multi-platform backdoor malware was disclosed this week by security firm F-Secure. It was originally discovered on a Colombian Transport website, and relies on social engineering to trick users into running a Java Archive file, meaning it is not likely to be a major threat.

However, its cross-platform design is unique. If users grant permission to the Java Archive, the malware will secretly determine whether the user is running a Mac, a Windows PC, or a Linux machine. When running on a Mac, the malware will remotely connect to an IP address through port 8080 to obtain additional code to execute.

Anti-virus maker Sophos said on Wednesday that the new malware has the potential to affect a higher number of people because of its multi-platform strategy. Typically, malware and viruses target Windows PCs, as they represent the overwhelming majority of computers.

“Once it has found out which operating system you are running, the Java class file will download the appropriate flavor of malware, with the intention of opening a backdoor that will give hackers remote access to your computer,” explained Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant with Sophos.

On a Mac, the new malware is defined as “Backdoor:OSX/GetShell.A. According to F-Secure, it is a PowerPC binary, which means users running a modern, Intel-based Mac must also have Rosetta installed.

While rare, cross-platform malware attacks are not unheard of. In 2010, a Trojan known as “trojan.osx.boonana.a” was a Java-based exploit that affected both Macs running OS X, as well as Windows PCs.

As Apple’s Mac platform has grown in popularity and outpaced the PC market as a whole, the OS X platform has become a bigger target for hackers. Last month, Apple opted to tone down promotional language on its website that once claimed the Mac “doesn’t get PC viruses.” Apple’s website now says that OS X is “built to be safe.”

That change was made just a few months after more than 600,000 Macs were estimated to have been infected by a trojan horse named “Flashback.” More than half of the Macs believed to be infected by the botnet were found in the U.S. alone before Apple aggressively released a series of software updates to quash the malware.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.