Researcher locates HTML 5 exploit, floods hard drive with cat images in proof of concept video

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Date: Monday, March 4th, 2013, 07:32
Category: News, security, Software

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In as much as Java and Adobe Flash Player have taken recent beatings where security is concerned, apparently no platform is safe.

Per the BBC, a recently discovered flaw in the HTML 5 coding language could allow websites to bombard users with gigabytes of junk data, with a number of popular browsers being open to the vulnerability.

According to developer Feross Aboukhadijeh, who uncovered the bug this week and posted it to his blog, data dumps can be performed on most major Web browsers, including Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Opera, the BBC reported. The only browser to stop data dump tests was Mozilla’s Firefox, which capped storage at 5MB.

If in doubt, this proof of concept video sorta says it all…:



The problem is rooted in how HTML 5 handles local data storage. While each browser has different storage parameters, many of which support user-definable limits, all provide for at least 2.5 megabytes of data to be stored on a user’s computer.

Aboukhadijeh discovered a loophole that bypasses the imposed data cap by creating numerous temporary websites that are linked to a user-visited site. Because most browsers don’t account for the contingency, the secondary sites were allowed local storage provisions in amounts equal to the primary site’s limit. By generating a multitude of linked websites, the bug can dump enormous amounts of data onto affected computers.

In testing the flaw, Aboukhadijeh was able to dump 1GB of data every 16 seconds on his SSD-equipped MacBook Pro with Retina display. He noted that 32-bit browsers like Chrome may crash before a disk is filled.

“Cleverly coded websites have effectively unlimited storage space on visitor’s computers,” Aboukhadijeh wrote in a blogpost.

The developer has released code to exploit the bug and has created a dedicated website called Filldisk to highlight the flaw. In true internet meme fashion, the site dumps images of cats on to an affected machine’s hard drive.

Bug reports have already been sent to makers of the affected Web browsers, and Aboukhadijeh said malicious use of his code has yet to been seen in the wild.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft announces updated Mac accreditation program

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Date: Wednesday, February 27th, 2013, 06:21
Category: News, Software

This may be handy.

Per MacTech and The Apple Core, the new Microsoft Office for Mac Accredited Support Professional program will target Microsoft Office for Mac, and Microsoft Office 365 suites. The pilot training and accreditation program will be offered free to registered attendees to MacTech’s 2013 BootCamps II seminars, depending upon limited space.

A press release said that the accreditation program will span topics such as Office Web Apps, best practices in configuration, licensing options, cross platform features, sharing documents with SkyDrive and SharePoint as well as other troubleshooting and common questions.

The accreditation is specifically designed for Apple consultants and techs supporting others using Microsoft Office for Mac, and Office 365 suites. At the end of the course, attendees will be evaluated on the content presented, and those who demonstrate sufficient knowledge will become a “Microsoft Office for Mac Accredited Support Professional.” Once obtained, attendees will receive an accreditation certificate from Microsoft, and be able to display the new accreditation graphic on their web sites and other promotional materials, as well as in their credentials.

The first course will be offered the week after next in Seattle with additional information available here.

Sony unveils upcoming PlayStation 4 architecture, announces “PlayStation App” to extend second screen functionality to iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, February 21st, 2013, 07:39
Category: iOS, News, Software

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This could lead to something nifty.

In a follow-up to Sony’s PS4 announcement on Wednesday, the company released a statement regarding the platform’s “second screen” abilities, noting that Apple’s iOS devices will be supported.

Per AppleInsider, the “PlayStation App” will allow iPhone, iPad and Android device owners to use their devices with the upcoming PlayStation 4 console. While second screen apps were touched on in the platform unveiling, specific device support went unmentioned.

Information regarding the app’s capabilities is scarce, and it is unclear how feature-rich Sony is willing to make the second screen experience given that the company is pushing hard to incorporate its own handheld, the PS Vita, as part of the PS4 ecosystem.

A new application from SCE called “PlayStation®App” will enable iPhone, iPad, and Android-based smartphones and tablets to become second screens. Once installed on these devices, users can, for example, see maps on their second screens when playing an adventure game, purchase PS4 games while away from home and download it directly to the console at home, or remotely watch other gamers playing on their devices.

During the keynote, Gaikai founder David Perry noted users will be able to purchase game content from mobile devices and have it downloaded to their consoles at home. Another possibility for the app is live streaming to friends’ devices through the PS4′s “Share” option, though this feature was mentioned in regard to the PS Vita.

Microsoft currently offers its own app, called Xbox SmartGlass, for the Xbox 360, though the title’s feature set offers little more than controlling basic console functions.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft quietly increases Office 2011 for Mac price by 10 to 17%

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Date: Tuesday, February 19th, 2013, 07:03
Category: News, Software

Well, this is mildly sadistic.

Per CNET, Microsoft has quietly increased the prices of its Office for Mac 2011 by as much as 17 percent, putting it on price par with Office 2013 for Windows.

The company has also quit selling multi-license packages, which allowed customers to purchase multiple copies of the application suite at a discounted rate.

The single-license Office for Mac Home & Student now retails for US$140, an increase of about 17 percent from the previous price of US$120. Meanwhile, Microsoft raised the price of Office for Mac Home & Business, which includes Outlook, to US$220, a 10 percent increase over the previous US$200 price.

Microsoft doesn’t seem to have publicized the price increase, so it’s not clear when it actually took effect. However, Computerworld, which first reported the increase, estimates it occurred around January 29, the same day that Microsoft Office 2013 and Office 365 were launched.

In addition to the price increase, Microsoft ceased sales of multi-license editions.

The multi-user packs are still for sale on Amazon (while supplies last) at a significant discount, but the listing notes that the software is an older edition.
The moves are apparently intended to redirect customers toward Office 365, which costs US$100 for an annual subscription. The new offering is part of effort by Microsoft to bring its suite of Office server tools and collaboration work flows into the cloud.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple announces upcoming fix for iOS 6.1 Exchange bug

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Date: Thursday, February 14th, 2013, 05:53
Category: iOS, News, Software

You know that iOS 6.1 Exchange bug?

Apple says a fix is on the way.

Per MacRumors, just a day after Microsoft offered workarounds for an iOS 6.1 Exchange syncing bug and said that it was working with Apple on a solution, Apple has announced on its support page that it has identified the problem and is working on a fix:

“Apple has identified a fix and will make it available in an upcoming software update. In the meantime, you can avoid this bug by not responding to an exception to a recurring event on your iOS device. If you do experience the symptoms described above, disable then reenable the Exchange calendar on your iOS device using the steps below.
Apple details its own workaround until that update is available, advising users to go to ‘Mail, Contacts, Calendars’ under ‘Settings,’ selecting the Exchange account from the accounts list, turning the switch for ‘Calendars’ off, waiting 10 seconds and then turning it back on.”

The bug, which caused iOS 6.1 devices to continuously loop when syncing a recurring calendar meeting invitation to Microsoft Exchange, isn’t the first bug to stem from the two-week old iOS 6.1. iPhone 4S users were affected by a bug that hampered 3G performance, although that was fixed with Apple’s release of iOS 6.1.1 a couple days ago. There is no timeframe for when the fix for the Exchange bug will be released.

If you’ve seen this bug on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.3.1 update for Mac

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Date: Tuesday, February 12th, 2013, 07:43
Category: News, Software

An update’s an update.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.0 update. The update, a 110.7 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Stability is improved. This update fixes an issue that may cause Office 2011 applications to report a problem with Licensing even though the applications continue to run unaffected.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

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

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.3.0 update for Mac

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Date: Wednesday, January 30th, 2013, 07:27
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.0 update. The update, a 106.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Meeting invitation times are displayed inaccurately in Outlook. Fixes an issue that causes meeting invitation times from non-Exchange calendar servers to be off by one hour during certain times of the year.

- Slides in collapsed sections cover other slides in Slide Sorter view in PowerPoint.

- Fixes a display issue that involves collapsed sections in Slide Sorter view.

- Hash tags (#) in hyperlinks aren’t saved correctly in PowerPoint. Fixes an issue in which hyperlinks that contain hash tags (#) aren’t saved correctly.

- Crash occurs when you use Paste Special with a partial table in PowerPoint. Fixes an issue that causes PowerPoint to crash when you use the Paste Special option to copy and paste part of a table.

- RTF text that’s saved in PowerPoint for Windows can’t be pasted into PowerPoint. Fixes an issue in which RTF text that’s saved in PowerPoint for Windows can’t be copied and pasted into PowerPoint for Mac.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.0 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

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

Microsoft announces Office 365 Home Premium for Macs, PCs and Windows tablets, points to February 27th release date

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Date: Tuesday, January 29th, 2013, 08:05
Category: News, Software

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If you were wondering when Office 2013 would find its way to the Mac, it’s on its way come February 27th.

And in a subscription model.

Per CNET, after existing in preview form since last summer, Office 2013, the next version of Microsoft’s productivity software, is now available for download.

The company has begun offering users Office Home and Student 2013 with all the familiar apps like Word and Excel for a one-time fee of US$139. Since this stand-alone package won’t entitle you to any subsequent upgrades, Microsoft is also offering a more complete subscription model for US$99 per year that delivers the various updates over the coming months and years.

The package offers the following:
- The latest and most complete set of Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access.

- One license for the entire household to use Office on up to five devices, including Windows tablets, PCs or Macs, and Office on Demand available from any Internet-connected PC.

- An additional 20 GB of SkyDrive cloud storage, nearly three times the amount available with a free SkyDrive account.

- 60 free Skype world calling minutes per month to call mobile phones, landlines or PCs around the world.

- Future upgrades, so you always use the latest time-saving technology.

Microsoft also announced today the cloud-connected Microsoft Office Home and Business, though you won’t be able to snatch it up until February 27. You can get it for a one-time fee of US$219 or as a subscription for US$150 per year.

And along with the new software, Microsoft’s Office.com Web site has received a refresh in both look and functionality. The Web site lets you manage your account, set up and check the status of your subscription, and download the Office software to your computer.

Office 365 Home Premium for the Mac requires the following specs to install and run:
-1 GHz or faster x86 or 64-bit processor with SSE2 instruction set (PC); Intel processor (Mac).

-1 GB RAM (32-bit or Mac) /2 GB RAM (64-bit).

-3.0 GB of available disk space (PC); 2.5 GB HFS+ hard disk format (Mac).

-1024×576 or higher resolution monitor.

- Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 2008 R2 with .NET 3.5 or later (PC); Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later (Mac).

- Graphics hardware acceleration requires DirectX10 graphics card with 1024 x 576 resolution.

- Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, 9, or 10; Mozilla Firefox 10.x or later; Apple Safari 5; or Google Chrome 17.x.

A full 30 day trial can be found and downloaded from here.

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

Microsoft to launch Surface Pro tablet, expand international availability on February 9th

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Date: Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013, 08:33
Category: Hardware, News

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If you’re hankering for more of Microsoft’s Surface tablet, you’re in luck.

Per AppleInsider, Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it will expand its Surface tablet lineup next month with the new “Pro” model running Windows 8, as well as a new “RT” version with 64 gigabytes of storage.

Surface Windows 8 Pro will be available for purchase on Feb. 9 in the U.S and Canada starting at US$899 for the 64-gigabyte version. The Surface Pro comes with a Surface Pen and is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor.

The 64-gigabyte standalone version of Surface Windows RT will run an ARM processor like the existing Windows RT tablets. The new high-capacity variant will retail for0 US$599, with the touch cover sold separately.

Microsoft will also launch new Surface accessories in markets where the tablet is still available. They are three limited edition Touch Covers, as well as the Wedge Touch Mouse Surface Edition.

The new Touch Covers will be available in red, magenta and cyan for US$129.99, while the Wedge Touch Mouse will be US$69.95.

Finally, Microsoft also revealed it will more than double the number of markets in which Surface Windows RT is currently available.

The 13 additional markets are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. They join markets where Surface RT is already available: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

If you’ve had a chance to tinker with the Surface and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

USB 3.0 Promoter Group announces updated spec, anticipated 10Gb/s speeds for 2014

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Date: Monday, January 7th, 2013, 07:32
Category: Hardware, News

This could lead to something nifty.

Per CNET and the mighty Jim Tanous of The Mac Observer, an updated USB 3.0 specification that promises to double theoretical maximum bandwidth is scheduled to arrive in mid–2013, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced Sunday. The improvements, thanks to revised hardware and more efficient data transfer methods, will double USB 3.0’s speed from 5 gigabits per second to 10 gigabits per second, rivaling the single-channel performance of Thunderbolt.

The news of faster USB speeds will be welcomed by those relying on external solid state or multi-disk hard drives, as some current high-end drives already saturate USB 3.0’s 5 Gb/s limit (equivalent to about 640 MB/s). For those not yet interested in faster speeds, the new technology will still be backwards-compatible with older USB 3.0 and 2.0 devices and ports.

The new specification is expected to be finalized by mid-year, but devices taking advantage of it won’t hit the market until early 2014 at the earliest, with “much broader availability of products in 2015.”

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group, which announced the new specification, is comprised of member companies in the technology field, including HP, Intel, Microsoft, and Texas Instruments, among others. Apple, which belatedly introduced USB 3.0 on its 2012 line of Macs, is not a member, although it pioneered Thunderbolt, an alternative high-speed interface.

Thunderbolt also offers maximum bandwidth of 10 Gb/s (about 1,280 MB/s) but is dual channel, allowing two transfers up to that speed to occur simultaneously between attached devices. However, the limited number of Thunderbolt-enabled computers and the complicated nature of Thunderbolt chipsets and cables have made the technology significantly more expensive than most other interface options. As a result, it is far less ubiquitous than the backwards-compatible and cheaper USB 3.0 standard.

Users interested in the new USB 3.0 specification will need both updated computers and external devices to support it. New USB 3.0 devices will still work in the absence of both of these conditions, but they will operate at much slower USB 3.0 or 2.0 speeds depending on the exact configuration.

Cables, on the other hand, are another matter. Due to changes in the efficiency of the new specification, existing USB 3.0 cables may not work. “Existing SuperSpeed USB cables are not certified to operate at 10 Gbps; it is possible that some existing SuperSpeed USB cables may be capable of operating at 10 Gbps,” the group said.

Now that Apple has introduced USB 3.0 support, it is likely that the company will move to incorporate the faster USB specification once it is available, especially if Thunderbolt adoption continues to progress at a glacial pace.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.