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.

    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.

    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.

    New Snow Leopard Seed and Server Features for iPhone

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    Date: Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, 14:08
    Category: Apple, iPhone, Mac, Mobile, Server, Services, Software

    Apple sent an announcement to developers last Thursday that the next seed for Snow Leopard was available for downloading. AppleInsider reported that this was the second beta of the software released this month and is labeled Mac OS X 10.6 build 10A335.

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    The new download is reported to also include a new version of 10.6 Snow Leopard Server which incorporates a number of new features. Some of the features mentioned, “[...] new junk mail filters in Mail Server, better automated account creation in Calendar Server, and completely re-written certificate management code”.

    One of the developments that may be of interest to businesses that have, or want to deploy, a fleet of iPhones to their employees is the addition of the secure Mobile Access Server. The first hints of the new mobile services comes as a listing on Apple’s Developer site as one of the sessions available at WWDC called Deploying Mobile Access Server. The session has the following description:

    Secure remote access to your business network has never been more critical than in today’s increasingly mobile world. The Mobile Access Server provides a path through a corporate firewall for IMAP, SMTP, HTTP, and CalDAV without using VPN. Learn about the features of, and deployment tips for, this powerful new service in Snow Leopard Server.

    This comes in addition to features already mentioned such as remote access and control of mobile devices as well as push notifications. This positions OS X Server as a means to deliver intranet web services to iPhone and iPod touch users far more cost effectively than Microsoft Windows Server, and takes advantage of the popularity of the iPhone.

    VirtualBox 2.2.2 Out the Door

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    Date: Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, 10:51
    Category: Software

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    VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 2.2.2. The new version, a 57.9 megabyte download, sports the following fixes and changes:

  • Host and guest clipboard: fixed a number of issues affecting hosts and guests running the X window system.
  • Guest Additions: make sure the virtual mouse autodetection works on first reboot after installing the Additions on X.Org server 1.5 and later.
  • Guest Additions: properly report process identity number of running services.
  • Guest Additions: clean up properly if the X Window server terminates.
  • Linux Additions: fixed installation path for OpenGL libraries in some 64-bit guests (bug #3693).
  • Solaris Additions: fixed installation to work when X.Org is not installed on the guest.
  • Solaris Additions: fixed a bug that could panic the guest when unmounting a busy shared folder.
  • Windows Additions: fixed mouse pointer integration of some Windows guests (2.2.0 regression, bug #3734).
  • Windows Additions: fixed installation on Windows Server 2008 Core (bug #2628).
  • Main: do not try to use older versions of D-Bus (Linux hosts only, bug #3732).
  • VMM: fixed out-of-memory conditions on Windows hosts (bug #3657).
  • VMM: fixed occasional hangs when attaching USB devices during VM startup (2.2.0 regression; bugs #3787).
  • VMM: fixed guru meditation related to memory management (software virtualization only).
  • Virtual disks: fix possible data corruption when writing to diff images, incorrect detection of redundant writes.
  • GUI: reworked network settings dialog.
  • GUI: properly show the detailed settings dialog of NAT networks (bug #3702).
  • GUI: HostKey could not be changed (2.2.0 regression, bug #3689).
  • GUI: fixed memory textfield size (Windows hosts only; bug #3679).
  • GUI: fixed crash when selecting a shared folder path (Windows hosts only; bugs #3694, #3751, #3756).
  • VBoxManage modifyhd –compact: implemented again for VDI files, and now supports relative paths (bug #2180, #2833).
  • VBoxManage snapshot discard: made it work again (2.1.0 regression; bug #3714).
  • NAT: on some Windows host, the guest didn’t receive a DHCP lease (bug #3655).
  • NAT: fixed release assertion during poll() (bug #3667).
  • Clipboard: fixed random crahes (X11 hosts only, bug #3723).
  • Shared Folders: fixed incorrect permissions for Solaris guests.
  • Shared Folders: fixed wrong file sizes with Solaris guests.
  • CBindings: fixed possible memory leak while releasing the IVirtualBox and ISession Objects.
  • Solaris hosts: fixed host-only network interface incompatibility with nwam/dhcpagent (bug #3754).
  • Windows installer: fixed several install and uninstall issues (bugs #3659, #3686, #1730, #3711, #3373, #3382, #3701, #3685, #3710).
  • Mac OS X hosts: preliminary support for Snow Leopard.
  • VirtualBox 2.2.2 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.