Skype updated to 5.6.0.143

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Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 09:07
Category: News, Software

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On Tuesday, version 5.6.0.143 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 22.7 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Automatic Updates.

- Improved UI for group video calling.

- New full screen mode in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

- Ability to delete conversations.

- Ability to disable Audio Gain Control.

- Fixed: Chat messages aren’t shown after clearing recent conversations or closing the last one.

- Fixed: Choppy audio issue with USB headset while in group call.

- Fixed: Call toolbar does not appear after call is ended.

- Fixed: Selection of contacts in the contact list.

Skype 5.6.0.143 is available for free and 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.

Adobe Lightroom 4.0 released

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Date: Tuesday, March 6th, 2012, 09:27
Category: News, Software

If you loved Adobe’s Lightroom image editing program, you might think highly of version 4.0 which became available on Tuesday.

The new version, which is priced at US$79 for the upgrade version for Lightroom 3.x user (US$149 for the full version) and adds the following features and changes:

- Highlight and shadow recovery.

- Photo book creation with templates.

- Location-based organization including GPS data support.

- A white balance brush.

- Noise reduction and moiré removal tools.

- Enhanced video support including adjustments.

- Emailing from Lightroom.

- Video publishing to Facebook and Flickr.

- Soft proofing for color-managed printers.

Adobe Lightroom 4.0 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update

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Date: Monday, March 5th, 2012, 15:49
Category: News, Software

They may come from out of nowhere, but supplemental updates are a good thing.

On that note, Apple has released its Mac OS X 10.7.3 Supplemental Update. The update, a 38k download (provided you have Mac OS X 10.7.3 already installed), resolves an issue when restoring a Mac from a Time Machine backup.

As usual, the update can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature. The software requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

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

Updated JavaScript interpreter to help boost WebKit’s performance by 2, 2.5x

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 08:22
Category: iOS, News, Software

You can’t argue that WebKit’s been good for Apple and iOS in general.

Apple’s WebKit JavaScriptCore is now a “triple tier virtual machine,” offering the potential for 2-2.5 times faster JavaScript performance in Safari.

Per webkit.org, recent changes in Apple’s WebKit open source project (used by Safari on OS X and iOS, and to power a wide variety of other browsers) include the incorporation of the efficient new LLInt (Low Level Interpreter), which is now used by JavaScriptCore (JSC) to attempt executing code before passing it to the standard interpreters, either the bytecode virtual machine or the JIT (Just In Time complier) which builds native machine code on the fly.

“JSC will now will start by executing code in LLInt and will only tier up to the old JIT after the code is proven hot,” a change report on the new interpreter describes.

“LLInt is written in a modified form of our macro assembly. This new macro assembly is compiled by an offline assembler (see offlineasm), which implements many modern conveniences such as a Turing-complete CPS-based macro language and direct access to relevant C++ type information (basically offsets of fields and sizes of structs/classes).”

The new interpreter “is 2-2.5x faster than our old interpreter on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken [benchmarks],” the report states. “With triple-tiering turned on [to allow the LLInt to interpret code], we’re neutral on SunSpider, V8, and Kraken, but appear to get a double-digit improvement on real-world websites due to a huge reduction in the amount of JIT’ing.”

JavaScript performance in web browsers is a primary focus for optimization, as the faster and more efficiently code can be executed, the more fluid animations can run and the more sophisticated and responsive cross platform web applications can be.

The LLInt enhancements to JavaScriptCore appear to have been contributed by Filip Pizlo, who joined WebKit as a reviewer in December after acting as a “major contributor” to improvements to the JavaScriptCore JIT and Garbage Collector. Pizlo filed a bug report in January noting that “JSC should be a triple-tier VM,” and subsequently solved the issue by the end of February.

The new changes to JavaScriptCore will take some time to make it into the mainstream version of Safari, following similar WebKit enhancements of previous years. Enhancements in Apple’s next release of Safari 5.2 have been profiled in reports describing its new user interface and sharing enhancements and new privacy settings and website alert features.

In 2008, WebKit announced a rewriting of JavaScriptCore as a direct-dispatch register based, high-level bytecode virtual machine originally named SquirrelFish. It compiled JavaScript into native machine code. The project was later enhanced to gain the codename SquirrelFish Extreme.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple may include Intel Sandy Bridge processors in near-term Mac Pro update

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 07:27
Category: Mac Pro, Processors, Rumor

Even if you’re hankering for a new iPad 3 or an updated MacBook Air, there’s always your Mac Pro tower to keep in mind.

Per The Inquirer, Intel’s new Sandy Bridge update for its Xeon line of high end CPUs is due next week, suggesting the potential for Apple to refresh the Mac Pro, which hasn’t changed since the middle of 2010.

The new Xeon E5 chips incorporate the Sandy Bridge micro architecture that first appeared in MacBook Pros and iMacs early last year, followed by a mobile variant used by Apple in the MacBook Air last summer.

Apple’s latest Mac Pro models currently use Intel Xeon Bloomfield or Gulftown processors based on the Nehalem and closely related Westmere microarchitectures.

The latest release of OS X 10.7.3 Lion included support for AMD’s high end Tahiti graphic cards, which are expected to arrive in the market around the same time as Intel’s new Xeon chips.

However, sources famliar with the matter have said that Apple’s management, as far back as last May, were in limbo over whether to put any additional resources toward the Mac Pro product line.

Internal discussions at Apple were said to focus on the fact that sales of the high-end Mac Pro workstations have dropped off so considerably that the desktop machines are no longer particularly profitable for the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Thinner, 13 and 15-inch next-gen MacBook Pro units could arrive as early as April

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Date: Wednesday, February 29th, 2012, 08:02
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

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The new stuff’s en route, you’ll just have to be a bit patient.

New 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros with a thinner and lighter design are expected to launch in April “at the soonest,” with an initial shipment of just under a million units.

Per DigiTimes, sources in Apple’s upstream supply chain have indicated indicated that the company will launch upgraded MacBook Pros as early as April, with about 900,000 units expected to be shipped at launch. A redesigned version of the 17-inch MacBook Pro is apparently not expected at launch, as it was not mentioned in Wednesday’s report.

The rumor is consistent with stories published earlier this month, revealing that Apple will launch a larger 17-inch model later than the 15-inch model the company is said to be prioritizing. Apple employed the same approach when it redesigned its MacBook Pro lineup in 2008, as the lower-volume 17-inch model became available a few months later.

Apple’s upgraded MacBook Pro lineup along with new MacBook Airs and the forthcoming OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Mac operating system upgrade are expected in the industry to pose a “significant threat” to notebooks designed to Intel’s thin-and-light Ultrabook specification.

“Since Intel is delaying the mass supply of its Ivy Bridge CPUs from April to June, notebook vendors are concerned about… the postponed launch schedules of their ultrabooks, as it may give Apple advantages in terms of time-to-market,” the report said.

Earlier this week, an Intel executive indicated that the company’s next-generation Ivy Bridge chips are expected to debut eight to 10 weeks later than previously planned. That would push the launch of those chips from April until June.

It’s possible that Apple could still launch new notebooks powered by Ivy Bridge as early as April, if Intel were to give the Mac maker early access to its first run of processors. In the past, Apple has been given early availability of Intel’s latest technology before other PC makers.

As Apple gears up to revamp its MacBook Pro lineup and borrow design cues from its successful MacBook Air, PC makers are still hoping to capitalize on the Ultrabook specification being pushed by Intel. Ultrabooks are intended to be less than 21 millimeters thick, weigh no more than 3.1 pounds, use flash-based solid-state drives, and offer 5 to 8 hours of battery life.

But initial Ultrabooks from Windows-based PC makers struggled to compete with Apple on price, as the entry-level 11.6-inch MacBook Air carries a US$999 cost. And they also felt the squeeze from Apple on components, as PC makers struggled to obtain unibody metal notebook chassis for their products.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

HandBrake updated to 0.9.6

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Date: Wednesday, February 29th, 2012, 08:26
Category: News, Software


Handbrake, Eric Petit’s incredibly useful open-source DVD ripping/conversion utility, has been updated to version 0.9.6.

The new version, a 7.1 megabyte download, offers a wide variety of fixes and changes that have been documented here.

HandBrake 0.9.6 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

Apple releases iMac Wi-Fi Update 1.0, hopes to resolve wake/reconnection issue

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Date: Monday, February 27th, 2012, 07:41
Category: iMac, News, Software

The firmware updates, they keep on rolling in.

Late Friday, Apple released iMac Wi-Fi Update 1.0, a 25.8 megabyte download that resolves an issue that may cause an iMac to not automatically connect to a known Wi-Fi network after waking from sleep. It is recommended for all iMac (Late 2009 or newer) users running 10.7.3.

The firmware update is available either via direct download or through Mac OS X’s Software Update feature on a qualifying iMac.

If you’ve tried the iMac Wi-Fi Update 1.0 upgrade and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases firmware updates for early and late 2011 MacBook Pro, mid-2011 MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 18:11
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released firmware updates for its early and late 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks as well as its mid-2011 MacBook Air Notebooks.

MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.7, a 4.1 megabyte download, fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Pro (Early 2011) and MacBook Pro (Late 2011) computers and is recommended for all users.

This update improves the reliability of booting from the network, addresses an issue that can prevent HDCP authentication after a reboot, and resolves an issue with boot device selection when a USB storage device is hot-plugged.

MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.4, a 3 megabyte download, fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Air (Mid 2011) computers and is recommended for all users.

This update improves the reliability of booting from the network, addresses an issue that can prevent HDCP authentication after a reboot, and resolves an issue with boot device selection when a USB storage device is hot-plugged.

The updates can be directly downloaded and installed or located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

As always, if you’ve tried the new firmware updates and have either positive or negative feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Camino updated to 2.1.1

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Date: Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012, 07:19
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, the Camino Project released version 2.1.1 of Camino, its free, open source web browser.

The new version, an 18.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Upgraded to version 1.9.2.27 of the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine, which includes several critical security and stability fixes.

- Blocked versions of Adobe Flash Player 10 older than 10.3.183.15 and Flash Player 11 older than 11.1.102.62 on Intel Macs due to severe security issues.

- Tweaked the autocomplete algorithm to reduce the weight of visit count.
Added a hidden preference to allow turning off autocomplete’s use of page titles in matches.

- The location sheet once again shows an autocomplete window.

- It is now possible to clear the “Recently Closed Pages” menu with the “Clear History…” menu item even when history is disabled.

- Improved the appearance of the bookmark toolbar in background windows on Mac OS X 10.7.

- On Mac OS X 10.7, Camino now appears in the “Productivity” category when sorting Finder windows by category.

- Camino now correctly checks for the presence of a Java plug-in on Mac OS X 10.7.

- The “open location” AppleScript command now supports optional “referrer” and “loading in background” parameters.

- Camino will now display an error message when the “open location” command’s direct parameter is empty or missing.

- A new “reload” command allows AppleScripts to reload browser windows and tabs.

- The status of Camino’s offline mode is now available to AppleScript, and scripts can toggle offline mode on and off using the application object’s “online” property.

- The AppleScript “visit count” bookmark property once again works correctly.

- Pressing Escape will now cancel Tab Overview.

- “Fill Form” no longer fills disabled hidden form controls.

- The “Block Flash animations” checkbox is no longer enabled if Flash is not installed.

- Camino now correctly resolves Bonjour services that do not include an initial forward slash in their “path” information.

Camino 2.1.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run.

If you’ve tried the new version of Camino and have any kind of feedback about it, let us know.