Apple releases MacBook SMC Firmware Updater 1.4 for older MacBook, MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Friday, October 8th, 2010, 03:04
Category: MacBook, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released its MacBook SMC Firmware Updater 1.4 for older MacBook and MacBook Pro models solves a charging issue that takes place when using the latest MagSafe power adapters.

The update, an 880 kilobyte download, requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or 10.6.4 to install and run.

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

Adobe releases Acrobat Reader, Pro 9.4 versions, patches security holes

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Date: Wednesday, October 6th, 2010, 04:06
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, Adobe released version 9.4 of its Adobe Reader and Acrobat Pro applications. The updates, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, address security vulnerabilities while providing additional stability.

Acrobat Reader 9.4 and Acrobat Pro requires an Intel or PowerPC-based processor and Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think.

Apple files suit against Sanho-owned HyperMac regarding MagSafe, iPod connector patent infringements

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Date: Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010, 04:00
Category: Legal, News

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If you’re going to be in the market with the 800 pound gorilla, it’s advisable not to infringe on said 800 pound gorilla’s patents.

Or at least try to be subtle about it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has filed a lawsuit against Sanho Corporation, maker of the HyperMac line of accessories, alleging violation of patents it owns related to the MagSafe charger and cables that use the iPod 30-pin connection.

The lawsuit filed this month accuses Sanho, based out of Sunnyvale, Calif., of infringing on six MagSafe- and iPod-related patents, covering a variety of products sold under the HyperMac brand name. Among the products named in the suit are its magnetic power connectors, known as MBP-PRO and MBP-AIR, as well as a MacBook car charger, MBP-CAR.

Instead of mimicking Apple’s patented MagSafe connectors, Sanho’s products actually rely on recycled official MagSafe products made by Apple. “Our charging cables use original Apple MagSafe connectors for maximum compatibility,” the company’s website reads.

The suit also focuses on charging and data cables that rely on the 30-pin dock connector compatible with Apple’s iPod, iPhone and iPad ecosystem of devices. Named in the suit are the “HyperMac Nano,” “HyperMac Micro” and “HyperMac Mini” products.

Sanho sells a number of small, portable external batteries that can provide extra power to portable devices on the go. Using the iPod 30-pin dock connector, products like the HyperMac Micro come in a variety of colors and are compatible with Apple products like the iPhone 4 and iPad.

In the suit, filed in a U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, Apple says it notified Sanho of its infringement via official letters on April 26th, May 19th and June 20th of 2010.

“Defendants manufacture, distribute, and/or sell products that infringe patents related to Apple’s proprietary MagSafe connectors used to connect power adapters and other products to Apple portable computers, such as the MacBook,” the suit reads. “Defendants also manufacture, distribute and/or sell products that infringe patents related to Apple’s 30-pin connectors and receptacles , used to connect cables to Apple iPod, iPhone and/or iPad products.”

“Defendants’ infringing conduct has damaged Apple and inflicted irreparable harm for which Apple seeks, among other remedies, an award of its actual damages, disgorgement of Defendants’ profits from the sale of infringing devices and injunctive relief.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AMD to consolidate graphics chips, retire ATI brand name

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Date: Tuesday, August 31st, 2010, 03:10
Category: News, Processors

AMD, the current exclusive provider of discrete graphics chips in Apple’s latest refresh of the Mac desktop lineup, will phase out the ATI graphics brand name this year.

Per ZDnet, AMD is prepared to make the change because it believes having two brands is unnecessary, and the company plans to offer both CPUs and GPUs combined in its forthcoming Fusion product. Existing products such as the Radeon chip series will maintain their names, but will be labeled as AMD products rather than ATI.

AMD said it conducted research that found its brand is stronger than ATI, and that consumer preference toward ATI triples when they are aware of the ATI-AMD merger. AMD acquired ATI for US$5.4 billion in 2006.

Apple partners with AMD’s rival, Intel, for all of the CPUs in its line of Macs. However, AMD and Apple do have a close relationship when it comes to graphics processing in the Mac lineup.

In July, Apple updated its Mac Pro and iMac desktops, and the new machines only offer ATI graphics. But soon, those same products will be labeled AMD.

AMD, in justifying the change, highlighted its relationship with Apple, noting that the company continues to “secure new design wins with major OEMs — e.g. Apple iMac and Mac Pro.” The company said it has the “momentum and data to make this change with confidence.”

The chipmaker also said that with the AMD Fusion chip set to debut in the fourth quarter of 2010, it is “perfect timing” for the branding change. AMD said its “Ontario” model, which will be its first to offer a CPU and GPU in a combined package, will be a “watershed moment” for the company.

Not the worst thing in the world, even though as a Mac gamer I fondly remember drooling over the coolest ATI graphics cards in yesteryear’s Power Mac G3 and G4 units…

Apple releases MacBook EFI Firmware 1.9 Update for mid-2010 models

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Date: Friday, August 27th, 2010, 06:32
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple released its MacBook EFI Firmware 1.9 update for its 15″ and 17″ mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebooks. The update, a 2.2 megabyte download, resolves a rare issue that may cause the system to freeze during startup or intermittently stall during operation, and it improves compatibility with external displays.

As always, the update can also be located and installed via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

The MacBook EFI Firmware 1.9 update requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later to install and run.

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

Adobe releases Acrobat Reader, Pro 9.3.4 versions, patches security holes

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Date: Friday, August 20th, 2010, 05:21
Category: News, Software

On Thursday, Adobe released a long-awaited patch that addresses a number of vulnerabilities in versions of its Acrobat Pro and Reader offerings.

The updates, which can also be snagged through the Adobe Update Utility, address security vulnerabilities while providing additional stability.

Acrobat Reader 9.3.4 and Acrobat Pro requires an Intel or PowerPC-based processor and Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions and noticed any differences, please let us know what you think.

Apple releases Snow Leopard Graphics Update 1.0

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Date: Tuesday, August 17th, 2010, 14:14
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Apple released its Snow Leopard Graphics Update 1.0 patch. The update, a 65.7 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Addresses frame rate issues occurring in Portal and Team Fortress 2 by Valve, on iMac (Late 2009 and Mid 2010), Mac mini (Early 2009 and Mid 2010), Mac Pro (Early 2009), MacBook (Early 2009 and Mid 2010) and MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010) or MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010) models.

- Resolves an issue that could cause Aperture 3, or StarCraft II by Blizzard, to unexpectedly quit or become unresponsive.

- Resolves an image corruption issue that may occur when disconnecting and reconnecting external displays while the system is running.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later to install and run.

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

Apple licenses new durable metal alloy for use in products

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Date: Tuesday, August 10th, 2010, 04:50
Category: News

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Apple has entered into an exclusive agreement to utilize amorphous metal alloys with unique atomic structures, allowing products that are stronger, lighter, and resistant to wear and corrosion.

Per AppleInsider, the metal alloys, owned by Liquidmetal Technologies, were developed by a research team at the California Institute of Technology, and their amorphous, non-crystalline structure makes them harder than alloys of titanium or aluminum.

Introduced for commercial applications in 2003 through the Delaware-based Liquidmetal corporation, the product has been used to create technology for the U.S. Department of Defense, has been found in medical equipment, and is even used to create sporting goods like tennis raquets and golf clubs.



In a Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Liquidmetal Technologies indicated that it had granted all of its intellectual property assets to Apple. According to the terms of the deal, Apple was awarded “a perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, exclusive license to commercial such intellectual property in the field of electronic products in exchange for a license fee.”

Though the licensing agreement grants Apple exclusive use in consumer electronics, Liquidmetal is still allowed to license its products to other companies for any use outside of markets where Apple competes, meaning its deals with defense contractors, sports equipment manufacturers and medical suppliers are likely to remain intact.

The agreement was made on August 5th, revealed to the SEC on Monday and was signed by Larry Buffington, president and CEO of Liquidmetal Technologies.

The company’s official website gives examples of where Liquidmetal’s products were used in portable electronics in the past. It touts that Liquidmetal alloys are 2.5 times the strength of commonly used titanium alloy and 1.5 times the hardness of stainless steel found in portable electronic devices. The technology is said to allow for thinner, smaller design while offering greater protection for internal components, and giving users a scratch and corrosion resistant exterior.

Past devices where Liquidmetal’s technology was utilized include the Nokia Vertu smartphone, Sandisk Sansa media player, and Sandisk U3 Smart thumb drives. The product was also used to create strong hinge components for devices like flip smartphones.

Apple’s interest in a company like Liquidmetal is no surprise, given its constant desire to create smaller and thinner devices. Apple has also employed a unibody design in its portable computers, beginning in early 2008 with the MacBook Air.

The precision unibody enclosures are milled from a single extruded block of aluminum, allowing devices like the MacBook Pro to become thinner while maintaining a rigid, sturdy frame. Previously, the frames of Apple’s notebooks were made from multiple parts. Now, raw aluminum is carved out using CNC, or “computer numerical control” machines.

Whatever becomes of this, you can’t say it won’t be interesting.

Apple releases Magic Trackpad and Multi-Touch Trackpad Update 1.0, adds gesture support to some additional notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, July 28th, 2010, 06:48
Category: MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Apple on Tuesday issued an update to a number of recent notebooks, including the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air, bringing inertial scrolling and three-finger drag gesture support to some trackpads.

Per AppleInsider, the Magic Trackpad and Multi-Touch Trackpad Update 1.0 was released Tuesday afternoon by Apple. The file is a 75.09MB update that requires Mac OS X 10.6.4 to install and run. In addition to adding inertial scrolling and three-finger drag in recent MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks, it also adds support for Apple’s newly released US$69 Magic Trackpad.

Per Apple, the following MacBook and MacBook Pro models now have both inertial scrolling and three-finger drag gesture:

MacBook (13-inch, Early 2009)
MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2009)
MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009)
MacBook (13-inch, Aluminum, Late 2008)

MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2.53 GHz, Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2009)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2008)

Inertial scrolling, but not the three-finger gesture, is offered in four additional models:

MacBook Air
MacBook Air (Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2008)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2008)

The new three-finger gesture was first discovered earlier Tuesday with hands-on tests of the Magic Trackpad. The capability allows users to quickly drag windows around. At the time, the feature was exclusive to the new hardware.

If you’ve tried the file and can offer any feedback, please let us know

Current 27″ iMac unable to accept 1080p video input, firmware update may be en route

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Date: Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 03:34
Category: iMac, News

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Apple’s updated 27″ iMac launched with a new feature: a Mini DisplayPort video port that worked in both directions, enabling external video sources to output video to the screen. Unfortunately, this feature is largely limited to 720p in HDTV applications however.

Per AppleInsider, this limitation effectively limits the iMac to accepting video input from recent MacBooks or other computers that produce DisplayPort video, which works significantly differently from earlier analog VGA or digital formats such as DVI/HDMI.

The shortcoming can be bridged by a converter box that accepts a DVI/HDMI signal (the two video standards are essentially the same in different packaging), transforms it to DisplayPort signaling, and scales it to the output resolution of the iMac.

A simple physical adapter won’t work for video input due to the iMac’s DisplayPort-only input limitation; cheap Mini DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapters can only extract the HDMI output signal the iMac generates and pushes through its Mini DisplayPort connector. They do not do any signal translation.

Two products that can do this translation work are the AV360™ Mini DisplayPort Converter and Kanex HD, both of which retail for US$150. However, while those products appear to be capable of generating both 720p and 1080p output, the 27″ iMac only accepts 720p video or its native 2560×1440 resolution.

It appears the 27″ iMac could accept 1080p input, and certainly can support display of the video resolution, as it falls well within its 2560×1440 native resolution. A similar problem affects Apple’s 24″ LED Cinema Display, which has a native 1920×1200 resolution but only supports that resolution via its DisplayPort input; like the 27″ iMac, it won’t accept a 1080p signal (1920×1080), the common format of higher end HD equipment such as HDMI set top boxes and the PS3, even though it appears it should be able to.

The problem is that Apple’s EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) on the iMac and LED Cinema Display doesn’t advertise 1080p as an option. EDID is a simple data structure a display sends to output devices that outlines what video formats and settings it knows how to support. Both devices appear capable of 1080p but simply don’t advertise that capability in a way that external devices like the AV360 and Kanex HD can take advantage of.

It appears Apple could update the firmware for these displays to enable support of 1080p input, allowing users to input full 1080p video from devices such as a PlayStation 3 or current MacBook. Users might not notice a major difference, as experts say its hard to see a real difference between 720p and 1080p on screens smaller than 50 inches.

However, some devices are hardwired to only support 1080p, and can’t scale their output to support the Cinema Display’s slightly higher resolution nor the 27″ iMacs much higher resolution, forcing them to downscale to 720p or not work at all (as is the case with the LED Cinema Display, which is really only indended to work with Apple’s Mini DisplayPort-equipped MacBooks and modern desktop Macs).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.