Apple releases Safari 5.1.4 update

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Date: Monday, March 12th, 2012, 09:36
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released Safari 5.1.4, an update to its web browser. The new version, a 46.4 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and new features:

- Improved JavaScript performance.

- Improved responsiveness when typing into the search field after changing network configurations or with an intermittent network connection.

- Addressed an issue that could cause webpages to flash white when switching between Safari windows.

- Addressed issues that prevented printing U.S. Postal Service shipping labels and embedded PDFs.

- Preserved links in PDFs saved from webpages.

- Fixed an issue that could make Flash content appear incomplete after using gesture zooming.

- Fixed an issue that could cause the screen to dim while watching HTML5 video.

- Improved stability, compatibility and startup time when using extensions

- Allows cookies set during regular browsing to be available after using Private Browsing.

- Fixed an issue that could cause some data to be left behind after pressing the “Remove All Website Data” button.

Safari 5.1.4 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Also, thanks to Al Gatto for the tip and if you have any quick leads, please let us know via the contact page.

New Flashback malware variant strain discovered, infection tactic changes approach

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Date: Thursday, March 8th, 2012, 10:34
Category: News, security

When in doubt, try something new.

Per Macworld, a new variant of the password-stealing Flashback malware aimed at Macs has emerged, the new software attempting to install itself after a user visits an infected website, according to new research.

Flashback, discovered by security vendor Intego last September, is engineered to steal passwords for websites, including financial sites. Since its emergence, several variants have appeared showing its authors’ innovation.

The first version of Flashback tried to trick users into installing it by masquerading as Adobe’s Flash Player. Later versions checked to see if the Apple computer in question had an unpatched version of Java with two software vulnerabilities.

If the computer was running unpatched Java, Flashback automatically installed itself. If the Java attack didn’t work, Flashback then presented itself as an Apple update with a self-signed security certificate.

The latest “Flashback.N” version spotted by Intego tries to infect the computer after a person has visited an infected Web page. The tactic is often referred to as a drive-by download. Much of the drive-by download malware for Windows can infect a computer without any action by the user merely by visiting the tampered website.

Users get a bit more warning with Flashback.N. Upon hitting the infected website, Flashback.N shows a “Software Update” dialog box similar to the legitimate Apple one and asks for a user’s password.

On its blog, Intego described the installation procedure as “somewhat odd,” as the website, that has been rigged to deliver the malware, displays Apple’s multicolored spinning gear for a while before the dialog box appears. Flashback then injects itself into the Safari browser and starts sniffing data traffic for passwords.

Earlier this week, Intego found that Flashback was using Twitter as a command-and-control mechanism. Other botnets have also used Twitter to post commands or directions to new commands.

The Flashback malware queries Twitter for 12-character hashtag composed of seemingly random characters, according to an Intego blog post. The strings are actually generated using 128-bit RC4 encryption and are composed of four characters for the day, four for the month and four for the year.

As always, look before you leap in terms of the sites you visit, keep your Mac OS X operating system updated and whoever would like to contribute to a piranha-filled pool to hurl the Flashback malware creators into upon their discovery, we welcome your contributions.

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.

Apple announces Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, developers granted access to preview

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Date: Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 07:18
Category: News, Software

Remember how you sort-of-recently upgraded to Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)?

You’re about to upgrade again this summer.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Thursday announced Mac OS X 10.8, dubbed “Mountain Lion,” the next major release of its Mac operating system, set to launch on the Mac App Store this summer, with a preview now available for Mac developers.

A developer preview of the forthcoming operating system update was released to developers on Thursday, and Apple has boasted that Mountain Lion packs over 100 new features, including many brought from the iPad and iOS mobile operating system.

New features introduced with Mountain Lion include Messages, which replaces iChat, as well as Notes, Reminders and Game Center for the Mac. In addition, Mountain Lion will also feature Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration, and AirPlay Mirroring.

Mountain Lion will also be the first OS X release with iCloud for easy setup and integration with applications. The developer preview also includes Gatekeeper, which helps keep users safe from malicious software by giving control over what applications are installed on a Mac.

The preview of Mountain Lion is available to Mac Developer Program members starting Thursday. Mac users will be able to buy the upgrade from the Mac App Store in late summer 2012.

An in-depth preview of Mountain Lion was provided by the mighty Jim Dalrymple at The Loop who has had his hands on a copy of Mountain Lion for the past week. He said that the latest operating system is “packed with new features that existing Mac users and iOS users will enjoy.”

“If there was a theme in Mountain Lion, I’d have to say it’s familiarity,” he wrote. “Apple brought many new features into the new operating system from IOS, so millions of users will recognize the names of the apps and features.”

Mountain Lion also features tighter integration with iCloud, connecting it with Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Messages, FaceTime, Notes, Reminders, Game Center, the Mac App Store, Documents & Data, and Bookmarks. By simply entering an iCloud user ID and password, users will have many features automatically set up for them on their new Mac.

Mountain Lion also brings Notification Center from iOS to the Mac. It can be accessed by choosing a circle button on the top right of the screen. With a gesture of two fingers sliding from the right edge, the Notification Center can be pulled from the right side of the screen.

Reminders and Notes will help users create and track to-do lists across all of their devices. And Game Center lets users personalize their Mac gaming experience, find new games and challenge friends to play live multiplayer games, whether on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

AirPlay Mirroring is also coming to the Mac, allowing users to wirelessly send a secure 720p video stream of what’s on their Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV.

New Twitter integration also allows users to sign in once and tweet directly from Safari, Quick Look, Photo Booth, Preview, and third-party applications. The new system-wide Share Sheets also makes it easy to share links, photos and videos directly from Apple and third-party applications.

Mountain Lion also features enhanced support for Chinese users, including the option to select Baidu search in Safari. It also sports “significant enhancements” to the Chinese input method, Apple said, along with connectivity for Contacts, Mail and Calendar through top e-mail service providers QQ, 126 and 163, and Share Sheets connectivity with Youku and Toudou.

For developers, there are hundreds of new APIs that allow access to core technologies and enhanced features in OS X. The new Game Kit APIs tap into the same services as Game Center on iOS, allowing developers to create cross-platform multiplayer games for iOS and Mac. There’s also a new graphics infrastructure underpinning OpenGL and OpenCL and implementing GLKit, first introduced in iOS 5, making it easier to create OpenGL apps.

Also found in Mountain Lion are enhanced multi-touch APIs that give developers double-tap zoom support and access to the system-wide lookup gesture. Additionally, kernel ASLR improves security through enhanced migration against buffer overflow attacks.

Pricing on Mountain Lion has not yet been announced, but the new operating system will only be available via the Mac App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the developer preview, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Time Warner Cable streaming arrives for Macs, PCs

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Date: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 06:15
Category: News, Software

Additional content is never a bad thing.

Per Macworld, Time Warner Cable’s streaming cable services are no longer exclusive to iOS devices. Now, Mac and PC users can now watch live TV from the cable provider through their Web browsers via the companys TWC TV Web app, available now in beta, works in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Users will also need to install Microsoft’s Silverlight plug-in, version 4 or higher.

As with Time Warner’s iPad and iPhone app, restrictions apply: Subscribers can only watch live video at home, where their cable TV is set up. And although up to 200 channels are available depending on the user’s subscription package, Viacom content such as Comedy Central and MTV are absent. (Viacom forced Time Warner to stop streaming its content last year, and the companies have yet to reach an agreement to make the content available.)

In addition to live TV streaming, Time Warner’s Web app includes a guide with up to seven days of data and filter options for favorites, HD programming, and streaming channels. Users can also set their DVRs with the app, or change channels on a television set-top box. Search, parental controls, and closed captioning options are also available through the app. The DVR and channel guide features will work from anywhere, not just in the home.

If you’re interested, give it a go and let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Cocktail 5.1.2 (Lion Edition) released

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Date: Tuesday, January 31st, 2012, 08:18
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, shareware developer Maintain released version 5.1.2 of CocktailCocktail (Lion Edition), the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 2.9 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Addresses an issue in which Pilot scheduler could not be enabled.

- Error -105 (Path to user’s home directory contains spaces).

- Error -114 (Home directory not found in the /Users folder).

- Addresses an issue in which Cocktail could not force empty the Trash.

- Error -362 (The Trash contains more than 2000 files).

- Addresses an issue in which Safari webpage previews could not be disabled.

- Addresses an issue in which Cocktail may freeze when trying to gather disk information or the journaling state of the case-sensitive HFS+ disks could not be detected.

- Error -215 (diskutil is not responding).

- Error -217 (Could not get information about the partition).

- Addresses an issue in which improper permissions were applied to the File Sharing logs during the rotation of these logs.

- Added Mac OS X 10.7.3 compatibility.

- Updated Automator actions.

Cocktail 5.1.2 retails for a US$19.00 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

Shareware solutions available to help resolve iCloud syncing bug

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 25th, 2012, 09:10
Category: iCloud, News, Software

There are various quotes about labor pains.

And they tend to be pretty darn valid.

Over on the New Jersey end of things, PowerPage head honcho has noticed something you may have seen with your iOS device: despite being hooked into the iCloud, normal bookmarks are having literally thousands of duplicates appear in the Bookmarks Bar and Bookmarks Menu folder. The issue has been noticed over on the Apple boards and to this end, El Jason has penned a good piece as to workarounds, shareware solution and the like over on the Apple Core.

Head on over, take a gander and if you’ve seen this issue on your end or found your own fixes or workarounds, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.3 build 11D46 to developer community

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Date: Wednesday, January 18th, 2012, 11:21
Category: News, Software

Hold your horses, Mac OS X 10.7.3 will get here eventually.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple has released build 11D46 of its anticipated Mac OS X 10.7.3 update. The build, a 1.2 GB combo update / 989 MB delta update, focuses on iCloud document storage, Address Book, iCal, Mail, Spotlight and Safari.

The last seed was released a week ago. Apple released Mac OS X 10.7.2 to the general public in October, which added iCloud support.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve had a chance to play with the build, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Flip4Mac updated to 2.4.1.4

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 18th, 2012, 04:22
Category: News, Software

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Early Wednesday, software developer Telestream has released version 2.4.1.4 of Flip4Mac, its QuickTime components package which allows for Windows Media files to be viewed, imported and converted under Mac OS X. The new release, a 24 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and changes:

- Added a progress indicator while waiting for streams to buffer in web browsers.

- Fixes an export scaling issue that causes video quality issues with source frame sizes not divisible by four.

- Fixes a problem exporting Silverlight templates.

- Fixes numerous problems in the Web browser plug-in that prevented streaming and playback of various sites and other problems with clicking and scrolling while in the plug-in.

- Adds support for Windows Media scripting. Note that scripting only works with Web browsers running in 32-bit mode. You may need to select “Open in 32-bit mode” in Finder’s Info pane for Safari or Firefox for scripting to work.

- Fixes a warning dialog issue with DRM protected content.

Flip4Mac 2.4.1.4 is available for free but can go as high as US$179 depending on the version purchased. The new version requires Mac OS X 10.5 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.

iOS 5.1 beta 3 points towards additional Facebook, Twitter integration

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Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2012, 13:00
Category: iOS, Rumor

What might you expect out of iOS 5.1? More Facebook.

Per iMore, evidence has been found indicating that Apple could add deep Facebook integration into a future operating system update. In one screenshot shown for the iOS Contacts application, there is an option to enter a person’s Facebook user name right below their Twitter account.

System-wide Twitter integration was one of the most-touted features of iOS 5, which was publicly released last October. After its release, signups for Twitter grew by 25 percent.

Deep integration with the social networking service allows users to quickly post Web links from Safari or pictures saved in the iPhoto application to Twitter. Presumably, future iOS integration with Facebook would offer similar functionality, making it easier for users to share information with their friends on the popular website.

The pre-release build of iOS 5.1 also reportedly includes references to new iPad models named “J1AP” and “J2AP.” The references corroborate with rumored code-names of “J1″ and “J2″ that were first reported last November, when it was said Apple was secretly working on two new iPad models.

The third beta of iOS 5.1 was provided to developers last week. It is compatible with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad, and fourth- and third-generation iPod touch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.