Mac OS X 10.6.4 update to address OpenGL, iPhoto, DVD Player and VNC-related issues

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Date: Friday, May 7th, 2010, 05:46
Category: News, Software

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The Mac OS X 10.6.4 update will pick up where Mac OS X 10.6.3 left off by tackling compatibility issues with OpenGL-based applications and bandaging glitches with first- and third-party applications.

Per AppleInsider, a list of code corrections that Apple provided to some developers on Thursday alongside the second external beta of Mac OS X 10.6.4, carrying build number 10F46 is pointing development along those lines. The build arrived roughly one week after Apple issued the first external pre-release copies of the Snow Leopard update, which focused on graphics drivers, Windows file sharing, USB devices and Voice Over.

While the focus areas remain relatively the same in Thursday’s build, Apple added a fix for dropped connections with Cisco VPN and thus asked developers to evaluate the overall reliability of VPN connections under the beta.

According to sources testing Mac OS X 10.6.4, other fixes are also in the cards for pairing Apple remotes with Macs, graphics anomalies that surface when editing images in iPhoto’s full-screen mode, and video playback in DVD Player.

Additional code corrections reportedly target glitches with Parental Controls, erratic USB keyboard behaviors, 3D animations, and problems launching Adobe CS3 applications like Photoshop and Illustrator.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new Mac OS X 10.6.4 build and have any feedback, let the rest of the class know what you make of it…

Intel demonstrates Light Peak port technology for HD video streams

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Date: Thursday, May 6th, 2010, 04:48
Category: News

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PC Pro is reporting that Intel has been demoing a laptop running the company’s “Light Peak” connectivity standard initially offering transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps in both directions. The company previously demonstrated the technology using a prototype Mac Pro motherboard last year, but has now reduced the required hardware to fit inside a laptop enclosure.

The demonstration laptop was sending two separate HD video streams to a nearby television screen, without any visible lag. The laptop includes a 12mm square chip that converts the optical light into electrical data that the computer understands.

Intel’s chief technology officer, Justin Rattner, claimed that the bandwidth afforded by the optical technology is practically unlimited. “Light Peak begins at 10Gbits/sec, simultaneously in both directions,” he said. “We expect to increase that speed dramatically. You’ll see multiple displays being served by a single Light Peak connection. There’s almost no limit to the bandwidth – fibers can carry trillions of bits per second”.

Intel has touted Light Peak as a possible replacement to USB, Firewire, and display connectors in the future, and notes that the hardware should become available to computer manufacturers by the end of this year.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.4 build to wider developer base for testing

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Date: Thursday, April 29th, 2010, 04:40
Category: News, Software

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Apple on Wednesday released a widespread developer beta version of its Mac OS X 10.6.4, the fourth maintenance and security update for its Snow Leopard operating system. Until now, the future OS had been under development internally for several weeks.

According to AppleInsider, the beta, labeled Mac OS X 10.6.4 build 10F37, made its way to Apple Developer Connection (ADC) members just one day after a more elite set of testers belonging to Apple’s Apple Seed program were able to test the beta.

According to sources familiar with Wednesday distribution, Apple has asked developers to test four key areas of the system, including graphics drivers, Windows file sharing, USB devices and Voice Over.

Although the build released to ADC members on Wednesday is identical to the one issued to Apple Seed members on Tuesday, an emphasis on evaluating Time Machine backups noted in the Apple Seed distribution was not extended to the ADC version.

It’s unclear what specific issues Mac OS X 10.6.4 will target upon its release, as Apple reportedly stopped short of including a list of enhancements with either of the aforementioned distributions.

That said, the updated build could arrive sooner than later given that the Mac maker went through 36 builds internally before tapping its developer community to put its weight on the software.

Apple listed only one known issue in documentation accompanying Wednesday’s build: that iChat will require a password each time it’s launched.

Fourth-Generation iPhone prototype discovered, analyzed

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Date: Monday, April 19th, 2010, 05:19
Category: iPhone, photos, Rumor

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A series of new photos of an alleged fourth-generation iPhone prototype surfaced over the weekend, the device sporting dual cameras with flash, a high-resolution screen, and a slot for a MicroSIM card.

Per Engadget, the device was allegedly found laying on the floor of a San Jose bar and sports a front-facing camera, 80GB of storage, and aluminum sides. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber spoke with sources who reaffirmed to him that the device is legitimate, and “Apple is very interested in getting it back.”

“I am not certain this is the actual production unit Apple intends to ship to consumers,” he wrote. “I think it’s a testbed frame — thicker, with visible (un-Apple-like) seams, meant to fit into 3GS cases so as to disguise units out in the wild. It’s hard to tell from the photos. But I think it is the real deal in terms of the internals and the display being next-gen hardware, and the new glass back.”

He also went on to mention a patent regarding radio-transparent zirconia CE casings. Such casings could allow wireless signals to pass through an enclosure uninhibited and could improve reception on future iPhone models. Gruber theorized that the glass-looking back seen on the iPhone prototype could be a “high-durability” ceramic enclosure, similar to what was mentioned in the patent, as having glass on both sides of the new iPhone would make it very fragile if dropped.

The alleged prototype iPhone, reportedly dubbed “iPhone HD,” sports a double-resolution 960 x 640 pixel display. Previous reports suggested the new handset would, like the iPad, sport a custom-built processor from Apple.

The back of the device has Xs in place of certain numbers, such as the amount of storage and Federal Communications Commission ID number. It was also said to be previously running with a “decidedly new” operating system, though it is no longer booting. The device also has a “button” on its side, which sources told Engadget is for holding a MicroSIM card for connectivity with a GSM network, suggesting it is not the CDMA compatible model Apple is purportedly working on.

When Apple introduced the developer preview of its forthcoming iPhone OS 4 mobile operating system, users found references to iChat and frameworks containing the strings “front facing” and “back facing,” providing even more potential evidence of a new model with video chat. Apple was also said to be looking to secure large quantities of LED camera flash components for a forthcoming iPhone, and data discovered in the iPhone OS 4 beta suggests that the next-gen device will indeed include a camera flash.

Apple is expected to introduce the fourth-generation iPhone at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Last week the head of a Canadian wireless carrier said Apple will ship the device that same month, while AT&T employees have been restricted from taking vacations in the same month.

Intel: Light Peak could succeed, replace USB 3.0 ports in several years

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Date: Wednesday, April 14th, 2010, 11:14
Category: News

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Representatives from Intel went on record to state that the company’s upcoming Light Peak technology could eventually succeed and replace USB 3.0 in several years. Intel, which announced Light Peak last year, hopes it will be broadly used by devices ranging from PCs to consumer electronics and other gadgets, said Kevin Kahn, an Intel senior fellow, in a speech at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Beijing. Per Macworld, Intel will make the technology available late this year and expects partners to start shipping devices with it next year, Kahn said.

“We view this as a logical future successor to USB 3.0,” Kahn said. “In some sense we’d… like to build the last cable you’ll ever need.”

A trend toward optical instead of electrical links raises the risk that separate optical cables could appear for many protocols, such as USB and serial ATA, said Justin Rattner, the head of Intel Labs, on the sidelines of IDF. Light Peak can run multiple protocols at the same time over one line, so all the data meant for the separate cables could run through one Light Peak cable instead.

Intel insists there is no conflict between Light Peak and USB 3.0 and views the technologies as complementary, as Light Peak enables USB and other protocols to run together on a single, longer cable and at higher speeds in the future, according to a slide in Kahn’s IDF presentation. “We expect both to exist together in the market and perhaps on the same platform at the same time,” the slide said.

A laptop with Light Peak built in was on show during Kahn’s speech. A long, thin Light Peak cable, which linked the laptop to a docking station and a monitor, was used simultaneously to transmit Blu-ray video, a feed from a high-definition camera and a duplication of the notebook’s display onto the other screen. Light Peak can currently transfer data at a speed of 10G bps (bits per second), or fast enough to send a full Blu-Ray movie in less than half a minute, according to Intel. But the technology could be scaled up to 10 times that speed in the next decade according to company representatives.

USB 3.0, the latest version of USB, is far slower than Light Peak with a signalling rate of 5G bps, though it remains much faster than the current version of USB. Still, USB 3.0 is not yet widespread in devices. That is partly because many PC manufacturers will wait on USB 3.0 until support is built directly into the chipsets they buy, which is only expected to happen in late 2011, according to a research note from In-Stat.

Intel, which is a major vendor of PC chipsets, did not immediately reply to a question about whether it will launch chipsets with built-in support for USB 3.0. A spokesman for rival chip maker Advanced Micro Devices said the company will have chipsets with built-in support for USB 3.0 but declined to say when.

When asked if Intel would build Light Peak support into its chipsets, Kahn said the company could do so if Light Peak spreads quickly, but declined to comment further.

Intel expects an industry group promoting Light Peak to launch next year, Kahn said. The company has said it will work with the industry to make Light Peak a standard and speed its adoption.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Review: Apple iPad Cover

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 8th, 2010, 03:30
Category: Accessory, iPad, Review

By Mike DeWalt

So, you’ve bought your iPad – or are thinking about it – and you’re starting to think about accessorizing. You have several options even at this early stage: You can pick up an extra charger, a dock, an external keyboard, a VGA adapter, a USB connector for your camera, and headphones or ear buds. All are worthy additions that some iPad owners will want.

There is however, what I’d consider a “must have” for all iPad owners … and that’s some kind of cover or case. I’ve had my iPad since Saturday morning and it came to work naked with me on Monday and Tuesday … and that wasn’t good. Without a cover it’s more prone to bumps, scratches, and drops. Also, the screen seems to collect greasy finger smudges and it’s tough to carry it around naked without getting the screen even more smudged up.

So, I was pleased that my official US$39 Apple iPad case arrived late yesterday afternoon. My initial impressions are somewhat mixed. In terms of the form factor, I’m 100% sold. This is absolutely the type of case I need. The iPad slides into the right side, it’s a snug and secure fit, the screen is uncovered and there are cutouts for all the do-dads … on/off button, dock connector, speaker, headphone jack, etc. The left side folds over the screen like a book cover. Think legal pad folio.

The material is very slightly padded, but not so much that it makes the sleek iPad bulky. The cover is mostly rigid and offers decent protection. The surface of the material is matt with a very fine texture. The cover can fold backward and clip into a flap on the back of the case to make it a nifty little stand that you can use in portrait or landscape mode.

All-in-all a very good form factor and a reasonable value for 39 bucks. So, why did I say my impressions were mixed? Three reasons:

1. The edges are a bit sharp and stiff where the seams are joined (pinched together). It would have been better if they were rounded around the edge.

2. The “stand” feature is a great idea and should work fine on dry land. However, I’m not so sure it’s stable enough to use on a train or plane table without falling over.

3. The iPad itself looks like a million bucks. It feels and looks like a very high quality product … really nice. The Apple iPad cover is a bit more “utilitarian”. It works, it looks OK, and the price is fine. In other words, iPad=Filet Mignon … iPad Case=a good hot dog.

The Bottom Line:
I’ll happily use this case … I’m glad I have it because a naked iPad is a recipe for trouble in my hands. But I’ll keep my eye out for something better down the road once the 3rd party suppliers get cranked up.

Mac OS X 10.6.3 release seems imminent, upgrade tips posted

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Date: Monday, March 22nd, 2010, 04:16
Category: News

snowleopard

Following a flurry of developer releases for the upcoming Mac OS X 10.6.3 update, a public release seems imminent with sources guessing it could be released today or this week.

With that in mind, the cool cats at CNET have offered the following preparation steps to take prior to the update:

Back up:
Always back up your system before updating it. The best practice is to perform a full and restorable backup by using Time Machine or a cloning system (SuperDuper, Carbon Copy Cloner) and then testing the backup to be sure you can access it in the event of an update failure.

To test your Time Machine backup, boot to the OS X installation DVD, select your language, and choose the option to restore from backup that is in the Utilities menu. In the restorable backup list, you should see the most current backup you made. To test a bootable drive clone, boot to it either by selecting the clone in the Startup Disk system preferences and rebooting, or by holding the Option key at start-up and selecting the drive from the boot menu.
Once you have confirmed the backups are healthy and have booted back to your main hard drive, unplug the drive from your system (if you can–some people use internal drives for Time Machine) or unmount it at the very least (just drag it to the trash) so the system will not interact with it during the update. Then proceed with the update.

Clear up current issues:
If you are having major problems with your current OS installation, try addressing them first. While OS updates can be the solution to many problems, if you are having major stability problems (i.e., random crashes, odd noises, inability to authenticate) then be sure to address them before applying the update.

Run general maintenance:
At the very least, run some general maintenance on the system before updating. For the most part you can do this by booting into Safe Mode (which runs a few maintenance routines at start-up) and then running a permissions fix using Disk Utility. In addition, you can also clear caches and other temporary files using programs like OnyX, Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner, IceClean, Yasu, and Cocktail.

Unplug peripheral devices:
If you have external USB or Firewire devices, unplug them from your system before updating. While it is rare that peripheral devices interfere with installations and updates, it can happen especially upon the first reboot as the system reconfigures drivers and boot caches. Once you have installed the update and have completed the first boot, then plug in your devices again.

Installation options:

Software update:
This is the most common method of updating, and will download the minimum number of files needed for your system and current software setup. It is the fastest and easiest method, but will keep a large number of the unchanged files on your system.

Standalone Delta update:
As with other versions of OS X, Apple will provide the 10.6.3 update as a standalone installer. This may be a larger download than what is available via Software Update because it includes update files for all computer models and software setups. It will be available at Apple’s support downloads page, and we will also provide a link to the delta updater when it is released.

Using this update allows you to take extra recommended precautionary steps during the installation, such as booting into Safe Mode and installing when unplugged from the network to avoid any interruptions.

Standalone Combo Update:
Similar to the Delta updater, you will have the option for the full Combo update. This update will contain the full set of files that have been updated since the OS X 10.6.0 release. Using it to install the update will ensure all updated files are replaced, even if they have not been changed since 10.6.2. Using the combo updater is a fairly standard troubleshooting step that can help fix various OS problems, and is a good way to keep your OS installation as fresh as possible.

As with the delta update, we recommend you install this when booted to Safe Mode and after running standard preparatory maintenance routines such as permissions fixes.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know if you happen across any tips, tricks or fixes during your update.

Apple Releases Updated Mac OS X 10.6.3 Dev Build, Official Release Seems Close

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Date: Thursday, February 25th, 2010, 05:21
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday Apple released a new version of its Mac OS X 10.6.3 beta to its developer community. The build, labeled 10D561, currently lists no known issues, which suggests that a formal release via Software Update may be in the near term.

Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the latest beta claim no changes have been made to the software’s enhancements checklist, which includes an update to QuickTime X that improves security and compatibility while simultaneously enhancing overall reliability.

Other changes present since earlier betas include tweaks that enhance the performance of Apple’s 64-bit Logic Pro audio suite and improved compatibility with third-party printers and OpenGL-grounded applications.

Those familiar with Wednesday’s beta say Apple is now asking developers to focus their evaluation efforts on Bluetooth, iChat, and USB, in addition to two previously listed focus areas: graphics drivers and QuickTime.

An earlier emphasis on AirPort testing has reportedly been omitted from build 10D561.

Mac OS X 10.6.3 currently weighs in at just over 716MB in Delta form, down slightly from the 737MB package distributed with the previous seeding.

If you’ve had a chance to play with the new build, let us know.

Battery-Powered Wi-Reach Classic Converts 3G/4G Cards Into Wi-Fi Hotspot

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 16th, 2010, 08:18
Category: News

This could be nifty.

Per Business Wire, Connect One‘s battery powered Wi-Reach Classic allows users to insert a 3G or 4G USB card to create a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can allow up to 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices to connect to the Internet. The device will support the WiMax and LTE protocols after a future firmware update and car reportedly run for up to five hours on a full charge as well as recharge over a USB connection.

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The Wi-Reach Classic is available now for US$99.

MWSF: Incase Reveals Combo Charger for iPod and iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 15th, 2010, 05:44
Category: Accessory, iPhone, iPod, Macworld Expo

Let’s face it: we’re gadget-centric and we need our chargers.

Per iLounge, accessory maker Incase has released its Combo Charger for iPod and iPhone. The device arrives in black or white and allows users to charge two devices at once if you provide a cable for the second USB port.

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An Incase leaf logo below the ports glows when connected to a car or wall power source, and the bulb has been redesigned from previous versions to occupy a narrower profile while enhancing the functionality and the company says that the ports offer the “fastest possible charge” — 1 amp — as compared with 0.5 amp competitors.

The Combo Charger retails for US$40 and is immediately available.