Apple to expand USB takeback program to UK, other countries

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 12th, 2013, 14:30
Category: Accessory, iPad, iPod Touch, News, retail, Rumor

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The Apple USB power adapter takeback program has expanded.

Per MacNN and 9to5Mac, Apple is extending the number of eligible countries in its USB adapter takeback program. The program began in China August 9th, and is coming to the US on August 16th. Now also joining on the 16th will be Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the UK.

The deadline for the program in the new countries is October 18th, as in the US. Participants can get a new USB adapter at a discounted price, so long as they bring in an old third-party adapter plus an iPhone, iPod, or iPad to validate a serial number. The lower price is $14 in Canada, €10 in France and Germany, ¥1,000 in Japan, and £8 in the UK.

9to5Mac claims that each retail Apple Store will have at least one iOS Genius on hand to conduct trade-ins for the old adapters. Stores are also, reportedly, already receiving related training materials.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype updated to 6.5.0.443

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 25th, 2013, 06:25
Category: News, Software

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On Tuesday, version 6.5.0.443 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 40 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:
- [Contact] Scroll bar is displayed when sending multiple contacts.

- [Contact] User cannot drag & drop contacts who are already existing participants in the conversation.

- [Calling] Call toolbar + button contextual menu items will is not disabled after sending contact.

- [Calling] Call duration info in history is correctly displayed.

- [Conversation] Chat input field switches to SMS mode when adding PSTN numbers to new conversation.

- [Conversation] ‘Check Spelling While Typing’ setting is saved.

- [Generic] Detached conversation window is opened automatically after restarting Skype.

- [File Transfer] Received file is saved in download folder when custom download folder no longer exists.

- [File Transfer] File transfer control buttons are presented after reconnection.

- [Preferences] Skype does not freeze when switching the ringing output to all devices from USB headset.

Skype 6.5.0.443 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 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.

VirtualBox updated to 4.2.14

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 24th, 2013, 06:21
Category: News, Software

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Never knock a steadily updated app.

VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.2.14. The new version, a 150 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:
- VMM: another TLB invalidation fix for non-present pages.

- VMM: fixed a performance regression (4.2.8 regression; bug #11674).

- GUI: fixed a crash on shutdown.

- GUI: prevent stuck keys under certain conditions on Windows hosts (bugs #2613, #6171).

- VRDP: fixed a rare crash on the guest screen resize.

- VRDP: allow to change VRDP parameters (including enabling/disabling the server) if the VM is paused.

- USB: fixed passing through devices on Mac OS X host to a VM with 2 or more virtual CPUs (bug #7462).

- USB: fixed hang during isochronous transfer with certain devices (4.1 regression; Windows hosts only; bug #11839).

- USB: properly handle orphaned URBs (bug #11207).

- BIOS: fixed function for returning the PCI interrupt routing table (fixes NetWare 6.x guests).

- BIOS: don’t use the ENTER / LEAVE instructions in the BIOS as these don’t work in the real mode as set up by certain guests (e.g. Plan 9 and QNX 4).

- DMI: allow to configure DmiChassisType (bug #11832).

- Storage: fixed lost writes if iSCSI is used with snapshots and asynchronous I/O (bug #11479).

- Storage: fixed accessing certain VHDX images created by Windows 8 (bug #11502).

- Storage: fixed hang when creating a snapshot using Parallels disk images (bug #9617).

- 3D: seamless + 3D fixes (bug #11723).

- 3D: version 4.2.12 was not able to read saved states of older versions under certain conditions (bug #11718).

- Main/Properties: don’t create a guest property for non-running VMs if the property does not exist and is about to be removed (bug #11765).

- Main/Properties: don’t forget to make new guest properties persistent after the VM was terminated (bug #11719).

- Main/Display: don’t lose seamless regions during screen resize.

- Main/OVF: don’t crash during import if the client forgot to call Appliance::interpret() (bug #10845).

- Main/OVF: don’t create invalid appliances by stripping the file name if the VM name is very long (bug #11814).

- Main/OVF: don’t fail if the appliance contains multiple file references (bug #10689).

- Main/Metrics: fixed Solaris file descriptor leak.

- Settings: limit depth of snapshot tree to 250 levels, as more will lead to decreased performance and may trigger crashes.

- VBoxManage: fixed setting the parent UUID on diff images using sethdparentuuid.

- Linux hosts: work around for not crashing as a result of automatic NUMA balancing which was introduced in Linux 3.8 (bug #11610).

- Windows installer: force the installation of the public certificate in background (i.e. completely prevent user interaction) if the –silent command line option is specified.

- Windows Additions: fixed problems with partial install in the unattended case
Windows Additions: fixed display glitch with the Start button in seamless mode for some themes.

- Windows Additions: Seamless mode and auto-resize fixes.

- Windows Additions: fixed trying to to retrieve new auto-logon credentials if current ones were not processed yet.

- Windows Additions installer: added the /with_wddm switch to select the experimental WDDM driver by default.

- Linux Additions: fixed setting own timed out and aborted texts in information label of the lightdm greeter.

- Linux Additions: fixed compilation against Linux 3.2.0 Ubuntu kernels (4.2.12 regression as a side effect of the Debian kernel build fix; bug #11709).

- X11 Additions: reduced the CPU load of VBoxClient in drag’and’drop mode.

- OS/2 Additions: made the mouse wheel work (bug #6793).

- Guest Additions: fixed problems copying and pasting between two guests on an X11 host (bug #11792).

VirtualBox 4.2.14 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Apple releases AirPort Utility 6.3, AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule 7.7.1, adds support for 802.11ac AirPort Extreme units, bug fixes

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 11th, 2013, 06:56
Category: News, Software, wireless

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OS X’s Software Update feature is your friend.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple released updates for the Mac, iPhone and iPad versions of AirPort Utility late on Monday following the release of the redesigned 802.11ac-compatible AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule Basestations. The update added support for the new wireless network routers.

AirPort Utility 6.3, a 20.64 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- The ability to extend the Guest Wi-Fi network on a network that is configured with multiple AirPort Base Stations.

- The ability to add a WPS-capable Wi-Fi printer.

- Improved international support.

AirPort Utility 6.3 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later to install and run.

AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule 7.7.1, a 4.6 megabyte download via Software Update, adds the following fixes and changes:
- Update for AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule base stations with 802.11ac.

- Resolves a rare issue that may cause the hard drive in AirPort Time Capsule or a hard drive connected via USB to become unresponsive.

AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule 7.7.1 requires and Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.2 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases updated MacBook Air, cites 12-hour battery, Intel Haswell architecture

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 10th, 2013, 12:45
Category: Hardware, MacBook Air, News

It’s the MacBook Air with the battery you always wanted.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple introduced updated MacBook Air models on Monday during its World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco. The new ultra-light models sport what Apple called “all day battery life” and also run Intel’s Haswell UTC processors.

The new 13-inch MacBook Air offers up to 12 hours battery life and over a month of standby time, and while it doesn’t gain a high resolution Retina Display, it does include 802.11ac wireless networking — a first for Apple’s product lineup. The new Wi-Fi spec means the MacBook Air can transfer data faster and network connections are more robust.

Like the previous model, the new Air includes Thunderbolt and USB connectors, a built-in camera and microphone, built-in speakers, Bluetooth, and more.

The updated MacBook Air is available now and is priced at US$999 for the 11-inch model, and the 13-inch model is US$100 less at US$1,099.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Security researchers to demo 30-pin dock connector hack/malware injection at Black Hat next month

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 7th, 2013, 07:57
Category: Hack, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, security, Software

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You’re not going to like this.

Per Senor O’Grady over on the Apple Core, a group of researchers from Georgia Tech have discovered a way to hack into an iPhone or iPad in less than a minute using a “malicious charger.” The group plans to present its findings at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas on July 27, 2013.

Billy Lau, Yeongjin Jang and Chengyu Song are presenting a session is called “Mactans: Injecting Malware Into iOS Devices Via Malicious Chargers” at the popular security conference next month. The name “Mactans” comes from Latrodectus Mactans, the highly venomous (and deadly) black widow spider.

According to the synopsis on the Black Hat website, the Mactans session will describe how USB capabilities can be leveraged to bypass Apple’s defense mechanisms built into the iPhone.

Jason’s got the full details, so head on over, take a gander and get ready to never completely trust your iOS device’s 30-pin dock connector again…

Belkin releases long-anticipated Thunderbolt Express Dock accessory

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 30th, 2013, 07:00
Category: Accessory, Hardware, News

It took over a year following its announcement to get here, but it’s finally on the market.

Per AppleInsider, the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock, first announced in January of 2012, is now available for purchase for US$299, more than a year after the Mac accessory was unveiled.

The docking station allows users to have instant access to 8 ports by connecting just one high-speed Lightning cable to their Mac. The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock includes:
- One Gigabit Ethernet port

- One Firewire 800 port

- One Thunderbolt port for daisy-chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices

- One 3.5 millimeter headphone output jack

- One 3.5 millimeter audio input jack

- Three USB 3.0 ports with max data transfer of 2.5Gbps

- Cable management channel


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The Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock is compatible with all recent Macs equipped with Thunderbolt ports, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Belkin boasts that the high speed of Thunderbolt allows users to download a high-definition feature film in 30 seconds, or sync a year’s worth of continuous music in 10 minutes.

The Thunderbolt Express Dock was first announced by Belkin at the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2012. At the time, the company said the accessory would become available last September, but that launch date was missed.

Since the original unveiling, the hardware has been upgraded to include three USB 3.0 ports. The originally announced hardware featured USB 2.0 ports running at slower speeds.

But the shipping accessory has also lost an HDMI out port, which was also initially planned to be included with the docking station.

If you’ve ordered a Thunderbolt Express Dock and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Hack: How to use your old ADB keyboard with your current USB-equipped Mac

Posted by:
Date: Monday, April 15th, 2013, 07:46
Category: Hack, Hardware, News

Ok, this could prove to be awesome.

And it’s one of the many reasons I believe the mighty Topher Kessler doth rock on a regular and efficient basis.

Over on CNET, Kessler’s penned a cool hack to use your old Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) keyboard with your current USB-equipped Mac.


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The hack centers around tech hobbyist Scott Vanderlind’s find that by adding a small USB controller to the keyboard, he could tap into the device’s ADB connection and send it over USB to any modern device, where it works quite well.

For hobbyists, adapters like the Griffin 2001-ADB iMate are not the only options for converting your ADB keyboard to USB. Granted, there’s a small amount of soldering, a Teensy USB controller, and a quick flash of the keyboard’s firmware to enable the ADB-to-USB conversion of the keyboard’s output.

Still, the process seems to work pretty well with the only hiccup being the need to continually hold the Num Lock key for the number pad to work.

Head on over, take a gander and if you’ve found a cool hack of your own that you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments.

AT&T adds premium shared data, data-only options to Mobile Share plans

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 20th, 2013, 07:52
Category: News

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If you’ve got the money for it, AT&T has a fairly hefty data plan for you.

Per TechHive, the wireless carrier just added three new tiers for its Mobile Share plans, which allow users to share a single pool of data across several devices. Subscribers can now get 30GB per month for US$300, 40GB per month for US$400, and 50GB per month for US$500.

At these tiers, AT&T also adds a per-device charge of US$30 per month for each smartphone, US$10 per month for tablets and gaming devices, and US$20 per month for each laptop or USB data sticks.

Streaming video through services like Netflix is one example of where you might engage in heavy use, especially with data use skyrocketing over LTE. Although if you’re dropping US$300 per month on a bad Netflix habit, that’s a problem.

Previously, AT&T’s top tier was 20GB for US$200 per month. Exceeding the limit meant paying a US$15 per gigabyte overage charge so, while the new plans seem expensive, they do offer a savings to users and businesses that need large amounts of data.

AT&T and Verizon launched their respective shared-data plans last year. Both carriers include unlimited talk and text in these plans, as well as mobile hotspot use on smartphones at no extra charge.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple receives patent for Smart Cover wireless charging system

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 14th, 2013, 07:25
Category: Hardware, iPad, News, Patents

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It’s sort of a weird patent application, but apparently it’s been pushed through.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple on Thursday published an Apple patent application that details a system of inductively charging an iPad through the Smart Cover. The idea is that rather than plugging in the iPad, the Smart Cover would include an inductive power transmitter that would allow it to pair with an inductive power transceiver embedded into the iPad. The result is the Smart Cover would become a wireless charging station, connecting to an external power source, and allowing you to power your iPad in various positions. Apple also explained that it could use “ambient power gathering devices, such as solar cells, can be used to gather ambient power (such as sunlight) to be stored internally in the flap for later inductive transfer.”

A method for wireless powering a tablet device, comprising: determining if a protective cover is in a closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; enabling a wireless power receiver circuit in the tablet device when it is determined that the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; and wirelessly receiving power from a wireless power transmitter associated with the protective cover.

Apple described the advanced Smart Cover as including multiple power transmitters to allow the iPad to charge even when using the case, for example, as a stand to prop up the device. Alternatively, the cover could continue charging the device when in the closed position or when an iPad is placed on top:

The method as recited in claim 10, the method further comprising: determining that the tablet device is positioned relative to a flat surface at a viewing angle; and enabling a second wireless power receiver circuit only when it is determined that the tablet device is in the portable mode and is positioned relative to the flat surface at the viewing angle and the tablet device is configured to present video by the display. An apparatus for wireless powering a tablet device, comprising: means for determining if a protective cover is in a closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; means for enabling a wireless power receiver circuit in the tablet device when it is determined that the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the tablet device; and means for wirelessly receiving power from a wireless power transmitter associated with the protective cover.

13. The apparatus as recited in claim 12, the tablet device further comprising; a battery; a display; and a sensor arranged to detect an external stimulus only when the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to the display.

The system described in the patent would be similar to wireless charging systems already available on the market, something that Apple’s Phil Schiller recently described as “more complicated” than Apple’s current solution:

As for wireless charging, Schiller notes that the wireless charging systems still have to be plugged into the wall, so it’s not clear how much convenience they add. The widely-adopted USB cord, meanwhile, can charge in wall outlets, computers and even on airplanes, he said. “Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated,” Schiller said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.