Belkin releases long-anticipated Thunderbolt Express Dock accessory

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Satechi releases powered 10-port USB 3.0 hub

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Date: Wednesday, March 13th, 2013, 07:22
Category: Accessory, News

If you were hoping for the mother of all 10-port USB 3.0 hubs with nifty power management controls, this might be it.

Per 9to5Mac, accessory maker Satechi has unveiled a 10-port USB 3.0 adapter complete with three separate banks, power management and includes a 2.1A iPad charging port.

The device is currently retailing for about US$49.99 on Amazon.com and yon nifty video can be seen below:



As always, if you’ve seen anything entirely new, cool or nifty for the Mac road warrior, please let us know in the comments.

Second lockscreen bypass exploit discovered in iOS 6.1, data vulnerable via USB connection

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Date: Tuesday, February 26th, 2013, 07:07
Category: Hack, iOS, News, security, Software

Apple either needs to assign its iOS security people some business hammocks or take their current ones away…

A second iOS 6.1 bug has been discovered that gives access to contacts, photos and more. The vulnerability uses a similar method as the one disclosed previously, though it apparently gives access to more user data when the phone is plugged into a computer.

Per MacRumors and Kaspersky’s Threatpost, the exploit involves manipulating the phone’s screenshot function, its emergency call function and its power button. Users can make an emergency call (911 for example) on the phone and then cancel it while toggling the power on and off to get temporary access to the phone. A video posted by the group shows a user flipping through the phone’s voicemail list and contacts list while holding down the power button. From there an attacker could get the phone’s screen to turn black before it can be connected to a computer via a USB cord. The device’s photos, contacts and more “will be available directly from the device hard drive without the pin to access,” according to the advisory.

Apple was expected to fix the lock screen bug in iOS 6.1.2, but that small release fixed a different bug. Instead, it appears a fix for at least one of the lock screen vulnerabilities will be coming in iOS 6.1.3, currently in the hands of developers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

USB 3.0 Promoter Group announces updated spec, anticipated 10Gb/s speeds for 2014

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Date: Monday, January 7th, 2013, 07:32
Category: Hardware, News

This could lead to something nifty.

Per CNET and the mighty Jim Tanous of The Mac Observer, an updated USB 3.0 specification that promises to double theoretical maximum bandwidth is scheduled to arrive in mid–2013, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced Sunday. The improvements, thanks to revised hardware and more efficient data transfer methods, will double USB 3.0’s speed from 5 gigabits per second to 10 gigabits per second, rivaling the single-channel performance of Thunderbolt.

The news of faster USB speeds will be welcomed by those relying on external solid state or multi-disk hard drives, as some current high-end drives already saturate USB 3.0’s 5 Gb/s limit (equivalent to about 640 MB/s). For those not yet interested in faster speeds, the new technology will still be backwards-compatible with older USB 3.0 and 2.0 devices and ports.

The new specification is expected to be finalized by mid-year, but devices taking advantage of it won’t hit the market until early 2014 at the earliest, with “much broader availability of products in 2015.”

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group, which announced the new specification, is comprised of member companies in the technology field, including HP, Intel, Microsoft, and Texas Instruments, among others. Apple, which belatedly introduced USB 3.0 on its 2012 line of Macs, is not a member, although it pioneered Thunderbolt, an alternative high-speed interface.

Thunderbolt also offers maximum bandwidth of 10 Gb/s (about 1,280 MB/s) but is dual channel, allowing two transfers up to that speed to occur simultaneously between attached devices. However, the limited number of Thunderbolt-enabled computers and the complicated nature of Thunderbolt chipsets and cables have made the technology significantly more expensive than most other interface options. As a result, it is far less ubiquitous than the backwards-compatible and cheaper USB 3.0 standard.

Users interested in the new USB 3.0 specification will need both updated computers and external devices to support it. New USB 3.0 devices will still work in the absence of both of these conditions, but they will operate at much slower USB 3.0 or 2.0 speeds depending on the exact configuration.

Cables, on the other hand, are another matter. Due to changes in the efficiency of the new specification, existing USB 3.0 cables may not work. “Existing SuperSpeed USB cables are not certified to operate at 10 Gbps; it is possible that some existing SuperSpeed USB cables may be capable of operating at 10 Gbps,” the group said.

Now that Apple has introduced USB 3.0 support, it is likely that the company will move to incorporate the faster USB specification once it is available, especially if Thunderbolt adoption continues to progress at a glacial pace.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Desktop updated to 8.0.18354

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Date: Thursday, December 6th, 2012, 06:12
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, Parallels released version 8.0.18354 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 333.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Resolves an issue with the built-in camera not working with Windows.

- Resolves an issue with some USB devices not working in virtual machines.

Parallels Desktop 8 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard install DVDs surface in Apple online store, available for $19.99

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Date: Friday, November 23rd, 2012, 08:45
Category: News, retail, Software

snowleopard

In as much as it’s useful to keep operating systems on thumb drives and recovery partitions, there are times where you miss having an emergency DVD on hand.

That being said, this should be useful.

Discovered by French web site MacGeneration and the mighty Mac Observer, Apple’s Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard has returned to Apple’s Online Store as a physical disc purchase after being removed upon the launch of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion in July.

Snow Leopard, released in August of 2009, was the first Apple operating system to run exclusively on Intel processors. It was also the last version of OS X to include Rosetta, Apple’s translation software that allowed applications written for PowerPC-based Macs to run seamlessly on Intel-powered machines.

Most importantly for owners of older Macs, Snow Leopard represented a crucial transition point for Apple. The Mac App Store, which launched in early January 2011 exclusively on Snow Leopard 10.6.6, inaugurated a new era of digital software distribution. Starting with the launch of OS X 10.7 Lion in July 2011 and continuing with Mountain Lion in July 2012, the primary method for Mac owners to receive new versions of OS X became the Mac App Store (there were indeed other methods of acquiring a new version of OS X, such as the short-lived official USB installer or by making your own, but these were limited options for relatively advanced users).

For users who had already upgraded their eligible Macs to Snow Leopard, the upgrade to Lion or Mountain Lion was simple: purchase and download it from the Mac App Store. But if users were still on OS X 10.5 Leopard or 10.4 Tiger, they would first have to install Snow Leopard to gain access to the Mac App Store, and then purchase and download Lion or Mountain Lion.

As a result, Apple kept OS X Snow Leopard for sale in its online store until the launch of Mountain Lion when, for reasons unknown, the company removed it. Now, thankfully, the Snow Leopard installation DVD is back for US$19.99, and is currently in stock with free shipping.

While it is true that most Mac owners who are eligible to upgrade to Lion or Mountain Lion have already done so (or have at least upgraded to Snow Leopard), for the remaining holdouts who want to try a newer version of OS X, or for current users who want a copy of Snow Leopard in case they ever need to run a PowerPC app via Rosetta, now is the time to snag it while it’s still available.

VMWare releases Fusion 5.0.2 update

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Date: Monday, November 12th, 2012, 07:11
Category: News, Software

Late Wednesday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 5.0.2 of its Fusion software for the Mac.

Similar to other virtualization software packages, VMWare allows users to run alternate operating systems such as Windows and Linux distributions on Intel-based Macs at native speeds. Other features, such as Unity, allow users to run and minimize Windows applications from the Mac OS X Dock.

The new version, a 215.9 megabyte download, can be found here and offers the following fixes and changes:

- USB 3.0 stability improvements.

- Graphics improvements when running the Microsoft Office 2013 preview.

- Fixed an issue that caused the library and the Fusion start menu contents to get out of sync.

- Fixed an issue that caused Mac OS X (Mountain Lion) guests to see stale directory information when using HGFS.

- Fixed a multi-monitor behavior on Mac OS X (Mountain Lion) when Use All Displays in Full Screen is selected.

- Fixed an issue that caused the full screen short-cut key to intermittently fail when Caps Lock was on.

- Easy Install improvements for Microsoft Windows 8.

- Fixed key repeat behavior (typematic) on certain versions of Mac OS X (Mountain Lion).

- Fixed an intermittent problem that caused Fusion to quit when the network editor was opened.

- Fixed cancelling of the import of OVF virtual machines.

- Addressed graphics issues with Autodesk Inventor, Altium Designer, and Solidworks.

- Fixed an issue installing on Macs with a user or group named “0″.

- Fixed error compiling HGFS on Linux 3.6 kernels.

- Changed the selection color in the library icon view.

- Renamed the Pause key menu item to aid with accessibility and automation.

- Fixed an issue importing a Parallels virtual machine that has no network devices.

- Resolved an issue that caused the PC Migration Assistant to not complete when migrating a Windows PC.

Fusion 5.0.2 retails for US$49.99 and requires an Intel-based Mac, 2 GB of RAM, Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later (10.7 recommended) and a copy of Windows (if you’ll be installing Windows).

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