Skype updated to 5.6.0.143

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 7th, 2012, 09:07
Category: News, Software

skypelogo.jpg

On Tuesday, version 5.6.0.143 of the Skype VoIP application was released. The new version, a 22.7 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Automatic Updates.

- Improved UI for group video calling.

- New full screen mode in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

- Ability to delete conversations.

- Ability to disable Audio Gain Control.

- Fixed: Chat messages aren’t shown after clearing recent conversations or closing the last one.

- Fixed: Choppy audio issue with USB headset while in group call.

- Fixed: Call toolbar does not appear after call is ended.

- Fixed: Selection of contacts in the contact list.

Skype 5.6.0.143 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

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

iFixit studies iPad 2 display, purported iPad 3 display, finds evidence supporting Retina Display for iPad 3

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 24th, 2012, 07:31
Category: Hardware, iPad, Rumor

Yes, there’s more than a few iPad 3 rumors floating around at the moment, but a genuine comparison backed by video helps.

Per MacRumors, do-it-yourself site iFixit posted a side-by-side comparison video on Thursday between the alleged next-generation ‘iPad 3′ display and a replacement screen for an iPad 2, and results reaffirm previous reports that the purported new component’s pixel density is indeed double that of Apple’s current tablet line.

The site, well known for its product teardown and self-repair guides, used a USB microscope to shoot pixel-level images of a rumored “iPad 3″ display that was obtained by MacRumors on Friday through “unreported channels.”

Although last week’s report yielded compelling photographic evidence that the component was a QXGA screen with a resolution of 2048-by-1536 pixels, the iFixit images are of higher quality and show more detail than the previous side-by-side photos. Clearly seen are individual pixels, with the new display appearing to sport a common RGB sub-pixel arrangement which is identical to the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S’ Retina Display.

iFixit was unsuccessful in powering on the display due to a newly-designed LCD connector cable, but the USB microscope threw enough light to show that for each iPad 2 pixel, the new component boasted four. The finding is concurrent with reports that claim the pixel density of the rumored tablet will be around 260 pixels-per-inch. In contrast, the current generation iPad 2 has a 132 ppi pixel density.

While the estimated 260 ppi falls short of the 300+ ppi the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs described as being a qualifier for Retina Display status, it can be contested that because users hold tablets farther away from their eyes than a phone, the would-be “iPad 3″ specs are be enough to achieve a perceived pixel density similar to that of Apple’s latest smartphone.

The physical dimensions of the display are identical to that of the iPad and iPad 2, though iFixit notes that those thinking of swapping out their iPad 2 screens with this new “iPad 3″ model are out of luck. Besides the obvious incompatibility with current iPad logic boards, there have been no figures as to the screen’s power consumption and processor requirements.

Previous reports pointed to rumors that, due to a high pixel count, a so-called iPad Retina Display may need a backlight configuration consisting of two LED light bars to achieve brightness levels equavalent to current iPad models.

Apple is rumored to announce its next generation tablet on March 7, and will feature the rumored Retina Display, a redesigned case, a new processor and 4G LTE functionality.

Stay tuned for additional details and in the meantime, a little video never hurt anyone:



Apple releases firmware updates for early and late 2011 MacBook Pro, mid-2011 MacBook Air notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, 18:11
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

el17.jpg

Late Thursday, Apple released firmware updates for its early and late 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks as well as its mid-2011 MacBook Air Notebooks.

MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.7, a 4.1 megabyte download, fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Pro (Early 2011) and MacBook Pro (Late 2011) computers and is recommended for all users.

This update improves the reliability of booting from the network, addresses an issue that can prevent HDCP authentication after a reboot, and resolves an issue with boot device selection when a USB storage device is hot-plugged.

MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.4, a 3 megabyte download, fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Air (Mid 2011) computers and is recommended for all users.

This update improves the reliability of booting from the network, addresses an issue that can prevent HDCP authentication after a reboot, and resolves an issue with boot device selection when a USB storage device is hot-plugged.

The updates can be directly downloaded and installed or located, downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and require Mac OS X 10.7.3 or later to install and run.

As always, if you’ve tried the new firmware updates and have either positive or negative feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Delicious Library updated to 2.7.6

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 25th, 2012, 11:26
Category: News, Software

deliciouslogo

On Wednesday, software company Delicious Monster released version 2.7.6 of the shareware favorite, Delicious Library. Delicious Monster allows Macs with webcams to scan the bar codes of any book, movie, music CD or video game, then creates an archive based on background information from the Internet. Additional features help keep the library organized and reseller’s tools allow for items to be quickly posted for sale online.

The update, a 16.4 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Fixed a crasher with USB barcode scanning (introduced in 2.7.5, sorry we’re dumb!).

- Fixed a crasher when changing import settings (introduced in 2.0… sorry it took so long!).

Delicious Library 2.7.6 retails for US$40 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Belkin to release Thunderbolt Express Dock this September for $299

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 9th, 2012, 10:17
Category: Accessory, News

Give it time and the spiffy peripherals eventually show up on the market.

Per AppleInsider, Belkin on Monday introduced its new Thunderbolt Express Dock, which will allow users to connect multiple devices to their Mac with one Thunderbolt cable when it arrives in September for US$299.

Though it won’t be available until later this year, the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock will be on display at the company’s booth at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev. The dock will enable Thunderbolt-equipped Macs to access multiple desktop peripherals with just one cable.

“People purchase MacBook Airs and Ultrabooks for ultimate portability, but constantly plugging-in and unplugging numerous cable-connected peripherals is an annoying and time consuming ordeal,” said Martin Avilla, general manager of Belkin’s Core Business Unit. “The Thunderbolt Express Dock provides a much-needed solution that creates a cleaner, faster, more productive workspace and reliable connectivity to desktop devices and the Internet.”



Highlighted features of the Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock are:
- Quickly connects into a desktop workstation and instantly accesses multiple devices with a single cable.

- Adds reliable, gigabit Ethernet connectivity to your notebook.

- Includes three USB 2.0 ports, one Firewire 800 port, one HDMI port, one 3.5mm Audio port, one gigabit Ethernet port and two Thunderbolt ports (one upstream and one downstream) for daisy-chaining to another Thunderbolt compatible device.

- Utilizes Thunderbolt Technology for data transfer rates of up to 10Gbps bi-directionally.

For now, Mac users looking to use Thunderbolt for a simplified docking solution can use Apple’s Thunderbolt Display, which allows users to plug in one 10Gbps Thunderbolt cable that can drive multiple devices with its high bandwidth capacity. The Thunderbolt display serves as a docking station in addition to a monitor, and packs three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port and a Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Intel to bring Thunderbolt port to “first-tier” Windows PCs in April, 2012

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 27th, 2011, 10:50
Category: Hardware, News

You were wondering when that rather-nifty Thunderbolt port would make its way to Windows PCs and thus spread the use of the technology?

Well, now there’s something of an answer.

Per DigiTimes, Intel has begun notifying PC makers that it will “fully release” the high-speed I/O in April 2012, according to a new report.

Sources from within PC players have stated that “several first-tier” PC vendors are readying Thunderbolt-equipped motherboards, notebooks and desktop computers for release. Sony and Asus are expected to adopt the new technology, while Gigabyte technology will reportedly launch a Thunderbolt-capable motherboard in April of next year.

According to the report, Intel cooperated with Apple exclusively this year in order to “speed up the standardization of Thunderbolt.” As interest in the technology has continued to grow, Intel has readied the technology for “public use.”

Thunderbolt should see even further adoption in the second half of next year as related costs drop. Sources told the publication that the technology will be “standardized gradually in the future” as chip prices fall.

In June, Sony was originally thought to have developed the first non-Mac Thunderbolt PC with its VAIO Z laptop and Power Media dock. However, it was later revealed that the company had used an early version of Intel’s technology that did not match the Thunderbolt standard.

Apple partnered up with Intel to unveil the Thunderbolt I/O in its MacBook Pro lineup this February. The Mac maker quickly added the technology to its products, including the iMac, MacBook Air, Mac Mini and LED Display.

Thunderbolt combines Intel’s “Light Peak” specification with Apple’s Mini DisplayPort to support transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps. The technology uses the PCI Express standard, allowing for a range of peripherals and functions.

The first Thunderbolt peripherals, such as RAID systems and external drives arrived on the market throughout 2011, but high costs have reportedly been a barrier to companies looking to make Thunderbolt accessories.

For its part, Intel claimed earlier this year that Thunderbolt has attracted “tremendous response from the industry,” touting more than twenty companies, including Belkin, Canon, Seagate, Western Digital and Adobe, interested in adding Thunderbolt support to their products.

Also affecting Thunderbolt adoption is the growing presence of USB 3.0. HP, the world’s largest PC maker, has decided to go with USB 3.0 after not finding a “value proposition” with Thunderbolt. Intel has said it will support USB 3.0 alongside Thunderbolt, which is meant to be “complementary,” but some PC industry insiders have claimed that Thunderbolt could “greatly affect” adoption of the competing standard.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Tekkeon introduces MP1580 battery pack, allows external charging of iOS, other USB-charging devices

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 12th, 2011, 05:39
Category: Accessory, iPhone, News

This could be useful.

Per iLounge, Tekkeon has introduced its new TekCharge MP1580 battery pack for the iPod, iPhone, and other USB-charging devices. The MP1580 offers the ability to charge devices using between two and four AA batteries, and serves as a charging station for rechargeable NiMH or lithium cells. Other features include an inline voltage regulator to ensure safe charging, a built-in USB slot for connecting charging cables, and an external charge indicator.

The TekCharge MP1580 is available now and retails for US$25.

Delicious Library updated to 2.7.5

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 8th, 2011, 05:51
Category: News, Software

deliciouslogo

On Wednesday, software company Delicious Monster released version 2.7.5 of the shareware favorite, Delicious Library. Delicious Monster allows Macs with webcams to scan the bar codes of any book, movie, music CD or video game, then creates an archive based on background information from the Internet. Additional features help keep the library organized and reseller’s tools allow for items to be quickly posted for sale online.

The update, a 16.4 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Easily see which shelves contain your items!

- Use the new “Shelves” column in list view.

- Control-click an item for the new “Show on Shelf” menu.

- Include the set of shelves containing each item when exporting.

- Recognize a larger variety of iTunes audiobook formats.

- Those with old iTunes libraries should, in iTunes, choose File > Library> Organize Library…, selecting to “Reorganize files”.

- Improved display of Nintendo 3DS game boxes.

- French translation improvements, thanks to Fabrice Deville.

- Export directly to Numbers.

- Excel exporter now uses CSV format instead of the ancient SYLK format, providing better support for long values and values in more languages.

- Cover drawing fixes on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion (fixed blurry covers, incorrectdrawing after changing dimensions, and more).

- Many fixes to the importer.

- Accept USB scanners that send EAN-5 along with the EAN-13 barcode.

- We’re aware that some customers have issues using their USB barcode scannerswith Delicious Library. We’d like to address this as soon as possible. Ifyou have a USB scanner (working or not), please email support@delicious-monster.comwith the make and model, and whether or not scans are recognized.

- Work around Amazon returning strange item dimensions (manifesting as coversbeing tiny)

- Better handling of large cover images.

- Strip ColorSync profiles from images when publishing for smaller file sizes.

- Fixed a cause of large memory usage when publishing.

- Add a work-around for an Apple bug in 10.7 that produces invalid HTML when publishing
Enable “Refresh Details from Internet” for items with an EAN or ISBN, butwithout an ASIN.

- Fixed a crash when selecting “Enable Bluetooth Scanning” and Bluetooth isdisabled (Apple’s bug).

Delicious Library 2.7.5 retails for US$40 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Intel Ivy Bridge details leaked, interesting new specs and support on horizon

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 6th, 2011, 05:05
Category: News, Processors, Rumor

intellogo.jpg

If you like Intel’s current Sandy Bridge architecture, then the leaked details of the company’s Ivy Bridge architecture should give you a warm, snuggly feeling inside.

Per X-Bit Labs and Macworld UK, according to information reported by X-bit Labs, a lineup of Core i5 and Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors will be available in Q2 2012. The processors will all be quad core, except one economy Core i5 processor. The rest of the Core i5s reportedly have a 6MB cache and speeds ranging from 2.7GHz to 3.4GHz. The Core i7 lineup has 8MB cache, and clock speeds from 2.5GHz to 3.5GHz.

The Ivy Bridge processors will support PCIe 3.0 x16, and come with native support for Thunderbolt and USB 3.0. It will be up to hardware manufacturers to determine which of those slot and port technologies individual systems will include, though.

The most notable difference between the “Ivy Bridge” and “Sandy Bridge” processors is that Intel is building the next generation CPUs using 22nm architecture–a nearly 30 percent drop in size from the existing 32nm chips. Good things come in small packages, though, so there are some benefits that come with the smaller processors.

First, Ivy Bridge CPUs will consume less power. That translates to lower energy costs, and lower heat output, which snowballs the lower energy costs because less power is then required to cool the system as well.

Second, the smaller central processor makes more room for the integrated graphics chip, allowing Intel to boost the graphics processing capabilities. The Ivy Bridge graphics capabilities are estimated to be up to 60 percent faster, and will support Microsoft DirectX 11.

The bad news is that Ivy Bridge is an incremental bump from the Sandy Bridge processors available today and might not offer a blazing improvement over the current Sandy Bridge architecture.

The good news is that the Ivy Bridge processors will work with existing Sandy Bridge motherboards. So, if you do get a new system now with a Sandy Bridge CPU, you will have an upgrade path available, and won’t be painting yourself into a corner.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked Intel documents present ideas for Thunderbolt-based docking components

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 25th, 2011, 12:39
Category: Hardware, News

intellogo.jpg

This could turn into something nifty.

Per VR-Zone, Intel is hoping to formalize a standard for docking on ultrabooks with Thunderbolt ports, leaked internal notes demonstrate. The implementation would combine the Thunderbolt port with a wider companion dock connector to handle other forms of data, such as Ethernet or USB, VR-Zone said. To keep the Ethernet connection alive for Intel’s vPro remote management or for Windows 8′s Connected Standby mode, however, the docking port would need to have direct access to the Ethernet chipset inside.

Intel also had suggestions for what the dock itself could have, including HDMI or Mini DisplayPort for video out, a USB hub, or even eSATA for fast external drives. Thunderbolt’s support for daisy chaining a total of six Thudnerbolt devices is an option, although it would require the widest bandwidth versions of Thunderbolt and may be rare.

Intel’s strategy would be primarily intended for business, where it’s expected that workers would dock the ultrabook at their desks and get an external display and desktop-like expansion with just one cable. It notably tries to downplay the use of USB 3.0, saying that the standard isn’t ideal for displays or certain kinds of links. Intel might have an economic incentive to discourage USB 3.0, however, since it can profit from its exclusivity on Thunderbolt controller chips where USB 3.0 is generic and won’t see Intel make much if any profit, even when its own hardware is in use.

Apple already has a form of Thunderbolt docking through its Thunderbolt Display and may end up having the superior option for simplicity: its lack of vPro lets it route audio, the display, Ethernet, FireWire, and USB through one cable. Intel’s approach would bring more of that experience to Windows users as well as provide some extras for the pro audience. Non-Mac systems with standard Thunderbolt aren’t due to show until at least early 2012, however, or roughly a year after Apple went first.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.