Mozilla releases Firefox 4.0 web browser

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Date: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011, 03:52
Category: News, Software

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Late Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 4.0 of its Firefox web browser. The new version stands as an 26.8 megabyte download offered the following fixes and changes:

- Firefox 4 is available in over 80 languages

- Uses JägerMonkey, a new, faster JavaScript engine that is up to six times faster than Firefox 3.6

- Support for the Do Not Track (“DNT”) header that allows users to opt-out of behavioural advertising

- Firefox Sync is included by default, allowing you to securely synchronize between multiple computers and mobile devices

- Certain graphics rendering operations are now hardware-accelerated using Direct3D 9 on
Windows XP, Direct3D 10 on Windows Vista and 7, and OpenGL on Mac OS (OpenGL on Linux will be supported in the future)

- Direct2D Hardware Acceleration is now on by default for Windows 7 users

- WebGL is enabled on all platforms that have a capable graphics card with updated drivers

- Native support for the HD HTML5 WebM video format, hardware accelerated where available

- Firefox button has a new look for Windows Vista and Windows 7 users

- Tabs are now on top by default on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux

- You can search for and switch to already open tabs in the Smart Location Bar

- The stop and reload buttons have been merged into a single button on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux

- The Bookmarks Toolbar has been replaced with a Bookmarks Button by default (you can switch it back if you’d like)

- Crash protection for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X when there is a crash in the Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime or Microsoft Silverlight plugins

- You can turn any tab into an “App Tab” by right-clicking on it and selecting “Make into App Tab” from the context menu

- The default homepage design has been refreshed

- Overhaul of the bookmarks and history code, enabling faster bookmarking and startup performance

- Per-compartment garbage collection is now enabled, reducing work done during complex animations

- Additional polish for the Firefox Add-ons Manager

- Improved web typography using OpenType with support for ligatures, kerning and font variants

- Web developers can animate content using CSS Transitions

- Responsiveness and scrolling improvements from the new retained layers layout system

- HTML5 Forms API makes web based forms easier to implement and validate

- Support for the new proposed Audio Data API

- Support for HSTS security protocol allowing sites to insist that they only be loaded over SSL

- A new feature called Panorama gives users a visual overview of all open tabs, allowing them to be sorted and grouped

- An experimental API is included to provide more efficient Javascript animations

- Firefox now supports the HTML5 video “buffered” property

- Changes to how XPCOM components are registered in order to help startup time and process separation

- New Addons Manager and extension management API (UI will be changed before final release)

- Significant API improvements are available for JS-ctypes, a foreign function interface for extensions

- CSS Transitions are partially supported

- Core Animation rendering model for plugins on Mac OS X. Plugins which also support this rendering model can now draw faster and more efficiently

- Web developers can update the URL field without reloading the page using HTML History APIs

- More responsive page rendering using lazy frame construction

- Link history lookup is done asynchronously to provide better responsiveness during pageload
CSS :visited selectors have been changed to block websites from being able to check a user’s browsing history

- New HTML5 parser

- Support for more HTML5 form controls

- Web authors can now get touch events from Firefox users on Windows 7 machines

- A new way of representing values in JavaScript that allows Firefox to execute heavy, numeric code (used for things like graphics and animations) more efficiently

Firefox 4.0 requires an Intel-based Mad and Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

2011 MacBook Pro Turbo Boost problem may be larger issue than originally thought

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Date: Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011, 05:57
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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The good news is that the new 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks are out and they are generally considered speedy and awesome.

The bad news is that Apple may have been aware for some time of the problem of new MacBook Pros crashing under heavy loads. According PC Pro magazine, Apple appears to have deliberately turned off Turbo Boost for the top-end 13″ model (with a dual-core 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7-2620M processor) when running Windows under Boot Camp.

PC Pro originally thought that Turbo Boost had been disabled under OS X as well, but then tests performed by AnandTech showed that the feature was only disabled under Windows. “We first noticed a problem when the benchmarks finished five full runs and the results popped up on screen: the times taken to complete several of the most intensive tests were rising with each run” says PC Pro. “This would suggest an overheating problem, so we ran a temperature monitor to find out how hot this Sandy Bridge CPU was getting.”

In fact, the CPU was reaching around 93°C — almost 200°F. “93°C is not necessarily too high for a modern CPU, but it is the root cause of the bigger performance problem.” The magazine went on to state that it was sure the processor isn’t turning off Turbo Boost dynamically, since it didn’t work at all during their week of testing no matter what the CPU temperature was. Also, the cheaper model with the i5 processor did use Turbo Boost, as did the i7 model under OS X.

After measuring the underside temperature of the top-end model at 60°C — 140°F — they conclude that it might actually be a better deal to buy the cheaper 13-inch MacBook Pro. If Turbo Boost is disabled on the higher model, the lower-end version will actually run Windows faster than the more expensive MacBook Pro.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Yahoo repairs server-side IMAP settings, clears up e-mail issue for Windows 7, iPhone users

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Date: Friday, March 11th, 2011, 04:20
Category: iPhone, News, Software

A fresh test on Thursday confirmed that Yahoo’s IMAP mail bug had been fixed. Per Electronista, Yahoo quietly upgraded its mail servers so that they now respond with only the data they were asked for, rather than the 25 times higher amount they were producing before. Rafael Rivera at Within Windows noted that it had previously sent the entire message header.

The improvement should cure a problem first discovered on Windows Phone 7 that led to a glut of data every time the devices checked mail. Later discoveries found that it also affected at least iPhone owners, but all of them carried the risk of running over bandwidth caps on carriers like AT&T.

Microsoft knew of the cause in Yahoo’s servers weeks after it was found but declined to name it, leaving customers without an idea as to which services to turn off. It instead gave them blanket instructions to turn off automatic mail checks or to disable cellular data. It wasn’t until Rivera investigated himself and confronted Microsoft that it was forced to acknowledge the source.

If you’ve seen any changes in your Yahoo mail on your iPhone, please let us know.

Recent support note indicates that 2011 MacBook Air, Pro units will only support Windows 7 under Boot Camp

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Date: Monday, February 28th, 2011, 06:50
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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Per a recent Apple support note released Friday, the company’s new MacBook Pro models and the recently refreshed MacBook Air won’t support Windows XP and Windows Vista.

Note: Windows XP and Vista drivers are not supplied for these computers and are not supported.

According to the Apple Core, the note states that Book Camp will support 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, or Windows 7 Ultimate. If you’re running Window XP or Vista on an older Mac and are moving up to one the new notebooks, then you will have to put a Windows upgrade into your budget.

Window 7 running on Boot Camp requires:

-An optical drive (MacBook Air computers require an external optical disc drive to install Windows 7).

-A blank CD or USB storage device to contain the Windows Drivers created by the Boot Camp Assistant.

-For 32-bit versions of Windows, at least 16 GB of free space.

-For 64-bit versions of Windows, at least 20 GB of free space.

-Boot Camp Assistant, which is pre-installed in /Applications/Utilities/

-An authentic, 32-bit or 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate disc.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you have a new early 2011 MacBook Pro notebook and have had any experience with Boot Camp, please let us know in the comments.

Parallels Desktop 6.0.11994.637263 released

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Date: Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011, 05:13
Category: News, Software

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Parallels Desktop, the popular virtualization application that allows users to run the Windows and Linux operating systems simultaneously alongside Mac OS X, reached version 6.0.11994.637263 on Thursday. The new version, available here, sports the following major change:

- Resolves compatibility issues with Mac OS X 10.6.5 and 10.6.6.

Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac retails for US$79.99 and requires Mac OS X 10.5.2 later to install and run.

VLC 1.1.6 update released

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Date: Monday, January 24th, 2011, 05:36
Category: News, Software

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Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), was updated to version 1.1.6. The new version, a 40.6 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Security updates in codecs and demuxers.

- Support for RTP/PCM 24bits, audio/L24.

- Support for MPC SV7/SV8 on Windows and MacOS builds.

- Faster Webm/VP8 decoding.

- Support for Midi on MacOS.

- Major updates in most language translations.

- Support for projectM visualisation on Windows.

- KDE and PulseAudio integration improvements.

- Subtitles fixes and improvements.

- Improvements in visualisations and interfaces.

- Codecs updates.

- Many miscellaneous fixes.

VLC 1.1.6 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

HandBrake updated to 0.9.5, now Intel-only

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Date: Tuesday, January 4th, 2011, 05:14
Category: News, Software


Handbrake, Eric Petit’s incredibly useful open-source DVD ripping/conversion utility, has been updated to version 0.9.5 and gone Intel-only.

The new version, which can be found here, boasts the following fixes and changes:

Core Library:
- BluRay disc structure support (No decryption support)
- Updated Libraries (x264, ffmpeg)
- SSA Subtitle support (Including burn-in)
- MP3 audio now supported in MP4 files (Note: Limited Player compatibility)
- VOBSUB subtitle now supported in MP4 files (Note: Limited Player compatibility)
- Updated Presets for newer devices and better quality
- AC3 encoding support
- Many Bug Fixes and other small improvements
- Improved DVD Main Feature detection (when using dvdnav)
- Universal audio downmix support (all audio types can be downmixed)
- Poin-to-Point encoding (second or frame start and end times)
- Peak framerate option (Capped VFR)

All GUIs:
- Updated x264 Advanced Panel
- Video Quality Slider drops % value and only shows RF for x264
- Batch Scan (Scan Multiple files at once. N.B: Does not include multiple VIDEO_TS folders / Image files)
- Many Bug fixes
- Many Tweaks to improve usability
- Ability to edit queue jobs

Mac GUI:
- New Audio Panel supporting >4 Audio Tracks
- VLC detection in /Applications and ~/Applications
- Multiple instance support

Windows GUI:
- Encode Status in GUI. (CLI window is now always hidden)
- Improved Auto-Naming for Destination file name
- Drag / Drop Video onto Main Window to scan

Linux GUI:
- Multiple instance support (run multiple copies of ghb at once)
- Many Bug fixes and UI improvements

Handbrake 0.9.5 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

Apple addresses security concerns with QuickTime 7.6.9 update for Mac OS X 10.5.x operating systems

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Date: Wednesday, December 8th, 2010, 05:14
Category: News, security, Software

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Per the cool cats over at CNET, Apple has updated its Quicktime software, now at version 7.6.9, to fix vulnerabilities where a maliciously designed file could execute arbitrary code or lead to the application terminating.

As Apple describes in its knowledge base article:
“Description: A heap buffer overflow exists in QuickTime’s handling of JP2 images. Viewing a maliciously crafted JP2 image may lead to an unexpected application termination or arbitrary code execution. This issue is addressed through improved bounds checking. For Mac OS X v10.6 systems, this issue is addressed in Mac OS X v10.6.5. Credit to Nils of MWR InfoSecurity, and Will Dormann of the CERT/CC, for reporting this issue.”

Also included in this security update are fixes to maliciously crafted avi file types, other movie file types, FlashPix image files, GIF image files, or PICT image files, as well as a possibility that local users may have access to sensitive information on certain Windows machines.
The update is for Mac users running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or Server 10.5.8. For more information, visit the entire security update article.

As usual, the update can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any major changes, let us know in the comments.

Parallels Desktop 6.0.11990.62101 released

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Date: Monday, December 6th, 2010, 10:57
Category: News, Software

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Parallels Desktop, the popular virtualization application that allows users to run the Windows and Linux operating systems simultaneously alongside Mac OS X, reached version 6.0.11990.62101 on Thursday. The new version, available here, sports the following major fix:

- Address stability and performance of Parallels Desktop and virtual machines.

- Resolve various networking issues.

- Improve the process of converting third party virtual machines.

- Address an issue when Parallels Desktop won’t start.

- Address an activation issue when upgrading Parallels Desktop.

- Add mouse settings to Parallels Desktop Preferences.

- Resolve printing issues.

- Address issues with unexpected inability to copy and paste between Mac and Windows.

- Resolve an issue when a Boot Camp virtual machine requires to reactivate Windows.

- Address a mouse handling issue that causes incorrect transitions between SmartMouse modes in 3D applications and games.

- Add support for Red Hat 6 and Fedora 14 operating systems.

Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac retails for US$79.99 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 later to install and run.

VMWare releases Fusion 3.1.2 update

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Date: Friday, December 3rd, 2010, 06:39
Category: News, Software

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Late Friday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 3.1.2 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 436 megabyte download, can be found here, offers the following new features and fixes:

- The error Could not publish or run one or more applications. occurs when resuming a virtual machine that has DivX Player installed in the guest.

- Slingbox Slingplayer does not display video in the guest when 3D acceleration is enabled. In addition, very high CPU usage occurs if the guest is set to 1 core.

- Microsoft Office applications do not display as the frontmost window when they are launched in Unity view.

- Sound volume in the guest operating system is reduced after upgrading to Fusion 3.1. The volume observed through the host is not consistent with the guest volume setting.

- In a Windows XP guest, if you connect a handheld device to the host, the handshake application might time out or stop responding due to unhandled USB disable requests.

- While the virtual machine is running, if you switch from full screen mode to single window mode, the virtual machine window disappears and the light underneath the Fusion icon disappears as well. Fusion stops responding if you restart after this issue occurs.

- The guest operating system might fail with a blue screen and the error Multiple IRP Complete Requests if you access a file or folder two or more folders deep into a VMware Shared Folder and are running applications, such as Microsoft Office Powerpoint or Project, that use the byte range locks file system feature.

- Samsung Galaxy S phone with Android 2.1 does not work with Fusion. The phone does not appear in the virtual machine.

- Guest software might use CPUID information to determine characteristics of underlying (virtual or physical) CPU hardware. In some instances, CPUID information returned by virtual hardware will differ from the responses physical hardware might report. Based on these differences, certain pieces of guest software might not behave as expected. In this release, this fix causes certain CPUID responses to more closely match the responses that physical hardware might return.

- If you run Outlook 2007 in Unity mode, the Outlook dock icon might flash, or briefly quit and restart. When this happens the Outlook window also disappears and then reappears.
Mac OS X Server guests might intermittently fail to boot, displaying a stop symbol on a gray screen shortly after powering on.

Additionally, this release resolves the following security-related issues:
- The way temporary files are handled by the mounting process could result in a race condition. This issue could allow a local user on the host to elevate their privileges. Windows-based host systems are not affected.

- vmware-mount, which is a SUID binary, has a flaw in the way libraries are loaded. This issue could allow local users on the host to execute arbitrary shared object files with root privileges. Windows-based host systems are not affected.

- A vulnerability in the input validation of VMware Tools update allows for injection of commands.

- This issue could allow a user on the host to execute commands on the guest operating system with root privileges. The issue can only be exploited if VMware Tools is not fully up-to-date. Windows-based virtual machines are not affected.

Fusion 3.1.2 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and retails for US$79.99.