Apple releases iMac EFI Firmware Update 2.1 for late-2013 iMacs

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Date: Wednesday, September 25th, 2013, 13:24
Category: iMac, News, Software

Never doubt a firmware update.

On Wednesday, Apple released version iMac EFI Firmware Update 2.1 for its just-released late 2013 iMacs. The update, an 8.7 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- This update addresses an issue which may cause a black screen to appear when installing Windows 7 or Windows 8 using Boot Camp Assistant if both an external optical drive and USB thumb drive are connected to the system. This update also ensures that the system will boot by default into OS X after installation of Windows 8.

The update requires a late-2013 iMac running OS X 10.8.4 or later to install and run and can also be downloaded and installed via OS X’s Software Update feature.

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

VMWare releases Fusion 6.0.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, September 25th, 2013, 07:32
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, virtualization softare maker VMWare released version 6.0.1 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 244.6 megabyte download, can be found here and offers the following fixes and changes:
Addressed an issue that caused VMware Fusion 6 to crash when opening
- Improved support for Boot Camp on 2013 Macs.

- Improved detection of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 media.

- Resolved an incompatibility with certain USB audio devices.

- Resolved an issue where Cubase could cause virtual machines to not power on.

- Addressed a graphics issue when switching between spaces in single window mode.

Fusion 6.0.1 retails for US$59.99 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.

Microsoft launches Xbox Music streaming service for iOS, Android devices

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Date: Monday, September 9th, 2013, 09:05
Category: iOS, News, Software

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If you’re hankering for additional streaming music on your iOS device, Microsoft has its own offerings prior to Apple’s release of its iTunes Radio streaming service.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Microsoft has released Xbox Music app for iPhone. Xbox Music was first unveiled last October and allows users to listen to ad-supported or ad-free music (depending on whether they have a paying subscription or not) on their Microsoft devices, such as Windows Phone, Xbox 360 and Windows PCs.

With today’s launch on iOS and Android devices, Microsoft appears to acknowledge that it thinks Apple’s iTunes Radio could become a big player on the streaming-music front — something it hopes to stave off with the expansion of Xbox Music.

Today’s release of the app offers users the following:
- Stream ad-free music from a catalog of tens of millions of songs.

- Add songs, albums and playlists to your Xbox Music collection and access them from other devices.

- Create playlists that sync across your phone, Xbox 360, PC, tablet and the web.

- Listen to music while using your iPhone.

- Listen to artist-based radio stations.

- Enjoy a rich visual experience for searching, viewing and playing back music.

- The company also says it will be releasing an update soon that will allow users to download music for offline listening.

Though Xbox Music is a free download, mobile users will be required to have an Xbox Music Pass to listen to the service on their iPhone. Xbox Music Passes are available for a free 30-day trial, but retail for US$9.99 a month after that.

Xbox Music requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

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

VirtualBox updated to 4.2.18

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Date: Monday, September 9th, 2013, 08:53
Category: News, Software

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There’s nothing wrong with a regular update to a useful program.

VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.2.18. The new version, a 110 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:
- VMM: properly handle NMIs on Linux hosts with X2APIC enabled.

- VMM: fixed potential crashes with 64-bit guests on 32-bit hosts (bug #11979).

- GUI / seamless: properly handle mouse wheel scroll events.

- GUI, VBoxManage: when unregistering a VM, also unregister the hard disk images which are used exclusively (bug #10311).

- GUI: prevent crashes under certain conditions on X11 hosts.

- 3D: multiscreen fixes (incorrect mouse position, flickers).

- 3D Support: several fixes for the Windows WDDM video driver (multiscreen, seamless).

- Snapshots: made live snapshots work again (bug #9255).

- Teleportation: made it work again (bug #9455).

- VBoxManage: on snapshot take, –pause is default and –live is for doing live snapshots.

- VBoxSVC: don’t crash on systems with many VLAN interfaces (Solaris hosts only).

- Network: after the host resumes from suspend, disconnect and reconnect the virtual network cables to force renewing the DHCP leases for the guests. So far only Mac OS X hosts and Windows hosts (bug #10063).

- NAT: on name server changes force a reconnect of the virtual network cable to notify the guest (Mac OS X hosts only).

- Mac OS X installer: keep previously installed Extension Packs on VirtualBox upgrade.

- Linux hosts / guests: Linux 3.11 fixes (bug #12001).

- Solaris hosts: fixed a potential kernel panic caused due to unexpected preemption due to logging.

- Windows hosts: fixed an issue with USB2 devices being inaccessible when plugged into USB3 ports.

- Linux Additions: added PCI device identifier to vboxvideo.ko fixing DRI initialization under certain conditions (bug #11957).

- Linux Additions: fixed udev detection in the init script with Linux 3.x kernels.

VirtualBox 4.2.18 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.

VMWare Fusion 6 released, offers Mavericks, Windows 8.1 support

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Date: Wednesday, September 4th, 2013, 07:24
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock the new version of a pretty useful virtualization application.

Per 9to5Mac, VMware has just released the immediate availability of VMware Fusion 6 and VMware Fusion 6 Professional. The new version of the virtualization software boasts over 50 new features and is prepared for the new operating systems coming from both Apple (Mavericks) and Microsoft (Windows 8.1).


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The new version offers the following fixes and changes:
- Supports Mavericks multi-display features and even AirPlay displays.

- Enhanced dictation support.

- Run Mavericks as a guest operating system – can be installed using the recovery partition in just a couple of clicks.

- Ready for Windows 8.1.

- Built-in optimizations for the Haswell processors.

- Up to 16 virtual CPUs, 64GB of RAM, and 8TB of disk space – ready for the new Mac Pro coming soon.

- VMware Fusion 6 is available exclusively on the VMware Online Store for US$59.99 or US$49.99 for VMware Fusion 4 or 5 upgraders. A 30 day trial is available as well.

The announcement comes just days after Parallels announced the release of Parallels Desktop 9, which is currently available as an upgrade. The full version will be available tomorrow. We’ll have a full review of both apps shortly.

Generally Parallels is geared toward single users and has better performance whereas VMware is geared toward larger enterprise and folks who also work on PCs.

VMWare 6 requires any 64-bit capable Intel-based Mac with a Core 2 Duo processor or better, 2 GM of RAM, 750MB free disk space and OS X 10.7.5 or later to install and run.

Microsoft purchases Nokia’s Devices and Services division, moves to rearrange executive lineups

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Date: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013, 06:53
Category: News, wireless

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Because it’s fun to buy multi-billion dollar companies.

Per The Mac Observer, Microsoft is buying Nokia’s cell phone business for about US$5 billion and tossing in another US$2.2 billion to license the company’s patents. The deal throws together two big time companies that are struggling to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung, brings Nokia CEO Stephen Elop — a former Microsoft executive — back into the fold, and shows Microsoft is serious about playing in the smartphone game. All this as current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has announced he will step down within 12 months, although now it’s looking like that may come much sooner than he thought.

As part of the €5.44 billion (about US$7.2 billion) deal, Mr. Elop will step down as Nokia’s CEO and take on the roll of Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Devices and Services. Other Nokia executives joining Microsoft include Chris Weber, Jo Harlow, Timo Toikkanen, and Juha Putkiranta.

Microsoft has had limited success in the smartphone market taking on Apple’s iPhone and Google Android-based devices from Samsung and other companies. Nokia threw its weight behind Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform about two years ago, and has since been able to climb above BlackBerry’s marketshare to become a very distant third to iOS and Android-based smartphones.

With Nokia’s Windows-based Lumia smartphone now in Microsoft’s hands, it’s a safe bet that we’ll see a strong push to boost sales. Exactly how Microsoft can go about convincing consumers to start buying the smartphone, however, maybe something of a trick since shoppers haven’t been flocking to the device in droves. So far, consumers are still far more interested in buying iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.

Whether or not Microsoft can really be successful at its slow-and-steady game this time isn’t, however, a sure thing. Apple and Android smartphone makers hold nearly all of the market share today and aren’t showing any signs of loosening their grips.

Apple is expected to unveil new iPhone models on September 10, and Samsung, HTC and Motorola are churning out new Android-based smartphones as fast as they can. Microsoft has maybe a year ahead of it during during which it will integrate Nokia into its business, plus it’s on the hunt for a new CEO who will need time to settle into the job.

Mr. Ballmer said he plans to step down within 12 months, implying that it may be that long before his replacement is found. Finding a new CEO could take that long, although Microsoft is already on the hunt, and it’s very possible the company just bought their new boss and picked up their own smartphone business as a side bonus.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Desktop 9 announced, adds cloud support, Windows 8 Start button, other new features

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Date: Thursday, August 29th, 2013, 09:47
Category: News

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Parallels announced its Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac client today, the new version of the virtualization software offering the following set of fixes and features:
- Cloud storage optimizations for iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive.

- Support for OS X Launchpad in Windows applications

- Enhanced support for Apple’s forthcoming OS X 10.9 Mavericks.

- Incorporates the familiar Start menu and Windows Start button for Windows 8 users..

- Extends the OS X PowerNap feature to Windows and Windows applications.

- Allows Mountain Lion Dictionary gesture compatibility in Windows apps.

- Allows users to connect Thunderbolt and FireWire devices to either their Mac or virtual machine, just like with USB.

- Enhances the virtual machine wizard, making it easier to create new systems by automatically locating operating systems on a Mac. Users can also manually select a range of media types to install.

- 40 percent better disk performance than the previous version.

- Virtual machines shut down up to 25 percent faster than the previous version.

- Virtual machines suspend up to 20 percent faster than the previous version.

- 3D graphics and web browsing is 15 percent faster than the previous version.

- A new Security Center in Parallels Desktop 9 is said to make it easier to ensure that files are secure, both on the Mac and in a Windows virtual machine.

- In addition, Parallels Desktop 9 comes with a six-month subscription to Parallels Access for iPad, announced earlier this week. That new software allows customers to remotely access and experience Windows and Mac applications as if they were designed for Apple’s iPad.

- Mac gestures inside Windows apps: Parallels Desktop now includes the addition of the Dictionary lookup gesture in Windows applications.

- PDF printer for Windows: Lets people print from any Windows application to a PDF on the Mac desktop, even if the application doesn’t have that functionality.

- Sticky multi-monitor setup: When using Windows in Full Screen mode and connecting to an external monitor, Parallels Desktop will remember settings and put the Windows virtual machine back in full screen mode on the remote monitor.

- Custom keyboard: Editable keyboard shortcuts help customize the Windows experience.

- Linux guest integration: Parallels Desktop customers who use Linux now have additional and enhanced integration with the Mac OS.

Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac will become broadly available for purchase next Thursday, Sept. 5. It is now available as a US$50 upgrade for legacy Parallels users, and a free upgrade for those who recently bought Parallels Desktop 8.

Thursday’s launch of Parallels Desktop 9 is available for existing customers for US$49.99, while those who recently purchased may be eligible for a free upgrade. Customers who buy Parallels Desktop 8 today will also be eligible to upgrade to the new version at no additional charge.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Access debuts, brings Parallels features to iPad

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Date: Wednesday, August 28th, 2013, 06:28
Category: iOS, iPad, News, Software

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You can’t knock a company that also goes in a subscription-based direction.

Per AppleInsider, Parallels, the company known for its virtualization software, rolled out a new iPad app and subscription service on Tuesday called Parallels Access that promises to run both Mac and PC programs on Apple’s tablet with near-native performance.

With Parallels Access, the company has built a completely new way to naturally interact with desktop applications on an iPad. A number of developers have fielded similar apps that promise full remote control functionality from Apple’s tablet, but many resort to clunky interfaces that draw users out of the “iPad experience.”

Unlike other apps, Access offers the full gamut of iPad gestures, with taps, swipes and pinches all supported by almost any desktop program. To bridge the gap between computer and tablet, the system translates mouse clicks and movement into iPad-friendly gestures.

Parallels claims its new product can handle a variety of tasks, including business programs, streaming video and even games. Internet speeds are supposedly a non-factor, though degradation may be expected when connecting over cellular networks.

The system is actually split into two parts: the iOS app and a Mac or PC client that runs on the host computer. Access authenticates via a Parallels account and links the two devices with a 256-bit AES secured SSL connection.

At the heart of Access is the App Launcher, which is basically a Springboard-like layout of compatible desktop applications. Programs can be added or deleted from this view in much the same way as iOS.

The App Switcher seamlessly moves users between programs, a necessary tool since Access only works in “full screen” mode. Parallels calls this method “applifying.”

Navigating within running programs is an intuitive experience thanks to the combination of SmartTap and the iOS magnifying glass. SmartTap is a contextual cursor control that, in tandem with magnifying glass, allows users to perform advanced mouse actions like drag and drop.

One difficult maneuver that many VNC and other remote desktop apps have trouble with is scrolling. Access’ gesture translation engine doesn’t appear to suffer from the same problems, making in-window navigation less of a chore.

The app’s keyboard is also tweaked from the standard iOS version, offering users dedicated keys for functions, arrows, and even the “Windows” button.

Those interested can try Parallels Access for free for 14 days on a Mac and 90 days on a Windows machine. Subscription pricing is set at US$79.99 per year for each computer running a registered client. The iPad app and Mac or PC clients can be downloaded for free from the App Store and Parallels’ webpage, respectively.

Parallels Desktop 9 to arrive in early September, will hone in on OS X Mavericks features

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Date: Monday, August 19th, 2013, 07:15
Category: News, Software

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Parallels 9 Desktop is en route.

And can be pre-ordered with a Parallels Desktop 8 order between now and Halloween.

Per MacNN, Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac will ship the first week of September according to its parent company. One of the primary features will be optimization for OS X Mavericks, which has yet to be released, but has been in beta for some time and may be launched as soon as next month. At the moment, Desktop 9 is itself in beta testing.

Other enhancements will include copy and paste support for OS X virtual machines, and a better Coherence View, which gives Windows apps the appearance of running natively on a Mac. Parallels has also made improvements to creating and customizing keyboard shortcuts, and installing Windows on a Mac without a DVD drive — important because Apple has been stripping optical drives from the Mac lineup.

Customers buying Desktop 8 between today and October 31st will be eligible for a free upgrade to Desktop 9, so long as they have a dated proof of purchase. The former retails for US$80 new, or US$50 as an upgrade from Desktop 6 or 7.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hack: 2013 11-inch MacBook Air owner deciphers means of using adapters to access external graphics card, improve performance sevenfold

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, 06:34
Category: Hacks, Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Software

It ain’t pretty, but it apparently works really well.

Per MacRumors and Mac|Life, TechInferno contributor Larry Gadea was able to hook up a powerful graphics processor to his 11-inch MacBook Air with the help of several adapters.

Gadea first used a Thunderbolt to Express Card adapter which was then connected an Express Card to PCI-Express adapter. Once that was done, he plugged the whole thing into a Windows-compatible video card–specifically, a GeForce GTX 570.

In his words, “It has become very clear that gaming is not only high-performance, but super practical on an 11″ Macbook Air. There’s so much going against it: this hodgepodge of adapters, it has a low voltage CPU, disaster of wiring and exposed sensitive parts, crazy boot-time chainloading software, Intel killing companies producing adapters and products left right and center via legal threats, etc. but somehow, with the right parts and some patience, it works spectacularly. And is quite cheap too!”

The TechInferno forum link can be found here, but Gadea’s unique solution to the limitations of Mac gaming has proven so popular that it’s apparently crashed the TechInferno forums. The post includes important specifics about the setup, including the understandable limitation that Boot Camp needs to be installed on your Mac in order to run many of the games themselves due to Windows-only restrictions. Gadea has stated that his graphics performance has improved roughly sevenfold since installing the hack.

The current rundown of Gadea’s setup includes the following:
- An 11-inch Macbook Air (2013 model

- A copy of Windows 7

- A Sonnet Echo ExpressCard

- A BPlus PE4L ExpressCard to PCI-Express adapter

- A copy of DIY eGPU Setup 1.X

- A 4GB USB thumb drive (to install Windows)

- A 400w PC power supply

- A video card of your choosing.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, check out Gadea’s rig (which retails for about $250) in action as it tears through Borderlands 2 in resolutions you’d otherwise never see on an 11-inch MacBook Air:



If you’ve come up with a killer hack/rig of your own like this, please let us know in the comments.