Where professional journalism goes to die.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

IE 8

While you might not be a fan of Internet Explorer 8, there's no denying it's a better browser than its predecessors. One key upgrade in IE8 is its improved security and safety features - like SmartScreen.

In case you haven't heard about it before, SmartScreen is designed to keep IE users from wandering onto malicious websites. Sites like those which repeatedly turn up in Facebook scams. And it certainly appears as though SmartScreen is helping, based on what Microsoft's Dean Hachamovitch posted on the MSDN blog.

According to Dean, SmartScreen blocks more than 2 million malicious URLs every day.

If you have friends or family who swear by IE but still haven't upgraded to version 8, this might be just the thing to change their mind. After all, is there anyone who doesn't want a little added security when they're browsing the web?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Please step away from the Mac with that cigarette

This is sad, Mac aficionados that also enjoy a pack of Marlboros every now and then might want to keep their smoke as far away from their computer as possible for it appears Apple doesn’t take kindly to the habit. Yesterday, Consumerist ran a story about two customers that were denied warranty repairs to their MacBook and iMac by Apple (both had purchased extended AppleCare warranties) simply because the machines were exposed to second-hand smoke. Both appealed to the office of Steve Jobs to no avail. The strangest thing, however, is the explaination that one received from someone at Jobs’ office: the nicotine released from cigarettes is classified as a bio-hazard by the Operational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and as such, Apple employees are within their rights to refuse to work on a machine that has been in contact with the chemical. The only suggestion Apple offered was to take the computers to be fixed somewhere else on their dime. Obviously these two cases are an anomaly, but the question still remains: should Apple be able to walk away from its obligation as set out in the AppleCare agreement because of a little bit of smoke? Just to be clear, there is nothing in the AppleCare fine print that even comes close to singling out smoking as being prohibited.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chrome OS demo

This was my first chance to see this OS in a moving video and it turns out it might be very useful after all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Editorial: Chrome OS is what I want, but not what I need

By Paul Miller posted Nov 19th 2009 4:20PM

There's obviously something seriously wrong with me, since the idea of a feature-stripped OS that over-relies on a web browser at the expense of more powerful single-purpose apps has delightful shivers running up my spine. In fact, in a fleeting moment of ill-advised adulation, I was considering buying a netbook with solid state storage so that I'd be all prepped to hack this pre-release version of Chrome OSonto it and web-app to my heart's content. The real issue is that at the end of the day I know I'm always (well, for the next few years at least) going to be too reliant on "heavyweight" desktop applications like audio, video and image editors to really cut the cord and stuff my whole life into the cloud. But the chimes of freedom flashing in Chrome OS are too great to ignore, and I think there's plenty going on here that could be very beneficial to a "real" desktop OS.

Built-in Google notifications

Why do mobile phones get all the fun? It seems we've been so focused on getting great, functional push updates into mobile operating systems like Android and webOS that we've forgotten that we spend most of the time on our desktop or laptop computer, thoroughly confused by the amount of communication whizzing past us. I shouldn't have to hack things into my OS as core to my life as an integrated notification tray that pulls in email, IM, calendar and Twitter updates. Luckily, it sounds like this is something Google is looking at bringing to the regular Chrome.

Drag and drop in the browser

Another instance of what appears to be a core Chrome OS competency that I've had to hack into my life -- in this case using the wonderful but fundamentally limited Mailplane. Why should it take an all-new OS to make dragging and dropping files to and from web applications a common occurrence? I also love the concept of plugging a drive or an accessory into my computer and its default action being to present itself to my browser. This does not sound like crazy talk to me.

Persistent panels

I love the pop-up IM window that can be minimized or moved to the sidebar, but sticks with me whatever tab I'm in. No word on these coming to the standard Chrome, but they should -- particularly with all these online music services these days breathing new life into the dreaded pop-up window.

Login-populated, portable user environment

If 90% of what I do is in a browser, why can't I take that environment with me with as a simple login? This is another thing mobile phones are starting to get into, particularly again with Android and webOS, and that I'm glad to see Firefox is bringing in version 4 with Weave.

Free but compatible

The idea of someone making open source software that's targeted at specific hardware and even dictates some of its environment shouldn't feel so refreshing. Android has struck a nice balance between a tightly regulated ecosystem of Google-approved "sure thing" devices and a wild west of non-Google devices powered by the open source elements of the OS. I've always been rebuffed by Linux due to the inconsistent hardware support and knowledge that if the system breaks I won't know how to fix it or get back to my data. The combination of the cloud-reliance and Google's heavyweight status means I could actually see myself buying a Google-branded 3rd party device -- a monetary commitment that I've never felt Ubuntu quite merited, despite its multitude of partnerships. I'd love to see a company like HP (for instance) go beyond mere skinning of Ubuntu and really commit to stepping on Microsoft's toes and investing in an open source desktop operating system to the point that it can offer true competition.

But... I still need my real OS

Google's concept of a Chrome OS device as a second computer is probably my largest point of departure. I think these features are things that should be built into a "real" OS, and I don't want to juggle two different laptops of minimal physical distinction. (A phone + laptop makes sense, I'm not sure a phone + netbook + laptop does.) Sure, the security, stability and boot-time functions of Chrome OS are what set it apart from a traditional desktop OS, but those usually pretty low on my priority list: I haven't gotten a virus in seven years, my computer rarely crashes (Firefox on the other hand...), and I don't have to worry about boot time because my computer is always in sleep mode.

There's also the fact that many web apps have been designed to operate with a local storage of files to draw from (Flickr, YouTube, Gmail, blogging), so I'm not sure I want to juggle the appropriate USB stick everytime I want to be more than a passive consumer of content -- if all my creation takes place in Google silos, I actually start to become a less productive member of the web.

If Chrome OS can breath new life into low-powered hardware and provide a low-cost alternative for someone who just wants to do email and play Dolphin Olympics 2 on their netbook, then that's great, but for me, a self-described power user, I'd benefit more from watching these features land on my Mac and Windows and Ubuntu PCs than from waving goodbye to Photoshop and iMovie in exchange for a Google-built operating system.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Apple's big problem

By Om Malik @ Gigaom.com

appleappsarebigIf you’re a baseball fan like I am, then you know that it in order to win, teams need more than just marquee stars. The role players, pinch hitters and relievers — all have to contribute in order for a team to win. A weak link can blow a game. Same goes for companies — every member of the team has a role to play. Why do I bring this up? Apple’s iTunes App Store and its murky and muddled policies.

Apple’s designers and engineers have done a good job putting together what is an iconic product, the iPhone. Its software gurus have helped foster the app revolution. But it when it come to the App Store approval process, Apple is blowing it.

Let me put it in terms Apple and its management can understand: The foggy and opaque App Store approval process is as big a disaster as Dell’s DJ MP3 Player.

For months now, I have watched the twists and turns of the Apple App Store drama with a degree of bemusement. After all, the rejection (or approval) of quirky and pointless apps aimed at hormone-challenged post-pubescent boys weren’t of concern to me. I couldn’t get upset over Google Voice fiasco, but that was understandable (not acceptable) because it was coming in the way of the carrier voice service. But lately, things have gotten a bit out of control.

The irrational approval process and reasons behind it given by the apparatchiks of Cupertino are driving developers to extreme frustration — especially those who have been Apple loyalists for years. Earlier this week, Joe Hewitt, a well-known programmer and a Facebook employee, threw up his hands in frustration over Apple’s App Store approval process and said he wants to work on a different project. (Check out my video interview with Joe Hewitt.)

No, Facebook isn’t killing its iPhone app — it is a corporation, after all, and will bend over backwards to appease Apple — but Hewitt is someone who’s made many vital contributions toward turning the iPhone into a major platform. He was carrying Apple’s water long before the rest of the 100,000 apps showed up, which is just one of the reasons why he was nominated to GigaOM’s Top 15 Mobile Influencers List earlier this year. When he speaks, I listen — plain and simple. And he expressed his anger in 140 characters.

Today, Rogue Amoeba, a company that is well-known within the Apple community for its audio-focused products, is publicly beating its head against the Great Wall of Cupertino.

Rogue Amoeba wanted to ship a bug fix for their app, Airfoil Speakers, but it took the better part of four months to get it approved. It was an arduous process, one that made the inner workings of the government bureaucracies look like a model of efficiency. The net-net, as described by company CEO Paul Kafasis in a blog post, is this:

First, be aware that Apple is acting as a gatekeeper, and preventing you from getting the software that developers such as ourselves are trying to provide you. We wanted to ship a simple bug fix, and it took almost four months of slow replies, delays, and dithering by Apple. All the while, our buggy, and supposedly infringing version, was still available. There’s no other word for that but “broken.” Right now, however, the platform is a mess. The chorus of disenchanted developers is growing and we’re adding our voices as well. Rogue Amoeba no longer has any plans for additional iPhone applications, and updates to our existing iPhone applications will likely be rare.

Others, such as programmer Jeff LaMarche, disagree with the disenchanted developers and have come to the defense of Apple. But I’m more inclined to side with Kafasis, as this is a problem that flares up more often than California wildfires.

John Gruber, who pens the Daring Fireball blog and is one of the most respected Mac-related writers out there, offers a very balanced view of the situation — and finds Apple at fault. “At a certain point good developers are just going to say, ‘I don’t need this,’” Gruber writes.

Gruber, as we’ve seen in the past, has the ear of the senior management at Apple. So perhaps his fair and balanced assessment is going to help Apple wake up from its stupor.

Apple has a very serious problem on its hands, one that can derail its grand plan. It needs to fix this as quickly as possible. Otherwise the company is going to blow the game in the bottom of the ninth — much like the Phillies in Game 4 of the 2009 World Series.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

10 more Reasons Blackberrys are more useful than an iPhone

Just wanted to post this video of some very useful things the Blackberry can do that dont get a lot of attention. This is just a few of many

Friday, November 13, 2009

T-Mobile announces Blackberry Bold 9700

Engadget.com Reports, T-Mobile announces November 16 release of Blackberry Bold 9700 for $199.

Anyone looking for the hottest T-Mobile-powered BlackBerry experience that money can buy need only wait a few dozen hours now, because the carrier has just revealed that it'll be launching the latest rendition of the Bold -- the 9700 -- on Monday, November 16 for $200 on contract. Your hard-earned cash reels in T-Mobile's very first 3G BlackBerry underpinned by a 3.2 megapixel camera and 480 x 360 display, beating AT&T's launch by a solid six days. Enjoy, folks.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans Day

I'd like to take a brief pause from the normal frivolity around here to acknowledge and salute America's veterans. Thanks to all the men and women who have served our country, for the innumerable efforts and sacrifices you have made in the past and continue to make today. It is because of you that we have the great freedoms we take for granted. For that, we are humbled, and we are very grateful.

Thank you.

REPORT: VW takes over #1 carmaker slot, sings "Wir sind die Meister, mein Freund"

It was a little more than a year ago when Volkswagen, because of Porsche's stock market finagling, briefly became the most valuable company in the world. This was just after it passed Ford for the number three slot in global sales. Now the big company that could – powered by the little car that could – has passed Toyota to take the number one slot as the world's largest automaker.

Of course, there is some number play involved once again. We're talking about the combined entity VW-Porsche, which has built 4.4 million cars to date, which is roughly 400,000 beyond Toyota's mark. However, Toyota halved its productionearlier this year and shut down all of its plants in February, and come summer, VW benefited much more than Toyota from the European cash-for-clunkers programs. VW's also got the edge on Toyota in China, where it has spent years introducing models specifically designed for that market.

The year isn't over yet, though, and Toyota still expects to build seven million cars this year. But stay tuned for Q4 of 2010, when it's announced that VW is officially bigger than the Beatles.

Now dev's can bite their nails in real time

app store

According to Wired, Apple has rolled out a new way for iPhone developers to track the status of apps they have submitted to the App Store,. The tracking system allows iPhone app developers to view Apple's progress on accepting their app.

The status column can read a few different options, "Ready for Sale," "In review," or "Waiting For Review." The previous system was clunky and inaccurate and developers could only see a graphic showing the average wait time for all developers. Apps are usually accepted within 14 days of submission.

This new system doesn't provide a solution for App Store's inconsistent approval rate, but it should help those developers eagerly awaiting to hear back from the App Store.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The new MSN

Click to see a bigger image.
I think it is pretty nice, finally Microsoft's news portal looks like it belongs in 2010.
Check it out at preview.msn.com
Is it just me or is Google's simplistic homepage starting to look dated?

No more netbook Hackintoshing

A report by "stellarola" quoted in OSNews confirms what comments on our 10.6.2 post suggested: 10.6.2 removes support for Atom processors, most frequently found in "netbook" computers. This loss of Atom support was spotted in earlier builds, but nobody knew until now whether it'd be in or out in the final configuration.

Is this Apple clamping down on "hackintosh" computers, or just continuing to prune code that it doesn't need? The answer you prefer likely depends on your previous view of Apple.

If you think Apple is a company desperate to keep control over its operating system, you point to Psystar and the ongoing iTunes/Palm Pre compatibility battle, and this is just more wood for the fire. If you think that Psystar is nuts for thinking it has a case against Apple and think that Palm should hire its own programmers to sync its devices, then you're likely to say that Atom processors were never really supported in the first place, so it's all much ado about nothing.

Either way, I wouldn't expect the OSx86 community to pack up its bags and go home. I am sure that there are several folks already at work to find a workaround for this latest hurdle, and I won't be surprised when the announcement comes that they have a solution. The only real "blow" is to those folks who were previously able to install an unmodified version of OS X onto their netbooks. I was able to get 10.5.6 running on my Asus EEE 1000ha using my regular Leopard DVD and some additional drivers/kext files, but it broke again with 10.5.7 and I was never able to get it or 10.6 to work. I gave up and installed Windows 7 on it instead -- put down those pitchforks!

The removal of Atom support does not necessarily indicate anything about the fabled Mac "Tablet" since Apple could use the ARM processor instead. Or Apple could continue to say what they've said, which is (roughly speaking) that the iPhone/iPod touch is their netbook.

One thing is for sure; this move will do nothing to end any of these debates, but if you are using a netbook or other hackintosh, let me tell you what you've probably already learned: don't be too quick to install the latest operating system updates from Apple.

The Apple Nation

The new site for Apple fans. www.theapplenation.blogspot.com

Unlock, Jailbreak and Tether your iPhone3G, 3GS 3.1.2

When the iPhone OS 3.1.2 update rolled through town, it brought with it a handful of new features – but it also killed off one, not-so-official feature: unauthorized data tethering on AT&T. Early this morning, the endlessly genius iPhone hacking community released Blacksn0w, a carrier unlock for the iPhone 3G and 3GS. Even if you have no need to plug in a different SIM card than what was originally intended, however, Blacksn0w still has its perks. Namely, it brings the aforementioned unauthorized data tethering right on back.

We’ve just walked through the process, and it went off without a hitch. If you’re interested in doing the same but don’t want to do it alone, we’ve thrown together a handy step-by-step guide, just for you.

Disclaimer: I am not your mom. I'm are also not the one who made any of this stuff, nor do I recommend doing it. There have been reports of this process bricking (read: breaking) phones, though it seems to work just fine for everyone we’ve talked to. If your iPhone breaks, melts, or runs away, or if AT&T somehow figures out you’re tethering and charges you a million dollars per megabyte, it’s not MY fault.

I'm seeing some reports on Twitter that some users are having issues with WiFi, GPS, or YouTube after unlocking with Blacksn0w. If you have any such issues, go to Settings > General > Reset> and hit “Reset Network Settings”. Once that’s complete, do a hard power cycle by holding the sleep/home button for a few seconds and then sliding the on-screen power toggle.

With that out of the way, lets begin. The entire process is drop dead simple, and should take roughly 10 minutes. This should work on both Windows and OS X. The steps below assume that you have not yet jailbroken your iPhone, and will walk you through that process.

  1. Download BlackRa1n for either Mac or PC here.
  2. Plug in your iPhone
  3. Run BlackRa1n
  4. rain

  5. Hit the “Make it rain” button to jailbreak your iPhone. Your iPhone 3GS will almost immediately reset, and will soon display a picture of iPhone hacker Geohot. The entire process should take about 45-60 seconds. Do not interrupt this process by unplugging the cable or tinkering with your iPhone.
  6. Once your iPhone has fully booted: Congratulations! Your iPhone is now jailbroken.
  7. br

  8. Look for the Blackra1n icon on your iPhone’s homescreen. Open the Blackra1n app
  9. Tap the label that reads “sn0w”, then hit the Install button in the upper right. This will unlock your phone for use on any SIM-compatible carrier, and reenable the IPCC hack required to enable tethering.. This part should take about 30 seconds.
  10. Once the unlock is complete, open Safari. Navigate to:
  11. Hit the “Install” button in the upper right. Confirm the resulting prompt, alerting you that the file has not been signed. Allow the IPCC file to install, which will take about 10 seconds.
  12. Close Safari. Hold the sleep and home button until your iPhone resets. This reboot may take a bit longer than normal.
  13. IMG_0189

  14. When your iPhone resets, go into Settings > General > Network > Internet Tethering. If you can successfully switch the “Internet Tethering” slider to “On”: Congratulations! Everything seems to have worked as expected.

From here, tethering is a matter of following the on-screen instructions. Enjoy your jailbroken, tetherable iPhone 3G/3GS on OS 3.1/3.1.2! If you’ve gotten this far, we’d recommend installing Cydia (just open up blackra1n and tap the Cydia label). You should also consider allowing Cydia to record the signature hashes of your device once installed; be it that Apple patches this exploit in the next release, you’ll most likely need those to get back to a jailbroken state.

Also if for some reason you don't want the blackra1n icon or program on your phone, you just want tethering, you can uninstall it by simply opening the app an clicking the red line then uninstall. This will stop the ability to use the unlock feature though.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Verizon just can't lay off the drugs

Does Verizon think that we are all smoking the crack that they are? Really Verizon $350 early termination fee, really? I know phones are getting expensive but till I hear the word bailout from you ( and I vote to let you fail) I don't want to hear anymore about three hundred and fifty bucks. Looks like this will take effect on November 15. The post I read said all advanced devices,so basically anything that they can get away with calling a smart phone. Hey look if Att can call the iPhone a smart phone who are we to tell Verizon what one is. Check out this link to know more.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Adobe to Apple

Okay, everbody at once now.....oh snap! Those of you hoping to see flash on the iPhone, well there you go.