Wednesday, February 26, 2014

iTunes 11.1.5 Update Now Available


A day after rolling out the Mac OS X Mavericks 10.9.2 update, Apple today released the iTunes 11.1.5 update.

A minor update for both Mac OS X and Windows PCs, iTunes 11.1.5 addresses an issue that can cause iTunes to crash unexpectedly when an iDevice is connected.

You can download the update on OS X from the Mac App Store while Windows users can get the update from the Apple Software Update utility.

The official release notes on the Apple website.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Apple Rolls Out OS X 10.9.2 Update, Includes SSL Fix


Earlier today, Apple released the Mavericks OS X 10.9.2 update that closes the SSL security bug that was patched last week on iOS devices.


FaceTime & iMessage Learn New Tricks

With the release of Mac OS X 10.9.2 Mavericks, Apple has taught FaceTime how to make audio only calls and call waiting for video and the aforementioned audio calls.  With the 10.9.2 update, iMessages finally received a nice little update that allows you to block messages from individual senders.

General Fixes and Enhancements

In addition to fixing the "goto fail" that everyone has been worried about over the last few days, Apple also included a number of fixes and enhancements across the board.

Ever since the release of Mavericks, many customers have been unhappy with the bugs in the OS X Mail application, specifically when used with a Gmail account.  Apple continues to make those corrections in this release with six fixes directly related to Mail.

This release also brings fixes to networking features, including improved support for SMB2 shares, VPN connections, and OS X Server NetBoot services.

Lastly, there was a website compatibility update for the AutoFill feature of Safari.

Apple also gets a Smartphone Fanatics "Wait, what?!" award for including a fix for a Windows XP shared printer problem. Huh?  Windows XP is Microsoft's 13-year old desktop operating system which they have been trying to desperately trying to kill of since the release of Windows 7.  (Microsoft released Windows XP on Aug 24. 2001.  The last day for extended support for Windows XP is scheduled for Apr 8, 2014.  Windows 7 was released on Oct 22, 2009.  We won't event talk about Windows Vista.  Seriously.)

You can read the full release notes for Mac OS X 10.9.2 Mavericks and the related security fixes release notes on the Apple support website.

Mavericks 10.9.2 is a free update for anyone who is already running a previous edition of Mac OS X 10.9.  The update can be installed from the Mac App Store > Updates tab.  You will need to reboot your Mac as part of the upgrade process.  I recommend that MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro owners plug-in their notebooks before attempting the upgrade.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Samsung Unveils the Galaxy S5 Smartphone

Today, at the Mobile World Congress trade show, Samsung took the wraps off of their new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5.

Samsung's full Galaxy S5 press release follows below.

Barcelona, Spain, February 24, 2014 - Samsung Electronics today announced the fifth generation of the Galaxy S series, the Galaxy S5, designed for what matters most to consumers. The new Galaxy S5 offers consumers a refined experience with innovation of essential features for day-to-day use.

“With the Galaxy S5, Samsung is going back to basics to focus on delivering the capabilities that matter most to our consumers,” said JK Shin, President and Head of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung. “Consumers are looking for mobile tools that inspire and support them as they improve their everyday lives. The Galaxy S5 represents an iconic design with essential and useful features to focus on delivering the ultimate smartphone on the market today through people inspired innovation.”

The Galaxy S5 combines an advanced camera, the fast network connectivity, dedicated fitness tools and enhanced device protection features as consumers stay fit and connected in style.


Capture the moments that matter
Capturing and saving precious memories is one of the most important smartphone features today. The new Galaxy S5 offers superior camera functionality, featuring a 16 megapixel camera with an enhanced menu and user interface that allow consumers to effortlessly take, edit and share photos.

The Galaxy S5 offers the world’s fastest autofocus speed up to 0.3 seconds and the advanced High Dynamic Range (HDR), reproduce natural light and color with striking intensity at any circumstances. Also new Selective Focus feature allows users to focus on a specific area of an object while simultaneously blurring out the background. With this capability, consumers no longer need a special lens kit to create a shallow depth of field (DOF) effect.


Tap into the fastest connections
The Galaxy S5 offers the most advanced LTE experience and Wi-Fi performance available today, ensuring blazing fast data speeds for unrivaled media consumption and productivity.

The Galaxy S5 supports the fifth generation Wi-Fi 802.11ac and 2X2 MIMO, and supporting the large number of LTE frequency with LTE Category 4 standard. For consumers seeking an even faster connection, the Galaxy S5 now features Download Booster, an innovative Wi-Fi technology for boosting data speed by bonding Wi-Fi and LTE simultaneously. No matter where a consumer is, the Galaxy S5 will help ensure they have the fastest available connection.


Be more fit and active
With the enhanced S Health 3.0, the new Galaxy S5 offers more tools to help people stay fit and well. It provides a comprehensive personal fitness tracker to help users monitor and manage their behavior, along with additional tools including a pedometer, diet and exercise records, and a new, built-in heart rate monitor. Galaxy S5 users can further customize their experience with an enriched third party app ecosystem and the ability to pair with next generation Gear products for real-time fitness coaching.


Express modern, glam look
The Galaxy S5 blends iconic Samsung design with modern trends to appeal to a range of consumer tastes and interests. The Galaxy S5 features a perforated pattern on the back cover creating a modern glam look. Its new sleek, contoured shape comes in an array of vivid colors, including charcoal Black, shimmery White, electric Blue and copper Gold, to complement the style of the individual consumer.


Essential device protection
The Galaxy S5 is IP67 dust and water resistant. It also offers a Finger Scanner, providing a secure, biometric screen locking feature and a seamless and safe mobile payment experience to consumers. The Ultra Power Saving Mode turns the display to black and white, and shuts down all unnecessary features to minimize the battery consumption.

The device will be available globally through Samsung’s retail channels, e-commerce and carriers on April.

MacWorld Explains the SSL Bug in Apple Operating Systems


MacWorld Magazine does a fantastic job describing the SSL security bug that was recently discovered in iOS and OS X.
"News of a serious vulnerability within Apple’s implementation of a key encryption technology has been making the rounds this weekend. Read on to find out more about what the flaw is, and how it affects you."
Read more at MacWorld.com...

Happy Birthday, Steve


Happy birthday, Steve.  Thanks for the many wonderful gadgets.

Learn more about Steve Jobs on Wikipedia, or better yet, read Steve's biography written by Walter Isaacon.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Apple Continues SSL Security Fixes, OS X Patch Coming "Soon"


Apple is continuing their push to deploy patches for their iOS and OS X operating systems to plug a hole in the way their devices handle SSL security.

Late on Friday evening, an update appeared on my third-generation Apple TVs presumably to address the same SSL patch.  After applying the update, both of Apple TVs now show as having OS version 6.0.2 (6646.81.1) installed.

In a statement to the Reuters news agency yesterday, Apple indicated that there would also be an updated made available for desktop and laptop computers running Mac OS X software.

"We are aware of this issue," said Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller,  "and already have a software fix that will be released very soon."

The defect in the security software could allow unauthorized access to documents, email, and other personal information stored on iOS devices and Mac OS X computers.  The revelation that these publicly unscheduled software updates shows how serious the SSL software defect really is and how responsive Apple is to ensuring their customer's safety.

Apple's second and third-generation Apple TVs run a version of the company's iOS software.  As previously noted, Apple deployed over-the-air updates to iOS 7.0.6 to current model iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners, while iPhone 3GS and iPod touch fourth-generation owners received iOS 6.1.6.

There also has been talk that these security vulnerabilities and/or weaknesses had be intentionally left in iOS and Mac OS X as a kind of "back door" for government agencies to use to snoop on American citizens.  I for one believe Apple CEO Tim Cook's statements from earlier this year when he said that Apple has not worked with U.S. government to compromise the computer security of their customers.  I think the speed at which Apple has made these patches and rolled them out to customers confirms that.

Apple's latest security patch information can be found on the Apple support website.

[Via Reuters.com...]

Friday, February 21, 2014

Apple Rolls Out iOS 7.0.6


Earlier today, Apple released what you might consider an "unscheduled" iOS update, iOS 7.0.6.

According to the notes provided in the summary screen, iOS 7.0.6 is a security fix for SSL connections.

It doesn't look like the release notes have been replicated around to Apple's servers because I wasn't able to find mention of iOS 7.0.6 on the referenced Apple Support page.  One can assume, however, that this update will be rolling out for current supported models of iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches.

Update

9to5Mac has a note on their iOS update article that says Apple also rolled out iOS 6.1.6  to update the iPhone 3GS and fourth generation iPod touch handsets.  After upgrading my iPod touch 4th-generation, it now lists iOS at version 6.1.6 (10B500).

Monday, February 17, 2014

SkyDrive To Become OneDrive


Microsoft is planning on renaming their SkyDrive online storage service to "OneDrive."

It's almost like the Xbox One fever has infected the SkyDrive team, but that's not exactly the case.

Ryan Gavin, Microsoft’s General Manager, Consumer Apps & Services puts it this way:
"Why OneDrive? We know that increasingly you will have many devices in your life, but you really want only one place for your most important stuff. One place for all of your photos and videos. One place for all of your documents. One place that is seamlessly connected across all the devices you use. You want OneDrive for everything in your life."
For those who are not familiar with SkyDrive, it is Microsoft's answer to Google Drive, Dropbox,  and Apple iCloud.  SkyDrive has a desktop client that integrates with Windows and Mac OS X and clients for Windows Phone, iOS, and Android devices.

The name change will roll out "soon."  Existing SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro customers don't have to make any modifications to their accounts.

[Via the OneDrive blog...]

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Play NES Games On Your iPhone


A new web-based emulator or iOS devices that allows you to play old Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, on your iOS device.

From iDownloadBlog:
"This is downright amazing. Somebody has put together a website that allows you to play NES ROMs directly from Mobile Safari, no jailbreak required. The website, which is called webNES, allows users to link a Dropbox account to load their favorite NES ROMs and play them right from the browser."

[Via iDownloadBlog.com...]

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Target Had Warning of Security Risks


A new article by The Wall Street Journal says that officials at Target were made aware of the potential security risks that lead to the November 27 - December 18 attack last year.
"Target Corp.'s computer security staff raised concerns about vulnerabilities in the retailer's payment card system at least two months before hackers stole 40 million credit and debit card numbers from its servers, people familiar with the matter said."
In Target's defense, the Journal also reports:
"The sheer volume of warnings that retailers receive makes it hard to know which to take seriously. Target has an extensive cybersecurity intelligence team, which sees numerous threats each week and could prioritize only so many issues at its monthly steering committee meetings, the former employee said."
As an IT professional, I find a report like this to be disappointing.  It's a constant battle between setting business objectives and setting priorities and "good house keeping" such as installing infrastructure and security upgrades and patches.  Sometimes those priorities get muddy.

As a Target customer who had their personal data stolen in the breach, I'm more than annoyed to learn that the situation was preventable.  It is also my opinion that most of these types of breaches are preventable with frequent software updates.

I think security breaches, both large and small, along with the ever growing data stockpile that companies are amassing about their customers is a growing concern for customers and IT departments alike.  We all know that our online habits are being tracked and that companies are collecting an amazing amount of personal data about who we are so that this information can be used to either make more money from you with targeted advertising or by selling the collected information to third-parties.

While I don't think that personal data collection will go away anytime soon, if ever, I would hope that as a society, we put new laws and limits on what businesses and clearing houses can do with the data they collect about us.

Click the source link below to read the full article online (login required).

[Via WSJ.com...]

Thursday, February 13, 2014

iPad 2 Production Ramps Down


From AppleInsider:
"According to people familiar with Apple's plans, the company has made the decision to ramp down iPad 2 production given that customers are resoundingly shifting purchases towards its more modern and capable iPads, namely the iPad mini and iPad Air."
It's about time.  The iPad mini at the same price as the iPad 2 is such a better deal it should be a no brainer.

[Via AppleInsider.com...]

iPhone 6 Rumors, meh


Ok, so the iPhone 5S has been out for about five months now.  It is hard to not notice the Apple rumor sites going full tilt crazy with new rumors and supposed hardware leaks.

Just in the last few days, we've seen an alleged future iPhone chassis, overall thinning due to thinner backlights, new larger sapphire displays, new front and back side cameras from Sony, and a new bezel-free design.  Throw in a healthy does of "iWatch" and AppleTV rumors and any Apple fanboy should be blown out of their iSocks.

Except I'm not.

Don't get me wrong.  I love my iPhone 5S and iPad Air and I'm planning on getting a new MacBook Air this summer.  But I'm having a hard time getting excited about these rumors.

First of all, the alleged iPhone chassis has already been debunked by eagle-eyed observers.  I'm sure there will be many more faked competent leaks between now and whenever the new phones arrive.  (And I do expect two flavors again this year.)

For me, I'm more interested in what the software is doing to do.  Apple is putting the final wraps on iOS 7.1.  All indicators are pointing to a March-ish release.  iOS 8 is, I'm sure, already under development.  While component leaks are just part of doing business these days, the software, the real heart and soul of our favorite iDevices, is what's really interesting.

Will Apple finally leverage it's massive iTunes business to process credit card transactions for things other than it's own goods?  What new delightful features will our iOS devices be able to do in 12 months?

What about the "iWatch"?  Apple has been bulking up their "wearables" team.  Whatever they have ins store, I'm sure the device or devices will be able to tell time.  I envision an Apple device to be something that might look like a Nike+ FuelBand with with all kinds of interesting sensors inside.  Oh, and a clock.

Whatever Apple is cooking up in their labs I'm sure it will be interesting, easy to use, and no doubt will delight us.  But as for the iPhone 6?  Meh.  I can wait until June, or September, or whenever Apple gets around to releasing it.