October 1, 2009

Security researchers at Symantec have uncovered what they suspect may be the first Mac OS X botnet launching denial-of service attacks.

As revealed in a recent edition of Virus Bulletin, the researchers claim to have found two malware types which use different tricks to grab control of infected Mac OS X machines.

The two malware bundles are called OSX.Iservice and OSX.Iservice.B, and appear to be spread within pirated copies of iWork 09 and Photoshop CS4, distributed on the popular P2P torrent network.  We’ve talked about these before but now these infected machines are springing into action.

Seems the malware maker got hold of original copies of both application and inserted the malicious binaries into the software. Users who download and install these apps may then be affected.

Researchers Mario Ballano Barcena and Alfredo Pesoli warn this to be “the first real attempt to create a Mac botnet”, and state that these zombie Macs are already going about bad business. Thousands of Macs may have been infected, they warn.

The men also note the malware author appears to have used the most flexible and extendible approach when creating the code, “therefore, we would not be surprised to see a new, modified variant in the near future,” the researchers said.

We’re attempting to unearth further information at this time.

UPDATE: We’ve managed a little chat with Symantec, details follow:

– The infection is also known as: OSX/iWorkServ.A [F-Secure],    OSX/IWService [McAfee],    OSX/iWorkS-A [Sophos],    OSX_KROWI.A [Trend],    OSX/iWorkS-Fam [Sophos],    OSX/Krowi.A [Computer Associates].

– They warn: "Users who download files from third party sites and from P2P networks such as BitTorrent are at risk. More generally, anyone who surfs the internet should be aware of the threat of fake web sites, called phishing sites, that steal passwords, identity information and credit card numbers. "

– Asked if Mac users are under attack, Symantec notes: "The short answer, no. Users of Macintosh computers continue to have little to fear from viruses, trojans and worms so long as they take reasonable precautions."

More general info on the malware:

The two versions of the trojan, called OSX.Iservice and OSX.Iservice.B both create a network of computers (a “botnet) that can used by cyber criminals to attack web sites, send junk email, steal passwords (SPAM) and other malicious activities. This network has been called by some, "iBotnet".

The trojans are distributed in pirated copies of Apple Computer’s iWork ’09 and Adobe Photoshop CS4 found on some P2P networks. Other than installing the company’s anti-virus technologies (and warning against free solutions purporting to do this. as these are often flawed), the company advises Mac users who frequently download files and apps should, "Create a limited or non-administrator account for day to day activities. Use an account with full privileges only when necessary."

The fake iWork ’09 installer has the filename iWork09.zip and is approximately 450MB in size. In contrast, the legitimate trial version of iWork ’09 that is available from Apple is named iWork09Trial.dmg and is slightly over 451MB. The iWorkServices.pkg contains the Trojan executable named iworkservices, and is approximately 404KB in size.

The Trojan first determines if it is the root user on the compromised computer and if not, it will end. Then, it checks to see if it was executed with the file name iWorkServices. If not, it will create the following folder:


The Trojan then copies itself to both of the following locations:



It then modifies the following file to ensure that it runs when the compromised computer restarts:


The Trojan then restarts itself from its new location in /System/Library/StartupItems/iWorkServices, and decrypts an AES encrypted configuration file, which is located in /private/tmp/.iWorkServices. Finally, the Trojan acts as a back door and opens a port on the local host for connections. It then attempts to connect to the following remote hosts:

We’re fairly confident now this isn’t a wide-spread outbreak, but do hope that any Mac user who may have been affected now has the knowledge they need to identify if indeed they have been, and potentially to protect themselves from any further propogation of this malware thingummy…

Greenpeace activists have given a green light to Apple, following the company’s publication of a detailed breakdown of its greenhouse gas emissions. The environmental activists also credit Apple as being ahead of the industry in terms of removing toxic components. Apple eliminated these materials from its entire product line almost a year ago.

In the latest edition of the Guide to Greener Electronics (a quarterly assesment of the big tech firms), Apple sites around number five, the middle of the scale. Greenpeace admits these latest figures were put together before Apple’s recent publication of extensive environmental data.

“We went to press before Apple’s updated environmental information was published last week,” Greenpeace says, adding, “but the welcome news of their transparency about greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental disclosures will be factored in to the next edition. Apple can justly pat itself on the back for listening to their customers who asked for greener gadgets. And all you Apple users should pat yourselves on the back for asking.”

Other firms continue to attract criticism, with HP praised for making a greener promise, and for making the “first step in catching up with Apple” in terms of making all its PC products toxic-free.

Dell and Lenovo each retain a penalty point for delaying their phase-out commitments indefinitely. Acer claims that it will still achieve its target for eliminating PVC and BFRs in all products by the end of this year. Meanwhile Toshiba has a timeline to phase out these toxic substances from all its products by the end of March 2010.

Nokia remains at the top of the ranking, with a score of 7.5 out of 10, followed by Samsung with 6.9, Sony Ericsson with 6.5 and Philips –- which leaps from 7th to 4th place — with 5.9 points. The other climber is Sony, rising from 12th to 8th place.

“We expect these powerful tech companies to stand by their claims and set examples of strong leadership for other industries to follow. It’s encouraging that Philips, Acer and Samsung support the levels of greenhouse emissions cuts required to stem dangerous climate change.”

However, Greenpeace does slate Apple slightly for failing to show climate leadership by taking a stand – a position we don’t agree with following Apple’s publication of its environmental data.

We anticipate good improvement in Apple’s green standing in the next Greenpeace report in three months time.

Apple’s publication of environmental information and Greenpeace’s response comes as HRH The Prince of Wales this week launched a global campaign to encourage a halt in destruction of the Amazon rain forests.

September 30, 2009

We all know Intuit’s Bill Campbell sits on Apple’s board, so it’s nice to hear his company today announced an all-new version of its popular QuickBooks package for the Mac.

Aimed at small businesses, QuickBooks 2010 ships in late October and offers a range of new tools for business users, all couched within what the company describes as “the simplicity they expect from a Mac product”.

The package offers a fast and easy user set-up, delivers customizable reports and graphs and has integrated features which can support available plug-ins for credit card processing and hours tracking.

Business owners can also pay their employees with Intuit QuickBooks Payroll for Mac, an integrated add-on payroll service. This online offering helps users easily manage everything from paychecks to W 2 forms, including federal and state tax payments and form filings.

“Now more than ever, business owners are concerned about profitability,” said Kiran Patel, executive vice president and general manager of Intuit’s Small Business Group. “So with this new version, we focused on the areas that help business owners be more productive, such as at-a-glance reports, integrated credit card processing and simplified routine tasks. This means they have more time to grow their business with the insights they need to improve their bottom line.”

The software will cost $199.95, but is available for pre-order now from Amazon for $189.99, with a price guarantee meaning if the price falls again pre-launch, Amazon will honour all orders made at the new, lower price, rather than the original deal.

QuickBooks 2010 for Mac includes over forty enhancements that help users save time, make money and get paid. Below is a list of key new features and improvements.

Reflecting the trend to abandon PowerPC support, Intuit QuickBooks 2010 for Mac is designed to work on Intel-based Macs (running Mac OS 10.5.7, 10.6, or later).


RIM has confirmed it will ship its BlackBerry Desktop Software for Mac on October 2.

As we previously reported, the new software makes it easier to sync data between a Mac and a BlackBerry. It will sync contacts, calendar appointments, tasks and notes from Apple apps including iCal and Address Book.

The software will also let BlackBerry users add and remove applications from their device, schedule back-ups, encrypt back-up files and install software update.

In a move which Apple may act against, given its recent action to prevent Palm’s Pre in doing this, the BlackBerry software will let users sync their device with their iTunes library, though this presumably will only sync more recent iTunes purchases which lack DRM, and music copied from a CD.

Various other improvements in this release include support for syncing with multiple computers, and the capacity to choose where to store any required music or media files (on an SD card, on the phone’s internal memory, etc).

The free download will be made available on the blackberry.com/mac website from 1pm Eastern on October 2.

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again, Apple has big plans for eBooks and its future Apple tablet will help kickstart yet another change in publishing, just as the Mac helped launch the notion of desktop publishing.

Apple is reportedly engaged in extremely high level talks with senior executives from across the publishing industry with a view to making eBooks available to the tablet, and while these may start as the kind of text-based publications you’d find on a Kindle, these will advance to become true multimedia content delivery vehicles.

Perhaps a sign of what’s to come is visible in iTunes Extras/LP. These combine multiple assets and can be purchased from iTunes. They are designed to replicate the DVD or album experience, and while the jury’s out on their success in that, they clearly offer opportunities for the creation and distribution of engaging content.

Now Gizmodo tells us that Apple has been in talks with newspapers, magazines and book publishers, including the New York Times, McGraw Hill and Oberlin Press.

The entire vision relates to Apple’s future tablet, Gizmodo explains: “Several years ago, a modified version of OS X was presented to Steve Jobs, running on a multitouch tablet. When the question of "what would people do with this?" couldn’t be answered, they shelved it. Long having established music, movie and TV content, Apple is working hard to load up iTunes with print content from several major publishing houses across several media.”

The report continues to explain a meeting held on Apple’s Cupertino campus between Apple executives and senior figures from across the publishing industry. This followed an internal Apple competition the winning idea of which was textbook distribution through iTunes, a vision that’s already got strong foundations through iTunes U.

There’s even been a major example of what the vision could be, with Dan Brown’s recent new book also made available as an iPhone application. This title explores various potential advantages in digital reading, with support for notes, changing font styles, suggested reading, and tell a friend features, as well as the classic eBook experience.

Talks are understood to be gathering intensity at this stage, as Apple heads toward its purported January introduction of the Apple tablet. And hints that as both a creative tool and as a device for accessing Apple’s growing empire of digital content, Microsoft’s Courier has a lot of catching-up to do – after all, all we’ve seen of that so far shows Redmond’s vision is no more than as a glorified sketch/scrapbook. And scrapbooks are cheap.

Joel Rickett, editorial director of Penguin’s Viking Books, told The Observer newspaper: "The ebook is very quickly becoming a publishing reality and The Lost Symbol (iTunes link) will be one of the fastest-selling books of recent times.
"Once people can flip between books, look up references online and switch to an audio reading, everything will change very quickly."

Other recent activity came in the iTunes release of the Mayhem comic book in the iTunes LP format (iTunes Link). As John Fortt at Fortune noted, "Maybe the tools Apple created to digitize Gibson’s Mayhem comic will be part of an author’s kit with that oft-rumored Apple tablet?"

This followed Apple boss Steve Jobs statement to the New York Times that Apple doesn’t see eBooks as a big business – for the company.
Being a big business for Apple doesn’t necessarily mean eBooks aren’t a potentially big business for its platforms. eBooks are the second-biggest content category on iTunes after games, so there’s a proper eBook gold rush surging up. It’s just that Apple doesn’t publish the books…but it does create the platform – particularly its mobile platforms.

Also bear in mind Coolerbooks.com and its recent move to partner with Google to launch the world’s biggest online ebookstore – 40 times bigger than Waterstones it aims to offer over two million titles by the end of 2009, with one million titles available right now.

Initially, however, Apple hopes to use its leading advantage in the education market to help popularise its tablet, as we surmised in an August report.

When it comes to the education markets, Apple already knows the score. “We teach teachers not just about Apple solutions, but also how to create content that’s suitable for digital learning,” Apple’s director of EMEA education markets, Herve Marchet, told Macworld UK. "If you want to play in the education market, you need to be a solutions provider. You aren’t just bringing in the machine, you must also offer appropriate software, content and models for best practise in content creation.”

And beyond Apple, Disney (a company which has, erm, Apple CEO Steve Jobs on its board) today launched Disney Digital Books, which it terms, "reading made magical".

The eBook gold rush is now on….

September 29, 2009

Rumours that Apple plans an update for its iMac and Mac mini range continue to percolate as the company’s first Q10 quarter gets set to start.

Reports claim Apple’s already informing sales channels that several of its desktop Macs are heading into short supply as the company presumably preps its new SKUs. AppleInsider claims Apple Retail is warning outlets that further orders on many models will not be met, specifically for the Mac mini and iMac range.

Amazon also appears to be out of stock, directing orders to third party resellers (such as J&R Music and Computer World, DataVision Computer Video or Techno Intelligence), rather than honouring them itself. Interestingly, current models are available through the giant retailer at a variety of discounts, up to $30 less than book price in some casesbr />
Similar availability constraints are impacting supply of the Mac mini, with orders again directed toward third-party resellers.

Apple’s own retail store, however, continues to promise new order iMacs will ship within 24-hours.

Apple last update these two products on March 3, 2009, when it reduced prices, offering the 24-inch model at the same price as the previous 20-inch iMac.

Previous claims have suggested the redesigned all–in–one could come crammed with a SD card reader, quad-core processors and even Intel’s Xeon inside, said Mac4Ever. The site also predicted an aluminium remote control and a touch-enabled mouse would make their debut with the new desktop all-in-one.

Earlier this month, Wedge Partners predicted a redesigned iMac with a “thinner, organic design, likely with smoothed or rounded edges.

The firm also expects “new, lower price points to drive demand and create a meaningful competitive threat” to coming PCs based on Windows 7 as well as to the booming netbook segment. “We believe these new designs and price points will help Apple achieve a 3 million unit quarter for Macs in [calendar] Q4,” the analysts said.

Which would make a strong start for Apple’s new financial year, as it prepares next year’s purported tablet release.


Well, here’s a natural evolution of the work Apple’s already involved in, seems the company is developing a touchscreen remote for the “upcoming Apple TV”.

This makes sense, after all, we can’t imagine every Apple TV owner is necessarily going to want to spend the cash required to pick up an iPhone or an iPod touch to use as a remote control for the media-focused device. There’s going to have to be some form or remote control, if only so you too can lose an Apple product down the back of the sofa…

So, Boy Genius Report cites this information as emanating from a source which the site rates as pretty hot, having correctly previously predicted iPhone homescreens in iTunes along with integrated social networking elements.

The site claims to have been sent an image “we’re told is a product mock-up that may coincide with the launch of a revised Apple TV.”

What’s interesting here is that you can see a Safari button on that there mocked-up screen. We wonder if the on-screen controls become a keyboard if you hold the remote in landscape mode?

In any case, Boy Genius Report warns readers to take this information on board with a high degree of caution, However, given Apple’s recent Apple TV price cut, its no great stretch of imagination to predict a new model of the device is currently wending its way out of Apple’s secretive r&d labs.

We wonder if it will have support for games?

Elgato has introduced an App for streaming TV recordings from a Mac to an iPhone or iPod touch, EyeTV for iPhone.

The software means users of the Elgato EyeTV TV tuner family of devices can view their show recordings wherever they are around their home using a WiFi network. Better still, they can also control their TV tuner, setting it up for remote recording, scheduling as well as providing a TV guide.

The app connects to any Mac running the latest version of Elgato’s software, EyeTV 3.2, and will automatically locate a Mac on the local network using Bonjour.

The software also supports remote streaming, accessing your remote Mac using free locator utility, ‘My EyeTV’, which was made available within EyeTV 3.2. This automatically sets up any router that supports UPnP or NAT-PMP protocols.

EyeTV requires the iPhone Software Update or later and EyeTV 3.2 or higher.

September 28, 2009


According to iLounge, Apple has begun to allow Made For iPod and Works With iPhone-certified developers to include automatic application download prompts.  If the devices are connected to the Internet via Wifi or WWAN, the user can just plug in the accessory, then download the necessary software to get the devices to work.

A similar feature works for printers in Snow Leopard (and numerous other desktop OS functions).  Plug the printer in and the OS goes out to the Internet to get the software it needs to work.  Now this type of functionality has been brought to iPhone.

This functionality was introduced in iPhone OS 3.0 but this is the first time iLounge has seen it in action.  They go thru the steps of installation of the Griffin iTrip Controller in screenshots below.


Apple has released an update for iWork ’09, iWork 9.0.3.

Apple’s release notes follow:

About iWork 9.0.3
This update addresses general compatibility issues, improves overall stability, updates the help, and fixes a number of other minor issues in Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. The issues addressed include:

– Reducing file size of images that have Instant Alpha applied

– Managing file size when inserting some movies

– Working with dates and durations in the Chart Data Editor in Keynote and Pages

– Exporting to CSV from Numbers when using table categories
Improvements to comment notification and security in iWork.com Beta are also included in this update.

This update is recommended for all users of iWork ’09. The 59.62MB software is available from Apple Support or through Software Update.

Yet more Mac security FUD has been reported as fact, with a security researcher touting that a group of Russian hackers have been offering 43-cents per Mac as a reward to hackers subverting security on the platform.

It’s a FUD report, of course, as it fails to note that the general rate for Windows hacking is 50-55-cents, and fails to note that the website offering the bonus has since shut down, due to lack of interest.

As reported by Greg Keizer at Computerworld and repeated through numerous publications – including at least one which really should know better – it has been claimed that Russian hackers are targeting the Mac.

Naturally, all the usual suspects are involved in the info chain who bought us this ‘story’: Graham Cluley of Sophos quotes another researcher, Paul Ducklin, who himself points to a presentation given last week by Dmitry Samosseiko, himself a Russian-born researcher for – wait for it – Sophos.

CNN has the best rebuttal of the story. It takes a look at the six-page security research document and points out that the reference to Mac security occupies precisely one paragraph.

"Mac users are not immune to the scareware threat. In fact, there are ‘codec-partnerka’ dedicated to the sale and promotion of fake Mac software. One of the recent examples is Mac-codec.com. At the time of writing this article, the site is no longer available, but just a few months ago it was offering $0.43 for each install and offered various promo materials in the form of MacOS ‘video players’."

With security researchers seemingly determined to slam Mac security (potentially because they’d be out of a job if everyone switched to the platform) CNN notes that actual instances of Mac targeting groups are extremely rare. The report also points out that the site at the centre of the story has now shut down.

Once again these security warnings are pure FUD. Widely reported as fact. Doubt we’ll see a retraction by any of the publications who blindly carried the story.

Of course, we’re not saying Mac users can afford to be complacent. You can’t. It’s wise to be wary of downloaded files from sources you don’t recognise, it’s wise to be wary of opening links purporting to be from big names such as Amazon or PayPal, in case they are spoof phishing attacks.

Basically, common sense prevails, one must keep an eye on what is going on – but come on, it’s time to separate the FACT from the FUD.

September 27, 2009

For the next four hours, Amazon has the Kill-a-watt electicity usage monitor for $50+ free ship.


Product Features

  • Graphic timer reads energy consumption by the kilowatt-hour
  • Calculates electricity expenses by the day, week, month, or year
  • Can turn appliances on and off; 96 programmable on/off settings per day
  • Built-in surge protector guards against voltage spikes; monitors 2 tasks at a time
  • Measures approximately 5 by 3 by 2 inches

Amazon.com Product Description
Empowers You to Save Hundreds on Electric Bills and More
Are your electric bills costing you a fortune? Cut costs and take control of your electrical appliances with the Kill A Watt® Graphic Timer.

This advanced timer has the ability to monitor 2 tasks at once. First, it serves as a catalyst to turn your household appliances on and off as it simultaneously monitors its energy consumption so you can have total control of your electricity usage even when you are not at home. With up to 96 different programmable power on/off event settings per day, and 7 different combinations for the different days of the week, makes this device the smartest, and easiest to use, timer out there.

Not only is it a thrifty device, but the Kill A Watt GT 4480 is also the perfect tool to ward off would-be thieves by turning on and off a connected lamp at random times, giving your empty home the appearance of being occupied. The Kill A Watt function helps you save money and protects your appliances. Now, you can save energy by using lights and electronics only when you need them. The built in surge protector also guards your appliance from voltage spikes. With the simple press of a button, you can read the consumption by the kilowatt-hour and calculate electricity expenses by the day, week, month, or year.

The Kill A Watt Graphic Timer is a 3-in-1 product. It is a Graphic Timer with a Power Meter built-in that serves as a Surge Protector. It presents the information to you in a simple, easy-to-understand format.

Easy to Use, with Many Practical Applications
Large LCD display counts consumption by the kilowatt-hour
This is one of the most sophisticated timers on the market and yet is very easy to understand. It’s a digital version of a straightforward mechanical timer with a visual interface. It is easy to program the quarter-hour ON/OFF periods for 7 days and 24 hours as you would program traditional mechanical timers. Unlike other timers, the Graphic Timer is not limited to one day of programming–the unit allows unique programs for each of the 7 days of the week. Measurements and programming are stored in memory and retained during power outages. A backup battery allows armchair programming before you even plug it in.

This fully loaded surge protector doesn’t just guard your electrical devices from voltage spikes. It also provides protection against over current, over voltage, and under voltage delivering clean safe power to your expensive equipment. When the voltage presented at the wall outlet is over or under the normal voltage range, the unit will switch to Abnormal Voltage mode shutting off the power at the outlet. Similarly when the current load presented by the connected appliance exceeds the maximum current (15A), the unit will switch to Over Current mode and the power will be switched off to the outlet. The GT also helps prolong the lifespan of your appliances by gently applying start-up power via its Zero power crossing spike-free switch.

The power meter once connected to your appliance will assess how efficient they really are. The Large LCD display will count consumption by the Kilowatt-hour, same as your local utility. You can track minute-by-minute changes in electric consumption as major appliances are turned on and off. It lets you track the amount of electricity that your household uses in real time. It helps you reduce your energy consumption and decrease your monthly bills while helping the environment. Also check the quality of your power by monitoring line voltage. The unit displays the total cumulative appliance power consumption in Kilowatt Hours (KWH). The unit will display KWH from 0.01 KWH to 9999 KWH.

Examples of the Different Uses of the Kill A Watt Graphic Timer
Test your energy usage, set up a 7-day timer, and more

You can plug your entertainment center’s power strip into the GT and program it to turn off when you are not home to avoid any standby power from flat-panel TVs and cable boxes that suck up huge amounts of electricity even when not in use. If you need to use a connected product, the conveniently located on/off control allows a temporary override without changing the timer settings. You can go back to the timer mode very easily by hitting the Auto button. This neat feature allows you to use power only when needed, and gives you total control of your appliances. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory a surprisingly large number of electrical products–TVs to microwave ovens to air conditioners–cannot be switched off completely without being unplugged. These products draw power 24 hours a day, often without the knowledge of the consumer. We call this power consumption "standby power."

Use the Kill A Watt as a 7-day timer with up to 96 on/off cycles per day. You can conveniently program your Christmas lights to go on/off in a wide variety of programming options set differently for each day of the week. i.e. stay on longer in the weekends or go on earlier on Wednesdays.

Plug your lamp into the unit and use it as a security guard. It wards off would-be thieves by turning a connected lamp on and off at random times, giving your empty home the appearance of being occupied.

Test for Yourself and Observe the Results

Put the GT to the test and see how you can save money on your electricity bill. Program the GT and plug your entertainment center’s power strip but keep the timer function off. Measure one week’s cumulative power consumption in KWHs and retain the information in your records. Now turn on the timer function the following week, which will eliminate any standby power that will otherwise be used by the appliances in your entertainment center. Compare the 2-week records and see how many KWHs you have saved. Multiply the KWHs saved by the rate your utility provider charges for electricity and it will give you the total money saved that week by using the Kill A Watt Graphic Timer.

Technical Specifications
Accuracy: +/- 0.2%
Input Power: 115 volts AC, 60 Hz
Max Current: 15 amps
Max Voltage: 125 volts
Max Power: 1875 VA
Dimensions: 5.1 inches long x 1.6 inches thick x 2.4 inches wide
Approvals: ETL (c), ETL (us)
Origin: China
Manufacturer Warranty: 1 Year

Product Description
A smart addition to any home, this unique timer allows for total control over electricity usage, even when out of town on business or away on vacation. The handy gadget reads energy consumption by the kilowatt-hour and calculates electricity expenses by the day, week, month, or year. It can also be used to turn household appliances on and off, with seven different combinations for each day of the week and up to 96 programmable on/off settings per day. Connect it to a lamp with random on/off times to make an empty house look occupied, or attach it to valuable appliances–its built-in surge protector guards against voltage spikes. The graphic timer can monitor two tasks at once and measures approximately 5 by 3 by 2 inches.

September 25, 2009

Apple’s iPhone may be in the ascendant, but competing players continue to face problems in the space, with Research In Motion shares falling 11 per cent on the pre-market this morning and the recently-introduced Palm Pre Phone this morning discounted to just $100 on Amazon.

Palm Pre carrier, Sprint, recently cut the cost of the Pre to $150 (after rebate on a 24-month contract), but Amazon today discounted that. That’s a $400 saving on the original retail price…and probably not a pretty sign for Pre…

Palm was in the news a lot this week, with market rumours speculating Nokia may make a bid to take over the company emerging at the same time as Palm issued a major tranche of new stock options in an attempt to pull in cold, hard investment cash.

The company also took a hit this week when the USB Forum declared it in the wrong to establish iTunes syncing on the Pre, and demanded to know why it was using Apple’s USB Vendor ID number in order to achieve this without Apple’s permission. The company now has only a few days to explain itself.

Over at Research In Motion, strong device sales in the just-gone quarter couldn’t hide Wall Street’s disappointment at the company’s confession it expected to miss analyst targets in its Q3 cycle.

Net profit declined 4% from this time last year to $475.6m on sales of $3.53bn (up 4% y-o-y). But analysts weren’t convinced the company could maintain momentum, particularly as it chases the low-end markets, with Goldman Sachs, Raymond James and Deutsche Bank all issuing downgrades, driving a sell-off in company stock.


September 24, 2009

Appleinsider has heard that Apple will refresh its iMac line in the next few weeks.  They cite unnamed sources who say unnamed upgrades will be coming.  They do think that the iMacs will become thinner (why?) and "classier" (what?).  They speculate that there will be Blu-Ray and some audio improvements (Dolby surround?) as well.  Their source seems eerily similar to Wedge Partner’s report earlier this month.

All iMacs are currently selling with an under 24-hour lead time at the Apple Store and only command a $30 or so discount at Amazon.



There’s been a lot of Tom-Tom chatter this morning, as the TomTom Car Kit for iPhone 3GS made its debut on the Apple Store overnight, being listed as available for pre-order…well, looks like you can put your credit cards right back into your pockets, because, erm, the product has been removed from sale on the Apple site. In the UK, the product is still listed as one of the Staff Picks when you visit the online Apple Store, but clicking on the link provided takes you to an error message saying the page is unknown.

TomTom Car Kit for iPhone 3GS was listed on the UK store as costing £99.95, with a note warning the device won’t ship for 2-3 weeks.

Sine those original reports, the product has disappeared and is now not available on the UK, French, or German sites. (Like the UK, the German site still lists the product among its Staff Picks, but the link is no longer active). The product never made a debut on the US Apple Store, lending us to believe the whole affair has been an iTunes Store listing “accident”.

However, if £99.95 (or €99.95) sounds a bit steep for what is really no more than a GPS positioning system, why not cut across to Amazon and take a look at the wide selection of alternative solutions listed there….

The developer behind BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac has published extensive documentation for the must-have app, saying release of the software is “just around the corner”.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac lets BlackBerry owners sync various kinds of content with their Macs, including music in some cases.

Various improvements in this release include support for syncing with multiple computers, and the capacity to choose where to store any required music or media files (on an SD card, on the phone’s internal memory, etc).

Within the Device Options menu, users can choose whether their BlackBerry smartphone should be backed-up automatically and what data should be included in the backup file.

Users can sync their BlackBerry smartphone with the iCal application, Address Book, Apple Mail (for notes) and any other software that can talk to Apple’s Sync Services. For example, to sync with Microsoft® Entourage users simply need to check the option to sync with Sync Services in Entourage preferences.

“Because sync is one of the most important features in this release of BlackBerry Desktop Software, our focus was on making it rock solid with an intuitive set up,” the developer writes. “We wanted to ensure users have all the key options and information when setting up their sync preferences, while at the same time keeping the interface clean and simple. For this reason, all information categories are listed on the left, and the right panel reflects the settings for each category. The alternative of having everything on the same page and listed sequentially seemed a bit cluttered to us.”

If you are a Mac user with a BlackBerry, now may be a good time to sign up to be notified when the new software is released on http://www.blackberry.com/mac.


September 23, 2009

Some disappointment greeted the announcement of the new high-capacity iPod touch, mainly because every tech pundit and every tech pundit’s brother had expected the new version to ship with its own built-in camera…now it seems pretty clear pre-launch reports claiming production problems with the new model were accurate.

Latest evidence comes from UK eTailer, Dabs.com, and a recent catalogue entry (now removed) which did plainly state the product carried a “built-in video recorder”.

This publicity was recently mailed to subscribers and still lists a "built-in video recorder" as a feature. Of course, clicking through reveals the iPod touch which launched with no camera.

There’s been a series of leaks confirming a video camera was originally intended in the product, from images of cases carrying camera holes to images of the product disassembly which clearly shows the devices host a place in which the video camera could be placed.

We also know through local Far East reports that Omnivision were apparently contracted to supply the image sensors for the feature. We reckon close study of their financial results versus end of last quarter projections will add even more grist to this rumour’s mill.
Obviously any delay putting these parts inside Apple’s devices could impact their projected sales in the period, after  all – Apple has sold 20 million iPod touch units so far.

Via: Engadget

September 22, 2009

Adobe’s John Nack used his blog to promote the market share lead of his company’s Lightroom against that of Apple’s Aperture.

Adobe – developer of the industry standard Photoshop software – is publishing research findings from InfoTrends, findings which reveal Lightroom to be nearly four times more popular than Aperture.

These findings aren’t based on unit sales of either application, instead they’re based on a survey of 1,045 pro photogs in North America.

Nack also reveals that among photographic pros using the Mac, In 2007 Lightroom was nearly twice as popular as Aperture, but by 2008 it was nearly three times as popular.

Here’s the stats:







“You might notice some decline in the use of the Camera Raw plug-in inside Photoshop as more pros move to using Lightroom. Let me be clear in noting that Photoshop use among these pros remains in the 90% range, and that the decline applies only to Camera Raw usage,” Nack notes.

Apple’s introduction of a sophisticated FM radio tuner within the iPod nano is being hailed by the radio industry as potentially re-igniting interest in the format among younger ears – and is being welcomed by consumers as one of the most attractive features of the latest version of the world’s biggest-selling player.

The iPod nano also offers a video camera and more, but the FM radio is definitely a leading feature for new music-hungry consumers, according to a US/UK survey from the Radio Research division of Vision Critical.

Researchers spoke with 3,000 consumers in the US, Canada and the UK this month, paying particular attention to the impact on 18-34-year olds in contrast to the general population.

According to the survey, the new interactive features of the FM tuner show potential to energize interest in radio among younger consumers – the demographic known to be the prime users of MP3 players.

Apple’s implementation of radio on the iPod nano is attractive. You can roll shows back up to 15-minutes to listen to bits you’ve missed. The research reveals consumers are “very interested” in the ability to pause and rewind songs they hear on the radio – particularly those between the ages of 18 and 34.

In the US, 47 per cent of those aged 18 and older say they are "very interested" in the ability to pause and rewind songs they hear on the radio. This rises to 66 per cent among 18 to 34-year-olds.

The opportunity to see the name of the song using the nano’s RDS display also has strong appeal. In all, 41 perc ent of Americans and 55 per cent of 18-34-year-olds expressed an interest in this feature.

Consumers where a little less interested in the ability to “tag” songs for future purchase, with 28 per cent of those aged 18 and older "very interested" in this feature, although this increases to 45 percent amongst 18-34-year-olds.

Over half (53 per cent) of UK residents aged 18-34 are activeluy interested in this rewind feature.

Thirty-five percent (35%) of UK residents aged 18 and older say they are “very interested” in the ability to pause and rewind songs they hear on the radio. This rises to 53% among 18-34 year-olds.

The opportunity to see the name of the song through the Nano’s RDS display also has clear appeal. In all, 27% of 18 and adults in general and 45% of 18-34 year-olds express an active interest in this feature.

The ability to “tag” songs for future purchase is not currently offered by British broadcasters, but this interest in this feature also shows potential, especially among younger listeners. Twenty-three percent (23%) of UK residents aged 18 and older are “very interested” in tagging songs for purchase. This increases to 40% of 18-34 year olds.

Thirty (30%) of 18-34 year-olds report listening “daily” to mp3s. This compares to only 16% of UK residents aged 18 and older.

“The new iPod nano will put FM radio into the hands of more people in more places. Most important, it puts more FM radios into the hands of younger demographics who represent the future of the medium,” the researchers claimed.

Jeff Smulyan, chairman-CEO of Emmis Communications, recently said the move will help make radio ubiquitous, pointing to the radio industry’s determined effort to ensure FM tuners are installed on all portable devices by 2013. The industry argues that making such a move would deliver a relevant emergency broadcast system, among other reasons.


As the smartphone wars increase in intensity, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has one idea at least one iPhone user would like to see Apple emulate – a solution that transforms your phone into a universal remote control.

RIM is working with Canada’s Unity4Life to develop a solution that turns BlackBerry devices into a remote control for TVs, set-top boxes and the like. Effectively emulating features offered by devices including Logitech’s Harmony universal remote.

This solution works through use of a $99 device which converts the Bluetooth signal of a BlackBerry into an infrared signal TVs and other devices can understand. This solution is used in conjunction with software which runs on the BlackBerry.

When you use the software you are presented with an interactive media guide and get to control nearly every function of your audio and visual equipment, from volume control on your TV to operating your PVR, as reported by the National Post.

There’s a price to pay for this integrated goodness – the company will also gather information to collect data on users entertainment and viewing habits…while this will depend on what information a user wants to share. The company also has a plan to include advertising within the interactive guide.

We’d like to see a similar system for the iPhone…what do you think?

Submit a Tip


Submitting a tip constitutes permission to publish and syndicate. Please view our tips policy or see all contact options.

Powered by WordPress.com VIP