Monday, October 18, 2010

18, October, 2010 - Apple News

Liveblog: Apple Q4 2010 earnings call starts at 5pm ET

Apple is wrapping up its 2010 fiscal year in preparation for a busy holiday season. As usual, the company's executives will discuss Apple's fourth quarter earnings, sales data, and other juicy tidbits in a conference call with media and analysts this afternoon. The earnings call begins at 2pm PT, 5pm ET (see it in your own timezeone).
Bookmark this page and come back as we begin our coverage or simply keep an eye on the website or your RSS feeds; we'll be bumping this article to the top of the pile just before we start Read More ...

HyperMac to halt MagSafe sales, hopes to appease Apple

HyperMac's external batteries will no longer come with MacBook-compatible charging cables thanks to a lawsuit from Apple. The company announced its decision early Monday morning, noting that the high-capacity batteries with MagSafe chargers would remain in the online store until November 2, after which they will be "gone for good."
Apple sued Sanho Corporation, HyperMac's parent company, in early September, alleging violations of Apple's MagSafe and 30-pin iPod connector patents. The lawsuit resulted from HyperMac's popular line of batteries that could charge any MacBook or MacBook Pro, or an iOS device with the 30-pin connector. Apple said the company had violated six of Apple's patents related to both technologies, and that Sanho's alleged infringement caused damage to Apple's business.
When we first heard about the suit, we theorized that the situation might be hairier than a standard patent suit because Sanho claimed that it merely resold existing MagSafe and 30-pin connectors—it didn't manufacture them. Whether Sanho had authorization to modify the MagSafe connectors to work with its batteries, however, was undoubtedly the catch.
In its statement issued Monday, Sanho said that it is in "ongoing comprehensive licensing negotiations with Apple regarding a wide array of technologies and issues," and that is the reason it has decided to cease sales of all MagSafe-related products. The company specifically mentioned the MacBook charging cables, but did not mention the 30-pin iPod/iPhone/iPad connector, leading us to believe that those unmodified cables are still kosher.
"If you wish to get the world's ONLY external battery and car charger solution that works with ALL MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro (supports dual voltage) as well as the iPad, iPhone 3/3GS/4, iPod and all other USB devices, NOW is the time," reads HyperMac's website. "On November 2, 2010 00:00 U.S. Pacific Time, they will gone for good."

new Apple event, iOS jailbreaks, Mac market share

The biggest news of the week was, unsurprisingly, the announcement of Apple's "Back to the Mac" event for October 20. But that's not all we talked about—we also discussed some new software for the Mac and iOS, the latest Mac market share numbers, iPhone 4 damage, and more. Check it out:
Apple announces "Back to the Mac" OS X preview for October 20: Apple will give the media a sneak peek at the next version of Mac OS X on October 20 at a special event.
Sparrow for Mac: a study in minimalist e-mail interfaces: Two developers have beaten a group of top indie Mac developers to build a useful IMAP e-mail client for Mac OS X. Sparrow's minimalist interface might not be the panacea some were hoping for, but it may be the perfect fit for those who like to spend as little time dealing with e-mail as possible. Read More 

New MobileMe Calendar out of beta

Apple has announced that the revised version of the MobileMe Calendar, in beta since early July, is now being made available to all MobileMe users. This version uses a new syncing backend as well as a new iPad-inspired user interface for the Web application.
Some of the new features that the updated Calendar offers include the ability to share calendars with family and friends, publish read-only calendars for groups or for special events, and send event invitations with RSVPs directly from the Web app. The new syncing backend also enables better push updates between Macs, iOS devices, and the MobileMe Web service. (Note, however, that iPads won't get push capabilities until iOS 4.2 is released in November.)
Apple notes that the new Web app works best in Safari 5, Firefox 3.6, and Internet Explorer 8. For syncing, you'll need the latest version of Snow Leopard on your Mac or iOS for your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. Windows users can sync Outlook calendars using the latest version of the MobileMe Control Panel.

Apple breaks 10% market share in US, Lenovo climbs globally

Apple continues on its steady march to the top of the technology heap, according to the latest PC market share reports from Gartner and IDC. Both firms have released preliminary sales estimates for the third quarter showing impressive year-over-year growth for Apple just as the company's stock posted record highs at just over $300. The overall PC market is also up slightly both domestically (about 3 percent) and globally (about 9 percent), with Lenovo and ASUS in particular starting to gain on rivals Dell, Acer, and HP.
In the US, market leader HP mostly held steady year-over-year, commanding a quarter of the PC market here. Dell continues its steady decline, dropping a few points down to 23.4 percent. Somewhat surprisingly, low-cost netbook and nettop maker Acer dropped a couple points as well. More or less as Intel stated during its quarterly earnings report, Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa contributed Acer's and Dell's drops to a softening consumer market.( More … )

18, October, 2010 - Mobile News

Microsoft: all WinPhone 7, all the time

Windows Phone 7 dominated Microsoft news this week , and we had plenty of coverage of the announcement and the new handsets. But benchmarking Windows browsers and watching Microsoft troll OpenOffice users also generated plenty of interest. Welcome to the week in Microsoft.
Windows browsers benchmarked: October 2010 edition: Whose browser reigns supreme? We test both current releases and the latest beta versions of Windows browsers only to find out what we already knew: Chrome is fast Read More ...

18, October, 2010 - Software News

Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie leaving Microsoft

In a very surprising move, Microsoft has announced that Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's Chief Software Architect, will be stepping down from his position and leaving the company after a transition period. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed the news in an e-mail to employees this afternoon, which was then posted for the public to see as a press release.
Ballmer said Ozzie won't leave right away, but did mention that he "will be onboard for a while" and "following the natural transition time with his teams but before he retires from Microsoft, Ray will be focusing his efforts in the broader area of entertainment where Microsoft has many ongoing investments [in other words, Xbox and Windows Phone]. While he'll continue to report to me during the transition, the CSA role was unique and I won't refill the role after Ray's departure," wrote Ballmer in the message. "We have a strong planning process, strong technical leaders in each business group and strong innovation heading to the market."
Ozzie joined Microsoft in 2005 when the software giant acquired his company Groove Networks. In 2006, when Gates announced his upcoming retirement from day-to-day activities at Microsoft, Ozzie took over Bill Gates' position as Chief Software Architect and Ballmer assumed Gates' other role as CEO.
Ballmer credited Ozzie with conceiving, incubating, and shepherding Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud platform, and during the past year, Ozzie has been pushing Microsoft's cloud computing strategy. His most recent project was the creation of FUSE Labs, a group looking at social computing. FUSE Labs is behind the Microsoft/Facebook collaboration
Ray Ozzie is (or was) the most senior technical person at Microsoft, regarded by many as the person intended to provide the company's technical vision after the departure of Bill Gates. However, Ozzie's role at Microsoft has never seemed particularly clear, and company insiders felt his impact was superficial. It's also claimed that he rubbed other Microsoft employees the wrong way: a believable claim, having seen the way he corrected Steve Ballmer on-stage at the All Things D conference earlier this year.

Oracle wants LibreOffice members to leave OOo council

A group of key (OOo) contributors and community members recently decided to fork the project and establish The Document Foundation (TDF) in order to drive forward community-driven development of the open source office suite. Oracle has responded to the move by asking several members of TDF to step down from their positions as representatives on the OOo community council.
During an OOo community council meeting last week, council chair Louis Saurez-Potts told the TDF members who also sit on the OOo community council that their participation in both organizations constituted a conflict of interest and that their involvement in the new LibreOffice fork should preclude them from holding leadership roles in the OOo community. Saurez-Potts is Oracle's community manager, a role that he also held at Sun prior to the acquisition. His position suggests that Oracle views LibreOffice as a hostile fork and will not join TDF as some had hoped.
"Your role in the Document Foundation and LibreOffice makes your role as a representative in the OOo CC untenable and impossible. [I]t causes confusion, it is a plain conflict of interest, as TDF split from OOo," he told TDF members during a council meeting that took place on an IRC channel. "If the TDF members do not disassociate themselves from the [Document Foundation] then they must resign by Tuesday."
OOo council members who also hold leadership roles in TDF include Charles-H. Schulz, Christoph Noack, and Cor Nouws. It's unclear how they will proceed now that they have been handed this ultimatum by Oracle.

Mozilla gets a new boss: SAP mobile exec Gary Kovacs

Mozilla has announced that its next CEO will be Gary Kovacs, who is currently chief of mobile products at SAP. Kovacs will replace outgoing Mozilla CEO John Lilly, who recently stepped down from the role when he joined venture capital firm Greylock Partners.
Prior to his work at SAP, Kovacs played key roles at Macromedia and Adobe. In a blog entry about the new executive selection, Lilly says that Kovacs' background in mobile and multimedia makes him a good fit for Mozilla as the organization continues to focus on opening up rich media on the Web and gaining a foothold in the mobile browser market.
Mozilla began to seriously pursue the mobile browser market in 2007 with the launch of the Fennec project, which replaced the earlier, unsuccessful Minimo effort. Fennec has delivered a competitive Firefox port for Nokia's Maemo operating system and an experimental Android version that shows some promise. Kovacs brings Mozilla the benefit of his knowledge of the mobile ecosystem at a critical stage in the evolution of the organization's mobile strategy. As mobile Firefox matures and becomes suitable for mainstream adoption in the next year or two, he could help ensure that it will have the desired impact on the market.
Mozilla isn't an ordinary company, however, and will require its new leader to adapt to its mission-centric view of technology. Mitchell Baker, a former Mozilla CEO and current Mozilla Foundation Chairperson, says that Kovacs fits the bill. Baker and Lilly, who headed the six-month process to find the right candidate, both cite Kovac's communication skills and affinity for collaboration as factors that cemented him as the best choice.
Although Mozilla has a strong community and a widely-recognized product, the organization is in a challenging position where it is financially dependent on Google, one of its most substantial browser competitors. In addition to moving Mozilla's mobile agenda forward, Kovacs will also be managing that relationship. His business savvy could be important if it becomes necessary for Mozilla to seek more diverse revenue sources.

Java wars: IBM joins OpenJDK as Oracle shuns Apache Harmony

IBM has announced its intention to join the OpenJDK project, the official open source Java runtime effort that is led by Oracle. IBM's move to take a more active role in OpenJDK could end the company's commitment to Apache's Harmony project, and it should dissolve a long-standing stalemate that has hindered collaboration in the Java ecosystem.
The Harmony project, which is developed by the Apache Software Foundation, offers an open source Java runtime that is distributed under the permissive Apache license. Sun's controversial refusal to provide critical Java compatibility tests under licensing terms that were suitable for the Harmony project created a divisive feud that polarized major Java stakeholders.( More … )

Mono 2.8 released with full support for C# 4.0

The Mono project, which produces an open source implementation of the .NET runtime, has released version 2.8. The update brings full support for version 4.0 of the C# programming language, substantial improvements to the optional LLVM-based Mono backend, and a new garbage collection implementation that is more efficient.
Mono was originally created to accelerate Linux application development and enable Windows developers to bring some of their existing code and skills to the Linux platform. The focus of the project has expanded in recent years as Novell has explored ways to monetize the underlying technology. Mono is increasingly viewed as a compelling tool for supporting rich embedded scripting in applications and bringing C# to environments where it wouldn't otherwise run.( More … )

Competitors declare MSE is not enough for small businesses

Three antivirus makers have weighed in on Microsoft's decision to make Microsoft Security Essentials free for small businesses with 10 PCs or fewer. Symantec, ESET, and Avast have all commented about the change, and their opinions can be summed up by saying "it's great what Microsoft is doing, but it's not enough."
Last week, Microsoft flipped the licensing switch for MSE, making it legal to use the antimalware program for free, even outside of home use. Microsoft claims that enterprise security software is too expensive, complicated, and hard to use for such small organizations, hence its decision to expand the reach of MSE.
Symantec, maker of the Norton line of products, says Microsoft's decision makes sense, and backs it up with data from a 2009 survey conducted by the company an the National Cyber Security Alliance. The survey found that small businesses are storing more important information than ever, while cybercriminals are particularly interested in taking advantage of these inadequately protected small companies.
That said, Symantec thinks Microsoft's approach is poor. "While we applaud any vendor that heightens small business awareness around the need for computer security, it's clear that today's threats have moved beyond the capabilities of the product Microsoft is offering," Symantec told Ars. "The perception that freeware vendors have created is that free, basic security is enough to protect customers from today's online threats. The reality is that the number and sophistication of Web-based viruses and malicious code continues to rise, resulting in small businesses needing more than just a signature-based antivirus product to fully protect their critical information."
ESET, the company behind the NOD32 line of products, is also highly critical of what MSE lacks. "Free software always sounds great - especially in this economy. And for businesses with relatively simple needs, it might be the perfect solution," the company said. "However customers should be aware that it's the same product as Microsoft Security Essentials for home users repackaged for business use. Protection for servers is not included and in case customers need help, there is no one to call. It's also our understanding that it doesn't have centralized management nor group policy capabilities, and is limited to Windows PCs."
Avast Software, creator of the Avast! antivirus program, seemed to agree. "We do applaud MS trying to help secure small businesses. We also believe, however, that small businesses - even those watching their cash flow - need better, faster security. What small firms do need [is] antivirus protection that is affordable in terms of its total cost. This includes not just the purchase price, but the labor costs of IT maintenance and also the expense of repairing an unblocked virus outbreak. We've taken a wider look at IT security costs when developing our new avast! 5.1 small business console product. Once we release it later this year, I think SMEs will discover that this is a more cost effective product than Security Essentials," Avast told Ars.
If Microsoft opened up MSE to all small businesses, then Microsoft's competitors might be correct. For fewer than 10 PCs, though, we think it's fine. Microsoft still recommends using its Forefront line of security products for companies that operate a small business with more than 10 PCs. Furthermore, there's nothing stopping these really small businesses from using ForeFront despite Microsoft's licensing change for MSE.
Choice is good, and free choice is even better. If you're the owner or employee of a small business, what are your thoughts on the change?

Popular Facebook apps found to be collecting, selling user info

If you use Facebook but don't want your personal information leaked all over the Web, you had better make sure you don't use any of Facebook's most popular apps. According to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, "tens of millions" of apps on Facebook transmit varying amounts of identifying information to their own personal ad servers, even in cases when users' profiles were set to completely private.
On the most benign level, many Facebook apps gather a user's Facebook ID if that user installs the app on his or her profile. The ID itself doesn't necessarily give anyone access to a user's protected profile, though if the person in question has a public profile, then all of that information could be (and undoubtedly is being) scraped.
For other apps, however, the data collection apparently doesn't stop at a user's ID. The WSJ claims that all of the 10 most popular apps collect some form of user data, and three of them—yes, Farmville included—also transmit personal information about a user's friends to outside servers. One company, RapLeaf Inc., was found to be linking Facebook ID information with its own database of users that it cross-checks from other parts of the Internet. The company collects this information through several of its apps, including those made by LOLapps and the Family Tree application, then sells the information to at least 12 other ad firms.
Facebook has already disabled the accounts for some applications and has taken action in the past to limit RapLeaf's data collection. Still, the discovery draws further attention to an ongoing problem for Facebook: user privacy. Even when users try to be fastidious in protecting their data on the social networking site, there always seems to be an opening that lets more information out than users want. Most Facebook apps are written by independent developers or small companies, though, and it's not always clear whether the info being collected is even intentional.
Facebook takes a tough stance against apps that violate its terms, which limit what kind of data developers can collect. "Our technical systems have always been complemented by strong policy enforcement, and we will continue to rely on both to keep people in control of their information," a Facebook spokesperson told the Journal. The company didn't specify which apps it took action against, but did say that it has "taken immediate action to disable all applications that violate our terms."

Google Search Appliance gains support for cloud services

Google is quickly becoming known for its cloud-based apps and services among enterprise users. Before Google Apps, however, there was Google Search Appliance (GSA), a search product that allows companies to pull in results from databases or network shares on their intranets. With more and more companies using both products, Google is now trying to merge the two with its latest update to GSA, version 6.8.
With the update, GSA customers will now be able to search across on-premise and cloud-based content from the same place. So, for example, if your company wants you to be able to search a local database of sales information but also bring in relevant company e-mails from Gmail in Google Apps, you'll be able to do so without performing separate searches. Results from Google Docs and Google Sites will also show up alongside traditional results, and if admins want, they can even bring in other data from services like Twitter.
Perhaps even more useful is a new feature called People Search. The feature brings in a company contact list so that people who are related to your query will come up on the right hand side of the page if you need certain expertise or help with your project. According to Google, businesses can choose to index department info, interests, expertise, and even location to help make these results even more relevant.
These updates may seem relatively ho-hum upon first blush, but they are quite useful additions for those companies that depend upon GSA. Of course, Google hopes that the increased support for Google Apps and other online services will help bring in more customers, too, even if some businesses might shy away from putting Twitter results into the mix.

How to use, abuse, and leave Facebook Groups

Facebook's new "Groups" feature is slowly making its way out to users, allowing people to set up group chats, document editing, and events for different aspects of their social lives. However, like most new features at Facebook, not everyone knows how to use (or avoid) Groups just yet. So here's a walkthrough on how to use Facebook Groups to your advantage... and how to get out of them if you decide you're not such a social person after all.

Creating groups and using them to your advantage

When a Group gets added to your account, Facebook will draw your attention to it with a pop-up over the top of the site. Your groups are listed in the left-hand column, underneath the selectors for new messages and events.
When you create a new group, the site prompts you to give it a name and start typing the names of people you want to add. You also have choices on whether you want the group to be open, closed, or secret—open means that all content and members are public, closed means that the members are public but content is private, and secret means that both members and content are private. Read More ...