An Excel-ent episode with a literary bent whilst we wait on some downloads
If it wasn't for our new books (have we mentioned them?), this would be a strangely all-Microsoft episode of The MacNN Podcast, but luckily the Redmond giant turns out software for both Macs and Windows (who knew?), so we've set up this episode to be fun to listen to while you wait for your approval notice from Microsoft that you may obtain your copy of WindOwS X -- sorry, Windows 10. We also talk cool software, including (yes) Microsoft Excel.
Latest build may not have any notable changes beyond bug fixes
Exactly one week after the last developer beta of OS X 10.11 El Capitan, Apple has issued another update to the forthcoming OS X upgrade, which is scheduled to appear this fall, and likely to debut some time in September. The previous beta, 15A235d, did not list any significant changes or fixes, but focused primarily on small UI tweaks and bug fixes. The new beta, build 15A244d, is likely to have followed the same path.
Exploit still requires user permission to install, downplayed by experts
A new exploit has been developed that could threaten Mac security by leveraging vulnerabilities in firmware rather than software, making the worm nearly impossible to remove. While sounding more ominous than any threat since the original firmware-based Thunderstrike (which was limited to a proof-of-concept with no reported attacks), leading security experts say this new threat is also very low-risk.
A literally complete handbook on keeping your iOS devices running smoothly
Today's Pointers column was inspired by a real-life incident in which an acquaintance asked me for help in picking out a new iPad. Knowing that they had a fourth-generation iPad -- not far removed from the iPad Air 2 that I have -- I asked why. "Doesn't work anymore," they grumbled resentfully. "Lots of crashes, some apps don't even launch now." I asked if it had ever been turned off. "Every night," they said. I said, "no, not put to sleep -- turned off." "You can do that?!" they exclaimed.
21.5-inch Retina iMac?
This week in the MacNN Forums, members discuss their hopes and dreams that one day we will see a , with many saying that it's probably still a long way off. One Fresh-Faced Recruit is wondering if their MacBook from 2009 can actually handle 8GB of RAM, and has a few questions about Yosemite.
Utility allows for backup of wide range of hard drive formats
Data backup and disaster recovery company Paragon Software Group has announced the release of Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac Preview -- a previously Windows-only tool to handle all disk management tasks on OS X. In closed beta testing for two months, the public preview comes with major new backup techniques, including sector and file-level backups of any partition or disk to the Paragon Virtual Hard Drive format.
Yes, William, it is a series.
Yeah, I'm the guy that both made William take off his watch for a week, and made him do this column, My Stupid Fault, first. We all have tech tales of woe for sure -- the really special ones we've done to ourselves by accident or by incompetence. Mine is something I keep coming back to, time after time, after time -- and once, it almost caused a problem with Cold War-era national defense. Today, I bring you the second installment of My Stupid Fault -- a series of three tech failures at the worst possible time, with a common solution.
Company claims up to five times faster file recovery
Long time OS X developer SubRosaSoft has announced the immediate availability of FileSalvage 9. The latest version of FileSalvage features up to five times better recovery speed according to the company, a new user interface, and most importantly, support for OS X 10.10.
Partnership makes available ready supply of repair parts for more rare gadgets
Device repair resource and teardown mavens iFixit is partnering with the largest recycler of electronic waste in the world, Electronic Recyclers International, to to make repair possible for gadgets of all kinds. The pair will make heretofore unavailable parts purchasable through iFixit, alongside guides, and the sometimes specialty tools required to do the repairs.
App Update for Jul 28, 2015
App development has taken off in the last few years, making it increasingly difficult to stay on top of all the latest versions. To help all of you out, we here at MacNN are dedicated to sorting through new update releases, and highlighting some of the important ones, as well as showcasing apps that we find to be interesting. Today, we look at revisions to ChronoSync Express, Liquid Rhythm, FilePane, NetShred X, Keep Drive Spinning, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II.
Finally you won't be forced to have one
If you have signed up for YouTube, if you've got yourself a Gmail account, or if you have sneezed within 17 miles of a Wi-Fi hotspot, you've been given Google+. We'd say whether you wanted it or not, but did anyone actually want it? Now the service continues -- sans Google+ Photos -- but it's no longer going to be rammed in the direction of your throat. You can safely sign up for Google's more useful and popular services, and not automatically get this plastic toy in the bottom of the box.
PCs outsold by iOS devices, AT&T/DirecTV merger, AAPL vs AMZN and more
Another interesting week at MacNN brings us plenty to talk about on Episode 25 of The MacNN Podcast, ranging from the FCC approval of the AT&T/DirecTV deal for no clear reason (but with a bunch of conditions), to our new column "My Stupid Fault." We also include a full report on Apple's fiscal Q3 and the uncalled-for drop in the stock, the results of our testing of Apple's new third-party SSD Trim support, and more.
Apple well aware of issues, blending of Apple Music and iTunes Match at issue
We reported last week on fellow Mac journalist Jim Dalrymple's particularly bad issues with iTunes 12.2 and later on the Mac, centered around the arrival of Apple Music and Apple's attempts to blend the paid service's ability to store songs for later streaming or offline use with some customers' existing or previous iTunes Match libraries, which appears to cause much confusion, ranging from mislabelled entries in the iTunes library to missing songs in some cases.
No problems noted with the drive line after 800TB of data moved
When Apple released OS X 10.10.4, alongside the offering came an implementation of Trim technology to clean up and potentially speed SSD write speeds over time. Users choosing to activate the feature, previously only on Apple-provided SSDs were greeted with a dire warning about the potential for data loss should the feature go bad in any way. After a good first pass, MacNN has concluded its second round of testing on a drive series thought to be problematic with the command -- the Samsung 840 and 850 drives, both in pro and EVO lines.
Phantom adverts affecting data caps, defrauding advertisers
Over 5,000 fraudulent apps currently available for iOS and Android are displaying ads users cannot see, but which are causing problems, using up cellular data, and costing advertisers around $850 million per year, says online fraud research company Forensiq in a new report. The ads are not visible on screen, yet the volume of them contributes to an overal slowing down of iPhone or Android devices while stealing data from often-limited cellular data plans.
Experience from long-time Mac fan voice confirms MacNN testing
Apple cognoscenti Jim Dalrymple posted a missive about his poor experience with iTunes and Apple Music yesterday, confirming ongoing MacNN testing of the issue dating back to just after the launch, and subsequent update of the Apple music player. The pundit notes amongst other problems the loss of 4,700 songs that he has little hope of getting back, and that the service is selective as to which tracks are actually added to his Internet-accessible library, sometimes drawing from "greatest hits" albums, and not the actual source of the original recording.
Allegedly the start of a new series
Yeah, right. "We should do an occasional column where we each admit to huge technology problems that were entirely our own doing," MacNN management said. "Maybe readers could learn from our mistakes, perhaps they can avoid doing similar things, and certainly we'll all have a good laugh," they said. "You go first."
Fixes issue with flash storage that could cause data corruption
Apple on Wednesday issued a firmware update for the recently-released "mid-2015" MacBook Pro Retina 13- and 15-inch models. The update, aimed at only the MacBook Pro models with the Force Touch trackpad as a distinguishing feature, fixes a problem with flash storage that could, in rare cases, cause data corruption, according to Apple. The 1.9MB file is available directly from Apple and the Mac App Store's update section.
Too busy enjoying Apple Music streaming on my iPod touch
In this early season of presidential candidate pronouncements, its refreshing to see someone not running for office who can crazy with the best of them. On this week's MacNN Podcast We celebrate 10 years of podcasts along with Apple, as well as the new, updated iPod touch. We then proceed, like all good parties, to trash some things -- in this case, iTunes and Neil Young's crazy (high) horse. Show notes after the jump.
More patches coming, first release 'proof of concept'
Through third parties, Apple IIgs System 6 has been updated. Following a 22-year abandonment by Apple, the venerable Apple Pugetsound Program Library Exchange, originally formed in the late '70s, has rolled out the fix, which in addition to the bug fixes and changes, makes developers able to create better future updates and software for the computer.
Every technology known to man but no signal
The Lake District is one of the UK's most beautiful regions: as well as the lakes, there are mountains. Picture it now: ancient lands, the weight of history on the very landscape around you -- and turn left a bit. Away from all of that, and into a little town no tourist ever notices. Now turn right, second left, first tree past the Post Office, down a bit, take another right at that man with the bobble hat out walking his spaniel, and that's where we are. You can't miss us. Chiefly because we take turns leaning out of the window to get a cell signal.
iTunes ruined my movies and more
This week in the MacNN forums, members try to assist one Fresh-Faced Recruit in determining why it was that their movies -- that had been downloaded from iTunes to an external hard drive -- had been deleted after their last iTunes update. Earlier this week, "ghporter" turned to the forums looking for advice on cleaning up the hard drive on his wife's MacBook, as he thinks this may be the reason it is running slow.
Apple's not done the very best of jobs with iTunes
The smart money said if anything were going to go wrong, it would be Beats 1: something live is automatically the most likely to fall over in some way. If someone had already taken that bet, you'd settle for guessing that massive demand would overload the streaming servers. Yet instead, the bit of the Music app and Apple Music launch that caused problems -- and continues to cause them -- is good old iTunes for OS X. We've had iTunes for nearly 15 years, and every thing else in Apple Music for a fortnight but it's iTunes for the Mac that has fallen down and can't seem to get up.
Update is said to 'improve stability, compatibility, and security'
Two days after issuing a developer beta of the next minor update to OS X, Apple has taken the release public to pre-registered testers. Version 10.10.5 continues the series of bug-fix and tweaking to Yosemite, and is distinct and separate from the public beta for the upcoming major update, OS X 10.11 El Capitan, that was released exactly a week ago. The new public beta of 10.10.5 is identical to the first developer beta.
Patch fixes issues with USB keyboards and sleep
Apple has released a firmware update today for the late-2012 Mac mini, the model just before the current models. The 4.4MB EFI Firmware Update (version 1.8) will automatically appear in the Software Update portion of the Mac App Store for users with affected machines, and fixes "an issue that may prevent a USB keyboard from being recognized after the system wakes from sleep."
App Update for Jul 14, 2015
App development has taken off in the last few years, making it increasingly difficult to stay on top of all the latest versions. To help all of you out, we here at MacNN are dedicated to sorting through new update releases, and highlighting some of the important ones, as well as showcasing apps that we find to be interesting. Today, we look at revisions to Sonos, VueScan, Yosemite Cache, Manga Studio EX, SyncTwoFolders, OnyX, and ChronoMonitor.
Testing before and after update shows poor handling of issue by Apple
Apple's release of an iTunes point update yesterday was seemingly relief from the manifest problems induced by the first release -- but reports immediately started coming in questioning what the value of the update was, and what it actually fixed. We repeated our earlier testing with iTunes networking shares, and tossed in some local store sharing which was underway with version 12.2, and were dismayed by our findings.
Even lapsed former subscribers saw issues with cover art, metadata
[Update -- not all problems are fixed] A problem in the new iTunes 12.2 update -- which including a substantial behind-the-scenes change to the database part of the program to accommodate the new Apple Music features, and which caused confusion in metadata and album art in song files -- has allegedly been fixed in a new update, bringing the program to version 12.2.1. The update, now available through the Mac App Store, is also said to correct a problem where uploaded DRM-free music in users' iCloud Music Libraries had been replaced with DRM-enabled Apple Music versions.
So far, no problems have been noted in testing the popular SSD line
Continuing the refresh of MacNN, we've launched some testing initiatives. The first, a rundown of iTunes Match/Music problems with stored libraries is still underway, and we're hoping for more information later this week. The second: a close look at Apple's Trim activation for third-party SSDs, which was introduced in the launch of 10.10.4 -- and we've got some initial results to report.
'Staingate' tries to raise awareness, but reports of issues continue to be rare
Of the millions of Retina MacBook Pros sold each quarter by Apple, the overwhelming majority appear to operate as advertised without issues, and reports of problems that aren't isolated cases continues to be fairly rare. However, a group of MBP owners who are experiencing issues with a peeling or stained anti-reflective coating on their machines are trying to get Apple to acknowledge the issue.
Public beta begins despite long list of issues, problems
Apple has made available public betas for iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 El Capitan, according to reports. The new software, based on the issue-laden third developer beta released yesterday, is available to users previously registered with the company's Beta Software Program. While the company normally waits until there is a fairly stable developer beta existing before issuing the first public beta, today's releases are fraught with issues and missing functionality.
'Handful' of customers take to Twitter to report rashes from bands
As the Apple Watch finally becomes more available, so too do reports of users who may suffer from skin reactions to the materials used in the bands. A small number of buyers have posted to Twitter and other services to show skin rashes they say are caused by the bands, a not-uncommon complaint among users of any sort of watch. Thus far, the reports focus on sensitivities to the bands more than the Watch itself, which does contain a warning about the use of nickel in the device.
Users who obtained the OS illicitly may be out of luck
Apple has launched a new program to reinstall earlier versions of watchOS who have upgraded to the Apple Watch 2.0 beta. The procedure, posted on a developer-only page, requires the user to ship the device back to Apple and wait "up to three business days" for return.
The book isn't good enough, and new doors are opening
The e-book of The Blank Screen: Blogging is ready, I could send it to you, and I was about to upload it to iBooks and Amazon Kindle. This week, I was going to be showing you how you get the paperback ready, and that that is a surprisingly intricate little tale that involves new online software that we haven't talked about before. We're not going to talk about it this week either, because the book is not good enough.
Join the MacNN staff for a look at Apple's rollout, after the dust has settled
As we typically do after major Apple releases, MacNN has gathered some of its staff to consider the implications, long-term effects, potential fallout, mis-fires, and triumphs of the new release -- this time, Cupertino's new Apple Music. Apple gave us all a lot to think about, both during launch week, as well as this week dealing with the public fallout of a launch that could be called only mostly successful. Read on to see what we thought one week after the craziness that was launch day of the service, in addition to simultaneous software updates to nearly everything Apple offers.
The Beats 1 that just can't go wrong today
Time once again for another episode of The MacNN Podcast, this time episode 22! Since it was quite a notable week, this week's chat between Editor Charles, Managing Editor Mike, and staffers Michelle, Bradley, and Sanjiv is pretty jam-packed. The big story of the week was the launch of Apple Music, and we spend time on both the good and bad of that, but we talk about a lot more as well. Show notes after the jump.
Initial results point to iTunes mishandling of network shares
Over the period of time since iTunes 12.2 was released, MacNN has been receiving spotty reports of iTunes library corruptions. We've begun preliminary testing on the root cause, and a final determination or possible workaround is some time away -- however, w do have solid data pointing to iTunes corrupting libraries hosted over an OS X network share periodically. More problematically, iTunes libraries accessed over an SMB share from either a Windows-based computer or network attached storage (NAS) device are frequently damaged by some iTunes process.
Exploiting this confusing but immensely useful feature
It is in all ways a great thing that Apple Music includes the ability for you to download music to listen to when you don't have an internet connection -- or you don't want to use the one you've got. If you're away from Wi-Fi and have a limit on how much data you can download without surcharges, Apple Music can eat through that like nobody's business. Plus whatever your plan, streaming much just kills your battery. So being able to have one big downloading session before you head out the door is brilliant. It's also ridiculously confusing.
Latest OS X version offers preliminary support for third-party drives
Although many are celebrating the long-awaited arrival of Trim support for third-party SSD storage that can be enabled by users, Apple's implementation of it should be considered preliminary, and comes with an unusual and strongly-worded warning that offers no support if the user should experience problems. In addition, some popular SSD models, notably Samsung's 840 and 850 lines, may be subject to a data-destroying bug if Trim is activated.
Matched music downloaded as DRM-locked files, iOS music Home Sharing dead
The heralded Apple Music service launch has accompanied a merger of iTunes Match with Apple's new streaming service. However, possibly to appease record labels, some significant changes have been made to iTunes functionality, including the removal of Home Sharing for music on the iPhone and iPad, as well as substituting iTunes Matched songs downloaded to a device with DRM-laden versions.
Lack of update preventing Apple Music from arriving on Macs
[Update: iTunes 12.2 now released at 6PM ET] While iOS users are experiencing changes related to Apple Music, Mac users are also seeing things fall into place, but at a far slower pace. Before Mac users will be able to use Apple Music and listen to Beats 1, they will have to upgrade iTunes from the current version 12.1.2 to version 12.2 -- an update which is currently unavailable to download by users, and is conspicuous by its absence on a day when Apple has overloaded it servers with a plethora of major, minor, and security updates.
iMac only boots to safe mode, login issues and more
This week in the MacNN Forums, members assist Posting Junkie "sek929" with trying to get to the bottom of a problem he is having with an iMac that will only boot into safe mode. Today "ibook_steve" had some questions about logging into Apple Discussions and turned to the forums for answers.
Virtual music storage locker hit with problems; workaround revealed
The launch on Tuesday of Apple Music appears to be wreaking havoc with existing users of iTunes Match, the company's virtual music cloud storage service. Reports beginning yesterday and worsening today indicate that users who have not or are unable to currently update their iOS version to the just-released 8.4, as well as Apple TV users, are seeing issues including duplicate entries for artists and playlists, inaccurate album art, and a general inability to download or stream songs.
The downward spiral of the music business, a 5K iMac giveaway, and more
Episode 21 of The MacNN Podcast is now available! Join us for a very speedy hour as we talk about a great new contest where you can win a 5K Retina 27-inch iMac, the licensing kerfuffle with Apple Music that features a happy ending, more troubles for MacKeeper, the plaudits and perils of e-publishing, the trauma of having to send in a Mac for repair, and our picks for App(s) of the Week! Show notes after the jump.
monitor troubles, save preferences and more
This week in the MacNN forums, members discuss topics including monitor troubles and save preferences. One Fresh-Faced Recruit has turned to the forums this week expressing frustration with an external monitor that keeps displaying a "No Signal" message, and so far a solution has yet to be found. Mac Elite "rotuts" is trying to figure out how to save files to folders other than the default "documents" folder.
What happens when Apple recalls your Mac
If you've got a 27-inch iMac that you bought between December of 2012 and September of 2013, go check out whether Apple wants it back. As MacNN reported, Apple has a new replacement program running to fix hard drive problems in some unspecified number of those machines. Do it now: it doesn't matter if your warranty or AppleCare is finished but you must do it now because the program will not last. You'll need your Mac's serial number and you'll need to head to this Apple support page. We did –– and right now, our precious iMac is off on a courier's van.
Issue may be caused by bad carrier update file, no clear solution yet
T-Mobile customers with some of the latest iPhone models are reporting instances of frequent restarts on their devices running iOS 8. Because the problem appears to be limited to only T-Mobile, the likely culprit is a bad carrier update that is typically pushed to devices "silently," meaning with no user notification. Users have taken to social media sites, as well as T-Mobile help forums and support lines to complain about the issue.
Apple recalls, in-depth E3 game announcement coverage, more
As you might expect from a podcast with our title, most episode tend to lean heavily on the Apple-related news of the week, though we generally make sure to spend at least a little time on other big tech stories outside Apple's sphere. To celebrate our 20th episode, and because the big event was this week, we spend the majority of our time on the E3 gaming conference and its many announcements. Fear not, regular listeners, there's still Apple news a-plenty!
Range of discovered vulnerabilities made it possible to intercept data between apps
Apple announced on Friday that it had implemented a server-side partial security update earlier this week to help protect Mac and iOS users against a "series of high-impact security weaknesses" discovered by researchers now collectively known as XARA vulnerabilities, that could potentially be used to obtain data being passed between sandboxed applications, such as passwords. No known cases of the exploits have been seen "in the wild," and Apple says it is working with researchers on a longer-term fix.
Covers all affected iMacs regardless of warranty status
Users who purchased a 27-inch iMac between December of 2012 and September of 2013 may experience hard drive or Fusion Drive failure "under certain conditions" due to problem with the hard drive component. Apple has now announced a replacement program that largely covers the "late 2012" 27-inch iMac (though it may also include some early mid-2013 iMacs), and will contact registered owners of the affected units to offer a free swap out of the drives, regardless of warranty status.