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Saturday, March 05, 2011

iPad 2.0 will Help Apple Rule for Years, Analyst Says - PCWorld

iPad, iPhone, MacBook ProImage via WikipediaiPad 2.0 will Help Apple Rule for Years, Analyst Says - PCWorld

By Ross O. Storey, MIS-Asia Mar 5, 2011 8:40 am

With Apple's launch of the second version of its iPad, research house Ovum predicts that it will take until 2015 for devices running Google's Android platform to catch up.

Ovum principal analyst Adam Leach said that in such a fast-moving market, Apple was forced to release a new version of its iPad hardware to stay ahead.

"Apple clearly had first mover advantage. However, its competitors have been hot on its heals with a slew of tablet devices from big brand vendors such as Samsung, Motorola, HP, HTC and RIM, all of which have announced tablet devices which aim to replicate the Apple experience, which is notoriously difficult to match," Leach said.

"Much of the early growth of the tablet market can be attributable to the Apple iPad, a device whose sales constituted 90 per cent of the total market opportunity in 2010. The remaining 10 per cent of shipments in 2010 was made up of devices running variants of Google's Android OS".

Honeycomb Popular
Leach said most device vendors are looking to exploit Google's latest version of the Android operating system, honeycomb, to deliver a user experience that can compete with Apple's own iOS.

"However, some vendors, notably HP and RIM, are choosing to invest in their own software platforms," he said.

"Ovum's belief is that the platform dominance of Apple and Google will continue through 2011 and beyond, albeit with devices based on Google's software platform commanding an increasing proportion of the total market opportunity".

"However, devices based on Google's platforms will only overtake those based on Apple's platform by 2015, when we forecast 36 per cent and 35 per cent market shares respectively, of a total market with shipments of about 150 million units in 2015," Leach said.

This compares with Ovum's estimate of 10 per cent for Google and 90 per cent for Apple at the end of 2010.

Cyberattack in South Korea Hits 40 Web Sites -

The coat of arms of South KoreaImage via WikipediaCyberattack in South Korea Hits 40 Web Sites -

SEOUL, South Korea — Forty Web sites in South Korea were attacked by a computer virus on Friday, including the official sites of the presidential Blue House, the Foreign Ministry, the country’s biggest bank, the country’s two largest search engines, a major online auction house and some American and Korean military sites.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, but the National Police Agency is investigating the assault, which was discovered by AhnLab, an Internet security firm in Seoul.

Computer analysts said the problems amounted to a so-called denial of service attack, in which multiple computers infected by a software virus try to access targeted Web sites simultaneously. That can overwhelm the sites with a surge of traffic that crashes their servers.

WordPress, one of the largest blog-hosting sites on the Internet, was attacked this way on Thursday, the company said.

A South Korean government official said Friday that there had been “no major damage at all” to computer systems at the Blue House, the executive office and official residence of South Korea’s president.

“We were attacked, but it was defended,” the official said, noting that the Blue House and other agencies had installed security countermeasures after a major cyberattack on South Korean government sites in July 2009. He said the effect of that attack had been “quite chaotic.”

An AhnLab spokesman, Song Chang-min, said the two attacks had similarities, including the targeted sites. AhnLab discovered the virus on Thursday and quickly distributed a free antivirus solution for downloading.

“This wasn’t as serious as 2009, but it still makes servers go down,” Mr. Song said. “Some Web sites going down for even a minute or two, especially commercial sites, can be a big problem. It can be critical.”

Thursday, March 03, 2011

MacSparky - Blog - Thoughts on The Post PC World

Steve Jobs while presenting the iPad in San Fr...Image via WikipediaMacSparky - Blog - Thoughts on The Post PC World

I watched the Apple Keynote tonight and was struck by how often I heard the term “Post PC.” When Steve Jobs and Apple start using these catch phrases, it is no accident. Apple has its own lexicon that starts internally but, at some point, often finds its way into Keynote speeches and product descriptions.

I believe “Post PC” is the newest of these phrases. We’ve all speculated about the future of technology in light of the explosive growth of iOS and the growing legions of mobile competitors. To the people at Apple, I don’t believe this dialogue is anything new. Internally, I think they’ve been planning this for years.

Looking back, I suspect Apple first started contemplating the Post PC world when iPods were selling like hotcakes. I’m certain that by the time the iPhone showed up, Apple’s Post PC plans were already in full swing. When the iPad appeared, the shoe dropped for the rest of us. Steve Jobs confirmed this last year at the AllThingsD conference when he talked of trucks and cars and how the PCs we all know and love are going to become the trucks of technology: still useful, but not necessary for most.

This all culminates today with Apple’s repeated mantra about the “Post PC” world. Why are we just hearing about this now? Because Apple is already sitting on top of the mountain in this new order.

I’ve written before about Mac user’s fear of returning to those dark days. I suspect there is a certain degree of that also ingrained in the Apple corporate culture. I’m not sure I’d call it fear so much as resolve with this second chance. Never again.

Never again will Apple blow its lead. Never again will Apple seize defeat from the jaws of victory. Never again in this new Post PC World.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Steve Jobs Unveils iPad 2

Hands on with iPad 2 | Tablets | iOS Central | Macworld

Hands on with iPad 2 | Tablets | iOS Central | Macworld

Immediately after Steve Jobs introduced the iPad 2 Wednesday at the Yerba Buena Theater in San Francisco, California, he invited members of the media to visit a special hands-on area right behind the theater—the same set-up Apple used a year ago to introduce the original iPad. While the iPad 2 wonʼt be available until March 11, we were able to spend some quality time with the

iPad 2 today. Hereʼs what we found.

The iPad 2 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor. People who have been following Appleʼs product designs will not be surprised by this. Whatʼs interesting is the effect this has on the “grippability” of the product. The original iPad was one of the most solid pieces of hardware weʼve seen from Apple, but the combination of its weight, thickness, and the curve of its backplate made it a bit hard to hold—and made a case pretty much necessary.
Itʼs much more comfortable to hold the iPad 2 in one hand. The slight decrease in weight helps, no doubt, but itʼs also the thinness—and most notably the fact that the back side of the device tapers to a flat surface in a much shorter distance than its predecessor.
In terms of materials, the iPad 2 and the iPad are cut from the same cloth (figuratively speaking): Thereʼs a glass front and an aluminum back. The device still seems solid, though palpably thinner. The big difference when looking at it from the front is that you canʼt see the edge of the aluminum frame, which is quite noticeable around the edge of the original iPad when viewed from the front.
The reduced thickness of the iPad 2 means that we canʼt say the iPadʼs buttons and ports are on its side—there really is no side, unlike on the original iPad. Thereʼs a front and a back, really, with a very small amount of curved space on the back where it meets the front piece. Thatʼs where the buttons and ports are. Itʼs a very different feel from the original iPad. However, the buttons and ports are in more or less the same places as they were on the original iPad.

Beyond the deviceʼs physical redesign, the major outward difference in the iPad 2 is the addition of a pair of cameras: one on the front and one on the back. As on the latest iPhone and iPod touch, these cameras can shoot pictures, record video, and be used for FaceTime video conferencing. However, theyʼre definitely of lower quality than the iPhone 4ʼs 5 megapixel camera, and more in line with the cameras on the current-model iPod touch. The test images we shot in the hands-on room were grainier and with more evident jagged edges than those shot with an iPhone 4. Even a FaceTime conference with an Apple rep across the room looked a bit soft, though some of that could have been the result of heavy Wi-Fi traffic.

Along with the cameras, there are a couple of minor changes related not to sight but to sound. Instead of the pinhole microphone residing near the original iPadʼs headphone port, the microphone has been shifted to the top back of the iPad 2 (on the 3G models, itʼs actually right in the black plastic that covers the 3G antenna). And since thereʼs no real “edge” on the iPad 2, the speaker has been moved to the back, and sports a grille design more like that of a MacBook Pro speaker. It was impossible to gauge the speaker performance in the crowded hands-on room, but weʼd guess itʼs roughly comparable to that of the original iPad.

Dan Moren tests out the iPad 2 camera. There were white and black iPads on display Wednesday, and while this isnʼt evidence that the white iPad 2 is real—weʼve held a white iPhone 4, after all—Steve Jobs seemed to indicate they would definitely ship on day one. Personally, I think I like the look of the black iPad 2 better, but thatʼs why they make the iPad 2 in both versions. Isnʼt choice great?

Beyond the two colors, there are also three different variations of the iPad 2 based entirely on wireless configuration. Thereʼs the Wi-Fi version, of course, and then two separate versions with 3G cellular connections as well—one for AT&T and one for Verizon. Both of the 3G versions have a black plastic strip on the back, at the top, just like the 3G versions of the original iPad. The only way to tell them apart is the presence of a microSIM slot on the AT&T version.
As ridiculous as it is to focus on something a simple as a cover when thereʼs new technology to be had, the fact is, Appleʼs new iPad 2 Smart Covers are a pretty interesting and notable feature: so notable, in fact, that iOS 4.3 includes a feature designed specifically to support them. (How very Apple is that?)
The Smart Cover itself is a rectangle exactly the size and shape of the iPadʼs screen, folded in four parts. The side that faces inward is made of soft microfiber cloth; the outside is either leather or polyurethane in one of five colors each. On one side is a metal hinge with small magnetic parts at both ends; these magnets attach to magnets embedded in the iPad 2 when you drag the Smart Cover near the iPadʼs edge (it only affixes to the left-hand side of the device, however). One Apple representative referred to attaching the Smart Cover as a foolproof operation, but we proved him wrong by failing to do it the first couple times we tried. After we figured out how it worked, it all went smoothly.

iPad 2 Smart Cover in action. The inside of the Smart Cover on the edge opposite of the hinges also has an embedded magnet; when you close the cover over the iPadʼs screen, it snaps closed and stays closed. But thereʼs more going on here: the iPad 2 senses that the Smart Cover has been closed, and immediately locks itself. Thatʼs cool, but even cooler is what happens when you peel the Smart Cover back and disengage that magnetic clasp: the iPad 2 automatically wakes back up, bypassing the lock screen in the process. (Thereʼs an option in the Settings app to turn this feature off.)
As with Appleʼs case for the original iPad, the Smart Cover can be folded up to provide a gentle incline for typing, or flipped around to make a stand for watching video. In this latter regard, itʼs vastly superior to the case for the original iPad, which always felt a little bit wobbly in this configuration.
Lest we judge the iPad 2 by its (Smart) Cover, letʼs remember that itʼs whatʼs inside that counts. In this case, itʼs an Apple-designed dual-core A5 processor. Itʼs very hard to test speed of a device like this, especially in a controlled environment like a demo room. The iPad 2 certainly felt fast—really fast. GarageBand and iMovie, both apps that presumably tax hardware to its limits, moved smoothly. While we donʼt know for sure how much memory the iPad 2 contains, 512MB—the same as the iPhone 4—seems like a reasonable guess.

Apple also spent some time touting the iPad 2ʼs graphics performance, an improvement that is subtly visible when you fire up the new Photo Booth application and are greeted with nine previews of real-time effects, ranging from thermal vision and x-ray to twirl and mirror. A brief tour through Epicʼs Infinity Blade RPG and Gameloftʼs N.O.V.A. 2 yielded likewise impressive results.

These are just a few of our impressions after spending some time in a room packed with journalists and a few iPad 2 demo units. Weʼll have much more to say, obviously, when the iPad 2 arrives and we write our full review. In the meantime, check out our hands-on video below:

Monday, February 28, 2011

Closing backdoor threats in OS X | MacFixIt - CNET Reviews

Closing backdoor threats in OS X | MacFixIt - CNET Reviews

by Topher Kessler

A "back door" in computing terms is a method that hackers use to circumvent a system's authentication features and gain access without being detected. Usually this involves taking advantage of bugs in the built-in sharing services and OS features, but it also can happen if a user inadvertently installs some malware that provides a path around the system's security.

Anytime you start a sharing service on your computer, be it for files, screen sharing, chatting, or printers, you are technically opening a door for a client application running on remote system to connect and change or use aspects of your system. For instance, when you enable Web sharing, then a Web browser client on another computer can connect and read HTML Web pages that the server has made available. These sharing services run as background tasks and usually first authenticate and authorize users and connections based on the system's security measures (recognizing accounts and permissions limits).
While these services are built to be legitimate and productive features of an OS, bugs in them may provide a route that hackers can take to open back doors in the system's security and gain access to the system. These holes are rare and are usually patched quickly by Apple or legitimate third-party developers when found, but besides taking advantage of built-in services one method that hackers can use is to trick users into installing a malware service that runs hidden in the background and allows the hacker entry into the system.

A new Trojan horse security threat has recently surfaced that has been described as a backdoor Trojan for OS X. The malware allows an attacker to connect to a system using a client application and perform tasks like shutting it down, restarting it, creating files on the desktop, opening URLs in a Web client, requesting administrative passwords, and messaging the current user.

As with any Trojan horse program, the user inadvertently installs the application thinking it is a legitimate package, but instead of being a standalone program that alters configurations (like the DNSChanger Trojan) or sends data to remote systems (like a botnet hack), this Trojan installs a server on your system that allows a hacker to connect and administer the system with a small remote client program (called a remote administration tool, or RAT). The hacker enters your IP address into his client, connects
With the Trojan installed, a hacker can use an RA T client program to connect and send commands to the affected system. This is the RAT interface for the newly discovered malware. (Credit: Sophos) to the malware service installed on your system, and can then send remote commands to your system using the RAT system.
This malware is very similar to the age-old NetBus and Sub7 RATs for Windows, and can ultimately be characterized more as a prank application than anything else (though there are legitimate RAT services, including Apple's Server Admin tools). Nevertheless, it does still pose a security risk if installed because users can be tricked into supplying their administrative passwords to the hacker, among other things.
Does this change the nature of OS X security? Absolutely not, and given the measures required to install and enable this threat, it is ultimately a very low risk. While there is always concern that OS X's security features can be circumvented and result in malware being automatically installed, so far this malware, as with most other Trojans, requires you to manually run an installer to load a separate standalone program. The supplied OS features and services are not touched and their security measures are left intact.

Because you need to install the program to put your system at risk, the simplest and easiest way to avoid it and other similar Trojan threats is to never run an installer or other program unless you know exactly where it came from. Depending on your familiarity with computers this may be difficult to tell, so your next-best bet is to keep away from underground Web sites and any online deals that seem to be too good to be true, especially if the sites require a program to be installed to view their offerings.
If you are uncertain about your ability to identify hack attempts, install a malware scanner and have it watch your Downloads folder so any new files added to this folder are immediately scanned. Also go to Safari's General settings and uncheck the option to open "safe" files after downloading, and set your browsers to download files into the watched downloads folder. Some antivirus tools have on-access scanning features, but these are likely not yet necessary for OS X and may cause compatibility and performance problems. Therefore, disable these features unless you specifically need them, and then set them up to watch or manually scan a common Downloads folder. See this article for a list of antivirus software recommendations for OS X.

Disabling Safari's option to open 'safe' files will prevent programs disguised as documents from being opened.

In addition to scanning with a robust and updated malware scanner, there are other ways to protect your system. Because this malware appears to be a standard client-server program that uses basic IP connectivity, even if it is running on your system it will be nearly impossible for a hacker to use if your system is behind a properly configured network firewall. Most modern home and workplace routers have robust NAT firewalls with numerous extra security features (such as stealth modes and flood detection), so be sure your network is protected by one. Additionally, check your router and disable any unused ports and DMZ hosting.
Lastly, be sure to enable the OS X firewall and regularly clear the list of applications allowed through the firewall (found in the Security system preferences in the Firewall tab). This will ensure you only allow the programs you currently use through the firewall, and are notified of other, less common ones that might be requesting network access. In addition, while the built-in firewall blocks incoming traffic, it does not block outgoing traffic, so you might consider installing a program like Little Snitch to detect when applications on your system send information out to the Internet.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Apple gets back to basics in Mac OS X Lion | Operating Systems | MacUser | Macworld

Apple gets back to basics in Mac OS X Lion | Operating Systems | MacUser | Macworld

Mac OS X Lion gets back to basics
Apple on Thursday gave us another sneak peek at whatʼs in store for the next major release of Mac OS X, dubbed Lion, due out this summer. Between the iOS-inspired features we saw in the first Lion preview in October and the new features the company revealed today, itʼs clearer than ever that Apple isnʼt merely getting Back to the Mac. With Lion, Apple is getting back to basics, making significant changes and adding new features that are all focused on making the Mac easier to use and more accessible to both new and longtime users.

Apple has always touted the Mac as the “computer for the rest of us,” wearing its reputation on its shoulder for designing intuitive interfaces and great experiences. But there have always been parts of Mac OS X where those claims just donʼt hold up. Remember the last time you tried to explain to your parents or non-technical friends how to download and install Firefox from a Disk Image—or for that matter, what a Disk Image even is? With the meteoric rise of iOS and the iPad changing our perception of the personal computer, Mac OS X can sometimes look downright Windows-y by comparison.
Lion is designed to fix that.

You got your iOS in my Mac OS

Apple isnʼt kidding around when it says the iPad was the inspiration for many of the big additions and changes in Mac OS X Lion. In the October preview, we saw some of the blossoming fruits of iOSʼs muse: full-screen apps, even deeper multitouch support with new gestures, and a new Launchpad view of all your apps that was stolen straight off the iPadʼs homescreen—all are focused on making parts of Mac OS X and our apps more accessible.

There is a general theme in Lion of simplifying Mac OS X, either by streamlining existing features or by bringing iOS workflow perks to the Mac. For example, Apple unveiled a new Lion feature on Thursday, called AirDrop, which is “a remarkably simple way to copy files wirelessly from one Mac to another with no setup.” But this just sounds like an update and rebranding of the Bonjour file sharing and public folder features that Mac OS X has had all along, except the goal of AirDrop is to make file sharing between family and coworkers much, much easier to grasp and use. Like it did for some parts of iOS, Apple simplified existing Mac OS X features and polished them up with a better interface.

There are plenty of other more subtle tweaks that are making the pilgrimage from iOS to Mac OS, all in the name of streamlining the interface and the many ways we interact with apps. From more legible and universal icons (see Mail 5 on Appleʼs Lion page), to popovers (see iLife ʼ11), to scrollbars that can hide when you donʼt need them, Mac OS X Lion will simply look cleaner and more intuitive than any of its predecessors, and it has iOS to thank.

Viva la Mac

But if the iPad was “just a giant iPod touch,” is the Mac becoming “just a giant iPad?” Not in the least. The file system hasnʼt gone anywhere, the Finder looks to have received some much- needed attention, and despite concerns of Apple embracing digital totalitarianism after announcing the Mac App Store, you will not be forced to give up the ability to install software from anywhere on the Web.

Another new Lion feature Apple announced, “Resume,” is also an ode to iOS, but it will likely have an even larger impact on the Mac. Just like switching between apps on an iPad or iPhone, or even restarting the device, Resume is Lionʼs official support for third-party Mac apps to pick up right where they left off, even after a restart. Thatʼs not merely a good idea in iOS, itʼs just a good idea for any reasonably complex computing device—especially one that is designed to multitask and juggle many apps and open windows with ease.

Speaking of recovering your data, a pair of new features will make it easier to continue working with individual documents and recuperating lost data—key requirements of any worker bee who needs more power and flexibility than iOS typically offers. Auto Save will allow apps to automatically save your work as you create it, while Versions brings the continuous backup concepts and interface behind Time Machine down to a per-document basis. You will be able to step back through the history of the current file on-the-fly and easily revert to a previous iteration.

Great artists reciprocate

iOS and Mac OS X are symbiotic entities. When designing iOS, Apple distilled the Mac down to something pocketable, but the core concepts are there, such as an app-centric workflow, an always-accessible “home base” Dock, and a fierce pursuit of intuitive interfaces. After gaining knowledge and experience from nearly five years and four versions of iOS, Apple clearly felt that it's time to return the favor in Lion. Apple is incorporating some of the fresh simplicity of iOS back into its point-and-click desktop computing platform that, at its conceptual core, is almost three decades old.

When Lion arrives, the Mac might begin to resemble some aspects of Appleʼs simpler, more streamlined OS thatʼs designed for mobile devices. But thatʼs only because they are fundamentally good ideas that can polish a full-featured desktop platform and make it even easier to use, without sacrificing any of the power and flexibility that brought users to the platform to begin with.

[David Chartier is a Macworld associate editor.]