Category: Repairs


iOS loophole gives developers access to photos, sources say a fix is coming

Another day, another iOS security concern. Today’s confidence-defeating news comes from Nick Bilton at the New York Times. Bilton writes at the paper’s Bits blog that a loophole has been discovered in iOS which allows third-party developers access to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch’s photo and video location data… as well as the actual photos and videos themselves. It appears that if an app asks for photo location data on your device (and you approve the request for permission), that application will also be able to slurp down the photos and videos stored on your phone without any further notification. The Times report mirrors an earlier story from 9to5 Mac which detailed security issues on the platform.

Bilton had an unnamed developer create a dummy application which would replicate the offending functionality, and the developer was able to easily poach location information as well as photos and video from a test device. Other developers — such as Curio co-founder David E. Chen — sounded off on the issue. Chen told the Times that, “The location history, as well as your photos and videos, could be uploaded to a server. Once the data is off of the iOS device, Apple has virtually no ability to monitor or limit its use.” Camera+ developer John Casasanta said that, “It’s very strange, because Apple is asking for location permission, but really what it is doing is accessing your entire photo library.” The article also suggests that this loophole may have been introduced with the release of iOS 4 in 2010.

We reached out to Apple about the issue, but the company declined to comment.

All hope might not be lost, however. We spoke to sources familiar with the situation, and were informed that a fix is most likely coming for the loophole. According to the people we talked to, Apple has been made aware of the issue and is likely planning a fix with an upcoming release of iOS. Those sources also confirmed that the ability to send your photos and videos to a third-party is an error, not an intended feature. If we had to guess, the fix will likely come alongside a patch for Apple’s other recent security issue — the ability for apps to upload your address book information without warning.

This story has clear echoes of that controversy, which came to light when a developer discovered that the app Path was downloading all of your device’s contact information to the company’s servers. In a follow-up report, we discovered that Path wasn’t the only app grabbing your info.

It will be interesting to see how Apple reacts to security breaches of this nature in the future. The company has long made it clear that it’s working to respect user’s privacy; at a glance it looks like these recent slip-ups are exceptions, not the rule.

Source: The Verge

Microsoft removes ‘Start’ button from latest Windows 8 build

Do you like the Windows ‘Start’ button? Well, if you do, you’d better get used to it being gone in Windows 8 because it seems that Microsoft has removed it from the latest builds of the operating system.

Here’s a leaked screenshot from the near-final Windows 8 “Consumer Preview” version (build 8220) which comes to us via PCBeta.com:

Notice the absence of the traditional Start button? I’ve reached out to a few contacts who confirm to me that the button has indeed been removed and replaced with a hotspot in the corner that will duplicate the functionality offered by the old button.

The Start button was first introduced in Windows 95, and has been present in every version of Windows since.

Now here’s the real question … does Microsoft intend to permanently remove the Start button, or is this a trial balloon and Microsoft is looking to see what the feedback from users will be?

Source:  PCBeta

Next-Gen BlackBerry Products Don’t Work, Source Says

Bad products, horrible software and no cohesive vision have seemingly turned Research In Motion into a company without motion at this point.

Throw in a huge delay before BlackBerry 10 smartphones start shipping, and it’s clear why people are losing, or have lost, faith in a company that played a tremendous role in making the smartphone industry what it is today. Thanks to one of our most trusted sources, BGR now has new information on what’s going on inside Research In Motion, and the picture isn’t pretty.

Our source has communicated to us in no uncertain terms that PlayBook 2.0 — the next-gen tablet operating system RIM is developing — is a crystal clear window into the state of BlackBerry 10 on the upcoming smartphones RIM is building.

And the view is none too good.

“Email and PIM [is better] on an 8700 than it is on BlackBerry 10,” our contact said while talking to us about RIM’s failure to make the company’s upcoming smartphone OS work with the network infrastructure RIM is known for.

We also have more background on why RIM’s BlackBerry 10 smartphones are delayed, and it has nothing to do with a new chipset that RIM is waiting on. Our source told us that CEO Mike Lazaridis was lying when he said the company’s new lineup was delayed for that reason.

“RIM is simply pushing this out as long as they can for one reason, they don’t have a working product yet,” we were told.

At the end of our conversation, our source communicated something shocking for a high-level RIM employee to say. He told us that RIM is betting its business on a platform and ecosystem that isn’t even as good as iPhone OS 1.0 or Android 2.0. “There’s no room for a fourth ecosystem,” he stated.

 

Source: BGR / Fox News

Windows 8: Dead Before Arrival?

On the cusp of an event for the Windows 8 app store, one research firm has dealt a painful blow to the forthcoming OS.

“Windows 8 will be largely irrelevant to the users of traditional PCs, and we expect effectively no upgrade activity from Windows 7 to Windows 8 in that form factor,” research firm IDC told Computerworld this week.

For its part, Microsoft  has been quite vocal about its goals for Windows 8, which primarily involve the tablet market. Microsoft, like most of the world, assumes that tablets – which are already encroaching on the desktop PC and laptop markets – will one day become the dominant player in personal computing. Personally, I do not think it will be quite that simple. Instead, I expect a wise manufacturer to combine the perfect tablet with the perfect laptop and make a computer no one can live without. It hasn’t happened yet, but we’re getting closer every day.

Still, for Microsoft to sacrifice Windows 8′s success on the PC just for the sake of tablet sales would be silly. According to Computerworld, Windows 7 has been licensed 450 million times. That’s enormous! The only way Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) could ever top that number is if it licensed Mac OS to third-party PC manufacturers. But that will never (and should never) happen.

For new PC buyers, Windows 7 is still a fairly new OS. But Windows Vista proved to be so bad (and so draining to weak hardware) that people were eager to upgrade. Windows 7 also had the benefit of coming out at a time when laptops had finally reached a nice balance between cost, performance, and durability. Whereas in the past you could spend upwards of $1,000 for a decent Windows XP laptop, the average high-quality Windows 7 laptop retails for $700 to $900. And because Windows 7 machines tend to have at least two gigs of ram, a much larger hard drive, and a vastly superior dual-core processor, their functional value should last a little longer.

In my own personal experience, dual-core processor laptops tend to hold up better after three years of use (2008 to 2011) than laptops with a single-core processor (2005 to 2008).

Unfortunately for Microsoft, this could mean that there will be fewer consumers buying new laptops when Windows 8 arrives than there were when Windows Vista and Windows 7 were released.

However, I am not convinced that IDC’s assessment is accurate. Will the Windows 8 upgrade rate be lower than Windows 7? Probably. From a consumer standpoint, and especially a business standpoint, Windows 8 may not provide enough of a difference to justify a purchase. The layout is cool and inspired, and it may very well be an important step in the Windows evolution. But that’s true of XP, one of the better versions of the software. But did everyone upgrade to XP when it was released? Nope. Did everyone need to make the switch? Nope.

That is the bigger challenge Microsoft faces: convincing us that Windows 8 is must-own software.

Since the company is so determined to make a dent in the tablet market, Microsoft needs to ensure that when Windows 8 is released, there is at least one (preferably several) must-have tablets available. If the company launches a true iPad competitor – or better yet, a true iPad-killer – then there will be very little preventing Windows 8 from attaining long-term success.

Source: Forbes

Windows 8 will feature ‘Fast Startup Mode’

I like the idea of booting a computer in a very short time, even though I do not think that it will make such a big impact on desktop PCs. I boot my desktop PC once in the morning, and shut it down in the night. During boot I go make coffee and something to eat, and when I come back everything is fully loaded and ready for use.

For mobile devices like laptops though, and situations where the computer is shut down and restarted again multiple times throughout the day, the new Windows 8 Hybrid Boot technology could have a huge impact.

Microsoft is very thorough when it comes to improving the operating system. The company always starts with data of the current use. When it comes to Windows 7, Microsoft noticed that 45% of laptop users and 57% of desktop users where shutting down (and possibly restarting) the operating system. The reason for shutting down the PC, instead of putting it in sleep or hibernation, has several reasons. A core reason is that some users want their PCs completely off, while others want to preserve as much batter or energy as they can.

The core difference between the boot process in Windows 7 and Windows 8 is this. Microsoft uses hibernation to save the kernel session. Think of it as partial hibernation. The core gain is a speed increase of 30% to 70% on all systems, as “reading the hiberfile in and reinitializing drivers is much faster”. But that’s not the only reason why it is faster. Microsoft has added multi-phase resume capabilities to the operating system which uses all cpu cores in multi-core systems in parallel to split the work load.

 

Here is a video demonstrating the fast startup feature of the Windows 8 operating system.

 

Source: Ghacks.net

Mac Pro: Apple (finally) addresses problems with some ATI X1900 XT video cards

In a recent support note, Apple offers to replace certain, problem ATI X1900 XT video cards found in a range of older Mac Pros. Users had complained for several years of distorted video from the cards.

If your Mac Pro experiences distorted video and has an ATI X1900 XT card in it, you will need to bring your computer’s serial number and the graphics card itself into an Apple Authorized Service Provider or an Apple Retail Store location for verification and to exchange the affected graphics card for a new one. Affected graphics cards have “V6Z” in the last part of the card’s serial number. See below for details.

Note: If your Mac Pro has an ATI X1900 XT card but is not exhibiting any signs of distorted video, you do not need to exchange it.

Apple didn’t detail what card would be provided with the swap. In addition, the company said the exchange program “covers affected ATI X1900 XT video cards three years from the original date of purchase or until January 31, 2011, whichever provides longer coverage.”

Source: ZDNet

Toshiba recalls 41,000 computers over risk of burns

Toshiba has announced the voluntary recall of about 41,000 notebook computers worldwide at risk of overheating and burning users.

The recalled models are the Satellite T135, Satellite T135D and Satellite ProT130 notebook computers, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Consumers are asked to immediately download the latest version of a software program called BIOS. The program will detect whether a recalled notebook is overheating, and will disable the computer’s external power and alert the consumer to contact Toshiba for a free repair. The software is available at http://laptops.toshiba.com/about/consumer-notices. Customers without Internet access are asked to contact the company for installation of the program.

The company has received 129 reports of the computers overheating and deforming the plastic casing around the AC adapter plug, according to the Product Safety Commission. Of those, there have been two reports of minor burns and two reports of minor property damage.

Toshiba sold the computers from August 2009 through August 2010 for $600 to $800.

Additional information is available from Toshiba at (800) 457-7777 or http://laptops.toshiba.com/about/consumer-notices.

The Product Safety Commission is taking further reports of problems at https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx.

Source: CNN Tech

Acer makes the shoddiest laptops, say IT professionals

TechRepublic recently polled its audience of IT pros about which vendors make the best and worst laptops. One thing was nearly unanimous: Acer machines are the worst.

It’s no secret that as laptops have dropped in price in recent years — dipping from an normal price tag of about $1500 just 5-10 years ago to roughly $500 for many of today’s most popular models — the quality and reliability of those laptops has decreased just as precipitously.

While it’s still true that corporate IT departments don’t typically buy the cheapest laptops on the market, the price of business-class portables have dropped as well. IT departments that used to pay $1500-$2000 for their laptops now typically pay $700-$1000 per machine.

The biggest difference is that IT departments are looking for laptops with the best reliability, so that they can service them as little as possible, since it’s expensive every time an IT professional has to take the time to deal with a bad system.

TechRepublic recently asked its massive audience of IT professionals which vendors make the most reliable laptops and which ones make the least reliable laptops. Since most IT departments tend to use multiple vendors and/or switch vendors every 2-3 years in order to land the best deal, we thought IT departments would have a great perspective on this.

Plus, there’s also the factor that most IT professionals tend to serve as the de facto tech support departments for many of their friends, family, and neighbors. So they tend to see a lot of different consumer laptops as well, especially the ones that have the most problems.

Not surprisingly, the results of our two polls in May had Hewlett-Packard and Dell at or near the top of both lists. Since those two vendors both sell so many machines, both offer drastically different levels of support, and both have very diverse products lines, we regularly hear from lots of happy customers and lost of disgruntled ones as well.

The most consistent data point on both polls was that IT professionals consider Acer laptops to be the most shoddy. Of the top seven laptop sellers that were asked about in the two polls, Acer ranked first (24%) among the least reliable laptops and last (6%) in the most reliable laptops. Check out the full results below.

Source: ZDNet

Consumer Reports won’t recommend iPhone 4 after tests reveal problem

Consumer Reports said Monday it is not recommending Apple’s latest phone the iPhone 4, warning consumers about a problem with reception.

According to the consumer magazine, the iPhone 4, which is not yet available in Canada, has a problem when a user puts his or her finger or hand on a spot on the phone’s lower left side.

When a person does this, the signal can significantly degrade enough that you actually lose the connection altogether, according to an online report.

The team at Consumer Reports tested three different iPhone 4s, bought at three different retailers in the New York area.

The iPhones were tested in a controlled environment – in a special radio frequency isolation chamber.

The phones were then connected to a “base-station emulator,” a device that simulates carrier cell towers. Other phones beside the iPhones were also tested this way. None of them lost their connection or signal, according to the magazine.

The findings call into question the claim by Apple that the iPhone 4’s signal strength issues were largely “an optical illusion caused by faulty software that mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength.”

Consumer Reports has a cheap, though not especially aesthetically pleasing, solution: Cover the antenna gap with a piece of duct tape or another thick, non-conductive material.

Using an iPhone case may also solve the problem, the team at Consumer Reports thinks. And they plan to test the cases in the next few weeks and see if the reception problems go away.

Consumer Reports said “the signal problem is the reason that we did not cite the iPhone4 as a recommended model.”

The iPhone did, however, score very highly in other areas, including the sharpest display and best video camera on any phone, as well as improved battery life and front facing camera for video chats.

The consumer magazine was urging Apple to come up with a permanent and free fix for the antenna problem. Then it might consider recommending the iPhone 4.

In the meantime, Consumer Reports was recommending the continued use of an older model, the 3GS.

Source: The Star

Infamous ‘Red Ring of Death’ replaced with ‘Red Dot of Death’ on new Xbox

You’ll never see the dreaded “Red Ring of Death” — the flashing red rings that denote a system failure — again if you buy the new, slimmed-down version of the Xbox 360. That said, there’s always a chance you’ll see a telltale “Red Dot of Death” instead.

Kotaku reports that the new, jet-black Xbox 360 (which should be arriving in stores any day now) still has the green “ring of light” circling the console’s power button. But unlike the older, infamously glitchy Xbox models, the green ring on the new 360 won’t turn red when things go awry.

Instead, you’ll see a little red dot — which, of course, the bloggers at Kotaku instantly dubbed the “Red Dot of Death.” (A commenter on the site also posted a picture of HAL 9000, complete with his glaring red “eye,” from “2001.”)

That said, Xbox gamers — myself included — are hoping that sightings of the new red dot will be few and far between.

As Kotaku points out, the Xbox 360 has gradually gotten more reliable over the past few years thanks to a series of new and improved processors, and as AnandTech found in its teardown of the “Slim,” the latest Xbox benefits from a single-chip design, a new “heat spreader,” and those cool-looking air vents on the sides.

Hopefully, all those improvements will add up to a console that’s less likely to overheat, freeze up, and require an extended stay at an Xbox service center.

The Xbox has a long, troubled history when it comes to reliability. The 360 arrived in stores in November 2005, beating the Playstation 3 and the Wii to market by a year, but angry gamers were soon flooding Redmond with complaints about frozen, “ringed” consoles. Microsoft ultimately apologized and expanded the Xbox 360′s warranty to a full three years, at a cost of more than $1 billion.

Personally, I’ve had not one, not two, but three Xbox consoles stricken by the “Red Ring of Death,” and I’d be happy never to see one again. Fingers crossed that we don’t see many “Red Dots of Death” in our future, either.

Source: TechTree