Archive for May, 2011

Podcast #5: MacDefender, Lodsys, Handbrake

2011-05-31 by Podcast. 0 comments

This is the fifth episode of the Ask Different Podcast, an unofficial podcast created by members of the Ask Different community about Apple and related technologies.

Your hosts this week are Kyle CroninJason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein.

  • We begin with a piece of errata from the last episode as Jason corrects a keyboard shortcut he misspoke. For the record, to sleep your computer’s displays and lock your machine, use the shortcut Ctrl ⌃ + Shift ⇧ + Eject ⏏.
  • With that out of the way, Kyle brings us some site news: Stack Exchange is now an OpenID provider. That means that you now have the choice to use a Google, Facebook, other OpenID provider to login, or create a traditional e-mail and password login, in order to have your OpenID hosted by Stack Exchange. We also discuss the strict requirements that Stack Exchange places on the password for an account. We debate whether or not they are necessary or reasonable, and how they compare with the practices of both other sites and users.
  • With WWDC around the corner, Kyle brings us another piece of site news: the unofficial Stack Exchange WWDC meetup. Any developers who use Stack Exchange should drop by Eddie Rickenbacker’s on June 7th. Click here for more info.
    • On a related note, as none of us can make it to WWDC, we put forth a request: We would love to have someone who goes to WWDC be present on a show to talk about their experience. If you’re interested, please send us an email at [email protected]
  • Moving to news, we bring you an update about the new iMacs’ hard drive temperature sensor update. We share two apps, HDD Fan Control ($10) and smcFanControl (free) that regulate the iMac’s fan speed so that you can use a third-party hard drive without listening to constant, unnecessary fan noise.
  • We discuss the current state of Apple hardware and what refreshes should be on the horizon. For one, we expect to see Thunderbolt make its way onto many of the Apple machines that do not yet support it. Macrumors.com predicts that the Mac Pro will be updated with a rack-mountable form factor, and we expect it to have multiple Thunderbolt ports. Will the inclusion of Mac OS X Server in Lion mean a refresh for the Mac mini server and increased server-oriented capabilities on the Mac Pro? Will the plastic MacBooks be discontinued altogether?
  • In other news, the Mac security world has been shaken up these past few weeks by a new Mac trojan called MacDefender, which is one of the first major pieces of malware written for the Mac. We talk about how one can become infected, what the malware does, and how to remove it, and we discuss Apple’s promised upcoming software update that will eliminate this particular threat. With that in mind, we discuss the state of Mac security and where it may go in the future. Will the App Store become, by default, the only way to install software on your Mac? Will Apple continue protect us from threats with software updates?
  • Apple is celebrating their 10th anniversary of the opening of Apple Retail Stores. In doing so they’ve rolled out some very significant upgrades for their stores. Almost all paper in the store is gone, replaced by a fleet of iPads. iPads are placed next to every hardware product in the store (yes, even iPads) in order to serve as an interactive kiosk for product information, and for a few personal store functions. This spurns a longer discussion on how a similar system would benefit another type of business.
  • Amazon has announced and released the Mac Download Store. Amazon’s store features many key retail titles for immediate digital download, similar to the Mac App Store. The difference is that everything takes place through amazon.com in any web browser, then a tailored Amazon software downloader manages retrieving and installing the software after purchase. Amazon’s store features Microsoft Office for Mac, much of Adobe’s Creative Suite (individually packaged), and more.
  • Our main topic is the pending litigation between Lodsys, LLC, and various iOS app developers. In the past two weeks, Lodsys has sent infringement claims to iOS app developers such as James Thompson of pCalc fame, and Patrick McCarron of mobileAge, that due to their In-App Purchase system, they are legally obligated to pay 0.575% of their revenues to Lodsys. Our recommended coverage of this news comes courtesy of Nilay Patel at This Is My Next.
    • Apple has responded, stating that iOS app developers are covered, since they pay royalties for this patent, and since the applications were developed using Apple’s SDK, and leveraging Apple’s Distribution Platform and other features. We discuss responses we’ve heard in the Mac Development Community, our feelings on whether developers should pay or not, and our considerations on how this may affect iOS development down the road.
  • Our Question of the Week is Great Apple (first and third-party) Accessories or Peripherals, asked by Steve Moser on May 16. All of us pitch in our respective answers, and elaborate on advantages and disadvantages of each.
  • Our App of the Week is Handbrake. HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder, available for Mac OS X, Linux and Windows. Handbrake is an extremely simple utility that allows you to encode H.264 Video Media in a heartbeat, from DVDs or from any other video file on your computer.

This episode was recorded on Saturday, May 28th. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. If you have any feedback or questions you’d like for us to answer on air, leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at [email protected].

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Podcast #4: Google I/O, Ditching the Mac OS X DVD, Reeder

2011-05-24 by Kyle Cronin. 0 comments

This is the fourth episode of the Ask Different Podcast, an unofficial podcast created by members of the Ask Different community about Apple and related technologies.

Your hosts this week are Kyle CroninJason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein.

  • We begin with site discussion: What, exactly, is the scope of Ask Different? Are questions about Windows XP graphics drivers acceptable? What about Mac-compatible Unix distros? Kyle tells us the vision he had for the site when he proposed it, and how recent questions do and don’t fit in.
  • The recently released iMacs ship with a new feature! A new style SATA power connector replaces a thermal sensor cable. We discuss the purpose, and the positive and negative merits of this recent change.
  • We discuss the onslaught of Google I/O news, starting with Google Music. Users can upload 20,000 songs from their own computer. Google Music only works on devices supporting Flash, and Android phones.
  • Chromebooks”, based on the Cr-48 prototype, to be released next month.
    • Also announced was the Chromebook rental program. While originally announced as a flat rate $20/month rental for students, and businesses for $28/month, these prices vary depending on the exact model rented. Also, these rental programs with have a 3 year contract in tow.
    • A flat rate purchase with no contract will range from ~$350-$500 depending on vendor (ASUS / Samsung) and features (WiFi only, 3G). Currently it appears that certain models will be available from Best Buy, and all from Amazon. Engadget has all currently known details.
  • The war of attrition took another step between Facebook and Google, as we learn of Facebook’s attempt at smearing Google’s over privacy claims. An ad agency hired by Facebook promised placement in major periodicals to a independent blogger, but instead of writing articles the blogger released the correspondence between him and the ad agency.
  • Microsoft now owns Skype! And they paid approximately $8.5 billion in cash. Not equity, not stock, all cash. Skype will continue to support all current versions (Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android) of it’s software. We also muse over separation of the Skype Engine from the desktop application GUI.
  • Kyle reflects on the current state of software distribution by Apple. We talk about the current trends of shipping software digitally, the shrinking physical software selection in Apple retail stores, and how you install Mac OS X on computers devoid of an optical drive. Adding to this that Xcode and the Developer Previews of Lion are distributed via the Mac App Store, we consider how Apple may distribute Lion officially, possibly announcing it this summer at WWDC.
  • Our Question of the Week is “Is There a Way to Password Protect Individual Apps”, asked by Rabskatran. This question spawned a discussion on “The XY Problem” that occurs commonly on the Stack Exchange network, what it is, and what may be the best answer to officially accept in these cases.
  • Our App of the Week is Reeder. An iOS and desktop RSS reader that requires the use of Google Reader, but provides a much more attractive, functional, and native interface. We debate the merit of single-site apps, and the contrast between pushing functionality to the web and making them into webapps via Fluid, or building a specifically tailored interface for it like Reeder.

This episode was recorded on Saturday, May 14th. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. If you have any feedback or questions you’d like for us to answer on air, leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at [email protected].

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Podcast #3: iMac upgrades, Spotlight tips, Tiny Wings

2011-05-18 by Kyle Cronin. 0 comments

This is the third episode of the Ask Different Podcast, an unofficial podcast created by members of the Ask Different community about Apple and related technologies.

Your hosts this week are Kyle CroninJason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein.

  • Kyle begins with some news about this podcast: We’ve launched! We want to thank everyone that has sent us feedback, we appreciate it. Also, we’re now featured on the Super User Blog.
  • Nathan describes Stack Exchange’s recent efforts to boost voting on questions, especially relative to answers. Verdict: if you see a great question on Ask Different, vote it up!
  • Jason discusses LastPass’ recent possible security breach, what this means, how LastPass is responding, and what users of the service should do as a result. Jason also brings us a correction to a previous episode regarding which features are available in the free vs paid plans.
  • Nathan updates us with hard data about the white iPhone 4’s alleged width gain, and discusses whether or not the color of the actually makes a difference.
  • Kyle delivers an iPhone tracking update: Official iOS update released. What it changes, and how it helps you stay more secure. Jason discusses Apple’s impressive response to the tracking issue.
  • We discuss the fact that, while Android phones are more popular than the iPhone, the iPad is much more popular than the slew of available Android tablets. Do Android and iOS tablet customers expect different things from their tablets? Are the iPad’s main advantages timing and price?
  • Nathan takes us through the recent upgrades to the iMac line, we discuss if it’s worth getting the 21-inch model, and whether or not the two Thunderbolt ports on the 27-inch model eliminate most of the need for a Mac Pro.
  • Kyle compares how (relatively) easy it is to service the newer iMacs compared with the older iMac G3 and iMac G4.
  • We share some tips on how to get Spotlight to work for you, including excluding certain directories and search paramaters (pdf) based on the file metadata.
  • Our Question of the Week was asked by CarlosSnow Leopard Server as main (everyday) OS, and we discuss whether it’s a good idea to run desktop apps on a server.
  • Our App of the Week is Tiny Wings, a game for iPhone and iPad where you play as a bird and try to fly as far as you can before the sun sets. Tiny Wings is available on the App Store.

This episode was recorded on Saturday, May 7th. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. If you have any feedback or questions you’d like for us to answer on air, leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at [email protected].

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Podcast #2: RIM Playbook, Continuous Client, Coda

2011-05-10 by Kyle Cronin. 0 comments

This is the second episode of the Ask Different Podcast, an unofficial podcast created by members of the Ask Different community about Apple and related technologies.

Your hosts for this episode once again are Kyle CroninJason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein.

  • Jason and Kyle begin with news of Stack Exchange’s improved tag sets filters tool, which makes it easier to view your combined profile and follow subjects that interest you across the entire Stack Exchange network.
  • Newly-released white iPhone 4: Thicker? We discuss the (late) release of the white iPhone 4 and the girth it’s apparently gained.
  • Jason shares his experience using RIM’s BlackBerry Playbook tablet. It’s effective, and it fits in, but is it enough?
  • More iPhone tracking! We discuss what’s recently come to light about the Great iPhone Tracking Scandal, including Apple’s official press release and the action it promises.
    • Apple’s claim: It isn’t tracking!
    • An upcoming software update will reduce size of location database, and stop syncing it to computers.
  • Jason and Kyle discuss Marco Arment’s experience with having free and paid versions of the Instapaper app on the iOS App Store, and share their own views about free vs. paid apps.
  • Nathan brings news of the new, controversial AirPush advertising service for Android. We share our views on what is and isn’t acceptable in mobile advertising and in-app purchasing.
  • Kyle shares his support for the idea of a Continuous Client, a mechanism to let you pick up on one device exactly where you left off on another one. We share our experiences with various products’ and services’ good and bad support for this concept.
  • Our App of the Week is Coda, one window web development, by Panic. Coda is available on the Mac App Store, and a trial version can be downloaded from Panic’s site.

This episode was recorded on Saturday, April 30th. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. If you have any feedback or questions you’d like for us to answer on air, leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at [email protected].

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Podcast #1: iPhone location tracking, Dropbox, Portal 2

2011-05-03 by Kyle Cronin. 0 comments

This is the first episode of the Ask Different Podcast, an unofficial podcast about Apple and related technologies created by members of the Ask Different community.

Your hosts for this episode are Kyle CroninJason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein:

This episode was recorded on Saturday, April 23rd. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. If you’d like to get in touch with us, leave a comment on this post or email us at [email protected].

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