Tag: osx

Apple betrays its Snow Leopard users

The Fruity Cargo Cult known as Apple is putting pressure on those who still use its Snow Leopard operating system to carry out an expensive upgrade, by cutting support.

Apple on Tuesday made it clear that it will no longer patch OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, when it again declined to offer a security update for the four-and-a-half-year-old operating system.

Yesterday Apple issued an update for OS X 10.9, as well as for its two predecessors, Mountain Lion (10.8) and Lion (10.7) but nothing for Snow Leopard.

The tame Apple press points out that Apple provided Snow Leopard security updates for slightly more than four years and so users have no real excuse not to upgrade. But it is not as if Apple has actually told users that it wants them to upgrade.

Snow Leopard was also ignored in December, when Apple patched Safari 6 and 7 for newer editions of OS X, but did not update Safari 5.1.10, the most-current Apple browser for the OS.

It looks like Apple delivered the final security update for Snow Leopard in September 2013.

But according to Computerworld   the move leaves one in five Macs open to attack.

Apparently this move is due to Apple’s accelerated development and release schedule for OS X, which now promises annual upgrades. The shorter span between editions meant that unless Apple extended its support lifecycle.

None of this would be a problem if Apple actually cared for its customers enough to tell them what was going on. Microsoft and a host of other major software vendors, clearly spell out software support policies so that users know when they have to carry out upgrades.

Apple does not because it assumes that users will upgrade every year and everyone who does not is a heretic and needs to be treated badly. To make matters worse Snow Leopard is Apple’s Windows XP. It is still running fine and users do not see a reason to change it. In fact, some users want to keep running the OS because they hate what Apple has become over recent years, and think the new OS X’s user interface is pants.

At the end of January, 19 percent of all Macs were running Snow Leopard, slightly more, in fact, than ran its successor, Lion, which accounted for 16 percent.

Snow Leopard users have given many reasons for hanging on, including some identical to those expressed by Windows XP customers: The OS still works fine for them; their Macs, while old, show no sign of quitting; and they dislike the path that Apple’s taken with (UI).

Snow Leopard was the last version of OS X able to run applications designed for the PowerPC processor, the Apple/IBM/Motorola-crafted CPU used by Apple before it switched to Intel in 2006. Snow Leopard, while requiring a Mac with an Intel processor, was the latest edition able to run the Rosetta translation utility, and thus launch PowerPC software.

Additionally, Snow Leopard was the final version able to run on Macs equipped with 32-bit Intel processors, making it impossible for owners of some older machines to upgrade beyond OS X 10.6.

Oracle patches Java vulnerability

Oracle has released a new patch which kills off a vulnerability in Java 7 that was being exploited by malware developers.

The flaw was announced last week after it was used by hackers in targeted attacks on Windows.

The flaw was similar to the recent Flashback malware in OS X, and allowed hackers to create a drive-by hack where the only action needed to compromise a system is to visit a rogue Web page that hosts a malicious Java applet.

Proof of concept attacks using this vulnerability have been found to run on all platforms supported by Java 7, including OS X systems where the exploit was successfully run in the latest Safari and Firefox browsers in Mountain Lion.

What was a little worrying, is that Oracle only releases Java updates every quarter so that means that it could do a lot of damage before the company pulled its finger out.

This forced some companies to issue their own private patches to this vulnerability just in case it took forever for Oracle to realise it was screwing up the internet.

Now it seems that Oracle has stepped up to the mark and broken its regular release schedule to offer a patched version of the Java 7 runtime.

The Java 7 Update 7 patch can be downloaded from the Java SE Downloads Web page  and Oracle recommends that all users of Java 7 apply the update. 

Seagate ships 4TB HDD

Seagate claims it’s shipping the highest capacity hard drive in the entire industry, the four terabyte GoFlex Desk.

The high capacity 3.5 inch hard drive is out for the PC with a price tag of $249.99. An Apple equivalent, the GoFlex Desk for Mac, which has FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 but not Thunderbolt will make an appearance later this month, Seagate says. The GoFlex on Windows works with USB 3.0 and is encrypted automatically.

It’ll also ship with back up software.

Seagate is saying it wants to keep a close eye on USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, and is considering products for both over the next few months. 

Despite the entire world’s obsession with the cloud, Seagate hopes people still want their physical storage in a hard drive next to the desktop. As file sizes and traffic increases further and further, Seagate believes there is a place for its products. In a statement, it quotes IDC figures saying there is a demand for personal storage thanks to all the videos, photos and music people are downloading.

Judging from the reviews on Seagate’s own website, which it links to in a press statement, previous iterations of the product have not gone down too well on the Mac. One customer says it’s “most likely the last Seagate I’ll ever buy” because it crashes during file exports, and another claims the 3TB Firewire doesn’t work with Lion.

Older OS’ are not supported, Seagate says, as one user finds it was worthless trying to transfer kit over from Server 2008, while another complains that a Seagate GoFlex wiped out 60GB of data completely. 

McAfee screams: Beware the Android!

Another day, another security threat report. The latest from McAfee backs up murmurs from elsewhere in the industry, suggesting that as mobile becomes the more common way to compute, with it comes increased risk and malware.

It’s the busiest first half year ever for malware, says McAfee in its Q2 2011 report, with a strong increase in rootkits. McAfee believes its known malware list will make 75 million samples before the year is through.

In particular, mobile users on Android should be cautious. The malware aimed squarely at Google’s green robot increased 76 percent from the previous quarter alone, making it, McAfee says, the most attacked mobile operating system. 

The phone is a treasure trove for valuable personal information – not just yours, but your contacts, too. Malware which mostly matches PC equivalents has made its way into Android, which has passed Symbian as the most popular mobile malware target. McAfee claims the quick rise in Android malware for the quarter means it’s a prime target for cybercriminals, who are putting out stuff like fake Angry Birds updates and novelty apps which actually comb through your phone.

Meanwhile, as Macs increase in popularity for business use, Apple is finding itself a target for rogue and malicious software. The news will upset users who claim that Apple machines are more secure than a very prude nun’s titanium chastity belt – the share simply wasn’t significant enough until recently for hackers to bother writing the code.

It should spur companies who have switched their entire workforce onto the Mac, like ITV in the UK, into some sort of preventative action, but let’s get real, it probably won’t.

McAfee says Rustock’s death means spam is still at a pleasingly low level, but it imagines there will be a sharp rise in the months to come.  It claims a million spam emails costs as little as $25 in the US, while 1.5 million in the UK costs $100.

Like every other security company in the world, it tipped its hat to LulzSec and Anonymous as the headline grabbers for the quarter. McAfee researchers will secretly be pleased that their actions could be scaring the confused public into buying expensive software which won’t protect them from data leaks anyway.

Microsoft says Apple is playing catch up

In one of the more ironic tweets of the year, Microsoft corporate vice president Joe Belfiore claims that Apple’s new iOS features just copied what Vole already has.

As Steve Jobs was thrilling the faithful with what he just invented, Belfiore was twittering that he was somewhat flattered because lots of great Windows Phone ideas had been installed into Apple’s iOS.

As you might expect certain corners of the press, which has been insisting that Steve Jobs has been behind every great technology since Fire and the Spinning Jenny, have been wading into Belfiore for daring to suggest that Microsoft might have come up with something first.  

However, he does appear to be right. Most of the innovations in the iOS 5 have either been in Windows Phone 7 for ages or have been in the public arena for months as coming out in Mango.

The first thing that Belfiore listed was a button for the camera. While we would have thought this was a no brainer, apparently on an iPhone it is much like a second mouse button. Apparently Jobs did not think of this one and it mimics the Windows Phone feature.

Jobs appears to have copied the auto-uploading of pictures. Windows Phone 7 can automatically upload each picture taken with the camera to either Windows Live SkyDrive or Facebook. On the iPhone users had to manually upload photos.

Microsoft’s notification system was non-invasive which did not stop, whatever you were doing.

The iPhone stopped you mid-game to tell you to deal with the notification straight away.

While both operating systems do things differently, the fact that its notification system was so annoying had not occurred to Jobs’ Mob until people started prasing Windows Mobile 7’s equivalent.

The other thing that Apple copied according to Belfiore is the Wi-Fi device sync. This was first seen in the Zune. Apple refused to do anything about this for a long time. It really has come late.

With social not-working, Apple has finally got around to allowing an integrated Twitter.

Windows Phone currently offers an integrated Facebook in Windows Phone and Microsoft announced in January that Twitter would arrive in “Mango”. Of course, Jobs’ Mob beat Microsoft to getting the product to market, but Vole had told the world it was going to do it for a long time.

The fact that Microsoft has Facebook is probably a little more valuable than Twitter.

Jobs announced that the MacOS would get a background downloading service. Vole will have one in Mango and this has already been announced – as was the short messaging chat system.

Apple announced that iOS 5 will provide a proprietary messaging service, iMessage, between devices that run iOS 5. This is similar to RIM’s Blackberry Messaging Service . The Volish equivalent in Mango service is a bit more useful and can be used to talk to people beyond a walled garden. 

Android users hate Apple users

Apparently the mobile world is split between two tribes who hate each other.

On one side you have the dedicated followers of Apple and the other Android users. According to a study by Business Insider, not since the Roman Empire was damaged by rival chariot racing factions has the world been so polarised.

The Business Insider study seems to indicate that Android users do not so much love their operating system, as much as hate Apple and all who sail in it.

Among more than 2,000 respondents, most would never consider buying an iPhone, for one very simple reason, they “hate Apple.”

Indeed, only 31.2 percent of these Android users would consider buying an iPhone if it “worked better with non-iPhone apps and products.” While 55.7 percent ticked the box that said, “Nothing: I hate Apple.”

Of course others are saying that the survey proves that Android users really love Apple technology and regard it as superior to their own operating system. They are just jealous and pathologically unbalanced Apple haters.

As Cnet puts it, if the majority of Android users won’t buy Apple because of “hate,” then do they secretly believe that the iPhone is actually better than their own phone, but produced by a loathsome company?

That sort of logic is probably why Android users hate Apple so much. It seems too difficult for dedicated followers of Apple to see that someone might like another product and are totally blind to their products’ faults.

Cnet and its ilk have not noticed that the Business Insider report actually says that to most users “platform features” and “platform” are the most important factors when choosing a smartphone. 

But brand wars have been going on for ages now, and the only people who really lose out are the moderators who have to read through the lot – from both sides.

Ten reasons why Apple is not good for you

Apple has outsourced most of its PR to the US technology press which means that most of the “news” you get about Apple is all positive. In the interests of balance, we give ten reasons why you should not buy an Apple product.

 

  1. Apple fanboys. Most people who buy Apple products are fairly ordinary uninformed types. But the people who attract attention are Apple fanboys. They are usually found scouring Web 2 based sites screaming at hacks who they think are writing nasty things about Apple. The usual complaint is that the hack in question works for Microsoft, whereas in their view he should be working for Apple. Deep down they know that Apple products are not worth the cash and are fundamentally insecure. The danger of buying a product is that people might call you an Apple fanboy, by which they mean you are smug git, who thinks that Coldplay are a great band and who cannot get a girlfriend.

  2. Apple costs more. When Steve Jobs moved to Intel chips he was effectively turning his Apple Macs into PCs. The only difference is that the huge price mark up became obvious. While other PC makers, such as Dell do have a high mark up, Apple takes the biscuit. Most of the time it gets away with it because it pitches its products at the high end of the market.

  3. Apple makes its products using partners in China who use child labour and regularly have to be disciplined by Jobs Mob over labour practices.

  4. Apple’s build quality. In the 1980s Apples had a nasty habit of catching fire. However during the 1990s the build quality improved and it gained a reputation for reliability while Windows products were full of Blue Screens of Death. However more recently that seems to have slipped dramatically. The recent MacBook Pro had cracked screens and colour problems. In comparison with OS-X, the latest version, Leopard was decidedly buggy.

  5. Apple always denies that there is anything wrong. Apple has made a name for itself saying it is better than other PC makers. However, for years it’s had a policy of denying that faults existed with any of its products. It will purge user bulletin boards of posts and complaints that it does not like. It will only be if a media storm gets too much that it will actually do anything about it. It often will agree to replace faulty products if customers sign lifetime NDAs saying they will not talk about the problems in the media.

  6. Apple is a closed shop. Apple makes a fortune out of keeping its customers in a locked pen of products. This means that you have to spend money when and where Steve Jobs says you should. The iPhone comes locked into providers like AT&T who many have criticised were not up to the task. For a long time you could only buy DRM content on iTunes. Apple also insists that you spend more money than you need too on things that will work with its toys.

  7. Apple products are insecure. In every cracking competition the Apple computers are usually the first to be cracked. This would be OK if Apple did a Microsoft and admitted that it needed to spruce up its security act. Instead it attacks Microsoft for security flaws. If Apple machines were attacked as often as PCs then every Apple would be part of a botnet. Apple usually points to the fact that there are no “viruses” for the Mac. One reason is that Apple only has four per cent of the machines in the US and so a virus writer is not going to get it to spread if it writes code in OS-X. A similar security in obscurity clause exists in Linux desktops. Apple machines are not safe by design, but at the whim of the hacker, which is not a good state to be in.

  8. Apple does not let you do basic things to your own computer. The PC is wonderful in that it allows you to take the back off and tinker with it if you need to. If you have a laptop you can replace the battery if it goes wrong. Apple insists that you have to take it to one of their repair people to do something which is incredibly basic.

  9. Apple believes you need to replace its expensive products every two years. Jobs’ Mob has run foul of EU consumer laws because it did not want to support its electronic goods for the EU minimums. Apple tends to “refresh” its products regularly and to encourage you to move on it ignores its older gear. While technology does improve, the old gear should continue to run and you should not be forced to buy new gear to satisfy a company bottom line.

  10. Apple acts just as evil as Microsoft in areas where it has control. Although it has an image of being a laid back, almost hippy outfit, Apple’s actions are similar to those of Microsoft nearly a decade ago. It is extremely hard on competition or those who do not fit its “image.” Itunes, and its App store is strictly controlled and the company moves to shut down competition wherever it can. Sometimes this is simply blocking access to its App store, other times it is a letter from m’learned friends.

     

South American project shrinks Wikipedia to a CD

A project from the Python programming language user’s group has downloaded the full content of the Wikipedia and compressed it to fit a CD or DVD, yet allowing users to read it seamlessly with on-the-fly decompression. The project managers aim to distribute the full Wikipedia to remote schools which might lack broadband connectivity.

“CDPedia” is its name and it’s the work of PyAr, the Python User’s Group in Argentina, and it contains the full Spanish language Wikipedia in versions fitted to either a 680MB CD-R or a 4.5 GB DVD-R. The files –iso images to burn to a CD-R disc and a bigger version that fits on a DVD-R- are distributed over Bittorrent and make use of the Python language available on Linux and OSX systems, and includes Python on the disc for trouble-free running for Windows users.

The project warns that content in the current version -0.6- released last week is frozen at whatever the Wikipedia contained by Mid-2008. TechEye sat down with Alejandro J. Cura of the local PyAr in Buenos Aires to talk about this project and their plans to get this CD Wikipedia distributed by the government to every public school.

FC: Hi Alejandro. Why the Wikipedia on CD?

AC: Lots of schools in the far provinces of our country lack connectivity. Rather than waiting for them to be connected, we think that optical media is the cheapest way to reach them.

FC: What’s the difference between the 680mb and the 4-gig one. Is it just lower resolution graphics or less number of images or are there fewer  articles?

AC: The CD version contains fewer articles and some images are in lower resolution. Anyway, those are just the ISOs we are torrenting, since our code tries to select the best articles for the size you choose, so there’s also a dual layer DVD version that we are sending to schools, and we are working on a version that a big company wants to distribute loaded in itspen drives.

FC: Any idea of the total number of articles in each edition?

AC: The DVD9 version has all 448038 articles of the Spanish Wikipedia that were dumped to html in June 2008, and 98% of the images. The CD version carries a big percentage of these articles and the images of the most relevant articles.

FC: So, the geek in me can’t help asking: what’s really the difference with doing a
“wget -m –np -k -c http://es.wikipedia.org” (note for non-geeks: that’s using the GNU Wget free software tool to download a recursive copy of the wikipedia to disk, converting all http:// links to virtual ones)

AC: We tried that. If you do that there’s no way the result can be fitted, even into a DVD. Also, it’s likely that Wikipedia will ban you from spidering all the content like that!

FC: Is it just HTML pointing to local links, or is there some Python magic going on behind the scenes?

AC: It’s HTML being served from a Python web server running on localhost. The server fetches the articles from a compressed block format that’s stored on the disc.

FC: So what’s the size of the Spanish language Wikipedia?

AC: Just the html content from Wikipedia is several gigabytes -without taking into account the images-.

FC: And how do you solve that?

AC: One of the tools we created compresses all the chosen articles, balancing space used and read speed from an optical media.

FC: Since ASCII text compresses well, is the text compressed -I mean compressed as in gzip or 7zip compression, not just optimization and removal of tags- on CDPedia?

AC: Yes, absolutely. We currently use bzip2 for the compression. We also had to make a trade-of between compressed size and de-compression speed, so we designed a simple block structure that worked out pretty well.

FC: Whats the most obvious content to throw out?

AC: The discussion pages linked from every article, the user pages, and the like. We would really like to include all that, but we have to draw the line somewhere.

FC: And how does it choose what articles to throw out?

AC: One of the tools selects the most interesting articles following various criteria, for instance, how many pages link to it -a sort of Pagerank that we call “Peishranc“.

FC: How long does it take for you to generate a new CDPedia (not counting download time). I suppose you have a Python script to do the optimization?.

AC: It takes a few hours to generate the DVD. Since it’s something we rarely do (only when new versions of the wikipedia dump are available) we haven’t gotten around to improving its speed, but there’s a lot of room for optimizations, and that’s something that is easily done with Python.

FC: You mention that some content has to be thrown out, but besides what you already mentioned, which are fixed rules, is there a manual -Human or Alien- selection process, or are there just a set of rules (RegEx?) to apply to remove undesired content?

AC: There’s a file with a list of articles that are always included (think wikipedia’s about pages and legal disclaimers). Also we will need to add a list of articles that are not included depending on the audience (think “double dildo”). Both lists will be manually edited by the people doing the particular cdpedia build.

FC: I heard you’ve recently shown this to Argentina’s education authorities.

AC:  Yes, version 0.6 of CDPedia -more precisely the DVD version- was given to Educ.ar, the country’s government-operated education web site for teachers and students. We at PyAr -Argentina’s Python user’s group- plan to distribute this free encyclopedia to all public schools in Argentina

FC: How did you get in touch with the local Wikipedia chapter, and how you got them interested?

AC: The fact is we’ve been working on this project on and off for a couple of years, but two months Jimmy Wales contacted us and after we showed him the cdpedia he flew to Buenos Aires to introduce our project to the government agency that will distribute it. (see http://blog.jimmywales.com/2009/10/24/a-small-wedding-gift/ ). So yes, we have support from Wikimedia, right from the top! 🙂

FC Do you anticipate the need for any sort of training to use CDPedia, or do you believe all teachers are familiar already with inserting a CD and using the CDPedia?

AC: If you can read and click on a link you are ready to use CDPedia.

FC: You mention in the docs that Python is included in the CD for use by Windows users. Does it auto-start? Or does the user have to manually launch it?

AC:  Yes, on Windows it auto-starts and the Python run-time environment is included. The same CD or DVD can be used from a Linux or Mac OS-X system.

FC: Is this set of Python tools used to make the CDPedia available? Do you plan to make these eventually available to the general public?

AC: The code of the scripts used to generate CDPedia is free software, licensed under a GPL license and available at http://code.google.com/p/cdpedia/


FC: When do you plan to release a newer version with more up-to-date content?

AC: We are working on it right now, and we plan to release it by the end of March.

FC: Here’s your chance to say why Python is so cool and why people should join their nearest Python user’s group

AC: We wouldn’t be able to build something like cdpedia in our very little free time as easily as with Python, so I recommend you all learn it and use it. Also, I’ve found that some of the smartest people in my area are hanging at the Python Users group, and they also happen to be fun people to hang with, so it was a no-brainer joining that group!

FC: What’s the download URL?

AC: The project is hosted at http://code.google.com/p/cdpedia/, you will find the download links there.

FC: Thanks Alejandro for your time and sharing your thoughts with Tech Eye. As soon as our torrent is done downloading the four gigabytes, we’ll take CDPedia for a spin.

AC: thank you!