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Archive for February, 2008

Macintosh anti-virus software part 1

February 29, 2008 Leave a comment

While currently something of an oxymoron, there’s a genuine case for running anti-virus software on your Mac. There’s not much in the way of genuine threats to the Mac OS in terms if virii but it doesn’t hurt to ensure you don’t pass anything nasty on to more vulnerable operating systems. Add in the very real possibility that a Mac OS threat will surface as the platform gains popularity and the need for Mac anti-virus becomes more compelling. We could all feel safe as Mac user’s but a smug attitude never gets much sympathy when it all goes horribly wrong. Read more…

1.1.4 jailbreak status

February 29, 2008 Leave a comment

General opinion seems to be that 1.1.4 is mostly bug fixes with support for the soon to be released iPhone SDK. The usual groups are still working on their jailbreaks and advising users to not upgrade to 1.1.4 until the new versions are fully tested and safe. Ziphone and iJailbreak are both at the testing stages, and iNdependence 1.4 beta 5 has full support for the 1.1.4 iPhone firmware. I’m waiting to see what get announced at Apple’s next event on 6th March before upgrading. Just remember, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

VMware Vs Virtualbox, round 1

February 27, 2008 1 comment

VMware fusion VirtualboxI recently discovered Virtualbox, a free virtual machine client for Windows, Mac and Linux. I’ve had a chance to start some basic benchmarking of Virtualbox, so here are the results compared to VMware fusion. As a reminder, I’m running Mac OS 10.5.2 on a Core 2 Quad @3Ghz with 2Gb ram and a 500Mb Samsung HD501LJ hard drive.

The first test was boot time. Both apps were the only ones running on the Mac, with 512Mb memory allocated and one virtual processor. Windows XP Pro was the guest operating system, freshly installed with nothing extra but a virus checker added and all the latest Windows software updates. Time was measured from clicking the start button for the Virtual Machine to the appearance of the Windows desktop taskbar. VMware took 21 seconds, Virtualbox took 17 seconds. Fairly close, but impressive for the free Virtualbox to knock a few seconds off the commercial VMware. Read more…

Multiple Apple updates

February 27, 2008 1 comment

Apple chromeIt’s Tuesday, and that means Apple have some product updates for us. It’s been getting to be a bit of a ritual since Macworld Expo, and this has to be the busiest Tuesday so far. First off is the Macbook update, which seems to have been overlooked on the rumour front, with the focus on the Macbook Pro getting a multi touch mouse pad. So the new models are:

  • White 2.1GHz Core 2 Duo, 1GB ram, 120GB hard drive and Combo drive for £699
  • White 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB ram, 160GB hard drive and DL SuperDrive for £829
  • Black 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB ram, 250GB hard drive and DL SuperDrive for £949

Nothing different on the design front, just updated processors, memory and hard drives for the same price. The Macbook Pro gets a more substantial update, with the arrival of the much discussed multi touch trackpad and LED backlights. Also new is the Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT with 256Mb or a rather stingy 128Mb. The full updates spec and prices are:

  • 15 inch with 1440 x 900 resolution, 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB memory, 200GB hard drive, 8x double-layer SuperDrive, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics with 128MB SDRAM for £1,299
  • 15 inch with 1440 x 900 resolution, 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB memory, 250GB hard drive, 8x double-layer SuperDrive, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics with 256MB SDRAM for £1,599
  • 17 inch with 1680 x 1050 resolution, 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB memory, 250GB hard drive, 8x double-layer SuperDrive, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics with 256MB SDRAM for £1,799

Today’s final update is the iPhone/iPod Touch 1.1.4 firmware. Reports so far suggest very little new has been added over the recent 1.1.3 firmware, with just a few bugs being fixed. As usual, wait a few days for the jailbreaks to be tested and released before upgrading.

iPhone and iPod touch wallpapers

February 26, 2008 Leave a comment

ipodtouchiphoneTUAW has a short article listing some good sources of wallpapers for your iPhone and iTouch. Onlygeeks.com have a nice selection covering lots of categories so well worth a visit. 320by480.com is another site with a large collection, though some don’t look to be optimised for the lock screen. Finally Cloudbase Skylabs have some interesting themes for the lock screen, including themed lock sliders.

New wallpaper series

February 25, 2008 Leave a comment

Rocky CoastSomething different this week. There have been enough Logo’s recently so this weeks wallpaper series is The Coast of England. Most of these shots are taken in Devon, and today’s iPhone/iPod Touch wallpaper was captured in Illfracombe on the North coast.

Categories: wallpapers Tags: , , , , ,

Virtualbox

February 24, 2008 Leave a comment

VirtualboxI’ve been toying with VMware Fusion and Parallels for a while now trying to make up my mind which one to settle on, and the decision just got a lot easier. Innotek’s Virtualbox is another X86 virtualiser, with the big distinction of being free. Innotek have just been aquired by Sun Microsystems, so it looks like there won’t be any shortage of funding. I’ve been playing with the latest Beta 3 for OS X hosts, and for a beta product it’s pretty smooth. There are virtual machine additions just like VMware and Parallels so you can freely move the mouse cursor out of the window, and dynamic window resizing is supported. An impressive list of supported guest operating systems including all flavours of Windows from the past 18 years, OS2, Linux 2.2,2.4 and 2.6 kernels, BSD’s, Netware and Solaris. One of the things I wasn’t expecting was support for hiding the windows desktop so only application windows and the taskbar show. It’s called seamless mode in Virtualbox, and operates in the same way as Parallels Coherence and VMware’s unity.

Virtualbox Beta 3 Seamless mode

This is looking like an impressive product for all my virtualisation needs, so if testing continues as smoothly as it has so far I won’t be needing anything else. Next up is some benchmarking using geekbench so I will post again when I have the results.

The EU backs bittorrent

February 23, 2008 3 comments

The EU have invested $22 million in the development of an open-source bitTorrent client. The BBC are one of the largest groups involved in the effort, planning to use the new client to stream TV programs. According to the article on Torrent Freak more than half of all bittorrent users are downloading TV episodes and the broadcast companies are waking up to the this.

There’s just one problem with this. A large amount of ISP’s are currently limiting the bandwidth available for bittorrent on their network. Virgin media have had a download cap in place for a while, and also appear to be limiting bittorrent in other ways. If I use bittorrent all the other internet traffic slows down, even if the torrent is only using 500Kb/s out of my theoretical 2,500Kb/s maximum download speed. So much for unlimited internet.

At a time when software like Tribler is appearing to make it easier to find and download bittorrent content, we may end up not being able to use it at all. Just remember that bittorrent users are selfish and inconsiderate (I know that’s crazy, but it’s Virgin Media’s view). Bear in mind that this is an unlimited service they’re talking about.

The problem here is that bittorrent is become a standard for sharing content. If ISP’s don’t get on board and give their customers what they want they risk losing out. ISP’s who plan ahead and invest in equipment that can handle the demand will take the customers. Instead of demonising the ‘greedy users’, why not stop spouting marketing crap and give us what we pay for?

Bypassing FileVault and BitLocker security

February 22, 2008 Leave a comment

padlockThe latest security flaw to Mac OS and Windows is revealed in an article I found on ZDNet today. Microsoft’s BitLocker, Apple’s FileVault and the open-source TrueCrypt are all rendered insecure because memory contents are not deleted when the computer is rebooted. Sounds pretty scary until you read the rest of the article. To achieve this feat you need to supercool the memory cards and transfer them to another computer, or follow a long and involved procedure using specially developed software and lots of technical knowledge.
Transferring memory to another computer is not difficult, but won’t much of the memory be overwritten when the recipient computer boots? And as for the other method using another computer attached via ethernet cable and network booting the mac, using an open firmware password will block this. The other point worth mentioning is that the Windows version used was Vista, but the Mac OS was Tiger. Is Leopard still vulnerable to this type of attack?

It’s a HD future

February 20, 2008 2 comments

Blu-Ray LogoSo it finally looks like the HD format war is over. Blu-Ray is the winner of a battle that no-one wanted, and it now has to convince the generally uninterested public to pay more for movie disc’s and players. The price will drop like normal once sales ramp up, but is there any point to taking the plunge now?

I recently saw a Ratatouille Blu-Ray disc playing on a Sony 46 inch LCD. Until that moment I was unconvinced by HD, but that combination was stunning. I haven’t seen the same material on an upscaling DVD player so I can’t compare the quality, but even Mrs Basshead was impressed.

On our trip to Lakeside last weekend Mrs B wandered into the Sony store to have a look at the LCD TV’s and I stood outside watching the same 46 inch screen showing HD content from the BBC. I’m not sure if it was a live broadcast or a recorded demo, but the quality was not impressive. The BBC HD logo in the top left corner of the picture was a mass of compression artifacts, as was the whole picture. Does this mean broadcast HD is just as bad as regular Digital TV picture quality? What I mean by this is digital’s lack of bandwidth when it comes to rapid picture changes like flashing light or fast camera movement. Try watching a music show when multi coloured spotlights are strobing to see a picture going blocky due to an insufficient data rate.

I always felt a bit ripped off when cable and satellite TV went digital, it seemed like an excuse to sell new equipment with no improvement in quality. Hopefully HD isn’t going to be an excuse to sell lots of expensive equipment, but the quality would have to be a lot better than what the Lakeside Sony store was showing to make me pay out.

Categories: movie, television Tags: , ,