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Feb 19, 2012

OS X Mountain Lion Features: Messages

By far one of the coolest new features in OS X 10.8 aka Mountain Lion, Messages is the iChat replacement that allows users to exchange free texts between Macs and iOS devices, complete with photos and videos. The app boasts standard IM-features as well, like the ability to see when your friends are typing a reply.

After seeding a developer preview version of Mountain Lion to Mac developers this week, Apple revealed that Messages was a huge new addition to the OS.

According to the Cupertino giant, Messages does everything iChat does, and then some.

It has integrated support for iMessage, the free text messaging standard introduced by Apple in iOS 5. Anyone with an iOS 5 device can now send a receive these types of text messages to and from a Macintosh computer running the Messages app.

The service is now in Beta for OS X 10.7 Lion users, but when the trial ends - i.e. when Mountain Lion gets ready to ship - it will be an exclusive feature to OS X 10.8. If you’re interested in testing it out, download the beta app right here.

Apple only asks users to note that “When you install Messages, it replaces iChat. But iChat services will continue to work.”

Messages supports iMessage, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and Jabber protocols
Image credits: Apple

The Messages app isn’t limited to sending / receiving photos and videos. If it can handle those, sure enough it will also let you swap documents with your buddies.

“You can see when your message has been delivered and when someone’s typing a reply,” Apple says. “Turn on read receipts, and they’ll see when you’ve read a message.”

Users can start a conversation on their Mac and pick it up on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
Image credits: Apple
The messages are encrypted end-to-end so they stay safe and private. Best of all, you can start a conversation on your Mac and pick it up on your mobile device, or vice versa.

Apple has confirmed that OS X Mountain Lion will ship in late-summer 2012. The software will be available  exclusively from the Mac App Store as a digital download.

OS X Mountain Lion Will Not Ship on USB Keys, Apple Confirms

Apple has confirmed that OS X version 10.8, dubbed Mountain Lion, will not be available on any form of physical media when the software is released this summer. The operating system will be exclusively available for download from the Mac App Store.

In a statement provided to Pocket-Lint, the Cupertino, California-based electronics giant has confirmed that the next major version of its Mac operating system, Mountain Lion, will be available from the Mac App Store exclusively.

Apple justified its move telling the site that, "It was an interesting test, but it turns out the App Store was just fine for getting the new OS."

While the move will undoubtedly spur some criticism from conservative users, it’s worth pointing out that Mac owners will be able to create their own bootable USB Mountain Lion drives, and even discs.

The web is already chock full of guides on how to do that with the developer preview release.

The procedure basically involves placing the InstallESD.dmg resulted from the Mac App Store download onto a Mac OS-formatted USB drive that has been customized as bootable using Disk Utility.

To start from the external media, users simply select the respective drive as they boot up holding down the Option key.

It has been confirmed that several Macintosh models will not support Apple’s new big cat when it comes out this summer.

The systems that won’t run OS X 10.8 include any Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook shipped between late 2007 and late 2008 (Model Numbers: MB061*/B, MB062*/B, MB063*/B, MB402*/A MB403*/A MB404*/A, MB402*/B), the Mid-2007 Mac mini (Model Numbers: MB138*/A, MB139*/A), the late 2006 polycarbonate iMac (Model Number: MA710xx/A), and the original MacBook Air (Model Number: MB003LL/A).

Mouse Computer MDV Advance PC Released for Graphics Pros

Mouse Computer has a company name that would make one think about PC peripherals, but the IT player is definitely fully immersed in the PC business, having even developed a series for graphics professionals.

There are two new monitors that Mouse Computer has made available for its customers from the Japanese market.

Dubbed MDV-ASQ8310B-WS-P27LP and MDV-ASG9300B-WS-P27LP, they make up the MDV Advance series.

Both of them are alike in their use of NVIDIA Quadro graphics, but the actual Quadro cards are different.

The same goes for the central processing unit: One uses Sandy Bridge and the other boasts Sandy Bridge-E.

The MDV-ASG9300B-WS-P27LP is the stronger and, consequently, more expensive of the duo, at 239,820 JPY, which translates into $3,032 / 2,293.58 Euro.

The Intel Core i7-3930K six-core processor acts as the heart and is backed up by 16 GB of random access memory (4 x 4 GB RAM) and the NVIDIA Quadro 2000D.

The other desktop PC, MDV-ASQ8310B-WS-P27LP, uses an Intel Core i7-2700K chip and the Quadro 600 card, plus 8 GB of RAM (2 x 4 GB).

It sells for 169,890 JPY, which exchange rates say is the same as $2,150 and 1,624.79 Euro.

The storage capabilities are identical (1 TB HDD and DVD SuperMulti drive), but it is possible to opt for higher capacities and/or faster units.

Finally, Mouse Computer sells the two Windows 7 Home Premium x64 OS systems in a bundle with just the sort of monitor graphics professionals need.

Developed by Samsung, the display uses a 27-inch IPS panel and has a native resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels.

Unfortunately, only Japanese customers can get this thing. There is no way to know when, if ever, other regions receive the machines.

Windows 8 Developer Preview Expiration Date Gets Postponed

Users who are currently running the Windows 8 Developer Preview that was made available for download in September last year can now prolong the life of their OS until January 15th, 2013.

On February 16th, Microsoft issued an update for the platform, meant to postpone the expiration date for the Windows 8 Developer Preview and Windows 8 Server Developer Preview to the next year. 

Initially, Windows 8 Developer Preview was meant to expire on March 11th, 2012, while the Windows 8 Server Developer Preview had its expiration date set for April 8th, 2012. 

As soon as the expiration date is reached, systems running under these platforms will periodically restart. To continue using the platforms, users will need to install the recently issued update before the activation license expires. 

As soon as Windows 8 Developer Preview and of Windows 8 Server Developer Preview expire, users will receive a message on the Activate Windows screen in Control Panel to inform them on the matter:

The license for this pre-released version of Windows has expired. You’ll need to enter a new product key to activate Windows. Until you activate, Windows will restart every 1 hour, so you should back up your data. Install the latest version of Windows.

On the Windows Activation screen, the following message will be displayed:

This pre-release version of Windows has expired. Your computer will restart every 2 hours and you might lose any unsaved data.

Moreover, users will not be able to personalize their PC after the expiration date of Windows 8 Developer Preview. They will need to Activate Windows before getting access to personalization capabilities on their PCs. 

Starting 14 days before the expiration date, Windows will start delivering notifications to the desktop and in the Security section of Action Center:

This pre-release version of Windows will expire soon. Go to Windows Activation to purchase and install a released version of Windows.

The new update was made available from Microsoft Update. To check for its availability, users will need to start Windows Update from Control Panel, and then click Check for Updates in Windows 8 Developer Preview or Windows 8 Server Developer Preview.

X11 No Longer Included with OS X Mountain Lion

Developers testing Apple’s newest cat have confirmed that X11, the X window system that provides a basis for graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and rich input device capability for networked computers, is no longer included with OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

Development on the Mac for the X Window System, or X11 as it is commonly referred to, is done under the XQuartz project, which generally outpaces X11 development. Which is why the current version of X11 is 2.6.3, while XQuartz stands tall at version 2.7.0.

Apple seems fed up with this inconsistency, therefore is doing away with X11 in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. Users will be prompted to download the open source XQuartz, if the should ever require it.

HTC Confirms Android 4.0 for Thunderbolt, Rhyme, Rezound, Raider and DROID Incredible 2

HTC, once again, narrows the list of devices that will receive Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, but this time it's all about North America.

In an attempt to make the waiting bearable, HTC came forward with a short statement on its official Facebook account and confirmed plans to deliver the long-awaited Android 4.0 upgrade to several carrier-bounded smartphones.

Among them, HTC included Verizon's Thunderbolt, which comes as a surprise. The handset was missing from the initial list, so this is an interesting turn of events.

According to HTC, the following smartphones available in the United States through Verizon Wireless will receive an Ice Cream Sandwich update in the coming weeks: HTC Thunderbolt, HTC Rhyme, HTC Rezound and DROID Incredible 2.

In addition, the Taiwanese company confirmed plans to upgrade the HTC Raider, but only from Canadian carriers Rogers and Bell.

It may come as a surprise that HTC didn't say anything about HTC EVO 3D and EVO Shift 4G, but these are Sprint's smartphones and no device from this carrier made it on the short list.

It's possible that the handset manufacturer decided to split the Android 4.0 upgrade scheduler into more categories filtered by carrier, so we can safely assume that some of Sprint's devices will also receive the Ice Cream Sandwich update in the following weeks.

No other details on exact release dates for these upgrades for Verizon customers have been disclosed yet, but HTC says that more new in Ice Cream Sandwich releases will be available in the coming weeks.

Although there are still several smartphones that are missing from HTC's initial list, we can safely assume that they will eventually get the upgrade as well. However, there's a slight chance that the company decided to delay the deployment of Android 4.0 for some of these devices.

Samsung Galaxy S II 4G Photographed En-Route to Telstra

Australian wireless carrier Telstra is gearing up for the release of two new Android-based LTE-capable smartphones from Samsung, namely the Galaxy S II 4G and Galaxy Note. 

Both of them are expected to get launched as soon as February 28th, and will be accompanied by another 4G device from Samsung, the Galaxy Tab 8.9.

This is not the first time when Galaxy S II 4G emerges online, but it is the first time when a photo with it does so. 

Gizmodo Australia published such an image, and those who have been wondering just how the device looks like can now satisfy their curiosity.

The news site also notes that Telstra is getting ready to launch the Nokia Lumia 800 and a new 4G Prepaid USB modem on February 28th. Nothing has been officially confirmed on this for the time being, but stay tuned for more on the matter.

LG Changes Optimus Series Logo Ahead of MWC 2012

The wind of change blows from South Korean shores, as LG Electronics announces it will drop the current logo of the Optimus series. This is the first important change since the launch of the company first smartphone in this line LG Optimus Q, two years ago.

According to LG, the reason behind its decision to refresh its mobile phone brand is to reflect the company's “reinforced design leadership.” These are pretty big words coming from company that had the most disappointed customers of all the major handset manufacturers.

Part of these customers were left to wait for an Android 2.3 Gingerbread update that they've lost all trust in this brand and decided to turn their heads to LG's competition.

Anyway, it appears that LG needs a fresh start and Mobile World Congress 2012 is a good time and place to make it happen. 

Hopefully, the upcoming smartphones that will be announced by LG at the MWC will make some of its lost customers change their minds and choose an LG device again.

Obviously, any company needs a change once in a while, and LG explains they have chosen the new logo with style and simplicity in mind.

“The new Optimus logo is designed to accentuate the metallic edges and slim shape of the 2012 smartphone line-up unveiled at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC). It embodies modern and seamless simplicity, which is the core for LG’s design philosophy for mobile devices.”

The official announcement also hints to “new smartphones” which will be showcased at the company's stand at MWC, which will wear the company's new logo.

In addition, LG promises that “the company’s commitment to raise the ante by offering best quality products to consumers will be further reinforced.”

More details on LG's upcoming line of Optimus device will be available closer to MWC 2012 opening.

iOS 5.1 Release "Around" March 9th - Report

A reputable source of Apple rumors, BGR has revealed that the public release of iOS 5.1 should occur “on or around March 9th”, supposedly two days after unveils its third generation tablet computer - the iPad 3.

The well-connected BGR has obtained a Golden Master version of the iOS 5.1 software update currently in testing at Apple, with claims that the new iOS version “will be released to the public on or around March 9th.”

The blog also confirms a couple of previously-reported new features in the iOS 5.1 GM, namely the altered Camera button on the iOS lock screen, and the Japanese-speaking Siri.

Apple is rumored to be holding an iPad 3 event on March 7, which falls on a Wednesday.

This Is Some Real Tech Art Right Here

Some people thought that mashing PC parts together and molding them into a stool was a cool idea, but they've got nothing on this guy. 

Sean Avery has taken the idea of sculpting seriously, but the resources he chose for his works are different from those of others. 

While some would select clay or stone, or wood, he gathers old compact disks, used motherboards and all other types of PC parts and turns them into works of art. 

The man actually put together everything from inanimate rodents to functional robotic squids. 

There are even birds carefully assembled from CD bits and pieces. Just look at the color play and lack of rough edges, that takes some serious care and dedication. 

Check out the full gallery here if you're interested in feasting your eyes further. I know I am.

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Gets HUD Interface

With today's updates, the upcoming Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) operating system received many new features and improvements, including the Privacy Settings, Video Lens for Unity and the HUD (Head-Up Display) system described in this article. 

Originally introduced by Mark Shuttleworth last month, the Head-Up Display, or HUD for short, is some sort of add-on for the Unity interface allowing users to interact with application's menus by pressing the ALT key.

At the moment, HUD was introduced alongside the current menus placed on the Unity Panel, but in the end, the Head-Up Display system will entirely replace menus in Unity applications. However, this will most probably happen in Ubuntu 12.10.

HUD was developed by Canonical in-house during the last 18 months, and believe it or not it is here to revolutionize the Linux desktop.

Intel-Based Orange London Android Phone Coming Soon in the UK

Surprise, surprise. Intel is about to enter the UK smartphone market with an interesting devices dubbed Orange London. Obviously, the smartphone will be available via Orange UK, but what's interesting about this device is that it is equipped with an Intel chipset inside.

The folks over at CoolSmartphone have been tipped on Orange London by a certain individual who goes by the name of Simon Hardy. This guy completed a survey and was presented with some info on the unannounced Orange London device. 

Hardy was kind enough to explain how he got the information: “As an Orange customer, I was signed up to a marketing scheme of theirs called Better Together. This basically involves being asked to complete various surveys related to phones & plans, internet, adverts, etc. Today I completed a survey on what they claimed to be a phone that they will be introducing called the Orange London.”

According to the evidence presented via CoolSmartphone, Orange London would be packed with an Intel 1.6 GHz Intel processor, probably single core. Apparently, this makes this phone “exceptional.” But the documents leaked don't mention why.

In addition, the handset boasts an impressive 8-megapixel camera on the back with full HD (1080p) video recording capabilities. It will let users capture up to 10 photos in less than a second, and comes with “best ever” phone camera stabilizer.

It is also worth mentioning that Orange London sports a large 4.03-inch capacitive multi-touch display that features Corning Gorilla Glass for protection against scratches and scrapes.

There is no reference to any kind of operating system that the phone might run, but the phone's pictures says it all. The four touch-sensitive keys below the display are a certain indication that this is in fact an Android smarpthone.

For the time being, no other details have been unveiled on the phone's specs sheet, but we know for sure that it will hit shelves at Orange UK, probably within the coming weeks.

iPad 3 Retina Display Confirmed, Put Under Microscope

A rumor blog reporting exclusively on Apple has obtained an iPad 3 display and, after putting it under a microscope, has confirmed that it yields a 2,048-by-1,536 pixel resolution. In other words, the next Apple tablet will have the much-rumored Retina display.

MacRumors claims that the purported iPad 3 display is identical to the panels used in the current-generation of iPads, in terms of width and length, with a 9.7-inch diagonal.

While it looks almost identical to the iPad 2 screen, they made a very interesting discovery while taking a glance under the glass using a microscope.

“…when comparing the iPad 3 display to one from an iPad 2 under a microscope, the difference in resolutions becomes readily apparent, with the iPad 3 display’s pixels appearing to be one-quarter the size of those on the iPad 2,” the rumor blog reveals.

Apple is widely believed to have planned a special event for the iPad 3 launch early next month.

Checks with the timetable for San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts - Apple’s favorite keynote venue - have revealed an open spot for March 7, which falls on a Wednesday.

The timing couldn’t be better to launch an iPad 3, considering the hype surrounding its rumored Retina display, the much-improved A6 processor, and other touted enhancements.

Competitors are still scrambling to roll out tablets that perform as well as the original iPad did in 2010, and Apple is already gearing up to launch the third generation of tablets.

The iPad 3 is also expected to launch with iOS 5.1, which should include numerous new features that take advantage of the tablet’s new processor and graphics, as well as the new Retina display.

Samsung GT-i9300 Spotted in UAProf

In the coming months, South Korean mobile phone maker Samsung Electronics is expected to unveil to the world the successor of Galaxy S II, and some more info on what might become this device has just emerged. 

We’re referring here to the Samsung GT-i9300, a smartphone that was just spotted in a UAProf entry, and which is suggested to be on its way to the market as the Galaxy S III

Upon a closer inspection, the said UAProf shows that Samsung GT-i9300 sports a display capable of delivering only a 1024 x 600 resolution, which raises concerns on whether this would indeed become the next Android flagship device from Samsung. 

Galaxy S III was long rumored to arrive on shelves with a screen capable of a 720 HD resolution, and chances are that GT-i9300 would either arrive as a different smartphone or that the info above is only a placeholder.

Nokia Lumia 805 Specs and Render Revealed, Credibility Uncertain

With almost a week left until Mobile World Congress 2012 kicks off, new rumors and leaks are pouring everyday. There's no telling how many of these are accurate and exactly which devices will actually see the light of day in Barcelona, at the end of this month.

Shortly after Nokia's roadmap for this year's MWC trade fair leaked a new render of an unheard of Nokia smartphone has just been spotted at Chinese forum Baidu.

The folks at Pocketnow who took notice of this render are wondering if this is indeed the real thing or is just a fake meant to rise the hype over Nokia's launch events at MWC.

Obviously, we should take this with a grain of salt either way, as the picture comes from an unreliable source, but the fact that the Lumia 805 strongly resembles the Nokia X7 should not be the main reason for dumping the idea that this picture might be real.

Nokia has done it before and will surely do it again. When it comes to design the Finnish company tends to borrow the form-factor and layout of its previous models. Of course this only applies to successful models.

The fact that Nokia N9 looks and feels the same as Lumia 800 and 900 is already common knowledge, so we don't see this resemblance between Lumia 805 and X7 as a problem.

Aside from the image published by on the Chinese forum, several specs sheet are detailed as well. It appears that this Nokia Lumia 805 will sport a 3.9-inch WVGA capacitive multi-touchscreen based on ClearBlack technology, as well as a 1450 mAh Li-Ion battery.

On the back, the smartphone boasts an impressive 12-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, dual-LED flash and video recording capabilities. In addition, the phone is said to pack 16 GB of internal memory.

Nokia Drop Receives Nokia Belle Support

Nokia has just announced the release of version 1.4 of their Nokia Drop application for devices powered by the Symbian operating system.

The new application iteration arrives on devices with great enhancements included into the mix, such as support for automatic updates, or silent installation features. 

At the same time, it arrives with support for the latest Symbian flavor out there, the Nokia Belle OS that started to arrive on Nokia devices a few weeks ago. 

Users will also benefit from a new first-time-use tutorial when installing the new application release, as well as from Store & Forward capabilities. 

“With automatic update you will have always the latest client available. We will send you normal drop message (will be received in manual mode) to your client and you can download and install update whenever it is convenient for you,” Päivi from the Nokia Drop team explains in a blog post. 

“Also free applications from Nokia Store are now silently installed to your device, you don´t need to click ok anymore to confirm the installation on the device. 

“But there is a possibility to cancel download and installation from recent download list in Anna + S1 versions and in status panel in Belle version in case you need to.”

Päivi also explains that the new tutorial was included in the application for those users who would like to install Nokia Drop on their devices but have only few clues of what it can do. 

The tutorial will be shown after the Nokia Drop installation, but can also be accessed at all times via Options > Help.

“Then we have an amazing feature called Store & Forward. Items get stored for you if your client is not online. You´ll receive them when you go online next time. This feature is new offering of Nokia Notification API server,” the Nokia Drop developer continues. 

The Belle flavor of the application comes with deeper integration with the device software, and removes the download list, while being designed to show all activities in status panel and pop-ups.

The manual mode has been removed from the Belle version of Nokia Drop, with Store&Forward features are being displayed as manually downloadable in status panel, even if the rest of the app is automatic. 

The latest version of Nokia Drop is available for download via links below.
Nokia Drop browser extension for Firefox 3.6, 4.0 & 5.0
Nokia Drop browser extension for Chrome 10
S60 5th Edition [SISX]
Symbian^3 [SISX]
Symbian Anna [SISX]
Symbian Belle [SISX]

Sound Blaster Cards Make a Comeback Thanks to ASRock and Creative

Creative used to be very protective of the “Sound Blaster” brand, but it eventually began to allow certain third parties to use it, provided they had what it took to attain a certain quality.

ASRock has turned out to be one of the IT companies allowed to adopt the name.

The PC component maker has launched the Game Blaster sound card, which utilizes the "Sound Core3D quad-core audio and voice processor."

In addition to this chip, the newcomer boasts the Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet LAN technology as well, for Full-Duplex 2Gbps i.e. "teaming."

Teaming two LAN ports will not increase the speed of any of the connections, but the potential aggregate throughput is higher. 

Besides this, ASRock incorporated the CrystalVoice filtering technology, EAX 1.0-5.0, THX TruStudio PRO and Scout Mode (helps gamers hear enemies from farther away).

No price known yet, but everything else is listed here.

The Windows 8 Logo Is Here

Windows 8, the next-generation desktop client from Microsoft, is gearing up to reach the Consumer Preview milestone, after being released as a Developer Preview in September last year. 

With the new platform, Microsoft announced a new approach to the computer market, through offering touch enhancements and a brand new user interface, called Metro. 

In line with all these changes, the company decided to make some changes to the Windows logo as well, so as to show that Windows 8 is indeed a complete reimagination of the Windows operating system. 

“Nothing has been left unexplored, including the Windows logo, to evaluate how it held up to modern PC sensibilities,” Sam Moreau, principal director of User Experience for Windows, explains in a recent blog post. 

“The Windows logo is a strong and widely recognized mark but when we stepped back and analyzed it, we realized an evolution of our logo would better reflect our Metro style design principles and we also felt there was an opportunity to reconnect with some of the powerful characteristics of previous incarnations.”

It all started in the early development cycle for Windows 8, and involved a team that included Paula Scher, Michael Beirut and Daniel Weil from Pentagram, along with designers and marketing leaders from Windows and other Microsoft businesses. 

With the new Windows 8 logo, Microsoft is going back to the roots. The logo was originally intended to be a window, and this is exactly what it represents in Windows 8. 

Here’s what Sam Moreau notes on the goals Microsoft had in mind when redesigning the new logo:

  1. We wanted the new logo to be both modern and classic by echoing the International Typographic Style (or Swiss design) that has been a great influence on our Metro style design philosophy. Using bold flat colors and clean lines and shapes, the new logo has the characteristics of way-finding design systems seen in airports and subways.
  2. It was important that the new logo carries our Metro principle of being “Authentically Digital”. By that, we mean it does not try to emulate faux-industrial design characteristics such as materiality (glass, wood, plastic, etc.). It has motion – aligning with the fast and fluid style you’ll find throughout Windows 8.
  3. Our final goal was for the new logo to be humble, yet confident. Welcoming you in with a slight tilt in perspective and when you change your color, the logo changes to reflect you. It is a “Personal” Computer after all.

Not only was the new logo designed with respects to the Metro UI in Windows 8, but it was also meant to bring some simplicity into the mix. As Microsoft stresses out, the re-imagined Windows 8 logo is just what it was initially meant to be, a window.

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