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Jan 27, 2013

Apple Updating It's “MacBook Pro External Ports and Connectors” KB Document

Apple has released updated documentation describing the ports and connectors on 2009 MacBook Pro models, presenting the hardware in a more comprehensive way for customers.

KB article HT3627 titled “MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2009): External ports and connectors” has been updated on Apple’s Support site to give customers a better description of the I/O ports found on MacBook Pro notebooks shipped in the summer of 2009. The document specifically addresses the 13-inch version of the laptop, detailing the MagSafe power port, the Gigabit Ethernet port, the FireWire 800 port, the Mini DisplayPort, USB 2.0 connections, the headphone (jack) plug, and the SD card slot.

A comprehensive graphical representation of the laptop along with a table shows each individual port with its respective description (i.e. what it is and what it does). For example, FireWire 800 allows you to “Connect high-speed external devices, such as digital video cameras and storage devices. Connect an adapter or cable to use this port as FireWire 400, FireWire 200, or FireWire 100.”

"MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2009): External ports and connectors" graphics
Image credits to Apple Support

You May Be the Lucky Winner of $10/€7.43 of Facebook Settlement Money

A couple of months ago, Facebook finally settled a lawsuit over some ill thought out ads it ran, which relied on user activities. The company got sued over it and the lawsuit got class action status, so it affected all users that had been involved, with their knowledge or not.

In the end, Facebook had to pay $20 million, €14.85 million all of which are meant for the users, unlike a previous settlement proposal in which lawyers got as much as all Facebook users in the US. Facebook is now getting ready to pay that money and is notifying Facebook users that they are eligible to get $10, €7.43 in damages as part of the settlement. Understandably, when first seeing the message, many users assumed it was a scam. It's not, it's the real deal. There is a caveat though. $20 million may seem like a lot of money, but it's not when you start carving it up.

Facebook has 150 million users in the US and it doesn't have $1.5 billion, €1.1 billion lined up to pay each and every one of the $10. So, if too many people claim their money and it gets to the point where there's too little money to be distributed to each user that it costs more to do it than the money they're getting, all of it will go to a few non-profits instead. All of this seems like a problem from game theory 101.

You may be eligible for Facebook money
Image credits to San Fransisco Chronicle

Microsoft Office 2013 to Be Unveiled on January 29

Microsoft has finally confirmed rumors claiming that the new Office 2013 productivity suite would go on sale by the end of the month, revealing that it would launch the updated software on January 29.

The Redmond-based technology titan released a teaser website to confirm the January 29 release date, but also to launch the #timeto365 Twitter hashtag in an attempt to stir up interest for its new Office package. As you probably know by now, Office 365 will come with a subscription-based service, with pricing to start at $99 (€73) per year for all those who wish to get the essential apps, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote.

In case you prefer the standard non-subscription Office, Microsoft has got you covered with a version that costs $139 (€103). Full pricing will be announced on January 29 too.

The new Office will go live tomorrow
Image credits to Microsoft

First Leaked iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S Parts, Photos Emerge Online

The first next-generation iPhone parts this year have (reportedly) just been leaked showing what could be the design of the speaker modules inside Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5S and iPhone 6.

Three distinct yet similar parts are being shown in the above image (courtesy of French site nowhereelse.fr) depicting what is said to be the speaker modules of the upcoming iPhone 5S and iPhone 6, compared to the existing iPhone 5 speaker unit. It’s not much to go on, but it does seem that the iPhone 5S will employ a significantly larger speaker module, which lends credence to rumors that Apple will indeed introduce a larger handset this time around.

Rumors say the next-generation iPhone could sport a 4.8-inch display in what would be Apple’s answer to the army of Android-powered phablets flooding the market this year. The alleged iPhone 6 component appears to be smaller. Analysts say this device won’t see the light of day until 2014.

Leaked iPhone parts
Image credits to nowhereelse.fr

BlackBerry Z10 (SIM-Free) Priced at £480/€565/$760 in the UK

With less than a week left until BlackBerry 10's official announcement, more details on the smartphones powered by RIM's new platform surface.

Even though Research In Motion did not confirm how many devices it will launch next week, we expect at least one will make its way onto shelves in February – BlackBerry Z10. The full-touch smartphone will be launched globally at various carriers, but Canadians are more likely to be among the first to be able to grab this one. Anyway, Engadget reports that customers in the UK looking to get their hands on a SIM-free BlackBerry 10 will be able to do so via Carphone Warehouse.

It looks like the UK-based retailer already put a price tag on the Z10, so BlackBerry fans should prepare their wallets as this one won't come cheap. According to screenshot taken off Carphone Warehouse's internal database, BlackBerry Z10 will be available for purchase for no less than £480/€565/$760 outright.

Carphone Warehouse internal database
Image credits to Engadget

Apple iPad Mini 2 Codenamed J85 Launching This October

As far as the next iPad mini is concerned, pretty much all bets are on a Retina display and (perhaps) a faster processor. No redesign, pundits assume, and now one source says the second-generation device is coming out in fall.

One knowledgeable (and allegedly reliable) source cited by iLounge says Apple is currently prototyping an iPad mini 2 bearing a code name of J85. The refresh is “currently planned for October,” just like the fifth-generation (full-size) iPad. Both tablets are said to come to parity design-wise. Other sources told the site pretty much the same thing about the iPad mini 2: “it will look and feel basically the same as the first-generation model but feature a Retina screen.” However, the trail of technical details stops here. No one really knows what Apple plans to do with the iPad mini 2 internally, but it is safe to assume it will boast the usual CPU and memory upgrades that we’ve all grown accustomed to.

The screen is also believed to be of IGZO technology developed by Sharp. The Japanese panel maker has reportedly all but halted production of old-generation iPad panels to move to the new displays for what is believed to be an all-Retina lineup on Apple’s tablet front starting this year. It’s certainly not farfetched, given that Apple is doing the same thing on the Macintosh front – gradually equipping all its laptops with Retina displays. At the moment, the MacBook Pro range of computers is the only notebook line to feature the high-density (pixel) displays.

The iPad mini is slowly (but surely) becoming Apple’s most popular iPad, and for good reason too. Its portability, usability, battery-life-span and even the design are clear winners for the $329/€329 tablet PC.  It’s pretty much a given that the next version will offer users enhanced visuals and a speedier overall experience.

iPad mini screen closeup
Image credits to Apple

Apple iPad 5 Codenamed J72 Launch in October

A trusty source is telling iLounge that Apple is moving forward with its plans to release a fifth-generation full-size iPad. Prototype units currently in testing at Apple bear the codename J72, this person says.

The source in question reveals quite a few details about Apple’s entire upcoming lineup of iDevices, which includes a refresh of the big iPad (currently at its fourth generation). The fifth-generation iPad, codenamed “J72” internally, will be released in October, “give or take,” according to the iLounge report. In a separate post, the blog’s editor-in-chief cites his sources as saying that “This iPad 5 design is so much smaller that a full internal redesign — complete with a smaller, less power-hungry sequel to the A6X — can be safely assumed.” The device is expected to “remain roughly on par with the fourth-generation model in processing capabilities,” but will feature an improved screen, a smaller form-factor (not affecting the 9.7-inch screen size), and considerably reduced weight, all of which will become “the key selling points” of the iPad 5.

There have been a number of rumors regarding a potential design switch for the full-size iPad to make it look and feel more like the iPad mini. Apple has reportedly amassed impressive sales of the diminutive tablet computer, and analysts believe the reduced screen bezel and lost weight have a lot to do with it. In this respect, Apple is retouching the entire iPad lineup to make it look more like the iPad mini, regardless of screen size and form factor. However, other rumors have pegged the iPad 5 launch date for spring 2013, which is but a few months away. It is worth noting that Apple has historically refreshed its iPads in spring.  Only the last iPad upgrade (which basically consisted only of a faster CPU) was announced in fall of 2012.

iPad promo
Image credits to Apple

Apple Codenamed iPhone 5S as N51 and N53 to Launch in July

As we move closer to WWDC 2013, Apple’s annual developer-centric event, hype begins to mount on the iPhone front regarding a potential 5S iteration coming out no later than June.

According to the latest chatter among Apple insiders and suppliers, the Cupertino technology giant is coming out with its usual incremental update this year – the iPhone 5S. Numerous analysts have taken a stab at the phone’s specs and price tag, but Apple will have the final say, as always. Chances are Apple will stick to tradition and keep the $199/€199 price tag intact (with a two-year contract), while bumping up the specs just enough to make a new purchase relevant for the fan base, and perhaps even newcomers. That being said, a “trusted” source is telling iLounge that the iPhone 5S is still “months away from mass production.”

However, this source “suspects” that the flagship feature of the handset will be “an upgraded rear camera,” which will most likely be a new-generation 13-megapixel sensor from Sony. A flash (storage) upgrade would also be in order, this source believes, “along with a processor bump,” iLounge reports. According to the knowledgeable source, the iPhone 5S prototypes that are currently in testing in Cupertino are codenamed “N51” and “N53,” which is in line with previous codenames for iPhone prototype units. Finally, this person said, Apple will release the upgraded smartphone in July, which coincides with the company’s aforementioned event – the Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple is believed to have planned a shift in its iPhone upgrade cycle. While most iPhone announcements have taken place in summer, the last two iterations (iPhone 4S and iPhone 5) have been unveiled at events taking place in fall. The rumored iPhone 5S would mark a return to Apple’s original summer upgrade, though it’s still possible the rumors are getting it wrong. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

Apple is believed to also give the iPhone 5S some color options
Image credits to Anostyle

AMD Gizmo Integrated Motherboard with G-Series APU

The G-Series accelerated processing unit didn't come up during conversation ever since it was launched back in mid-2012, but AMD is definitely not letting it gather dust, as proven by a certain product shipping through GizmoSphere.

GizmoSphere is an open source embedded system development company, one that Advanced Micro Devices has chosen to use as an outlet for its G-Series chip. AMD did say, the other day, that it would be shuffling the way it spends money on research and development, and that it would focus on embedded and mobile products more than before. The company tried to get a foothold in the embedded industry last year, but the G-Series didn't get many design wins. Nevertheless, it has taken a move that fits some previous AMD promises that they won't pursue brand promotion much as long as they get their chips used in devices.  The G-Series has definitely been adopted by a device now, specifically a very small integrated motherboard.

This board, called Gizmo (in keeping with the name of the aforementioned company that is promoting it), measures 4 x 4 inches (101 x 101 mm). Even on such a small surface though, it still crams a pair of Bobcat x86 cores (1 GHz clock speed each), an AMD Radeon HD 6250 graphics chip (on the same die as the G-T40E dual-core Bobcat cores) and various interfaces. For those who want more specifics, the Gizmo has lots of connectors for digital signage, x86 set-top boxes, IP-TV, information kiosks, casino gaming, media servers, industrial control systems, and thin clients.

GizmoSphere ships the Gizmo as part of a development kit for Google Android, Linux, RTOSes (real-time operating system) and Microsoft Windows. The price for the whole package is $199 / €147-€199. “Gizmo is an excellent board for the next generation of embedded systems development,” said Kamal Khouri, director of embedded products at AMD. “The new board will serve the diverse and growing embedded development community and is especially useful for those wanting to incorporate the advanced capabilities possible by harnessing a heterogeneous architecture. Developers ready to take advantage of a high-performance, full I/O-featured x86 development board will find tremendous value in Gizmo,”

AMD Gizmo Integrated Motherboard
Image credits to GizmoSphere

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